3 Ways Massage Therapy Can Help You Cope With Stress
Stress is largely prominent in the US, with 84% of all American adults reporting experiencing symptoms of stress weekly in 2022, compared to the global average of one-third. Adults who report experiencing stress say that their stress has negatively impacted their behavior, increased the tension in their bodies, created extreme mood swings, and has even caused them to “snap” out of anger. The COVID-19 pandemic, work-related issues, and increasing economic woes have all been named as prominent causes of stress in recent years.
With April being National Stress Awareness Month, let’s take a look at what stress is and how massage therapy can help you cope.
What is stress?
Stress is less a disease or illness, like anxiety or depression, and more a response or reaction within the body to outside stressors, such as physical and emotional demands. Stress usually manifests as physical, mental, or emotional tension or strain within the body. There are several different types of stress:
- Acute stress: What people refer to as the “fight or flight” response, when the body prepares to protect itself against the external stressor. It takes about 90 minutes for the body’s functions to return to normal after experiencing acute stress.
- Chronic stress: The body’s long term response to life’s everyday stressors, such as work, family, or finances. This type of stress often gets ignored or buried, but if left unchecked, can result in physical and mental health issues.
- Distress: Stress in daily life that has negative feelings and creates a difficult experience, often leaving a feeling of being unable to cope, being out of your depth, or panic.
- Eustress: Stress in daily life that is challenging but rewarding, and generally associated with more positive feelings. This kind of stress usually comes with a feeling of confidence in your ability to cope with a situation, leaving you with a sense of accomplishment after.
Stress can present with both physical and mental symptoms, with short-term stress causing issues like headaches, sleep problems, elevated heart rates, fatigue, muscle tension, stomachaches, irritability, restlessness, and problems focusing. Chronic stress can cause mental health problems like depression and anxiety disorders, as well as physical problems like gastrointestinal issues, increased risk of heart disease, and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.
How massage can help you cope with stress
It’s important to find healthy ways to deal with stress. One of our favorites is by incorporating regular massage therapy into your wellness routine.
Regular massage therapy has been proven to lower overall stress levels in the body. Studies have shown that massage boosts your parasympathetic nervous system, the network of nerves that relaxes your body after periods of stress.
Here are a few ways regular massage therapy can help you cope with your stress:
As previously mentioned, stress typically manifests itself as tension in the body. During a massage, your massage therapist will work your muscles and body in a way that relieves the tension you feel in your body and leaves you feeling loose and relaxed. A massage studio is typically designed to promote relaxation, too, so even just a short thirty minute session spent on your massage therapist’s table will have your body and mind feeling at ease.
Sleep is vital to our wellness; while you sleep your body and mind rest and recover, and your body performs important maintenance to your memory, hormones, immune system, and other important functions. Adults who get under eight hours of sleep at night report higher levels of stress than those who sleep at least eight hours, so it’s important to aim for a proper amount of sleep nightly. This can, of course, be easier said than done if you’re already stressed, because people who are stressed often report problems sleeping, this is where massage therapy comes in. Massage helps to create a relaxed mind and body, which leads to better sleep. Massage also aids in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is a precursor to melatonin, the hormone responsible for helping you fall asleep.
Humans are social creatures and experiencing physical touch on a regular basis is vital to our wellbeing; in fact, not experiencing enough physical touch can actually cause or increase feelings of stress. As the body’s largest organ, the skin has receptors that transmit feelings of positive and negative touch to our brains, and trigger reactions based on those feelings. Massage provides positive touch and is known to cause the brain to release oxytocin, the “love” hormone which is known to create feelings of relaxation and psychological stability; this counters the release of the stress hormone cortisol, the hormone that triggers your fight or flight response.
Let Mindful Touch help lower your stress levels
At Mindful Touch, we’re dedicated to not only helping heal your body, but guiding you along your journey to total wellness of your body and mind. Helping you to cope with the stress of daily life is one of our top priorities on this journey. We have a variety of massage options which promote feelings of calm, relaxation, and wellness. Book an appointment with one of our skilled massage therapists now and feel your stress melt away.
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