Covid-19 has been a stressful time for all of us.
But, what is Stress?
Stress is the body's reaction to harmful situations -- whether they’re real or perceived. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury. This reaction is known as "fight-or-flight,” or the stress response. During stress response, your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises. You’ve gotten ready to act.
Stress means different things to different people. What causes stress in one person may be of little concern to another. Some people are better able to handle stress than others. In small doses, stress can help you accomplish tasks and prevent you from getting hurt.
But our bodies are designed to handle small doses of stress. We are not equipped to handle long-term, chronic stress without ill consequences.
One way we can try and overcome this feeling of stress is by trying to overturn one of the mechanisms we can actually control and that is our breathing.
When we are stressed, our breathing tends to quicken and becomes shallow which can lead to shoulder shrugging and at times neck and shoulder pain. There is insufficient movement of our diaphragm which is our main breathing muscles and in turn other muscles take over the job.
If we find ourselves getting stressed or even if we notice ourselves breathing fast when we should be at rest we should try and follow these ques:
- Ensure you are breathing through your nose
- Listen to the sound of your breath. Try to quieten your breath so you can't even hear yourself breathing
- Slow down the pace of your breathing
- As you are breathing try to identify movement of your stomach rather than the upper chest and shoulders