Massage is thought to have been practiced by many different civilizations all around the globe as a form of an ancient treatment for several body conditions ever since tens of thousands of years ago. Even though there was also a point in our history when massage was regarded as a luxury as opposed to medication, today, it is widely considered to be some kind of physical and mental therapy at the same time.

It is not very difficult to feel the immediate effect of massage therapy in our own body because we could sense that our muscles relax and tensions lessen after or even during a session. The continuous application of pressure on each body part where we feel pain can provide comfort and relaxation straight away. This time, we will be focusing on the mental or emotional effects of massage therapy, how it occurs, or if there are such.

Massage Therapy for Reducing Anxiety and Improving Sleep Patterns

Anxiety can be described as “an emotion being characterized by feelings of tension, worrying thoughts, and physical changes such as an increase in blood pressure.” Actually, anxiety is viewed to be a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when a person almost always feels excessive levels of anxiety, it may then become a mental health condition.

Researchers published that massage therapy can reduce anxiety symptoms by first helping in lowering our blood pressure and heart rate and that getting a regular massage therapy session can efficiently get rid of the unwanted emotions attributed to anxiety. In addition to this research, a new study conducted on the National Institute of Health revealed that patients suffering from anxiety had decreased half of their symptoms only three months after going through a series of 10-hour-long massage sessions. It is supposed that the benefits of these therapies may be because of a generalized relaxation reaction which can regulate and even prevent anxiety from transpiring. Another positive effect of having massage therapy on a regular basis is that it can improve our sleeping patterns or help in sleeping problems. Since massage is made for relaxing, the more relaxed we get, the better our sleeping experience will be which also helps greatly in balancing our mood.

Massage Therapy for Stress and Depression

Stress is the reaction of our body to every change (may it be positive or negative) that demands adjustments or any response. Our body responds to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional acknowledgments and releases a hormone called “cortisol”. Stress is normal and can be experienced from either (or all of) our environment, our body, and even from our own thoughts. However, if the stress continues without relief and too much cortisol is produced, it will be able to disturb our body’s internal stability which can eventually lead to emotional and physical symptoms including headaches, increased blood pressure, chest pain, sleeping problems, depression, panic attacks, different forms of anxiety and worry, and many more.

Throughout a massage therapy session, the “stress hormone” cortisol is discharged from our entire body.  Massage is an effective means to lessen cortisol levels to bring our body back into its own hormonal balance. As stated to a series of studies evaluated by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, cortisol levels among its participants with depression or stress problems dropped by up to 53% right after a massage therapy session. This means that massage is an effective way to combat negative hormones and prevent or even serve as a supporting treatment to those suffering from mental health issues.

Massage Releases Hormones That are Good for Mental Health

Massage stimulates the release of “positive” or “feel good” hormones or chemicals in our body such as endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins are chemicals that are normally produced by our nervous system to help us cope with pain or stress. These chemicals also act as a pain reliever and a happiness booster. Serotonin, on the other hand, is a chemical that has a broad set of functions in our body, though one of its main and most important functions is that it greatly contributes to our well-being and happiness. Serotonin is considered to play a big role in our appetite, emotions, and motor, cognitive, and autonomic functions. It also appears to play an important role in maintaining the balance of our moods. Regular production of these chemicals in our body through massage will definitely improve our mood and mental health.

Massage Therapy was Proven to Have Helped Veterans’ Mental Health

A number of researchers have distributed a paper in the publication of Military Medicine explaining the process of reintegration for National Guard members (of the USA) returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. They observed that massage therapy helped veterans in relieving pain, irritability, tension, worry, anxiety, and depression after following them for eight weeks as part of a program to develop treatments for returning veterans. They found out that massage therapies helped veterans to turn off their hyper-aroused survival mechanisms, learned to relax again, and get healthy sleep.

Massage, in all forms, is able to make us feel better both in our physical and emotional aspect. It is a good thing that we now live in a period where there are a lot of establishments and therapists who offer this kind of service, even in a country like ours, the Philippines. Having regular massage therapy sessions can maintain and improve our health especially if performed by an expert. Making it a habit to visit a spa every now and then to relax and to be able to avoid unwanted health issues will definitely be worth every money you will spend.