Below are listed several mechanisms behind stress and mental health, which can be greatly helped with “low tech, low cost” interventions such as therapies or fitness:
- Fight & flight mode closure. Stress holds the same main function for us as for our ancestors: it is aimed at preparing the individual for either “Fight” or “Flight” with increased blood supply to brain, lungs and muscles, and decreased activity of background tasks such as digestion. But in an office environment, we do not fight against predators but against dead-lines. Stress at work does not lead anymore to a physical outburst, instead we remain seated at our desk. Exercise allows the sedentary worker’s body to complete the expected neurological “Fight & Flight” loop cycle. The nervous system is then tricked into thinking that stress was aimed at the activity expressed during exercice, it can therefore come back to normal state afterwards. Medium to Strong Intensity exercise ( e.g. with a personal trainer) is therefore a good way to regulate the nervous system, in times of increased stress.
- Acute stress takes its toll on the body when it lasts too long. Imagine a cat which is constantly startled with a round back and raised hair. His whole body would be quite uncomfortable to live in after a while. Physical therapy (massage, osteopathy, acupuncture, …) helps rebalance the different parts of the autonomic nervous system involved in stress and therefore reset the tone of the contracted tissues, to help the body to come back to “neutral mode”.
- Chronic Stress is also the body’s response to almost any lasting disturbance, inflammation, toxic load, etc… in addition to mentally challenging situations. It is the body’s attempt to best regulate itself when its normal physiological limits are challenged. Osteopathy and Acupuncture can help normalize the different systems of the body : endocrine, musculosketal, digestive, etc…and therefore decrease the general stress burden of the body. As a result the body will be more resistant to specific stressors including work-related stressors .
- “Mental dissociation” starts when people are not in touch with their body. This state is common in sedentary office workers, when cerebral functions are over-stimulated to the detriment of somatic functions. This can result in a lack of conscious acknowledgement of the signals from the multiple receptors in the body and a resulting lack of general awareness. This can affect the quality of the general perception of the employee, and as a result the quality of his decision making by altering his intuition. “Mental dissociation” is a condition which is also shared by PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) sufferers, for whom the connection of the individual to his body sensations has been severed as a coping strategy. Therapeutic touch has been widely studied and helps the individual re-integrate their body.
- Therapeutic presence, such as unconditional positive attention, and empathic understanding also conveys the intention of the therapist, which is at the heart of the healing process of the client, as studied in clinical psychotherapy.
- Hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and counselling are specifically targeted at mental issues, by reprogramming mental patterns .The position of the practitioner as an external stakeholder ensures that the problem is addressed outside the confines of the workplace.