A massage can be a magical thing. Not only can it relieve sore and tense muscles, it can also help to work out stressful feelings and even improve your mood. Everyone gets those days, or even weeks, where they begin to feel a little bit overwhelmed. It can leave you feeling constantly stressed, tired and sluggish. When you realise you are feeling like this (especially during the winter months) you should consider booking yourself a massage.
The way your body handles stress inputs, whether physically or emotionally, can have a negative effect on your body and mental health. When you are having a hard time at work, or maybe struggling with something in a personal relationship, it all leads to the build up of chronic stress. Chronic stress puts the body in a constant state of “fight or flight”, increasing stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. The end result of this chronic stress reaction can lead to mood problems like anxiety and feeling depressed.
How will a massage destress me and improve my mood?
Massage and touch therapy are great tools to help you to relax. You might think of massage as releasing physical tension, which it does, but it also helps to turn off your body’s “fight and flight” response that is modulated through the sympathetic nervous system. After a few minutes massage will stimulate the parasympathetic system that modulates the “rest and digest” response, allowing the body to decrease cortisol production and lower stress levels.
Massage stimulates the production of “feel good” hormones, called endorphins, that will naturally give your mood a boost. It also elevates the production of neurotransmitters that helps us to feel good naturally and fights against the effects of stress-related anxiety and depression. Massage most notably has the ability to increase the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, leaving you with that typical floating feeling after you have had your massage.
Here are some other ways massage can help to counter stress and low mood:
- Improves overall circulation and oxygenates the blood. Improved blood flow to the brain increases our clarity and tolerance levels
- Massage is a form of active relaxation and it can allow you to slow down and reboot your perspective on certain situations in your life right now that may be causing you stress
- Massage improves your sleep quality, allowing for more time to rest and restore. Better sleep means you will wake feeling refreshed and able to deal better with daily stresses
- The physical effect of feeling your muscles relax can have an indirect effect on your brain, allowing you to feel like all your stresses have been released
- The natural mood boost you get after a massage, because of increased natural feel-good hormones, gives you a fresh outlook and can make you feel like starting a clean slate
Massage is beneficial for our physical and mental workings. It is also recommended that you try to visit a good massage therapist at least once a month to get the continuous benefits from your massage.