Stress and the Body

Recognise when your body is under stress and ways in which to manage

I see regularly in clinical practice how stress, thoughts and feelings can affect the body.

Stress is a psychological and physical response of the body that occurs whenever we must adapt to changing conditions, whether those conditions be real or perceived, positive or negative. Stress is part of the human experience and as an adaptive response we can develop coping strategies to help return to our psychological and physiological baseline. Stress is not all bad! Stress in small amounts is positive.


Good stress is all about sufficiently challenging yourself without expending all your resources. This type of stress empowers you to grow:

  • Emotionally - result in positive feelings of contentment, inspiration, motivation, and flow.

  • Psychologically - helps us build our self-efficacy, autonomy, and resilience.

  • Physically - helps us build our body (e.g., through completing a challenging workout).

Stress affects all systems of the body

  • Nervous System - the body is constantly scanning of you are safe. The brain doesn’t know if the threat is real or perceived. It doesn’t know the difference if you are watching a scary movie or in actual danger!

  • Endocrine System (hormones) – which includes the adrenal glands, ovaries/ testes, thyroid gland and pituitary gland. When we are chronically stressed, the high constant release of stress hormones makes our body feel stress and inflamed.

  • Digestive System - digestion, nutrient absorption, bloating, irritable bowel, gut issues

  • Musculoskeletal system - in chronic stress we tend to lose muscle mass, even if we are still doing the same amount of exercise. When we are stressed, we tend to tense up our muscles and adopt protective postures ( eg lifting our shoulders up to our ears)



My top key strategies to Manage Stress, only 10 mins per day!

  1. Change your Mindset - Your obligations and responsibilities are not your stress. It is your thoughts and perceptions about those things in relation to yourself that causes it. Try to reframe – Things that you “have to do” to things that you “get to” do. It changes from being a chore to being grateful for what you get to do.

  2. Belly breathing - Once we are stressed the only thing that can make you feel “safe” is to regulate your nervous system by doing belly breathing. Find a comfortable position, place your hands on your lower belly and breathe slowly and deeply through your belly.

  3. Box breathing - breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4, breathe out for 4 and hold for 4.

  4. Mindful Movement to breath: move your body mindfully combining to your breath. Any movement that makes you feel good! My favourite is to move my spine to breath.

  5. Nourishment of the body and the soul - drink plenty of water, eat vegetables and food closest to its original form ( tip – anything without a bar code is good for you), walk barefoot in nature, connect to your family and friends.


If you are looking to implement more stress management strategies in your life please contact us at reception@ericstphysiotherapy.com.au or call 9384 9374 to book in an initial consultation. You can always check out our instagram @ericstphysio for more information.





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