By Joel Curry, MSW, CMT, Pathways to Health
Stress is the body's reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response. Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, nervous, or anxious. Stress is caused by an existing stress-causing factor or "stressor." For example, dealing with a serious illness, losing a job or a home or a loved one are obvious sources of stress. Other stressors may not be so obvious: a difficult boss, a difficult employee, traffic, deadlines, tax time, teenagers.
Just becoming aware of what is creating your stress is a first step in dealing with it in a positive ways. Understanding some of the effects on our bodies is another way we can become more aware. Muscle pain and chronic fatigue are two ways our bodies respond to stress.
• Pain - Stress gets reflected in the form of firmness and stiffness in Muscles. This restricts the supply of oxygen, leading to accumulation of lactic acid and waste products in these muscles after prolonged periods of stress, This results in soreness and pain in muscles.
• Chronic Fatigue- Prolonged periods of tension weaken the muscles. When one muscle gets weakened, its opposing muscle is also compromised; slowly it also gives in. It results in lack of coordination between various body parts muscles, connecting tendons, joints, etc. Since musculoskeletal system consumes largest share of body's energy, this imbalance brings about a state of chronic fatigue and tiredness.
Massage Therapy can control stress effectively. It improves blood circulation , relieves tension, increases oxygen flow, boots immune system, and clears the mind - After a massage session, you feel rejuvenated and more confident. The massage brings about an emotional release and improved balance in body, mind and emotions. It is not going to dissolve away all those things that are causing you tension and stress in the first place, but it surely is going to help in making you mentally and physically more capable of dealing more effectively with stressors.
Certified Massage Therapists are now licensed by the state of California and trained in various bodywork methods of stress relief. Most can offer guidance in other approaches: Heat therapies; steam baths and saunas in combination with essential oil therapies, progressive relaxation and meditation, exercise, and nutritional guidance.