Stress solutions in Lockdowns !
You may think of massage as an occasional treat, a luxury activity to pamper yourself or a functional treatment if you have a sports injury but this type of complementary healthcare treatment is so much more than that!
It is a natural way to help with being pain-free because it has been shown not only to decrease acute or chronic pain and tightness in muscles, but also to help relieve symptoms of stress, mental conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as sleeping disorders.
As well as treating physical symptoms during a massage like painful muscles or tension headaches, you will also benefit from receiving many more the positive effects of touch itself.
Touch makes us feel good even if it's just a hug from someone close to you. When we receive touch a signal is sent to our brain, which then triggers the release of oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine. The touch of massage therapy goes even further than boosting the happy hormones, it has been proven to lower the hormone cortisol – a key component in our stress response.
Stress suppresses the immune system, making it more difficult for us to fight off infection and viruses. The immune system is a collection of billions of cells that travel through the bloodstream. They move in and out of tissues and organs, defending the body against foreign bodies (antigens), such as bacteria, viruses and cancerous cells.
You could also start a physical yoga practice to aid deep breathing which supports the muscles and delivers oxygen around the body. Slow inhalations and exhalations calm the nervous system and signal to the brain that we are not in immediate danger. This in turn encourages the muscles to relax and lengthen, increasing the body’s range of motion!
Mindful breathing, or pranayama in Sanskrit, is equally concerned with the internal as well as the physical benefits. Maintaining an awareness of the breath helps keep the mind focused and calm from chat.
Deep belly breathing is another way to relax your body, diaphragmatic breathing is a great way to release back pain and tension too.
How to Deep Belly Breathe:
Place one hand lightly over your stomach, imagine your belly is a balloon, inflating with every inhale and deflating on the exhale. Feel the gentle rise and fall underneath the palm of your hand and notice the sensations in your stomach and the rest of your body as you breathe.
Next place the other hand across your chest. As you breathe-in start by filling the belly, imagine the breath rising, filling the torso with air and eventually filling the chest. Feel the chest gently expand. As you exhale feel the chest soften and lower, followed by the belly. The wave breath washes through the body, delivering life-giving oxygen as it goes and releasing tension and stress.
Do at least ten rounds to experience the full benefits. Take a little time when you finish to quietly observe any changes or sensations that arise in the mind and body.
So, even if you use one of these ways to de-stress that suits you, your body will benefit, you will feel calmer in your mind as well as your body.
Vicki Taylor - Massage Complementary & Beauty Therapist
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