The secret to relax

Ever felt stressed and someone just told you: ‘Just relax’?

That is a great advice but might be very difficult when you feel stressed.

Why is it difficult to relax when you are stressed?

When you feel stressed it means that your brain has identified a threat. This threat does not even have to be a real big one, like having to escape from a fire. It can be also just a negative thought that can make you feel stressed.

The brain then reacts immediately by sending off adrenaline and cortisol – stress hormones – throughout the body. The rest of the body triggers a chain reaction and you breath deeper, heartbeat goes up and muscles tense.

So yes, someone can just tell you: ‘Oh come on, just relax.’ But with all the stress going on in your body, it is difficult to change that instantly.

So how to de-stress?

Decrease stress chemicals

The answer is obvious; you need to decrease the cortisol and adrenaline in your body. These chemicals are in our DNA as our ancestors needed it to run away from predators. It is called the ‘fight or flight’ mode. Nowadays the stress response is still the same in our body, even though the causes of our stress are very different.

Causes of stress

Our stress is often caused by financial stress, work related stress, time management stress or other worries we might have. Rather than being worried about being eaten by a predator. However, the body reacts the same way: By releasing adrenaline and cortisol.

Increase happy hormones

So not only do you need to lower your stress chemicals in your body when you like to de-stress. You also need to increase the level of serotonin, endorphins, dopamine. These chemicals in your body make you feel relaxed and happy. We call them: The happy hormones.

How to relax?

Some people use drugs or alcohol to relax. But these only work for the short term and you know the side effects.

And many people use drugs as in medications. There are lots of anti-anxiety or stress drugs. In the Netherlands alone 1 out of 17 adults are taking anti-anxiety or stress-drugs. Many are taking benzodiasepines, that make you more responsive to a sort of natural sedative found in your brain. And others take antidepressants that help you even out your serotonin levels.

Side effects

We understand that for some people these drugs are needed. They can do wonders for some people. However, there are a lot of side effects, plus it is very difficult once you start taking them to stop them.

Most people who start taking stress-medication have to be dependent on them during their whole life. Moreover, they don’t work directly, it takes a while before you notice the effects.

Exercise

A quicker way to relax is by doing exercise.

However, many people are also tired when they are stressed, and find it hard to start doing exercise. We believe exercise is a great way to become relaxed, by doing physical exercise your body relaxes, your brain can focus on your movements. But, if you are not well prepared and if you are choosing an exercise that does not fit your physical state, then exercise can be dangerous, you then are more prone to injuries.

Meditation

A saver way to relax is by doing meditation. Meditation is very powerful to relax your mind and your body. You don’t need to be cross legged or in lotus position. You don’t need to be a monk. You can just meditate in any way that suits you, and only a couple of minutes can make a difference. There are even apps nowadays that are very approachable for beginners.

Yoga

And of course there is yoga that can make you feel relax. Yoga is becoming more and more popular. There are many different forms of yoga practice, so when practicing yoga you should find a form that fits you. Scientific research states that yoga reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure and eases respiration. And is an idea if you like to lower stress and relax the mind.

Massage

A great and very effective way to relax is by massage. There are many different forms of massage. We believe Nuad Thai Massage is an amazing form to relax. Not only to receive but also to give. Because Nuad Thai Massage has stress-releasing benefits for the receiver and for the giver, the masseur, as well.

Moreover, Nuad Thai Massage is a combination of meditation, yoga and acupressure massage. During this massage the masseur and the client (the one who receives the massage) are both moving in meditation state and they are both moving in yoga-like stretches.

The masseur gives acupressure massage, which can be applied quite deep. And that is exactly what is needed when you are stressed, especially when you are stressed for a longer period.

Why?

Besides the lowering of cortisol and the increasing of serotonin, something else needs to be taken care of in your body when you want to relax. And that is your fascia!

Fascia

Fascia is a thin casing of connective tissue that holds everything in our body in place; every bone, organ, blood vessel, muscle. Fascia is designed to stretch as you move and this movement helps with the movement of blood, lymph, and other fluids in our body for a perfect balance.

A healthy fascia is elastic, but fascia can become sticky by stress, and that is unhealthy.      If fascia dries up it becomes a knot, sometimes you can even feel it, like a little ball. If you ever massaged stiff shoulders you probably felt it.

Trigger points

We can call them trigger points. Sticky fascia can worsen over time, becoming bigger. Eventually they can press on the capillary vessels, nerve fibers and other structures in our body causing problems, diseases. Therefore these trigger points, or knots you can call them, need to be broken, so your fascia can become healthy again, not sticky. This can be done by stretching, heat and pressure, which is what happens when you receive a Nuad Thai massage.

How to relax?

If you like to relax, try to find a way in which you:

▪ Decrease the stress-chemicals in your body, like cortisol and adrenaline
▪ Increase the happy chemicals in your body, like serotonin and endorphin
▪ Can create a healthy fascia

Good luck!

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