Stress Relief World Tour
Three foreign relaxation techniques to avoid stress-related reflux
Though the latest “Great Recession” may have officially ended, many Americans still face trying economic hard times and are more stressed than ever as a result. For many of us, pressures at work and home demand such large chunks of our time that we never get the chance to sit back, relax and let the burdens of our daily lives melt away.
This can be especially concerning for those of us who struggle with acid reflux in Macon. Stress changes the body’s blood flow, sending more blood to the arms and legs and less to the stomach. This results in slower digestion, which can cause undigested food to push up against the top of your stomach and open the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to escape into the esophagus. Stress can also make us seek the therapeutic effects of fatty comfort foods and alcohol, two big dietary contributors to the symptoms of GERD.
Other countries around the world face the same (or worse) fiscal or societal worries, but they often have better mechanisms for coping with stress than we do here in the States. If stress is contributing to your acid reflux in Macon, try some of these globe-trotting relaxation strategies.
Finland: Hit the Sauna
Sure, we have steam rooms here in America, but the Finnish love their saunas almost as much as we love apple pie. Steam rooms can be found in homes, hotels, office rooftops, government buildings—you name it. Most Finns hit the sauna a minimum of once per week, sweating out their stress with friends and family members or even other professionals for a relaxing business meeting. Though sitting naked in an outdoor hut that can reach temperatures as high as 230 degrees may not sound like your idea of a relaxing time, the steam’s heat can lower your blood pressure by dilating your blood vessels, giving you a feeling of full-body bliss that may be a factor in Finland’s ranking as the world’s second-happiest nation.
India: Get a Head Massage
Like many facets of India’s rich culture, Indian head massage has been practiced for thousands of years. Used as a method of balancing the body’s spiritual energy centers and alleviating stress, the different methods of head massage can have different effects on their recipients—some can relax you enough to put you to sleep, others can produce feelings of increased awareness and improved concentration.
Though visiting a massage professional may be the best way to experience this relaxation technique, you can save some cash by administering a good head rub to yourself. Place the first three fingers of each hand in the space behind your ears where the neck connects to the head and rub by moving your fingers apart and back together. Try it for about 30 seconds and you’ll be sure to feel more relaxed.
West Africa: Drum Away the Stress
You don’t have to be a hippie to enjoy a drum circle—research shows that drumming in a group setting can raise your spirits, lower your stress levels and even improve your immune system. Unlike your typical drum set, traditional African hand drums like the djembe make keeping a beat fairly easy for even those who aren’t rhythmically-inclined. To get the most out of your drumming, try joining a local African-drumming class, where you’ll sharpen your concentration, learn about the unique history and culture of West Africa and switch between drumming and dancing as you build a sense of unity with the other members of the drum circle.
Though times may be tough for many of us, it doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to the reflux complications of a high-stress lifestyle. By taking a cue from these other rich cultures, you too can live a healthier, happier life free of stress-related GERD symptoms.