Shiatsu and feeling stressed and anxious

What happens when we get stressed or anxious?

Long ago, when sabre-toothed tigers were predators, stress was useful – the adrenaline triggered our fight-or-flight response and would have saved our lives. Nowadays, stress typically describes a condition that occurs when the pressure exceeds our ability to cope.

If the stress cannot be released physically, we feel out of control and the impact on mental and physical well-being can be profound. Stress in the workplace during 2003 accounted for more days off than the common cold, a total of 178 million days, costing the country £13 billion.

Anxiety is a state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by over-thinking and nervous behaviour and can manifest in the body. It can be a sense of dread about something unlikely to happen, such as imminent death.

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness, usually generalised and unfocused. It is often accompanied by restlessness, fatigue, problems in concentration, and muscular tension.

How can Shiatsu help with feeling stressed?

Shiatsu offers supportive, attentive touch, essential for healthy human development and especially helpful in stress-related conditions. Breathing exercises allow physical and emotional stresses and tension to be released. Gentle holding and stretching techniques allow muscles to relax, and the heart beat to slow down. Anxiety is often then reduced, and your mood can lift.

Often the stresses are not going to go away but Shiatsu can help you to look at situations differently, and guide you towards attitudinal or lifestyle changes, focusing on what can realistically be changed.

Shiatsu can be very supportive in situations of stress and anxiety. It provides a safe space to be deeply listened to, and the opportunity for peacefulness and quiet. It supports physical calming and relaxation of the nervous system – without any side effects.

Shiatsu treatments promote clarity of thought and creativity which can help in decision making, especially important in times of stress or transition.

How Shiatsu has helped some individuals

Annie and Ella both received Shiatsu treatments:

“I think I had forgotten to let my body relax properly. The session reminded me to settle and pay some attention to how it feels.” Annie

“It was a really wonderful experience. Very gentle but reached all the spots that needed it. Most relaxed I have been in ages.” Ella

Text taken from ‘Shiatsu and feeling stressed and anxious’ leaflet, produced by The Shiatsu Society. Visit