Updated: Jan 17
Stress, how many times have we used that word in our lives? I know I use that word at least once a week *signs*. It’s a word we are all too familiar with and affects us all differently, but one thing is for sure too much stress is never a good thing and can lead to over worrying and intervene with everyday life.
Managing stress early can help you avoid further complications such as heart disease, high blood pressure and depression, (yes, I know, sounds scary!).
Chronic stress is not good for the body long-term and whilst there are lots of different ways to manage stress, I am going to talk to you about how massage can help manage stress, because, well, I am a massage therapist who is passionate about her job and all the benefits massage brings, from not only treating clients, but also receiving many massages myself over the years.
Stress is a part of the human condition.
Stress is something we all experience throughout our lives, an unavoidable reality of life. Not all stress is bad, eustress another name for positive stress, can help inspire and motivate us. Bad stress on the other hand (and the type we will be discussing in this blog) is the negative kind that we want to tackle as soon as it arises.
With modern life causing issues with our posture (think text neck), trying to do too much too fast, and as technology improves, we are spending more time on our phone and computers than ever before which can lead to physical, emotional, and psychological strain. Tight and aching muscles along with headaches and stiffness around the joints are all symptoms of physical stress ,but stress can also affect us cognitively, with worry and depression and the inability to relax. So many of my clients will tell me after their massage how good they feel “like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders” (literally) ,and how they feel they need to make more time for them (take note!).
Relax more, Stress Less...!
OK, it may not be as easy as it sounds, with children, work, chores, and other not so fun errands, but taking time out to slow down, look after ourselves is one way to reduce stress and can even improve how we respond to stressful situations. Often, we forget ourselves and our own needs, with work and family life, but when we do this all that happens is the stress just builds up, creating more issues on top of the existing ones.
Signs of stress and signs you need a massage include (but not limited to)
-Problems with sleep
- Aches and pains
Massage can help relieve stress by lowering heart rate, increasing relaxation, improve mood.
There is this notion that massage is only used for pampering, but that is certainly not the case. Yes, massage feels great and why shouldn’t we pamper ourselves from time to time? But massage is one of the many ways to cope with stress, and can even help with anxiety, depression, and insomnia (Mayo Clinic 2022).
Can you recall any occasions when your felt your body was holding on to tension, and you subconsciously reach out to massage it? I know when I have been under a lot of stress, I can feel it in my neck, shoulders, and head, sometimes I will even get a throbbing headache because of all the tension that has built up. This is the bodies way of protecting itself, by tightening up the muscles as a defence mechanism. Massage can relieve tight muscles and calm the body, whilst bringing nutrients and increased blood flow to the stiffened and sore areas, meaning everything is loosened up and range of motion is improved. Massage can help lower the amount of cortisol in your body, this is the hormone that is produced when you are stressed. Ever wondered why you feel so good after a massage? That’s because serotonin (the happy chemical) is being released, it helps reduce feelings of depression. When stress is decreased so are anxiety levels. Massage is great for our overall health and wellbeing, by reducing pain, inflammation , increasing relaxation, improving circulation, and lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Phew!
Massage can help! (Yay)
Living with chronic fatigue, massage therapy has helped me manage my symptoms, along with stress. It wasn’t until I was 26 years old and studying beauty therapy, I discovered the real benefits of massage therapy. My first massage was so great it had me almost addicted. I always looked forward to my monthly massages, those were the occasions when I could just completely shut off from reality and relax. It wasn’t just during the massage which felt great, with every sore part of me being rubbed and eased , but I noticed right after, how I felt like I was in a trance , an altered state of consciousness. Massage therapy releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones, which explains why I felt like I was walking on air after.
I started booking a massage whenever I felt my body was starting to feel stiff and tight. Sometimes my symptoms would be so bad, I would feel sick. During those times, I knew that I needed to book in a massage asap and almost immediately after my massage, I felt the difference in my body, there was no more aching, feeling sick and the tension headaches were gone!
But what massage is best?
That depends on the type of massage you prefer and your needs. For the ultimate relaxation, Swedish massage, which is a light to medium pressure, using slow strokes to slow the and increase relaxation levels. Essential oils can be added, to heighten senses and induce a hypnotic state! (what’s not to love). Deep tissue massage techniques, work great if you have particularly tight muscles, helping release tension and loosen any unwanted knots. Indian head massage is great for a stiff neck, (think desk work) and helping with migraines.
Massage therapy can help with a range of conditions, it’s more than a luxury and has been noticed as a form of health and wellbeing. It is increasingly being offered as standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.
After a massage, be sure to take it easy and rink plenty of water to help flush out any accumulated materials that were released during your massage so you don't feel fatigued and sick.
So, whenever you feel stressed, book yourself in for a massage, experience the benefits yourself and be kind to you!
Rachel Fripp ,12/12/2022