by Marc Innes
A massage can affect both our body and mind. But how exactly does therapeutic deep tissue massage alter and improve our mood? In order to better answer that question, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of a few concepts.
What are moods, exactly?
The terms emotions, feelings and moods are often used interchangeably. However, these are three different things.
Emotions refer to our response to specific triggers. This response includes the release of chemicals in our body. Typically, it takes a fraction of a second in order to identify a trigger and another fraction of a second to produce chemicals. These chemicals are released throughout the body. Emotions can last for up to six seconds.
Feelings, on the other hand, happen as we take time to soak in our emotions. Usually, feelings are a mix of emotions.
Moods are usually less intense than emotions and often do not have a contextual stimulus. Moods can last for hours, days, or even weeks. Also, moods are not usually directed at people, events, or situations.
What influences our moods?
One factor that influences our moods is our personality. Our personalities predispose how we experience moods and emotions and our responses to situations.
The day of the week and time of the day can also influence our moods. Most of us are in a great mood around the weekend when we expect to rest, relax or even have some fun. Also, there is a tendency for our moods to pick up later in the day.
Stress affects both emotions and moods. Remember how stressed and anxious you were when you were about to take an exam or get interviewed for a new job? How about after you were done with the test or interview? Over time, when we are subjected to stress, even in minute levels, our moods become worse and we become prone to experiencing negative emotions.
When we are sleep-deprived or if our quality of sleep is poor, we tend to experience bad moods and have a difficult time controlling our emotions.
Other factors that influence our moods include exercise, age, gender, the people around us, exposure to disturbing news, our diet, and more recently, social media and screen time.
The chemistry of moods
In order for the brain and neurons to communicate with each other, chemicals need to be transmitted. These chemicals greatly influence both our moods and our ways of thinking.
What are these chemicals?
There are four crucial brain chemicals which influence our moods. Serotonin plays different roles in our bodies, including affecting our appetite, arousal, and mood. Dopamine, on the other hand, controls our emotions, cognition, and behavior. Glutamate plays an important role in our cognition, learning, memory, and brain development. Finally, norepinephrine or noradrenaline is responsible for our fight-or-flight response.
There are plenty of ways to improve our moods. These include visualization, performing good deeds for others, listening to upbeat tunes, meditating, laughing, having sex, and getting a massage.
How does getting a massage improve our moods?
Therapeutic massage affects us in a physiological level. One of the physical effects of a massage is lowered serum cholesterol levels. Additionally, regular massage can improve our immune functions which, in turn, translates to better overall health. And when we are in good health, it is easier to have an upbeat mood.
Increased serotonin levels
Serotonin is responsible for the regulation of moods. And when a person is feeling depressed, it is highly likely that his or her serotonin levels are low.
When we get a massage, our serotonin levels increase. Massage helps facilitate the production and release of this important brain chemical.
Reduction of stress hormones
As we feed on a steady diet of stress, even in low levels, our bodies accumulate a high volume of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.
After just half an hour of massage, our bodies’ stress hormone levels become lower. And as you continue getting a massage, you can see a substantial reduction of stress and feelings of anger and sadness.
We often find ourselves helpless in the face of the different factors that adversely affect our moods. In these instances, why not consider visiting a trusted, caring professional with a diploma in massage therapy for some pampering and mood uplifting?
Marc Innes is the Owner and Principal of the school of Natural Therapies, a training school for Massage & Holistic Therapies located in London. Marc, began his career in the NHS, working in a number of managerial and training roles within the Ambulance Service in London. Marc spent much of that time educating and coaching medical staff. Over time he developed an interest in all things complementary to Allopathic Medicine, in particular, Reiki Healing, which along with EFT, which culminated in Marc running a successful teaching and ‘energy healing’ practice. Marc is passionate about the massage and complementary therapy industry. To learn more about Marc and the School of Natural Therapies please visit: http://www.schoolofnaturaltherapies.co.uk/