Stress and How Massage Deals With It

Stress, also known as the “silent killer”, is the biggest contributing factor in most disease processes. It is the ultimate leading factor to discomfort and pain in our lives, emotionally and physically.

When we encounter stress, and in New York City we all do, our body goes through certain physiological changes.

  • Your body produces additional adrenaline.

  • Your heart beats faster and more blood flows into larger muscles.

  • Your breathing becomes shallow, and you perspire.

  • The functioning of your immune and digestive system is inhibited and shutdowns momentarily.

  • The flow of blood to your extremities and internal organs is decreased.

So that’s what your body does when you’re stressed out. When it’s frequent stress, and you know who you are, the collateral damage is pretty extensive and has adverse effects. Take note:

  • Changes in blood sugar – which leads to Diabetes.

  • Colitis (Inflammation of the gastrointestinal system) - Tum, tum, tum, tum….

  • Headaches- and don’t forget those chronic migraines too.

  • Heart Disease

  • Hypertension- which is abnormally high blood pressure.

  • Ulcers – Ouch, those really hurt.

Now you know why stress goes by the name of “silent killer”.

Great news! The antidote to stress is the relaxation response. When you are truly experiencing relaxation, your endocrine and nervous system activate changes to slow your heart rate, improve circulation and digestion, and relax your muscles – a direct counteraction to the stress response.

There are many activities that can trigger the relaxation response, such as exercise, deep breathing, meditation, or listening to soothing music. The best method is therapeutic massage; you get the best of all worlds. Your body will naturally release the tension in your muscles, increase oxygen supply to your blood and circulation, and you also get to hear very soothing music while you get your massage. Massage also stimulates release of the body’s own natural pain killer – the endorphins. A program of regular massage will put you back in touch with your body, it will teach you to monitor your body’s signals and needs so you’ll know when you should take time out from the things that worry you. In this way you can avoid the long-term effects of stress and gain control over your sense of well-being.

Here’s a little stress level test provided by the American Massage Therapy Association: Circle the events that have occurred in your life over the last 12-18 months.

  1. Death of a spouse………………………………………………………100

  2. Divorce………………………………………………….…………………73

  3. Marital separation………………………………………....……………..65

  4. Jail term……………………………………………………………………65

  5. Death of a close family member…………………........……………….63

  6. Personal injury or illness………………………………....……………..53

  7. Marriage………………………………………………….………………..50

  8. Fired from job……………………………………………………………..47

  9. Retirement……………………………………………..………………….45

  10. Pregnancy…………………………………………….…………………...40

  11. Sex difficulties……………………………………………………………..39

  12. Gain of a new family member………………………........……………..39

  13. Change in financial state…………………………………....…………..38

  14. Death of a close friend………………………………………...…………37

  15. Change to a different line of work…………………………..….........…36

  16. Change in number of arguments with spouse……………................35

  17. Mortgage/loan for major purchase (home, etc.)…………...................31

  18. Foreclosure of mortgage or loan………………………………….........30

  19. Change in responsibilities at work…………………………………......29

  20. Son or daughter leaving home…………………………………….....…29

  21. Trouble with in-laws or parent..……………………………………........29

  22. Spouse begins to stop work………………………………………….....26

  23. Begin or end of school…………………………………………………...26

  24. Change in living conditions……………………………………………...25

  25. Trouble with boss……………………………………………………...….23

  26. Change in work hours or condition………………………………..........20

  27. Change in residence…………………………………………………..…20

  28. Change in sleeping habits………………………………………………16

  29. Change in eating habits……………………………………………….…16

  30. Minor violations of the law……………………………………………......11

  • 0-150 points – Your level of stress based on life change is low.

  • 150-300 points – Borderline stress level…..you should attempt to minimize changes in your life at this time.

  • Over 300 – Your stress levels are high…you should minimize changes in your life and institute some stress intervention techniques.