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5 Top tips to beat Stress and the damage it can cause the Brain and Body

Let’s face it - stress is a big thing in a lot of people’s lives. Whether it be from work, three kids, studying, or trying to figure out if I should get smashed avo/sliced avo/diced avo or I’ll just scoop it myself avo.

But let's not beat around the bush, stress is often self-inflicted. It can be either good or bad for the body. Good stress is something we need to really push ourselves in our own development and to get things done. Bad stress is where we put our own body at risk! During a stress response (mild or severe), your body will release the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Adrenaline release can cause increased respiratory and heart rates and increased blood pressure. Chronic Stress Can Damage Brain Structure and Function! This has been mostly attributed to cortisol. It has been suggested that cortisol is largely responsible for the increased incidence in mental illness in people who are under chronic, severe stress .

I used to be a stress-head when it came to exams and assignments and all that good stuff. As a result my acne had increased, my posture dropped and I developed headaches. The realisation was that the damage being done to my body was actually not necessary nor needed. But now that I’ve learned how to deal and manage stress, I want to tell everyone.

1. DO SOME DAILY EXERCISE- this will help increase the blood flow around the body, help to clear the mind (as it will be focused on doing that extra rep or going that extra Km). Evidence shows that exercise is the strongest natural anti-depressant and it can reduce anxiety and symptoms associated with stress. During exercise your brain will release the ‘feel good hormones’ serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. Even if it's a short walk, daily exercise makes a big difference.

2. 5 MIN OF DEEP BREATHING (twice per day) has shown to increase the amount of oxygen in your blood for that time-frame, so the cells of your body can really benefit from the full metabolic process of oxygen and the nutrients to help power the cells.

3. WRITE A TO DO LIST of goals that you’d want to achieve in the day but make sure they’re achievable and realistic. Focusing on main tasks for the day - set an intention for the day and focus on that being your main goal, whether it's just to go for a walk or to get that report done by the end of the day.

4. REGULAR HEAD, NECK AND SHOULDER MASSAGES ARE A MUST! Massage increases arterial blood flow and venus return, which means taking the low oxygenated blood back to the heart. Massage will help with relieving the muscle tension that is created through stress as many people ‘hold’ tension in their head, neck and shoulders. This occurs as the diaphragm is overworked due to constant shallow breathing, which means it fatigues and then the accessory muscles in the neck have to assist in breathing more than usual. Hence the common problem of tightness in the neck and shoulders. Some of you have had the experience to receive hands-on treatment from myself at the clinic and you might have heard me mention the scalene muscle group (sore little buggers). These muscles help to bend the neck left or right. But this is not their only function though. They also help to elevate the first rib which helps in the respiratory process to help lift the rib cage, so the lungs can expand.

5. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER- this is a big one too, our bodies are mostly water and our whole physiology is based around water and oxygen to survive. Being dehydrated can contribute to headache symptoms. and last but not least…singing and dancing to your favourite music.I know that sounds cliche or weird but it's actually the easiest to do and I found the most beneficial for a management tool and short term fix.If you’re experiencing headaches more than a couple of days at a time and more than usual, please consult your doctor. Feel free to make an appointment with an Osteopath or Remedial Massage Therapist, and our mission is to make you feel better than you have ever been.

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