Stress is defined as the body’s non specific response to any demand made upon it . (Selye 1974). Although stress is not a disease, it can contribute toward illness and health disorders.
Causes of stress vary for each individual; emotional stress like anxiety, depression and fear result in differing stress responses according to the individual, and result in a threat to our state of being ( self-esteem). Pain from injury or disease and excessive intake of stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and other drugs such as medications also contribute to the onset of stress responses.
Last and not the least are environmental exposures such as toxins and weather. The duration of the stressor depends on the person’s reactivity to the factor which causes stress.
Stress is often accelerated by the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the “fight or flight” mechanisms of our body, and too much stimulation of our sympathetic nervous system could cause over-secretion of our hormonal system (hypothalamus), that can cause increased and rapid breathing, excessive sweating, increased or irregular heart beat and effect the functioning of our digestive system.
Massage therapy has a positive impact in reducing the effect of stress on the body. Massage can also reduce stimulation hormones, secreted during increased sympathetic nervous system responses and reduce a person’s anxiety levels and awareness of tense areas in the body, enabling the person to develop a more relaxed state. Massage is known to promote parasympathetic nervous system health, resulting in a relaxed state and a better homeostasis of our overall being.