When Stress Hits!
by Alan Jordan, LMT, NCTMB
The kids are sick. The car won't start. Work is not going well. Housework is getting further behind. The bills are due and I haven't had a good night's sleep in weeks...
Click Here to Take the Mayo Clinic
Online Stress Assessment Test
Stressed? Anxious? Exhausted? Has your neck turned to stone and your shoulders feel permanently attached to your ears?
Have you wondered, “How will I ever get out of this mess?” After all, kids do get sick, cars break down and work can be stressful at times.
Of course, stress is not always a bad thing. If there is no stress or excitement, in life, we may become bored and may not live up to our potential. However, if we find ourselves in extreme stress, or experience stress for an extended time, it can negatively affect our physical and emotional health. When stress affects our health, we may find ourselves in a vicious cycle where matters only become worse.
According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can be responsible for headaches, frequent insomnia or decreased productivity at work. Long-term stress can can result in health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. It has been estimated that 75 - 90% of all doctor’s visits are for symptoms that are at least partially stress-related!
No matter what our situation, sudden or accumulated stress will be present at various times in our lives. Three out of four people say they experience excess stress at least twice a month. Stress and trauma can accumulate in become “stuck” in our bodies. In his 1997 book “Waking the Tiger”, author Peter Levine, Phd., noted that humans tend to hold stress in the body for years – perhaps even for a lifetime.
Our tendency is to believe that in order to feel better, we must first reduce the amount of stress in our lives. While seeking ways to minimize stress is recommended, the ability to reduce stress at a given time may not be possible. However, we can almost always take action to manage our body's reaction to excess stress.
Massage Therapy is one stress management tool that offers powerful results. By physically releasing tension in the muscles and other soft tissues, we can also rid our bodies of accumulated stress and stored traumas. After receiving massage, we feel better, have more energy and find our world to be friendlier place. As a result, we are able to think more clearly, feel less anxious, begin to implement positive lifestyle changes and restore balance in our daily lives.
Exercise, diet, rest and humor are among other important tools for coping with stress but the use of massage therapy for relief from stress is on the rise. The 2011 Industry Fact Sheet, a comprehensive survey conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) reports, “In July 2010, 40 percent of adult Americans said they had at least one massage in the last five years to reduce stress or relax—up from 22 percent reported in 2007.”
A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine
and the National Institutes of Health.
Stressed? Take A Relaxation Break Now!
More About Managing Stress
is America's #1 Health Problem!
According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS)
It's a fact... We all encounter at least some stress every day. Thankfully, not all stress is bad. Some types of stress can even be great fun. Think of the stress that comes with competing in our favorite sport, the stress we feel on our wedding day, or the stress of completing a special project at deadline. In each of these events, the stress is exhilarating!
Other types of stress are not so pleasant. In fact, long term (or chronic) stress can be very serious, affecting us both physically and emotionally. It has been estimated that as many as 90% of doctor’s visits are for symptoms that are at least partially stress-related! According to an article in American Psychologist, Magazine Issue 45(10):1146-1153 , "The total health and productivity cost of worker stress to American business is estimated at $50-$150 billion annually."
The following chart, provided courtesy of the AIS, illustrates 50 common signs and symptoms of stress:
|1. Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain||26. Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams|
|2. Gritting, grinding teeth||27. Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts|
|3. Stuttering or stammering||28. Trouble learning new information|
|4. Tremors, trembling of lips, hands||29. Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion|
|5. Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms||30. Difficulty in making decisions.|
|6. Light headedness, faintness, dizziness||31. Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed.|
|7. Ringing, buzzing or "popping" sounds||32. Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts|
|8. Frequent blushing, sweating||33. Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness|
|9. Cold or sweaty hands, feet||34. Little interest in appearance, punctuality|
|10. Dry mouth, problems swallowing||35. Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping|
|11. Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores||36. Increased frustration, irritability, edginess|
|12. Rashes, itching, hives, "goose bumps"||37. Overreaction to petty annoyances|
|13. Unexplained or frequent "allergy" attacks||38. Increased number of minor accidents|
|14. Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea||39. Obsessive or compulsive behavior|
|15. Excess belching, flatulence||40. Reduced work efficiency or productivity|
|16. Constipation, diarrhea||41. Lies or excuses to cover up poor work|
|17. Difficulty breathing, sighing||42. Rapid or mumbled speech|
|18. Sudden attacks of panic||43. Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness|
|19. Chest pain, palpitations||44. Problems in communication, sharing|
|20. Frequent urination||45. Social withdrawal and isolation|
|21. Poor sexual desire or performance||46. Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue|
|22. Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness||47. Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs|
|23. Increased anger, frustration, hostility||48. Weight gain or loss without diet|
|24. Depression, frequent or wild mood swings||49. Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use|
|25. Increased or decreased appetite||50. Excessive gambling or impulse buying|
According to the AIS, "As demonstrated in the above list, stress can have wide ranging effects on emotions, mood and behavior. Equally important but often less appreciated are effects on various systems, organs and tissues all over the body."
Body Systems Affected by Stress
Stress related disorders are numerous, and include:
- Pain of Any Kind
- Heart Disease
- Digestive Problems
- Sleep Problems
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Skin Conditions, such as Eczema
Clearly, the consequences of excess stress are massive. But according to MedicineNet author and Associate Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles Peter J. Panzarino, Jr. M.D. F.A.P.A, stress is not the problem - It is the way we choose to think of and manage our stress that burdens us with the multiple physical and emotional consequences of stress. If we see stress as a positive force that presents us with new opportunities, the negative effects of excess stress are minimized.
Panzarino states in his MedicineNet article, How to Manage Stress, "Stress is simply a fact of nature -- forces from the outside world affecting the individual. Hence, all living creatures are in a constant interchange with their surroundings (the ecosystem), both physically and behaviorally... However, there are critical differences in how different living creatures relate to their environment. These differences have far reaching consequences for survival.
Because of the overabundance of stress in our modern lives, we usually think of stress as a negative experience. But from a biological point of view, stress can be neutral, negative, or positive" Maintaining a positive attitude about the stress in our lives plays a significant role in our health and in our quality of life.
Stress Management Resources
Relaxation techniques are not complex, acrobatic exercises. But doing them right and doing well can help remove stress and make you feel vibrancy & joy in living.
Intuitive Bodywork Massage Therapy
at Deuce Gibb Salon
337 Bridge Street
New Cumberland, PA 17070