This month’s topic is the second part of a Wellness series, caring for your body. I’m going to give lots of information about tools to help create a well body, but first I’d like to look into stress and the role it plays in the human body. For many, when we think of stress, we think of how it is in our brain, the mental stress, without acknowledging how it affects the body. Stress, especially chronic stress, is greatly linked to an unwell body.
Stress affects the body on all levels, from the cellular level, hormones, organs, nerves, blood vessels to muscles and even digestion. We might feel it as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, tight or stiff muscles, but what can happen to us internally might be much bigger than what we feel or think we feel. Chronic stress has been greatly linked to major causes of death.
Here is a run through of some of what stress can do to our bodies: It restricts blood vessels, leading to muscle tension and stiffness, headaches and pain, but also potentially leading to high blood pressure and heart disease. It weakens the immune system keeping us in a flight or flight response causing the release of certain hormones. This has the potential to cause damage to our organs, create chronic inflammation and lower immunity, increasing our vulnerability to infectious and autoimmune diseases. Stress often causes sleep disturbances. This hinders our body’s own ability to heal and tends to make each day more unbearable as the effects can be cumulative.
Stress levels in the body can be greatly helped through many of the services offered at Life’s Journey Wellness. I will tell you about how Integrative Therapeutic Massage, Qigong/Body/Energy Healing and Qigong practices can all reduce stress and its effects on the body. All of these modalities will help you and your body feel better at the time of service, will help in the long run by giving your body a break, and by retraining your entire system to respond differently to stress. These modalities can help you to heal from the effects of chronic and short-term stress.
Integrative Therapeutic Massage is a treatment form which occurs on a massage table. It is a balanced approach, drawing techniques from many modalities with relaxation and therapeutic results being of equal importance. I believe that the best healing for all aspects of an individual is achieved by stepping away from the fight or flight mode. Integrative Therapeutic Massage will increase blood flow, decrease our heart rate and blood pressure, smooth painful and tight muscles, increase our immune response as well has help us to feel more relaxed, which also allows us to sleep better. Modalities used may include deep tissue, swedish, neuromuscular, trigger-point therapy, qigong healing, body/energy healing and/or reiki.
Qigong/Body/Energy Healing is a very holistic, integrated energetic approach to health and healing. It has a strong focus on prevention as well as treatment of illness, stress and imbalance. This type of work allows for great stress reduction and relaxation which triggers the body’s natural healing abilities. It produces better sleep and assists in maintaining health. The balancing of energies in the body helps us release the effects of chronic stress, allowing us to move forward with greater ease.
Qigong is considered to be the grandparent of Tai Chi. It’s practices incorporate gentle movements, breath, mindfulness and meditation. Qigong practices allow us to release stress on many different levels. In practicing, we loosen muscles and strengthen organs. It works great for recovery and prevention of organ issues, nerves are strengthened, vascular function is improved by increasing the elasticity of blood vessels, stress eases and emotions get balanced. Qigong practices allow us to find deeper, more restorative sleep which slows the breath and heart rate and decreases inflammation. Through Qigong practice we also learn tools to greatly decrease the future effects of stress.