The party is over. Warm weather is winding down. The kids are headed back to school. Your summer vacation is now little more than a Facebook memory. If you are not watchful, it is a perfect time to settle into a rut and start feeling tense.
Beyond dealing with this shift in your lifestyle every fall, you are also faced with decreasing temperatures and dwindling sunlight. All these changes can add up to a negative outlook, blue mood, and a decreased ability to manage stress.
Although it may seem to be a perfectly normal part of your life, stress is far from benign. In fact, experts claim that stress either causes or worsens an amazing 95 percent of all physical illnesses. However, with a little attention, you can reduce the ill effects of stress and enjoy your life to the fullest.
How Stress Affects Your Health and Life
Even if you love your job, the constant pressure to perform can lead to chronic stress. Bad stress can cause mental symptoms such as irritability and physical symptoms such as tightness in the neck, shoulders, and back. Even good stress, such as getting married or moving to a bigger house, can cause the same symptoms. With continued stress, insomnia may also become a long-term problem. Even your digestive system can react to stress in uncomfortable ways.
The effects of stress go beyond what you can see and feel immediately. Powerful hormones released by your brain and body when you’re under pressure can raise your blood pressure, depress your immune system, increase your blood sugar, accelerate the effects of aging, and dull your cognitive abilities. Researchers have also found that chronic stress can actually change the brain over the long term, potentially leading to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.
The Elements of Stress
Thoughts affect feelings, which in turn affect behaviors. Each physical and mental element of stress can interact with and worsen the others. If your boss just reprimanded you for poor performance, your heart may race and your stomach may drop on the floor.
To ease your discomfort, you may run to the “aid” of caffeinated beverages, sweets, cigarettes, or alcohol. The resulting stomachache or hangover can cause guilt and even more stress. It can be tricky to escape this vicious cycle.
Fortunately, you have more control over the problem than you think. You can beat this dangerous enemy by modifying how you respond to it internally and externally and by allowing yourself time to unwind.
Five Ways to Outsmart Stress
1. When you feel your jaws clench and your stomach churn, stop immediately and take several deep, slow breaths. Using your entire lung capacity oxygenates your body and helps regulate your heart rate. Breathe mindfully by softening your abdominal muscles and pushing your stomach out as you inhale. As you exhale, pull your belly button towards your spine.
2. When you feel your jaws clench and your stomach churn, stop immediately and take several deep, slow breaths. Using your entire lung capacity oxygenates your body and helps regulate your heart rate. Breathe mindfully by softening your abdominal muscles and pushing your stomach out as you inhale. As you exhale, pull your belly button towards your spine.
3. Avoid multitasking and be sure to take regular breaks. Doing so will increase your productivity and reduce your stress level.
4. Get yourself a hug. Receiving physical affection such hugging or cuddling with a person you care about produces chemical changes that reduce your stress level and support your general health.
5. Enjoy a professional massage. It will relieve your physical discomfort directly and reduce your anxiety by flooding your system with stress-busting endorphins.
More on How Massage Beats Stress
When you relax, all the effects of stress begin to reverse. Imagine lying on a massage table, surrounded by soft music and mild, calming scents. You have already begun to escape the frantic pace of your life. As you relax further, your heart rate and brainwaves slow. Your immune system can work more efficiently. In addition, you generally feel better mentally and physically.
A massage increases the positive effects of relaxation. Human touch increases the production of certain hormones that make you feel good and lowers levels of cortisol and other stress hormones. Not to mention that a massage is an affordable mini-vacation that you can schedule any day, any time of the year. There is no need to wait until your next holiday to relax and recharge. In fact, for many people, the winter holidays usually cause more stress than they relieve.
Benefits of In-Home Massage
An in-home massage experience may be the most relaxing type of massage around. When you can stay in your house or apartment and have a massage therapist come to you, you do not have to face the stressors of traffic, pollution, and so forth.
An in-home massage therapist brings the table and all supplies to you. All you need is a bit of floor space, some time, and the willingness to put yourself in the hands of a professional. Trust Vivanti to help you beat stress and get back to living with a fresh perspective.