If you are to choose between an adrenaline rush or a moment of relaxation, what would you do? Many people think relaxation is a waste of precious time. Think again. Here’s why massage and natural therapies can keep you in better condition for your next thrill.
Who’s afraid of sharks?
I live in Byron Bay, an incredible natural playground. On a calm day, I take my blow up paddleboard out on the ocean teeming with wildlife, including sharks. Sometimes I think about what a little piece of bubble wrap my inflatable SUP will be to shark’s teeth. The odds are rare and who needs those pesky fears interrupting a pleasurable experience?
While I studied Film in Byron Bay, we made a shark documentary. One interviewee was a local surfer who was bitten in the back one morning by a bull shark. Sadly the experience had scarred him mentally. He didn’t feel safe in the water again. Research suggests that the problem lies in his amygdala.
Our primal amygdala
The amygdala, buried deep in the temporal lobes, is the database for storing and processing emotions. A lot of stress can switch the amygdala on. An implicit memory stored here may become tinged with heightened fears, causing anxiety that is not about the present moment.
As the surfer reported in his interview, talking over his stuff didn’t help him. The soothing, calming strokes from a massage therapists hands could do him wonders though.
Overdosing on adrenaline
There’s nothing like an amazing massage to decrease the stress hormone cortisone and activate your happy hormones serotonin and dopamine. If your high-risk sports activities have given you many powerful adrenaline rushes, you may get used to feeling like you have to fight for your life as a habit. Feeling ready to be a superhero or heroine all the time will eventually knock your body out of hormonal balance.
You can experience anxiety, depression and psychological problems when your body needs some rest and digest mode. A relaxing massage will shift you from sympathetic, to parasympathetic nervous system operation. It is never a waste of time to relax when your body is telling you that’s what it wants. It’s still on your side and you’ll function better and be more productive afterward.
A relaxing massage doesn’t have to be airy-fairy. You can experience deep pressure that’s soothing and as well as ironing out your knots. It’s the rhythmic deep strokes that send enjoyable calming messages to your central nervous system. The deep pressure will help muscles return to a natural length and release stored emotions. Trigger points, which are knotted up bundles of muscles fibers, can have applied pressure to allow blood flow and release. This is important for restoring any restricted muscle function.
Another natural trick for keeping you ready for many more days of action is to top up your magnesium levels. Magnesium is the mineral your body uses to relax. If you’ve been putting yourself under the pump, it’s easy to diminish your magnesium stores in the body. These can be topped up by supplements or a heavenly soak in a magnesium filled bath or spa.
The Hot and the Cold
Having a cold shower in the morning will give the body a decent shock and stimulate a cortisol spike that drops nicely throughout the day, making you sleepy at night. If that sounds too much, you can always warm up first and have a cold burst at the end when your core temperature is nice and heated.
Face the facts
So the next time you book in for a massage and experience a lovely face rub at the end, remember that gentle massage around the eyes, ears and frontal/temporal lobes can be release old emotional patterns locked in by your amygdala. Out with the fears, you don’t need them! Be like the jellyfish, who relaxes in between every production phase. After all, they have the most energy efficient way of getting around the ocean!