By: Odette Oliver, RMT
In our fast paced world the ‘energy’, the ‘buzz’ our cities create have led us to set our goals very high for everything; but the stress of our work, and our play, is slowly taking its toll.
We rush around with heads down, eat while on the move, constantly check or are on an electronic devise, sit for hours at poor ergonomic work stations. Then we push our bodies to exhaustion with exercise, and play hard in an attempt to de-stress.
Stress triggers the release of chemicals such as steroids and adrenalin into our body, preparing our body and psyche to tackle a threat. Today that threat could be a business deadline, an argument with a boss, being stuck in traffic, family obligations, illness, money. How do we get everything done? If these triggers are ongoing those chemicals don’t ‘switch off’. Our nervous system is then kept in a hyper active state, and the ‘switch off’ process that would return our body to normal is compromised, and balance is lost. Sometimes the process is slow and we don’t realize that stress has become the ‘new normal’. This loss of balance can lead to both physical and psychological damage.
The body will respond to stress in the same physiological way, whether we perceive the activity as fun, or as danger. Some of the short term activities we use to deal with our stress can seem like fun for a while: a drink after work, run for the burn, rewarding comfort food, but when these become long term behaviors our immune system can be compromised leaving us open for illness.
In work or play we are not giving ourselves enough time to restore the balance. Stress management techniques can help. We have to re-learn to relax our nervous system without over exciting it.
At the Integrative Health Institute, I will be running a series of 6 evenings exploring relaxation techniques for stress management. Coming this fall.
Through mindful movement and breathing the only goal is to be there, exploring at your own pace.
Starting very simply with breathing, imagery, ‘body scanning’ and undemanding stretching I hope to explore ‘physical restoration’ so we can normalize our stress responses while negotiating our stressful environment.
Odette Oliver, RMT
Registered Massage Therapist
Odette graduated from Sutherland and Chan School and Teaching Clinic in 1997. Since that time she has been practicing and teaching massage therapy in Ontario and Nova Scotia. In Halifax she was the School Director of ICT Northumberland College School of Massage Therapy, where her teaching focused on communication. Throughout her teaching career, Odette has stressed the importance of good body mechanics, physical awareness and relaxation techniques.