Your Body Starts Feeling Stress Even Before You Get Up In The Morning.
Especially if you went to bed late. The cycles of light and dark and the movement of our planets affect nearly every living thing. Light stimulates your skin and eyes regardless of the source, your brain and hormonal system thinks its morning. Your hormonal system in response to light begins to release cortisol. Cortisol is an activating hormone that is released in response to stress.
When you stay up late at night looking at a computer or a TV screen and have the lights on, your activating cortisol. This stress hormone cortisol prepares your body for movement, work and cognitive function. Your cortisol levels begin to peak between 6am to 9am, drop around noon but stay relative high until sundown.
At sundown your body begins to release melatonin and growth/repair hormones. This is when your body repairs itself. If you are not getting to bed at 10:30 p.m., you are disrupting your body’s repair cycle. And you are basically waking up stressed. Holding on to stress and unrepaired muscle tissues from the previous day.
Disrupted Sleep and Wake Cycles
Adrenal fatigue is a result of disrupted sleep and wake cycles. Your adrenal glands are located above your kidneys and they produce hormones one of which is cortisol. Chronic exposure to stress, light and stimulates such as caffeine, tobacco, coffee, sugar requires your adrenals to produce more and more cortisol. Over production of cortisol will lead to adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue shows up as chronic fatigue, headaches, viral, bacterial infections, rapid aging, impaired memory function and it diminishes your immune system.
When your body is constantly subjected to stress, caffeine and processed foods, you are stimulating your sympathetic nervous system. Especially when…..
o When you start your day stressed out from not getting enough sleep/repair time
o When you are running late for work
o When you need to get the kids ready for school or for the babysitters!
o When you have to fight rush-hour traffic
o When you an inbox full of work emails
If you start your day off stressing about all of the above, you will have increased levels of cortisol throughout the whole day. Your body can’t tell the difference between these stressors. Plus if you did not eat a proper breakfast for your metabolic type and you settled for office donuts and coffee, you are tearing your body down further. And now after work, you want to go to the gym and run, workout or do the stairmaster for 45 minutes; you are releasing even more cortisol.
Cortisol is catabolic to your body. Its tissue destructive; it begins to breakdown muscle tissue and feeds it to your nervous system so that your body can keeps its hormonal system optimal. In its normal function, cortisol helps us meet the stressful challenges, by converting proteins into energy, releasing glycogen and counteracting inflammation. But at sustained high levels, cortisol gradually tears your body down. Sometimes we just need to slow down and calm our nervous system.
Massage Therapy Can Help To Reduce Stress Levels
Our stress response has evolved in physical environment that kept our ancestors alive, instead of being stalked by a dinosaur as with our ancestors, today it’s terrible traffic, approaching final exam, or getting to work late with an inbox full of emails even before you had your first cup of coffee.
Your heart rate increases, chest muscles tighten and your senses sharpen. And as your body prepares for work; time slips into slow motion and you become unaffected by pain. Under certain conditions, this would be an appropriate and healthy if you had to run or fight. The trouble is however, that you are probably still sitting in your car or at your desk.
Massage therapy causes the body to release many therapeutic mood and health enhancing chemicals. It increases dopamine and serotonin levels and it reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Giving your parasympathetic nervous system a chance to do it’s job; to repair your stressed out body. So if you know someone who is experiencing a lot of stress buy that person a massage gift certificate!
Research studies: massage on stress hormones:
Research conducted at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that having a 45-minute massage (either a deep tissue Swedish or Light massage) caused changes in stress hormones in participants’ brains. In their experiment, 53 healthy adults were randomly assigned to have either a 45-minute deep tissue Swedish massage or a 45-minute light massage. Blood samples were taken before and after each massage.
The results were surprising. Participants who received the Swedish massage experienced a significant drop in the cortisol (i.e. stress hormone) as well as other hormones associated with increasing cortisol.
Stress Is Good But Massage Is Better!
Some stress can be a good thing. Cortisol is produced by your adrenal system and it helps to regulate your blood pressure and immune system. It can also help you to increase your level of energy as well as improve your ability to fight off infection.
But when you chronically run around with increased levels of this stress hormone it can cause all sorts of problems ranging from insomnia, a depressed immune system, and even weight gain. According to Shawn Talbot, PhD, author of The Cortisol Connection, “When cortisol spikes, it tells the body to eat something with a lot of calories – a great survival tactic if you need energy to flee a predator but not if you’re fretting over how to pay bills.”
So basically what I am saying is that getting massages regularly can also help you to lose weight!
Your friendly Aromatherapist and holistic therapy enthusiast