If you have ever searched for natural methods to treat anxiety or stress you will find a myriad of suggestions. This post focuses on holistic massage to reduce stress, a safe and proven treatment which is effective in significantly reducing the symptoms of anxiety.
Why Is Massage Effective For Treating Stress And Anxiety.
The following are 5 major benefits of massage and why it is such an effective remedy for symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Number 1: Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is a recommended practice for reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.
You are also likely aware, that it is difficult to find the time in the day to practice deep breathing, and when we find ourselves in elevated stress focusing on deep breathing is almost impossible.
The reality is that most of us are aware of the need for deep breathing, and we recognize the benefits, but we simply don’t make the time to put deep breathing into action.
If we have a massage session booked this means at least 60 minutes of time for relaxation. What better time could there be to practice deep breathing? Research has shown that most people enter a deep breathing state during a massage.
This makes it a win win!
Number 2: Removal Of Stimuli
Research has shown that our stress and anxiety levels are reduced significantly when we are able to remove ourselves from external stimuli and focus inward.
Therefore if we make time for regular holistic massage treatments we also guarantee we are making space in our life to remove ourselves from external stimuli and the daily noise and activity which contributes to stress.
Number 3: Body Chemistry Benefits
Massage has been shown to reduce the levels of the stress hormone, Cortisol.
Reducing cortisol helps decrease anxiety and stress related symptoms such as increased blood pressure and elevated heart rate.
Massage treatments also positively impact the neurotransmitters in our brain. This increases our serotonin and dopamine levels, both of which are proven helpful for reducing depression.
“A 60-minute massage can lower cortisol, a hormone that’s produced in response to stress, by an average of 30 percent. And when cortisol levels decline, serotonin — one of the body’s anti-pain mechanisms — increases by an average of 28 percent after receiving a massage. By lowering cortisol and increasing serotonin, you’re boosting your body’s ability to fight off pain, anxiety and feelings of sadness.” Massage To Relieve Symptoms Of Anxiety Depression And Stress – Mayo Clinic
Number 4: Calming Music
During holistic massage it is normal for gentle music to be played.
Research has shown us that the playing of calm music helps our brain tell our heart to slow down. The heart rate reduces its rhythm close to 60 bpm which helps our body, and mind, relax.
Number 5: Human Touch
Probably the most significant benefit of massage is the impact of human touch.
As humans we respond positively to physical connection as long as the touch is appropriate.
Our skin is actually the largest organ in our body and is connected to our central nervous system.
This is why the physical touch of massage can be a hugely relaxing and calming experience.
Studies have shown that the physical touch associated with massage has immediate calming effects on our nervous system.
It is suggested that a safe and nurturing touch helps satisfy our need for human contact, similar to the comfort we received at birth.
This is why good holistic massage reduces symptoms of stress and anxiety, it provides a nurturing safe place, where touch is appropriate and comforting, allowing us to rest physically and emotionally.
“Harry Harlow’s famous psychological study with baby monkeys, the monkeys that were raised by the softer, warmer surrogate mother grew up to better adjusted in their adult lives than their wire-only surrogate counterparts.” The Nature Of Love – Harry Harlow
The Touch Research Institute has researched massage and it’s positive impact upon anxiety and stress. The studies suggest that the effects of combining focused and caring attention with positive tactile stimulation sends signals to our brain that we are safe allowing us to move to a more calm physical and emotional state.
The Touch Research Institute has conducted studies investigating massage for depression. These studies have shown that massage reduces depression and anxiety and leads to a decrease in the levels of stress hormones in the bodies of participants. – Massage for Depression and Anxiety, Pacific College
Aromatherapy Holistic Massage
Aromatherapy is one of the most popular, and recommended, types of massage for reducing stress and anxiety. The addition of aromas aides in the feeling of security and calm.
It is widely accepted that essential oils, when applied to the body or used with an essential oil diffuser, can generate feelings of well-being and deep relaxation.
When soothing, nurturing massage, providing therapeutic touch stimuli, is combined with sensory essential oils we have Aromatherapy Massage.
Duration of Holistic Massage:
To gain the full benefit of therapeutic touch and fully utilize the healing properties of the essential oils the duration of your holistic massage should be at least one hour.
This is the time required for essential oils to be absorbed into the body through the skin and to activate body chemistry changes which lead to our sense of well-being.
Essential Oils Used For Anxiety And Stress Massage:
Ensure that any essential oils used are natural, non-synthetic and organic . The top 5 essential oils for use in massage to treat stress and anxiety are:
Lavender is probably one of the most popular of essential oils used in aromatherapy.
A 2012 research study on lavender oil for anxiety and depression, showed that using lavender in aromatherapy calms anxiety and reduces stress because of it’s impact upon our limbic system, the part of our brain which controls our emotions.
Jasmine oil has a beautiful scent, with research showing that inhaling jasmine oil promotes a sense of well-being.
Unlike many essential oils used to treat stress and anxiety, Jasmine oil is able to help calm our nervous system without making us sleepy.
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Holy Basil, or Tulsi, contains eugenol, which is the compound giving it a spicy, minty aroma. Research has shown that the eugenol makes Holy Basil an adaptogenic herb and beneficial for treating both physical and mental stress.
Bergamot oil is made from Bergamot oranges and is proven to relieve anxiety and improve mood.
Ylang Ylang is used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation.
Inhaling a blend of ylang ylang, lavender, and bergamot has been proven to lower stress and anxiety levels. It has also been proven to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and serum cortisol.
Resting Time After Holistic Massage Helps Further Reduce Anxiety And Stress
All good massage will incorporate a resting time at the end.
We recommend for every massage of 60 minutes in length you add 20 minutes of resting time afterwards.
During resting time we should try to drink ample warm or cold water, recline and relax on a lounger or day bed and allow our body to return to its normal state. This will help expel any released toxins from our body, through our breath, sweat and/or urine.
Treat Stress And Anxiety Naturally With Holistic Massage
When being used specifically to combat an ailment or illness it is recommended that two to three aromatherapy massage sessions per week give the maximum results.
Many therapists advise that daily massage should not cause any problem, but I believe that a break of 2-3 days between sessions is more desirable as it allows time for the body to relax and excrete toxic substances mobilized by the massage without stress.
Aromatherapy massage has better effects when it is applied to the whole body.
If you decide to get a massage because the muscles of one leg feel sore, massage on just the specific leg will give relief but it does not protect the rest of the body nor does it identify why the leg was sore to begin with.
A full body massage will assist healing the leg which is sore and also aides/protects the healthy leg as it is this leg that will be burdened and carry most of the body weight to counter the pain in the other leg .
If left unchecked this could cause a further burden to the pelvis area, the asymmetry could affect the spine and subsequently lead to numb arms and/or sore neck. Thus, it is important to give our body the care it deserves!
Benefits of Aromatherapy Holistic Massage
Aromatherapy massage not only offers powerful physical and emotional benefits but also enables us to have a great relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
The benefits of aromatherapy massage are widely documented and known to benefit a wide range of health conditions in particular the nervous, circulatory, lymphatic, immune and muscular systems.
Aromatherapy massage is also a pleasant treatment which helps bring about mental clarity, relaxation and alleviates stress and headaches.
Aromatherapy treatments have both physiological and psychological effects.
The combination of massage and the medicinal and therapeutic qualities of the essential oils (molecules both inhaled [aroma] and absorbed through the skin) can soothe, revitalize, uplift the spirit, encourage positive thinking and boost the immune system enabling the body to heal itself.
Holistic Massage – Overview Of Major Benefits
AROMATHERAPY FULL BODY MASSAGE BENEFITS:
- Relaxes, balances and harmonizes the body.
- Reduces stress.
- Strengthens the entire body and supports the body in its own healing process.
- Encourages a healthy immune system to fight infection.
- Enhances lymphatic drainage – this helps to reduce fluid retention and prevent oedema
- Induces a feeling of deep relaxation in the body
- Helps to restore balance in the body
- Increases the oxygen and nutrient supply to the tissues by increasing the blood circulation
- Helps to increase energy levels as blockages and congestion in the nerves are eased
Aromatherapy massage can:
- promote a general state of well-being
- calm and soothe the mind
- help to reduce nervous tension
- help to lift the mood and reduces feelings of depression
- treating anxiety naturally ensures positive mindset and encourages self belief