How Massage Therapy Helps You Fight Off Stress
How Massage Therapy Helps You Fight Off Stress

Massage Therapy Helps You Fight Off Stress

While stress has existed far longer than we can imagine, it is a factor that has become more pervasive, and is considered a result of how modern life has failed us. Stress is both physical and mental, although emotional and psychological stress can and do manifest themselves physically.

If you are stressed, your body feels tense, your heart rate is higher, and you are ready for “fight or flight”. If you continue to be stressed for week or months, you wear out both your body and mind, so addressing stress at its early stages is crucial.

Causes of Stress

  • Work

Working for long hours without time to relax to try to meet targets can create stress. After work, you find it difficult to unwind so you carry yesterday’s stresses into today and even into the coming days if the stressor (source of stress) remains unresolved.

This can cause physical health problems, with physical and emotional stress feeding into one another.

Breaking this cycle can be difficult, but therapeutic massage can help by triggering the body to turn off its fight-or-flight response, and move on to recovery mode.

  • Health

Worrying about your health can be stressful. Stress weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to heart disease and other stress-related health conditions. It will also worsen chronic pain and trigger insomnia and anxiety.

Booking an appointment for a massage, and actually getting the therapeutic procedure done can help reduce feelings of stress.

  • Relationships

Relationships are a crucial part of life; however, they can also become a source of stress and worry if your relationships are troubled or damaged.

Massage therapy can help you reflect, meditate, and go back into your relationships in a relaxed and calm state, enhancing your mood for the long term.

5 Way Massage Helps Reduce Stress

People receiving massage for stress claim they feel better after undergoing therapeutic massage. Markers include their blood pressures going down, levels of stress markers falling, and brain images confirming a calm and relaxed state.

Indeed, massage therapy is an effective stress reduction technique, and offers the following benefits:

1. Lifts Your Mood

During times of stress, do you find yourself depressed or anxious? Do you have trouble getting enough rest? Is it hard for you to get things done? Stress affects your mood.

Massage is a great way to let your day-to-day stress disappear. It lowers your body’s level of a stress hormone called “cortisol” while increasing the levels of feel-good hormones – dopamine and serotonin.

2. Gives Immediate Relief

Though getting a massage will provide immediate relief, you can also alleviate stress symptoms with self-massage techniques.

Massaging yourself will help relax your mind and muscles. For instance, place your fingers under your eyebrows with your eyes closed. Apply a slight pressure for at least five seconds. This will help reduce facial pain and headaches.

If you want to relieve jaw pain, just press your thumbs behind your ears and massage the area in a circular motion to loosen tight muscles. To relieve shoulder pain, rub your shoulder blades in a circular motion as well.

3. Reduces Muscle Tension

When your body’s stress response is activated, muscles throughout your body tense up. But when the event ends, your muscles relax. If stress is constant, however, your muscles will remain in a slightly tensed state. Shoulder and neck tension, jaw pain, and headaches are some of the common symptoms of stress.

Swedish massage and shiatsu massage encourage muscular relaxation. Such types of massage help break up lactic acid and other points of discomfort that indicate stress. A well-trained massage therapist makes use of different techniques to stretch, stroke, rub or apply pressure to your muscles. This way, your muscles will return to a relaxed state, thus reducing stress-related pain.

4. Lowers Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure may rise if you are stressed. Behaviors that accompany stress may include poor eating habits, a high-sodium diet, smoking, inactivity, and high alcohol intake. All these can elevate your blood pressure.

Massage helps lower blood pressure by activating pressure points that are linked to the vagus nerve. Since this nerve regulates blood pressure, it will lower and maintain a healthy blood pressure level once it is stimulated.

5. Triggers Your Body’s Relaxation Response

The “fight-or-flight” mode or emergency stress response is your body’s physical reaction to stress. Stress increases muscular tension, heart rate and breathing rate, as well as feelings of anxiety.

Once your body’s relaxation response is triggered by massage, your heart rate decelerates, your muscles relax, and your breathing rate slows down. 

When administered by a well-trained therapist, massage can help with conditions affecting your state of mind, anxiety, and depression. With it, you are able to shift your thoughts away from your daily worries as well as allow your mind and body to relax.

Furthermore, massage helps you feel that you are in full control of your overall health. Some massage techniques are practiced in dimly lit and quiet rooms to further promote relaxation, and even sleep. Moreover, therapists may play soft music and use incense sticks or candles to help you relax.

How to Choose a Massage Therapist

Choosing a massage therapist is somewhat a personal matter. It can be daunting to lie on a bed and allow a stranger, even if he or she is a professional, to touch you and work on your muscles.

Some important considerations in choosing a skilled and professional massage therapist include the following:

Education

Well-trained and educated therapists have undergone different massage courses. Before the session, a trained therapist will ask questions, especially ones regarding your sources of aches and pains. They know exactly which treatments and modalities are safe for you. Furthermore, they will refer you to the right medical professional if your needs can’t be addressed through massage alone.

Location

Do you prefer to receive a massage at a spa or at home? What you opt for will help set the tone and dictate the experience you’ll have. Therapists who operate out of a home or offer at-home (yours) services offer a different experience from one who operates inside a spa.

Treatments Provided

It would be wise to look for a therapist who can address your concerns as they arise. For instance, if you are interested in stress relief and relaxation, you may be given a Swedish massage. But if you are physically active and suffer from pains related to your activity, you will most likely receive deep tissue or sports massage.

Consider the kind of treatment you may need in the future so you do not have to hop from one massage therapist to another when your needs change.

Availability

If you work full time, you may find it difficult to get an appointment. So make sure that your massage therapist can cater to your needs, regardless of the day and time.

When your massage session with your chosen therapist does not work out perfectly, do not panic. Similar to any relationship, it will take several sessions before you can establish a level of comfort and trust with your new massage therapist.

But if you don’t feel comfortable, or if the massages administered do not achieve the desired effects even after several sessions, consider looking for another therapist until you find someone who really makes you feel at ease.

Massage offers countless benefits. You owe it to yourself to take the time to take care of yourself, so book a massage appointment now, and leave your stress behind.

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