NoveHow do the following make you feel?
- Watching a horror film?
- Unfinished work and a deadline you cannot meet?
- Getting into a minor accident?
- Forgetting to pick up your wife?
- Moving house?
While all can evoke a range of emotions, all of them certainly cause us to feel stressed. Each of these incidents, and many others, can tip our lives upside-down causing us to feel stressed and unhappy. If given a chance, we will do everything we can to avoid such feelings. But it makes us think, what exactly is stress, why do we think it’s bad, and what can we do about it?
What Is Stress?
In short, it’s your body’s way of dealing with an external threat. If you were a cavemen and a predator approached you, your nervous system would respond by causing a fight or flight response. On a biological level, your nervous system releases stress hormones including adrenaline and cortisol which causes our bodies to respond. This means our heart beats faster, our muscles tighten, our breath quickens, our blood pressure rises, and our senses become more acute.
Why Stress Can Be Harmful
While this response can save a caveman or even help us in the modern world to keep us alert and avoid danger, constantly feeling stressed can wear our bodies down and have a number of adverse effects. In fact, stress can negatively affect our health, our behaviour, and our mood. Here’s a short list of how stress can affect you:
- Digestion problems
- Food cravings
- Hair loss
- Increases reliance on tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs
- Induce premature labour
- Irritability and anger
- Lessens sex drive
- Muscle tension and pain
- Short-term memory impairment
- Social withdrawal
- Weight gain
If none of them sound appealing, then it’s time to manage stress and get it under order.
How to Minimize Stress
Just because you’re stressing doesn’t mean you can’t manage it. In fact, getting a handle on ourselves when times are trying is actually quite easy to do. In no particular order, here are the top 10 best ways to reduce and manage stress:
- Listen to music
- Sleep more
- Take deep breaths
- Write or talk about your feelings
- Have sex
- And finally… have a massage!
How Does Massage Help To Minimize Stress?
If you’ve never had a massage, you might be curious as to why massage is on that list. The fact is, massage is the perfect method for dealing with stress. As we previously mentioned, when we are stressed our bodies release a chemical called cortisol which – when we have a lot of it – can lead to a number of health problems. When we get a massage, our cortisol levels go down while our serotonin levels go up. Serotonin, if you are not aware, makes us feel good. When we have plenty of it, we feel good and less stressed. By having a massage, we improve our state of minds; and by lowering stress, we improve our health.
Just remember that not all stress is bad, in fact stress can be good if we are in a dangerous situation. However, too much stress can cause a number of health and well-being problems. Thankfully stress can be controlled in a number of ways, one of which is massage. Keep that in mind next time things feel overwhelming – a massage can go a long way in making you feel better.