What to do about stress
We all have those days. The days that seem to drag on and couldn’t possibly get any worse. The stress and frustration culminates into frantic feeling of hopelessness and anger or depression. Stressful situations have a physiological effect on the body that exist as a means of self preservation, or the “Fight or Flight” response. We evolved this response over millions of years as means of protecting ourselves from environmental dangers that were often life or death. Now it is a result of being stuck in traffic when you are late for a job interview. Our priorities may have changed, but the negative impact of prolonged exposure to stress has not. In this post, we will discuss how stress affects us, and what we can do about it.
Why do I feel this way?
Stress is a natural response to situations that can be perceived as danger. It originally would keep us safe from wild boar stampedes, or alligators. Our “Fight or FLight” response is regulated by our Central nervous system (CNS) that is triggered by two hormones: Adrenaline, and Cortisol. These two hormones are created by the adrenal gland when told to do so by the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for controlling behaviors such as hunger, and maintaining body temperature. These chemicals have an affect on multiple parts of the body. It causes an increase in respiratory and cardiovascular rate in order to get highly oxygenated blood to the parts of the body that need it most when fleeing a 40 foot python.
You’re Tearing me apart, stress!!!
So how does this actually affect us? Horribly! Not only are we Irritable and Depressed, we also can have more physical symptoms like headaches or insomnia. Other parts of the body also begin to feel the affects.
The increase in heart rate and blood flow causes an increase in blood pressure. When running for your life, this is considered worth it and rare. When sitting in traffic on a daily basis, however it can cause an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or aneurysm.
The Muscular System
As massage therapists, this one is particularly relevant. As a means of protecting from injury, the muscles tense up in preparation for a fight. The muscles will relax and release once the stressful stimulus is gone, but those of us who have constant deadlines, commute to work, and have to shuttle the kids to and from Dance/TaeKwonDo or Piano, the stress never seems to go. If the muscles are not allowed to relax, over time this can cause chronic pain in the back, shoulders, and extremities, and cause headaches.
The Immune System
Stress has the immediate effect of stimulating the immune system so that it can help with your bear mauling wounds, but over time, this weakens the immune system as it is over used, and reduces its ability to fight of foreign invaders. Things like the Cold of Flu will hit you hard, faster, and more often as you are unable to effectively fight it off.
The Digestive System
We all love using our digestive systems to eat and process delicious foods. Sometimes, under stress, these chemical process can be affected. You liver will produce extra blood sugar in order to give you more energy when running from a black widow spider. Great in a flight, but chronically, it increases your risk of Type II diabetes.
The increase in respiratory rate can upset your digestive system. You are more likely to have heartburn, Acid reflux, or GERD as a result of the increase in Stomach acid. This increase in digestive rate can also change the way food moves through your body, causing diarrhea or constipation.
So What Can We Do?
Stop being stressed silly.
For those of us in the real world, here are some more realistic tips:
- Identify stressors in your life: Easier said than done. Can you find anything that can be addressed in your life, or eliminated all together in order to help reduce stress?
- GET MOVING! Exercise, even in reasonable quantities, helps to release endorphins which make you feel good. Sometimes it is as easy as taking a walk on your lunch from work. It helps with stress, but also acts as a temporary distraction or diversion from workplace stressors.
- Get out there and see people Spending quality time with loved ones who make you feel safe and understood can go a long way to helping reduce your fight or flight response. You can even double up on strategies by going for walks/runs with friends and talking about the day.
- Eat better A better diet and exercise helps to reduce depression and anxiety, which are symptoms of stress, but can also feed into the causes of stress. Be sure to eat healthy, and regularly so as to feel better through out the day. Be sure to reduce the following: Alcohol, Caffeine, Sugar, cigarettes, and drugs.
- MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF! You need to look out for yourself. It cannot be all work and no play. Make time for play with friends and loved ones. Maybe throwing the ball around or just having massive tickle fights with your kids (need to be your kids. This is key) Make time for vacations, and never let yourself believe that you cannot take the time from work. You need to disconnect and let it all go for at least two weeks. If you are made to feel guilty about this, consider a career move.
- Get a massage. Seriously. Preliminary studies show that Massage therapy can greatly reduce the symptoms and causes of stress. Up above, I mentioned the effects of stress on the muscular system. These tense, locked up muscles can be relieved with a quick session. They can have positive effects on the following:
- Digestive disorders
- Insomnia related to stress
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Soft tissue strains or injuries
- Sports injuries
- Temporomandibular joint pain
The bottom line is, you are doing yourself no favour by running yourself into the ground. Take the time to take care of yourself. Take the time to get a massage from a Registered Massage therapist now.
Where can I get one?
Find a local Registered Massage Therapist who is qualified to provide prenatal massage therapy. If you are in the Durham Region (Whitby specifically) give Elements Massage and Wellness a call, or use our easy to use Online Booking Tool and book with any of our three qualified registered Massage therapists.
Check me out on the “2 Massage Therapists and Microphone” podcast.
“Check out this stripped down conversation with Greg Pressley, Registered Massage Therapist. When he was a child he had the left lobe of his brain removed as the result of a brain tumor. Listen in as he talks about his struggles as a child, the difficulty he had as a student, his future plans and his accomplishments. This dude is an inspiration!! 2massagetherapists.com ConEdInstitute.com”
How do I find an RMT?
When seeking a massage therapist, it is important to locate a qualified, registered massage therapist who has a proven track record of providing quality service to their clients in a way that promotes wellness. This isn’t a difficult task, but there are a few key points to consider.
What is Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy is the manual manipulation of the soft tissues of the body. These soft tissues include the muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Massage therapy treatment has a therapeutic effect on the body and by acting on the muscular, nervous and circulatory systems, it optimizes health and well-being. Through massage therapy, you can reduce physical dysfunction and pain and reduce the effects of stress have on the body.
The history of Massage Therapy reaches back thousands of years to ancient China and Egypt, where early documents have been found, outlining techniques that are similar to those used today. The most common technique used in the west today, Swedish Massage, did not originate in Sweden, nor was it invented by a Swede but rather in Holland with Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger. It is believed that it was misattributed to Pehr Henrik Ling when his book, Swedish Movement System, was mistranslated to Swedish Massage System.
What do I look for in a Massage Therapist?
First things first, they should refer to themselves as a Registered Massage Therapist, or RMT for short. In Canada, this means that they have been tested and authorized to safely, and professionally administer massage treatment under the jurisdiction of their local College or Association. In Ontario, this is the College of Massage therapists of Ontario. From this site, you can verify the follow information for the Registered Massage Therapist:
- Practice Locations
- Conditions, if any.
- Discipline, if any.
- Offenses/misconduct, if any (The college by laws even require bail conditions to be reported for any massage unrelated offenses)
While this information is important to know, it doesn’t represent how the Registered Massage Therapist interacts with their patients. A good source of information are Review sites and social media, such as google and Facebook. As an example, our reviews can be found on Google and Facebook. All reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt, both positive and negative. A single negative review in a pool of positive ones can often be dismissed, just as a handful of positive reviews in a sea of negativity can be dismissed as well. If reviews speak specifically to the service and seem more personable and human, then this information should help you make an informed decision.
With this information assisting you in choosing a Registered Massage therapist, it could still take time finding someone you are comfortable with. It is normal to be nervous the first time as you might not know what to expect, but a good RMT will be able to walk you through this. If at any time, you feel uncomfortable, it is ok to request to see someone else, or even leave. You owe them nothing if no services have been rendered. Trust your feelings, use common sense and you should have no issues finding a Registered Massage Therapist who can treat you. You will notice the quality of life improvements.
If you happen to be in the Beaches area, give us a call, or make an appointment with Energy Restoration. Now accepting Online bookings.
Remember to always hydrate after a massage. Keep Calm and Massage on!
98 Hammersmith Av
Toronto, ON M4E 2W4
My First Marathon
I ran my first marathon in 1999. I had no experience aside from a few 10km and 5km runs. I had lived through the surgical and emotional pain of multiple brain surgeries as a child so I figured nothing could stop me from running a marathon. After what I had been through, running 42.2 km would be nothing.
My adrenalin was pumping as I arrived at the Toronto marathon in mid-October of that year. I wondered if I would make it to the end on my feet or in an ambulance. The race began and I could feel the excitement as I reached the 5km and then the 10km marks. At times, I was aware of people cheering along the sidelines but at other times, it was complete silence inside me. It was certainly a time of getting to know my spirit and myself.
For my first marathon, the time I wanted to finish in was 4:30 hours. I completed it in 3:35.
The day I missed the bus
While I was going to college in 1997, I started to get interested in running. One day I was on my way home when I realized I didn’t have any bus money with me. I thought to myself, it can’t be that bad and with my backpack on and books in hand, I walked the six miles home.
As I walked, I was reminded of a sense of mind, body and soul that I had lost. I had run cross-country in high school and track and field in elementary school and I knew that when I put my mind to it and visualized a positive result, my body understood what needed to be done.
So each day after that I walked home from school. Soon it turned into a jog and then I was running home after college was finished for the day. I never thought at the time that I would ever train for the world majors let alone becoming a personal trainer or a Registered Massage Therapist in private practice. But all those things came to pass as I ran headlong into my life.
Running to Ethiopia
Hello. This is my first blog. I have been posting a lot about my marathon running on Facebook and I’d like to share with you some of the experiences I have been through to become a world athlete.
In 2005 I flew to Ethiopia for the gruelling training which allowed me to run a marathon there. Training in Africa was so different than training in Canada. Even resting was totally different than back home. Training, some mornings meant getting up at one a.m. to run 40 or 50 kilometres in the mountains listening to the hyenas cackling in the darkness while we pushed ourselves to reach our personal bests. Everything was so different – different exercises, different running styles, and all at 10,000 feet above sea level.
It has been quite a journey, which I will share in these blog posts. I’d love to hear about your running regime and where you are at in your training.