We talk about the physical benefits of massage a lot. Whether it’s relieving sore muscles, helping recover from an injury, or releasing tense muscles, we are often focusing on the physical side of the massages benefits. Did you know that massage is a proven way to help your mental wellness too? Massage is an effective way to help alleviate depression, anxiety, and stress.
Stress can cause both physical and mental ailments and if it becomes chronic, it may lead to even more serious health problems. We often become focused on diets, food intolerances, workouts, and keeping our bodies nourished and fit, that we often forget about the importance of keeping our minds healthy too. Adding massage into your healthy lifestyle mix will help address that mental side of your overall well-being too.
Research has shown that many people suffer from differing levels of mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 26.2 percent of Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. Of those suffering from mental illness, approximately 20.9 million Americans report experiencing mood disorders such as depression, while approximately 40 million suffer from an anxiety disorder.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 10 million Americans suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder - GAD. Symptoms of GAD range from mild worry about everyday concerns to crippling panic about imagined catastrophic events. Other symptoms of anxiety may include: shortness of breath, insomnia, chronic fatigue, muscular tension, irritability and inability to cope when issues arise.
Seasonal Affective Disorder –SAD, is also fairly common too, and it often becomes more prevalent during the next several months, as it affects many people during the colder, darker winter months. The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.”
Depression is another psychological condition that can negatively impact physical health, depression may have symptoms such as; headaches, insomnia, muscle tension focused in one region, such as the jaw or neck; lymphatic congestion due to lack of activity, and digestive problems, on top of the mood swings, feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, and loss of interest in things that the person used to enjoy.
So how does massage help in mental wellness? Massage has been well known for its relaxing and calming capabilities. It helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression by:
- Stimulating the production of the “feel good” hormones called endorphins, while simultaneously reducing the cortisol levels of the stress hormones.
- Promoting the body to produce higher levels of serotonin and dopamine, which help reduce depression, and allows our minds to relax.
- Calming the nervous system, inducing relaxation, and promoting a feeling of well-being.
- Regulating the breath and heartbeat to the rate that occurs in sleep.
Massage therapy is not a cure-all, but it definitely can aid in managing mental wellness and stress levels. Getting regular massages can help ease the symptoms that are caused by chronic stress, sleep deprivation, and overuse of our minds and bodies. If you or a loved one has mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, talk to your doctors and a certified massage therapist to see how massage can fit into your overall treatment plan.
Massage, it does a body and mind good!