Create Your Happiness
By Amanda Jacoby - August 6, 2021
August is National Happiness Month! This might make you wonder - do massage and yoga increase happiness? Well, of course they do! Both massage and yoga have been proven to release happiness hormones into the body and increase overall well-being.
Did you know that there are four hormones related to happiness? Serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin all flow through our bodies to increase our overall well-being. Sometimes, though, these hormones just need a little encouragement to get flowing.
Serotonin is created in our gut, interestingly enough, and it is released into our bloodstream to help stabilize our mood. This hormone can be released through things like exercise and doing things you enjoy.
Dopamine, also created in the gut, is your brain’s way of giving you a “gold star” for a job well done. It is your body’s reward system to keep you coming back for more or repeating something that had a pleasurable impact on you. Now, the slippery slope here is that things like drugs and alcohol can trigger a release of dopamine, so it’s important to find healthy ways of activating this release.
Oxytocin, ah - the love hormone. A release of oxytocin into the body is typically triggered by a sense of closeness, but this doesn’t always have to be through a romantic relationship. In recent studies, it has even been found that oxytocin helps regulate our immune system!
Finally, we have endorphins. You may be picturing a young Reese Witherspoon decked out head to toe in pink preaching about how exercise gives you endorphins, and “endorphins make you happy!”. Elle Woods wasn’t wrong. Exercise releases this chemical which triggers your body’s natural morphine and also triggers a release of dopamine with it. A “runner’s high” is a real thing and doesn’t even require an intense workout.
In a 2014 Mayo Clinic article, it was said that serotonin levels increase by an average 28% after receiving a massage as it lowers cortisol levels by an average 60%. This means that even during shorter sessions, like a chair massage, the body is still responding in a positive way by lowering stress hormone levels and increasing happiness levels. Pretty incredible, right? Dopamine levels released from massage closely match that of serotonin, creating a “tag-team” effect. As for oxytocin, the release occurs from the closeness and safe touch element. You and your muscles are being cared for during a massage as tension and stress are being stripped away. This makes you feel cared for and loved, therefore releasing oxytocin into your body. This effect can be even stronger during a couples massage or friends’ spa getaway. And even though you’re not actively exercising during a massage, your muscles are being worked and that in itself will release endorphins. It’s encouraging to see more and more folks viewing massage therapy as an important part of self-care and all-encompassing care. Whether you’re getting a 15-minute chair massage at your office, a 90-minute deep tissue massage, or an hour of relaxation, you will leave the chair or table feeling refreshed and happier!
Yoga works in a very similar way to massage. Practicing yoga decreases your cortisol levels, therefore increasing serotonin and dopamine production. Oxytocin can be released too, as this is often a group practice, and in some classes, the instructor might give mini-massage sessions or soft touch during savasana. Savasana itself can have you feeling like you’re floating on the clouds as your body happily soaks in everything it just did. And through all the bending, stretching, and breathing, your body releases endorphins during yoga, giving you that euphoric “high” after class.
Knowing this, we can all level up our self-care and happiness game! I encourage you to book a massage and snag a yoga class in celebration of National Happiness Month. Lucky for you, we offer both! For Denver locals, check out RiNo Yoga Social and LoDo Massage Studio, and for everyone else, book Lodo Chair Massage for your next virtual yoga class or in-office chair massage event.
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