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Stress - Mind and Body

February 16, 2022

Stress is part of life. Health related changes, family strife, feeling unempowered or even feeling displaced by our Covid reality. When a threat is perceived, a small part of your brain known as the hypothalamus puts your body on alert. A combination of nerve and hormonal signals sends a message to the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. The body is then able to boost its heart rate and energy supply. Cortisol allows an increase of sugar for energy and other substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also suppresses some systems that are not immediately needed in order to focus on functions needed to respond to stress.

These responses are helpful as a short-term solution and once the threat has passed, the body can return to normal. However, if stress continues for a prolonged period of time, these responses don’t turn off and an imbalance is created that can be harmful to your health, especially if you are trying to recover from illness. Here are some of the ways stress can hamper recovery.

Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior

Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that irritating headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the cause.

Common effects of stress

Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can help you manage them. Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

On the body

On your mood

On your behavior



Overeating or undereating

Muscle tension or Pain


Angry outbursts

Chest pain

Lack of motivation or focus

Drug of alcohol misuse


Feeling overwhelmed

Tobacco Use

Change in sex drive

irritability or anger

Social Withdrawal

Stomach upset

Sadness or depression

Exercising Less often

Sleep Problems

Act to manage stress

If you have stress symptoms, taking steps to manage your stress can have many health benefits. Explore stress management strategies, such as:

· Getting regular physical activity

· Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi or massage

· Keeping a sense of humor

· Spending time with family and friends

· Setting aside time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music

Aim to find active ways to manage your stress. Inactive ways to manage stress — such as watching television, surfing the internet or playing video games — may seem relaxing, but they may increase your stress over the long term.

And be sure to get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid tobacco use, excess caffeine and alcohol, and the use of illegal substances.

Stress and the immune system

When stress is felt for a long period of time, the body’s natural ability to fight off toxins and other foreign substances is reduced. The body becomes less able to control inflammation, which makes recovery even more challenging.

Stress and sleep

Elevated levels of cortisol brought on by chronic stress can negatively affect sleep patterns. During sleep, the body’s immune system release proteins and antibodies that fight infection and promote healing. So when sleep is reduced, the production of these protective substances is reduced making it harder to recover.

Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation

Have you ever noticed how you breathe when you feel relaxed? The next time you are relaxed, take a moment to notice how your body feels. Or think about how you breathe when you first wake up in the morning or just before you fall asleep. Breathing exercises can help you relax, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed.

Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.

· The way you breathe affects your whole body. Breathing exercises are a good way to relax, reduce tension, and relieve stress.

· Breathing exercises are easy to learn. You can do them whenever you want, and you don't need any special tools or equipment to do them.

· You can do different exercises to see which work best for you.

There are lots of breathing exercises you can do to help relax. The first exercise below—belly breathing—is simple to learn and easy to do. It's best to start there if you have never done breathing exercises before. The other exercises are more advanced. All of these exercises can help you relax and relieve stress.

Belly Breathing

Belly breathing is easy to do and very relaxing. Try this basic exercise anytime you need to relax or relieve stress.

1. Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.

2. Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.

3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.

4. Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.

5. Do this breathing technique 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.

6. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise

Restorative Yoga is an antidote to the harm caused by stress, offering an opportunity to step back and reset the mind and body. A restorative practice offers a reprieve from stress that allows us to reframe our approach toward external stressors. Restorative Yoga is an antidote to the harm caused by stress. Jan 17, 2019

Self Inquiry -How does stress show up in your body?

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