Stress is held within our mind and our body. For Stress Down Day on Friday 25th March 2022, we are highlighting the important connection between mind and body through movement.
We can often pick up on clues from others which let us know how they’re feeling; someone who is nervous may talk quickly or blush when embarrassed.
As well as feeling our own more internal responses to stress and anxiety like salivation, heart rate and heavy breathing. These physiological responses are connected by a single regulatory system and determined by the balance of two branches of the automatic nervous system.
 Van Der Kolk, B. 2015. Chapter 5 ‘Body-Brain Connections’, pp 74-86. The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, brain and body in the transformation of trauma. Penguin. London.
The Sympathetic Nervous System
- Our fight or flight response
- Moves blood to the muscles for quick action
- Triggers the adrenal gland to pump out adrenaline, which speeds up the heart rate and increases blood pressure
The Parasympathetic Nervous System
- Slows down the heart rate
- Relaxes muscles and breathing
- Promotes self-preservation functions such as digestion and healing wounds
Our bodies work to balance these sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, though we may feel one more heavily than the other at times.
To calm our minds, we need to calm our bodies and mindful movement can help us to achieve this. When feeling stressed or anxious, activities such as yoga or stretching can help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and help us to feel calmer.
Exercising for twenty minutes or more can enhance mood by releasing chemicals called endorphins which relieve pain and increase a sense of well-being and relaxation. Exercise also helps relieve tension caused by muscle contraction – the exercise can be something as simple as a gentle stroll really noticing the natural elements around you.
Spending time with others can increase our happiness and wellbeing and doing enjoyable activities with others can increase this even more! Throwing in some laughter raises endorphins and can even temporarily relieve pain.
“Most of our energy is devoted to connecting with others”
Social support is incredibly beneficial when it comes to recovery. For our bodies to calm down during times of stress, we need to feel heard, understood and safe. This is something that can be found at our Café Hubs in Scarborough, Hereford, Hawick, Gosport and Lancaster; please do stop by any time.
For Stress Down Day on Friday 25th March 2022, each Hub will be putting on their own activities featuring movement to de-stress. Please follow their individual Facebook pages for updates (links below).
Let’s move and de-stress together!
 Van Der Kolk, B. 2015. Pp. 78. The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, brain and body in the transformation of trauma. Penguin. London.