May is the month to officially celebrate mothers but it is also a month that observes Mental Health Awareness and Women’s Health Month. With the most recent celebration of Mother’s Day, I have been reflecting on the impact caregiving and parenting has had on my own physical and mental health. Balancing the demands of motherhood and work can often leave me feeling there is little time left for my own needs. However, my career as a physical therapist has helped me to understand the value of health and wellness and ultimately the importance of self-care.
Self-care refers to the actions and practices we take to care for ourselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally to maintain our own health and wellness. I have worked with many wonderful patients over the years who have not only struggled physically but emotionally; they have put all of their energy into caring for others and/or working very demanding jobs to provide for their families. Many of these patients recognize that stress is a large factor in their headache, neck, jaw, and back pain (just to name a few). So how does stress really impact our bodies?
Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone experiences stress and in the short term, it can be beneficial to your health and can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart rate, breathing rates, and ready your muscles to respond (aka the “fight-or-flight” response).
Problems start to occur when stress becomes chronic, and levels stay elevated far longer than necessary. Chronic stress can impact the central nervous, endocrine, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, reproductive, immune, and muscular systems of your body. Common symptoms of chronic stress include (but are not limited to) the following:
The following are documented ways to combat stress and provide self-care to improve your own physical and mental well-being:
Many of us already know what we should be doing to manage our stress, but the more difficult task is taking the time and actually incorporating these practices into our daily lives. We can’t always do it on our own. Hulst Jepsen PTs/PTAs/ATCs and Personal Trainers are trained and skilled in helping individuals with the physical component of self-care which can lead to the improvement of your mental well-being. We can be your self-care advocates and teach you how to equip your body with the tools you need to better handle the stress that comes your way and ultimately, to better care for the important people in your life. How do we do this?
If you are ready to take additional steps to improve your physical well-being and need more guidance, please don’t hesitate to call 616.256.8679 to request an appointment or ask about our personal training services. You can also contact any one of 22 clinics and schedule a free consultation with one of our many skilled and knowledgeable therapists. We want to be your self-care advocate and would be happy to assist you on your journey to being a healthier and happier you!