Between the pressure at work and the demands of home-life, many Americans today are in need of avenues to relieve stress. Unfortunately, most are not aware of the resources that provide a way to work through stress and get back to a natural, happy state of mind. Exercising, eating well, speaking to a professional or a family member, taking trips or vacations, or simply cuddling up with a good book are all ways to achieve a peaceful mindset. However, all of these avenues are temporary and can make the thought of having to return to the stressful environment even more daunting. What the mind and body need is a type of stress relief that lasts beyond the experience itself. One of the most beneficial forms of stress relief that last longer than the experience itself is massage.
What is Massage?
The term “massage” covers an array of different physical and emotional therapies. These can include simply massaging an achy part of the body, or working on the chakra of a person, in order to balance the stress of a person’s life. Massages are given by massage therapist, each who are able to specialize in a different type of massage: deep tissue, relaxation, pre-natal, reiki, sports, and aromatherapy. All of these types contribute to balancing different parts of the body and mind.
How Does Massage Help with Stress Relief?
Getting a massage does much more than simply provide a relaxing hour or two. Massages work to physically lower the stress levels in the body. This is achieved in many different ways:
- By increasing blood flow, which can improve mood long-term
- Decreasing cortisol in the body, the natural chemical in the body that causes one to stress or worry
- Increasing endorphins, the natural chemical in the body that causes one to feel happy and relaxed
- Regulating melatonin, the natural chemical in the body that helps one get tired at the appropriate time
- Spiritually speaking, it is able to align your chakra, establishing a better balance of emotions within the body and mind (it provides a positive energy to the body)
All of these benefits are what drive the body to achieve a better balance of stress over time. This means that with more massages, the body’s overall chemical makeup will recalibrate, causing the stress in life to decrease and the sense of peace to reestablish itself.
Mental Benefits of Massage
Massage is able to let the client relax in a safe and comforting environment, all while working to release the mind of any stress triggers. Working to do this during a massage session makes it easier to do during stressful situations in real life, whether at work or home. Massage is able to train the mind to relax, almost on command, simply by using relaxing tools, such as sitting in a dark room or taking a warm bath. Once this is mastered during massage and the mind is trained to relax and calm down, the stresses of life can seem much more miniscule and manageable.
Physical Benefits of Massage
Stress can take a physical toll on the body. The constant increase in heart rate, high blood pressure, and/or tense muscles can cause actual pains in the body, such as headache, neck and shoulder pain, joint and muscle soreness, and even an upset stomach. These are manifestations of stress that appear when it is not handled correctly. Massage is able to not only treat these ailments by reducing the stress, but also by treating the pains themselves. Deep tissue massage is a great way to relieve the muscle and joint pain that can be brought on by stress. Reducing anxiety and stress through massage is also known to help relax muscles in the stomach, which can make stress-induced stomach pain disappear.
How Often Should I Get a Massage?
The major benefit of a massage is that the effects from one session can last days, even weeks. With time, regular massages can keep stress and anxiety low. Massage therapists recommend that a client start out with a massage every two weeks, to get the stress under control. After that, a monthly massage (or as-needed massage) is encouraged, with the possibility of adding in an extra one or two a month extra being dependent on how stressful that month may be (holidays, vacations, moving, etc.).
Overall, most massage therapies are able to help with relaxation, muscle and joint pain, and, most of all, relieving stress and anxiety. The best way to tackle getting into massage regularly is to speak with a professional about the options; most massage therapy locations have monthly memberships or wellness programs that are able to provide even more benefits to getting regular massages. If stress is a large part of life, massage therapy might be the best way to get it under control and bring balance back into life!