It doesn’t matter what age you are, what job you have, or how much money you have in the bank – we all have to deal with stress. Stress is a normal part of life, but too much of it can have serious effects on the body.
Stress is directly related to our nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord. Our nervous system communicates with the rest of our body, which means the impact of stress can be found everywhere – from the hairs on your head all the way down to your toes.
When we are stressed, our nervous system sends a quick message to our musculoskeletal system to tense up our muscles in order to prevent injury. However, if we constantly tense our muscles and do not stretch them out, we put them at a higher risk for injury in the long-term. Stress also weakens the immune system, which protects the body after an injury.
Long story short, too much stress can have a huge list of negative effects on our body. Of course, reading about the negative effects of stress may only make you feel more stressed out, so let’s shift gears. If you find yourself in a stressful moment, there are several ways to help relax your nervous system and rid yourself of stress – some you can do without even getting out of your seat.
Simple Things You Can Do On Your Own to Relieve Stress
Try any of the following, and continue to search for activities or methods to help you relax.
Breathe. Sure, you’re already breathing, but if you find yourself in a stressful situation, your breaths might get quicker and your blood pressure might spike. Take a moment to calm yourself by breathing deeply. Focus on your breath entering and leaving your body. Deep breathing sends a message to your body that you are safe, protected, and can relax.
If you spend even a moment or two focusing solely on your breath, congratulations! You’ve meditated.
Engage in guided meditations. Speaking of, meditation comes in many forms. For those who are newer to meditation, consider downloading an app that contains guided meditation.
In guided meditations, a voice will guide you through sounds, stories, or visual pictures that are meant to help you relax. Meditations may range from a few minutes to an hour. Some are more appropriate for the morning, some the middle of the day, and some right before sleep. Good examples of apps include Insight Timer, Calm, and Headspace.
Try gentle stretching. We mentioned earlier that stress can tense up your muscles. Balance out that tension by gently stretching your body. Even a few minutes of stretching your neck helps to release tension around the spinal cord. Stretching is especially important if you are using exercise as a stress reliever. Attending a gentle or yin yoga class can also help to bring stretching into your exercise routine.
Schedule a massage. Just the idea of a massage can release tension. A massage is not only a wonderful way to treat yourself, but can help to release hidden and built-up tension that a simple stretch or two cannot get to. Don’t feel guilty about booking a massage – it’s for your health!
Take a bath. No, you can’t do this at your office chair, but a bath may be something to look forward to during the day. Bathing connects us to our time in the womb (when we didn’t have to work or pay bills!).
If you want to enhance your bath for ultimate relaxation, add herbs like lavender, ylang-ylang, and chamomile. These herbs can come in many different forms for the bath, including herb-infused Epsom salts and the newly popular “bath bombs.”
Want to learn more about living a stress-free, pain-free life? Talk to a Florida chiropractor.
About the Author:
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.