You probably know some of the various physical benefits that massage offers you, like pain relief and improved recovery from injury, but massage can also have great effects on your mood, too. And we’re not just talking about the nice feeling of having a relaxing hour to yourself; massage can impact a number of hormones to actually improve your mood and even support your mental health.
This is because the physical skin-on-skin touch involved in massage stimulates your nerve endings and sends signals to your brain, which can trigger the release of certain hormones and neurotransmitters. Let’s look at which hormones are involved.
Oxytocin has a range of cute nicknames such as the ‘love hormone’ or ‘cuddle hormone’. This is because it is released especially when hugging a loved one, kissing, or skin-on-skin contact in general. It’s especially an essential hormone in forming bonds between a mother and their new child, and is released in both during breastfeeding. The skin-on-skin contact of massage helps to boost oxytocin levels.
Cortisol is a stress hormone, released at higher levels during stressful situations or prolonged periods of stress, if you’re under pressure at work, for example. Having high levels of cortisol regularly or for long periods can cause feelings of stress and anxiety, and physical symptoms such as high blood pressure and even weight gain. Massage calms the autonomic nervous system, helping to regulate your cortisol levels and leave you feeling more relaxed and less anxious.
Endorphins produce what is often referred to as the “runner’s high” as they are released after exercising, making you feel great. But you don’t have to go for a 5 mile run if you want to feel this mood boost; massage can do it too! As well as affecting your mood, endorphins can also act as a kind of painkiller, which is one of the reasons why massage is good for recovery and chronic pain.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s released by our nervous system in response to various triggers. It is often linked to reward, meaning you might get a boost of dopamine if you win something or get lots of likes on a social media post. The result is generally a happy and excited feeling. Massage is one of the triggers that produces an increased release of dopamine.
Serotonin is another neurotransmitter that can elevate your mood. Low serotonin levels are linked with depression and various other physical and mental symptoms. As well as helping to regulate your mood, serotonin can impact various things from controlling food cravings to helping you sleep better at night.
Feel the mood-boosting effects of regular massage by booking an appointment with Moonstone Massage, offering a range of professional treatments in Winston Salem, NC.