Reducing stress in your everyday life is vital for maintaining your overall health, as it can improve your mood, boost immune function, promote longevity and allow you to be more productive. When you let your stress get the best of you, you put yourself at risk of developing a range of illnesses – from the common cold to severe heart disease. Stress has such a powerful impact on your well being because it is a natural response that is activated in the brain.
When you become stressed, the brain undergoes both chemical and physical changes that affect its overall functioning. During periods of high stress, certain chemicals within the brain, including the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine and nor epinephrine begin to rise, causing larger amounts of these and other “fight-or-flight” hormones such as adrenaline to be released by the adrenal glands. The release of these chemicals contributes to certain physiological effects, including rapid heart rate, higher blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. When left unmanaged over time, chronic stress can lead to the development of other serious problems, such as stomach ulcers, stroke, asthma, and heart disease.
In addition to the various physical effects of stress, it can also contribute to a number of mental and emotional disorders, including depression, anxiety, phobias, and panic attacks. This emotional stress can make it difficult to focus, make decisions, think things through or remember things. While the many physical effects of stress can be overwhelming, it is important not to ignore these psychological effects as they also play a large part in overall health and vitality.
Knowing when to let something go and thinking positively about your life will help prevent you from being upset about minor things and worrying that you aren’t good enough. Supervising your thought process is only part of the battle, but if you work at easing stress with healthy lifestyle and diet changes, you can largely avoid escalating anxiety issues.
Why is it important to do relaxation when we are suffering from anxiety? Relaxation and breathing techniques are the foundation building blocks to start recovery. When we have been anxious for a long period of time the body gets used to being anxious and tense. What happens to the body when this happens? Tension gives the message of fear, that something awful is about to happen. This alerts the Autonomic Nervous System that imminent danger or a threat is about to happen.
The Autonomic Nervous System, which looks after the body’s involuntary functions, for example the heart rate, blood pressure and digestion, when anxious are affected too. This system is divided into two parts, the first is the sympathetic part, which is on alert to get the body ready if we were in danger and the parasympathetic part restores order when the danger has past and the body calms down and relaxes. When we are anxious we over breathe or may Hyperventilate (taking too much air through the chest). However when the body becomes short of carbon dioxide, which happens when we over breathe, the sympathetic part of the nervous system goes on red alert. The body is ready to start the fight and flight’ response which is our body’s way to help us survive. When anxious we often misinterpret things by seeing danger or a threat in perfectly safe situations. For example if we are afraid to go out, afraid to fly, meet people at social functions, go for a meal or shop at the supermarket. None of these situations are dangerous are they but our body is acting as if they are. One reason is that our negative thoughts have given the body the message that there is something to fear and our nervous system has responded.
Why does relaxation help us? It helps by calming the body down, helping us to think more rationally, relaxes our muscles, switches off the nervous system, stops the production of stress hormones (as an example Adrenalin) and proves we are not in danger.
If we have been anxious for awhile the relaxation should be practised regularly to help the body to get used to being relaxed.