National Stress Awareness Day is today and it aims to make people more aware of the impact stress can have on your everyday life. It also aims to help people identify ways to deal with this stress and find a way to reduce it.
Research has shown that increased stress levels can lead to an increased risk of injury.
How do stress levels impact on injury risk?
- Stress can increase muscular tension, which can then lead to aches and pain. Neck and back muscles are particularly prone to stress related tension. Increased muscular tension can also lead to muscle strains or tears as the muscle is under a greater load and is less flexible than normal.
- Stress levels may cause you to forget an important piece of equipment when working out, such as proper running shoes or corrective orthotic insoles. This places additional strain on your body, raising the risk of injury.
- Stress on your time management might force you to exercise at different times, for example first thing in the morning when your muscles aren’t fully warmed up or last thing in the day when you are tired. It might also cause you to rush or not take as much care when you are exercising.
- High stress levels can also reduce your body’s immunity levels, increasing the likelihood of a poor recovery from any minor injury.
- You may also find that stress distracts you from the activity in front of you – whether that is exercising, working or even a simple task such as crossing the road or walking up stairs. This distraction could result in a sprained joint or pulled muscle.
- High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can sap your energy. A hard workout when stressed can lead to poor form, and may lead to bad movement habits.
How can exercise reduce my stress levels?
Research has also suggested that stress can be reduced through regular exercise and movement.
- Exercise gives you something to focus on away from the cause of your stress.
- It helps to boost your mood by increasing self confidence, improving sleep quality and reducing anxiety.
- Any form of exercise will help – even a short walk at lunch time or getting off the bus a stop early allows you to get some fresh air and takes your mind away from stressful thoughts.
- A flexibility based exercise, such as Pilates or Yoga, will help to reduce muscle tension and can help ease aching related to this.
- Scheduling some time specifically for exercising may also help as it will give your day structure and breaks up time spent sat in front of the computer!
- If you exercise with friends, colleagues or family, the social element of this will again boost your mood and reduce stress levels.
- Find a new sport or something fun to do – there are lots of different things out there to try!
- Many people find a regular, professional sports or deep tissue massage can be a really great way to relieve the build up of stress and tension physically. It also gives you time to yourself to unwind.
Support your friends when they are having a stressful time
Offer to give them a lift to the gym, or suggest a walk after work. They will appreciate the little things we do for them.
For ideas to increase the awareness of stress visit Mind’s website.