#Wellbeing series: From Distress to De-stress – A guide to managing stress and its effects on your body

From Distress to De-stress – A guide to managing stress and its effects on your body

Buzz Manchester Health & Wellbeing Service

Undrstanding and recognising stress

Stress is what we feel from the pressures of everyday life, and it materialises as emotional, mental or physical tension as a response to these events. 

Stress can take a toll on the body in a person is not able to cope with it, there can be adverse effects on a person’s physical stress if they experience continuous stress for over 2 weeks.

Common ways stress affects your body is that you feel more anxious, tense, and on edge than usual. You might experience racing and uncontrollable negative thoughts and become forgetful. You might become hyper-aware of any sensations you feel in your body. You might find sitting still and concentrating on your daily tasks difficult.

You might notice changes to your daily routines, such as changes in diet and eating habits, problems sleeping and feeling less motivated than usual. 

Some of the common body symptoms you might experience are:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in ears
  • Dry mouth
  • Breathing fast and shallow
  • Hot and flushed
  • Heart racing
  • Chest pain
  • Numbness/tingling toes and fingers
  • Need to go to the toilet
  • Sweating
  • Shaky legs/hands

How to treat stress?

Relaxation techniques are the best way to treat stress, as it allows your body to reduce the adrenal hormone levels in your blood and de-stress itself. Practising relaxation techniques has long-term health benefits alongside reducing stress, such as lower blood pressure.

Controlled breathing: This relaxation technique focuses on reducing stress by focusing on your breathing:

  1. Start by breathing out (exhaling). This empties your lungs
  2. Then breathe in (inhale) and count how long it takes to fill your lungs.
  3. Now exhale and take longer than it took you to breathe in. For example, if you breathe into the count of three, breathe out to the count of five.
  4. You could also hold your breath for a couple of seconds at the end of your inhale. Only do this if it feels comfortable.
  5. Do this for each breath. You can then extend your exhale even more. Keep doing this for at least five minutes.

Muscle relaxation

This technique focuses on tensing a group of muscles as tight as possible and holding the tension before realising it. As you release the tension, the muscles should feel more relaxed.

A good night’s sleep

When you are stressed, sleeping well can be challenging. If you are struggling with falling asleep, you can use the abovementioned techniques to help you fall asleep faster.

When you are lying in bed at night, try using breathing skills. They help you to switch off and help your body to relax. They also give your mind something to do. The muscle relaxation exercise also relaxes your body. It can help to do this if you are restless in bed at night.

Other ways to improve your lifestyle and reduce the impacts of stress are:

  • Improve physical health- even low-level exercises such as yoga incorporating breathing into the routine can positively impact your body, so it can naturally lower stress levels. 
  • Improve lifestyle- be more social and creative, eat well.

Practice makes perfect – Change doesn’t happen overnight. Still, it will become easier and easier once you introduce these positive techniques and repeat them. You might face some setbacks along the way, but it is crucial to persevere in moments like those. You can use setbacks as a learning experience that will make this process easier.

For the full guide, access: https://d1jw0l0b625fbx.cloudfront.net/docs/Distress-to-De-stress-December-2016.pdf

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