Helping Reduce Stress

Posted on 08/04/2021 in Rhythmic

Helping Reduce Stress

Stress awareness month is held every April to raise awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. 

Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems. Individually we need to understand what is causing us personal stress and learn what steps we can take to reduce it for ourselves and those around us.

For some of you, the return to the gym in the next few weeks may make you feel slightly anxious and nervous as you return to coaching or training after the break. Katie Richards shares her thoughts during our return to training sports psychology webinar which brings together her own experience as a gymnast and  in sports psychology support which you can watch on our YouTube channel

Watch > Sports psychology & mental well-being of return to training

When your body is in stress, your autonomic nervous system is fired up which overrides all the other electrical nerves in your body in order to turn on fight or flight mode and it releases cortisol which reduces the ability to think clearly and can affect how you function. 

A key thing to do to combat stress is to be aware of your stress triggers or stimulus and psychologically and consciously assign a different meaning to it. There are three podcasts within our mental fitness that can all support how you manage and react to stress.

Listen >  Breathing Tools for Athletes 
Listen >  Body Scan Meditation 
Listen >  Visualisation & Competitive Anchoring 

Our Mental Fitness resource also covers some of these topics around stress.

Read > Supporting gymnasts' mental fitness  

You can also find additional resources from SAMH stress support.

Read > Understanding Stress

Even in 60 seconds, SAMH suggest how you can be less stressed:

1  Breathe
Take a long, deep breath in, feel your lungs expand like a balloon, hold for a moment, and then release slowly out through your mouth.

2  Laugh
Laughing increases your blood flow, boosts your ability to fight illness, and it feels really good.

3  Move
Jumping jacks, squats and burpees can all be done quickly. Moving relaxes the muscles, uses up adrenaline and releases chemicals that help depression.

4  Smile
Smiling releases chemicals that lower your blood pressure and increase relaxation.

5  Music
Listening to music can improve mood, reduce depression and anxiety, and boost self esteem. And singing has been found to reduce levels of stress hormones.

6  Stretch
Stress can make us tense. When we stretch our muscles relax, blood flow increases and endorphins are released.

7  Declutter
Feeling like we have too much can increase stress hormones and overload our sense. Try donating things you don’t need to charity.

8  Thankful
Reflect on the things you’re grateful for – people who do this regularly are less anxious, more engaged and have more fulfilling relationships.

9  Sigh
Relaxing your mouth and shrugging your shoulders sends a message to your brain to turn off stress hormones.

10 Nature
Even if you’re not close to nature, just looking at photos of nature can reduce stress levels and improve self-esteem.

This framework from UK coaching highlights some useful questions to consider as you support your coaches returning to the gym.

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