I’ve been seeing an increase in stress related disorders this year; from flares of asthma and allergies to rheumatoid arthritis, from bunched muscles in the shoulder girdles to tight gluts and feet.

So, what is stress?  Defined as “the physical pressure, pull, or other force exerted on one thing by another; strain”, “Physiology. a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism”, and “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension: Worry over his job and his wife's health put him under a great stress. “

Seventy-five to ninety percent of all doctor visits are due to stress-related ailments and disorders. Chronic stress leads to an out of balance biochemistry with elevated cortisol and suppressed serotonin. The biochemical markers of stress in turn lead to ill health. Stress plays a major causative role in both physical and mental health.

Stress has been linked to:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Breakdown in the immune system
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hormonal imbalances

Chronic stress creates excessive levels of cortisol in the brain, leading to the destruction of neurons, decreased short term and contextual memory, and poor regulation of the hormonal response to stress.   Psychological stress causes the shortening of the protective caps (telomeres) at the ends of chromosomes in cells. The shorter the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, the faster you age.

 Chronic stress affects the immune system by increasing sympathetic activity and decreasing cellular immunity. Immune cells migrate to different parts of the body and can worsen autoimmune and allergic conditions. Over time, this suppresses the body’s ability to fight off infection.

The effects of chronic stress create significant damage to the cardiovascular system by increasing the risk of coronary artery disease, elevating blood pressure, increasing artherosclerosis (fat deposits in blood vessel walls), increasing the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), increasing the risk of diabetes and increasing the likelihood of obesity.

That’s the bad news!  There’s good news, too!

The good news is that the antidote to stress is the relaxation response.  Massage is much more than feeling good for the moment. The effects of massage are cumulative—the more often you receive massage, the greater your health benefits.

Some of the benefits of massage include:

  • Stabilizing your nervous system
  • Decreased pain
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Increased energy and endurance
  • Increased strength and resilience
  • Improved functioning of your nervous system
  • Improved your body’s ability to detoxify
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved posture, range of motion and flexibility
  • Improved dexterity and fine motor skills
  • Improved balance
  • Improved attention span, concentration, memory, creativity and learning efficiency

Massage increases the oxygen levels in your brain, keeps your internal organs functioning their best, and nurtures your skin, all of which help to slow the aging process.    And, in addition to all these wonderful benefits, your muscles will have healthier tone, recovery time from illness and injury is reduced, and you’ll be more flexible both physically and mentally.

Taking part in regularly scheduled massage sessions plays a huge part in how healthy you’ll be and how youthful you’ll remain with each passing year.   Name one other activity that costs around $100 and leaves you feeling like a MILLION BUCKS for days. . .

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