There are few things in the world better than getting a really good massage. It feels great on a physical level – there’s nothing better than getting all those knots worked out. But it can also be a great emotional boost.
You may know that massage makes you happier, calmer, and more relaxed. But you may not know why that happens. To learn about the emotional benefits of healthy body massage, read on.
The Nervous System
The human nervous system is incredibly complex, so we’ll just review this in brief strokes. The nervous system uses different hormones to induce stress responses in the body when we need to get away from a dangerous situation. But since humans worry about future and past dangers, as well as present dangers, we tend to hold onto those buildups of hormones.
We know, dopamine isn’t a stress hormone – in fact, it’s the hormone that activates the pleasure centers in the brain. If you have low levels of dopamine, you can have a lack of energy and low motivation. Massage promotes a release of dopamine, which helps to explain why you’ll often feel giddy after a massage.
Cortisol is one of the main things the adrenal gland secretes when we’re in dangerous or stressful situations. Unlike adrenaline or norepinephrine, cortisol gets released over a longer period of time and can cause all sorts of problems. Massage can help lower cortisol levels, improving your immune system.
There can be additional health benefits if you get a lymphatic drainage, post-op surgery. It helps combat the accumulation of fluids after surgery.
Like dopamine, endorphins are a positive brain chemical; they help relieve pain and improve your mood. In fact, they sort of act as your body’s own personal narcotic. There have been some studies that have suggested that deep tissue massage can help promote endorphin release in the body.
Oxytocin is a hormone that gets released when we have close physical contact with another person. This can include cuddling, sex, or even just a hug. You may not be surprised to learn that the touch involved with a massage leads to a release of oxytocin in both the massager and the massaged.
You may know serotonin as the other primary happiness hormone. It helps regulate mood, appetite, and digestion, and like dopamine, low levels can lead to depression. Massage can increase serotonin levels by as much as 30 percent and can help get you a more balanced mood.
Learn More About Healthy Body Massage
Getting a healthy body massage can be a great way to improve your mood and general outlook on life. Regular massage has even more benefits than the occasional one, so it’s not a bad idea to go as often as you can. Besides, all health benefits aside, it’s great to take an hour every now and then and enjoy some pampering.
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