Did you know 4.9 million Australians were affected by stress in 2017? Quite enormous, yes! Imagine what the number would be for the world’s population. It leads us to even more probing questions: what is stressing Australia? And what can be done or has been done about it?
What is stressing Australians?
According to a survey of 1000 people by health fund Medibank in 2017, lack of sleep is the primary reason why most Australians are stressed at 44%. Work pressure is the second reason at 39%.
And that was 2017? Do you know how much more the number would have increased since then? It has been 2years! If nothing at all, we have more social media platforms now, and that invariably means more stress.
The confusion about stress
What is even more stressful is the fact we all have agreed on; that stress is a natural feeling – what! According to Hans Selye (a scientist), not all stress is bad, there is good stress, and that is what he termed Eustress.
Eustress is right in the form that it is natural and useful. In emergency situations, for example, a car accident, it helps to spur us to slam on the brakes – useful. Under proper conditions, it helps us stay focused.
Selye believed that when stress gets to a point, the hump point, fatigue sets in. That is followed by exhaustion and eventual breakdown of the nervous-muscle system. This process, he termed distress, the wrong kind of stress.
As much as we all know what stress is, how we feel it is somewhat very different. What may be stressful to one may be exciting to another. This is why stress is subjective; it is what it is to each of us.
Symptoms and effects of stress on the body
The hump point is the beginning of the problem associated with stress. And the areas in our body affected are the brain, heart, stomach, pancreas, intestines, and the reproductive system.
Some forms of stress are specific to certain stages of our lives, such as teen years, pregnancy, aging, and the menopausal transition. Be it work stress, or pregnancy-induced stressed, stress generally affects our emotion.
The reason why we experience mood swings is down to stress. Though internal the emotions might seem; it manifests outwardly after a while in forms of depression.
When stress is left unmanaged, and with little time to rest and recuperate, we start having pains all over our body. Before that, you would notice physical and emotional symptoms and even irregularities in sleeping patterns or sudden change in behavior.
What can be done to treat or manage stress?
Stress is a natural occurrence (Eustress), and it is unavoidable. However, when it becomes persistent, there are loads of treatment options you could try out.
These are excellent treatments for stress, and they also improve our ability to cope with stress. Therapies are often based on relaxation, and when you think it carefully, distress sets in because you weren’t getting enough rest.
Yes, exercise is an excellent option because it trains our body to cope with stress. You can call it the stress coach, and with it, you are assured of an improved physical and mental health.
This treatment is often the last resort, why? The drugs tend towards side effects; more so, the aim is to cope with stress. Pills have a way of masking them.
Even doctors do not prescribe medicines unless the patient has an underlying condition such as depression. Antidepressants are expensive, for people already with financial issues, it will only cause them more stress.
Social support system
Another reason most people get tensed up when in stress is because they kept to themselves. Open up; let your friends and family know what you are going through.
You might never know they have gone through a similar rough patch, and their experience navigating such can be useful to you.
Massage and stress
It is general knowledge that massage helps in relaxation, but do you know how? Don’t you wonder why the therapist rubs and strokes continuously?
A massage is a unique form of stress relief therapy, and it involves manipulating the soft tissues in our body. It is done to relieve the body of body stress and pain.
When the therapist strokes those soft tissues, these two fundamental processes happen:
Increased blood flow
Blood flow is vital in pain management. The brain sends impulses and other forms of messages through it. Often times, it is a reduced blood flow that brings pain. It is a good thing massage increases blood flow to all parts of our body.
Provision of adequate oxygen and nutrients
Oxygen and nutrients are parts of what is being transferred via the blood. A muscle deficient of oxygen and food tends towards pain. With increased blood flow, there are sufficient nutrients; such muscle gets all it needs to overcome stress and depression.
As blood flow is increased, adequate oxygen and nutrients are supplied, waste is also easily removed. When all those are done, you will have a general feeling of relief and relaxation.
Are you still in doubt? Aside from being a natural stress and pain relief technique, studies have also shown that: 10 sets of massages per week did the magic for 75% of patients with back pain.
Massages also release the tension in our muscle, as well as the blocked energy. Be it Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, sports, trigger point, or shiatsu massage, you need an expert to do it for you.
Try it for yourself and see the benefits of massage in your life before stress takes over.