How Does Massage Help Mental Health?
We all know that massage can relax muscles and help us feel physically at ease, but what about when it comes to mental health? It may come as a surprise to discover that massage promotes relaxation and reduces stress, as well as easing muscle tension and pain, making it an ideal treatment option for people who struggle with anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches and more. Read on to learn more about how massage therapy can help improve your mental health.
What is massage therapy?
Massage therapy is treatment with a variety of techniques designed to relax and rejuvenate patients. The practice is often performed in tandem with other treatments, including talking therapy and holistic medicine. Massage therapists manipulate soft tissue using a range of motions—from light caresses to deep pressure—to stretch muscles and stimulate blood flow.
If you are suffering from an acute bout of anxiety, a massage can be incredibly beneficial. Some studies suggest that massage reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, while increasing oxytocin production (the happy hormone). Massage has also been shown to increase serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins—all chemicals that make us feel better. Lastly, improving your blood circulation releases pain, which can cause stress and anxiety, allowing your muscles to relax more effectively.
Reducing stress levels
Our bodies are under constant stress, and massages are a great way to reduce those levels. As your heart rate slows down, you’ll experience a surge of feel-good hormones in your body, which will naturally calm you down and give you an immediate boost of energy.
Having a massage before a stressful event, such as a job interview or social event, can help you cope better by decreasing the stress hormone we spoke about earlier. Although low levels of cortisol are useful, putting us in 'fight or flight' mode, a sustained increased cortisol level can leave us feeling stressed, anxious and fearful. A massage before or after the event can help you to cope with this biological response more easily.