Our body reacts to non-immediate stress the same way as when we're fighting for survival with the fight, flight, or freeze response. More often than not we find ourselves in this sympathetic response mode when we are not under immediate physical threat. Deadlines for work, dysfunctional family life, or pain-related emotional stress are all things that are very real, but evoke a response from our nervous system to be ready for a physical battle. Blood is shunted away from our digestive and reproductive systems to our skeletal muscles. Our heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate increase and we produce cortisol and epinephrin. All of this suppresses our immune system, and we are now prepared to fight or run for our lives. Sometimes we instead freeze, an attempt to fool our predator into believing we are no longer worth their hunt. Our muscles can stay frozen in place, resulting in myofascial restrictions and trigger points. Now, I don’t know what usually happens at your family reunions or weekly report meetings, but generally a physical battle or hunt is not on the agenda!
Remaining in this state for a prolonged period of time does not allow for recovery in our rest and digest or feed and breed state of parasympathetic activation. When our body has the chance to let go of the perception that these stressors can harm us, the stress can stop harming us by allowing a parasympathetic state to deliver regenerative balance. Our heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rates decrease. Our digestive, immune, and reproductive systems begin to hum with energy and nourishing provisions delivered by our blood. Our skeletal muscles lengthen and our fascial matrix shifts with releases in myofascial restrictions. Our minds sense assuring refuge and we find comfort and contentment with our surroundings.
Holding space that is safe, relaxing, and focused on inner healing plays a vital role in helping our unconscious mind release the perception that we are under threat to provide therapeutic restoration. An hour or longer of focused relaxation therapy provides a long enough period of time to encourage our parasympathetic nervous system to bring balance to an over-stimulated sympathetic response. In my professional experience, a minimum of an hour is necessary to really get into a regenerative state.
So, is going to the spa for registered massage therapy just an excuse to be pampered? Nope! Now don't get me wrong, you will most certainly be pampered! But you will also be receiving therapy from a regulated health professional with an expertise in the soft tissues of the body with a strong knowledge base of human physiology and evidence-based therapy.
**Local Salt Springers! Did you know we can bring the spa to you?! Ask about our call-out services!**
Stress Management - Health Link BC
Research articles related to content in this blog
Video education about the nervous system