This is a contribution from Vanessa.
Humans are social creatures. We innately crave connection and touch from others.
When we get lonely, our brain recognizes that we are in insecure territory and flips on a stress response. Physical touch is a fundamental signal of safety and well-being.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, suddenly these things were outlawed. Lockdown, social distancing, stress and trauma of pandemic life, and essential solitary confinement for some of us really takes a toll.
Stress, which has grown considerably for many of us over the last year, can flood the body with hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline as part of the fight-or-flight response. Over time, these accumulating stress hormones can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and growing levels of anxiety. High levels of cortisol can also hamper your immune system.
The feeling of security that comes with physical touch is a result of physical and biochemical changes in the body and brain that can counter the fight-or-flight response. Anything that moves the skin with a bit of pressure stimulates pressure receptors beneath the skin, which automatically regulates breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. Massage has also been shown to reduce cortisol levels by 30 percent, which can help your immune system to function more efficiently.
Serotonin is the body’s natural antidepressant chemical. As cortisol eases up and heart rate slows down, nerve cells release serotonin in response to touch. Touch with pressure also leads to better sleep, which lowers the body’s emission of the neurotransmitter substance P, which transmits pain. Touch can also increase dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward, and oxytocin, often called the cuddle hormone.
Touch is so important. It affects our nervous system, immune system, and hormonal systems. As licensed massage therapists, we can also help specifically with muscles that are sore from adjusting to pandemic life. And maybe you’re not feeling soreness but you just need some human connection, we provide that too. Therapeutically, we have the knowledge to work with you and adapt your session to your current needs.
Schedule with us today!