Everyone gets stressed at one time or another. It’s a normal reaction by your body to real or perceived pressure. However, chronic stress can take a toll on your life affecting both your mental and physical health. Luckily, a stress blanket — also known as a therapy blanket — can help bring down your stress levels allowing you to enjoy a happier life. A stress blanket is basically a blanket that is designed to offer firm but gentle pressure on your body that relieves stress. It is popularly called a weighted blanket.
What is Stress?
Although stress affects millions of people every day, most people do not clearly understand it. Stress is a natural reaction of your body to challenges. It’s a perception of pressure and how you respond to it. Situations that are stressful to you may not be stressful to someone else because of the difference in perception.
The sources of stress vary widely and depend on both your environment and your mental state. Things like your job, family, relationship or finances can make you stressed. Your mental health determines how you react to things happening around you and your ability to cope with situations that may not normally stress you.
As a reaction to the perceived pressure or harmful situation, your body enters a “fight or flight” mode where the hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released. Cortisol is the stress hormone and together with adrenaline have several effects on your body which over time are very detrimental as follows(1):
One of the things you feel while stressed is a headache that may range from mild to severe. When you are stressed, the fight or flight response causes your muscles to tighten. When the muscles of your scalp tighten and get painful, you feel it as a headache. It is the reason for people using a lot of painkillers.
The released adrenaline causes an increase in the heart rate and your breathing rate. Because these effects are tasking to your cardiac and respiratory system, it will be manifested as chest pain. If you are asthmatic, the effects of stress may cause your airways to tighten making it difficult to breathe and cause you to have an asthmatic attack.
The fight or flight mode channels blood to vital organs like the heart and the brain and away from non-vital areas like the digestive system and the skin. You will, therefore, have indigestion and stomach upsets.
Changes in Sex Drive
Cortisol, the stress hormone causes a decrease in testosterone/estrogen which is the hormone behind your sex drive and reproduction in general. Chronic stress will, therefore, lower your sex hormones and kill your sex drive and ability to reproduce.
Mental Health Issues
Being chronically stressed leads to anxiety disorders, depression, irritability, overreaction, and other problems. You get worse over time, getting to a point where you can’t stand even the slightest stress.
You may have realized that when you are stressed, you have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. You will end up lacking adequate sleep and being fatigued.
Through the elevation of your heart rate and blood pressure by adrenaline, stress strains the heart muscles over time. It, therefore, increases your risk of hypertension, heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Managing Stress Using a Stress Blanket
With the above clarity of just how dangerous stress is, you will realize that managing it before it gets worse is important. Weighted blankets which are the ultimate stress blankets can help you unwind at the end of a stressful day. So, how does it achieve its stress-releasing effects?
How the Stress Blanket Works
As mentioned earlier, stress results in the release of cortisol and adrenaline which are responsible for all the negative effects if it is chronic. The deep touch pressure stimulation by the weighted blanket acts like the kind of therapy you will get when you visit an occupational therapist for a therapy session. The stimulation results in the lowering of cortisol levels as shown in a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Lower cortisol means your metabolic state is not affected adversely and hence your muscles don’t get strained, your digestion is not affected among many other problems.
When you use a weighted blanket, you will feel like being hugged all night. It will result in a calming effect that will eliminate adrenaline hence lowering your heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, muscle strain and other effects of adrenaline. It allows you to feel relaxed and peaceful.
Stress blankets have been shown to increase serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is a well know mood stabilizer and helps alleviate anxiety, depression and other anxiety related problems. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for helping you fall asleep, stay asleep and generally have better sleep. It will enable you to enjoy every night and feel refreshed when you wake up. You won’t have to worry about insomnia anymore.
What about the Causes of Stress?
The best way to deal with a problem is by always addressing the cause. Trying to get to the root of your stress can help you better deal with it. However, most of the causes of stress are things that cannot be changed. You cannot jump from a job to another because it is demanding and stressful. Similarly, you changing your family or school is not easily possible. The best way to deal with it is to manage the resulting stress. A weighted blanket helps you clear the stress and allows you to better cope with the situations. You will be able to ooze positive energy at work and be happier with your loved ones.
How to Best Use a Stress Blanket
The first step in getting the best out of a weighted blanket is getting the right blanket. You can choose what will serve you best basing on:
- The weight of the blanket which needs to be 10% of your body weight
- Size of the weighted blanket where you may need a queen or king size if you are taller than 5’5’’.
You can choose from variety of weighted blankets including the popular ZonLi weighted blanket on Amazon.
When you finally have it with you, ensure you use it daily when you go to bed. You can carry it to your couch and use it while watching. Smaller sizes can be taken with you on a car trip or even while flying.
Stress is dangerous if allowed to become chronic. You will, therefore, need to deal with it in the safest way possible which is through the use of a weighted blanket. It calms you down and works through your hormonal system to relieve stress.