I'm hearing the familiar story of the winter blues in my treatment room at the moment. So what can we do about it and can massage help? Of course it can!
It is now widely accepted that the lack of light over the winter months affects the production of the hormone melatonin. Daylight stops the production of melatonin which helps to make us feel awake. Too much melatonin leaves us feeling lethargic and can cause symptoms of depression.
If you're not in a position to hop off somewhere hot and sunny for an extended break then what can you do?
Research suggests that 3 great ways to improve your mood are are exercise, natural daylight and exposure to negative ions, naturally high concentrations being found at the sea shore. So you can achieve a triple whammy with a bracing walk along the shore line on a sunny day.
What about massage? The evidence from clinical trails tells us that regular massage reduces feelings of depression. The mechanism by which this happens isn't entirely clear, however, we know that massage reduces cortisol levels (a stress hormone) and increases serotonin and dopamine levels (feel good hormones). Chronic pain and poor sleep are also common symptoms of depression and massage has been shown to have a positive impact on both of these issues. So in a nutshell massage can have a really positive effect.
In the New Year many people embark on healthier lifestyles with new fitness regimes and an improved diet. However, I am with the people of Denmark when it comes to this time of year. Have you heard of 'hygge'? Its a Danish word and refers to the way of life adopted during the cold dark months where an atmosphere of cosiness is created and spending time with family and friends going for walks and eating good food is encouraged. In the spirit of Hygge I would recommend a winter warming full body hot stone massage in front of the fire in my very cosy treatment room.