By Loudoun Sports Therapy Center
(September 28, 2016) — You have a football game tonight, a math test tomorrow you have yet to study for, a history project due Monday and your grandma is coming into town this weekend. Sound familiar? Yes, this time of year is exciting and busy, but it can also be hectic.
As your sports schedules, homework assignments and daily activities ramp up, so can you stress level. It’s also important to listen to your body and know when you are pushing it too hard, and there are some simple and natural things you can do each day to help.
1. Regulate your breathing
When you are constantly stressed, your autonomic nervous system operates on a flight or fight response for extensive periods of time. This is not good for your body. While this adrenaline is good for handling quick situations, it hurts your body long-term and can lead to chronic pain, heart disease, diabetes and more.
Breathing is one of the easiest ways to calm down your autonomic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This sends out endorphins and other soothing hormones to calm your body down. Try breathing in through your nose for the count of six and out with your mouth for the count of four. Place your hand on your upper abdomen and try to gently expand that, being conscious of not using your shoulders or upper trapezius muscles to breathe. Try this multiple times a day, especially times when you feel stressed. It will help you relax.
2. Improve your posture
Posture is key to the proper functioning of your breathing, digestion and musculoskeletal systems. How is the setup of your workstation, home computer and other daily areas you sit or stand in? Do you find yourself slumping and slouching throughout the day? Take time to lie on the floor in the morning or evening and stretch your hands over head, stretching your back. Do upper and mid back strengthening exercises to strengthen your postural muscles.
3. Exercise regularly
Your practice schedule might take care of this already, but if you don’t typically exercise, try going for a walk 10-20 minutes a day. This small change can help reduce your stress level and improve your overall health. Try doing regular aerobic exercise and also incorporate strengthening exercises as well. This will help you better perform your daily activities. A big reason people stop exercising is boredom. Make it fun, participate in a class, be with others, try sports and set goals for yourself.
4. Eat better
We all know we should eat better, but it takes discipline and making meal preparation a part of your routine. If you need a snack in between classes or before practice, reach for some veggies, fruit or nuts instead of a candy bar. Make sure you prevent hunger by eating small snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels normal. Drink more water to keep a feeling of being full and help your body operate properly.
These simple actions can go a long way to helping you de-stress, improve your health and prevent your risk for injury.
Note from our sponsor: Don’t let an injury sideline you from the activities you love doing. If you or anyone you know has suffered a strain, sprain or any overuse injury, pick up the phone and call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center at 703-450-4300 TODAY to schedule an appointment. No doctor’s note is necessary to begin your road to recovery in physical therapy! Don’t let pain limit you. We care. We listen. We get RESULTS!