Archives for category: Irritability

Massage Can Melt Holiday Stress

Stress is a highly personal experience, as not all stress is the result of a major traumatic event. While we can all agree that certain occurrences such as car accidents or violent attacks and other major events are stressful, smaller and more personal events can affect us just as much over time.

When we experience stress the sympathetic nervous system jumps into action and our heart rate and breathing increases while adrenaline floods the bloodstream. Physiological changes include the release of epinephrine and cortisol production in order to prepare the individual to better cope with the situation. This reaction causes the well-known “fight-or-flight” response, and you may notice breathing becoming shallower, palms sweating and heart racing.

Acute Stress

Short term, major traumatic events are what we call acute stress; they are significant events that spike our stress levels over a relatively short period of time. In acute stress, our sympathetic nervous system ups our respiration and heart rate, floods us with adrenaline, we deal with the stress and then we are able to calm down, returning to a normal state, called homeostasis.

Chronic Stress

Chronic stress, however, takes place over long periods of time and can bring on significant health concerns as we remain in the “fight-or-flight” state of hyper-readiness. Digestive disorders like acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cardiovascular disease, insomnia, anxiety and depression can result from long term, chronic stress.

Stress Is Personal

Stress is also extremely personal. What one person considers very stressful others may not even bat an eye at. For example, for some people driving in city traffic is highly stressful while others do not think twice about it. For some, public speaking of any type brings on a major stress reaction that includes vomiting, while others have no problem speaking in front of thousands.

Now, Bring on the Holidays!

While the holiday season can be a great deal of fun and most of us enjoy it greatly, it can also be particularly stressful. Also, because the holiday season takes place over an extended period of time, the stress experienced from this time of year may become chronic, causing significant health concerns.

9 Reasons Why the Holidays May Cause Stress for People

  1. Stressful family gatherings
  2. Stressful office gatherings
  3. Scheduling difficulties, as we are all so busy
  4. Coping with loneliness for those who do not have close family or friends nearby
  5. Lack of money for gifts or entertaining
  6. Stress over entertaining as we try to make things perfect
  7. Seasonal Affective Disorder from diminished sunlight during the winter months – 10% of people suffer from this condition
  8. Unwanted weight gain from all the holiday parties and treats
  9. Social pressure to “enjoy the holidays”

Signs of Stress

Signs and symptoms that stress has been taking a toll on you include:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased appetite
  • Digestive disorders like diarrhea or acid reflux
  • An increase in colds or flu
  • An increase in drinking alcohol

In fact, experts warn that increased alcohol consumption during the holiday season may be one of the major signs of stress, anxiety or depression.

3 Ways to Reduce Stress

There are many things that can be done to reduce stress, allowing us to return to a state of relaxation.

These include:

  1. exercise
  2. social activities
  3. massage therapy

Exercise

Physical exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression. Even a 30-minute walk every day can significantly reduce stress levels. Exercise has been shown to improve sleep significantly as well.

Social Activities

Social interaction has been shown to significantly reduce stress levels and improve the ability to manage stress.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy has been shown to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, reduce pain and improve depression in those who receive regular massage. Massage therapy activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the body’s “rest and digest” actions, allowing the body to recover, digest food and make repairs to injuries. The heart rate is decreased and breathing becomes easier, reducing feelings of anxiety and returning the body to the state of homeostasis. Book your Massage Today!

Studies Support Massage Therapy Can Effectively Reduce Stress

In fact, in a review of studies on the use of massage therapy for the reduction of stress, both single treatments and multiple treatments of massage therapy, consistently reduced salivary cortisol and heart rate. Another study showed that staff who received 20 minutes of massage two times per week for eight weeks reported lower levels of anxiety and sleep disturbances, along with decreased blood pressure and heart rates. In fact, in a meta-study of over 37 studies on the effects of massage therapy on stress – significant and immediate improvements where demonstrated time and time again.

Massage therapy is a wonderful, non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical method of reducing stress and anxiety that has been proven effective against both acute and chronic stress. Since massage therapy is so effective, it is not only a great way to manage our own holiday stress, but makes a nice gift for those special people in our lives.

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I tell my clients time after time to listen to their body. One way to listen to your body is through Bodywork and Exercise. What does that mean? How do you listen to your body?
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It means you have to be aware of what your body is telling you. Do you need to stretch a little more? Do you need more water? Did you overdo it? Are you imbalanced on one side of your body? Regular Exercise and Bodywork both can keep you in tune with your body. Ever ask … “How’d you know I was hurting there?” or “I didn’t even know I was hurting there until you worked on it!” This is because of that disconnect between what is happening in the body and what the brain accepts as reality. My working on that area helps to bring that area to the forefront that your brain can know what’s going on there.
The following was written by by Ruth Werner
You have to give us credit: as a culture, Americans are incredibly interested in getting fit. We invest every year in new diets, exercise programs, and supplements for weight loss and improved energy. Low-range estimates suggest that Americans spend about $2.6 billion each year on gym memberships alone.
We also tend to pitch full speed into any given commitment. If we’re going to get fit, by golly, we’re going to do it now, regardless of how long it took us to get into our current state. We don’t do things by half measures, and moderation is not in our nature. So how do we keep ourselves injury-free while honoring our commitment to exercise and get healthy?

Does It Have to Be All or Nothing?
We all know that starting an exercise program doesn’t actually mean we’ll finish it. When we throw ourselves into an ambitious new routine, we are likely to overdo it and get hurt. Then, we get discouraged, and may give up entirely, only to start the cycle over in another year or so.
Overdoing things in the gym or on the sports field seems to appeal to our competitive spirit–especially when we’re surrounded by others who all seem to be doing better than we are. Combine this kind of human drive with poorly trained athletic trainers who give bad advice about form, pacing, and effort, and we have a recipe for potential problems.
Exercise is only effective when it occurs without injury. Any new exercise program requires some caution, even if it is comparatively easygoing. And more challenging programs are safest and most successful when new participants build up their activity levels carefully and receive excellent guidance about form.

When It Goes Wrong
We accrue musculoskeletal and fascial injuries throughout our entire lifespans. In the best circumstances, they heal well, with a minimum of internal scar tissue, and function returns to practically normal levels. When things are ideal, that sprained ankle you got playing soccer at age 12 doesn’t affect your ability to walk in your 30s. The lumbar strain you got from picking up the heavy laundry basket 15 years ago resolved well, so at 62, it won’t hinder your golf game. We are able to adapt to minor injuries, and we learn how not to exacerbate them.
But when we introduce a new exercise program, especially if that exercise program is more demanding, or demanding in different ways than we have experienced before, we risk the flaring up of old injuries. Scar tissue does not have the weight-bearing capacity of healthy muscle or connective tissue. This is when that old sprained ankle may make itself known, and that weakness in your back will definitely have opinions about your new routine. Sometimes you might feel like your new commitment to fitness was not the best idea.

Injuries Can Happen Any Time
CrossFit is one program that gets a lot of attention because of its reputation for being especially demanding. But any type of exercise can lead to injury if correct form is not observed. Zumba, Jazzercise, and other dance-like programs bring a risk of foot and leg injuries, including sprained ankles, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures, because the risk for twisting at the knee is so high.
If you aren’t paying close attention to your own limits, even yoga can be a source of soft-tissue injury: delayed soreness, problems at the neck and sacroiliac joints, or other injuries. One massage therapist reported seeing several injuries related to a prolonged yoga headstand, probably in a student who was not ready for this challenge.

How Can Massage Help?
Massage can help you deal with pain or soreness from your exercise regimen and can also help shorten recovery periods so you can train more efficiently. Although massage therapists are not primary care providers, and cannot diagnose conditions or prescribe specific treatments, your therapist may be able to offer excellent advice for dealing with a fitness-related injury. He or she may also have suggestions about warm-ups, cool-downs, and postexercise stretching, or be able to point you to an appropriate coach or other professional for specific exercise needs and to help prevent future injury.
The incidence of exercise-related injury has a lot to do with people not paying attention to their own needs. One of the many things massage therapy offers to people who want to become healthier and more fit is the chance to become more aware of your own body in a powerfully positive way. Increased body awareness and self-appreciation may be the best tools for helping you increase activity levels without hurting yourself. In this way, you can reach your goals with power and joy, rather than with pain and injury.

Ruth Werner is a former massage therapist, a writer, and a continuing education provider. She wrote A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology(Lippincott Williams + Wilkins, 2013).

We know massage will make us move better and feel happier, but not everyone can make time for regular appointments. Luckily massage is great preventive care and it can have some instantly-gratifying results. Check out these 3 things massage can help you with right now.

Headaches  

Tension headaches (often called stress headaches) are the most common type of headaches among adults.

Pain or pressure in your forehead or on the top or sides of your head? Could be a tension headache. It’s especially likely if you’ve been hunching over a desk or some knitting, spent a ton of time in a car, or if you’re still shivering and huddling to keep warm as spring slowly creeps in.

Massage can help get rid of that headache and regular massage may well keep it from coming back. (If you want to geek out about tension headaches and try a few self-massage techniques, check out this article.)

Low Back Pain

A major research study was published in 2011 showing that massage therapy was better than drugs and usual care for general lower back pain. Better than drugs. I just had to say that twice.

Just about everyone will experience low back pain at some point in their life. If it happens to you, don’t suffer. Schedule a massage and get back into action.

Irritability

Have you ever been so cranky you got on your own nerves? Yeah, me, too. It isn’t fun. When you feel yourself biting everyone’s head off when they ask you a question, it might be time for some self-care.

Massage is great for stress relief. You get to shut off all the things that buzz and chime and aggravate you to the point of eye twitches. Music, silence, warmth, massage. All the cranky disappears.

This is dual purpose. You’ll feel better and all the people around you will be happier that you’re back to your sunny self.

Got a headache, low back pain, or a case of the grumpies? Get a massage scheduled and we’ll handle that fast.