woman enjoying a massage to reduce stress and anxiety
Health and Wellness

Massage For Anxiety: Does Massage Help Anxiety & Stress?

Oct 12, 2023

Do you know that massage is an effective tool to relieve your anxiety? 

Massage has been shown to aid in relieving anxiety and stress and is also one of the more accessible treatments. Each of these problems can cause long-term damage to your physical and mental health, so addressing them soon is in your best interest to prevent long-term damage. 

The ADAA suggests that over 19% of the US adult population suffers from some form of anxiety disorder. But does massage help anxiety, or is it just something we assume because of how much it relaxes us? In this post, we'll look at how massage therapy works for anxiety and stress and how a massage chair can help you deal with these conditions.

How Exactly Does Massage Help Anxiety?

Science has shown a significant link between massage and relieving anxiety. Through the manipulation of muscles and tissues, massage triggers a cascade of physiological responses that calm the nervous system and induce a deep sense of relaxation. 

This process is underpinned by the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators. As endorphins surge, the body's stress hormone, cortisol, decreases, contributing to an overall sense of well-being.

Most people who get massages can testify to how relaxing they feel after the fact. Whether it’s a therapist or a massage chair, there are many stories illustrating the relaxing nature of a good massage.  As the science and testimonials align, it becomes evident that massage offers a promising avenue for managing anxiety and stress, providing both physical and emotional relief.

How Massage Affects Anxiety and Stress

Massages are known to help people with their relaxation, reducing how mental health affects physical health. Still, the intricate interplay between physical and psychological areas of well-being is a core part of a good massage. Massage serves as a holistic therapy that offers multifaceted benefits for those grappling with the burdens of anxiety and stress:

Physical Effects

  • Endorphin release: During a massage, the body releases endorphins, natural mood enhancers, and pain relievers. This flood of endorphins induces a sense of euphoria and relaxation, effectively counteracting the stress response.
  • Cortisol reduction: Massage reduces the body's production of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Lower cortisol levels translate to decreasing feelings of anxiety and tension.
  • Muscle relaxation: Massage loosens tense muscles and eases physical tension, a common manifestation of stress. As muscles relax, the mind follows suit, promoting mental calmness.

Psychological Effects

  • Stress reduction: The tactile experience of a massage is inherently soothing, fostering relaxation and reducing anxiety. Clients often report feeling more tranquil and centered after a session.
  •  Emotional connection: The human touch in massage can help individuals feel more connected and less isolated, offering emotional solace to those who are struggling with anxiety-related loneliness.
  • Improved sleep: Regular massage promotes better sleep quality, which is critical for managing stress and anxiety. Sleep is restorative, and massage can help individuals achieve the deep, rejuvenating rest they need.

Choosing to get a massage for anxiety and stress will help you manage both the physical and mental impacts of these conditions.

Types of Massage for Anxiety and Stress

Various techniques can be employed to help individuals overcome their anxiety and stress through massage therapy. Each of these massage techniques offers their own set of benefits:

Swedish Massage

  • Gentle, soothing strokes promote relaxation.
  • Reduces muscle tension and enhances blood circulation.
  • Induces mental calmness and stress relief.

Aromatherapy Massage

  • Combines the benefits of massage with the calming effects of essential oils.
  • Specific oils like lavender, chamomile, or frankincense can target anxiety reduction.
  • Aromas have a direct impact on mood and emotions, enhancing relaxation.

Deep Tissue Massage

  • Targets chronic muscle tension, a common symptom of stress.
  • Breaks down knots and adhesions in muscle fibers.
  • Promotes a sense of physical relief, which can ease emotional tension.

Thai Massage

  • Combines acupressure, assisted yoga stretches, and massage techniques.
  • Increases energy flow, reducing emotional and physical blockages.
  • Enhances flexibility, promoting a sense of balance and peace.

Each of these types of massage offers a distinct approach to alleviating anxiety and stress, catering to individual preferences and needs. Many of these massage techniques are not only limited to physical massage therapists. There are also tools you can use at home for various types of massage, like a massage gun, massage chairs, or a foam roller.

How Often Should I Get a Massage for Anxiety?

We've already covered how massages can help with anxiety and stress but how often you get a massage is also essential in determining how much these massages do. 

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, here are some considerations to help you make an informed choice:

  • Regular appointments: For those who prefer professional massage therapy, scheduling regular appointments can be highly beneficial. Weekly or bi-weekly sessions can help maintain consistent relaxation and anxiety management.
  • Occasional pampering: Even a monthly or quarterly massage can provide a welcome break from stress and anxiety, promoting emotional well-being.

While a professional appointment is a good solution, there are drawbacks in both cost, time commitment, and additional stress of getting to and from an appointment regularly, leading many to explore massage chairs at home.

With a massage chair, convenience ensures you never have to wonder, "How often should I get a massage for anxiety?" These technologically advanced chairs offer on-demand massages, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of massage therapy at home whenever you wish. Some chairs also provide lumbar and heat therapy for added comfort. AI programming has also ensured that they can learn what they need most and keep those settings for their next massage.

Remember, consistency is vital in managing anxiety and stress. Whether through professional massage sessions or the convenience of an at-home massage chair, prioritizing relaxation can lead to more effective anxiety management and an improved quality of life.

What Works Best for Me?

Does massage help anxiety? The results say that it does. The question, "How often should I get a massage for anxiety?" is a bit more challenging to answer, as each person's needs for mental and psychological support for their stress and anxiety differ. 

When figuring out what works best for you, you’ll need to consider your time, availability and severity of the anxiety. For example, setting up a massage requires calling a therapist and making an appointment to see them. Occasionally, some therapists may offer in-home visits, but these tend to be very expensive. Massage chairs are a great alternative to remove the stress of having to call a therapist and coordinating schedules if you’re uncertain how your week will look. With this convenience, you can create regimens that fit your needs specifically and help you overcome the negative feelings of stress and anxiety holistically.

Anxiety can cause both short-term and long-term challenges for your mental and physical health. Be sure to discuss how massage can be integrated into your treatment with a healthcare professional.

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