During the winter months, massage therapists get very busy. Holidays are often fun but stressful, traffic is terrible, and it feels like you’ll never finish shoveling snow.
You might be familiar with the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system response to stress: your heart starts beating quickly, your eyes dilate, and your body turns its focus away from anything not related to running or fighting.
Everyday stresses may not cause such a dramatic change in your body, but they do keep your system “primed” for it by keeping your stress hormones high – which can be exhausting, and even make you more susceptible to illnesses. Chronic low-level stress can be quite damaging to your body over time.
You might not as be familiar with the other side of the coin: the parasympathetic nervous system, which is our “rest and digest” system. Massage helps activate this system, which slows our heartbeat and breathing, decreases our levels of stress hormones like cortisol, and improves our digestion. (This is why you sometimes feel hungry after a massage!) Massage allows the body to rest and recuperate, on top of easing all those tense muscles.
And heat helps increase the relaxation effect – so why not give hot stone massage a try?