Photo: woods wheatcroft photography

How to Live Better and Longer

The best indicator for cardiovascular disease is not high blood pressure or high cholesterol; it’s a high CRP level. C-reactive protein (CRP) is produced by the liver in response to inflammation and it’s an indicator of plaque that forms inside arteries to deal with the inflammation.

There’s more than physiology at work here.   When your emotions are held rather than released, they become irritants causing increased levels of inflammation in your connective tissue (CT).

Fascia (the tissue that holds everything together) and blood vessels are both CT.  CT was called the “organ of stress” by the father of stress research, Hans Selye, M.D. The body deals with emotional stress in the same way it deals with the physical stress of an injury. It becomes inflamed and forms scar tissue.

With the constant state of stress we are under, the persistent irritation of emotional stress never gives the body a chance to complete the healing cycle. Unlike a cut that gets to heal, the body is continually dealing with the subtle injury of stress.

A way out

We have become lab rats; we’re conditioned to the stress response. Our sympathetic (survival) nervous system is always on even when it doesn’t need to be. One way to reverse this process is to remove the chronic tension (stress) from the body. Good bodywork is an excellent way to do that.

When the deep tension of the soft tissue system is released old stress is released. It’s as if that accelerator that was stuck now is free. The body is able to relax. You aren’t impervious to stress, you are just much more resistant to it.

Unlearning the stress response is the other way to reverse and heal the cycle of constant inflammation and scarring. The simple act of learning to really breathe can shift this. Mindfulness Stress Reduction teaches the mind/body to breathe and relax. As will Biofeedback, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)—three simple and safe means of releasing and unlearning the stress response.

My understanding of stress came from my study of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Back in the early 1980s, I had the pleasure to study with Peter Levin, PhD, a Rolfer, psychologist and leading developer of PTSD therapies. Through Peter I understood that much of what we call psychological pathology is actually the physiology of stress. You aren’t bad – you’re stressed. It can be a lot easier to reverse than you think.

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advanced Rolfer, www.align.org, 32 yrs experience – call if you have questions: 265.8440.

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