“Don’t worry, be happy!” For many people, this is easier said than done! After all, there are so many things to worry about! People die, they lose jobs, friends, money, and homes. There are natural disasters, diseases, and politics that add to an unpredictable future. There comes a time when our children are adults, and their future is out of our hands. There is no end to what a person could worry about! But why do we do it, and why do some people do it more?
Worrying is typically an attempt to anticipate and prevent bad things from happening. It stems from the awareness that life is unpredictable, and we never know when something bad could happen to us. It is a fear of the unknown, and what we fear we could lose. So many people worry everyday about things that are not likely to happen just because they can't tolerate the imagined events. The more sensitive one is, the less tolerance there will be, and the more likely he or she is going to worry if the future was perceived negatively. This creates anxiety. Anxiety and worry are closely related, and begins a vicious cycle of anxiety, worry more, anxiety, worry more…
When a person is worried and anxious, the body responds the same as if it were in danger. This is called the fight or flight response. During this response, hormones are released in the body that prepare it to fight the attacker or run away. These responses include:
heart rate and blood pressure increase
pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible
veins in skin constrict to send more blood to major muscle groups (responsible for the "chill" sometimes associated with fear -- less blood in the skin to keep it warm)
blood-glucose level increases
muscles tense up, energized by adrenaline and glucose (responsible for goose bumps -- when tiny muscles attached to each hair on surface of skin tense up, the hairs are forced upright, pulling skin with them)
smooth muscle relaxes in order to allow more oxygen into the lungs
nonessential systems (like digestion and immune system) shut down to allow more energy for emergency functions
trouble focusing on small tasks (brain is directed from the frontal lobe in order to focus only on big picture in order to determine where threat is coming from)
In an actual fight or flight situation, the body releases these hormones after the danger has passed, and it returns to its normal state. However, when a person worries and is feeling anxious, but there is no actual physical danger, these stress hormones build up in the body and have a toxic effect leading to heart attacks, increased risk of stroke, and stomach ulcers. The immune system is compromised, leading to more illness and infections. The digestive system is affected, leading to constipation or diarrhea. A person can find it harder to concentrate, may be absent minded, depressed, have trouble sleeping, and a loss of libido. Because the body tenses and is ready to run, muscles tension turns into aches and pains causing headaches, back pain, weak legs and trembling.
The good news is, reflexology can help! Reflexology is a stress buster! It is able to calm the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response), and activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). This helps return the body to balance, releasing toxins and helping the organs and glands to function more optimally. So... don’t worry, be happy! You found reflexology!