Written by: Laura Mazzucato, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
How does stress affect the body? Stress activates a survival mechanism which is useful if you are facing a danger and need to react quickly, as it can help to rapidly achieve many tasks.
Unfortunately, in our fast-paced society, stress seems to be part of everyday life, as the body overreacts to stressors that are not life-threatening.
When stress becomes chronic and lasts for a long period of time, its persistence has a negative impact on health. The body becomes imbalanced, which can cause pain and put health at risk.
A wide range of well-known stress-related health issues include: headaches/migraines, muscular tension, digestive issues, shortness of breath, poor sleep, and so on.
Many physiological changes can arise due to chronic stress.
A high level of stress hormones (such as cortisol and adrenaline) is released, which triggers the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. As a result:
The heart rate increases.
The muscles tend to contract and tense up.
The liver releases extra sugar into the bloodstream for more energy, but cortisol shuts down the functioning and efficiency of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
Brain function is altered.
And so on.
The activity of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is heightened to increase energy within the body. Meanwhile, there is decreased activity from the parasympathetic branch which is responsible for the growth, repair, and reproduction of cells. These two branches work together but never at the same time; this means that persistent stress blocks the body’s ability to heal and renew.
Over time, the physiological responses above can lead to many health problems such as high blood pressure, shortness of breath, back/shoulder/neck pain, inflammation, heart problems, poor digestion, diabetes, low mood, addiction, and more.
If the symptoms and pain continue, stress becomes anxiety, with panic attacks and a depressed state which can lead to a possible clinical depression/anxiety disorder.
Reflexology as a highly efficient therapy to deal with stress
Reflexologists possess excellent, powerful tools to help manage stress and its symptoms.
The feet provide a map for the entire body; using special techniques, reflexologists can connect with and work on the affected bodily systems. These techniques can help reduce pain, relax and regulate bodily function, and focus on the systems which play an important role in stress management to help reduce stress levels and restore balance.
In each foot there are 7,000 nerve endings. The feet also carry and support us throughout our whole life, which can be symbolic as well. By working on the feet, reflexologists stimulate the entire nervous system to release muscular and energetical tensions which have accumulated over the years. It also surely helps to bring the feeling of reconnection to the body and to the roots of existence.
Relaxation for the mind
The following can enhance the benefits of a reflexology treatment for stress conditions:
Before treatment, I always ask my clients to take three deep breaths to help recentre. With their inhalation, they hold their breathe for a few seconds while focusing on the tension and pain they may feel. With their exhalation, I ask them to visualise those tensions leaving their body as they breathe out.
During the treatment, I suggest for clients to focus on their feet and on the sensations they may feel within their body. Very often, they report feeling a wave of warmth and well-being running through their body, as well as tingling or ‘butterfly’ sensations in the legs and/or arms. Some may experience a brief exacerbation of their tensions, but this lasts only a few seconds and is followed by a deep state of relaxation—sometimes even with a tendency to fall asleep.
The above techniques can help a busy mind to stop over-thinking and to instead enjoy the present moment.
Love & self-care
Feelings of stress arise from Fear, while self-care stems from Love.
Love and Fear are two opposite states.
By looking after yourself, you empower your state of Love while leaving less room for Fear, thus reducing stress.
Reflexology will provide your whole being with efficient resources to deal with stress physiologically, energetically, and emotionally.
Laura Mazzucato, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Laura Mazzucato is a reflexologist specialising in women's health, stress & anxiety management. After spending more than 15 years in a high stress professional career, Laura reached a point of emotional and physical exhaustion which led her to the path of Holistic therapy. This was instrumental in her decision to change career paths; after attending her first reflexology treatment, she finally realised her true calling. Since then, Laura has been passionate about reflexology and amazed by its power on the body. She regularly attends trainings and workshops in order to enhance her skills and knowledge, and to maximise the benefits of treatments for her clients’ health.Her motto: Make Your Health Your Priority!