Can massage relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress?

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Stress is an inevitable part of life. It is almost impossible to take away all the stress and anxiety we may feel on a day-to-day basis. Research suggests that more than 90 percent of illness results from stress alone. Decreasing physical and emotional stress is optimal to improving overall health and well-being.

A 60-minute massage can lower cortisol, a hormone that’s produced in response to stress, by an average of 30 percent. And when cortisol levels decline, serotonin — one of the body’s anti-pain mechanisms — increases by an average of 28 percent after receiving a massage. By lowering cortisol and increasing serotonin, you’re boosting your body’s ability to fight off pain, anxiety and feelings of sadness.

The emotional balance massage provides can be just as vital and valuable as the physical benefits. Massage provides a safe and nurturing place for individuals to relax, refocus and find clarity. It can increase awareness of the mind-body connection. Massage can generate confidence and enhance self-image and self-worth.

Safe nurturing touch helps fulfill the need for human contact, such as the comforting touch we once received at birth. For some, massage is the only caring touch they may receive. Massage can be considered an hour-long hug, providing you with a nurturing safe place to rest physically and emotionally.

What does massage therapy involve?

During massage therapy, your therapist will rub, stretch, and apply pressure to muscles in your body. Some styles of massage involve over-the-clothes touching. Others involve direct contact with your skin, often with scented oils. Some involve acupuncture needles, warm stones, or complex twisting poses.

  • Swedish massage:In this common method, your therapist will apply smooth, circular, kneading actions to your muscles.
  • Chair massage: In this method, you will sit on a special chair and lean forward into a headrest. This is a good introduction to massage, since the sessions are usually short and don’t require you to remove any clothing.
  • Deep tissue massage: Your massage therapist may use this method to treat tight muscles caused by stress or other problems. They will focus on the muscles closest to your bones, as well as their connective tissues.
  • Shiatsu:In this technique, your therapist will apply firm pressure to specific points on your body, much like acupuncture. The pressure is more firm than in many types of massage, but it rarely produces stiffness afterward.
  • Reflexology: In this type of massage, your therapist will apply pressure to areas of your feet that are believed to correspond with other systems and organs in your body.
  • Aromatherapy massage: In this method, your therapist will combine massage with scented oils to help reduce stress or boost your energy.
  • Hot stone massage: During this method, your therapist will place warm flat stones on your body to help relax your muscles. They will also apply pressure to the stones to relieve muscle tension.

At the Tampa Massage Clinic, located in Tampa, Florida, nothing is more important than human touch. To schedule an appointment with Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Pediatric Massage Instructor, Jakki Bosco LMT, please call (813) 298-5603.

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