The effects of stress affect us all at some time in our lives. Whether its emotional, deadline driven, or pushing your body to its limits stress.
Not all stress is bad, and a little bit of stress can actually improve our performance. However it’s the stress that continues over a sustained period of time that can and will have an affect on your body.
This stress is stimulated by emotions such as worry and anger and can leave your body in a permanent ‘Fight or Flight’ response with an excess of adrenalin, nor adrenalin and cortisol in your system.
Over a period of time this can lead to serious health problems such as raising blood pressure, suppression of the immune system, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, weight gain around the middle, hormone imbalance leading to infertility and increased risk of heart attack or stroke to name a few. Some studies indicate that between 60 and 90% of visits to healthcare professionals are for stress-related conditions.
Is your Stress response ‘on’ most of the time?
The thing is that the body doesn’t distinguish between a psychological threat or a physical threat so whether you are stressed over an impending deadline or traffic jam or financial problems, it reacts as if it were faced with a life or death situation. And if you have a lot of worries, your emergency stress response may be ‘on’ most of the time.
Suffering from headaches?
Stress also affects the muscular system as well. We naturally tense our body when stressed and typically most of us hold this tension in our neck and shoulders which can, if left untreated lead to stiffness and decreased mobility, muscle pain and long term headaches and migraines. It can also affect the accessory breathing muscles leading to us taking quicker shallow breaths.
Recommendations for reducing stress
Most of the time stress is caused by situations happening which are out of our control. So it’s very hard to make these things go away. However you can treat the symptoms of stress which in turn will relax the body and over time, start to relax the system returning it to its normal status quo.
Massage is the solution for tension headaches
MASSAGE: How many times have you had a tension headache and just reached for the painkillers? Maybe you should consider a massage instead to help solve the problem.
Regular Therapeutic Massage will help ease tight muscles and thus improve breathing, tension headaches and improve mobility. Sports Massage is a deep tissue massage which although uncomfortable can treat tight muscles on a far deeper level.
Aromatherapy Massage focuses more on lymphatic drainage. Although it isn’t a deep tissue massage, it will help to relax tight muscles on a surface level but in addition, the essential oils used can help on an emotional level. The Freya Natural Therapy Destress Yourself blend has been blended specifically to combat the effects of stress. Freya Natural Therapy Total Relaxation has been blended to relax the whole body and is an excellent aid for insomnia. And Freya Natural Therapy After Sports blend contains pure essential oils that are chosen to relax muscles.
Reflexology massage: Reflexology is a powerful rebalancing form of massage using specialist compression techniques. It is deeply relaxing and is based on the principles that reflex points on the soles, tops and sides of the foot are connected to corresponding areas throughout the body. Reflexology is great for stress related problems, re-energising and pain relief and is very helpful with chronic problems e.g back pain, migraines, hormonal imbalances, digestive problems and is generally a great aid to overall rebalancing of the body.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture is primarily concerned with regulating the individuals life force or ‘Qi’. It is a safe an effective tool for stress, usually resulting in a feeling of well-being and relaxation. The practitioner focuses on finding where the energy imbalances are and then uses acupuncture to readdress any imbalance as required.
YOGA: If you are in a permanent stressed state Yoga could be the solution. It has both physical and mental benefits. The obvious physical benefits include increased flexibility through stretching your tight body in new ways and over time this will lead to improved flexibility which in turn leads to improved muscle tone. However Yoga is also an excellent tool in relieving stress.
As mentioned before when you are stressed your breathing is altered becoming shallower. Yoga breathing exercises called Pranayama focus the attention on the breath and teach us how to use our lungs better which in turn benefits the entire body. Plus the physical activity is good for relieving stress and in turn releases endorphins – our bodies natural feel good and pain reliever.
EXERCISE: This is the obvious solution but also the easiest to come up with an excuse for not doing! The usual answer being “I’m too busy!” Twenty minutes exercise that raises your heartbeat a day will quickly help reduce the more serious effects of stress. Exercise increases the heartrate, improves circulation, and produces endorphins. It clears your head on a mental level and gets into your body on a physical level. You feel refreshed after exercise and more mentally alert. The easiest exercise? Get out and WALK! It reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and strokes, helps lower blood pressure, reduce body fat, enhances mental well being, controls weight and helps with flexibility and coordination! Personally, I believe the combination of all of these things will help reduce the affects of stress long-term.
My number one recommendation for managing stress…
My final recommendation is to buy an Aroma Diffuser. If you are suffering from stress and don’t already have a aroma diffuser – get one! The ones I sell are air ionisers as well so it improves the air quality. It looks great but more importantly you can put a few drops of my Destress Yourself or Total Relaxation blend and leave the smell to pervade into whatever room you keep it in. And the essential oils work a treat on an emotional level. Immediately restoring calm. My clients all report that it works wonders and they love the smell which lingers for quite a while. Its completely safe to use, with ordinary tap water and there is an automatic cut off when the water gets below a certain level so you don’t have to remember to switch it off, unlike a candle! Prices start at £34.99 for the Bliss Diffuser or £45.99 for the Zenbow diffuser which has colour changing mood lighting! I hope you have found these tips helpful. In my experience, the vast majority of us just soldier on thinking that it’s “just a bit of stress”. … you now have the tools to manage it and stay ‘in control’. After all, if you look after your body, your body will look after you!
Freya Keith, Holistic Therapist, Freya Natural Therapy Ltd