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Can Massage Mend the Mind?

Published on 17th February 2019

Written by Sarah Martin

Ok people, it’s time to get real about your mental state.

What’s your stress level like usually? Do you have trouble concentrating at work? Have you gone through a recent major life event? Do you ever wonder how all these things can affect your health?

Well, I’m here to tell you that ALL things emotional can and do directly influence the condition of your physical being. You know, that mind /body thing? Have you gotten butterflies prior to taking an exam or getting on a plane? Do you develop knots in your stomach when financial troubles creep in or wear your shoulders as earrings when preparing for that big meeting at work? These are all examples of how emotional stressors manifest themselves within us physically.

Now, have you ever considered how massage therapy can lend a helping hand (or two) to balance out this dueling dilema? That’s right, massage isn’t just a feel good, muscle kneading, and drooling on the face cradle thing!

Actually, according to psychotherapist LeeAnn Barkman, LISW-S, ”Many people are not aware of the dual impact that mental health issues can have on both the mind and body. When someone experiences mental health symptoms in areas such as depression and /or anxiety, it is highly probable that we will see an array of physical symptoms accompanying that illness. Massage serves in a therapeutic manner to address both psychological and physical symptoms and, in fact, can assist in reducing such symptoms.”

The next few paragraphs describe more specifically how one’s mental health can be improved upon simply by the power of touch.

Depression, Anxiety, Pain - Oh My!

However you group this trio together, it isn’t good. What isgood is the way massage naturally does its part in relieving them.

Massage lowers the blood pressure and heart rate, two key elements of a panic attack, which calms you and promotes normal breathing. Regular massage can actually control and even prevent anxiety from resurfacing. Any anxiety held in the muscle tissue is released during massage along with a slew of chemical messengers which combat all those unpleasant feelings. Endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, are released into circulation thereby eliminating your most nagging pains. It is amazing what sudden pain relief can do for your morale; you stand a little taller, breath a bit easier and even begin thinking more on the positive side!

The stress hormone, cortisol, is decreased within the body during massage, causing a relaxing response throughout the body. It increases levels of serotonin and dopamine, keeping depression at bay and even releases oxytocin, which creates a feeling of bonding. Another very important way massage helps with depression is by fulfilling a person’s need for touch. This can comfort feelings of sadness, loneliness and hopelessness associated with the condition.

Moody Blues…

Are you bogged down from lack of sleep to where you can’t even function?! Do you growl at your co-workers and nod off all day at your desk?

If this sounds familiar, then it’s seriously time for you to get your act together! Exercise and a multivitamin everyday wouldn’t hurt either, but a massage is what your mind and body are really craving! Getting a massage relaxes your muscles by helping them release pain, tension, waste/toxins, or whatever other garbage they are holding on to.

In other words, it helps you let go, and when this happens, your entire body lets go, you feel more relaxed and less stressed. By eliminating stress levels, other specific bodily functions will improve, including sleep habits, concentration and mood. When your physical self is relaxed your mental self follows suite.

The minute your muscles say goodbye to stress and pain you will notice an improvement in your sleep habits. You will very likely fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer than usual, and sleep, my friends, is where true healing lies. Due to a more relaxed state of mental alertness you may experience a stronger ability to concentrate and focus. The sudden boost of endorphins and other mood -boosting neurotransmitters throughout the body will increase your energy level - you’ll go from grumpy bear to slap happy in no time! All this from simply taking the time to put yourself and your health first.

Final Thoughts

In case you had any doubt whatsoever regarding the relationship between what the mind thinks and how the body feels, hopefully this article smashed it to bits! We go through a lot in our lifetime. We play sports, have kids, travel, change jobs, get injured and bury people. It all conspires over time and in the end our bodies will make us hear them if we are not giving them what they need.

I like to use the “R word” - REST! People who come to see me for massage absolutely dread hearing that word from me after they ask how they can help themselves get well. They all know when it’s coming, too! We must take care of ourselves, mind, body and soul because we are only issued one US! You can only push yourself so far before the you inside pushes back.

The next time you’re feeling drained and achy, I hope you will give massage a chance to help your mind and body get back on the same wavelength.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

About the Author:

My name is Sarah Martin and I've been a licensed massage therapist for 13 years whose specialty is neuromuscular therapy and pain relief specific to sports. In addition to this I am a single mother of two amazing girls and a passionate, blossoming writer! I love sharing my knowledge in a fun, informative way to help others learn about massage therapy, entrepreneur tips and self-empowerment. For more related articles please visit: Sarahsez.com

Thank you so much for reading!

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