Stress and Anxiety: The Twin Thieves That Rob Us of Peace
Our lives have become so fast-paced keeping up with economic demands and growing responsibilities that it’s no wonder that an estimated 8.3 million American adults suffer from serious psychological distress – and I’m sure the Canadian stats are compatible! Stress causes anxiety and anxiety leads to feeling stressed – so they are definitely interconnected in many ways.
What are the Physiological Effects of Stress?
Fear leads to anxiety, and it can snowball into a major tailwind for stress – they go hand in hand with each other. They both lead to strong chemical reactions in your body. Stress increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and it leads to an increase of cortisol (the stress hormone). So you really don’t have one without the other.
We often don’t see the warning signs, or we might feel a difference in our mood and energy levels, but we sometimes ignore the red flags, which manifest themselves into long-term problems.
1. Tightening of Muscles
When we start to feel anxious, our muscles will start to tense up. It’s all connected - muscle tension is like a reflex reaction for the way the body deals with an influx of hormones or an increase of cortisol production.
The stress will start to show up in the body, with the most obvious being the neck and shoulders, constipation or back pain. The long-term effects will be a drain on the body, tightening of muscles; connective tissue elasticity starts to change –leading to sticky fascia tissues.
2. Breathing Triggers a Domino Effect
If your breathing is reduced to a shallow breath due to stress and anxiety, then your digestion will be effected, because breath is a natural massager of the organs. If the organs are not working efficiently, it will have a ripple effect on the back muscles, because your intestines are connected via a thin layer of fascia to the back of the abdominal cavity. This in turn impacts the body’s gravity line and central axis, as the strain on the tissues will take it away from center and restrict ease of movement. All of this effects our bone placement and back pain may be the symptom. And in the end, our organs could be affected.
What are the Treatments for Helping Combat Stress and Anxiety?
In general, it’s all about finding what feels right for you and your body - and the best thing you can do is to listen to what your body is telling you. Healthy sleep helps give your brain and body time to heal. One study shows that severe sleep deprivation increases one's state of anxiety and depression – so get your 8 hours!
Meditation is something that everybody will eventually be doing – and will have to do in order to cope with the growing demands of everyday life. It makes it easier to deal with the little stressors that shouldn’t be blown out of proportion and works to anchor you to the present moment.
After the first few classes of ELDOA, I thought to myself, “this is how I feel after I meditate.” ELDOA is exactly like meditation for your spine.
ELDOA is about taking the mind out of the hamster wheel our constant thinking where our minds race from one thought to the next. It gives you a deep sense of calmness and clarity and allows you to feely deeply connected to your body both physically and emotionally.
Pilates is all about your mind and body connection. It helps you to focus on something different forcing a shift in your thought process and it helps pull your focus away from work, bills, deadlines, and weekend plans. It’s all about experiencing movement and going with what resonates with your body.
Something to think about:
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu
Decrease your stress and live more in the present with movement!
Interested in taking a Pilates or ELDOA class? Check out our schedule for group and private classes.