Massage for Stress Relief
Stress: it’s something we all deal with at one point or another, some more often than others, some more intensely. It is the body’s way of responding to a physical or emotional demand and is necessary for our survival. But how much is too much?
Back in our caveman days, when approached by say a saber-tooth tiger, our brains would release hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which would signal our fight-or-flight response. All animals have this survival instinct. In our modern world, our bodies are still responding the same way, but to non-life-threatening stressors, such as paying the bills and managing all our interpersonal relationships. As a society, we have been continuously increasing the demands we put on our bodies and minds and are finding ourselves in a chronic state of stress. Studies consistently show the devastating effects that this chronic stress can have on us physically and psychologically, wreaking havoc on our immune, digestive, and even our reproductive systems.
The solution? Stop stressing! I know, I know….much easier said than done. But as the cases of stress-related diseases continue to rise and our quality of life is being further and further compromised, it is definitely an issue we need to address. More and more people are turning to natural medicine as a way to cope with and reduce modern stress, and massage therapy is proving to be an effective approach. Studies are showing that massage can lower cortisol levels, reduce heart rate and blood pressure and boost neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, helping to fight depression and anxiety.
In a recent study of New Zealand migraine patients, massage participants when compared with control participants showed a decrease in heart rate, anxious mood and salivary cortisol right after the massage. In October 2008 the journal Psychooncology published a study entitled, “Massage in patients undergoing intensive chemotherapy reduces serum cortisol and prolactin.” The conclusion of the study stated, “…a significant reduction in cortisol (stress hormone) could be safely achieved through massage, with associated improvement in psychological well-being.”
All studies aside, the growing number of people turning to massage as a stress antidote provides more than enough evidence of its benefits. If you need more proof, just to talk to someone who receives massage. Or better yet, book an appointment for yourself. It’s time to stop letting stress control us, mentally and physically, and make preventative care a priority.