Way back in the prehistoric day when we were confronted with large predators on a regular basis, without conscious thought our brains prepared our bodies for action, releasing a surge of hormones to enable us to run faster, fight harder and generally keep us alive. Bit of a prerequisite really when running away from a charging dinosaur!
In today’s world charging dinosaurs are no more (fortunately), instead they’ve been replaced by different stresses (unfortunately) which still trigger that same fight-or- flight response. Forced to adapt a continued state of vigilance, the usually self-limiting fight-or-flight mechanism backfires and we end up producing an excess amount of cortisol, causing headaches, achy necks, ulcers, allergies and diminished sexual desire as well as weight gain, high blood pressure and premature ageing.
Over production of the hormone cortisol makes it harder for the skin to to form healthy collagen and elastin or repair itself naturally, leading to sagging skin and wrinkles. Furthermore, by robbing us of the deep, restorative sleep that’s essential to the youth and health of our whole body, fluids that should be carted away whilst we sleep never get picked up – in the face, the excess liquid has to go somewhere, so it pools in the delicate tissue under the eyes, resulting in dark, puffy, under-eye circles.
Long-term overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can lead to insulin resistance, nerve cell death, a depressed immune system and even shrinkage of vital brain tissue, resulting in memory loss and problems with concentration.
The good news is you can decrease your levels of cortisol and start reversing cell damage within hours of making small tweaks, such as exercising, eating whole foods, getting lots of restorative sleep and improving your social life (not to be confused with your on-line social network), spending quality time with family, friends and loved ones.
When added to your wellness programme, a regular massage can be a powerful ally to combating daily pressures and anxiety as well as increasing energy levels and improving your overall physical and mental performance, enabling you to feel, look and remain healthier far into your future.
In addition to being a key component for anyone trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle, the results of a regular massage include: stimulated blood flow to different muscle groups, release of tension in muscles, more energy and improved posture. A massage also increases the production of serotonin and dopamine, your body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemicals leaving you feeling calm and relaxed and better able to cope with stress.
If you are experiencing high levels of stress, for whatever reason, no matter how large or small, please don’t hesitate to see your Doctor.