Stress has long been known as a killer. Science has discovered that stress is responsible for almost all our ailments and plays a big factor in life threatening diseases like heart disease.
Here’s how it works:
When we humans feel threatened, whether the threat is real or imagined our bodies go into the freeze, flight, fight mode, also known as the stress response. Our heart starts to beat faster as the kidneys produce adrenaline, which also makes our pupils dilate so we are alert and ready for action. Our breathing becomes shallow and all the blood is diverted away from our internal organs and to our extremities in preparation for flight, or, if necessary, fight.
This is great as a lifesaver, when we are being attacked by a grizzly bear for example. Not that there is much we can do when being attacked by a grizzly bear, except probably to play dead. This would equate to us being in the freeze mode (think of a rabbit in the glare of the headlights).
If we are lucky and the bear decides to spare us, and ambles on its way, we can eventually calm ourselves down and turn off the stress response and, hopefully get back home in one piece, possible never to venture out on a hike in the woods ever again!
Often, however, the stress response is triggered in our more down to earth and day-to-day situations, when our lives are not being threatened. For instance, when we have a deadline to meet at work and the pressure is mounting or we miss the bus to work.
Our body will respond in the same manner as when the bear is chasing us. When we experience chronic stress over a long period of time and the stress response is not switched off it becomes a problem, and it can become a very big problem.
On top of the above symptoms, the muscles in the body tense up in preparation for fight or flight. Over time, this can lead to all sorts of physical problems like stiffness, back problems, and other structural injuries.
• Emotionally anxiety and depression have been linked to stress.
• Insomnia is another stress related disorder.
• In addition, the list of stress related problems goes on: asthma, obesity, heart disease, insomnia, and diabetes have all been linked to stress.
• The American Institute Of Stress reports that 70 to 90% of all doctor visits are linked to stress.
Stress is a widespread problem, and especially in the United States, where the modern world has somehow lost touch with the art of relaxation. We rush everywhere, we have too much to do, and the constant attention to our gadgets and devices never gives our brains a rest.
This is where massage can help.
Massage is a wonderful healer and more and more is being touted as an alternative healing modality. It is more than just a luxury pampering treat. Massage is great for stress because it relaxes the body and actually helps to turn off the stress response. It stimulates the para-sympathetic nervous system and turns off the sympathetic nervous system.
This means that the gentle, soothing strokes of a massage cause the body to calm down and relax. The production of adrenaline is slowed. Breathing gets deeper. Heart rate slows, and blood is returned from the extremities to the internal organs so that adequate digestive processes can take place. Massage is the quintessential antithesis to stress!
So rather than seeing it as a luxury, if you lead a busy, stressful life, you can see massage as an essential item in your self-care and good health tool-kit.
It will calm you down, relax you, and help you to feel better. It will help you to go slow and come closer to experiencing the present moment.
It is a wonderful way to nurture yourself and can be used to release tension, soothe your aches and pains, and reduce the “killer stress.” It helps your body flush out unwanted toxins.
Massage is really the getaway for your mind, body, and spirit; a vacation from the constant stressors of the modern world.
Give yourself the gift of self-care and nurturing; consider making it a part of your regular health and wellness routine!