Many of us struggle to effectively cope with the challenges that life throws our way. When these challenges are not life-threatening, it’s easy to just react without thinking about the different coping strategies that might be helpful in the heat of the moment.
Stress is the product of a stressor, which can negatively affect our ability to deal with daily challenges and be detrimental to our health. So from a practical perspective, stress is the physical, psychological, emotional and behavioral reactions that accompanying a stressor. These reactions are commonly called stress reactivity. In 2014, Duke University showed the physiological response to external stressors and how harmful they can be on our body. Realizing these physiological consequences, one might be tempted to avoid stressors altogether! Avoiding some stressors is wise and may decrease the frequency of stress reactivity, avoiding all stressors under any and all circumstances is not only impossible, it is also not a healthy option. One needs a certain degree of stress to engage oneself in our environment and to learn to cope effectively with life’s challenges.
Exercise is a good way to mute the negative effects of stress. This may seem surprising, since exercise is itself a stressor. All the short-term physiologic effects of exercise such as increases in heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and metabolism, the effects are similar to that produced by interpersonal conflict! How can a stressor be used to counteract another stressor? One reason is that we usually choose exercise, it is not forced upon us. Also, exercise typically gives us a number of health benefits such as a lower resting heart rate, lower blood pressure and less muscle tension after the exercise is over. This is quite different from the interpersonal conflict example, because when the argument stops, heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension remain high. Basically, whenever we exercise we use the physiologic pathways of stress reactivity for a good cause.
Dr. Gibson and his staff understand the role that stress plays in patient’s everyday lives and also knows how important it is to combat those stressors. Call our office today and find out how we can help!