by Danielle Lambert, Massage Therapy Director
The last few years have been hard on us all in so many different ways. The Covid-19 pandemic caused the whole world to change how it operates. Learning together as we went through the pandemic what was best for each individual and doing everything possible to keep each other safe. With shelter in place safety precautions the world transitioned to a virtual one for most. Students’ interactions with teachers and each other were limited to a screen, with co-workers communicating more with emails instead of face to face, and singing happy birthday to loved ones over skype rather than in person coupled with a long hug. Our biggest defense was to stay away and social distance to prevent further spread.
Unfortunately, two plus years of all that extra caution has left some in our community with more social anxiety than before. Psychiatrist Dr. Arthur Bregman coined the non-medical term “cave syndrome” that is being defined as a persistent unwillingness to leave the relative safety and security of the home to risk COVID infection or re-infection as the pandemic abates. It isn’t surprising that after this long term isolation some of us have turned this temporary precaution into a long term habit. We all want to feel safe and live healthy, fulfilling lives. A major aspect of a healthy life is community and cultivating lasting relationships. That’s right, healthy relationships reduce your stress level and boost your immunity. We were built to live together not in isolation!
I completely understand the feeling of uncertainty as you entered a crowded room during the pandemic. I go back to the first time I stepped into a store after the shelter in place orders were lifted.
I found myself looking around constantly and feeling that I was doing something wrong. In the aisle of the grocery store I would stay as close to the shelves as possible and quickly move on if anyone dared to be on the same aisle. Rushing in and out to hurry up and get back home where I knew I would be safe. Jump forward to lifting mask restrictions and feeling like something was missing every time I went out. It made me feel vulnerable doing the most basic things. I turned down more invitations over the last year than in my whole life. As things started to go back to normal I decided I wanted to get back out into the world and off the couch. Feeling comfortable again was a journey, but one I am glad I went through. So how do you get yourself out of the cave? What worked best for me was to take it at my own pace. At thrive we are all about meeting you where you are on your health journey.
Starting where you are comfortable and slowly pushing yourself to take that next step will eventually have you walking right out of that cave and straight into a full healthy life. As a massage therapist I’m always looking for more ways my passion can help others. Believe it or not massage therapy can help you overcome your anxiety. In various trials, massage has been proven to stimulate the release of hormones endorphins and enkephalins that reduce anxiety, stress, and pain. It lowered levels of stress hormones norepinephrine, epinephrine and cortisol, which reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, slow breathing, and relax muscles. Massage increased levels of oxytocin, which is a hormone that increases social bonding and behaviors like trustworthiness, generosity, and empathy.
Along with the benefits for specific pain some people enjoy massage because it helps bring comfort and connection. When you are ready our team of massage therapists are here to help you heal.