Of course stress can be provoked from external causes (work, family, illness etc.) but clearly it is our inner attitude to adverse situations that determines the grade of stress we suffer and whether or not we are able to release it.
What occurs physiologically in our bodies when we encounter a stressful situation? The body prepares itself to flee or fight the situation by producing adrenaline and cortisone; blood pressure rises, breathing becomes more rapid, muscles receive more blood, digestion stops or slows down etc. Is this harmful? On the contrary it is a positive reaction that can give us the necessary forces to resolve a critical or dangerous situation. The concern is that these reactions can become installed in our life styles as a normal function which is not the way it should be. The person who lives constantly in a state of high tension, without time to “disconnect” and recuperate is liable to become ill as a result of the constant metabolic build up from their mental and emotional concerns.
O.K., once we recognise we are stressed – what can we do to reduce it and take on the situation that caused it? There are various possibilities:
Probably the most immediate is to express what we feel to those closest to us, family / friends. For some people it’s easier to write their feelings down. In either case after a time we become spectators to our own problems and are able to distance ourselves from them. They loose part of their terror and we can see them in perspective and deal with them.
Another way is physical exercise (running, walking, playing a sport etc…) are all excellent to lower pressure at all levels.
Shiatsu y Acupressure can help at a subtle level to bring attention inside the body to calm us and what previously was insoluble, after a treatment, can become manageable.
Finally, yoga, chi-kung or meditation practised regularly can have an effect similar to Shiatsu or Acupressure.
In the last issue of the British Shiatsu Society Journal appeared an article by Marianna Lazana, head of a team of Shiatsu therapists in the Pain Management Clinic of the University Hospital of Athens, one of the principle health centres in the Greek capital.
Marianna and her team are offering free treatments to patients with chronic problems, as they wouldn’t be able to pay for them given the serious social crisis in Greece. In addition, they are working hand in hand with doctors who refer patients to Shiatsu and other Complementary therapies such as Acupuncture and Reflexology.
The Shiatsu team since 2008 have treated 400 patients (80 men and 320 women). Most of them suffered from musculoskeletal pain (back, knees, shoulder joint). Other conditions treated were fibromyalgia and headaches.
The average number of treatments received by each patient was 12.
Results reported by patients in pain reduction were considered to be excellent: 23% were free of pain after treatments. The majority of others had a 50% reduction in the intensity of their pain. Other conditions improved, such as having a better sleep.
Marianne notices that the patients problems were as much physical as they were emotional and psycho-social, considering the difficult life conditions in Greece at the moment. As a consequence, therapists had to be good listeners and show empathy to the people.
We congratulate Marianna and her team for the great work they are doing, another example of Integrated Medicine, the one that takes the best from Traditional Medicine and Complementary therapy.
An article in “ El Pais Semanal “ (29/3/2015) tells us about recent studies at Loughborough University by professor Jim Horne of the Sleep Investigations Unit. His investigations show that a siesta is the most natural way to recuperate ones energy in the early afternoon, when our capacity to concentrate falls. This official finding is receiving encouragement from the British press who reveal that such famous people as John F. Kennedy, Leonardo de Vinci, Bill Clinton and Winston Churchill were in the habit of having a siesta in the afternoons. It appears that in the U.K. there are indications that in some areas, labour productivity is alarmingly low and the humble siesta may well be the answer to the problem.
With an On-Site chair massage you can have a power siesta and recuperate your energy and concentration in just 20 minutes.
According to the World Health Organisation, we can only say we have hypertension after repeated b/p readings over 12/8 have been recorded over a 6 month period. This is because our blood pressure can vary considerably throughout the day depending on many factors such as our nervous state at any given time, if we have exercised strongly, been smoking or drinking etc. Because of this, tension readings should only be taken when we are in a calm and tranquil state and over a relatively long period of time.
What are the causes of hypertension?
In 90% of the cases the causes are likely to be:
* An inadequate diet, i.e., rich in animal fats and poor in fibre often combined with an excess of salt and/or sugar.
* A lack of physical exercise.
* A continuous state of stress.
If we continue to consume alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco we can complicate the situation, as well as if we use birth control medication, anti-depressives, anti- inflammatories and hydrocortisone.
In the remaining 10% of cases hypertension may be due to organic causes such as mal-functioning kidneys / adrenal glands or a congenital mal-functioning /deformed heart.
What can we do if we have hypertension?
In relation to what has been said above, the solution to the problem can be found in a change of lifestyle:
1) Nutrition: At least 80% of the diet should consist of vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains and legumes (fibre, minerals, vitamins).
Reduce or eliminate the consumption of milk and milk products (fats), red meat (fats), cured meat products, sausages etc., (fats, additives and salt), cakes and pastries, carbonated drinks and jams (additives, sugar). The same consideration should be given to the consumption of coffee, alcohol and tobacco and in consultation with your doctor, the previously mentioned medications.
2) Physical exercise: Physical exercise improves the functioning of the heart, eliminates toxins and reduces stress…all these factors are essential for efficient circulation of the blood and the health of our arteries. It’s ideal to combine strenuous exercise such as aerobics, running, gymnasium, swimming …with meditation or the practise of Yoga, Tai Chi or Chi-kung.
3) Stress: After identifying the cause/s (too much/too little work, family frictions, emotional upsets etc.) we need to eliminate the problem or at least change the way we see and feel about it.
Shiatsu and Acupressure, can help us recover our balance in all respects (physical, mental and emotional), and can contribute to maintaining our blood pressure at it’s correct level.