Battling Seasonal Stress with Massage Therapy

December 16, 2013

A Cup of Bokeh, please?By Melanie Gillians, RMT

It’s that time of year again: the winter chill is here, the holiday parties are coming out the wazoo and everyone wants to get together to eat, drink, and be merry. No matter who you are, what you do, or what kind of lifestyle you lead; this time of year is a breeding ground for increased stress and decreased immunity. Stress is our own natural way of responding to the increased physical and emotional demand we place on our bodies, however, a constant state of high or chronic stress can be detrimental to our health. Stress can increase the release of a chemical in our bodies called cortisol and during times of chronic stress, our cortisol levels remain at an elevated level, leaving our bodies under attack. The ‘fight or flight’ response is initiated by the sympathetic nervous system, causing our heart rate to increase, our blood pressure to elevate, and our digestive and immune system to supress. In situations where our bodies are under chronic stress, we are in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’, leaving us vulnerable and more susceptible to illness. In addition to colds and flu, we become more susceptible to heart disease, digestive problems, mental health issues, etc.

With all of the obligations we have around this season, we tend not to allot any personal time to winding-down and relaxing. Relaxation is one of the most important defenses against our increased stress levels, and what we call ‘rest and digest’ or the parasympathetic response. This response conserves energy, lowers heart rate, increases digestion or peristalsis, and helps to relax muscles. This is the time when our bodies can combat any virus lurking in our cellular matrix, fight off infection hiding in our mucus membrane, and digest all that excess food and booze we may have consumed at a friends holiday party. It also gives us a moment of mindful wellness, allowing our brains to have a break from the overwhelming stimulation of day-to-day activities.

What is a great way to help initiate the ‘rest and digest’ response? Take one hour out of that busy schedule and book a massage with an RMT! Massage is an amazing way to spoil yourself and promote the mind-body connection, requiring the brain and spinal cord to work in unison with the rest of our bodies. The soothing rhythmic strokes of Swedish massage will help put your mind at ease and your body at rest; taking you away from your crazy hectic life and whisk you away to a peaceful retreat. We are our one and only self and should make our mental and physical health a priority. We should love our bodies and cherish our minds, so be good to yourself this holiday season and book a one-hour massage therapy appointment at The Integrative Health Institute.

Never had massage therapy before?? Feel free to email me at  with any questions or concerns you may have. Or feel free to book a 15min meet and greet with any of our qualified RMT’s who will take the time to answer questions, show you the clinic, or demonstrate some of the techniques that can be used.

Melanie Gillians is a Registered Massage Therapist who is a recent graduated from The Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy. She is a member of the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario and the Registered Massage Therapists Association of Ontario. Melanie began her career in the health care industry as a dental assistant but quickly realized she desired to provide a more positive and effective approach to an individuals overall wellness. She felt drawn to the massage therapy profession because of her natural ability to comfort and nurture those who surround her. She loves the ability to connect with people on a cellular level, making a difference in their day-to-day lives.

main image via Creative Commons License Sherman Geronimo-Tan via Compfight

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *