If you’re feeling the impacts of stress, a good stress reliever massage could be the key to relaxation. When a massage therapist rubs your shoulders or kneads your lower back in just the right spot, worries like a work deadline or that argument with your partner just melt away. There have been numerous studies that have shown that massage is good for stress relief. One study of nurses found that massage reduces stress and promotes mental health. Another study found that people reached higher levels of psychological and physical relaxation after just 10 minutes of massage therapy. Although not everyone enjoys receiving a massage, for many people, a regular massage can lead to a happier life.
Spotting the Symptoms of Stress
The sudden adrenaline rush of a stressful event, like narrowly avoiding a car accident, is easy to spot. However, chronic stress can be more difficult to recognize. This type of stress is caused by consistent feelings of pressure and overburden, which can lead to physical and mental symptoms. Physical signs of stress can include headaches, insomnia and tense muscles. Stress can also leave you feeling overwhelmed, irritable, anxious and depressed. If you notice any of these signs, finding ways to relieve your stress can ease the symptoms.
Best Styles of Stress Reliever Massage
Just taking time out for yourself can help relieve stress. When you add the soothing touch of a massage therapist, calming music and a chance to lie down and relax, any massage has the potential to reduce stress. The right stress reliever massage for you will depend largely on your personal preferences. Some people prefer a light touch, while others like the release they get from deep tissue work. You may have time to visit a day spa or might need to squeeze in a massage between client appointments. No matter what you prefer, there’s a stress relieving massage that can help you.
Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicine that’s similar to acupuncture. The difference is that fingertips are used to apply pressure to parts of the body, rather than needles. It is still unknown why exactly acupressure works. Some believe that the pressure helps release endorphins, while others believe it influences the part of the nervous system that controls breathing, digestion and other involuntary actions. Either way, the gentle strokes and touches on your pressure points may help relieve pain, treat insomnia and manage stress.
Swedish massage is a very common massage technique that uses kneading, percussion, vibration, tapping and rolling to relax muscles. The massage therapist uses oil or lotion to protect your skin from friction and manipulate muscles and joints. These techniques release knots in the muscles that are caused by stress. As the knots melt away, so does your stress. Swedish massage also promotes blood circulation, which can leave you feeling energized and can help relieve pain.
Aromatherapy massage is a type of Swedish massage and uses the same techniques to work your muscles. The difference is that the masseuse uses essential oils in the massage oil. These oils are inhaled and absorbed through the skin to give you added benefits. Different essential oils have different effects. For example, lavender is calming, while rose can leave you feeling uplifted. Your aromatherapist may use one oil on your skin and have another one open so you can experience the scent.
Reflexology is a type of massage used on the hands and feet. In traditional Chinese medicine, different areas of the hands and feet are believed to correspond to different organs in the body. When pressure is applied on these areas, it sends healing energy to where it’s needed. More modern theories suggest that the touch of reflexologists calms the central nervous system, which promotes relaxation. Reflexology can be a good massage choice for people who don’t have much time, as it concentrates on only one area of the body.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage uses firm pressure to massage the deep layers of your muscles, as well as the fascia, which are the connective tissues around your muscles. This technique is very good at easing deep knots caused by stress and tension. Relieving the physical symptoms of stress, such as tight shoulders and tension headaches, helps your body relax. This can also help your mind relax, leading to overall stress relief.
Hot Stone Massage
Hot stone massage adds the benefits of heat to your massage. Smooth, flat stones are heated to 130–145 degrees and placed on different parts of your body. The stones may be put on your spine, stomach, chest, face, palms or feet. The massage therapist holds the stones while they massage your body using strokes, circular movements, tapping and vibration. The heat increases blood flow and can help ease pain, tension and muscle spasms. Like other massage styles, it also promotes relaxation and reduces stress.
Head and Shoulder Massage
A head and shoulder massage uses Swedish massage techniques on your head, neck and shoulders to ease tension in those parts of the body. These are common places to hold tension, and tight muscles in the neck and shoulders can lead to headaches and back pain. People who work at computers all day often have muscle knots in their shoulders that can be eased by a head and shoulder massage. The best part of this massage type is that it’s quick and doesn’t require you to get undressed. Masseuses often perform these massages in a massage chair, letting you get some stress relief during your lunch break or before a flight.
How Massage Helps Stress
No matter the technique used, stress reliever massages have similar impacts on your body. Studies have found that massage therapies reduce the stress hormone cortisol in your body. With less cortisol in your body, your heart, blood pressure and other systems can return to a relaxed state. Massage also increases serotonin, which helps regulate moods, and dopamine, which helps make you feel good. Unchecked stress can have a huge impact on your body, emotions and mental health. Taking steps to relieve stress not only makes you physically healthier, it can help improve your focus, energy levels and relationships. If you’re struggling to manage stress in your life, Sun Health Center can help you find strategies to relax. Call to talk to a brain optimization expert and start your journey to stress relief.