What is Stress?
We use the word stress so much in modern life that the word has almost lost its meaning. We say we are ‘stressed out’ when things seem too much to cope with though the biological term ‘stress’ refers to a range of stimuli which can exert a negative effect on a person’s mental and physical state. For the purpose of Total Sense Therapy and its benefits in stress therapy, we define stress as the emotions and physical manifestations caused by negative external forces. TST has been developed to return the mind and body to a state of serenity and relaxation.
Dealing with Stress
We all have our own methods of dealing with stress, pressure, anxiety and worry; some can be helpful but some can also be destructive. Sometimes, it can feel like the worries you’re rolling around in your mind as you lie in bed at night will never stop and allow you to fall asleep. It’s for moments like these that TST was developed. Consider for a moment your own situation and the moments of pressure or anxiety you face in your daily life. Now think about the things you do to counteract them. Are they destructive (comfort eating, alcohol etc.) or beneficial?
Total Sense Therapy not only provides you with a wholly natural ‘mind-and-body’ method of managing stress day to day but also provides an outlet for those of us who are unable to manage stress or have no idea where to start.
The human body is a complex combination of biochemical processes which are all working towards the same goal – that being to maintain health. Whether our body temperature is being regulated or blood sugar levels being controlled, many processes combine to maintain equilibrium, a balanced ‘optimum’ condition for the internal processes of life to exist.
Anything that disrupts this balance to a point beyond a tolerable state can be referred to as stress. As such, stress can place a physical or mental demand on the body which can be difficult to control and the perception of the amount of stress exerted on an individual is wholly subjective. This is one reason why TST has been developed in a way that can be modified to meet the exact need of each individual..
Chronic stress occurs where an individual is exposed to a prolonged state of tension from stressors which can cause various physical manifestations. It is hoped that TST will be able to aid management and treatment of ailments such as back pain, fatigue, migraines, asthma, high blood pressure and other non-infectious disorders. Chronic stress can increase the risks of strokes, heart attacks, cause high blood pressure, increase the susceptibility to anxiety and depression, encourage infertility and accelerate the aging process. Using TST to manage chronic stress should in turn, lower the chances of any of the associated disorders from developing.
General adaptation syndrome is when the body is subjected to stress for an extended period, it responds by attempting to deal primarily with the immediate effects and then attempts to build a resistance against the stressor before eliminating the stressor and recovering or being overcome by it and suffering exhaustion.
Divided into two phases; shock and anti-shock. What happens in the shock phase is self-explanatory. During the anti-shock phase, the individual has come to recognise or identify the threat but the body is still in a state of alarm. Adrenaline is released and this results in fight-or-flight responses such as increased blood pressure and increased blood glucose.
In this second stage, the increased secretion of glucocorticoids intensify the body’s response by increasing the amount of fat, protein and glucose in the blood. Because of this high dose of cortisol, it begins to bring the body towards a state which is similar to hyperaldosteronism (which causes lowered potassium levels in the blood and can lead to fatigue, headaches, muscle spasms, numbness and even temporary paralysis). If exposure to the stressor persists, the body has to try and cope with it rather than attempt to prolong the resistance stage. The body tries to adapt; if you can imagine the body assuming the stressor is now going to be a permanent fixture, it will have to try and create an environment where it can manage it long term. However, even though it may be possible to cope with the stressor for a short period, the body cannot maintain this state indefinitely as the resources needed to prolong this heightened state will gradually be depleted.
If the body successfully overcomes the effects of the stressor or eliminates the cause of the stress then it can use the augmented levels of glucose, fat and amino acid to restore homeostasis. However, if the body cannot overcome the stressor and its effects then the body’s resources are depleted and it cannot maintain its normal level of function. If the individual suffers an extended period of exhaustion then long-term damage can result. For example, the longer the body suffers high blood pressure because of the narrowing of the blood vessels – the less blood is able to reach vital tissues (ischemia) and can cause cell death (necrosis). Organs and tissues are therefore unable to function correctly, if at all. Individuals can develop peptic ulcers, depression, diabetes and even cardio-vascular problems.
Using a method of stress management such as TST can help to prevent events such as exhaustion in General Adaptation Syndrome. It can return the body to a state of relaxation until the individual can manage whatever external stressors are present.
Regular Stress Therapy
Regular stress therapy, or in the case of TST, a device which reduces the perception and responses to stress emotions is useful in combating the ill effects caused by prolonged exposure to the biological conditions brought on by the stress response.
It has been shown that chronic stress slows the healing of wounds by up to 25%. It can also affect the part of the brain where memories are processed. Over-secretion of stress hormones for a prolonged period can have an adverse effect on individuals who are attempting to form memories – such as studying for exams.
Detriment to Health
It’s fair to assume that individuals experiencing stress would ‘comfort eat’ but also, the biological conditions of a stressed individual can also promote the accumulation of visceral fat despite a healthy balanced diet. Not only does the stressful environment place a strain on the individual’s organs such as the heart, higher fat levels can also contribute to the possible onset of Heart disease.
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A final word on stress
Total SENSE Therapy provides emotion-based stress management. As each individual will have a different set of stress stimuli, the first and most effective manner of dealing with stress is to remove or manage the physical aspects of stress. Solving problems or taking yourself out of a situation that causes you stress will always be the best way of coping, However, where an individual finds themselves in situations they cannot avoid, then the emotion- focused coping processes of TST can be employed – in effect, managing the negative emotions caused by a specific situation.