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Understanding The Stress Response

The stress response or the fight or flight response, is a biological response mediated by the sympathetic part of the nervous system. During stress, the role of the sympathetic nervous system is to make enough energy available to prepare the body for emergency oxygen and increase strength and stamina. The body reacts to stress by deepening the breathing, quickening the heart rate, and sending more blood and oxygen to the muscles.

Unfortunately, the body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. When you’re stressed over a busy schedule or a mountain of bills, your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. Your emergency stress response may be “on” most of the time if you have a lot of responsibilities and worries. The more your body’s stress system is activated, the harder it is to shut off.

In stressful situations, the body responds by preparing for action. It calls in energy reserves to maintain this state of preparedness. If the stressor is not relieved within a short time after entering the stress stage, the energy reserves become depleted. This leads to feelings of emptiness and lethargy, with everything becoming too much effort, bringing on feelings of depression. It is important to relax and unwind after stressful situations to protect the body from long-term exposure to stress.

Stress management is about understanding how your body reacts to these pressures and learning how to build your body’s resilience to stress.

For stress management using Indian Head Massage and Reiki, contact Tracy on 086-2202734 or visit http://www.relaxfromstress.ie

Published in the Connaught Telegraph newspaper on 20 February 2018

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Understanding The Effects of Stress

Stress is difficult to define because each person experiences it differently. Things that are distressful for some people can be pleasurable for others. There are many physical and mental responses to stress. With awareness, people learn to identify their own stress warning signs and take steps to manage stress. Below is a list of some signs and symptoms of stress to help you understand how stress can affect us.

Some of the physical signs and symptoms of stress include churning stomach, diarrhoea or constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, excess perspiration, fatigue, headaches, nausea, palpitations, pre-menstrual syndrome, sense of heart pounding, shallow breathing, sleeping problems, increased colds/flu, indigestion, tension headaches or muscle tension.

There are also mental and emotional responses to stress, including anxiety, self-blame or blaming others,
catastrophising, cynicism, depression, guilt, fear, feeling unable to cope, frustration, anger, jealousy, irritability, feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, impatience, lack of concentration, indecision, low confidence and self-esteem, thinking negatively or ruminating on events.

Keep in mind that the signs and symptoms of stress can also be caused by other psychological and medical problems. If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs of stress it’s important to see a doctor for an evaluation. Your doctor can help you determine whether or not your symptoms are stress related.

Stress management is about understanding how your body reacts to these pressures and learning how to build your body’s resilience to stress.

For stress management using Indian Head Massage and Reiki, contact Tracy on 086-2202734 or visit http://www.relaxfromstress.ie 

Published in the Connaught Telegraph newspaper on 13 February 2018

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Understanding Types of Stressors

Situations that are considered stress provoking as known as stressors. Stress is not always a bad thing. Stress is simply the body’s response to changes that create taxing demands. We often use the term stress to describe negative situations. This leads many people to believe that all stress is bad for you, which is not true. Stress can be characterised as positive or negative.

When stress is positive, we feel motivated and focused. It’s short-term stress and we know it’s within our coping abilities. Positive stress feels exciting and helps improve performance. Examples of positive stressors include promotions, new jobs, marriage, buying a home, starting a family, taking a holiday, further education or learning a hobby.

Negative stress causes anxiety or concern. It can be short or long term and we feel it’s outside of our coping abilities. Negative stress feels unpleasant and decreases performance. It can lead to mental or physical problems. Examples of negative stressors include bereavement, separation, illness, abuse, bullying, sleep problems, legal or financial problems, job insecurity, commuting or conflicts at home or work.

Stressors are not always limited to situations where external situations are creating a problem. Internal thoughts and behaviours such as over-scheduling, not saying no, procrastination, fears, worrying, expectations can cause negative stress.

Stress management is about understanding how your body reacts to these pressures and learning how to build your body’s resilience to stress.

For stress management using Indian Head Massage and Reiki, contact Tracy on 086-2202734 or visit http://www.relaxfromstress.ie

Published in the Connaught Telegraph newspaper on 6 February 2018

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Sources of Stress

Stress is part of the flow of everyday life. A core part of stress management is understanding the sources of stress. We can experience stress from four basic sources: the environment, social stressors, physiological stressors and our thoughts.

The environment you live and work in can bombard you with intense and competing demands. Changeable weather can affect our wellbeing. Some people find too much or too little noise stressful. An area with a lot of pollution and crime can be a stressor. Another environmental stressor is traffic.

We can experience multiple stressors arising from the different social roles we occupy, such as parent, spouse, caregiver and employee. Some examples of social stressors include deadlines, financial problems,
job interviews, presentations, demands for your time and attention, loss of a loved one, divorce and parenting.

Situations and circumstances affecting our body can be experienced as physiological stressors. There are many types of physiological stressors, such as, rapid growth of adolescence, menopause, illness, aging, giving birth, accidents, lack of exercise, poor nutrition and sleep problems.

Our brain interprets and perceives situations as stressful, difficult, painful or pleasant. Some situations in life are stress provoking, but it is our thoughts that determine whether they are a problem for us.

Stress management is about understanding how your body reacts to these pressures and learning how to build your body’s resilience to stress.

For stress management using Indian Head Massage and Reiki, contact Tracy on 086-2202734 or visit http://www.relaxfromstress.ie

Published in the Connaught Telegraph newspaper on 30 January 2018

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Understanding Indian Head Massage

The name Indian Head Massage is misleading, as in Western training and practice it includes massage of the upper back, upper arms, neck and head. These are the areas where tension caused by stress is often felt. Indian Head Massage as practiced in the West was developed by Narendra Metha and first made it’s appearance in the UK in 1981. The recipient remains clothed throughout. I don’t use any oils. During an Indian Head Massage, clients sit on a chair or lie face down on a massage couch.

Different therapists have different ways of giving Indian Head Massage. Some are able to go deeper than others. My Indian Head Massage is a gentle massage that helps bring the body back into balance. The body has been through a lot to show the effects of stress. I believe that a gentle massage activates the body’s relaxation response and parasympathetic nervous system, bringing peace into the body and mind.

Traditional Indian Head Massage
Indian Head Massage is a treatment that developed from head massage practiced in India in the home and in barber shops.

Massage has always played an important part in Indian life, featuring in the earliest Ayurvedic texts, which date back nearly 4000 years. When used in conjunction with herbs, spices and aromatic oils, massage had an important medical function and could not only “strengthen muscles and firm the skin”, but also encourage the body’s natural healing abilities.

Indian infants often receive a daily massage from birth until they are 3 years old to keep them in good health and then from 3‑6 they are massaged once or twice a week. After 6, they are then taught to share a massage with family members and massage then occurs across the generations as an integral part of family life.

Indian Head Massage comes from this rich massage tradition of family grooming. Originally developed by women who used different oils according to the season (coconut, sesame, almond, olive oil, herbal oils, buttermilk, mustard oil and henna) to keep their hair strong, lustrous and in beautiful condition.

Barbers practiced many of these same skills. They would mostly practice their trade by going to individual’s houses, cutting hair and often offering Champi (head massage) as part of the treatment. This became quite a normal custom so that most people from the king down would have someone come to tend to them. Treatments would differ from the massages performed by women in that they were mainly invigorating scalp massages designed to stimulate and refresh the individual, not as part of a beauty treatment.

These skills have evolved through the ages and have been handed down from barber father to barber son in much the same way that the females in the family have kept the tradition of hair massage and grooming by passing it down from mother to daughter.

Narendra Mehta
Narendra Mehta, a blind massage therapist, had grown up with head massage as an integral part of his daily life, something to be automatically experienced every time he visited a barber.

When he came to England to train as a physical therapist in the 1970’s, he was dismayed to find that head massage was not generally available but that the head seemed to be a completely neglected area even in a full body massage.

He missed the therapeutic value of regular head massage and decided to develop a massage system that would focus on the head. He knew by experience that working on the head could bring relaxation and relief from aches and pains in the head. By helping to dispel tension, head massage can become an excellent hair conditioner as well as a means of removing stress‑linked troubles.

In 1978, he returned to India to study with leading practitioners of this ancient art, studying it wherever it was practised: barber shops, street corners, beaches, and in family homes. Although he enjoyed being worked on, he felt that there was something missing in the massage. There was a slight improvement in well being, the effects were too short‑lived to be of any therapeutic benefit. The barbers would focus on the scalp and the women on treating the hair.

Also, everyone who worked with him had his or her own individual technique which had been handed down through the generations. Narendra decided that he would formalise what he experienced and use his heightened sensitivity as a blind person to discover which part of his body reacted most positively to various moves.

His research led him to two conclusions:
1. The treatment could benefit by being extended from just the hair and scalp to the face, neck and shoulders which are vulnerable areas for the accumulation of stress and tension.

2. By introducing an Ayurvedic element into the massage by working on the highest three Chakras, the whole energy system in the body and consequently the whole person could be brought back into balance.

When these two elements were added to traditional Head Massage, Narendra found he had a new holistic therapy which could be used effectively to treat the whole person.

This new therapy was introduced at the 1981 Mind, Body and Spirit exhibition in England where 179 clients came to the stand suffering from headaches and exhibition exhaustion and left recharged and relaxed. Treating clients at his clinic and at exhibitions allowed Narendra to study the effects of his techniques in depth and to revise and expand them.

Indian Head Massage (Indian Champissage) has received a lot of positive exposure since its introduction in the UK and has led to its current popularity amongst health practitioners and the general public.

To try an Indian Head Massage, find out more at http://www.relaxfromstress.ie

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About Stress

Stress is a fact of everyday life. We all deal with circumstances, situations and stressors in our lives that leave us feeling emotionally and physically overwhelmed. Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry or anxious. Everyone sees situations differently and has different coping skills. No two people will respond exactly the same way to a given situation. Stress is a normal part of life. In small quantities, stress is positive. It can motivate you and help you become more productive. However, too much stress, or a strong reaction to stress can be harmful.

How we perceive a stress provoking event and how we react to it determines its impact on our health. We may be motivated and invigorated by the events in our lives, or we may see some as stressful and respond in a manner that may have a negative effect on our physical, mental and social well-being

Stress management is not about learning how to avoid or escape the pressures and turbulence of modern living. It is about understanding how your body reacts to these pressures and learning how to build your body’s resilience to stress. There is no easy solution to stress and it takes a mix of different techniques. The benefits of any stress management technique are best noticed after they have been practiced regularly.

For stress management using Indian Head Massage and Reiki, contact Tracy on 086-2202734 or visit http://www.relaxfromstress.ie

Published in the Connaught Telegraph on 23 January 2018

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Beware of Self Sabotage

This week I did a meditation with my yoga students called the Meditation to Overcome Self-Animosity. Self-animosity means all those blocks and habits we have in place to sabotage ourselves. Some of them are well known to ourselves, and others are not.

One way we sabotage ourselves is by trying to achieve our new year goals in January. We metaphorically beat ourselves with a stick and when we can’t control ourselves, then we give up. Goals are funny things though. They don’t seem to like being achieved by being forced. They like persistence and patience. We want to achieve our goals effortlessly and immediately, never mind any of this waiting for it craic!

Take our new year goals. We lay the foundations in the first two weeks January by setting the goal. Then we have another eleven months to build the pathway to success. We research different ways of doing things and mould our own path. It’s a mix of logic and intuition. One step at a time, even when it feels like we’re walking in the dark, helps us achieve our goals.

This month is a great month for all types of classes as people rush to achieve their goals. Sticking with those classes until June is really how people achieve their goals. By showing up week in and week out for your goals, you see them manifest.

For stress management and relaxation with Kundalini Yoga, Meditation, Reiki, Indian Head Massage and Aroma-Inhalers visit http://www.relaxfromstress.ie or contact Tracy Fitzgerald on 0862202734.

Published in the Connaught Telegraph newspaper on 16 January 2018

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