Your heart races.  Your hands tingle.  Your belly churns and burns.  There are so many things to do, but you can’t figure out what to do or where to start.  You can’t sleep, but you’re SO tired. 

Stress.  We all have it.  It’s the modern day, adult version of the monster under the bed.  But what is it really?  How does it affect us, and more importantly, what can we do about it?

Physiologically speaking, stress is our body’s response to danger and/or threats.  Be they physical, emotional, or psychological the organism known as the human body reacts the same way.  Adrenalin is released into the system increasing heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, sharpening the external senses, pulling blood from the gut and sending it and other fluids to the brain and limbs to increase strength and endurance.  In the short term, this is an incredibly useful tool for battling your enemies no matter what form they may take. In the long term, not so much.

In the long term, increased respiration, heart rate and blood pressure can lead to heart attack or stroke. Enhanced eyesight can lead to headaches and eye strain.  Decreased blood/fluids to the gut can cause a laundry list of digestive issues.  Long term adrenal production can result in a condition known as adrenal fatigue, and cortisol production which results in weight gain and possibly chronic inflammation of the joints, organs and other soft tissues.

We all have stress.  It’s a product of life.  There is no such thing as a life without stress.  So why are some people suffering from stress while others seem to not be affected?  Management.  You can’t escape stress but you can manage it with a healthy lifestyle.  Eat healthy.  Meditate. Exercise regularly.  Get quality rest.  Get a massage.

Wait.  What?  That’s correct. Getting a massage is not only relaxing, it’s good for your health.  There are tons of scientific studies available that prove massage can reduce and in some cases eliminate the symptoms or damage of chronic stress*.  Massage can actually stop the Fight/Flight/Freeze response. It decreases the heart and respiration rates, lowers blood pressure and calms the central and peripheral nervous systems.  This stops the FFF phase and triggers the body’s Rest/Restore/Digest phase, allowing the body’s systems to get back to what they should be doing instead of preparing you for battle.

So remember, eat, breathe, move, sleep, and get a massage.  Your good health depends on it.