How Relaxation Affects Your Body – The Relaxation Response
We are bombarded with messages all the time telling us that we need to relax – but at the same time, it seems as if we are also bombarded with reasons not to! The truth is that if you take care of your body and mind, it pays dividends and can help you to deal with some of the unwelcome things in life that give stress us out in the first place. The first things to tackle are getting your share of rest and relaxation. Here’s why:
Your Body Needs to Rest
Getting enough sleep, and good quality sleep at that, is absolutely essential for functioning optimally. Whether you’re working, learning or just living, sleep is key. Sleep is also vital for is essential for restoring your body’s energy, repairing muscles and promoting good appetite. Quality of sleep matters as much as the amount of shut eye you cram in. The more time you spend in the REM stage of sleep, the better, as REM (dream) sleep is the most restorative – ideally you should spend about 25% of time in this type of sleep (if you have a fitness tracker, the sleep tracking function can be a real eye opener). Lack of good sleep can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, headaches and depression. Of course, sleep isn’t the only way to rest, relaxation while you’re awake is very important, too.
You may have heard of the fight-or-flight response? Well, it has an opposite – the relaxation response. This happens naturally when your body no longer thinks it is in any perceived danger, and when the autonomic nervous system returns to normal after a stressful situation. The relaxation response is like an off switch, where the body moves from a stressed state (physiological arousal) to one of calm. You can bring this response on deliberately by using techniques that are designed to relax both body and mind. Some of the most effective ways to do this include:
How to Relax
Making time to unwind and enjoy life is really important – and often undervalued. Relaxation has many physical benefits; it can decrease your blood pressure, help to relieve pain, and also improve your immune and cardiovascular systems. Did you know that a good belly laugh is one amazingly effective way to de-stress, too? Get the funny films out, a big laugh can potentially help your heart and lung health as well as promoting muscle relaxation. We all know that a good giggle can help our mental health too; as well as flooding our body with feel-good chemicals, it helps to reduce anxiety.
If you aren’t getting enough time to relax, you may find yourself feeling tense and stressed out. Next time you feel the fight-or-flight feelings getting on top of you, or you notice tell-tale effects of stress like break outs or constant headaches, stop it in its track with a massage session, yoga class or some deep breathing exercises and feel that relaxation kick back in…
Massage might be something that’s always on your to-do list, but
there are some people who just never seem to get around to me time,
and they need to know the restorative powers of a good
If you’re looking for a gift for someone who seems to have it all, or
even just someone close to you that needs spoiling, here’s why a
massage is the best choice for a gift!
It shows that you’ve put a little thought into the gift
You could wander around the gift selections in stores or just order
something online, but if you treat a friend or a loved one to a blissful
massage, it says “I really thought about you, and I thought you
needed a massage.”
Flowers and chocolates can be uninspiring, even if we all enjoy them,
but for a truly unique gift, search for a massage treatment that your
recipient will adore. If they have had massage before, why not give
them a type they’ve not experienced; a hot stone, Reiki or Thai?
It might be the nudge somebody needs towards trying a
massage for themselves.
Some people have never had a massage, and it’s people like that
who need one the most, so why not think of their well-being and find
them a lovely, relaxing massage center local to them? They might
have thought massage wasn’t for them, or that it’s something people
treat themselves to on spa trips, but once you’ve introduced them to
the joy of massage, they’ll be hooked. Everyone loves massage; some
people just need to try it.
Everyone needs a little time out
Some people never seem to make time for themselves. Everyone is
too busy. Treat someone special to the gift of paid-for me time, and
give them a massage voucher so that they can have an hour, at least,
where they don’t have to put everyone else first.
One of the best gifts that you can give anyone is time. Why not give
someone who’s eternally busy the gist of time out. Some space to
breathe and disconnect from everyday stresses? An hour or so of
blissful quiet and relaxation could be the best present anyone gets
It shows you care for their health
Massage is the gift that keeps on giving, the option that says you
really do care for someone’s health and well-being. It gives the
recipient a healthy dose of happy hormones, promotes movement
and increased flexibility, and eases aches, pains and stress. What
better way to treat someone?
The ideal gift shows that you really care - well enough to want to
make someone happy, rather than handing over something
expensive and overpriced that you saw in the store and took a fancy
to. A voucher to book a massage will result in a big smile and it ticks
all the boxes. And there’s one more thing we haven’t
mentioned…You get to go along if you book one for yourself at the
There’s no escaping the truth; winter is coming around again. The days are going to start getting shorter and the sweaters are going to have to come out of the wardrobe. It’s not unusual for people to get the ‘winter blues’ – which is a condition many people in the northern hemisphere are afflicted with due to lack of sunlight during the colder and darker winter months.
The good news for everyone is that massage therapy can help increase health happiness for everyone during the cooler months of the year. Here a few reasons why…
Massage May Help to Banish Seasonal Affective Disorder
As we’ve mentioned, Seasonal Affective Disorder – sometimes known as the winter blues – is a problem for many people when there’s less natural sunlight. This is because sunlight causes the brain to release a feel-good chemical called serotonin that improves our mood. When there’s less sunlight, less serotonin is produced, which can lead to low mood, lethargy and difficulties in getting out of bed in the morning. In some people it can even cause serious depression enough to warrant visiting a doctor. It’s not a happy place to be, but the good news is that booking in a regular massage can help to lift a low mood. A regular massage session will help to relax stressed minds and bodies, as well as releasing the serotonin and endorphins, the same chemicals produced by the body when you’re happy.
It Can Give Your Circulation A Boost
Massage therapy may also help boost circulation during a time of the year when nobody wants to get up and go outside for a run. Everybody knows that getting regular exercise helps keep circulation running smoothly, and also gets the oxygenated blood pumped around our bodies faster. This is all very well, but a lack of movement in the winter months can result in feeling sluggish, while poor circulation can lead to lethargy, aches and pains. Here’s where a massage has extra benefits; it can help blood to pass through any congested areas and boosts overall flow, which also helps the lymphatic system to remove waste that builds up. At the same time, massage is well known to help decrease blood pressure.
It May Help Your Body to Fight Off Minor Infections
For anybody that’s prone to suffering from colds and infections during the winter season, massage might be the way forward. It’s been found that massage sessions can help to boost the effectiveness of the immune system, helping to fight off the bugs and viruses that circulate in offices, shops and schools at this time of year. A gentle massage of the area around the lymph nodes also encourages white blood cells to circulate, and as this increases blood flow it also stimulates the white blood cells to start fighting any infection in your body.
These are just a few of the many benefits that massage therapy can bring during winter. Of course, there’s also the feel-good aspect of a warming hot stone massage, delicious aromatic massage oils and even just the act of taking time out to look after yourself when you need it.
Aromatherapy Blends for Studying and Focus
When you really need an extra hit of concentration it’s tempting to head to the kitchen and make another cup of coffee. While caffeine can be effective, there are much gentler natural ways to jolt your concentration again, and they don’t have to involve double shots of espresso!
Using essential oils can be really beneficial for concentration and focus when studying, and these are much better for kids and teens than artificial stimulants. Some oils are said to have stimulating effects on the brain, which you’ll feel immediately, and they also boost overall mood, which can’t be bad. The emotional center of our our brain is directly linked to the olfactory epithelium in our noses, and this is why sniffing certain smells can have such a powerful effect on the mind. So which oils do you opt for (and blend) for optimum focus?
A study from 2017 found that students who worked in a room filled with rosemary essential oil scent scored 5% to 7% more than other students in memory tests. Rosemary has been associated with
memory for centuries and was even referenced by Shakespeare. The best way to get rosemary’s effects are to dilute a few drops with a carrier oil and rub directly on your wrists or temples, put a few drops in your bath, or use a portable diffuser while studying.
Another essential oil that can improve focus is lavender. Yes, it’s best known for relaxation and helping beat insomnia, but a Japanese study also indicated that people who inhaled lavender essential oil during study breaks carried on studying just as intently after a break, getting straight back to work and not losing any concentration. So, diffusing some lavender essential oil could leave you feeling more motivated to complete the task at hand, ultimately leading to better results.
This fresh scent is definitely a boost – it pops up in commercial shower gels and other cosmetics designed to wake us up so it figures that it’s good for studying and concentration. According to a study from back in 1991, just inhaling peppermint essential oil can help when you need to do a task that requires sustained attention – and studying can get dull, after a while. Pep yourself up with a good deep inhale of peppermint oil or diffuse it in a burner for more sustained effects.
Lastly, who doesn’t love the smell of fresh lemon? This invigorating essential oil has well-proven effects on the mind and its concentration abilities. Another useful study revealed that sniffing lemon essential oil helped improved people’s ability to type, and what’s more, when workers inhaled lemon oil, they made 54% fewer errors. It may also help older people with cognitive skills, and those with Alzheimer’s.
Why not experiment with mixing oils and adding to to your diffuser for a concentration mood boost - include lavender, jasmine, peppermint, and lemon essential oils to help with clear thinking, focus, and concentration in the coming school year.
Ka lani Massage Specialists offer aromatherapy with all our massages. Ask us about adding aromatherapy to your massage the next time you visit us!
~ Nicole Detellis
603-380-7174 13 March Farm Way Unit C
Greenland, NH 03840
Now open-- Portsmouth location
(by appointment only)
6 Greenleaf Woods Drive
Portsmouth NH 03801
Tuesday- Saturday 9am - 9 pm
Sunday & Monday 11 am - 6 pm