What causes stress?
Although each of us have a unique tolerance for stress, it’s likely that everyone will feel overwhelmed at some point in their lifetime. In small doses, stress can actually motivate us, but it can also quickly become a disruptive force.
The stress response – which typically involves a feeling of being tense or on edge – is a response to a real or perceived threat. When your body senses danger, this “fight or flight” reaction ensures that you’re poised and ready to protect yourself. The body’s nervous system is flooded with hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, which can take time to dissipate.
Unfortunately, we live in a demanding world full of heightened stimuli, which can leave us trapped in a constant state of stress. Work, childcare, commuting, excessive use of electronic devices, pain management and even a poor diet may all contribute to a feeling of being constantly overwhelmed.
The main symptoms of chronic stress include:
- Inability to concentrate
- Fixation on negative thought patterns
- Constant worrying
- Depression and anxiety
- Feeling constantly overwhelmed
- Aches and pains
- Chest pain
- Reduced labido
How does stress impact your health?
If left unmanaged, chronic stress can take it’s toll on both your body and mind. It can cause or exacerbate existing conditions, such as:
- Chronic pain
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Skin conditions
- Heart disease
- Cognitive and memory slip
- Weight management
- Fertility problems
Natural ways to relieve stress
Luckily, stress is treatable, and acknowledging that you are suffering is the first step on the road to recovery. In order to manage your own stress levels you may have to make significant lifestyle changes. If you feel as though you are suffering from stress, think about trying the following:
- Listen to music: classical and jazz music has been found to have a particularly calming effect, but take a break, put on some headphones and enjoy whatever lets you zone out.
- Upgrade your diet: if you’re short on time or feeling down, it can be tempting to turn to junk food, but try to incorporate more whole grains, fruits and vegetables into your diet.
- Talk about it: don’t suffer in silence. Call a friend or talk to a partner. Letting it out can be a huge relief. If you feel that you don’t have anyone to confide in, there are many services available who can provide the listening ear you need, for example, Samaritans.
- Take it one step at a time: you might not always be able to talk to someone, but you can talk to yourself. Work through what you’re feeling point by point, and perhaps even write it down.
- Make a cup of tea: Caffeine can spike your blood pressure, so try a mug of herbal tea instead. The antioxidants and an amino acid called theanine can have a calming effect on the body.
- Exercise: get the blood pumping and release some endorphins with a long walk or short burst of high-intensity movement.
- Prioritise a good night of sleep: sometimes you just have to make the call to put down your phone, close your laptop, take a warm bath and slip into bed. Try meditating first to clear your mind.
Massage for stress relief
Studies have shown massage to be an excellent choice in treating stress. Regular massage can reduce pain, relax your muscles, boost your mood and improve your sleep quality.
If you’re new to massage therapy, consider starting out with a Swedish Massage. Using long, flowing strokes and variable pressure, this type of treatment has something for everyone.
If you know you prefer something stronger, and are holding a lot of muscular tension in your body, try a Deep Tissue Massage.
Whatever type of treatment you choose, use it as an opportunity to clear your mind and turn over a clean slate. It is recommended to follow your treatment with plenty of water, a warm bath and a good night’s sleep and you’ll be feeling calmer and more composed in no time.