Need a Treat? A Massage Has Fewer Calories

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You know that need-to-relax feeling. It’s like anxiety or a low-level buzz all through your body. You find your jaw tightening, you may feel your eyes prickle with tears that are rooted in stress, alone. Maybe you’re dealing with a tough emotional situation or maybe your workload is a little intense right now. Normally, this is when you’d reach for the chocolate bar hidden in your desk or give into that jelly donut in the break room for the comforting rush of dopamine that sugar can bring.

It’s true, sugar is therapeutic. You can control how you feel. You can influence your neurotransmitters by giving in to your sweet tooth, but that may also come with consequences like dental health and truly unnecessary calories. When you’re weighing the egg yolk in every salad, who needs a candy-bar?

So, feel great do something that’s better than sugar?

Something that provides a long-term emotional boost and stress relief with no “sugar crash”

A really good massage.

Feeling Better with Brain Chemistry

A good massage has an effect on your body, mind, and mood. It’s not the eucalyptus oil or the soft lighting, it’s the science of body chemistry. When you experience touch and your muscles are gently encouraged to release tension, your brain also releases certain neurotransmitters that make you feel happy, relaxed, and safe.

These neurotransmitters are dopamine, the happiness chemical, serotonin which relates to sleep and comfort, and oxytocin which relates to trust and safety. When you feel these three neurotransmitters together, you get that wonderful, luxurious “massage feeling”, that dreamy warm emotion that you can only feel when your body and mind can truly relax.

Why We Reach for Sugar in Moments of Weakness

Dopamine is also why we want sugar when everything else is just too much.  Eating sugar metabolizes immediately in your stomach and causes the release of the dopamine neurotransmitter. You feel better, more energized and maybe even emotionally balanced after a bite of chocolate or sipping a soda.

This is actually a “survival” mood boost that your body gives you as a reward for finding such a powerful punch of calories. That’s why when you feel stressed or threatened, sugar is extra tempting. If you were a malnourished hunter-gatherer like your ancestors, you could live for days on a single candy bar and the sugar high might provide a combat bonus. But in a world where we’re trying to control our calories instead of gathering as many as possible, this mood boost isn’t as helpful as our instincts intend it to be.

Short Term Versus Long-Term Stress Relief

A little sugar can provide you a short-term mood and energy boost. In the middle of a long conference day with miles to go before you sleep, you can need and burn off that kind of energy. But if what you’re really dealing with is long-term stress, a massage has everything you need – and nothing you don’t. Sugar can help you feel better in one moment, then require hours of exercise to burn. A massage slowly burns calories as you relax on the table and let your masseuse actually remove stress from your body.

Your brain will respond to the warm oils and gentle touch with neurotransmitters that help you release tension. Dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin are the same feelings you get when hugging a child or snuggling a partner, with the added benefit of skilled fingers removing stress from your body one muscle at a time.

After a massage, you will feel emotionally refreshed and relieved of the tension you were carrying in your muscles like a physical burden. After a donut, you will feel better for only a few minutes.

The next time the #stress is getting to you and you want to reach for that sugar, wait. A massage has far fewer calories and will leave you feeling better from head to toe for days and weeks afterward. If you’re ready to shed some stress in a luxurious and guilt-free way, book your massage today.

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