We’re not quite sure how it happened, but we’re well and truly into the final stretch of 2018. That means holidays, sunshine and Christmas festivities are just around the corner, but it also means you’re probably super busy at work tying up all the loose ends before the holiday season arrives.
Working long hours and dealing with high-pressure situations in the final end-of-year rush can be incredibly stressful, which can take its toll on your body in a number of ways. Being able to spot these symptoms and stop them in their tracks is crucial for maintaining your physical and mental wellbeing.
Here are some of the most common ways stress can affect your body:
Neck pain and tension headaches
Psychological stress can express itself with many different physical symptoms, with neck pain being one of the most common. When you’re stressed, you tend to subconsciously tense the muscles in your neck and upper back. Over time, this strain can lead to neck tension, headaches, and pain in your shoulders and back.
Stress can also make you more sensitive to pain. Little niggles that you wouldn’t notice in ordinary circumstances are amplified and can feel downright painful when your stress levels are high.
When you’re stressed, your body responds by releasing cortisol (otherwise known as the stress hormone), which makes you breathe faster in order to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the organs that need it most. Breathing quickly and deeply can cause shortness of breath, particularly if you have an existing respiratory condition such as asthma or emphysema. Once you start feeling short of breath, you may become nervous or anxious, which tends to make it even more difficult to breathe. If left to go unchecked, this cycle can lead to a panic attack.
Stress can have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. If you’re preoccupied with work projects you may find it difficult to unwind when you get into bed, which can affect the duration and quality of your rest. A lack of sleep can make it more difficult to focus on tasks during the day, and may make you feel more irritable with friends, family and colleagues.
Stress can magnify postural issues that many people - particularly office workers - deal with on a daily basis. How? Well, as noted above, stress can contribute to upper body and cranial pain, which people tend to compensate for by adjusting their posture in a way that may be harmful or unnatural. Poor posture can potentially lead to long-term back and neck problems, which can become additional sources of stress.
Book an appointment with your physiotherapist
Looking for an effective way to deal with the end-of-year chaos? We’re here to help. Come down and see your physiotherapist and/or our expert acupuncturist, James, who will help put together a strategy to keep you free of stress and pain as we move into the holidays.
Give us a call on 09 4762166 to book your appointment online today.