oman sitting at a desk stressing out with a headache

What Is Stress

Stress is a normal part of life, and we all experience it at some point. It is a natural response to a perceived threat or danger, and it can be helpful in some situations. However, when stress becomes chronic (ie. Chronic Stress) it can have significant physical effects on our bodies.

When we experience stress, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode. This means that our heart rate and breathing rate increase, our muscles tense up, and our blood vessels constrict. This response is designed to help us deal with immediate threats, such as running away from a predator or defending ourselves from an attacker. However, when we experience chronic stress, this response can be persistent and become harmful. 

When we are in a state of chronic stress (whether it be a stressful time in our life or whether we are a Type A “Go-Go-Go”person) our nervous system becomes out of balance.  Our Fight or Flight response will remain elevated (the sympathetic portion) leaving our parasympathetics unable to do their job. (Our parasympathetic nervous system is primarily responsible for Sleep and Digestion.)

What are the Symptoms of Stress

Stress can have a wide range of physical effects on the body, both in the short term and over the long term. Symptoms may include one or more of the following: 

  1. Increased heart rate: When you experience stress, your heart rate increases. This is because stress triggers the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare the body for a fight or flight response.
  2. Elevated blood pressure: An increase in blood pressure happens because the body is preparing for physical activity and needs more oxygen and nutrients to fuel it.
  3. Muscle tension: When you’re stressed, your muscles tend to tense up. This can lead to stress headaches, migraine headaches, neck pain/back pain and clenching of the jaw. 
  4. Digestive problems: Your digestive system may be affected in a number of ways. From stomach aches,constipation and even diarrhea. If the parasympathetic nervous system is being suppressed, your digestive system will suffer. This is often the case in patients who suffer from IBS and other digestive related disorders. 
  5. Weakened immune system: Prolonged or chronic stress can suppress the immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses and infections.
  6. Sleep disturbances: You may find a decreased ability to fall asleep or stay asleep, leading to insomnia and other sleep disorders.
  7. Skin problems: Stress can cause or exacerbate skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
  8. Weight gain or loss: Disruptions in your eating habits may occur and cause you to either overeat or under-eat, leading to weight gain or weight loss.
  9. Increased risk of heart disease: Chronic stress can increase the risk of developing heart disease, as it can cause damage to the arteries and contribute to the buildup of plaque.
  10. Mental health problems: Chronic stress can also contribute to the development of mental health problems like anxiety and depression.

How can I manage my stress?

Overall, stress can have a significant impact on the body. It’s important to find ways to manage stress in order to protect your overall health and wellbeing.

Here at Zen, we are proud to offer residents of the town of Milton, Ontario, and surrounding areas, a few different options for stress management.  Our experienced Registered Massage Therapists and Osteopaths can help formulate a treatment plan that works for you. 

These options may include one or more of the following: 

To read more on how each service may benefit you please feel free to click above. To book an appointment with one of our experienced Registered Massage Therapists or Osteopathic Practitioners, please visit us at