Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Battle the holiday stress

Have you ever considered using massage to battle the holiday stress, winter blues and the cold that your family and friends are passing around.

Sure, massage can feel indulgent or maybe something only to be used for acute or nagging injuries. Yes, massage can be the perfect answer for these occasions, but lets take it out of the realm of occasional into the idea of prevention.

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but it stresses our budget, time, emotions, sleep and ability to take care of ourselves. The detrimental effects of stress can be obvious; anxiety, change in sleep habits, fatigue but there are things happening in your body that aren’t as discernable. Prolonged stress produces cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal gland. Elevated levels of this stress hormone have been implicated in suppressed immunity and disease. Now here is the good news, massage has been shown to reduce the level of cortisol. Massage can have a regulating affect on the nervous system, balancing the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic nervous system. When massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system it increases the levels of dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, (as well as many other health supporting hormones) all hormones that have a calming and pleasurable effect on mood. This also inhibits the sympathetic nervous system thus reducing levels of cortisol.

Massage also increases blood and lymphatic circulation. They lymph system contains white blood cells, killer cells and killer t cell (and much more), these are all a part of immunity. Massage increases the effectiveness of the immune system by increasing the distribution on lymphatic fluid throughout the body.

Massage is a wonderful way to indulge yourself, but it is also an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Being stressed has become the “norm”, but it is not a healthy state of being. I always tell my clients they should have at least three self-care tools in their tool belt, massage being one of them. Remember to put yourself on your busy holiday to-do list, this will keep you healthy and able to enjoy this special time of year in a new way.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and an adventurous New Year!
Alicia Kirch
Performance Massage Therapies

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