The Stress Relief Bath, Chapter 5

The Stress Relief Bath, Chapter 5

From The Healing Aromatherapy Bath

Therapeutic Treatments Using Meditation,

Visualization & Essential Oils

by Margo Valentine Lazzara, C.Ht.

The more you know about stress, the better equipped you will be to minimize stress-related problems. Stress cannot only ruin your day, but doctors are discovering that it can also ruin your health. When we are faced with a stressful situation, impulses are sent to the brain via the nervous system that activates the pituitary gland to secrete hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones active the adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline and noradrenaline. This increases your blood sugar. Research has proved that when your tissues are soaked in stress hormones, your blood pressure, blood sugar, and heart rate skyrocket, while your capability for digestion and absorption shuts down.

Chronic stress increases the risk of everything from glaucoma to heart disease, and makes you 50 percent more likely to catch the latest virus going around. Studies have shown that at least 80 percent of doctor's visits are for health problem that have been triggered by stress.

What is Stress?

Stress can be caused by a multitude of life imbalances, such as job dissatisfaction, a strained marital relationship, and illness in the family. But even a small problem - for instance, a public presentation, a flat tire, or a missed appointment - can cause stress. Studies have shown that even those people with a longer commute to work (45 minutes or more) experience more stress than those with a shorter daily trip!

The first stage is the alarm reaction. Your brain signals your nervous system and your endocrine system to get various parts of the body ready to cope with the emergency. These are the responses of your body to the first stage of stress:

The motor nerves prepare the muscles in your arms and legs for motion ("fight or flight"). Your blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels go up. Adrenaline is released into the bloodstream as a stimulant. The skin receives decreased blood flow, which can lead to cold hand and feet, high blood pressure, and migraine headaches. Your body can't maintain the alarm level of arousal forever, so after severe or repeated stress, you come to the stage of exhaustion. The long-term effects of stress on the heart range from rapid beating, pounding, and irregular beats to angina and coronary artery disease.

Stress Relief Blend

Soak away anxiety and stress with this bath. The most relaxing baths are warm, not hot! Hot water shocks the system, causing muscles to contract. Warm water calms you by increasing circulation and relaxing the muscles. Do not use the bath if you are asthmatic or pregnant But perform the accompanying visualization.

3 drops bergamot essential oil

2 drops clary sage essential oil

2 drops sandalwood essential oil

2 drops neroli essential oil

2 drops lavender essential oil

Stress Relief Visualization Exercise

Close your eyes and simply take a deep breath, being aware of the exquisite natural extracts you are breathing in. Breathe in calmness and exhale tension. Breathe with your belly, imagining that your lungs are sitting right behind your belly button. In order to fill them with air, relax your abdomen and let it expand with each breath. Slowly exhale for a count of 8, filling your belly, and slowly exhale to the count of 8.

Do a few repetitions of this and then concentrate on each are of your body, starting with the top of the head, and release the tension from your muscles one by one, all the way down to your toes and back up again. Continue to breathe in relaxation and exhale all the tension.

Now that your body feels soft and relaxed, allow your awareness to come inside yourself. Visualize yourself walking on a path among trees...walking in a place in nature. In front of you is a gate. Open the gate and step into the beautiful garden.

You see and smell the most beautiful flowers you have ever seen. You see lush palm trees and fruit trees and tropical flowers perfumed with sweet fragrances. Touch them...smell them...inhale the aromas. Each time you inhale, you feel more calm and relaxed. Listen to the singing birds. Feel the calm, gentle breeze; it is a celebration of nature in its magnificent form.

A wonderful feeling of peace and joy drifts through your mind and flows through your body. Visualize a magnificent cool waterfall. As you step into it, feel the cool, clean, refreshing water cascade upon you, cleansing you from the top of your head down to your toes, washing away every bit of stress and anxiety. Allow your being to be restored on all levels.

Now project your thoughts forward. In a vision, see yourself in what might be a stressful situation, but as you see this vision, allow the exquisite feeling of relaxation to continue to soothe your thoughts. Allow the relaxed state you are feeling now to weave a tapestry of a totally stress-free consciousness into your vision. Your mind and body are being conditioned to respond calmly, peacefully to stress.

Open your eyes slowly, taking with you this calm and relaxing feeling, remembering you can always return to this peaceful garden of serenity that is your own private sanctuary.

Tips for Reducing Stress in Your Life

Certain hormonal changes triggered by stress can end up affecting the immune system, thus making us more susceptible to infections, and can also set off allergies, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. The release of extra sugars into the bloodstream can result in fatigue or hypoglycemia. The chronic tension and stiffness in the back that are characteristic of stress, especially when the muscles are weakened by inactivity, lead to backache.

Stress can also cause:

-Tingling and itchy skin, hives, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, and abdominal discomfort.

-Depressed sexual and reproductive functions, and an increase of premenstrual tension and menopausal melancholia.

-Depression, anxiety, and irritability.

Stress is caused not only by bad events. Positive changes like a new home, marriage, and a new job can induce stress as well. Statisticians say that 9 out of 10 Americans report experiencing high levels of stress at least once or twice a week.

Stress-related disorders that were previously associated primarily with men are now on the rise in women. Stress leads to reduction in production of sex hormones in both men and women, and this can interfere with normal sexual functions. Stress causes increased muscle spasms, which are often responsible for lower back pain. Insomnia and other sleep disorders are very often the uncomfortable symptoms of a stress-related disorder.

Laughter is indeed good medicine. When you laugh, you actually cause a pleasurable change in your body's chemistry that lasts as long as 45 minutes. So take in a comedy at the movies, watch a funny television show, or invite some friends over for a game of charades!

Pets can provide excellent stress therapy. The presence of pets and physical contact with them has proved therapeutic for hospital patients. Play with your dog, hold your cat, or sing to your bird; all of these activities can help reduce blood pressure and bring a feeling of calm.

The soothing, stress-relieving power of nature has been recognized for centuries. Many hospitals and health centers now make "nature areas" a part of their therapeutic environment. When properly tailored to the individual's conditioning and enjoyment, exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety. Combine these two concepts by taking a walk outside, or try hiking, biking or rowing.

Working at a desk for a prolonged period can increase tension and decrease efficiency. Concentration intensifies and each one of the five senses becomes more acute during stressful situations. But if taxed for too long, the senses become less acute. Doodling, a game of garbage-can basketball, or making paper-clip chains provides a needed break and ultimately boosts your productivity.

"Music hath charms to sooth a savage beast," wrote William Congreve back in 1697. Music's calming effect has been proved during dental procedures, labor, before and after surgery, and in emergency rooms. This is probably due to music's ability to distract and soothe. Similarly, while daydreaming is often criticized, it can provide a refreshing break from tension. It can be as simple as recalling pleasant memories or envisioning an upcoming vacation.

Remember that doing good feels good. Studies suggest that those who volunteer or do similar "good-neighbor' work have less incidence of stress-related disorders than those who do not perform such work. The benefits to health of human contact and companionship cannot be underestimated. Scientific research has revealed lower mortality rates in those with the strongest social ties.

Some causes of stress can be confronted and conquered. Others can be avoided. If you can't fight or flee, go with the flow.

Symptoms of Stress

These are the physical symptoms you're likely to feel when under stress:

-Nervousness or inability to concentrate

-Muscle tension and irritability

-Heart palpitations or chest pain

-Dry mouth or excessive sweating

-Urge for under- or overeating, or loss of sex drive


Excerpted From From The Healing Aromatherapy Bath by Margo Valentine Lazzara, C.Ht.-used with permission.

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