Winter can be a difficult season, between less sunlight, freezing cold, and changing schedules with holidays and breaks from work and school. It can also be a busy and stressful time with end of the year goals to meet as well as planning and shopping for the holiday season. Massage therapy services can help keep your body at peace during this time with the added benefit of warding off colds and flu! Don’t let cold and flu viruses be a part of an already busy time of year, massage can help prevent illness in many ways!
Rising stress levels increases your risk of catching a cold or coming down with the flu. Your body’s adrenal glands release more cortisone in response to stress. In the short term, increased cortisone levels help you manage the effects of stress, such as heightened cognitive function and a burst of energy for survival reasons. It is very important that the body’s relaxation response be activated so that normal body processes can resume. In situations of chronic stress, the body never returns to baseline and too much cortisol circulates in the bloodstream. Long term effects of too much cortisol include poor cognitive function and disruption of thyroid function; resulting in a lower immunity that allows cold and flu viruses to make their way in and take off! Regular massage therapy has been shown in research studies to lower cortisol levels in the bloodstream while also lowering blood pressure, in turn helping the body return to a state of relaxation.
Activate Your Immune System:
We are constantly exposed to the viruses that cause colds and flus in addition to other germs, but our bodies and our habits can help keep these viruses from replicating in our body and making us sick. Regular hand-washing can keep germs from getting in and eating a healthy diet plus getting enough sleep can keep viruses from replicating and causing illness. Our immune system has additional components that can help us stay healthy, fighting infections before they begin and reducing the amount of time we are sick. Some of these components are activated and ramped up by massage therapy. Research has shown that white blood cell count increases and a special type of white blood cell known as a natural killer cell is activated with regular massage therapy. White blood cells in general help fight infections in the body while natural killer cells specifically provide a rapid response to virally infected cells.
Help Manage Winter Blues:
Many people are prone to feeling the “winter blues” when the days are short, daylight is reduced, and outdoor activities are at a minimum. Long hours of sunlight promote feelings of happiness while dark days with lots of artificial lighting can throw everyone off. Feelings of sadness or depression however can make us more susceptible to illness as well as slow our recovery if we do get sick. Changing sleep schedules due to mood swings or an unhealthy diet brought on by the winter holiday parties or indulging in comfort foods to help us feel better only make matters worse. Regular massage is shown to regulate and lower blood pressure and promotes feelings of calm. The hormone oxytocin, known as the “trust” hormone, is raised by massage therapy and can help ward off the winter blues.
Contact us today to book an appointment to keep healthy this winter!