People who suffer from anxiety often look for ways to relieve their anxiety with little success. While some anxiety treatments work for some people, others find no relief. One of the most effective — and underused — ways to reduce stress and anxiety is through massage therapy.
Anxiety disorders make it difficult for people to relax and fall asleep. In fact, almost one-third of people with anxiety seek treatment for insomnia.
Massage therapy has been shown to help with anxiety by decreasing stress, boosting relaxation and reducing tension. Here’s how:
How Massage Therapy Relieves Stress?
Stress is a normal reaction to danger or uncertainty. However, when stress becomes excessive or chronic, it can cause physical and psychological symptoms.
The human body has several systems that regulate the stress response. When the threat is past — and your sense of danger dissipates — the body returns to its normal balance.
One of the most significant benefits of massage therapy for anxiety is that it reduces stress. This happens because massage therapists actively work to reduce muscle tightness and inflammation, which are both caused by stress.
Chronic stress can increase levels of the “fight” or “flight” response. This response causes increased heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tension and increased alertness. The result is that you’re more alert and tense, even when you’re supposed to be relaxing.
Massage therapy can help with this by lowering heart rate and muscle tension. It can also increase our natural production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood and well-being.
During periods of high stress, people often tense up their muscles in an attempt to self-soothe. However, this only makes the situation worse by tightening the muscles, increasing pain and increasing stress.
Massage therapy helps to relax tense muscles, which can help with chronic anxiety caused by tension. It can also help with acute stress, as massage has been shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
Other Ways Massage Therapy is Effective for Anxiety
Cognitive therapy — which uses reasoning and facts to change negative thought patterns — is one of the most effective ways to treat anxiety. While it’s useful in many situations, it has limited benefits for people with anxiety.
Massage therapy, on the other hand, has a proven track record for treating anxiety. Many people with anxiety report that massage therapy is the only treatment that helps with their symptoms.
Common Massage Therapies for Anxiety
There are many types of massage therapy, each with benefits for specific diagnoses and conditions.
Myofascial release: This type of massage targets the muscles and connective tissues that are most often associated with chronic pain. However, trigger points, which are similar to knots, also cause chronic muscle tension.
Stress reduction: This type of massage focuses on the role of muscles in regulating our stress response. It can help people with anxiety understand the connection between stress, muscle tension and pain.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Getting a Massage
People with anxiety often worry that a massage will make their symptoms worse. This is rarely the case, but keep the following thought in mind.
Many people experience improvement during or after a massage. This could be because the massage therapist did a good job, or it could be that your body was just ready for a change.
But, for some people the massage experience can lead to an emotional release during or after a massage session, especially if the area being treated was connected to past physical trauma.
This sensation is normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
Getting a massage can help with anxiety. The key is to find a massage therapist who understands anxiety and how to treat it.
The good news is that there are many massage therapists out there who are well-versed in the benefits of massage for mental health. Finding one is as simple as looking for a massage therapist who offers relaxation massage or someone who uses deep pressure.
If you suffer from anxiety, you may have already tried other treatments and found no relief. Nose Creek Physiotherapy’s massage therapy may be the answer you’ve been looking for. Give us a call today.