We’ve all heard it, it’s been all over the news lately, and the more science delves into the physiological reactions in our bodies, the more it’s realized that: Stress does kill.
It’s not really stress itself that does so much damage, it’s our response to stress. For that reason, it is vitally important that in tough times you keep up whatever stress reduction programs work best for you, whether it’s running, Yoga, kickboxing, or getting regular massage sessions.
Times are tough right now. Stress from money concerns is one of the biggest of all stressors and affects your relationships with family, co-workers and friends.
It’s not possible to cut all stress out of your life, and we don’t need to. Stress, of itself, is not the bad guy; it’s our response to stress that can be so deadly. Let’s examine what occurs in your body when it’s stressed out:
How Stress Affects the Brain
Stress creates excessive levels of cortisol in the brain, leading to the destruction of neurons, decreased short term and contextual memory and poor regulation of the hormonal response to stress.
How Stress Affects the Immune System
Stress affects the immune system by increasing sympthetic activity and decreasing cellular immunity. Immune cells migrate to different parts of the body and can worsen autoimmune and allergic conditions. Over time, this suppresses the body’s ability to fight off infection.
How Stress Affects the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Systems
The effects of stress can create significant damage to the cardiovascular system by increasing the risk of coronary artery disease, elevating blood pressure, increasing artherosclerosis (fat deposits in blood vessel walls), increasing the risk of myocardial infarction (heart attack), increasing the risk of diabetes and increasing the likelihood of obesity.
The Physiological Response to Stress
Seventy-five to ninety percent of all doctors visits are due to stress-related ailments and disorders. Chronic stress leads to an out of balance biochemistry with elevated cortisol and suppressed serotonin. The biochemical markers of stress in turn lead to ill health. Stress plays a major causative role in both physical and mental health.
Stress has been linked to:
- Breakdowns in the immune system
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Cardiovascular disease
How Massage Helps
Some of the benefits of massage include
- Stabilizing your nervous system
- Decreasing pain
- Reducing blood pressure
- Decreasing anxiety and depression
- Increasing your energy and endurance
- Increasing your strength and resilience
- Improving the functioning of your nervous system
- Improving your body’s ability to detoxify
- Improving sleep
- Improving posture, range of motion and flexibility
- Improving dexterity and fine motor skills
- Improving balance
- Improving attention span, concentration, memory, creativity and learning efficiency
Massage increases the oxygen levels in your brain, keeps your internal organs functioning their best and nurtures your skin, all of which helps to slow the aging process.
Stress sneaks up on all of us. Before you know it, you’ve got tight muscles or reduced range of motion from muscle tension. The most common reaction I get from my massage clients is “I feel like a new woman/man. I had no idea all that was going on in my body.”
Regular massage sessions will play a huge part in how healthy you are, how healthy you’ll be and how youthful you’ll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for bodywork at consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health. Massage is much more than feeling good for the moment. The effects of massage are cumulative – the more often you receive massage, the more your health benefits.