Stress: getting a handle on it.

Stress is something everyone knows about, but not everyone understands its effects.

When the body experiences emotional or physical stress it responds by increasing muscle tone and changing hormone levels. When a stressful situation is resolved your body returns back to its previous relaxed state. This suited us really well back in our hunter-gatherer days when we picked berries and had to run from the occasional tiger, or the like. While tigers aren't really a problem these days, you can't out run work or use fire to fend off that report that's due on Monday. Stress tends to occur over long term and doesn't necessarily have a single cause.

Your body treats these so-called minor hassles as threats. As a result you may feel as if you're constantly under assault.

Over time stress can decrease the power of your immune system and almost all your body's processes, increasing the demand for more resources to maintain it. Stress stays with us as we continue to endure it, and becomes stored as muscular & fascial tension, plus heightened levels of hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, until something happens to ease the perceived stress. Over time this chronic tension and increased hormone levels can cause:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

It is important to have an outlet for your stress and allow it to be released from your body. There are two ways to release it: one is through physical means - like massage, martial arts,  yoga, or practicing a healthy eating lifestyle, as these activities release the stored muscle tension, strengthen your body and signal the nervous system to relax. Massage especially helps lower blood pressure, increases circulation, stimulates the release of oxytocin and promotes a sense of relaxation. The other is to ease the emotional or mental factors behind the stress through methods like meditation or making the time to relax. Some simple and effective strategies are:

  • Learn to meditate 5 mins a day*
  • Spend time in nature
  • Go for a daily walk
  • Exercise regularly
  • Connect with trusted people
  • Practice your hobbies weekly

*Meditation takes you to a deeper state than sleep. During this time, just like during the sleep cycle, your body has the opportunity to repair and regenerate. Your muscles start to relax and aches are relieved. The result is increased energy and improved health.

 Take time for yourself and find the outlet for you. You'll be glad you did.

Everyone endures stress - some form of it - so remember you are not alone. How you cope with it can vary, and every method works, but some more than others for each individual. To learn more and for appointments with our specialists contact us over email or phone 780.756.5265We're here to help.

This article is written by our very own Brad Ballard, RMT at Reset Wellness.