Guest Post by Sally Phillips
Stress and anxiety are challenges that are growing every year. With more awareness regarding their effects and how to identify a stress-related problem, the future is bright in terms of identifying and assisting with it. However, with the HSE estimating that at least 526,000 experienced stress related problems (at work alone, never mind home life), the scale of the challenge is obvious.
Stress has always been part of the human makeup, even if it hasn’t been described under such a specific name. And through spirituality, progressive muscle relaxation methods and Ayurveda, cultures the world over have found ways to tackle stress.
Stress comes in many forms, from acute worries to drawing out fears and deep-seated anxiety. One way many people have fought the challenges stress brings is spirituality. Whilst many associate spirituality purely with religion (which has some place to play in stress management), it can actually be as simple as being in touch with nature, or using tarot cards to find guidance. What it boils down to is that spirituality is about being in touch with the world around you and your own inner feelings, in order to provide perspective and quell feelings of stress.
Scientific studies have shown both casual and clinical links between stress and muscle tension. Much stress is caused by the instinctive ‘fight or flight’ response present in humans, a remainder of our days fighting wildlife in prehistoric times. Whilst still valuable for a dangerous situation, it can activate in response to mental triggers. If you are perpetually stressed, you may perpetually be in this situation, which will lead to muscle aches. Muscle relaxation, and specifically Jacobson’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation Therapy, seek to rewind that process. It’s got foundations, too, with a 2014 publication by the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research demonstrating a link between muscle relaxation and test-based anxiety.
Ayurvedic medicine traces its roots back to BC5,000. A wisdom-based healing method, most pharmacies and doctors in South Asia used a combination of this traditional healing with Western medicine. Whilst wise to be wary of some ayurvedic medicines, as they have been shown to hold some of the least desirable chemicals and metals in their makeup, there is something to be found in their adherence to meditation and massage for stress relief. The Indian head massage, in particular, has won plaudits the world over.
Stress relief is something that everyone might search for in their lifetime. Relief needn’t be complicated or clinically sought, with all the tools you need out there, established and proven.