What is the worst thing someone can tell you when you’re stressed? For me it’s “don’t stress” or “you look stressed”. We all experience stress of varying degrees and it comes from many different situations. As osteopaths we see people every day trying to cope with different levels of stress.  We understand how it can affect your body and why people tell you to try not to stress.

What is stress?

Stress is a normal response from your brain and body to different demands of life.

Stressors can include exercise, traumatic experiences, tasks at home, work or life situations - anything that puts your body in a heightened state.

Stressor can be big or small, occur as a once off or on a continual basis and be different for everyone.

How does my body react to stress?

When stressed your body reacts; your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate increases, your muscles tense ready for action and your blood is redistributed to areas that need it such as your brain and the muscles required to get you ready for a flight or fight response.

This can lead to symptoms such as headaches, colds, fatigue, upset stomachs, anger, irritability, feelings of sadness or of low energy.

Good Vs Bad Stress

Not all stress is bad, sometimes stress can make you more alert and help you prepare or adapt and react to a situation quickly.

However prolonged periods of stress can affect your body and your recovery from injuries. When constantly stressed, other systems and daily functions of your body can be affected including your digestive, cardiovascular, reproductive systems and immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness. Your sleep and mental health can also be influenced.

Everyone experiences stress in different ways and have different triggers. It is important to recognise your own triggers and when you are becoming stressed and take steps towards managing the stress.

Here are some ways you can help manage your stress:

·        Speak to a health professional

·        Complete regular exercise

·        Eat a healthy and well balanced diet

·        Get a regular sleep routine and get enough sleep

·        Get involved in activities and hobbies you enjoy

·        Spend time with family and friends and maintain relationships

·        Seek support from those around you

·        Complete a relaxing activity such as meditation, yoga, mindfulness or breathing exercises

·        Indentify things you can control in your environment and those that you can’t

·        Prioritise what you need to do

·        Communicate and use others to help share the load and make clear when you are getting close to your limit.

Resources to help manage your stress include:

·        This way up – free coping with stress course-

·        Reachout breathe app – iphone app which encourages you to focus on your breathing and slowing your heart rate

·        Smiling minds app

·        Even visit This ways up’s up article on 12 free apps to help manage stress and chose the app which best suits you -

·        Headspace -

How an Osteopath can help with stress

An osteopath can help support you through times of stress by prescribing exercises to help relax muscles, breathing exercises to lower any heightened levels of stress as well as provide resources to help you manage your stress.

Stress often creates compensatory postures or injuries which can become uncomfortable and further contribute to the stress.

A common posture when stressed is the hunching over in the shoulders which can lead to upper back, shoulder or neck complaints or even headaches.

With the use of different techniques such as soft tissue to work on the tense muscles, mobilisation for the stiff joints an osteopath can assist in managing the complaint and its interrelationship with your stress.

To book online please follow this link or give us a call on 0416 161 411.

Other resources for stress management

The use of websites, apps, books, exercises can all be helpful to different people,  if you need support you can speak to many health professionals including your Osteopath,  GP, psychologist, counsellor and any other health professional that you have a strong relationship with.

If you recognise someone who is experiencing large amounts of stress, be supportive.  A good way of approaching them is “how can I help you?” This may allow them to identify ways that they can reduce their stress and for you to help through that stressful time.

Foot notes:

National institute of Mental health: