A Personal Story - Coping With Stress

Primus

My passion in life is to help people find ways to relax in order to reduce stress so they can live healthy, full and content lives.  Recently, I came face-to-face with some personal stress, so I feel compelled to share how I cope.

There are many ways we combat stress and the effects of it. I, for one, practice yoga and I get regular massages. But probably my greatest tool for dealing with life’s stresses was spending time with my dog, Primus. Just a few minutes with him, I noticed I stopped thinking about what was bothering me.  I relaxed. Cuddling with him was like a meditation practice.
 

 

There are plenty of studies about the benefits of having animals in your home but I knew instinctively cuddling with my dog made me feel better. However, I recently lost my precious pup and I noticed the void. I knew what it was as I’ve been through this before.


Four years ago, I lost another dog; his sister, Pixie, and we were both quite lost without her.  At that time, I didn’t have many tools to fight off stress as I hadn’t gotten back into a yoga routine and massage wasn’t even on the horizon. In fact, I was in a depression and had been for years but my dog needed me so I’d take him on long walks daily, sometimes several times a day to help him (and me) get through the loss and it ended up having a profound effect on me.

Over the next few months, I noticed an improvement in my overall health and I started making decisions to help me enhance my well-being. Some decisions seemed natural, like eating better, while others seemed innocuous, at the time, but altered my life completely.

For example, one decision involved planning a trip to NYC to see a Broadway play and in a convoluted way that got me back into my yoga practice. Few people know the whole story as it’s hard to explain but once back in a consistent yoga practice everything changed for me as I learned to relax and take time to be in the present. The decisions following evolved, my long-term depression lifted and healthier options revealed themselves. It was a domino effect of self-care and it brought me to where I am today:  Content, healthy and able to help others.

And although I miss my dog terribly, he lives forever in my heart and I am eternally grateful for those wonderful walks with my best friend. I continue to practice yoga, giving and receiving massage is extremely therapeutic for me, and now taking walks by myself has kept me from sinking into an abyss of sadness.

Life has its ups and downs, and we all use a variety of techniques to work through them. For me, walks with my dog led to me having a clearer mind to make healthy choices, these decisions led me to yoga, and yoga led me to Thai Yoga Massage and then ultimately Massage Therapy, a calling.

Slow down, take a walk, meditate, cuddle with your four-legged friend or book a massage. One decision to take care of you and your well-being can have a lifetime of benefits.

I've Reduced My Stress Levels With Massage

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Hello all!

First my apologies, I haven't updated everyone in a while. However,  many of you know that currently I am enrolled in Massage Therapy School. Yes, I am still teaching Yoga and now I have expanded my business to include Thai Yoga Massage. So in a couple of months, I will add in more massage therapies (Swedish, Deep Tissue & Myofascial Release), all tools to help people find relaxation.

Now for the update....

Going back to school was not only the best decision of my life, but it also helped me reduce my stress levels. HowWait! Aren't you in school full-time, raising teenagers and working? The answer is yes. But one thing made all this much easier to handle: Massages.

I've been receiving some sort of massage every week, sometimes several times a week, since August when I started up in school. The times vary, and so do the modalities, sometimes it's a 20 minute Swedish or 30 minute Myofascial Release or 45 minute Deep Tissue. While in school, we not only practice giving but we are also the clients for our classmates.       

Receiving a massage feels wonderful, I can attest to that, but  I've noticed something else. Honestly,  there's been a big shift in how I feel even far after the massage is over. In fact, people in my life have noticed a difference in me and said something. They say I look happier and more content. And I will have to agree with them. Not only for the fact that I fell in LOVE with learning these techniques and how I can help people, but how receiving massage therapy has affected me both physically and mentally.

How does it work though? Massage induces your parasympathetic nervous to take over, which allows you and your body to slow down for repair processing like rest and digest. When your sympathetic nervous system is active, like in times of stress, high levels of cortisol is released which can lead to inflammation. From there, if your stress levels are always high, this inflammation can lead to illness. Receiving massages, even monthly, allows one to get off the merry-go-round of stress
 
Here's an excerpt from an article from Institute for Integrative Healthcare that explains what happens and how massage helps.

HOW MASSAGE THERAPY REDUCES STRESS

Bunker, et.al. (2003) defines “stress” as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, acute and chronic life events, type A personality traits and hostility. One study, in particular, shows us that increased social isolation is especially stressful and leads to especially high levels of cortisol (Dickerson, et.al., 2004). These emotions may be the result of actual events in our lives or they may be only perceived by us, but they bring about the production of cortisol in the body, causing overall inflammation. We learn from Field, et.al. (2005) that cortisol is the hormone marker for stress, as it is an end product of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-cortical axis. Therefore, high levels of cortisol are the body’s tell for high levels of stress.

The Negative Effects of Too Much Cortisol

High cortisol levels in the body lead to weight gain in the midsection along with a variety of other metabolic changes which lower the immune system and stress the cardiovascular system, putting a low level but constant stress on the body over long periods of time. When stress is short term, we recover physically and move on with our lives, but when stress is long-term, it begins to take its toll on our bodies. The constant high levels of cortisol in the body causes inflammation, which eventually affects the heart and blood vessels bringing on high blood pressure, hypertension and, eventually, heart disease.....

Field, et.al. (2005) demonstrates that massage therapy is shown to reduce cortisol levels by an average of 31%, increase serotonin levels 28% and dopamine levels 21% on average. Similarly, Hernandez-Reif, et.al. (2000) explain that diastolic blood pressure and hypertension decreased after massage and that there was less reported anxiety, depression, and hostility... 

There are countless studies done on the effects of massage, but I am living proof that massage works. I am so honored to be a part of a field that has so many benefits to people. Even after I graduate, I will continue to receive massages because as we all know, life and stress go hand and hand. So if you or anyone you know is suffering from stress, please share this and book an appointment with a massage therapist in your area and get off that merry-go-round.