Stress Relief with the Shakti Part 2
I concluded the article with the question “why do some people react really strongly to seemingly insignificant issues? You know the classic over responder.” Dr Selye states we all ‘do stress’ differently. Our stress reaction is governed by a multitude of factors including sex, age, class, etc. But there is one more determinant – adaptation…
Think about the over responder(s) you know. Something elicits a stress response and any combination of the following happens to them, their jaw tightens; fists clench; breathing shallows and/or becomes faster; mouth dries; heart starts pumping, temperature rises, face flushes, thinking fuzz’s; they get fidgety and need to pace/move/do something. Emotionally they are ruffled and often cannot think. Sound familiar?
So assuming we deal with the stressor and then use some simple ‘recovery tools’ it’s fine, we recover. And? Most of us ignore or suppress our stress response. Think about where you commonly become stressed; the classic is at work. Most of us swallow (literally and metaphorically) the stress we experience in that context; we sit on it, smile through it, go to the toilet and scream/cry etc. We do anything except deal with it – which is not surprising as most of us were never taught how to deal with stress. We usually replicate what our parents did/do – and as much as we love our parents – most of us grew up in homes devoid of effective stress managers. They swallowed it, drank it, shouted it, medicated it etc
With avoidance as our default stress management system we generally end up in the third stage of Selye’s stress cycle i.e. the ‘exhaustion’ stage. Exhaustion is when we have become so intrinsically depleted that we have no reserves, no space/energy for rejuvenation and are physically and emotionally vulnerable to disease. Without effective stress management strategies, over time suppression becomes our MO for dealing with excessively stressful situations. Our bodies adapt to the stress by functioning at higher and higher levels (i.e. as if we are constantly in the war zone). We sub consciously set up a pattern of storing stress in our bodies. Eventually being chronically stressed becomes ‘normal’ and we are well on our way to exhaustion/burn out.
OK, so what I described above are the ‘gross physical expressions’ of stress. Now consider the corresponding internal drivers of what is happening externally. Heard of cortisol? Cortisol is released into the blood stream while under stress. There are many physiological and biological changes that occur when one is placed under duress and most of them can be harmful to our healthy survival and homeostatic balance if experienced long term. Rapid aging and decreased bodily efficiency result from chronic high stress. But for the sake of illustration let’s focus on cortisol. Prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream – which is classically linked with exposure to prolonged duress – have been shown to result in:
- Affected cognition – poor thinking/memory etc
- Lowered thyroid
- Blood sugar imbalances e.g. hyperglycemia
- Osteoperotic type presentation or decreased bone density
- Decreased muscle mass – muscles getting smaller!!!
- High blood pressure
- Poorly affected immunity – slowed wound healing, and other health consequences
- Inflammation in the body,
- Increased abdominal fat which is associated with more serious health problems than fat deposited in any other area of the body e.g. heart attacks, strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL)
To keep cortisol levels in balance, you need to activate the body’s relaxation response after you experience a stressful event. You can learn to relax your body with various stress management techniques, and you can make lifestyle changes to minimise the harm your body experiences from its reaction to stress.
Like I said earlier – prolonged exposure to duress is problematic when it is not effectively dealt with effectively. Many of us are not aware the ‘after effects’ of stress needs to be dealt with and so we go along accumulating more. The body stores stress and it stores the effects of unresolved past trauma (something homoeopaths have always treated).
Reduce stress with regular use of the Shakti Mat
Remember my reference to the famous dogs? I was talking about Pavlov’s dogs. Those famous dog’s reactions also describe human behavior. In this example it is an habitual response to excessive stress, but it could be anything. Back to our ‘over re-actors’ and the stressor or trigger event (equivalent to the Pavlovian bell) arouses their habituated response (stress) and the person reacts to every stressful situation, no matter how big or small, with all their stored/unresolved stress. This is the person who ‘shoots a mosquito with a double barrel shot gun’. The reaction does not have to be aggressive; it can be crying, fear, anxiety, withdrawal or any other number of reactions.
The point is their reaction to a stressor is out of proportion to what a reasonable person would consider appropriate to the event. Over re-actors ‘over react’ to everything because their body takes the opportunity to release the stored unresolved stress. The body will use any opportunity it can find to release ‘stuff’ stored in the mind/body just like setting off a relief valve. So while they appear to be overreacting – they are actually helping themselves by releasing the stored effects stress. It’s a shame for themselves and for everybody else they had to get to that point in the first place…
BTW most people react poorly to stress because they have no emotional/cognitive strategies to use. And it is usually those same people who lack the resources to deal with the after effects of their outburst – either for themselves and/or the person/people concerned. This can very well result in more stress as they guilt trip themselves over their inadequacies. It easily becomes a vicious cycle.
By contrast the ‘relaxation response’ – as defined by Harvard Medical School is the biological polar opposite to the ‘stress response’. The relaxation response provides the necessary biological counter-reactions to stabilise the chemical and physiological changes resulting from exposure to prolonged periods of duress. So what we are going for is a way to biologically counter act the effects of stress. There are a number of ways to do this – the Shakti Mat is the one way to effectively manage stress.
So how does the Shakti Acupressure Mat counterbalance the effects of stress?
- It stimulates the body to release happy hormones. As we have said elsewhere on the site, using the mat releases hormones that make you feel good; oxytocin and endorphins. Endorphins (include enkephalin, beta-endorphin and dynorphin) and are associated with appetite control (a few users have dropped kilos) and there is strong evidence of a connection with “pleasure centres” in the brain. Endorphins are activated by acupuncture. The Shakti Mat works off the same principles with acupressure and so you get the same result – endorphin release. Researchers now acknowledge endorphin behavior has implications for treating addictions and chronic pain. Shakti Mat users in the thousands are verifying what researchers are now ‘discovering’.
- The Shakti Acupressure Mat is a muscle relaxant and that always feels good! People who are stressed often have very tight muscles. Either they hold the muscles in one position for a prolonged period (hunching shoulders etc) or from repeatedly doing the same movement – they are obsessive about their work so they are constantly at the PC with neck craned forward etc. Although relaxation and massage are often suggested for stressed individuals many stressed out folks are way too stressed to have one or they believe they have no time to have a massage. Using the Shakti Mat solves both problems. Firstly it is your own portable acupressure masseuse who always comes to you and doesn’t charge extra. And secondly you don’t have to ‘find time’ – no matter what your lifestyle you can incorporate the Shakti Mat. At the very least, when you go to bed at night you can use the Shakti Mat. Most stressed people don’t sleep well which brings me to the next reason.
- Shakti Mats helps you sleep – I can honestly say I sleep so much better when I use the mat – the difference is marked. And we all know sleep deprivation compounds everything. When we are well (better) rested we are more able to cope with what life throws us – including stressful situations.
- It’s easy – you are not asking the person to do anything drastically different. They don’t have to join a club, take classes, change their diet, all they have to do is lay down – on this mat – in the privacy of their own home at whatever time of the day or night is convenient.
- It is effective very quickly – you do not need to spend vast amounts of time on the mat to reap the benefits. That said, like stress accumulates – so do the positive effects of using the mat – so the more you use it the better you feel and the more quickly you can relax. Yeah!
- If you are a ‘nervy‘ type of personality regular use of the mat can ameliorate nervous tension.
- The mat has been shown to help with depression and low mood. Alleviating the effects of depression/mood has immediate effects on how we handle life’s challenges.
So, there you have it – a potted overview of stress and some ideas of how the Shakti Mat can help. I have seen a real difference in myself using the mat and clients report the same.
Surviving in the 21st century requires different solutions. We need to work intelligently with our once critical survival reactions. This may mean learning new skills and integrating some additional practices that you might not have considered before. The Shakti Acupressure Mat is the easiest ‘practice’ to try.
If you are unsure whether the Shakti Mat is a cost effective way to manage your stress levels then consider the following; add up the amount of money that you spend on pills, time off due to sickness, those ‘special treats’ to cheer yourself up and all of those other stress management strategies on a regular basis then ask your self how much are you really paying to manage your stress? What is the price of your health? If you do nothing other than use the Shakti Mat you will make major inroads into managing your stress and your overall health. This is a proven stress management and relaxation tool – the Shakti Mat is not a luxury it’s a must.