Stress Release

Stress – What is it and what causes stress?

Life today is often lived at a fast pace – pressures at work, demands of family life, achieving ‘success’ in our lives and dealing with upsets or perhaps traumas which happen all create situations which can trigger our stress response. Lots of situations can trigger this stress response; in fact stress is quite a natural part of life, what’s not natural however is sustained stress.

When we experience stress our bodies tenses, our breathing quickens, adrenalin rushes through our blood, our shoulder blades move closer together, our vision narrows and we are ready for ‘fight or flight’. The level of body tension etc depends on the level of stress.

So if stress is natural, what is nature’s way of dealing with stress?

The natural cycle is STRESS – TENSION – RELEASE – RELAXATION. We experience stress, become tense then after the stressful event we release the tension and so experience relaxation.

However in today’s lifestyle we may not complete the natural cycle, we may do stress then tension then only partly release the tension before doing more stress and tension again and so on and so forth until the cycle looks something like:


This STRESS – TENSION – STRESS loop is unnatural, this sustained stress is where body functions begin to break down – not only do our bodies become dysfunctional, sustained stress also affects our family, social and other functions. Tension gets compounded upon more tension which has many negative spin-offs

Example 1 – Stomach’s natural function of peristalsis becomes impaired through tension therefore digestive disfunction can happen during sustained stress ie constipation, cramps, diarrhea etc

Example 2 – Headaches are often caused by prolonged stress and tension. It may be local tension around the head or coming from neck and shoulder tension.

Example 3 – Immune System – Sustained stress lowers the bodies’ immune system thereby reducing the body’s ability to resist bacterial infections, viruses and other diseases.

So if prolonged stress and tension is unnatural and unhealthy what can we do about it?

To tell or expect someone to simply relax when they are highly stressed and tense is not really feasible – relaxation is a step beyond for someone in this position, release of tension is required first before relaxation can happen. With release of tension followed by relaxation the body can return to it’s natural harmonious balance and functioning.

There are many ways to release tension, the important point to remember here is to find and use ways that work for you. Examples include physical exercise, stretching of limbs and muscles, a hot bath, relaxing with a good book, having a hearty laugh, restful sleep, therapeutic treatments such as massage, yoga, pilates, in fact any method which creates a physiological and mental release of tension is therapeutic in establishing balance in the body and mind. See our leaflet on Lifestyle changes for more details on ways to release stress and tension.

Many of us deem taking timeout to release tension a luxury and something we may treat ourselves to on special occasions. However the old adage of ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is very true when it comes to our health and maintaining a healthy mind and body. Our mind/body system needs to be nurtured and this starts by taking care of ourselves – today we take it for granted to brush our teeth in a daily routine as a preventative measure of our dental health, the question we ask is ‘Why should the rest of our body be any different?’ We suggest taking action to release tension and therefore supporting the health of your mind and body.

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