All of these sound nice right about now, huh? Turns out they are all positive choices you can make toward a stress-free lifestyle, and a couple of them, don’t cost a thing!
It’s no secret stress is hard on the body. Not only does stress make us feel old, feel tired, causes body aches, causes headaches, causes muscle tension, but it also causes aging within cells and our DNA. Stress is a powerful force behind major physical and mental health issues such as heart disease. depression, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, and many more.
There’s a balance for an appropriate level of stress that helps a human survive life. For example, stress on muscle fibers from a great workout help the muscle get stronger. Or an appropriate stress response helps the “fight or flight” cycle if say, a bear walks into the room. However, chronic stress, unhealthy levels of stress, begin to break down our bodies on a chemical level.
“Stress comes in two basic flavors, physical and emotional…(Woolston)”
Physical stress is most obvious to recognize: the body adjusting to a cold room, the time it takes a paper cut heal, the common cold, getting goose bumps walking down a dark alley… you get the idea. As one ages, the body’s response time for these physiological actions slows down.
Emotional stress is less obvious. Chronic stress leads to overproduction of cortisol and adrenaline – the hormones that help you run from the aforementioned bear, or gives you focus to meet a deadline that you’ve completely procrastinated. Long term overproduction of these two hormones can send the rest of your body’s natural hormone production out of wack to the point where the brain loses it’s ability to regulate the necessary hormones to make the many chemical processes in the body happen. This is where we end up seeing weak immune systems, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Let’s break it down to the chemical level…
The reason why stress is felt in the body, and even worse, shows on our face is that there is actual breakdown happening at the DNA and cellular level.
There is DNA (chromosomes) in every cell. For simplicity, think of the chromosome as an “X”. At the ends, both top and bottom, there is a little protective cap, called a telomere. Think of them like the plastic tip at the end of a shoestring. Telomeres protect our vital DNA information and aid in a cells division process – cells are constantly dividing. Unfortunately, telomeres get shorter each time a cell divides until it is longer present, which leads to cellular aging and eventual cell death.
Researchers suspect that overproduction of stress hormones are the cause of the premature shortening of telomeres. In layman’s terms, this could be restated that stress hormones cause pre-mature aging. It’s the reminder that we are not immortal.
Still, we have many tools at our disposable to reduce stress:
Slow, deep breaths can send a massage to the brain that it’s ok to relax. Once the brain is on board with the relaxation, it lets the rest of the body know it’s ok to calm down and relax.
It helps slow your heart rate, reduce your blood pressure, and generate an overall sense of well-being. Here are some deep breathing exercises that may be helpful: https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uz2255
Studies show that receiving acupuncture reduces the amount of various stress hormones in the body system. It’s relaxing to receive for both the body and mind.
Our Friend Nikki at TCM Wellness and Acupuncture is a great resource if you want to try acupuncture for the first time, or as an option to reduce stress.
She is Nationally Board Certified in Acupuncture and licensed to practice in the state of Minnesota. In addition to a Master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Northwestern Health Sciences University, she also studied at the well-respected Tianjin Medical University, a top ranked medical college, in Tianjin China.
Nikki is passionate about helping her clients live life to the fullest by using her experience and knowledge to educate and inspire others to lead healthy, stress-free lives.
Meditation provides stress relief by bringing the mind and body to the present moment, and promoting increased self-awareness. This helps reframe and understand stressful situations from a new perspective. Meditation slows the breath and is also linked with lowering blood pressure.
Massage can reduce stress in multiple ways. Receiving massage encourages the body to shift to the parasympathetic nervous system. In this state there are no stress hormones being released and the body is in “rest and restore” mode. It can also slow your heart rate, reduce blood pressure, alter brain wave states… do we need to say more?
Click to book your massage: https://themassagespacemn.com/booking/