Depression, anxiety, insomnia, emotional disorder
From time to time, almost everyone in modern society experiences some level of stress. Stress has become a part of our daily life. Our body produces a brief surge of cortisol and epinephrine when we are under stress. This is called the "fight or flight" response. Once we respond and cope with the situation, our cortisol level should return to normal levels. However, if the stress is extreme or lasts for a long perid of time, our emotional health, and ultimately physical health will suffer.
Warning signs of stress
High levels of systemic cortisol and epinephrine level can wear down our body's natural defenses, leading to symptoms including:
- Headaches and general aches
- Grinding teeth, clenched jaw
- Indigestion, constipation, diarrhea or acid reflux
- Muscle tension in neck, face, or shoulders
- Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
- Tiredness, exhaustion
- Frequent colds
- Weight gain or loss
- Sexual problems, low progesterone
- Insomnia, depression, anxiety even forgetfulness
Tips for managing stress
- Be aware of yourself
- Lifestyle changes
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get enough sleep
- Get moving
- Avoid alcohol, coffee and sugar
- Exercise: breathing exercise, Progressive muscle relaxation for stress relief
- Acupuncture and Massage both can help you to relax
Acupuncture can lower twenty-four-hour urinary cortisol levels, and improve quality of life by releasing natural pain killer-endorphins in the brain. Acupuncture also improves blood circulation which brings oxygen to the tissues and clears out cortisol and other waste chemicals. The calming effect of acupuncture decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure, relaxes the muscles and makes you feel yourself again.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, any physical and emotional stress interrupts the flow of energy called Qi throughout the body meridians; health issues follow. By inserting needles at specific points in the body, acupuncturists restore the balance of Qi and the body's overall health.
Swedish massage, hot stone massage, and deep tissue massage can lower cortisol level and raise oxytocin level. This has multiple psychological effects and influences social behavior and emotion. Plenty of research has found that massage therapy is an ideal stress relief treatment.
This breathing exercise is utterly simple and effective, takes no time, requires no equipment, and can be done anywhere in any comfortable position with your back straight.
- Inhale through your nose; your lower stomach should rise.
- Exhale completely through your mouth; your lower stomach should fall. Exhaling should take you twice as long as inhaling
- Repeat the cycles of inhalation and exhalation.
- Do it whenever you remember or are aware of internal tension.
- This exercise will help you fall asleep as well.
Progressive muscle relaxation for stress relief
Progressive muscle relaxation is an effective and widely used technique that has been proven to relief your stress. Progressive muscle relaxation involves a two-step process in which you systematically tighten and loosen different muscle groups in the body.
With regular practice, progressive muscle relaxation gives you an intimate familiarity with what tension and relaxation feels like in different parts of the body. This awareness helps you spot and counteract the first signs of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. When your body relaxes, so will your mind. You can combine deep breathing with progressive muscle relaxation for an additional level of relief from stress.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation Sequence
- Right foot
- Left foot
- Right calf
- Left calf
- Right thigh
- Left thigh
- Hips and buttocks
- Right arm and hand
- Left arm and hand
- Neck and shoulders
Most progressive muscle relaxation practitioners start at the feet and work their way up to the face. In addition:
- Loosen your clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.
- Take a few minutes to relax, breathe in and out slowly; take deep breaths
- When you’re relaxed and ready to start, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.
- Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing it as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.
- Relax your right foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.
- Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.
- When you’re ready, shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.
- Move slowly up through your body — legs, abdomen, back, neck, face — contracting and relaxing the muscle groups as you go.