Step Off The Stress Train Into The Depths Of Relaxation And Healing For Longevity
The majestic, fluid, and dynamic dance of human physiology is truly a marvel: This perfectly orchestrated balance of systems keeps the body healthy and full of vitality. When knocked out of balance for a prolonged period, illness ensues and life force is depleted.
The potent mind-body connection seamlessly allows biochemical changes to occur within the physical systems in response to the perceptions of external conditions and circumstances. This coupling enables survival by allowing the body to quickly adapt to external threats. This fluid interaction with the environment has sustained the human species throughout time.
As the mind perceives external threat, the body immediately transforms into a vessel able to ward off and defend against physical threat, this keen ability is stress response. What happens if the mind is continually perceiving life threatening cues from the outside world? The body remains in stress response for prolonged periods of time. This protracted state of elevated stress response eventually depletes the body’s system and can lead to the degradation of the body’s tissues causing illness.
What once served to ensure the survival of the human species is now among the leading causes of chronic illness today: Stress. The necessity to regain homeostasis and move out of stress response is imperative. As modern life stimulates the mind into perceiving threats to survival, the body responds with a chain of biological reactions to transfer the body into states of chronic stress response, therefore the necessity to find a pathway back to relaxation is at an all time high (1).
Broad-spectrum infrared sauna therapy is a unique modality that capitalizes on the invisible light spectrum to bathe individuals in radiant heat. This light bath dynamically interacts with human physiology to produce the necessary hormonal and biochemical reaction to transfer the body out of stress response and back into states of relaxation (2).
Ring The Alarm: What Happens Within The Body During The Activation Of The Survival Mechanism?
The near-instantaneous cascade of physical changes that occur in response to life-threatening circumstances is perfectly orchestrated to ensure survival. The process of inducing these survival mechanisms begins in the center of the brain known as the amygdala, an area of the brain responsible for emotional processing (3).
This emotional center sends a signal to the hypothalamus, essentially a command center for the central nervous system. The central nervous system is a communication network for the entire body and allows physical responses to be synchronized with emotional and mental feelings and perceptions.
When the amygdala perceives an immediate threat, a distress signal is sent to the hypothalamus, and the entire central nervous system transfers out of rest and relaxation into survival mode. This survival mechanism adopted by the autonomic nervous system is called sympathetic dominance or fight-or-flight response.
As sympathetic dominance is activated, signals are sent to the adrenal glands. These glands respond by excreting a hormone called epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) into the bloodstream. As adrenaline is pumped into the bloodstream, and circulated throughout the body, a number of physiological changes occur (3).
Heart rate is elevated to pump blood to the vital organs and muscles in preparation for defense through combat or flight. The pulse is elevated and blood pressure rises, breathing becomes rapid, small airways in the lungs are opened to allow the lungs to take in as much oxygen with every breath. Extra oxygen is sent to the brain to heighten alertness and the entire sensory apparatus becomes aroused to keenly sense the imminent danger in the external environment. Adrenaline also triggers blood sugar and fats from temporary storage sites to be released into the bloodstream, in effect all of the body’s energy is activated to defend the body and ultimately survive.
This cascade of transformation occurring in response to a perceived threat has ensured the survival of the human species for millennia. When this survival mechanism is balanced with the retreat out of stress response back into states of recovery, the body and mind return to homeostasis. The longevity of health in the body is fortified through states of rest and relaxation. It is not therefore not intermittent states of stress response that cause a problem for health, but rather, protracted states of survival eventually leads to the depletion of health and vitality.
Chronic Stress Response vs Short Fluctuations Into Survival Mode
The orchestrated chain of reactions that occur within the brain and body in response to perceived danger is instrumental in ensuring the survival of the human race. The problem arises when states of stress response are not balanced with the natural retraction back into relaxation where nourishment and rejuvenation occur.
When the emotional center of the brain perceives a dangerous threat, it sends signals to the hypothalamus to activate the autonomic nervous system out of rest and into survival. What happens if the amygdala’s perception of danger is not accurate? Or what occurs if the autonomic nervous system is called into states of sympathetic dominance even when life-threatening situations are simply a matter of false perception?
When every day life is the catalyst for stress response, the adrenal glands are on constant duty, heart rate and blood pressure are perpetually high, and the mind stays vigilant with heightened external senses. If traffic, a heavy workload, and too much screen time, for example are perceived as threatening then the autonomic nervous system is perpetually in a state of stress response.
Unfortunately, survival mode is not sustainable as the primary state of being. Without the ability to move back into states of rest and relaxation, the body is not granted the necessary recovery time it needs to foster health and wellness.
The result of sustained states of survival mode is the degradation of the body’s system and eventually chronic illness such as autoimmune disorders and heart disease.
The call to action for the modern citizens of our planet is to actively find modalities that will encourage the mind and body out of chronic stress and backs into states of relaxation where nurturing and growth can occur.
Relaxation: The Other Side Of The Survival Coin
Just as the brain center sends a signal to the autonomic nervous system when a threat is perceived, the same is also true when security and safety are the status quo. Perceived safety signals the autonomic nervous system to move from sympathetic dominance fluidly back into parasympathetic dominance (Rest, digestion, relaxation).
When the brain perceives safety, the adrenal glands no longer release adrenaline into the bloodstream. Hypervigilance of the mind is eased back into open creativity, blood pressure is lowered, heart rate is lowered, and energy is directed inward for healing and cellular generation. In short, the maintenance of the internal body’s systems is rewarded when the body relaxes. Wounds are healed, and the immune system is strengthened when the body is able to relax in parasympathetic dominance.
It is crucial that each individual finds tools and modalities that will encourage the nervous system out of stress response back into states of relaxation. There are several wonderful tools available to encourage this fluid movement, however none so effortless and effective as infrared sauna therapy.
How Can Infrared Sauna Therapy Encourage The Body And Mind Back Into States Of Relaxation?
- Brain Waves Move From Beta To Theta (From Hyperactive Vigilance To Expansive And Creative) (4)
- Sensory Apparatus Turns Inward
- Core Temperature Rises To Invoke A Decline In Body Temperature After The Sauna Session Is Complete
- Mitochondrial Stimulation Produces Nutrient-Rich Blood To Improve Circulation
What role does broad-spectrum infrared sauna therapy play in determining the state of the autonomic nervous system? How can this invisible spectrum of light influence physiological response on a mass scale?
Brain Waves: From Beta To Theta
While the infrared light spectrum is invisible to the eye, it is experienced as heat. It is a soothing radiant heat and under its influence brain waves slow down. Within this environment of subtle warmth, the hypothalamus is not receiving the signal of threat. The feeling of a gentle sleepiness that occurs within the infrared sauna is the antithesis to fast-acting brain waves that occur when danger is eminent (4).
This means that the hypothalamus is not signaling the autonomic nervous system into survival mode, and the body sinks into deeper states of relaxation as brain waves slow down. When a threat is perceived, brain waves speed up into beta frequency. This allows the mind to vigilantly survey the external environment for threat.
Within the radiance of the infrared light brain waves move from beta to theta, where the frequency is slower. The brain is no longer scanning the horizon for threats, but rather becomes open and expansive to creativity.
The Senses Relax And Perception Is Turned Inward
The radiant heat of an infrared sauna session coupled with a gentle sensory deprivation enables perception to pivot inwards away from the world. As the mind relinquishes hypervigilance to the external world, the adrenal glands stop releasing adrenaline into the bloodstream, the sensory apparatus is dulled slightly, and this enables the body to sink into relaxation, as it no longer needs to prepare to defend itself.
The radiant heat as experienced during a broad-spectrum infrared sauna therapy session moves beyond the initial epidermis of the skin and raises the core temperature of the body. Once the session is over the dropping of body temperature further induces relaxation, and this drop of body temperature is a key component to falling asleep. As sleep is improved the body can remain in states of relaxation for longer periods of time (5).
Enrich The Blood With Mitochondrial Stimulation
The real magic of the infrared light spectrum occurs through its relationship to the cellular network of the body, specifically the mitochondria. As the body (a community of nearly 50 trillion cells) is saturated with the infrared light frequency, the energy centers of the cells become hyper receptive to the light. This interaction creates a cascade of microscopic changes to induce the enriching of the blood as well as improved circulation.
When in states of sympathetic dominance, stored sugars and fats are released into the bloodstream, in stark contrast, under the influence of infrared light, more oxygen is released into the bloodstream enriching the quality of blood. This increase in quality of blood coupled with vasodilation (the widening of blood capillaries) improves circulation and therefore feeds all portions of the body nutrient-rich blood that is used to heal the body from the inside out (6).
Get Off The Stress Train And Step Onto The Life Raft Of Infrared Sauna Therapy To Transport You Back To States Of Rest, Rejuvenation, And Recovery
Remaining in chronic states of stress response is not a luxury the body can sustain. Eventually, protracted states of survival will demand a heavy toll payment that the body cannot afford. The eventual outcome of constant hypervigilance is disease, illness, and the degradation of the body’s systems.
A little R & R is not something that should be taken twice annually on vacations, but rather ought to be incorporated into daily practice in order to sustain balance and health. Finding a tool that will enable the body to move out of sympathetic dominance back into states of relaxation and rest is imperative.
Broad-spectrum infrared sauna therapy provides a comfortable and safe means for the body to adapt itself into parasympathetic dominance – where nurturing, digestion, and relaxation can occur.
This healing modality will turn survival mode off and gently invite you into a state of being that will revitalize all portions of the body and allow the mind to slow down and ease away from frantic thinking patterns into calm.
While there is often little we can do regarding challenging commutes and the fast-paced culture of our modern world, we can choose to create an oasis for the body and mind to step out of the chaotic external reality back into security, safety, and comfort. The gift of longevity and quality of life can be yours as you bask in the warm glow of infrared sauna therapy to release stress from the body and sink into states of deep relaxation.
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