How Stress Impacts You
Stress is the response of the body to any physical or emotional stimulus and may be both harmful or beneficial depending upon the type and intensity of the stressor. For example, exercise places stress upon the bones and muscles and keeps them strong. Stress that is controlled and limited also serves a very useful purpose by driving us to learn more productive and creative lives.
Constant stress, however, such as financial worries, job-related pressures, family issues, internal turmoil, etc., will have a negative effect on your health and result in the depletion of essential energy producing trace minerals and vitamins. Without these energy producing minerals and vitamins the ability to cope with stress decreases and a cyle of declining health begins.
Excessive stress is often associated with many health related issues and may also lead to the premature aging of the body.
The body reacts to stress by mobilizing all of its available energy. If adequate levels of energy can be mobilized to overcome the stress, health and well-being are restored. However, if the body cannot produce enough energy to overcome the stress, the body automatically reacts to it with a general adaptation syndrome consisting of 3 distinct stages. Hans selye, M.D., identified these stages as the Alarm Stage, the ResistanceStage, and the Exhaustion Stage. The Stress Theory of Disease states that the body passes through these three stages as it comes under prolonged stress. Each stage has a particular biochemistry and specific conditions. Understanding the stage of stress can assist in guiding its correction from a less healthy and lower energy stage of stress to a more healthy and higher energy stage.
The stress response (known more commonly au hs the fight or flight response) affects your whole being including your musculoskeletal system. Neural messages are sent through the nervous system via motor pathways. This creates tension in skeletal muscles and joints and causes muscular aches and pains that can lead to backaches, headaches, and neck pain.
Massage therapy affects the Nervous System in a positive way by releasing endorphins creating a calmed euphoric state; affects the Cardiovascular System by helping dilate blood vessels allowing blood to circulate more freely, thereby lowering blood pressure. The increased blood flow also helps replenish nutrients throughout the body (providing you have the right amount of nutrients available in your body); affects the Digestive System by promoting excretion of waste from the colon by increasing the peristaltic activity. All the other body systems are positively affected either directly or indirectly.
Posture and Ergonomics
Stress can affect your posture. Some people consider posture to be a window to your health, a clue that can reveal your emotional state and levels of stress. A classic example is after a competition: there are distinct differences between a winner's confident, upright posture and a loser's stooped, hunched-over position.
And it works both ways - poor posture can cause stress, too. Having good posture opens up your chest cavity and helps you breathe properly with deep breaths. On the other hand, hunched shoulders and a small slouch reduce the volume of your chest cavity, cause shallow breathing, and increased stress.
Posture also affects your health, and if stressful positions drain your body of energy, either by impeding circulation or oxygen intake, it makes you vulnerable to fighting infections and to appropriately handling stress.
Massage therapy and stretching can improve posture by relaxing contracted muscles and lengthening shortened muscles and thereby allowing the body to realign and rebalance creating better posture.
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