Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: June 2014

The stressful consequences of long-term stress!

We need our stress response. In dangerous situations, our "fight or flight" response can be life-saving. But real danger and perceived danger have the same effect on the body. Unresolved trauma, a stressful job, strained relationships, financial hardships, lack of sleep, poor diet, and much more can cause unremitting stress for weeks, months, even years. Not to stress you out, but continuous stress is extremely detrimental for our bodies and minds!

In fight or flight mode, our bodies redistribute energy and fluids from our periphery and organs not needed for survival (i.e. digestive organs, immune system, bladder and bowels), to vital areas such as our hearts and lungs. The instinctive part of the brain takes over, while the other areas of the brain shut down. So can you imagine what might happen when this stress response becomes chronic? I'll give you just a few examples:

  • Frequent colds or illnesses
  • Allergies
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Acid reflux
  • Tissue acidosis
  • Dysfunctional bladder
  • Foggy thought and poor memory
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
  • Tension headaches and migraines
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Heart conditions
  • Cellular dehydration
  • Mood swings
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and panic attacks

Have I stressed you out? Don't worry. You have the power to reduce your stress level, thereby changing the environment in your body and reducing your risk of chronic illness!

There are many ways to turn off your stress response. Find the ones that work best for you and employ them daily. Here are some suggestions:

So now you know what chronic stress does to your health. But you also know that you can make the choice to take charge of your health. Start practicing a relaxing self-care routine today. If you ever find yourself skipping your self-care practice and falling back into your old stress cycle, please refer back to this article to remind yourself why it's so important to take time for you every day!

Source: John Coleman via World Massage Conference

America needs a massage!

If you can relate to anything you've read so far, know that you are not alone. Far from it. Here are some interesting statistics presented by the Psychological Association and American Institute of Stress, via www.StatisticBrain.com.

Leading causes of stress in the U.S.:

  1. Job Pressure: tense relationships with co-workers or bosses, and work overload. (And ironically, the annual costs to employers in missed work and stress-related medical care is $300 billion!)
  2. Money: Job loss, reduced retirement funds, unforeseen expenses
  3. Health: illnesses, crises
  4. Relationships: arguments, divorce, death of a loved one, lack of companionship
  5. Poor diet: too much caffeine, refined sugars, inadequate nutrition
  6. Media overload: T.V., e-mail, social networking
  7. Sleep deprivation

77% of Americans have physical symptoms caused by stress. 73% experience psychological symptoms caused by stress. 33% report living with extreme stress. 48% claim their stress has increased over the past 5 years. 76% said work and money are their main sources of stress. 48% report trouble sleeping due to stress.

Studies showed that people experienced the following stress-induced physical symptoms:
Fatigue: 51%
Headache: 44%
Upset stomach: 34%
Muscle tension: 30%
Change in appetite: 23%
Teeth grinding: 17%
Change in sex drive: 15%
Dizziness: 13%

And the following psychological symptoms:
Anger/irritability: 50%
Nervousness: 45%
Low energy: 45%
Feeling as though you can cry: 35%

As a massage therapist, I am working towards reducing America's stress one person at a time. You can help too - start with yourself!

Source: plosone.org

What's new with me ...

Little Sienna had an accident on the playground slide and wore a full-leg cast for four and a half weeks. This didn't stop her one bit. She was walking and climbing and playing as always. In the end, the cast was being held together by duct tape, but I'm happy to say the cast is now gone!

Jesse and I have begun leaving Sienna with a sitter some afternoons, while we walk around the city for hours. We love to explore and find areas we've never been to. A couple of weeks ago, while making our way to Riverside Park in Harlem, we happened upon Riverbank State Park - a 28-acre multi-level landscaped recreational park with a swimming pool, carousel, theater, skating rink, tennis, basketball, a running track, football field, fitness room, restaurant, and two playgrounds. Why wasn't this on Google Maps?!

If you can handle the cuteness, click here for new photos and videos of Sienna :)

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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