Stress isn't meant to be an unbeatable burden. If it's starting to have a negative impact on your health and well-being, it's time to hear what your body is asking for.
For many symptoms related to stress, pain, and inflammation, massage therapy can be an indispensable tool in your care. Here are some of the most notable ways it can help improve your quality of life.
Levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” have been shown to drop after receiving a massage, while levels of vital neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin have been shown to increase. These chemicals are intricately linked to our mood, motivation, energy levels, sleep cycles, and even digestion. Getting on the massage table also shifts the nervous system into “rest-and-digest” mode, reducing symptoms of anxiety and priming the brain for restful sleep.
Many of us carry tension caused by repetitive motions or long-held postures. Often caused by our daily activities at work or home, this tension can create palpable changes in the muscle tissue over time. Through regular massage, your muscles have a better chance of resisting the tendency to become ever tighter. Caring for these stress-bearing muscles at regular intervals is a vital step toward preventing future injury.
Many headaches are caused by muscular strain in the upper shoulders, head, and neck. Massage therapy helps to release and prevent tension in these muscles, reducing your risk of headaches and the resulting problems they cause you. Migraine sufferers frequently report a reduction in symptoms as well. While many factors may contribute to triggering a migraine, massage can be a valuable preventative treatment due to its positive effects on hormones, stress levels, and nervous system function.
For people with chronic pain or inflammatory conditions, massage therapy helps reduce physiological symptoms. It gives circulation a boost, helping to deliver more nutrient-rich fluids to the body tissues, clear out metabolic waste more efficiently, and enhance the overall function of all body systems. Receiving massage is also associated with an increase in endorphins, the body’s own painkillers.
Of all the beneficial effects of massage, perhaps the most valuable one is this: The act of making sacred space for yourself is powerful, and it can have a ripple effect through all areas of your life. With constant and urgent demands on our time, it’s easy to let our preventative care slip--and it’s more important than ever to resist that urge. A single hour given to yourself creates a deeper reservoir for everything else you have to give.