During this difficult period for many in society, stress levels across the board tend to be very high. Between concerns about our own health and that of those close to us combined with many people losing work and a struggling economy, there are a number of legitimate reasons why people all over the country, and even the world, are stressed.
At Body Balance Massage and Float, we offer numerous services to help reduce and relieve stress and anxiety, from massage services like Swedish massage to quality float therapy tank solutions. How does massage therapy work to limit stress in those suffering from it? The answer lies in understanding how stress forms in the body and how massage reduces the triggers and underlying causes, which we’ll discuss for today’s blog.
Cortisol and Stress
When it comes to stress in the body, there’s one hormone you need to know about above all else: Cortisol. It’s so closely related to stress, in fact, that it’s often referred to as “the stress hormone.”Another way of referring to cortisol is as the body’s alarm system, one that triggers anytime the body perceives hostility, a threat or any kind of related negativity.
When there is too much cortisol in the body, the effects tend to go well beyond elevated stress levels. High cortisol levels also lead to weight gain and various metabolic chances, issues that will also impact the immune system and put strain on the cardiovascular system. If stress is short-term and is resolved, we can recover physically – but for long-term stress conditions, cortisol levels may take over and lead to inflammation, high blood pressure, hypertension and even heart disease over a long enough period.
Massage and Cortisol Reduction
Research has shown a direct connection between massage therapy and reducing cortisol levels in the body. A 2005 study that’s well-cited in the field demonstrates that massage therapy decreases cortisol levels by 31%, plus also has an impact in lowering serotonin and dopamine levels that may also contribute to stress and anxiety.
This research and others have shown specific physical benefits that relate directly to stress and stress reduction associated with massage therapy. These benefits include:
- Reduced muscle tension caused by stress
- Improved circulation throughout the body, which leads to optimal functioning in several areas
- Improved sleep quality based on comfort and lowered stress levels
- Improved mood and motivation, which in turn leads to a cycle of mental and physical stimulation that pulls individuals out of stressful or high-anxiety periods
To learn more about massage therapy and which forms are best for reducing stress, or for information on any of our massage or float therapy services, speak to the staff at Body Balance Massage and Float today.