Few people need to be convinced of why and how massages are relaxing, so in this article, you’ll see just how much of a difference massage therapy can make and how to incorporate a massage routine into your stress relief agenda. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, in 2006, 39 million Americans, or one in six, received at least one professional massage. Clearly, Americans are seriously interested in stress relief as well as the many other benefits of massage.
The Mayo Clinic identifies massage as a valid medical method to reduce stress and pain and reports, “Massage reduced anxiety in depressed children and anorexic women. It also reduced anxiety and withdrawal symptoms in adults trying to quit smoking.” The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry conducted a study that concluded, “Massage therapy had immediate beneficial effects on anxiety-related measures.” The Franklin Institute reports, “Massage releases endorphins that calm the peripheral nervous system.” The PsychoOncology Journal in 2008 reported that, “Massage in patients undergoing intensive chemotherapy reduces serum cortisol (stress hormone) and prolactin…A significant reduction in cortisol could be safely achieved through massage, with associated improvement in psychological well-being.”
To incorporate massage into your stress relief routine, you can see if your insurance plan at work covers massage treatments under some type of physical therapy clause. Often insurance programs like this will allow you a set number of “covered” (i.e. free) massages per year which you can use all at once or stretch over the course of the year. Another option is getting a massage membership. For example, the company Massage Envy located throughout the United States offers a monthly membership plan starting around $50. They allow you to “roll over” un-used massages and add on family members for a reasonable fee. Another affordable option is to find a massage school nearby and find out how you can get a discounted massage from a student. All of these options will ensure that the price of a massage doesn’t add to your stress or anxiety.
If your budget prohibits even these stress relievers, you can swap massages with a family member, significant other, or trusted friend. You can also learn many effective massages to do on yourself. For example, a popular component of stress can be tired eyes. To re-energize your eyes, close them and put your thumbs under your eyebrows at the inside corner of each eye. Press in gently and make tiny circles with your thumbs. Work towards the outside of your eyebrows and continue this movement all around your eyes, finishing back at your nose. Spend a little extra attention where the bridge of your nose meets your eyebrow—you may notice that it is a bit tender here. There are many auto-massage techniques like this that you can use for effective stress relief.
Finally, remember what the Mayo Clinic says, “Brush aside any thoughts that massage is only a feel-good way to indulge or pamper yourself. To the contrary, massage can be a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and well-being…”