The nervous system gives thanks.

November 22, 2015  |  no comments yet

In the season of Thanksgiving, we turn our attention to gratitude in none other than our nervous system.

It can be easy to tell when the nervous system is grateful. For my clients who like essential oils, I waft an oil combo under their nose. A lightning-fast reflex arc bypasses conscious thought, and their facial expression instantly reveals their nervous system’s reaction to the scent.

The nervous system’s positive reaction to a scent might be described as “Yes” or “Yummy.”

What about the nervous system’s reaction to other sense data? When you get a massage or other bodywork treatment, what does your nervous system like and dislike? And why is that important?

Research shows that “persistent stress is likely responsible for a wide range of health and behavioral conditions.” (From Science Daily)

Certain stimuli activate the parasympathetic nervous system (which tells your body to “rest and digest”) relative to the sympathetic nervous system (which causes the “fight-or-flight” response). When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, heart rate slows, body temperature decreases, and the entire body calms down.

Giving the nervous system stimuli it doesn’t like (“Yucky”) is stressful. It sets off the alarm bells of your sympathetic nervous system. You can certainly endure short-term stress of an essential oil you don’t like the smell of, a treatment room that’s too cold (or too warm), or pressure that’s a bit uncomfortable. But people don’t come here to experience low-grade stress.

If your goals for bodywork include specific and general relaxation, then make sure all the elements of your treatment cause your nervous system to react with “Yummy.” The sights, sounds, smells, and, of course, the touch all contribute to this. If your nervous system says “Ahh” to moderate pressure, then that is the right pressure to achieve your goal.

Our goal is for your nervous system to feel grateful for your experience here, during your treatments and after you depart.

We wish you and your nervous system a healthy, happy Thanksgiving.