I have been thinking a lot about the importance of relaxation lately, especially since I just started my maternity leave this week. I am writing this blog entry for the simple purpose that I DO find it relaxing to write! ;) Relaxation is something that most of us don't think much about doing in our busy lives or just brush off as a secondary component to being healthy. All the books I have been reading about natural birth, health talks I have listened to recently , midwives I have chatted with, tend to say the same things about it. DO NOT underestimate the power of relaxation.
One of the books I chose to read to prepare me for my third birth is called "The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love, and Healing" This book's information was exactly what I was looking for as to WHY relaxation is so important for our bodies on a physiological level. Whether or not we are pregnant, birthing, or non-pregnant, for our bodies to function properly, relaxation is key. The book is written by a Swedish MD, (Kerstin Uvnas Moberg) that has focused all of her research on the hormone oxytocin. She does a great job of explaining why this hormone is pivotal in the birth process, nursing, and in general healing and health. Oxytocin is secreted most effectively when the body is in a state of relaxation or a parasympathetic state. The Parasympathetic system is the "wine/dine" part of our nervous system as opposed to the Sympathetic which is the "fight/flight." When the parasympathetic/sympathetic systems are properly maintained and balanced
(Let us not forget about how chiropractic can play a role in balancing these systems! bone out of alignment in spine= spinal nerve dysfunction)
the body may manage shunting blood the places it needs to get in order to help one birth or heal efficiently. This is just one very simple example of how oxytocin secretion effects the body. It allows more blood to stay central to the places in the body where it needs it the most.
A birth example might be: during labor when a mother is relaxed and oxytocin is flowing, she will have more efficient contractions of her uterus and less pain. When the mother is panicked/scared/stressed, she is not secreting oxytocin. Her fight or flight mode kicks in and blood gets shunted away from vital places and gets transported to places like the extremities. Arms, legs, facial muscles are now tight and contracted. Blood is being taken away from the central vital organs/uterus she needs during this time. This may be a reason for longer labor, inefficient contractions, fetal distress, and increased labor pain. This is simple physiology.
I see the same thing occurring in my pain based chiropractic patients that are highly stressed. They have spinal pain due to spinal misalignment, sprained/strained ligaments, spinal degeneration and a decreased ability to heal because their fight or flight modes are turned on CONSTANTLY. They complain about not getting better very fast because their stress is impeding the body's ability to secrete oxytocin, the hormone of healing. They instead have stress hormone floating around their bodies ALL the time and their bodies are just trying to keep them alive. This is what we call surviving, not thriving.
SO remove yourself from SURVIVAL MODE and turn your body on to THRIVE MODE.
THREE easy pointers to help you THRIVE
Step one: Get your chiropractic adjustment to make sure bones are aligned and the nerves exiting your spine are healthy and functioning properly. Take a look at the nerve chart above.
Step two: Get enough sleep. Life will seem so much easier when you are rested! I promise
Step three: Take 30 minutes everyday for YOU. To ground yourself, relax and think about nothing else but relaxation. Turn that oxytocin ON
That is all :) Hope you relaxed a little while reading this :)