Depression is a mental health disorder associated with feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and sadness. Anxiety is characterized by nervousness, unease, and worry. It is an umbrella term for many mental health disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and many others. One form of treatment that can help individuals cope with the symptoms of anxiety and depression is massage.
Massage therapy addresses the soft tissues in the body to promote relaxation, decrease pain and improve bodily functions. This is a therapy that has been used through the ages to strengthen the body, mind, and soul. In today’s modern world, many people turn to massage therapy to help them become more relaxed and less anxious.
A massage can lower the cortisol levels throughout the body while stimulating more activity in the parasympathetic nervous system. This part of the nervous system is in charge of digestion and rest. It is the opposite of the flight or fight response, which becomes activated when someone gets stressed and experiences raised cortisol levels.
When you address both cortisol levels and the parasympathetic nervous system, this can have a dual effect on relaxing the body and easing stress. Many people that receive a massage report that it enables them to put aside their fears, negative thoughts, and worries by becoming fully relaxed. In today’s busy world, this is a therapeutic treatment for anybody, but it is especially useful for those that already suffer from anxiety, depression, or a combination of both.
Although there are studies on the relationship between anxiety, depression, and massage therapy, there is much more research that needs to take place in the future. For example, some experts believe that the positive effects gained from a massage last a long time following the conclusion of the massage session. In addition, many clients also note that their sleeping patterns have improved, which has led to an improvement in their overall mental and physical health.
During the massage session
When you are at your appointment, it’s best to lay back and enjoy the massage and not worry about casting aside negative thoughts. In some cases, people with anxiety or depression find it difficult to clear their minds even during a massage, which can cause even more depression or anxiety. Instead, try to focus on what is happening with the massage and how it makes you feel.
Think of all the relaxing vibes you are experiencing. Instead of dealing with negative emotions by getting rid of them, focus on the positive sensations you feel during the session. This can help you better ease into the massage experience and help you process all of the gains you are getting from it.
If you are suffering from anxiety or depression and haven’t yet experienced a massage session, this is worth trying. The only way you’ll know whether it can help you get some relief from your negative emotions is to try it for yourself. It may end up being a treatment that you can add to your arsenal to help you feel better on a day-to-day basis.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.
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