APRIL is STRESS AWARENESS month
We all experience stress from time to time, it’s a natural reaction to challenging situations. The ‘fight or flight’ response is a defence mechanism, a one-off reaction to perceived threat. However constantly being in this state means the body’s chemicals involved are continuously being stimulated, resulting in chemical imbalance, this is STRESS.
Long term stress can be detrimental to our health and well-being, diminishing the immune system and so reducing the body’s ability to fight off infections. Increased levels of cortisol; the hormone released during stress, contributes to overall inflammation in the body which affects the heart and blood vessels resulting in high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Other common complaints of stress and anxiety include: memory problems, low mood, difficulty concentrating, irritability, aches and pains - due to stress related postural changes, digestive problems, headaches, weight gain, chest pains, putting off responsibilities, substance abuse… the list goes on.
How massage can help
We all know massage feels good and helps you relax but at a more physiological level massage can be used as a powerful tool to combat the negative effects of stress, anxiety and tension on the body. The positive effects are immediate as massage stimulates the central nervous system. The amount of cortisol being produced is decreased, resulting in a decreased heart and breathing rate, while levels of our feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine are increased. This induces relaxation, improves mood and promotes happiness and feelings of emotional wellbeing.
Massage can help with muscle and joint pain caused by stress and anxiety related postural changes. Tight muscles restrict full movement and can pull you into painful positions leading to common problems including back and neck pain. Regular massage sessions can loosen and relax muscles and has been to improve mood and sleep quality.
Don’t have time for a massage? Try some deep breathing exercises for instant stress relief. Breathing deeply oxygenates the blood prompting our brain to release endorphins and promote relaxation.
You can try this deep breathing routine any time of the day: Sit quietly with clothes loosened and hands in your lap. Breathe deeply and slowly through your nose down into your belly, your chest shouldn’t rise, inhale to a count of 7. Hold for a moment and then slowly exhale through your mouth with lips pursed for a count of 8. Repeat for 5 – 10 minutes.
Massage can be used in conjunction with other modes of therapy to help decrease stress and anxiety levels. Read more here www.thetreatmentspace.com about other therapies available at The Treatment Space in Sheffield.