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The physical manifestation of emotional stress

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The physical manifestation of emotional stress

At Alvino Massage in Denver, it is very important to find out what a person is looking for before we start your treatment. Before we start your massage, I ask where you would like me to focus. The vast majority of the time, people will say, “I carry all my stress…” and point to a part of their body. Generally, people point to their neck or their shoulders. Sometimes, you will point to the lower part of your back.

I carry my stress in my shoulders. What does that really mean? Can one get angry at work and store it away in little stress bladders that are strategically located in the neck? Is it an anatomical function like a lymph node or the gallbladder?

There are studies out there that will explain how your hypothalamus pituitary adrenals are activated releasing epinephrine and norepinephrine to your body. To be quite frank, big words like that scare me.

Maybe there is a simpler explanation.

Have you ever heard the philosophy “Dress for Success”? The thought that if you look good, then you feel good, and if you feel good, you perform well? I think “carrying stress” is a similar, though wholly opposite, concept.

Think about it. When you become stressed, you hang your head. The posture you practice so well is gone for a time. When you sit in front of your computer, carrying your head forward is easier than using the proper ergonomics our companies teach. Your body doesn’t like it when you use it in ways it’s not expecting. So, the muscles in your back and your neck have to work a little harder to keep everything aligned. Prolonged periods of time in this position will cause an ache in your neck. Same type of thing will happen when you are not sitting upright.

Teacher Jim used to talk about such physical manifestations often. He used to tell us the easiest way to combat such stress was to simply take a deep breath and to “let it go”. This is a practice I still employ to this day.

Maybe, there is something to this whole “carry your stress” notion. Breathe. Straighten up. Walk tall and proud. If this still doesn’t work for you, stop by and I’ll rub your neck a bit.