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8 Ways Your Health Gets Better When You Relax

We all know the feeling. Maybe your muscles tense up, or you have trouble sleeping, or you have trouble keeping your temper - we all handle stress differently. And for many people, winter plays an extra roll in stress: the holidays, family dinners, snow, daylight savings...


Stress is a driving factor in many things we do, from work to family activities and everything in between. To some extent, stress can drive us to be better, more productive, and more effective in our every day lives. However, there comes a time and place where the every day stresses become too much and we need to take a break from them to allow our minds and bodies to relax and heal.


Stress has a very real physical effect on our body. Evidence shows that stress is a major contributing factor in the 8 points below. As well, the 'stress hormone', cortisol, rises when you are stressed, causing increased appetite and junk food cravings, which leads to weight gain, which also plays a role in many of these 8 stress-related health issues!


  1. Stress puts strain on your heart and increases the chance of heart disease.

  2. Stress increases your risk of catching a cold.

  3. Stress decreases memory retention.

  4. Stress increases your risk of a stroke.

  5. Stress increases depression and anxiety symptoms (which loop back into more stress!).

  6. Stress can help cancer cells survive despite anti-cancer drugs (chemo).

  7. Stress can actually shrink the brain by reducing gray matter.

  8. Stress increases the speed of aging.


So what can you do about it? Relax! Calming the mind, body - or better, both - reduces stress, increases blood flow, and decreases muscle tension, along with reducing the risk of the severe medical issues from stress.


Ways to improve relaxation


Getting enough sleep is key to promoting health and is essential to your ability to learn and process. It will also restore your energy, allowing your body tissues to heal, and allow proper body function. Adults require 7-8 hours of sleep on average to function properly. Quality sleep is very important as deep sleep is restorative in nature and will allow you to awake feeling rested and ready to greet the day. If you do not sleep well, not only will you awake feeling groggy or sleepy, but this increases your risk for a variety of health problems as well as headaches and depression.


Tips for a good night's sleep:

  • Avoid stimulants in the evening (caffeine, nicotine)

  • Set a schedule for sleeping and waking, and stick to it, even on weekends

  • Avoid afternoon naps

  • Try to avoid watching TV or working in bed, and/or stop 1 hour before you plan to go to sleep to allow your mind to unwind and relax

  • If your workout is typically in the evening, try moving it to the morning or early afternoon to allow your body to relax

Relaxation is important as well, whether in the form of meditation, exercise, resting, and spending quality time with family/friends. It can not only help relieve stress and anxiety but also improve mood, relieve pain, and improve overall health. Laughing is helpful in decreasing pain, improving relaxation and mood, and can improve hear and lung function/capacity.


Exercise can take any form that allows you to feel better - whether brisk walking, gardening, sports, dancing, yoga, or weightlifting, among other activities. Again, this helps improve your muscle and bone strength, improve your overall health, and assist in weight control. Please speak with your doctor if you have concerns before beginning any exercise routine.


Try some of these tips/tricks to keep your stress levels down - you'll be surprised how good you feel!


FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers of MetroWest provides quality physical therapy in Natick MA and physical therapy in Southborough MA. If you or a loved one or is in pain, we'd love to help. Stress often results in neck pain, TMJ or jaw pain, and physical therapy can help! At FYZICAL MetroWest, we can help you Love Your Life again - just give us a call at 508-650-0060.


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