When stress becomes distress

Stress seems to have become synonymous with modern living. According to the Bupa Stress Survey 2013, 44% of British adults stated that they currently felt stressed, of which 27% said they regularly felt close to breaking point and 52% were worried about the effect that stress was having on their health. Definitely a cause for concern.

Stress is no different to many processes in the human body, where what starts out as a normal, and very necessary, response to a situation can turn into a problem. We need that performance-enhancing boost of adrenaline and cortisol – common stress hormones – when we have an important work interview or need to hit the brakes to avoid a car accident. Short-term stress is not ain itself a bad thing; it forms part of our primitive fight-or-flight response and is an important survival mechanism.
The problems start when the fight-or-flight response becomes sustained, and doesn’t disappear when the stressful situation is over. All the systems of the body, rather than being primed for short-term action, become chronically compromised.
This is when stress becomes ‘distress’, a negative stress reaction, and can lead to physical symptoms that include raised blood pressure, headaches, digestive problems, chest pain and insomnia, amongst many other. Research also suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases, and is behind many chronic physical conditions.
Massage, of course, is one of the most sought-after treatments when relaxation is needed – many of our clients come to us asking for a “de-stressing” treatment. And the list of benefits is much publicised, and rightly so.
We love helping our clients deal with the stresses and pressures of life, and encourage them to use other stress-busting tools alongside their massage sessions – exercise, relaxation techniques, and mindfulness amongst them. All are powerful ways to normalise the fight-or flight-response, and bring the body back to a more balanced, healthy state.
Being stress-free and truly relaxed is a wonderfully refreshing, dynamic state that makes you feel alert, alive and full of energy. So if you’re one of that 44% feeling stressed more often than not, then don’t look on it as something that’s an inevitable part of modern-day life – the antidote may be a lot simpler than you think.