Stress can overcome our lives in an instant. From things like work to raising a family and everything in between, stress and anxieties can easily build up. One way to help relieve pain within the body and reduce stress is Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT). Paige Cervantes, Cooper Spa MAT Specialist, shares her personal story, thoughts on dealing with stress and how MAT sessions have helped her clients relieve some of the built-up tension, aches and pains that come along with life.
MAT as a Stress Reliever
MAT is a hands-on therapy used to reduce pain by pinpointing weak points in the muscles and joints, increasing range of motion and finding the root of the problem. “When someone gets on my table, they have to be an active participant in what I do. This is not necessarily a feel-good massage in the moment because we are working on strengthening the muscles, but many patients feel pain relief well before the one-hour session ends,” says Cervantes.
MAT can be effective for individuals with previous injuries related to work, exercise and more, and on those who have general aches and pains. Not being able to manage this pain can cause stress and anxiety in everyday life. Cervantes has found that “often, the root of the problem is entirely different than where the pain is located. I’ve had people come in with knee problems and then found imbalances in their feet. When I can pinpoint the main cause of the pain, then I can help individuals manage it which alleviates stress.”
Identifying techniques to de-stress and fit your lifestyle can be challenging. Every person is going to relax in different ways and just because a massage works for someone else, that doesn’t mean it will work for you. The trick is to try different stress-relief techniques to see what works for you and your schedule. With a background in massage therapy, personal training and MAT, Cervantes has found a variety of ways to deal with stress, many of which she implements into her own life.
Massage can be an ideal way to relax. A Swedish massage is recommended because less pressure is used compared to other techniques. This massage encourages your muscles to relax and release built-up tension by manipulating the muscles and soft tissue, reducing physical stress.
Exercise is an extremely effective way to relieve stress and anxiety. Anything to get you moving, such as going to a yoga class, can help calm your inner anxiety and provide a good stretch. Activities including walking, running and strength training can help you release your emotions. When you physically exert yourself, you may feel a sense of relief and it can help lower the anxiety and stress you are dealing with.
Talk to people. Share with your friends or family what is causing you stress. They may be able to ease some of that with words of encouragement or advice. Surrounding yourself with people you enjoy being around can boost your mood and help get your mind off your stressors for a little bit.
Create a stress jar. Find a small jar and label it—for example, no stress zone, stress jar, all my stresses. Anytime you feel anxiety or stress, write a note about it and stick it in the jar, almost as if you are giving it away and releasing it from your life. Although this doesn’t fix the thing you are stressing about, it is symbolic of letting it go and taking a small break from thinking about it.
Sometimes our stress is bigger than ourselves. Taking a step back and focusing on the good in life can help alleviate anxiety and stress-ridden thoughts. “I’m a cancer survivor” says Cervantes. “That was a really stressful time in my life. I didn’t know if I would get to see my kids grow up or my daughter get married. I had this overwhelming feeling of stress and anxiety that consumed my life. I had to step back and realize my disease was out of my control. It was bigger than me. I spent a lot of time praying and relying on God to help me find a way out of it. Realizing I couldn’t change what was happening in my life and fully embracing the life I had been given pulled me out of a dark place and woke me up again. I’ve been cancer-free for 23 years now and I try not to let everyday stress get the best of me.”
Whether it’s having a massage, exercising, focusing on your faith or creating a stress jar, finding something that eases your mind and reduces your stress can be extremely beneficial. Letting stress overcome your life can affect you physically and mentally if you don’t find an outlet. Stress is a normal, inevitable part of life but finding ways to ease your mind, let go and relax can help bring peace to your day.
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