We all deal with stress on a day-to-day basis. While we’ve become accustomed to juggling multiple plates at once, even those small doses of daily stress have an impact on the body and mind. Many doctors extol the virtues of stress management to their patients. People who are stressed have higher risks for anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, heart attack, and more. It makes sense that finding ways to better manage the stressors that we face could be good for our health. Here, we discuss what the research has to say about massage as an active stress management strategy.
How Massage Relieves Stress
Massage therapy is highly beneficial for adults of all ages, and even for children and babies. Some of the ways in which it works to reduce stress include the following.
Massaging the body stimulates the production of serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine, all of which are part of the brain’s reward pathway. Each of these neurotransmitters offers a unique benefit. Serotonin helps boost our sense of well-being and can ward off feelings of depression. Endorphins help relieve anxiety. Dopamine is associated with stronger feelings of self-worth and increased motivation. Furthermore, massage can help lower the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body.
Getting a massage isn’t only about the physical relaxation of muscles and other tissues. It is also about the environment in which the mind can also rest. This is why a massage therapist has soft sheets, low lighting, and calming music playing during sessions. The small details can go a long way in setting the mind at ease for a short respite from a stressful world. In addition to creating a calming environment through the eyes and ears, many massage therapies also include aromatherapy. The use of therapeutic essential oils stimulates the olfactory areas of the brain. Specific essential oils, such as lavender, are commonly used for their relaxing properties.
The massage itself is a large part of the stress-relief process because it is in the body where we store unresolved stress. Massage targets the areas in which our emotions get “caught,” including muscles in particular areas, such as the face or the back. The stress-holding area may be different for every person. The trained massage therapist locates tightness through feel and intuition and works to gently release it, and in so doing, releases the emotional stress that was stored in the muscles.
Whether you are interested in a massage for a special occasion, for some pampering, or to help you manage stress, we can help. Contact us at 703-444-2800 or book your appointment online.