Massage and Stress

Massage and Stress

The advances of today’s world have benefited mankind in numerous ways, but modern society is also responsible for a very dangerous condition – stress. It would be a rare person who has not felt rattled and pressured at some time during the day, and for many of us, these incidents are a near constant to our lives. Pressures at work, troubles with family members, and worry over finances can all cause stretched nerves and an overall negative outlook on life.

The Chemistry of Stress

As with all other animals on the planet, humans have an instinctive reaction to what is perceived as danger. When we consider that our lives or the lives of those we hold dear are threatened, our body will release some hormones that will enable us to react quickly and decisively – being chased by an angry water buffalo will require a burst of speed, and lifting a tree off a companion needs extra strength, and this is precisely what the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, are there for. These hormones raise your blood pressure, make your heart beat faster, and supply more strength to the muscles. This is called the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Under ordinary circumstances, the threat or danger would be of short duration and the body chemistry could then return to normal levels. Unfortunately, the ‘small threats’ that we are subjected to every day keep the levels of cortisol and adrenaline high at all times. It doesn’t take being pursued by a rabid wolf to get your stress level up; being harassed by your boss, having an argument with your spouse, dealing with a sick child, and looking an expensive car repair in the face all produce stress, too.

The Harm Caused by Stress

Just because stress does not necessarily cause pain or discomfort to begin with doesn’t mean that it’s not doing harm, it is. There are numerous ways in which stress can negatively impact your health:

  • Stress elevates blood pressure
  • It puts strain on the heart
  • It can be difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep
  • Stress can make you anxious, depressed, and/or irritable
  • People who are stressed often become overweight
  • Sore, tight muscles can cause pain in the back, neck, and head

Stress is not simply a bothersome, but fairly harmless adjunct to modern life – it is a killer. People who are stressed are also much more likely to become substance abusers, which opens up an entire new group of serious problems.

Dealing with Stress through Massage Therapy

Although antidepressant medication is distributed like candy, taking these drugs only pulls an artificial cloud over the problems caused by stress. There is still the chance of becoming addicted to these drugs, and some of them have very serious mental and physical side effects themselves.

A much safer and more effective way to deal with stress is through massage. A qualified massage therapist is trained to help you relax and overcome some of the physical and mental problems caused by stress. Scientific studies have proven the efficacy of massage in treating stress, and scheduling a weekly massage is not an indulgence – it can often be a life saver.

  • Not only does our body produce stress hormones, it also produces hormones that make us feel relaxed and happy. These hormones are called endorphins. Endorphins not only elevate our mood, they also relieve pain. Massage is a proven way to encourage your body to release more endorphins.
  • Stress not only makes you tense and nervous, it also wreaks havoc with your immune system. People who are stressed out will have fewer B and T cells to fight off illnesses; the cortisol released when stressed suppresses the body’s ability to produce these killer cells. As massage helps you to relax, your immune system can regroup and get back to the important job of keeping your healthy.
  • Stress can also cause your digestive system to become problematic. People who are suffering from stress can become constipated or develop diarrhea. Medications can help to alleviate the symptoms, but unless the underlying cause, stress, is addressed, the problem will return. Regular massage can, by getting stress under control and helping you to relax mentally and physically, calm down your gastrointestinal system so that it can function normally.

Regularly scheduled massages with a massage therapist can help you to lead a quieter, happier, more stress-free life.[/fusion_text]

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