Most people think of stress as a negative thing but it isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. Events that are considered good can still cause a certain amount of stress: a wedding, birth of a child, a new home or job, for example. Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. When you sense danger – whether it’s real or imagined – the body's defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “Fight or Flight” reaction, or the stress response.
The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, the rush of adrenaline can save your life – giving you extra strength to defend yourself or causing you to quickly slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. But when you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price. Stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.
This is chronic stress. The signs and symptoms of stress overload are numerous and vary with the individual. Stress affects the mind, body, and emotions in many ways, and is one of the leading causes of illness and disease. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. In addition to making muscles tight, sore or "knotty" , it can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, and increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions. Long-term stress takes its toll on the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression, and memory loss .
It is important to understand that the human body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. When you’re stressed over a busy schedule, an argument, a traffic jam, or a stack of bills, your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. Just thinking about a past stressful event can cause the same reactions in your body as when the event actually happened. If you have a lot of responsibilities and worries, your emergency stress response may be “on” most of the time. The more your body’s stress system is activated, the more likely it is to stay active and the more difficult it becomes to shut it down.
How Can Massage Help?
Massage puts the body back into balance by stimulating the nervous system's relaxation response or "Rest and Digest" reaction. This results in reduced blood pressure and heart rate, increased circulation, and slower, more even breathing. Anxiety is reduced and tense muscles begin to relax. With regular massage, many people experience the added benefits of better quality of sleep, improved concentration, and greater levels of energy. Even a 15-30 minute massage if received on a regular basis, can help to keep the body and mind balanced and functioning at their best.
By: Lynne Gavrilis