Its that time of year again. The carefree days of summer are gone. It can be a stressful time as schedules fill up and the pace of life seems to turn from a walk to a run. Everyone has experienced some kind of stress in their lives and many deal with it on a daily basis. Stress can be caused by a plethora of things; the daily demands of life, personal relationships and deadlines at work as well as bigger life changes and transitions ie the loss of a job or a loved one. Even positive things can cause stress like planning a wedding, the birth of a child or a child’s first day of school.
We all know what stress is, but how does it affect us and our body? Noticeable physical responses to stress include an increase in heart rate, sweating, rapid breathing and heightening of the senses. These are all symptoms of the “Fight or Flight” response that nature has equipped us with for our own protection. Unfortunately our physiology can not tell the difference between a life or death situation and a rough day at the office. Anything that causes us stress will cause the same release of the hormones Adrenaline and Cortisol. Over time, heightened stress states can affect our moods, sleeping habits, eating habits and energy levels. Physical aches and pains may develop. Even our memory and ability to conceive can be impinged. If stressful conditions persist it may increase the risk of more severe disease ie: heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, depression and disorders of the autoimmune system.
So what are some ways we can manage our stress so that it does not weaken our Body and Mind? There are many coping techniques available. The most basic and easy tool to reduce stress is simply to breathe. Slow, deep breaths can lower a fast heart rate and make you feel more calm. Exercise is not only good for your cardiovascular and muscular systems, it also reduces stress hormones and releases endorphins, which are those “feel good” hormones. Meditation can take the use of breath a step further and invites the mind to quiet. Letting go of stressful thoughts is the key to reducing stress levels, but it may not be as simple as it sounds. It is good to practice these methods. The more you do it, the more adept you will be at coping and will be able to balance yourself quickly.
Therapeutic services like Massage Therapy and Reiki (and of course chiropractic care) focus on lowering stress levels and can bring you to a deep state of calm. Massage packs all the benefits of breath, exercise and meditation into one synergistic experience that takes little effort for the recipient. Not only does it reduce stress hormones, Cortisol and Adrenaline, it also releases endorphins and reduces physical pain or tension.
It’s important to take stress seriously, as it can have some very harmful effects. Mastering your ability to manage your stress will make you healthier, happier and more emotionally balanced. You will be more productive at work or at school and your personal relationships will benefit as well. Everyone experiences stress differently. Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to experience it at all?