Reflexology and stress

We all experience stress at some point in our lives. Some days can be challenging with issues relating to work, relationships, money, housing or family. The body has not adapted to the rapid changes in modern society - It responds, as it has for centuries, by preparing for urgent physical action.

Whilst today we are unlikely to be faced with wild animals on a daily basis as our ancestors would have been, our body is designed to cope with dangerous threats quickly. The ‘flight or flight’ response kicks in when faced with a stressful situation through a series of biological changes.

These changes include:

  • Muscles tense up ready for action;

  • Heart-rate speeds up to circulate more blood to the muscles, brain and lungs;

  • Blood pressure rises;

  • Spleen pours more red blood cells into the bloodstream;

  • The airways dilate to increase oxygen intake from the lungs to the bloodstream;

  • Breathing becomes deeper and more rapid;

  • The hormone noradrenaline increases the rate at which blood clots in case of injury;

  • Stored glucose from the liver and fats stored in tissues are generated to supply extra fuel for the body;

  • The steroid hormone cortisol is released to reduce inflammation and to heal wounds. It suppresses allergic reactions;

  • Mental alertness and senses are sharpened.

  • Pupils dilate to improve vision and hearing becomes more acute.

These are all crucial when facing danger or challenges, but it is not a healthy state to be in over a long period of time.

It has been estimated that 75% of all disease is stress-related. Some stress, of course is good for us – after all, it is what helps get us out of bed in the morning and motivated to start the day. However, when we have continued exposure to stress, it can suppress our immune system; lowering our body’s defences. Everyone’s body is different of course and where one person could function perfectly well in long-term stressful conditions, the subtle changes in our hormonal and defence processes allows disease or viruses to appear.

How Reflexology can help

A reflexologist will treat the whole body, but some areas worked on will be of great benefit to those suffering with excess stress. In particular; the solar plexus and diaphragm to aid normal breathing, the pituitary gland to balance the hormones and the central nervous system to calm the whole body. During a reflexology session, we treat the body to bring out a balance (the body’s homeostasis), level the hormones and increase blood and lymph flow. This all helps towards reduced cortisol levels, which allows the body to return to its normal function.

We are more able to cope with any difficulties when we are mentally and physically relaxed. The human touch also activates the parasympathetic nervous system to counteract the sympathetic nervous system (which the fight or flight response is activated by).

Reflexology encourages relaxation and promotes homeostasis of all the body’s systems thus reducing stres

Stress management

Reflexology is a great overall treatment, however, ongoing stress management is vital to maintain the body’s healthy level of stress hormones. We recommend a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, eliminating processed foods and reducing saturated and trans fats. As 75% of our immune system activity is found in our digestive system, it is a good idea to take a good Probiotic and Omega 3 supplement.

Meditation and exercise reduces cortisol levels, increases endorphins (the body’s ‘feel-good’ hormone) and maintains a healthy weight. Any form of exercise is beneficial, but yoga is particularly good for de-stressing.

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