By Lana Finley, DMO

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Stress is an inevitable part of life, affecting us both mentally and physically. Stress can be due to external pressures, such as work deadlines, relationship challenges, or financial worries. Stress can also be due to internal conflicts and emotions. To better comprehend the multifaceted nature of stress, let's dive into the definition of stress, its effects on mental, emotional, and physical health, and what you can do right away to help manage and reduce your stress.

What is Stress?

Stress is the body's natural reaction to perceived threats or demands, triggering the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This response, often referred to as the fight-or-flight response, prepares the body to confront or flee from the perceived danger. This reaction can be beneficial in short bursts: stress can be a beneficial and effective motivator! When stress becomes chronic or excessive, it can have detrimental effects on our overall well-being.

Effects of Stress

Mentally and emotionally, stress can lead to a myriad of challenges. Stress can disrupt cognitive functions, impairing concentration, memory, and decision-making abilities. Individuals experiencing chronic stress may also be more prone to anxiety, depression, irritability, and mood swings. Moreover, prolonged exposure to stress can impact sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or disturbed sleep, which can further exacerbate emotional distress.

Physically, stress can manifest in various ways, impacting nearly every system of the body. Chronic stress has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. It can also weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses. Furthermore, stress can contribute to gastrointestinal issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), digestive discomfort, and appetite changes. Musculoskeletal problems, including tension headaches, muscle tension, and chronic pain, are also common physical manifestations of stress.

The metaphor of the "full cup" is a powerful reminder that our mental and emotional capacities, much like a vessel, have limits.

Imagine your mind and body as a cup, capable of holding a certain amount of liquid. The cup's capacity represents your mental and emotional capacity. When your cup is filled beyond its capacity, it overflows with stressors: work demands, family responsibilities, financial concerns, and personal issues. You may become overwhelmed, unable to handle any additional burdens. This overwhelming sensation can lead to feelings of being stuck, stagnant, or unable to cope effectively with life's challenges.

overflowing cup a metaphor for stress


Ways to Relieve Stress

Understanding the impact of stress on mental, emotional, and physical health is crucial for developing effective coping strategies and fostering resilience. Just as a full cup must be emptied or relieved of its contents to regain its capacity, individuals overwhelmed by stress must actively seek ways to alleviate their burdens and restore balance.

Effective stress management techniques will vary from person to person. Some healthy ways to relieve stress include:

  • mindfulness meditation,
  • deep breathing exercises,
  • yoga,
  • progressive muscle relaxation,
  • engaging in regular physical activity,
  • maintaining a balanced diet,
  • prioritizing sleep, and
  • fostering social connections.

Practicing stress management techniques can help individuals reduce stress levels and cultivate a sense of calm and clarity. 

Stress is a complex phenomenon that affects individuals mentally, emotionally, and physically. The metaphor of the "full cup" is a powerful reminder that our mental and emotional capacities, much like a vessel, have limits. Recognizing these boundaries is not a sign of weakness but rather an act of self-awareness and self-compassion.

In the ebb and flow of life, stress will undoubtedly remain a constant companion. However, armed with the knowledge of the effects of stress, and equipped with proactive strategies, we can transform the overwhelming waves into manageable ripples. Let us strive not just to survive amidst the stresses of life, but to thrive with resilience and ease, ensuring that our cups remain vessels of strength, vitality, and well-being.

By Lana Finley, DMO
Energize Health - North

Lana Finley is a Manual Osteopathic Therapist at Energize Health. Lana earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Kinetics from the University of British Columbia. In the earlier days of her career, Lana worked as a kinesiologist, gaining experience with various sports teams including junior football, soccer and hockey.

Lana excels at identifying the interplay between the body's structure and function. Her keen understanding of anatomy, coupled with knowledge of physiological systems, allows her to pinpoint issues accurately. She employs gentle, non-invasive techniques to address root causes of pain or discomfort.

At the core of Lana's approach are two principles: recognizing the body as a unified entity and understanding the interrelation between structure and function.She is skilled in many te4chniques that contribute to overall well-being.

Beyond her practice, Lana maintains an active lifestyle, enjoying activities like running, gym workouts, hiking, skiing, and sports spectating. With her expertise and dedication, Lana offers valuable insights into holistic health through manual osteopathic therapy, making a positive impact on her clients' well-being. This approachable summary encapsulates Lana's extensive qualifications and passion for improving lives.

Book an appointment with Lana at Energize Health - North

Questions about how Lana can support you on your journey towards health and wellbeing? Reach out and let's connect.