Stress Reduction

Stress is the body’s “fight or flight” response that evolved over centuries to protect us when we were threatened.  Stress energizes the body to cope with threat: breathing quickens, the heart races, perspiration flows and muscles tense for action. Unessential bodily functions slow down to allow all available resources to concentrate on saving your life. Oxygen and nutrients flow to the brain and large muscles. 25,000 years ago this would have helped even the odds against a predator by allowing you to run faster and jump higher.

Millennia later, our world has changed but our bodies are still essentially the same. In situations that are stressful but not life threatening, our bodies will still trigger the fight or flight response. Stress can become constant and acute, and false alarms can lead to stress disorders such as insomnia, migraines, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Because stress is natural and unavoidable, it is important to understand it and learn how to reduce it. Relaxation is the foundation of most stress reduction therapies. There are many stress-reducing techniques including individual counselling, meditation, group therapy, biofeedback, massage, yoga, and guided imagery. The best therapy is the one that works for the individual.

Most stress-reducing treatments include the following:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Gentle exercise
  • Mental time out

Learning to manage stress provides positive coping strategies and leaves people more relaxed and healthier.  In the long-term, susceptibility to life-threatening diseases is reduced and the immune system is strengthened.

There are a wide range of professionals who can provide stress reduction therapies. Stress management programs are also being offered by many companies to build a healthier workforce.