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Stress Relief Spankings
As the name implies, stress relief spankings are designed to reduce (negative) stress in our lives. And although the process by which this happens looks like a bell curve, and is repeatable on virtually every body, everyone's "formula" is just a little bit different, so there's no one-size-fits-all approach here. However, the below information is what I've gathered from my experiences, as both a top and a bottom.
During stress relief spankings we utilize the body's natural way of responding to increased stress (in the form of discomfort or pain). These immediate responses to stress were what differentiated the survivors ("the fittest") from those who didn't (who did not live to pass down their genetics), in an evolutionary sense. These types of spankings work on a purely physiological level, modifying the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone, present in saliva). Studies done by Dr. Brad Sagarin of Northern Illinois University during his Science of BDSM project has made a scientific correlation between stress and impact play. His studies reveal that spanking/impact/BDSM/play (terms used interchangeably) has a negative effect on stress. And even more so, the intenser the play the more stress relieving qualities, and the longer those qualities remained.
"Intenser the play" - I know what you're thinking. "I'm not an intense player, I don't like a lot of pain in my spankings, I don't want more than a pink bottom, but I sure do want some stress relief!" Using some techniques that more than a few of us Disciplinarians (and cathartic floggers) know, we gradually build in intensity so slowly over a period of extended time to such a level, the sudden drop in cortisol levels afterwards feels very heady, spacey almost, floaty is a term I hear a lot. Your body was tricked into thinking the rhythm and gradualness did not also mean peace and a lack of discomfort, a melting away of cares from your corporeal body.
At some point, the body just accepts what's going on, and the brain loosens its hold a bit, and you get all the yummy catecholamines (brain hormones like serotonin and dopamine) flooding your system, so not only are your cortisol levels extra low, your anti-depressant hormones are high, making you feel happy, calm, relaxed and creative. This is why regular maintenance spankings help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
If you continue this process, if you get it just perfect, one of the things that can happen is your brain releases oxytocin. That's another one of your "happy hormones", but this one is your "connection" or "intimacy" hormone. If this gets released, a deeply connective experience, almost spiritual, otherwise called the "bonding rush", happens. It's typically present in a new mother and her newborn child, it's the hormone that tells the ones connected, this person is safe, I am safe.