Stress is a natural part of everyday life. Regardless of location, lifestyle, occupation or relationship situation, stress occurs in one degree or another. In a positive light, mild to moderate amounts of stress encourage alertness and keeps us from harm. However, continuous or extreme stress without a means of escape has a negative impact on our bodies. Tension builds and we become overwhelmed. Without some type of relief or period for relaxation, physiological changes begin that manifest into physical symptoms. Individuals may develop headaches, abdominal distress or insomnia. More serious effects include elevated blood pressure, chest pain and a variety of conditions requiring medical intervention.
Healthy Lifestyles Fight Stress and Aging
Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco engaged in an extensive study of how stress accumulates and affects the body on a cellular level. During the course of the study, the scientists discovered that negative effects are dramatically reduced by eating healthy, taking the time to exercise and getting sufficient amounts of sleep. The team specifically examined telomeres within the cells. Comprised of DNA and proteins, telomeres serve as the protective end caps on chromosomes. During the natural aging process, telomeres become shorter and weaker, which leads to a shorter cell lifespan and faster cell death. The study involved evaluating the cells within blood samples taken from 239 older women over the course of one year. Also during the year, researchers surveyed lifestyle habits and the stressors encountered by the participants. At the end of the year, the scientists discovered that the women who regularly maintained healthy habits had little to no cellular changes. On the other hand, subjects who had fewer healthy habits demonstrated significant telomere alterations.
Adopting some form of coping strategy also helps to alleviate the effects that stress has on the body. The methods used by people are numerous and vary depending on age, physical ability and preference. Stress relieving techniques should provide release and relaxation for the mind and body. Mind relaxing exercises might include writing. For some, spending 10 to 15 minutes relaying through the written word the challenges faced during the day, along with the emotional, mental and physical effects of the stress provides a substantial release. Others may prefer spending time with pets, gardening or expressing themselves through a particular craft. Eliminating stress from the physical body may include engaging in regular exercise, performing yoga or participating in a favorite sport.
Benefits of Massage
Numerous studies indicate that massage therapy offers many different physiological benefits. In addition to promoting relaxation by relieving muscle tension, massage also enhances blood and lymph circulation, reduces muscle pain and fatigue, and improves mood. Tissues relax, tension subsides and discomfort or pain diminishes. There are many types of massage techniques used by therapists. When a client visits a masseuse, the therapist initially obtains a history of the complaint and performs a physical assessment. The type of massage used largely depends on the needs of the individual.