Stress is a natural process that happens to all of us. Stress evolved as a way to keep us safe from perceived danger in our primitive environment. Today those complex responses still exist and indeed sometimes we need them even in modern times in order to help avert us from a dangerous situation or even fight for our lives. In reality our stress response is not triggered by life threatening situations but instead by perhaps an overwhelming workload, financial strain, an unhappy relationship or an unfulfilling job.
Long term exposure to stress in your life can have a deleterious effect on your health and manifest in a whole range of symptoms. Why? As your body thinks it is in danger the ‘fight or flight’ mechanisms are prioritised while other bodily functions are switched to a minimal gear, including your immune and natural repair systems. Why would your body waste energy fighting off a virus or healing an injury if your hormones are telling you that you may need to invest all your energies at any moment into running like hell from a hairy mammoth or fighting for your life? We have evolved to deal with the immediated danger to ensure survival but living a modern life tricks our bodies into thinking our stresses are more important than eradicating cancer cells, repairing injuries or fighting infection.
But don’t stress about being stressed! There are a whole range of ways to tip the balance back in favour of a balanced mind and body. If we can’t remove the stress (some we can, some we cant and some we aren’t yet ready to) then we can develop habits that will give our body a chance to balance. Once we understand this we can take steps to nurture our mind and body. Taking time out to ‘relax’ brings our nervous system back into what is called a parasympathetic stat. It is the opposite of being stressed out. The opposite of ‘fight or flight’. Your body releases hormones of relaxation and happiness. Your body brings its attention back into investing nutrients and energy to your immune and natural repair systems. There are many easy and accessible ways to take time out for relaxation which will begin to address and balance the stresses you experience.
Shiatsu therapy is certainly a great way to sink into the parasympathetic state and counteract stress. Of course, it’s my personal favourite, which is why I eventually trained to become a therapist too. During Shiatsu the bodymind connection is invited to restablish itself. Where we are holding physical or emotional pain becomes apparrent to the receiver and relaxation follows. I also like to include one to one guided meditation towards the end of a Shiatsu session if the client is open to this. The practice of meditation can provide a very comforting and effective haven in times of stress and is another powerful tool to aid deep relaxation. Once you have learned the art of meditation, it is a simple but powerful tool you can call on during any time of stress or personal challenge. Meditation is something that you can do daily at home and is extremely effective in reducing stress and anxiety levels. Why not try some of the recorded meditations on my YouTube channel?
I also offer advice about which acupressure points can effectively be used at home to reduce stress between treatments . Shiatsu restores peace of mind, clarity and calmness. As well as finding a therapy that helps you to relax there are physical activities that will maintain and amplify these benefits when practiced regularly, alongside with the benefits of becoming part of a group, which in itself has positive health benefits. These specific body mind focused activities include yoga, tai chi and chi gong.
What do you find most effective to reduce and balance your stress?