Holistic Therapy for Executive Stress, Part 3


Please note I am not a Doctor, so please take proper advice before acting. I am telling the story of my situation and my thoughts.

Getting the work/life balance right

Many people at some stage in their life have suffered from anxiety attacks and/or stress. I have suffered from both and I can certainly tell you having a full blown anxiety attack is very frightening. I had a whole series of these and since then have taken proactive decisions to remedy and understand the situation so they do not happen. When I met Gemma she started talking about my sympathetic nervous system, something I had never heard of. In layman’s terms if you try to listen to your body when you are relaxed, breathing easily and relaxed and as I understand it your body at the stage is on a level plain.

Having seen what Wikepedia has to say I thought this snippet was useful. “Alongside the other two components of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system aids in the control of most of the body’s internal organs. Stress—as in the flight-or-fight response—is thought to counteract the parasympathetic system, which generally works to promote maintenance of the body at rest. The comprehensive functions of both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems are not so straightforward, but this is a useful rule of thumb.[1][3]

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for up- and down-regulating many homeostatic mechanisms in living organisms. Fibers from the SNS innervate tissues in almost every organ system, providing at least some regulatory function to things as diverse as pupil diameter, gut motility, and urinary output. It is perhaps best known for mediating the neuronal and hormonal stress response commonly known as the fight-or-flight response. “

Having a planned and focused approach such as I have experienced, is all done with the aim of re balancing the nervous system. Its always good when a plan comes true because I certainly found it worked with me.

Massage & Posture

Partly due to the fact that I broke my leg when I was 16, I have to be careful about stretching and keeping loose. In the end I have suffered from various niggles which apparently can largely put down to my core muscles not being strong enough, something for me to try to remedy in 2014.

Gemma suggested my using SitfitPlus when you are doing seated work, its purpose to strengthen ones core/back muscles, relieve tension from your neck and shoulder area and ensure that you are maintaining a correct posture.SitfitPlus

Above is the Sitfit Plus. It comes pre-inflated and is easily portable if you desire.

I nickname this the “red beast” not sure why but I like thinking of names. I use this all the time and now do not really notice it’s there now. I think it’s very groovy, “genuinely”.

The other big buzz words that Gemma introduced were

TRIGGER POINTS – The Neuromuscular technique (NMT) / trigger point work

To try to remedy some muscle issues Gemma worked out I needed some trigger point work. I was majorly impressed as I do like a buzz word. Again in simple terms pressure from massage is put on certain places and then I or you endure a massive amount of pain!!! Strangely enough I seemed to have a smile on my face, “no sarcy comments please” but it does hurt, but gradually the pain subsides. I had several of these sessions, but afterwards it really felt like I had a new body, my muscles were less tight, I moved better and was so much more 26 rather than 46.

I asked Gemma to introduce the subject which she kindly did.

“Myofascial pain syndromes occur when muscles contract but don’t return to their normal shape following the contraction causing them to remain in a fixed and shorter position, which results in a reduction of blood flow, lymph drainage and range of motion (ROM).  Left untreated changes then occur to the chronically contracted muscle (e.g. increase in muscle tone, resistance to palpitation and decreased suppleness), which leads to muscle weakness as it cannot perform its full range of contraction and release.

Contracted muscle can feel ‘ropy’ like cables and are generally tender when mild pressure is applied.

All of us have areas of constricted muscles, contracted to various degrees (e.g. typically; shoulders elevated, chest constricted, upper back rounded, lower back arched etc) due to emotional or physical patterns of overuse.

Muscular constriction affects our posture, ability to move and operate in a physically optimal manner.  Therefore our overall health is intimately related to the health of our muscles.

One factor that contributes to pain/dysfunction of the muscle is the development of trigger points within the taught muscle where the tenderness reaches it’s maximum – hyperirritability.

A trigger point is painful upon compression and can give referred pain, tenderness and autonomic phenomena (e.g. nerve compression/entrapment, biomechanical dysfunction (imbalance of the musculoskeletal system causing faulty movement patterns i.e. computer keyboarding, poor golf swing/tennis stroke, poor lifting habits etc), ischemia (lack of blood supply to soft tissue which causes hypersensitivity to touch), visual disturbance, space-perception disturbance, skin temperature changes etc)

The more hyperirritable the trigger point, the greater the degree of referred pain.

NMT uses direct static pressure (ischemic compression) on trigger points to reduce them, thus relieving pain and/or numbness in areas of the body, stabilising low levels of neurological activity and restoring balance to the Central Nervous System (CNS), which optimises overall health.

With regards to the information on the nervous system, please see below:




During our last session you asked me to let you know if there was anything that I picked up that you thought may be of use. Whilst I have discussed individual issues that you have bought to our sessions with you I would like to offer you the following summary. This is my opinion, so please take or leave this information:

I believe that you have some unresolved trauma that is held in your body and you are unaware of. In my opinion this trauma is driving certain thought patterns/behaviours, which dysregulates your nervous system. When the nervous system is dysregulated it causes your body to go in to “fight” “flight” “freeze” mode and you release adrenalin. A build-up of adrenalin in the body is what causes CFS along with a whole host of other symptoms. I think this the internal stress you experience is related to your high blood pressure, panic attacks, spinning head, ringing in your ears etc that you experience (please see diagram below, which I think you may find useful).

Fight and flight diagram


Fight and flight diagram

When stress/unresolved trauma is held in the body, it can cause negative effects on the musculoskeletal system, which I think in your case has exacerbated the injury you had to your left leg and chronic pain with restricted ROM that you still experience. I feel that you would really benefit from doing some specific therapy work around this.

During our sessions I used Deep Tissue Massage incorporating specific techniques, including NMT/trigger point therapy, to physically and energetically release some of the chronic patterns of pain and tension that were held within the deep contacted layers of muscle, tendon and fascia as well as to break down some scar tissue and detoxify the body, combined with essential oils to relieve the pain/inflammation of this work and on other weeks for the beneficial properties to calm the nervous system etc. I used reflexology to re balance the body systems, detoxify the body and boost your immune system, which was compromised at this time.




Yoga –

Michael’s Shangri – La was a restorative class on a Wednesday evening at Triyoga in Chelsea given by Aki Omori

Wednesday: 19h45-21h00 (Restorative; Aki Omori)

Aki Omori has studied many styles of yoga over the last 20 years and teaches mostly a vinyasa style of yoga that is gentle yet deep and informative. She is also a Somatic Movement Therapist and is recognised for her work in restorative yoga. Aki teaches from movement principles rather than simply achieving forms. She guides her students in a way that encourages them to find their own unique path that is honest and truthful. Her classes are known for their lightness and are fun yet profound. Aki is also an experienced Pranayama practitioner and is devoted to Advaita (non-dual) teaching.

I think of this as my “chill out yoga”

I entered the studio and felt very different, the calmer was friendly, not a feeling of competitiveness (which many people like) but is not my thing. I liked the fact that the people that attended were probably more “nurturers” in their mind-set or certainly when they attended. The class was full, I needed to take lots of props: matts, blocks, ties, rolls, and blankets. We were asked to set them up in a position lying on the floor then to start with we all, sort of went to sleep, not really but relaxed/chilled ….I was amazed, it is quite a powerful thing a whole room of people in silence, warm, calming …. I was a little blown away. Throughout the class there were a whole range of poses, stretching but in a way which seems healing, non-aggressive and with surprisingly positive effects.

Aki is really an amazing person, we had spoken to start with and I think she could see I needed a helping hand. This is exactly what I received. I was grateful for having been introduced to a side of yoga that I enjoyed, and had produced such positive effects.



Michael’s thoughts

My journey has been an interesting one and will continue in 2014 and hopefully beyond. I cannot thank Gemma enough and have no hesitation in recommending her. I equally thank her for introducing me to yoga and Triyoga, and particularly to Aki. Triyoga have so much to offer whether you want to go for it or try to chill.

Lastly many of us as we get older have a range of ailments and things that need attention but the amazing thing about the body is ultimately though highly complex from a build structure, it works in very simple ways. We hear a lot about what to eat and so forth but increasingly for many of us we must not forget the mind and our emotional well-being.

“Live long and prosper” …sorry it just came in to my head and I could not resist.

Take care……


Disclaimer – this story relates to Michael Grenville and any medication or exercise regimes have been prescribed to Michael Grenville following a consultation. Everyone should always check with the relevant professionals before acting.