What is stress?
Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone expresses stress from time to time and it can be triggered by a variety of causes. Stress can actually be beneficial to your health – it can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body has it’s natural way of responding to stress, releasing hormones that help your body respond to the situation. This response can include increasing your heart and breathing rates and readying your muscles so they can respond to a need to react, run, flee etc. It’s when your stress response doesn’t stop firing when these stress levels stay elevated for much longer than is necessary for survival, that it can take a toll on your health.
Muscle tension is also a response to stress. Initially, it is a healthy reaction as your muscles tense up to protect themselves from injury. They tend to release again once you relax, but if you are experiencing ongoing stress, your muscles may not get the chance to relax. Tight muscles then impact your sense of wellbeing, cause discomfort, changes in how your body moves and is functioning, and can lead to an unhealthy cycle of needing pain relief (we may look to taking pain medications as treatment).
Why is it important to manage stress?
Chronic stress can significantly impact your health and wellbeing. It suppresses your immune system, upsets digestive and reproductive systems, increases your risk of chronic health issues such as heart disease and can speed up the ageing process.
The more immediate symptoms of stress can include a lack of sleep, mood changes, decreased energy, headaches, appetite changes, and increased muscle tension in the body.
Muscle tension happens when a muscle contracts and does not release. This can be caused by physical overuse or through stress.
Tension usually starts off as feeling achy, there may be tightness and you may notice your movement is restricted. Most people carry their stress somewhere in their body. We might be familiar with a tight neck and shoulders or an aching lower back – these are actually the most common symptoms we treat here at Feel Amazing Wellness Centre in Chatswood.
Left untreated chronic tension can lead to a reduction in blood flow to soft tissues such as muscles, tendons and nerves. A build-up in the body’s natural waste products can then lead to further muscle tension, spasms and pain.
Other reactions in the body may be triggered along with stress related conditions. As an example, tension and migraine headaches are often associated with muscle tension in the neck, head, shoulders and can be triggered by stress.
How can Feel Amazing in Chatswood help?
At Feel Amazing we have a number of specialities that can treat stress and relieve muscle tension – these include massage and acupuncture. Dry needling is also a common treatment for headache and can release deep muscle tightness.
Massage directly treats the body allowing it to release contraction and lengthen the muscle. It can relieve muscle tension, stiffness and pain.
If you are experiencing migraine or other frequent headaches we also have a highly recommended supplement available that can reduce the frequency of migraine, improve sleep and treat anxiety.
What else can help to manage and treat stress?
Managing stress involves a number of different approaches. This can include:
- Identifying what triggers your stress
- Making changes that are within your control
- Regular exercise can relieve tension, increase the releasing of feel good hormones and relaxing the mind
- Take time out for relaxation (massage is the ultimate relaxation tool!)
- Some people find yoga, deep breathing and meditation helps
- Make time to spend with friends or family that are supportive and talk with someone who will listen to you
- Take part in activities you enjoy
- If you need more support then talk to a professional and look after yourself
What can help manage muscle tension?
- Using a heat pack on muscles can help relax them
- Gentle stretching can also help
- Avoid strenuous activities that may tighten the muscles again
- Have a massage – this treats not only the tight muscles but also address the body’s natural way of compensating by activating surrounding muscles and tissue
- Have a hot bath with added Epson salts.
- Magnesium supplements, like the ones we carry, are excellent at reducing muscle tension as well as helping promote deep sleep.