What seems like a lifetime ago; I got sick. This was something that never happened to me, I was never sick; coughs, colds, flu, but never actually vomiting. I milked the whole experience and felt very sorry for myself. After a day I stopped being sick and went on with my life. 8 months later I was in hospital (I remember the timeline so vividly as it was New Years Eve when I got sick and August bank holiday weekend when I found myself in hospital.) A month later I was released to the full-time care of my Mum; poor Mum thought I was off her hands and suddenly there I was needing 24 hour a day care. 6 months later I returned to work on crutches and 10 years later I was finally signed off, drug free and back to full health. What is the point of this mini drama, I hear you ask and I’m getting to it. I had an autoimmune disorder, I won’t bore you with names and details, but it was something I should not have got in my early 20s. It came after a period of intense stress, anxiety and depression. I would not say that I recognised the depression at the time, but looking back it was definitely there. I felt in a constant state of panic and did not know which direction the next problem was coming from, but I knew it was coming. Though there might have a been an underlying genetic connection; it is highly likely that my body reacted so badly to the virus because it was under too much stress to fight it. There were dramas in my life, but the main issue was that I had not found a way to deal with stress or pressure; I left every issue spiral out of control.
Stress really is the root of so many problems both physically and mentally; we always look for that cause and explanation for ill health, but sometimes it is as simple as forgetting to relax and switch off panic mode. Stress has its place; you will probably have heard of the ’fight or flight’ reflex where the body gets into readiness for action against danger, stress or physical challenge. It is useful; it helps us cope with the challenge ahead, but what happens when the reflex is not able to switch off? This is when health is put at risk. In fight or flight mode, the heart rate is elevated to pump blood to the vital organs; none essential functions slow, or stop until the risk goes away. It goes back to our primitive selves, when we fought the danger, or fled for our lives; if fighting for survival, there was really no need to be digesting food at that exact point in time. But we need food to survive, we need the nutrients from the food and we need to expel the waste, so if the digestion slows or stops, that process is stalled and ineffective. The immune system is another system that takes a back seat; at that exact point you are fighting for your life, does it matter if the little cells are fighting off an illness? Not that point, no, but eventually you need your immune system back up and running or the whole bodily system will fail. Equally, the raising of the hear rate caused by panic, anxiety and stress is useful to help us cope in the very short term, but must then return to normal to avoid undue stress on the heart muscles.
There are many ways to relax, but having a massage has got to be up in the top 10 of most effective ways to relax the whole body. Relax and give into it and you could find that even the brain quietens down while the muscles are warmed and stretched out. Whatever your stresses and pressures; always make time to switch off the stress. So easy to say and so difficult to do, but remember you only have the one body. If the body fails you then strangely all those pressures and strains will no longer matter. Take time out to relax the mind and body; the effects may be surprising. It is easy for the mind to become congested and stalled; solutions and actions fail to happen, the problems magnify, the stress raises and suddenly the way out seems too far away to reach. STOP, RELAX, REGROUP and start all over again; you may find an answer staring you in the face or you might just feel stronger and more able to carry on.
Manage your stress and protect that vital thing that is you. A holistic massage works on the body as a whole; in a consultation we will look at your daily routine, your current and past health, medication, issues you are aware of and possibly, we will identify issues that you are not aware of. If there is a back issue; we will bring the arms, neck, legs and head into a massage to assist in releasing the tension in the back, not just work on your back. Focus on the body as a whole because it is an integrated system, so finely tuned that one small fault is enough to upset the whole system.
Breathing is a huge part of relaxation and stress relief; think of that body in panic mode and you will think of panting, gasping, short, sharp breaths. Stop for a second and take a deep breath, right into the stomach, fill out that stomach as much as you can, then slowly release the breath. We regularly forgot to breath deeply, especially when anxious, so try taking a moment to breathe deeply and see how it makes you feel. For one thing, stopping and thinking about breathing gives you a moment of respite from thinking of the thousand and one other things on your mind and the other part is the healing effect of filling your body with oxygen. In massage, you will find your breathing gets deeper and deeper, as we stretch and work your muscles, we will ask you to breathe deeply and slowly. The aim is that you will walk away feeling both physically and mentally refreshed, rested and relaxed.