I love massages so this guest post by Laurie Schnebly is now one of my favs. Read on for some very good reasons to invest in regular massages!
Some stress in your life is good. But too much can lead to unhealthy reactions such as overeating, lost sleep, neglected exercise or overworked adrenal glands that are constantly prepared for fight or flight.
There are numerous ways to relieve extra stress in your life, and it’s important to find those you’ll like well enough to keep using. If any stress-relief technique sounds too difficult, uncomfortable or time-consuming, chances are you won’t practice it often enough to reap the benefits. So look for things you either won’t mind or will actively enjoy doing, which will also improve your health.
One refreshing way to relieve stress and boost overall wellness is massage therapy. People often think of that as a luxury rather than a way of maintaining health, but in fact regular massage therapy has proven effective in several key areas:
- Lower blood pressure and heart rate. Long-term studies have shown that a consistent massage program is a natural way to decrease diastolic and systolic blood pressure as well as cortisol levels, resulting in lower sources for anxiety, hostility and depression. Massage also facilitates circulation, causing new blood to flow into formerly congested areas, which lowers your blood pressure.
- Relax muscles. Carrying extra weight, repetitive movements or poor posture can all create strain that often results in tense muscles, spasms and pain. A professional massage therapist helps to flush lactic acid from your muscles, improving the circulation of lymph fluid which carries metabolic waste away from muscles as well as internal organs.
- Increase endorphins. Massage therapy releases endorphins and boosts your levels of serotonin and dopamine, the hormones your body produces to help calm your nerves and promote both healing and pain management. That’s because decreasing cortisol leads to a rest-and-recovery mode which lingers long after your massage, and which can result in ongoing feelings of relaxation, lowered stress and improved mood.
- Improve breathing. Anne Williams, education program director at Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, notes that many upper-body muscles are used in respiration. “When any of these muscles are chronically tight and shortened, they can restrict normal breathing and disrupt breathing patterns. Massage techniques to lengthen and relax these muscles improve breathing capacity and function.”
- Relieve headaches. A recent study showed that people who received massage therapy had fewer migraines and better sleep quality not only during their massage weeks, but also during the three weeks following, than people who didn’t. Another study found that among adults with migraines, massage therapy decreased the occurrence of headaches, distress symptoms and even sleep disturbances.
- Boost wellness. Serotonin levels, which are increased through massage, are believed to play an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep and appetite. And when your mood is relaxed, you’re getting enough sleep, and also feeling a healthy level of appetite, it’s easy to see how much better you feel.
All those improvements contribute to less physical stress, as well as less emotional stress. So taking time for regular massage therapy is one of the best things you can do for your health and wellness.
If you find yourself thinking, “I can’t justify enjoying that kind of luxury,” that’s all the more reason to give it a try. Make it a point to notice the effects not only on yourself, but also on everyone who’s depending on you. After all, their well-being is important too…and they’ll appreciate the change when your performance improves with this healthy relief from stress.
About the Author
Laurie Schnebly writes for the Phoenix Massage Envy Co-op, a leader in customized professional, affordable and convenient massage. With a master’s in counseling and 11 years as a therapist, she focuses on issues that affect daily life for people who want to improve their health.
Does this guest post inspire you to add massage therapy into your budget?