Stress seems to be almost unavoidable in our busy lives. It’s easy for people to suggest that you might feel better if you’re less stressed, but if you’re already stressed, that’s just going to stress you out even more! Adding to the problem, stress can cause a lot of unwanted symptoms in your body, including pain. In some cases, stress causes pain to develop, like headaches. In others, it makes existing pain worse.
Think about it; if you’re tensing your body up and putting stress quite literally onto your muscles, you are going to feel the effects of that in a sore back, shoulders and head. If you suffer with chronic pain anyway, stress can exacerbate it.
At one point or another, most of us have to deal with a certain amount of stress. Without it, some of us just wouldn’t get anything done! It’s when the stress builds up that it can start to cause issues in your body and make you hurt. One study found that 33 per cent of adults said they were dealing with high levels of perceived stress - you’re not alone if one of them is you.
Stress affects more than just your mind – if you hold on to too much tension, it will most likely lead to muscle stiffness and pain. Too much stress is also linked to headaches, fatigue, digestive problems, and insomnia; one study of people who suffered with chronic headaches found that 45 per cent said they’d been through a stressful event before they started to get the headaches. Other aches and pains can also be blamed on stress – it’s thought that the stress hormone cortisol could be to blame for chronic pain. A study compared 16 people with chronic back pain to a control group and found that the people with chronic pain had higher levels of cortisol.
It pays not to let the stress build up, and one good way to physically disperse stress before it causes too much trouble is a good massage. Massage is the perfect way to relax you and improve your mood. Whatever effect stress has on your body and mood, treating yourself to a massage is one of the most relaxing ways to deal with a build-up of toxic stress or anxiety.
Almost every symptom of stress that’s been listed by the American Psychological Association can benefit from massage therapy. Research has even shown that massage therapy can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, (which can be raised when you are stressed) as well as soothing stress-related pain by relaxing your muscles and increasing the production of endorphins, which are your body's natural feel-good chemicals. A massage can also boost your body’s production of serotonin and dopamine, giving you a feeling of well-being that releases the stress, calms your mind and gives you the physical and mental break your body needs from all the stressful things that are making you hunch your shoulders.
Next time you feel the stress start to build up, don’t wait until you get the tell take sore head or tight shoulders. Call your massage therapist and get it out of your system…
Telling people not to get stressed out while we’re in the throes of a
global pandemic that’s having an effect on every aspect of our lives is not going to be helpful. Of course, you’re going to be stressed out, and there’s not even the option of getting your usual stress-busting massage or facial treatment booked in because, you know, social distancing.
Even so, there are things that you can try to reduce the impact that COVID-19 stress has on your daily life. Here are a few tips to try…
This is a new situation for the vast majority of us. We feel compelled to do things through fear and stress, like hoarding toilet rolls and
trying to find ‘useful’ things to do with our time. You don’t have to
be busy, or productive. Let yourself just BE.
Psychologists promote the idea of ‘radical self-acceptance’ this means just accepting everything about yourself, your situation, and your life without question or blame. It’s the best way to let some calm in – nobody knows how to navigate this situation, because we haven’t been here before. There is no ‘wrong’ way to do this. Once you accept this, things start to get easier.
Shut Out the Constant Bad News
Everywhere seems to be drowning on COVID-19 related news and information at the moment, even your social media feeds will be full of it. Take time out from the constant stream of negativity and have social media days off, limit the time you spend reading/watching news. Turn off your phone’s news app notifications.
The information we get, especially online, is often sensationalized. Much of the time it also focusses on the negatives. Decide on your own trusted sources and check in with them just a few times a day, for a few minutes. It’s also important to limit talking about the virus and any negative impacts or concerns in front of children. They may already be feeling unsettled by the things they see going on around them and their changes in routine, so keep COCID-19 related conversations out of their earshot. Kids soak up information like little sponges and they can get very frightened, picking up on your own fear.
Try to Notice the Positives, The Good People and Helpers
This is related to the last point – while the media focuses on what’s wrong with the world, take the time to notice the good people, the positive actions and the ways people are coming together – albeit not socially – to cope with the problems the virus has thrown up.
There is a ton of stories around that showcase the ways people are helping each other, uplifting each other and more. Individuals are supporting their community, donating time and other things and coming up with a whole load of ways to get themselves and each other through these hard times. It’s so important to try and balance the heavy news reports with the optimistic and life-affirming information.
Take It Moment by Moment
Nobody knows how long this is going to go on for, and thinking long term is likely to make you feel depressed and powerless. The only way to avoid this is literally, taking it a day, a week or even just an hour at a time. This is our new reality, but it’s not our forever reality. Focus on dealing with the next day, or whatever time feels manageable to you, and try not to think about the ifs, whens and maybes of how long this is going to last.
Focus on the Things You CAN Control
When this thing seems overwhelming and you don’t know what to do, find something in your day your day life that you CAN control. It could be as simple as making sure you have your daily shower and get up at the same time as normal to restore a sense of routine.
Maybe it’s time you cleaned out your kitchen cupboards, organised
your bookshelf or cancelled all the payments for things out of your
bank account that you no longer use. These little jobs are the things that will help to absorb your brain and ground you when it feels like life is in chaos and it’s way out of your control.
Be kind to yourself and take care.
Stress is something that most people experience from time to time, and it’s a normal part of life. At this time, we are experiencing more stress than we usually do. Uprooted schedules, working from home instead of the office, home schooling the kids. A small amount of stress is usually nothing to worry about; in fact, in some situations, stress is helpful. It can spur you on to achieve things or push you to meet that deadline. But constant, or long-term stress, can have detrimental effects on your body, wearing you down and making you mentally and physically sick.
Recognizing your own stress symptoms can be tricky; there are many of them and they can be hard to pin down. You might not even recognize the symptoms or notice how stress is affecting your body until you get to breaking point.
What Does Stress Do to Your Body?Our bodies are pretty resilient, we are designed to be able to experience stress and react to it. There are even different names for the different types of stress - positive, helpful stress is called eustress while negative, unhealthy stress, the type that you feel when you’re permanently overwhelmed, suffering constant challenges is called distress. This type of stress needs to be recognized and dealt with before it builds up and distress-related tension develops.
Better Ways to Cope with StressYou’ll know the ways that being stressed out affects you personally. Maybe it causes your skin to flare up. Or you get an IBS attack. Don’t ignore these symptoms – they can be your body’s way of warning you that it’s all getting a bit too much and you need to calm yourself down. Don’t reach for the junk food or wine bottle when you’re stressed – you’ll appreciate little treats more when you’re relaxed and relying on unhealthy crutches to get you through can lead to long term issues on top of the underlying stress.
Massage is a well-known stress reliever – physically it will un-knot the tense muscles causing headaches and neck/shoulder pain. Emotionally, massage therapy stimulates production of feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine, so you don’t need the chemical relaxants. Reach for the massage therapist’s number next time the stress builds up and do yourself and your body a big favor.
Welcome to the new decade! It’s time to make the twenties an upgrade on the teenies (is that what we’re calling them??) and start putting ourselves first with a self-care routine that gives us the inner strength to deal with whatever the new decade brings.
It’s no secret that people who don’t give themselves the care that they give to others will usually end up stressed and burned out. To stop this happening to you, develop an attitude of nurturing - take care of your mind, body and soul every day, in small ways and occasionally (but regularly) bigger ways too. Self -are is non-negotiable these days, but you have to make an effort to make space for it. Here are a few ideas for things to do that rebalance, re-energize and replenish.
Do something physically energizingWhatever floats your boat, make time for it if it makes you feel good. This could be a series of stretches, Pilates or yoga, a run, a swim or a walk in the park. Just get that activity up.
Stretch it outHunched over a desk or in a car? Bodies aren’t meant to be cooped up so stretch it out. Find a set of effective stretches that stops your body feeing like it’s ten years older than it really is. Your muscles will thank you for it. If you want to do even more for yourself, get a professional involved; book a massage!
Take a bathIt’s a self-care cliché but for a good reason. If you have the time, shut the door, put some music on, and take a magazine or book in with you. Lie back and let the stresses of the day dissolve away into warm, sweet-smelling water.
Try a mini - meditationBegin or end your day with just one minute of deep breathing, while focusing your awareness onto your body, inner thoughts, and feelings. This is an exercise that’s also useful to do during the day when you feel stressed and need to take time out.
Be stillFind a quiet place outside, find somewhere comfortable to sit and be still. Pretend there’s nobody else around and focus on the quiet and stillness.
Unplug just for a dayWe always used to manage without social media and instant messaging, so just for a day, switch them all off and embrace a notification-free existence. It’s very freeing and you may end up wanting to do it for even longer.
Write a Gratitude ListFocusing on all of the things that you're thankful for will put a happy spring in your step. Try to think of three things every morning or evening. Or when you feel down, refocus with three things to be happy about.
Dance like nobody’s lookingThey aren’t! Dancing is incredibly freeing, so stick on a few dance anthems or whatever makes you want to move and shake your booty.
Take a walkHave you really taken the time to explore the area you live in /walk around, slowly, and really notice the details. Be curious about your neighborhood.
Make an appointment with a counselorFind someone non-judgmental to talk to about your innermost thoughts; It doesn’t have to be a therapist or psychologist; it could also be a spiritual mentor.
SleepAre you getting enough? We suspect not. Why not take a quick nap if you feel tired, or try an earlier bedtime give your body a bit more downtime?
Do something newIs there something you’ve always wanted to try? Do it.
Journal your thoughtsIt only has to take you 10 minutes – get whatever is on your mind down in writing and out of your head.
Spend quality time with people you loveHanging out with the people you love most in the world is good for your soul. If they're far away, give them a phone call.
Take a full day of rest every weekYou deserve it and your mind and body will thank you for it.
Do an activity mindfully and slowlyPick an everyday activity, like laundry, and focus on it while you’re doing it. Savor the moment, it makes dull things much more absorbing if you’re prone to zoning out.
De-clutter your lifeYou don’t have to do it all at once, but decluttering is very therapeutic. Start with an email inbox, work up to your desk or a closet, feel the benefits of less clutter.
Make a personal mission statementIf you don't have a personal mission statement, create one. Think about this year and what you want to do with it. Who do you want to be?
Enjoy a piece of chocolate or a glass of wineEven better, have both…while writing your mission statement. In the bath!
Book a massage or a spa treatment! We may have mentioned this before but taking the time to invest in yourself is a supreme act of self-care, and we think you should indulge in it as often as you can.
Have a great 2020.
There’s no escaping the truth; winter is coming around again. The days are going to start getting shorter and the sweaters are going to have to come out of the wardrobe. It’s not unusual for people to get the ‘winter blues’ – which is a condition many people in the northern hemisphere are afflicted with due to lack of sunlight during the colder and darker winter months.
The good news for everyone is that massage therapy can help increase health happiness for everyone during the cooler months of the year. Here a few reasons why…
Massage May Help to Banish Seasonal Affective Disorder
As we’ve mentioned, Seasonal Affective Disorder – sometimes known as the winter blues – is a problem for many people when there’s less natural sunlight. This is because sunlight causes the brain to release a feel-good chemical called serotonin that improves our mood. When there’s less sunlight, less serotonin is produced, which can lead to low mood, lethargy and difficulties in getting out of bed in the morning. In some people it can even cause serious depression enough to warrant visiting a doctor. It’s not a happy place to be, but the good news is that booking in a regular massage can help to lift a low mood. A regular massage session will help to relax stressed minds and bodies, as well as releasing the serotonin and endorphins, the same chemicals produced by the body when you’re happy.
It Can Give Your Circulation A Boost
Massage therapy may also help boost circulation during a time of the year when nobody wants to get up and go outside for a run. Everybody knows that getting regular exercise helps keep circulation running smoothly, and also gets the oxygenated blood pumped around our bodies faster. This is all very well, but a lack of movement in the winter months can result in feeling sluggish, while poor circulation can lead to lethargy, aches and pains. Here’s where a massage has extra benefits; it can help blood to pass through any congested areas and boosts overall flow, which also helps the lymphatic system to remove waste that builds up. At the same time, massage is well known to help decrease blood pressure.
It May Help Your Body to Fight Off Minor Infections
For anybody that’s prone to suffering from colds and infections during the winter season, massage might be the way forward. It’s been found that massage sessions can help to boost the effectiveness of the immune system, helping to fight off the bugs and viruses that circulate in offices, shops and schools at this time of year. A gentle massage of the area around the lymph nodes also encourages white blood cells to circulate, and as this increases blood flow it also stimulates the white blood cells to start fighting any infection in your body.
These are just a few of the many benefits that massage therapy can bring during winter. Of course, there’s also the feel-good aspect of a warming hot stone massage, delicious aromatic massage oils and even just the act of taking time out to look after yourself when you need it.
Although they are two separate disciplines, both needing a lot of training, there are many similarities between chiropractic and massage, and they work really well when you use them in combination.
If you’re feeling pain or discomfort, you could have an underlying problem with your spinal alignment, or tension in your muscles that’s impacting on your nerve function. Chiropractic is really helpful for dealing with functional issues like these, but if you’ve been experiencing the symptoms for a while, you can sometimes find that your body stubbornly resists the adjustments a chiropractor makes, which can result in frustration and even pain.
If you’re finding chiropractic hard going, you could benefit from massage to help relieve some of the tension and tightness your body is holding onto, allowing the chiropractor to do their work much more effectively.
If you’re experiencing problems with stiffness in your spine and there’s a build-up of tension in the muscles supporting and surrounding it, trying to adjust the spine without working on the muscle tightness can pull on the spinal joints. This can make them even stiffer and means that it’s quite likely your pain will return, even if the chiropractic relieves it initially.
More Than One Kind of Stress Relief
If you feel like you’re under physical and/or mental stress on a regular basis, massage can be really helpful to you. It’s great for maintenance, getting rid of a build-up of tension in your body before it causes any damage that needs help from another professional.
Physically, there are signs you can look out for that might mean you’re under spinal stress, and if you notice any of them you probably need to book in with the chiropractor too. Spinal stiffness will be painful, but can also lead to pain in your arm, tingling or numbness in your shoulders and even sciatica. If these symptoms are troubling you, see a chiropractor before they get any worse.
Chiropractic and massage therapy work really well together when you have soft tissue tightness and spinal dysfunction at the same time. They don’t just correct the functional problem that’s causing the pain or symptoms but also help to relax the muscles and soft tissues so that any work carried out by the chiropractor is more effective and the effects last for longer.
Massage and Chiropractic for Injuries
Using the two together is really helpful after an accident or sporting injury, even the aches and pains that you might get from DIY or gardening. Injuries treated with massage and chiropractic can often heal faster because the two treatments help to stimulate blood flow, boosting your body’s natural energy to heal.
Chiropractic and massage therapy are also, importantly, natural, drug free, hands on therapies and they don’t have to be restricted just to after injury or when you’re in pain, it can be beneficial to have a session of chiropractic or a regular massage just to maintain your muscular and spinal health and stop problems from occurring in the first place.