Pathway Today - Stress Affects Your Health & Wellbeing
Updated: Oct 28, 2021
Contrary to popular belief, massage and energetic modalities such as Reiki, Reflexology and Access Bars® are NOT luxury pampering. In fact, these services can, and potentially must, be an integral part of your self-care routine so you can be the best version of yourself you possibly can be in all areas of your life – the infinite being of you! At Pathway Energetic Wellbeing, we are passionate about preventative methods for helping people to de-stress and relax as a pathway to their own health and wellbeing.
What is STRESS?
Stress is a generic term used to indicate a lack of coping; more specifically, it can be described as an imbalance between the demands being made on us and our resources / ability to cope (or not) with those demands. The extent a person feels stressed depends a lot on their attitude to a particular situation; the more important the outcome typically means one may feel more stressed. The impact of stress on an individual will depend on their personal, psychological and physiological states and any pressures from other (possibly unrelated) stressors such as health, finance and social pressures, for example.
The human body is designed to experience stress (ie stressors such as changes or challenges to life and circumstances), and react to it (your body producing physical, emotional and mental responses). Stress responses simply help the body to adjust to new situations. Therefore, stress can be positive (keeping us alert, motivated, ready to avoid danger), and some people thrive on stress, needing it to get things done. However, ongoing stress without relief or periods of relaxation can / will be detrimental in a number of different ways, affecting your body, your thoughts and emotions, and your behaviour.
Stress can be a short term issue or a long term problem, depending on what changes are happening in one's life and the coping mechanisms (ie skills and resources) one has available to them. Stress is subjective and not measurable by tests, therefore only the person experiencing it can determine whether it’s present and how severe it feels. So, being able to understand what stress is for you, how it manifests in your body, and recognising common stress symptoms can help you better manage it.
How Stress Manifests:
The body’s autonomic nervous system is the part of the body that controls the involuntary physiological processes such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration / breathing, digestion, etc; in other words, those aspects of your body that are regulated by the body without conscious thought. Associated with this are a number of automatic nervous system responses, one of which is the built-in stress response of “fight or flight”; this response helps the body face stressful situations by kicking it into high gear (ie using energy) to deal with the threat. A basic example of this is it is a nice, sunny day...you are taking a nice walk in the park. Suddenly, a large, angry dog appears in your path. Do you stay and fight OR do you turn and run away? In these types of situations, your nervous system is called into action and your blood pressure increases, your heart beats faster, and digestion slows down; all of these reactions use energy and helps your body to manage the threat; however, the longer we feel stressed, the greater the demand on our body and the more energy we need to use to cope. After some time, this becomes exhausting and takes a heavy toll on the body.
There is growing evidence to suggest that ongoing chronic stress may contribute to physical illness such as aches and pains, chest pain or a feeling like your heart is racing, exhaustion or trouble sleeping, headaches, dizziness or shaking, high blood pressure, muscle tension / fatigue, jaw clenching, stomach or digestive problems, low libido, and weakened immune system. Emotional and mental symptoms can also occur from stress, such as: anxiety, irritability, nervousness, depression, panic attacks, sadness, poor concentration that can lead to being accident prone, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, apathy, and hopelessness.
My Own Personal Experiences with Stress:
As I’ve said in my previous blog (Pathway Today – Introduction to Karen and Pathway Energetic Wellbeing, https://www.pathwaywellbeing.com/blog), my prior work history brought me front and centre with people going through their own stressful situations. As a HR practitioner, I managed many workplace investigations, performance management processes and workcover claims and investigations, resulting in people receiving discipline warnings, performance improvement requirements and sometimes, in the extreme cases, their employment was terminated; there were also the cases where people were bullied, harassed and discriminated against. These processes themselves were often very stressful, and then there was the process of managing the outcomes.
I also personally have experienced stressed as a result of being in a long-term psychologically abusive relationship with a narcissistic husband; it took me years to combat the negative effects of this, especially with regards to low self-esteem, trust, anxiety and social withdrawal. Sometime later, I met my soul-mate, and we experienced two miscarriages, which devastated both of us; to this day (some 15 years later), I still recall the helplessness, blackness, lethargy and loneliness associated with the situational depression and anxiety that came with the stress of living through and after those losses. Then there was the stress of having my own children, changing from being career-oriented to a stay-at-home-mum, completely changing my career, returning to work, establishing my own business, building on existing and learning new skills, my own health problems, family health problems and the sudden unexpected deaths of my 12 year old nephew and recently my dear dad. Don't even get me started on the stress from COVID and the impacts of the lock-downs and various restrictions...
Ways I Combat Stressful Situations:
Over the years, I have armed myself with some great resources and skills to help me through it all. First and foremost was my wonderful soul-partner, who was such a support for me. I also enlisted the help of my psychologist, who I have used the services of since my early 20’s to help me cope with life’s ups and downs. Daily self-Reiki was integral to help keep my Chi flowing and come back to centre and my authentic self. Family and friends were instrumental as well, without which I do believe I would have stayed in that black-hole of depression much longer than I did. Other resources that helped were writing a daily gratitude journal; this helped me to be thankful for all the circumstances in my life and not just focus on the negative things that were consuming me. Practicing gratitude helped me to see what I had going for me in life, rather than what I was missing, and significantly helped me heal on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. To this day, I still write down in my daily journal at least 3 things I am grateful for; this helps to foster more positive energy in my life.
Generally in life now, I am extremely conscious of ensuring my life has balance so stress doesn’t get the better of me. I am someone who is prone to stress and anxiety and therefore I am very mindful of how I am coping with the experiences and changes life will inevitably throw my way. Some things I do on the regular for self-care and ensure I keep my stress and anxiety in check include:
· Regular proactive check-ups with my health care professional team (at times this includes obtaining various health plans from my doctor, which significantly helps with the financial burden);
· Daily self-Reiki practice;
· Daily mindfulness and gratitude practice;
· Healthy nutrition, including no alcohol;
· Regular exercise, such as walks with friends and weekly yoga;
· A good 6-7 hours sleep each and every night (if my kids will let me);
· Have some fun with family and friends;
· Regular massages and reflexology.
My Experiences with Stress Led to the Creation of My Business:
Given my significant experience helping others and myself during times of extreme stress and anxiety, and seeing the negative ramifications that arose from the stress, it is definitely something very close to my heart. This drove me to want to help people in a much more preventative and proactive way to de-stress and relax as a pathway to their own wellbeing. This was how Pathway Energetic Wellbeing, my business, came into being (refer to my previous Blog: Pathway Today – Introduction to Karen and Pathway Energetic Wellbeing, https://www.pathwaywellbeing.com/blog). To me, being well and healthy means I can do the things I want in life, whatever that may be – whether it’s just going for a walk pain-free, running a marathon (or even just jogging around the block), gardening and being able to get up and down / consistently bending over, being a corporate go-getter, a great stay-at-home parent, or simply having the time to really enjoy the little moments life brings your way every single day! It’s about being the best version of yourself you can possibly be in all areas of your life – the infinite being of you! All of the modalities used at Pathway Energetic Wellbeing will help you relax, de-stress, find balance, and bring you back to your authentic self.
Ways to Prevent / Decrease Stress Effects:
Even with years of experience managing stress and anxiety myself, some days are always harder than others. Sometimes the anxiety just takes over and I start falling into that pit; that's where the coping strategies I mention above really come into play. Keeping key connections is essential, so I can just say "Hey, I'm having a pretty bad day today"; I may just want someone to listen, or I may need some advice and guidance, but I now have a great self-care regimen for keeping that stress at bay (well most of the time anyway). So I certainly encourage people to build that checklist of strategies that will help you the most to cope with life's up and downs.
If you have chronic stress, your healthcare provider can evaluate symptoms that result from stress. It is always a good idea to seek help before your health becomes affected, and there are plenty of places you can seek assistance from, such as your GP, naturopath, counsellor or psychologist, Lifeline, Kids Helpline, beyondblue, and of course many alternative therapists such as massage therapists, kinesiologists, reiki practitioners, reflexologists, acupuncturists; and there are some great resources available online as well. Regularly using stress management techniques can help you avoid most physical, emotional, and behavioural symptoms of stress; it can also help you to manage the stress responses yourself and your view of stress itself.
Many daily strategies can help reduce / keep stress at bay:
Relaxation activities such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, breath work and muscle relaxation;
Take good care of your body each day; eating right, exercising and getting enough sunshine and sleep help your body handle stress much better;
Stay positive and practice gratitude, acknowledging the good parts of each day or life;
Being mindful; stay in the present as much as you can, as often stress and anxiety comes from dwelling on what's happened in the past or what may happen in the future;
Accept you cannot control everything; find ways to let go of worry about situations you cannot change;
Learn to say “no” to additional responsibilities when you are too busy or stressed;
Stay connected with people who keep you calm, help you to feel happy, provide emotional support and help you with practical things; a friend, family member or neighbour can become a good listener or share responsibilities so that stress doesn’t become overwhelming.
As suggested above, the causes of stress are many and different people have different vulnerabilities. While the human body is designed to experience and manage stress, prolonged stress without relief or periods of relaxation can be detrimental to your health in a number of ways. The longer you feel stressed, the greater the demand on our body and the more energy needed to cope; there is also growing evidence that stress may contribute to physical, emotional and psychological illness and dis-ease, unless appropriate coping strategies and self-care measures are put into place.
All modalities used at Pathway Energetic Wellbeing are based on the principle of Chi (pronounced chee). Chi is the general term for the universal life force energy that flows through every living thing. The Chi energy flowing in you is what gives you vitality and fullness of life. It is my belief that when a person feels stressed, their body blocks Chi causing an imbalance that leads to illness or dis-ease. The services provided at Pathway Energetic Wellbeing aim to keep Chi flowing through the body, thereby keeping it balanced and healthy. My next few blogs will explain exactly what services I provide at Pathway Energetic Wellbeing, and how they can help you de-stress and stay on top of your game, whatever that may be for you!
Contact me today on how I may be able to help you.
All content and media on the Pathway Energetic Wellbeing Website is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on solely as health or personal advice.
As a holistic energetic and massage practitioner, I am NOT a Medical Doctor (MD). I am a trained and qualified specialist in the practices of Access Bars®, Reiki, Reflexology, Swedish Massage and a modified version of Thai Massage, which are used to create a healthy environment for the overall health and wellbeing of my clients. I do not diagnose or provide any prognosis of conditions a client may present with. With that said, all services rendered are safe, non-invasive holistic methods of balancing the body’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Any imbalances in the body, mind or spirit can cause or contribute to various health problems. I highly recommend that clients continue to see any medical doctors they are under the care of, and that any prescription medication should not be altered without first consulting the Doctor who recommended it. To this end, nothing said, done, typed, printed or reproduced by Pathway Energetic Wellbeing is intended to diagnose, prescribe, treat or take the place of a licensed physician.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or call the emergency services immediately (000). If you choose to rely on any information provided by Pathway Energetic Wellbeing, you do so solely at your own risk.
The Better Health Channel, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/stress
The Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress
Queensland Government, https://www.qld.gov.au/health/mental-health/help-lines/services