YOUR HEALTH: Beat stress with hands-on therapies
By Ingrid Waterman
In its purest form, stress is merely a stimulus that produces a response; without stressors, we simply wouldn’t survive very long. If we never felt the stress of hunger, for example, we wouldn’t be motivated to sustain our nutritional needs. Like it or not, we depend on stress for our own survival.
The issue with our modern society is that we generally have too much of the wrong kind of stress. Stress primarily affects two parts of our nervous system: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic.
The parasympathetic system, sometimes referred to as “rest & digest,” conserves our energy by slowing our heart rate and promoting digestion of food. Many of the body’s restorative and healing functions can only occur within the parasympathetic state. The sympathetic system, also known as “fight or flight,” expends energy by increasing heart rate, secreting adrenaline and directing blood to the muscles to enable quick responses.
The countless stressors we face every day, especially those “fight or flight” stimuli, keep our nervous system in a constant state of firing. This slowly wears us down and leaves our bodies more susceptible to disease unless we can find a way to keep our stress levels in check.
Hands-on therapies like massage, Reflexology and Reiki are great tools to combat the effects of excessive stress. All have the ability to invoke the “rest & digest” part of our nervous system, which will in turn decrease our stress and anxiety levels.
In order to achieve the “rest & digest” state, treatments should be 60 minutes or longer, have a full-body approach and not be too painful or over-stimulating. The greatest long-term results are achieved through regular treatments ever four to six weeks.
Don’t wait for your body to start crumbling under the pressure. As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Ingrid Waterman is a Registered Massage Therapist and the founder of i Day Spa in Courtenay. For a complete list of services, call 250-871-0411 or visit www.idayspa.ca.