Stress 10 April 2017

Let’s talk about Stress!

Our brains are constantly monitoring the input pouring in through our five senses. Our brain, nervous system and hormones respond to the effect of the incoming information, even when we are asleep.

Stress responses, in short bursts, are normal reactions that enhance our ability to manage intense situations. They are there to help us cope! We are designed to maintain an equilibrium between responding appropriately to a heightened state of urgency or intensity, and then relax when it’s over. Adrenaline, released from the adrenal glands, increases the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and blood sugar – all designed to get oxygenated blood to muscles, to either “fight” the offending situation, or take “flight” and get away as quickly as possible. This is known as a Sympathetic Nervous System Response.

Once the threat has been overcome or removed, the calming effect of the Parasympathetic Response settles the body back into equilibrium again.

Man frustrated.

Our lifestyle often creates in us a long term stress response. This leads to abnormal levels of hormones being secreted into the bloodstream for prolonged periods, mainly cortisol from the adrenal glands and adrenaline.

Stress can have many negative effects on the body such as mood, energy, reduced immunity to infection, inflammation in the body, increased risk of stroke/ heart-attack and stomach ulcers.

It is the prolonged state of stress - feeling threatened, overloaded and “distressed,” that has negative consequences on our health and leads to “dis-ease”. The challenge is to stay healthy by finding ways to manage stress effectively.

Stress Management

This doesn't just happen - it requires us to consciously seek time, space and activities that allow us to detach from the frenetic pace and sensory overload we find ourselves dealing with each day. It takes our bodies time to relax.. your body needs to relearn what relaxation feels like and this doesn't happen immediately.

Nature, resting, listening to guided imagery or music, meditation, 'progressive muscle relaxation' and diapragmatic breathing can all help to unwind.

Exercise helps to relieve stress by releasing the adrenaline and cortisol in our muscles, promotes deep breathing and causes our brains to release "feel good" chemicals called endorphins. Mindful exercises like Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga and walking can help to strengthen our internal ability to manage our reactions to stressful situations. Play, massage, acupressure and other gentle forms of bodywork help to relax our whole body, and remind us of what it is like to feel calm again.

Bowen therapy for stress

Many stressed-out people feel achy and stiff in their muscles and joints, their posture changes under the burden of their situations, which in turn leads to feeling burned out, and the cycle of pain is exacerbated.

Bowenwork is a unique and unusual form of soft-tissue bodywork that is very effective in relaxing muscle tension and reducing the body’s stress levels. It is a gentle neuromuscular technique that resets the nervous system, helping to restore calmness and deep relaxation throughout the whole body. By applying light rolling moves over specific muscles and areas of the body, signals are sent, via the nervous system to the brain to reorganize the dysfunctional tension patterns in the body.

Sets of moves are followed by two to five minute delays, where the practitioner leaves the client relaxing on the table and allows for the body to integrate the effect of the work. This leads to deeper breathing, slower heart rate, improved blood circulation to the tissues and the removal of waste fluids via the lymphatic system.

The persistent pain cycle: Pain, fatigue, stress, depression, disrupted life, pain...

When the nervous system relaxes, the adrenal glands reduce the amount of adrenaline and cortisol they are producing, which in turn sends signals to the brain and the rest of the hormone system to start returning to a point of balance. Pain levels can be reduced significantly and people report feeling more flexible, sleeping better, and are much more energetic for days after a session.

The effect of a Bowenwork session can be quite profound and can last far longer than many other bodywork techniques. Many clients only need 2–3 sessions, one week apart initially, and then a tune up when they feel the effects of stress returning.

With thanks to Sandra Gustafson