When we are busy and stressed it has a number of physical effects on the body. Stress stimulates the fight or flight response which increases your heart rate, breathing rate and muscular tension. An ongoing stress response has a detrimental effect of your body. It can contribute to chronic health conditions, lead to fatigue, muscle pain, muscle tension and headaches.
Often people become so accustomed to the stress response, particularly muscular tension, that they barely register that it is an ongoing problem.
Physiotherapists can help to reduce muscular tension through techniques such as massage, exercises and superficial dry needling.
Physiotherapists can also use relaxation techniques to help you feel calm, decrease your heart rate, control breathing rate, and reduce muscle tension.
Different techniques work better for different people, they include:
Deep breathing Techniques: Helps to control your nervous system, slow your breathing rate and encourages you to relax. It is easy to do and can be applied in many situations.
Progressive Relaxation: stretches and relaxes each muscle in turn to release tension. It helps to reduce the resting levels of tension in a muscle and also helps us to increase our awareness of the tension in different parts of our body.
Guided Visualisation: Uses the mind to distract from pain, tension or stressors.
Relaxation techniques don’t help you with the cause of your stress but they can help you to take a step back and be more able to deal with your stressors.
If you have a ‘fight’ response to stress you are more likely to become agitated / angry when stressed. You may respond well to activities that help you quieten down such as progressive muscular relaxation and deep breathing exercises.
If you have a ‘flight’ response to stress you are more likely to become depressed or withdrawn. You may respond to techniques that stimulate / energize your nervous system such as exercise, massage, and Pilates.
Speak to your Physiotherapist if you would like more information or advice on relaxation techniques.