According to a recent study, even 10 minutes of simple rest or receiving a massage can reduce stress on a mental and physical level.
Stress has negative consequences for our health. Luckily for us, we have an inbuild system for relaxation— the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Short-term rest or massage launches a relaxation response of PNS to protect our health and restore balance in our body from the negatitive effects of stressful situations.
In the study a head-and-neck massage and a neck-and-shoulder massage were used to actively stimulate the PNS by applying soft and moderate pressure on the vagal nerve, which is the largest nerve running to the PNS. A simple rest was achieved by sitting quietly at a table for 10 minutes.
The results reveal that both relaxation methods are able to activate PNS. However the degree of relaxation of the body was better achieved through massage.
In the future other short interventions, like breathing exercises and meditation, will be investigated to test whether they have similar relaxation results.
Feeling stressed? Just rest your head on the table for 10 minutes or ask somebody to gently stroke your shoulders. Your PNS will do the rest of relaxation for you!
Curious? HERE is the source