Stress and Anxiety - Covid-19

In our recent “Circuit Breaker Health Survey” a massive 67.5% of our patients told us they had found the CB emotionally challenging. The uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation has created a huge amount of stress and anxiety - from problems with home schooling children, worry regarding job security, financial pressures and health anxiety.

Being under pressure can be good for us ie when meeting an urgent work deadline but persistent anxiety and worry can create a chronic stress response within the body that can affect our physical and mental health. Long term stress can cause an overactive sympathetic nervous system (our flight or fight system) to release too much adrenaline and cortisol (our stress hormones) into the blood stream which can increase our risk of many health issues from heart disease and stroke to anxiety and depression.

The physical manifestations of stress & anxiety include:

Headaches - high levels of adrenaline & cortisol can cause muscles to become tense, especially the muscles of the neck and shoulders, this tension can reduce blood flow causing the muscles to become knotty and fibrous which limits the movement of the joints in the upper back & neck. This can commonly cause 2 headache types - Cervicogenic & Tension type headaches. Osteopathy may help reduce this tension by improving blood flow to these muscles and improving the mobility of joints.

Insomnia - An over active “Fight or Flight” system can affect our ability to switch off which can amplify feelings of anxiety. The sympathetic nervous system is located along each side of the vertebrae in our upper backs. Osteopaths can address dysfunction in this area which may help to rebalance the nervous system. Osteopathic techniques may also help to address the parasympathetic, or “Rest & Digest” system to lower blood pressure and heart rate to encourage relaxation.

Chest Tightness - Panic can lead to symptoms of chest tightness and breathlessness - Osteopaths are trained to improve the function of the ribs and diaphragm to encourage relaxation and deep breathing through the use of manual techniques and breathing exercises.

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