Skip to content
Join Life Time
a woman receives a massage

Peripheral nerves, including sensory nerves in our skin, relay information between the brain and the body. These nerves send signals to the autonomic nervous system, which regulates bodily functions such as heart rate, digestion, and breathing.

With chronic stress, the defensive sympathetic nervous system can get stuck in the “on” position, affecting overall health. “People in a constant state of fight, flight, or freeze can have more inflammation, pain, lower immune function, sleep problems, weight gain, anxiety, and depression,” explains licensed massage therapist Amy Daws.

Stimulating the peripheral nerves with massage can switch the ner­vous system to the parasympathetic mode, which governs rest-and-digest functions. It lowers cortisol and increases oxytocin, a feel-good neurochemical that helps us feel connected and loved.

Massage can also instigate theta waves in the brain, which are associated with a state of deep relaxation verging on light sleep. “I know when I hear a client’s breathing change that they’re in that half-awake, half-asleep state,” Nescelle Caberto, LMT, a massage therapist at LifeSpa in Overland Park, Kan. says. “It’s a way to encourage being in your body and the present moment, versus thinking about the future or past.”

These results can have a positive effect on overall outlook. A 2020 study in Brain Sciences compared the effects of massage with those of a muscle-relaxation mindfulness exercise in 57 outpatients with depression. Researchers found that massage resulted in greater improvements, particularly with regard to tension, internal unrest, and hopelessness.

Massage can help with pain relief, digestion, and even immunity. Learn more at “How Massage and Healing Touch Benefit Overall Health” from which this article was excerpted.

Mo Perry

Mo Perry is an Experience Life contributing editor.

Thoughts to share?

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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


More Like This

a woman writes in a journal

How to Use Journaling for Mental Health

By Jon Spayde

Explore six types of journaling practices that can offer meaningful benefits for your mental health.

essential oil bottle and various dried herbs and flower

NATURAL MENTAL HEALTH: Can Aromatherapy Help With Anxiety?

By Henry Emmons, MD

Essential oils and aromatherapy can support mental and emotional health in many ways, says our columnist Henry Emmons, MD.

It's Not All in Your Head

A Whole-Person Approach to Treating Depression

By Quinton Skinner

Depression is not all in your head. Here are nonpharmaceutical, lifestyle-based ways to treat depression from the ground up.

Back To Top