Stress. Unfortunately, it’s a part of everyone’s life and is an essential response to potentially threatening situations. Stress, anxiety, and tension are triggered in your brain by the hypothalamus, which sends out the order to release stress hormones and prepare the body for fight or flight. The result is a quickening of the heart rate, faster breathing and tense muscles. This is all designed to help you cope with potentially serious situations, but when these stress levels remain elevated for long periods of time, it can have a devastating effect on your health – both your physical health and your mental health.
Headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, depression, arthritis, anxiety, skin conditions and problems sleeping are just a few of the ways in which stress can negatively affect your physical, emotional, and mental health.
As a direct result of stress, 43% of adults will suffer ill health, and subsequently, 75-90% of all visits to the doctor are for stress-related illnesses. Stress has been labeled as ‘a growing epidemic,’ and it has been recommended that both employers and governments worldwide start to take stress more seriously. It has recently been estimated that the annual cost of stress to the US economy is around $300 billion, with approximately one million people per day being absent from work.
With this in mind, it’s crucial that everyone takes stress seriously and takes positive steps towards treating potential sources of stress.
Essential oils are fast becoming an important and reliable treatment for stress. Over 300 hospitals in the United States are now stocking essential oils to help treat patients and bring a sense of wellness to hospital wards. Lavender has long been recognized for its calming properties due to an element called linalool, which can help to reduce feelings of sadness and anxiousness. Other helpful oils include frankincense, cedarwood and blue tansy.
Massage has long been used throughout the world to help relieve the symptoms of stress. It promotes all-round relaxation, can alleviate tense, knotted muscles and releases good endorphins into the body. At Heaven and Earth Massage, therapists are trained to attend to both physical and spiritual tension, helping you to unwind and relax.
It has been proven that mindfulness can be effective in reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of where we are and what we are doing, rather than being reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to affect how the brain works, and even its structure. People practicing mindfulness have displayed increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain associated with positive emotions.
Research has found that spending just 20 minutes a day outside in nature can significantly lower stress hormone levels, therefore relieving stress and anxiety, improving mood and boosting feelings of happiness and wellbeing. ‘Nature pills’ are now an option for medical practitioners when treating patients with stress-related illnesses.