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Stress can make you sick

Stress is a natural part of everyone’s life, but too much poorly managed stress can make you sick…literally.  In addition to those uncomfortable warning signs of a pounding headache or queasy stomach or tightened muscles or a racing heart rate, stress can have negative effects on multiple organs in your body. Stress is even a culprit in abdominal fat or bloating – a common complaint of middle-aged and above women. Chronic stress can elevate levels of the hormone cortisol which impacts blood sugar level, possibly leading to an increase in fat cells in the tummy area. So, if any of these stress signals “speak to you”, now is the time to develop some healthy coping mechanisms.

Your breathe is always there to help you

empowerYou can be in the middle of a nasty argument at home or in conflict at your job, but there is a tool that is readily available to you – your ability to breathe. Concentration on your breathing can help lower your heart rate and immediately reduce stress levels. How you breathe affects your whole body so focusing on even, calm breaths can help relieve tension and restore a feeling of balance and peace. Here is a simple breathing exercise for you to try (preferably in a quiet environment, but can actually be used anywhere): sit comfortably and put your hand on your stomach; take a deep breath in through your nose and feel your belly rise; pause for a couple of seconds then exhale through pursed lips; repeat.  Another exercise to try is what I call focused breathing (especially useful when your mind is racing): concentrate on your breathing while eliminating the “traffic” in your head. This takes practice and it is normal that your mind will keep wandering back to that head traffic that is demanding your attention. But simply acknowledge the thought and return to your focus on your breath. With practice, your mind will wander less and less.

Exercise and massage helps, too

When you exercise, feel-good chemicals called endorphins are released that can actually lower your levels of stress hormones. There’s even evidence that regular aerobic exercise and/or mind-body exercises like Yoga, Tai Chi, or Pilates cause physiological changes, like lower blood pressure and heart rate.  There’s also evidence that massage can help reliImage result for massageeve anxiety and stress. If you can’t get to a massage professional, give yourself a self-massage:  rub your hands together briskly to generate warmth the use your finger tips to massage your temples or forehead or sinus area; or roll a tennis ball on your forearm for quick relief from tightening muscles; or use a foam roller to massage your lower back area. Give these techniques a try to see if they work to help you de-stress! Our licensed massage therapists at Empower Fitness, Kathi Jackson and Diane Dalton, are available to consult with you regarding benefits of massage in meeting your unique needs. To schedule a massage at the gym, stop at the front desk or call 882-4500.


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Lawrence Shopping Center
(near Burlington Coat Factory)
2495 Route 1 at Texas Ave.
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

Contact info:

phone: 609.882.4500
fax: 609.406.1471