With over 350 million people worldwide suffering from depression, more and more people are looking for natural ways to feel better, to experience more happiness, and improve their quality of life.
With medication offering only limited solutions, and often with unpleasant side effects, people are seeking alternatives to improve their mental health and well-being or even complementary natural therapies that work alongside with medication and psychotherapy. One natural way to decrease the symptoms of depression and to improve quality of life and mental and emotional wellness is massage.
Massage has been around for thousands of years and most cultures have used it in one form or another. Massage is much more than simply a luxury item that is only for people with the leisure time to indulge in it. It has a number of positive repercussions for your health and well-being, and studies are finding that it is good for your mental health as well.
How Does It Work For Depression?
Massage works by increasing blood flow to the area, decreasing muscular tension and promoting relaxation. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, massage helps to increase the flow of vital energy, or Qi. When energy in the body is in flow, good health is inevitable. When the energy is stuck, discomfort or ill health occurs.
Massage stimulates the natural production of feel good brain chemicals, including serotonin, and endorphins, which help improve mood and promote happiness.
Moreover, low levels of serotonin are one of the causes for major depressive disorder, and this makes massage the perfect natural alternative for stimulating its production.
Popular Styles Of Massage
There are different types of massage and several ways that massage can help to elevate your mood. Some of the better known types of massage are Swedish, Thai, aromatherapy massage, and reflexology.
Here is a quick outline of these styles of massage:
Swedish massage uses oil on bare skin and long sweeping, circular, and rhythmic strokes that bring about feelings of inner peace, calm, safety and relaxation.
Thai massage is done with the recipient either naked or clothed: the practitioner uses different stretching maneuvers and deep pressure to reduce tension. It is usually performed on the floor and the stereotypical image is of the practitioner walking along the back of the recipient!
Aromatherapy massage is a lot gentler so if you prefer a softer approach this may be preferable for you. Aromatherapy massage uses essential plant oils whose properties are beneficial to your well-being. The medicinal molecules get absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin and can aid in healing. Specific oils can be used to elevate your mood, induce feelings of happiness, and cause you to feel uplifted. Some good oils for this include bergamot, citrus oils like sweet orange, or rose, geranium and lavender.
Reflexology is an ancient form of foot massage. Points on the feet correspond to parts of the body and are pressed to bring about healing in the related body part. Reflexology is also very relaxing and causes feelings of well-being, just like the other massage styles.
The benefits of gentle caring touch should not be underestimated in and of themselves. Human beings are social animals by nature and studies have found that touch is instrumental in bringing about feelings of contentment and well-being
Some contra-indications for massage include deep vein thrombosis, cancer, blood disorders, open wounds, severe osteoporosis, and fractures. Consult your physician before trying massage if you have any of these conditions.
How Often To Have Massage?
If you are suffering from depression then consider massage as more than just a special treat. Think of it as an essential item in your self-care toolkit.
Weekly sessions can increase your quality of life by enhancing your mood, reducing the tension you carry, and alleviating an array of physical symptoms, which may be related to depression, such as fibromyalgia, back pain, stiff neck, and shoulders, and so on.
If you can make massage a priority in your weekly schedule, you will be doing yourself a great favor. Your mental health will improve, you will feel more relaxed, your physical well-being will improve, and your outlook on life will receive a much needed boost.
Many day spas offer discounts for those who get weekly or bi-weekly massages, and also massage schools are good places to find discounted rates.
Massages used to only be available in upscale health clubs and luxury spas, but now, you can get them almost anywhere. The reason for this is that people have to come realize just how valuable massage is for their health and overall wellness, which includes that of the mind, body, and spirit.
In fact, massage is the most widely used type of complementary and alternative medicine in hospitals today for the treatment of pain, mental health, stress reduction, and general wellbeing.
Today, they are not looked at as a mere luxury, but rather an investment in yourself and your health. Massage therapy represents the oldest and simplest form of medicine, dating back to as far as 2,700 B.C.
Massage is a term used to describe the pressing, rubbing, kneading, puling, stretching, and otherwise manipulating muscles, skin, joints, and tendons.
There are many different types of massage, but some of the most popular are:
Swedish massage therapy – This is without a doubt the most common type of massage in the US. It involves long smooth strokes, circular movements, and kneading. The massage therapist uses oil or lotion when performing this type of massage. It is considered to be very relaxing and gentle.
Deep tissue massage – This type of massage is quite different from Swedish massage therapy, as it targets the deeper layers of your muscles and connective tissue. It is often performed on an individual who has postural problems, chronically tight muscles, or who is recovering from an injury.
Hot stone massage –This type of massage is exactly what it sounds like. It revolves around the placing of heated, smooth stones on certain points of your body in order to loosen tight muscles. Sometimes, the therapist may apply gentle pressure with the stones. Although this may sound like it isn’t pleasant, the warmth of the stones actually provides you with a very comforting feeling.
Sports Massage – You don’t have to be a professional athlete to get a sports massage. Nevertheless, this type of massage therapy was designed for people who live an active life and work out often. The main focus of a sports massage isn’t relaxation, but rather the prevention of injury and enhancement of your athletic performance. A number of different techniques are used as part of a sports massage.
Trigger Point Massage –This type of massage focuses on specific areas of your body, instead of the whole body. The therapist pinpoints the muscle that is causing your problems and then applies deep pressure in order to relax it.
The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami has run many studies on massage’s effects on mental health and results showed massage therapy to effectively reduce symptoms associated with:
Other mental health conditions
Many people treat themselves to a massage every once in a while, which is without a doubt great both for their physical and mental health. However, regular massage therapy will provide you with much more benefits.
You’ll start living a happier and healthier life if you get massages regularly.
The majority of people today deal with a lot of stress. Worrying about paying the bills on time, family problems, an unpleasant work environment, and the general hustle and bustle of daily life can all lead to a huge amount of chronic stress, which ultimately leads to ill health, and an increased risk for serious disease, such as heart disease, stroke, and others. One of the best ways to relieve yourself of the excess stress and anxiety in your life is massage therapy.
Massage therapy is not only able to relax certain muscles in your body; it can put your mind into a state of deep relaxation as well. Not only that, but it will also trigger the release of brain chemicals called endorphins, which battle stress and enhance your mood.
On top of that, massage therapy will stimulate the release of other feel-good hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin. By elevating the presence of these hormones, you’ll decrease the production of the stress hormone known as cortisol.
By relaxing both your body and mind, massage therapy will improve your sleep quality, which in turn promotes good mental health.
Not getting enough sleep can lead to slowed down thought processes, memory loss, and unhealthy food choices. People who don’t sleep enough tend to have elevated stress and anxiety levels, but massage can help with too.
We all know how a good massage can make us feel relaxed and give us a better outlook on life. However, did you know that there are many real health benefits to massage? Regular massage has amazing mood-boosting abilities that will have your overall mental outlook improved in ways you did not think possible.
Massage Changes Immune Function
In a study published by Massage Magazine, a 25-minute massage was capable of inducing many physiological reactions in participants. Participants who received the 25-minute massage had lowered serum cholesterol levels, the findings of the study suggested that massage not only boosted immune function but also supported and promoted general good health. Maintenance of the major blood markers such as cholesterol can do wonders for improving mood, especially for long time sufferers.
Improves Serotonin Levels
Serotonin is a brain chemical that regulates mood, and depression is attributed to lowered or irregular serotonin levels.
Massage can help those with low serotonin levels because it boosts the body’s natural ability to produce serotonin. Everyday Health reports that those who receive regular massage can expect to see an increase in their serotonin levels and a subsequent drop in depression and pain.
Reduces Stress Hormones
Everyday Health reports that regular massage also reduces the presence of stress hormones in the body, including cortisol and adrenaline. The reduction of these hormones in the body leads to a host of positive mood changes for the person receiving regular massage therapy.
In one study, participants who received 6, 30-minute massages over the course of 2 weeks reported that they had a reduction in anger, sadness, and stress.
The key to enjoying these positive benefits of massage is to make sure that you are receiving a massage with moderate pressure. This type of pressure will activate the healing properties of massage therapy.
As Beneficial As Medical Treatments
The American Massage Therapy Association has noted several studies that show how regular massage therapy can improve the symptoms of many medical conditions. These conditions include many mood related disorders.
The AMTA cites links to massage therapy combined treatment effectiveness with the following disorders:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
The studies linking the combined treatment of massage therapy and traditional medicine to improved moods for these patients show how massage significantly affected the mood of those patients receiving massage therapy to significantly improve treatment outcomes.
When we think of mood-boosting benefits, it can be easy to bottleneck those thoughts into those related to alleviating depressed mood and anxiety. However, massage can boost your mood by just improving your overall quality of life.
Think about how your outlook would benefit from things like improved flexibility and decreased healing time after an injury? Well, massage therapy can do these things for you.
Licensed Massage Therapists can help address soft tissue damage and disorders. Massage can help you loosen tight muscles and work on tight ligaments and tendons to increase your flexibility. These types of improvements in your daily activities can lead to great boosts in overall mood.
Decreased Healing Time
Massage increases blood flow to massaged muscles. With small tissue injuries like sprains and strains, massage has been shown to reduce the healing time associated with these types of injuries.
Of course, you should always let your massage therapist know what type of injury you’re dealing with to ensure they use proper technique to assist with the healing process.
Give It A Try
Everybody reacts differently to massage. You may find that it takes a few massage sessions before you can relax enough to reap the benefits of your massage therapy sessions.
If you would like to see how massage therapy could improve your mood, the only real way to know is to find a local licensed massage therapist.
Make sure that they are licensed and that they have the proper training so that you can see all the benefits that their training has to offer.
Massage is a wonderful way to improve your emotional and mental state. By simply enjoying the relaxing therapeutic touch that massage offers you, you can boost your mood, and regular massages can ensure that you feel good in mind, body, and spirit for the long-term!
Massage therapy is the ancient healing practice with numerous physical and mental benefits.
Anyone who enjoys massage knows how wonderful it feels. It is truly one of the best and more relaxing treats we can give ourselves. However, massage goes way beyond just being a feel good activity; it has real medicinal benefits and is a therapy that is used more and more as medicine to treat various medical conditions.
It is believed to relax both physically and mentally, which lowers heart and respiratory rates, and blood pressure. It can greatly reduce the physical and mental effects of stress and also helps boost the immune system. In general, massage is one of the greatest wellness tools for the health of the mind, body, and spirit.
There are many types of massage therapy such as Swedish, deep tissue, sports, reflexology and acupressure massages which people use for relaxation and wellbeing, in addition to addressing specific sources of pains and aches.
One of the goals of massage is to help relieve tension in muscle tissue where there is tension and stress. All that built-up tension can cause restriction in our blood circulation as well as the supply of nutrients going to all the body’s tissues and organs; massage can help decrease nerve compression, increase joint space, and range of motion.
This may lead to decreased pain, as well as increased function in mobility and range of motion. It also helps with circulation, which helps improve the way oxygen and nutrients are delivered to muscle cells, and help remove waste products.
Massage therapy can help reduce the symptoms of depression such as lethargy and anxiety, according to the Touch Research Institute at the University Of Miami School Of Medicine…
“The healing power of touch extends across the lifespan,” says the Institute’s Tiffany Field, Ph.D., “from helping babies grow and children concentrate at school to decreasing chronic illnesses and disease.”
This type of ancient healing offers genuine benefits, so much so that some conventional hospitals are making it a standard therapy for patients.
Along with helping with relaxation and improving sense of well-being, getting a massage has been shown to:
Relieve general pain
Decrease symptoms of PMS
Provide arthritis relief by increasing joint flexibility
Release nerve compression (carpal tunnel, sciatica)
Increase relaxation by stimulating the release of serotonin and dopamine.
Decrease stress by reducing the production of cortisol (the stress hormone)
Provide relief for tight muscles and increases their flexibility
Helps fibromyalgia pain
Helps with recovery from injuries
Reduce joint pain, stiffness, soreness and injuries
Decrease swelling (or edema)
Alleviate acute and chronic lower back pain
Help lower blood pressure, anxiety, fatigue and depression
Improve athletic performance and helps prevent sports injuries
Pain Related To Cancer, HIV and Parkinson’s Disease
Muscle tension in back, shoulders and neck pain
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Rotator Cuff Syndrome
Research shows that those who receive massage on a regular basis have a reduced level of anxiety than those who don’t. One study found that receiving regular massages could help lower blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones in those with hypertension and migraine headaches.
The best part about this type of therapy is that it affects the nervous system via nerve endings. This helps to stimulate the release of endorphins (our body’s natural “feel good” chemicals). Endorphins help increase the sense of relaxation and well-being. It also helps relieve pain and reduces levels of stress chemicals (such as cortisol).
Massage helps promote circulation of the blood, which boosts the supply of oxygen and nutrients to tissues in the body. It also helps to flush toxins from the lymph nodes. Of course, massage is excellent at melting tension, knots, and stress from stiff muscles and joints, and this helps to improve mobility and flexibility.
Experts advise that massage stimulates activity of the vagus nerve that controls the secretion of food absorption hormones, breathing, and heart rate.
Massage is also noted as being especially helpful in working out stress-related tension from the body, which experts believe accounts for as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of disease.
If you live with chronic pain for whatever reason or you have some acute pain from an injury look into a getting a massage from a trained and licensed massage therapist, it may help your pain and also help you to feel better emotionally and mentally.
More and more research is providing evidence for the health benefits of massage and it has become a well-recognized and respected form of complementary or alternative medicine. There are many good reasons for getting a massage but here are ten of the best!
1. It makes you feel GREAT! Massage has been found in clinical studies to boost mood and can help alleviate symptoms of depression and sadness. Aromatherapy massage uses essential oils, which have medicinal properties and can be chosen for their mood-enhancing qualities. Neroli, sweet orange, bergamot, and lavender are all known for their mood elevating qualities.
2. Massage helps you relax! If you are feeling stressed or uptight, massage is for you. The deep, soothing, and rhythmical strokes of a good massage should feel pleasurable to receive and they help the body to unwind as tensions are released. Massage can help you get into a place of very deep relaxation, which is essential for the body to heal.
3. Massage helps reduce muscular tension and can alleviate muscular aches, pains, and injuries. Massage helps alleviate stiff neck, pain in the joints, back pain, and so on. Massage helps block pain receptors in the nervous system and it increases blood flow to the muscles. This can help increase joint mobility, and so can be beneficial for conditions such as arthritis.
4. Massage helps reduce symptoms of anxiety. By lowering the cortisol levels in the body, massage helps calm the mind and relax the body. Anxiety is inevitably reduced through this process.
5. Massage helps alleviate tension headaches. Tension headaches can be caused by postural misalignment or by muscular tension in other areas of the body. Massage relaxes the entire body and this release can result in the diminishment of tension headaches.
6. It helps you get a good night’s sleep. Massage helps you relax so deeply that you may feel very sleepy after a session. If you plan to have your massage later in the day, it can lead you into a deeply restorative and restful sleep.
7. It helps you detoxify the body. Massage helps stimulate the lymph system, which helps carry toxic waste from the muscles, organs, and tissues. This can help with digestion and will improve your overall health.
8. It can even help you improve posture. Postural imbalance can be caused by muscular tension. Massage helps the muscles to deeply release any tension. Once relaxed, the body can return to its natural state of balance and correct alignment can ensue.
9. Trigger point therapy, myofascial, and Swedish massage can ease symptoms of fibromyalgia. These techniques help flush toxins from the body and decrease tension. Specifically, trigger point therapy deactivates trigger points using finger pressure. Swedish massage provides relaxation and stress relief that helps ease fibromyalgia pain. Myofascial Release applies gentle pressure to connective tissue that helps alleviate pain and restore motion by elongating muscle fibers.
10. Massage can help improve cardiovascular health. By reducing tension and increasing blood flow and lowering cortisol levels, blood circulation is improved, stress is lowered, and the heart can operate at an optimum level with less stress. This leads to improved heart health.
So… if you were in any doubt about the efficacy of massage, hopefully by now you can see there are so many good reasons to get one that it wouldn’t make sense not to. Before any of the health benefits, you get to feel nourished and nurtured by some kind, caring hands. You end up feeling like a new person!
You’re so relaxed it’s as if you’ve been away on a two-week vacation! If you’ve never tried a massage, you don’t know what you’ve been missing! Not only will you feel fantastic but also some of your health problems may simply fade away after a few sessions, or at the least be very much improved.
There are many different forms of massage, including Swedish, deep tissue, reflexology, aromatherapy massage, hot stone, sports massage, and various others. Each has its own purpose, but the most popular one that helps with various types of ailments and for general wellness is the Swedish massage that uses kneading motions.
Massage is also flexible, since you can choose to get a full body session or one that addresses specific trouble spots on the body, like the neck, feet, or back.
Regular massages offer cumulative benefits for the mind, body, and spirit.
Check out a massage therapist today and give it try!
Did you ever wonder about the health benefits of massage, or did you think it was just a luxury item for self-indulgent rich folks with lots of time on their hands for pampering? There are several different types of massage and many ways that massage can help to increase your general well-being.
Some of the most commonly known types of massage are Swedish, Thai, Shiatsu (Japanese finger pressure) aromatherapy massage, and reflexology.
A quick definition of these types follows below:
• Swedish massage typically uses oil on bare skin and long sweeping, or circular, and rhythmical strokes that induce a sense of relaxation, peace, and calm.
• Thai massage may be done with the recipient either naked or clothed: the practitioner uses various stretching maneuvers along with deep finger pressure to reduce tension. It is usually performed on the floor and famously the practitioner walks along the back!
• Shiatsu is typically performed through clothing on a mat known as a futon on the floor. Deep pressure on acupuncture or acupressure points using thumbs, hands, elbows, and even feet may be used. Some stretching but generally less vigorous than Thai massage. Shiatsu works by balancing the distribution of energy throughout the body.
• Aromatherapy massage uses oils blended with essential plant oils whose properties are known to have medicinal qualities. The beneficial molecules get absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin and aid in healing.
• Reflexology is an ancient form of foot massage. Points on the feet relate to various parts of the body and are pressed and massaged to bring about healing in the related body part.
You probably know that massage is incredibly relaxing. If you are into natural highs, or just want to feel better overall, then massage is probably a good choice for you.
So, how does it work? You know that when you have a massage your body quickly softens into a deep state of relaxation. Massage works by relieving muscular tension, increasing blood flow to an area and promoting relaxation.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, massage helps to alleviate stagnation in the flow of vital energy, or Qi, and improve the circulation of energy. When energy in the body is in flow, health ensues. When energy is stuck, disease is the result.
Various studies have found massage to be helpful in reducing symptoms in the following conditions:
• Back pain
• Sports injuries
The benefits of gentle caring touch should not be underestimated in and of themselves.
There are a few contra-indications for massage, which include deep vein thrombosis, cancer, blood disorders, open wounds, severe osteoporosis, and fractures. If in doubt, consult your physician before trying massage.
A good massage usually lasts about an hour but length of sessions can run from half an hour to up to two hours. A recommendation by word of mouth is usually the best way to find a great practitioner; however, you find them you should check out their credentials and make sure they are certified by a reputable school.
All in all then massage is much more than a superficial and luxurious way to pamper yourself. Massage can have far-reaching effects on your overall health and general well-being and can be a valuable tool in your self-care regime.
Regular sessions can increase your quality of life by enhancing your mood, reducing the tension you carry, and alleviating an array of physical symptoms.
If you can manage a session, a week you will really notice an improvement in how you feel about yourself and your outlook on life will improve, as you feel more comfortable inside your own skin.