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How to relieve stress through exercise, reflexology and massage


It’s a stressful time for many people at the moment because of the current financial situation, and high stress levels leave you more susceptible to disease. There are many ways to relieve stress, though, such as doing high intensity exercise and through acupressure.


I have spoken many times about the benefits of exercise. These include an increase in immunity levels so you’re less likely to fall sick, a reduced chance of having heart disease and cancer, but it is also helpful in relieving stress through the release of endorphins. One way to release these endorphins is to do high intensity exercise like weight training, running or sports.


Reflexology is another great way to release tension in the body and feel relaxed. By applying pressure to the feet, tension is released which causes physical change to the body. The benefits of reflexology include improved functioning of the system by improving lymphatic drainage and circulation, stimulation to the nerve pathways, and muscle relaxation. When the body is relaxed it is more able to resist illness. Just like exercise, reflexology helps release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good hormones, to relieve stress.


Reflexology helps to reduce chronic stress, as this is the long-term stress that is unhealthy. Someone with chronic stress will have high blood pressure that over time will damage the heart and arteries, leaving the person more susceptible to heart disease. This problem is exaggerated by the way behaviours people do when they are stressed. Some people drink, smoke or eat poorly when they are stressed and that makes the whole situation worse. Also, stress hormones are released when someone is stressed and these hormones suppress the immune system’s white blood cells, which makes the person more susceptible to diseases such as the cold and flu.


Massage is another great way to reduce stress and has other benefits. Massage helps lower blood pressure, reduces stiffness in the body and enhances the quality of sleep. There are several different kinds of mainstream massage. Swedish massage is the most common technique using superficial stokes designed for enhanced circulation and general relaxation. The main areas to work on are the neck and lower back. Many people have sore necks and backs due to incorrect or lazy sitting, or because of injuries to these areas. Myofascial massage is a stronger massage designed to lengthen the muscles and to relieve chronic muscle tension. The last one is sports massage, which is used to increase blood flow to an injured area to assist healing.


Another way to reduce stress is with aromatherapy. Essential oils can be inhaled or applied to the skin to stimulate the brain to trigger a reaction and helps relaxation.