Stress and anxiety can manifest through jittery hands, back pains, stomachaches, muscle stiffness and other physical discomforts. It disrupts one’s normal lifestyle and results in lowered appetite, sleepless nights and inability to perform daily activities.
As a result, massages have rapidly been gaining a positive reputation as an effective and side effect-free therapy for stress management. Here is some useful statistics to prove this point: The American Massage Therapy Association, or AMTA, conducted a survey which showed that in 2006, more than 30 million Americans (roughly 20% of the entire adult population), had at least one massage. AMTA’s president, Mary Beth Braun, explained that massage is more than just a means for relaxation, it is also an excellent therapy for health conditions such as headaches, arthritis, circulatory concerns, insomnia and even anxiety.
Physical manifestations of stress: When the body is subjected to stress, an individual is most likely to experience the following:
- Strained eyes, tension headaches and migraines.
- Sore neck, tight shoulders and low-back pain all resulting in decreased range of motion.
- Decreased lymph flow, declining defense system and immunity against common illnesses.
- Weak limbs, limited joint movement, uncoordinated motor skills and muscle cramps.
- Abnormal heart rate and increased blood pressure.
- Rapid, shallow respiration.
- Unhealthy looking skin, dry or overly oily or prone to scarring and stretch marks.
- Sleeplessness, loss of appetite, disruptions in elimination processes.
Massage and the relaxation response: Stress is all around you, its presence can’t be helped but its effects can. While you may view stress negatively, it is actually your body’s efforts to bring back balance to its systems when you have been through a situation that disrupts equilibrium. People need to learn stress adaptation techniques to prevent them from “cracking” or breaking down. Massage is one such technique.
Massages induce the relaxation response, which is the direct contradiction to the body’s stress response. When the body is subjected to crisis, whether physical such as an illness, psychological such as deadlines at work, or emotional such as a divorce, the stress response involves the release of chemicals in the body that keep you on your toes so you can deal with the stressor. This “excited” state wears on your body, causing fatigue, depression and sleeplessness. This is where the relaxation response comes in.
The relaxation response is crucial to bringing your state back to equilibrium. It aims to normalize your respiration and blood pressure, bring down your stress hormones, slow your heart rate, and relax your muscles.
Massages for stress relief allows for better draining of the lymphatic system, aiding in faster elimination of toxins. That said, the body’s natural defense system is restored, and there is improved immunity against common illnesses and pain. By drinking a detox water after your massage, you can speed up the elimination process and help your body to detox faster. Try one of these amazing detox water recipes.
Furthermore, the relaxation response that is brought about by massage leads to calmness. The right massage for stress relief allows the body to release endorphins, hormones that induce calmness and an overall feeling of happiness. It increases your focus and energy, allowing you to improve your concentration and problem-solving skills. As a result, you feel more confident and productive, so you can perform better at any aspect in life.
So the next time life has you feeling stressed out, call up your local salon and schedule a massage asap! With so many healthy benefits, you simply can't go wrong with a massage.