Massage therapy has been known to lower stress, decrease anxiety, and reduce irritability. Along with increasing brain serotonin and dopamine, the combination of these effects leads to a happier individual.
At PRO Massage we know that the human touch has been shown to activate areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward. The sensory stimulation provided by massage can trigger the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers.
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Chemicals called endorphins are released during a massage. Endorphins increase levels of relaxation and joy while bringing pain relief. Serotonin, dopamine, and other feel-good neurotransmitters join in to enhance well-being feelings long after the massage is done.
- Identify and learn to manage your triggers. You can identify triggers on your own or with a therapist. …
- Try therapy. …
- Ask your doctor about medications. …
- Do a daily or routine meditation. …
- Keep a journal. …
- Socialize. …
- Staying active.
- Tips to Stop Anxiety Now. Living with anxiety can be incredibly difficult. …
- Control Your Breathing. …
- Talk to Someone Friendly. …
- Try Some Aerobic Activity. …
- Find What Relaxes You. …
- Aromatherapy and Essential Oils. …
- Learn How to Manage Your Anxious Thoughts. …
- Learn Grounding Techniques.
Tips to Stop Anxiety Now
Living with anxiety can be incredibly difficult. It’s important that you don’t allow yourself to live with the symptoms forever. You need to make smart decisions and commit to long-term treatment. The following ten strategies can help you begin to lessen your anxiety today.
1. Control Your Breathing
Severe anxiety symptoms are often linked to poor breathing habits. Many men and women with anxiety suffer from poor breathing habits that contribute to anxiety and many of the most upsetting symptoms.
Controlling your breathing is a solution – and it’s not what you think. Even if you feel you can’t take a deep breath, you actually need to slow down and reduce your breathing, not speed it up or try to take deeper breaths. Take more controlled, slower breaths, using the following technique:
- Breathe in slowly and gently through your nose for about 5 to 7 seconds.
- Hold for about three or four seconds.
- Breathe out slowly and gently through pursed lips like you’re whistling for about 7 to 9 seconds.
Repeat this exercise ten to twenty times. This method of breathing will ensure that you’re not hyperventilating (a common problem of those with anxiety) and will help to regain the Co2 balance in your body that creates many of the worst anxiety symptoms.
2. Talk to Someone Friendly
Another very effective technique is to talk to someone you like and trust, especially on the phone. Don’t be shy about your anxiety – tell them you feel anxious and explain what you’re feeling.
Talking to nice, empathetic people keeps your mind off of your symptoms, and the supportive nature of friends and family gives you an added boost of confidence. If you’re suffering from a panic attack, it also helps you feel more confident that if something were wrong, you’d have someone who can watch over you.
3. Try Some Aerobic Activity
During periods of anxiety, your body is filled with adrenaline. Putting that adrenaline toward aerobic activity can be a great way to improve your anxiety. Exercise has numerous advantages for controlling your anxiety symptoms:
- Exercise burns away stress hormones that create anxiety symptoms.
- Exercise tires your muscles, reducing excess energy and tension.
- Exercise releases endorphins in your brain which can improve overall mood.
- Exercise is linked to healthier breathing.
- Exercise is a healthy distraction.
Aerobic activity, like light jogging or even fast walking, can be extremely effective at reducing the severity of your anxiety symptoms, as well as the anxiety itself.
4. Find What Relaxes You
There are already things in your life that relax you. You may find it beneficial to make a list of things you enjoy and that help you to relax so you can reference it when symptoms of anxiety arise. When you notice your anxiety rising turn to those activities to help stop symptoms before they escalate.
For example, if you find that a warm bath is relaxing, don’t wait, draw a bath, maybe light some candles or add a few nice scents and get in. Whether it’s a bath, a shower, skipping stones at a park, or getting a massage – if it works, do it right away, rather than allowing yourself to become overwhelmed by your anxiety.
5. Aromatherapy and Essential Oils
Essential oils, extracted from plants, have been used for thousands of years to treat a number of conditions, including anxiety. Essential oils activate certain areas of your brain and release feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. They have been found to ease symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, improve mood, and improve sleep.
Recommended use includes diffusing, inhalation, or topical treatment which can aid with anxiety symptoms. When diffusing an essential oil or essential oil blend (a few oils mixed together) you will need an essential oil diffuser to fill your space with the desired scent. Inhalation is used by deeply smelling the essential oil straight from the bottle or by applying a drop or two of the oil on something such as a diffuser pad (often felt or leather) lava bead that is connected to a bracelet, necklace, or even keychain. You can also place a drop or two of essential oil into your hands, rub them together, then cup your hands and take a few deep inhalations to get the desired effect.
You can also apply essential oils directly to the skin in areas such as the back of the neck, the wrists, over the heart, behind your ears, and on the carotid artery in your neck. Proper dilution, for a healthy adult, is typically 2% which means that you mix one teaspoon of a carrier oil (examples include olive oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, or avocado oil) with 2 drops of essential oil. It is recommended that all essential oils be diluted however many individuals make a personal choice as to whether or not they want to dilute and how much. Also, for young children, babies, elderly, and unhealthy individuals stronger dilution is strongly recommended.
You should be sure that the essential oils you use are pure oils and not mixed with chemicals. Some good brands to use include Mountain Rose Herbs, Plant Therapy, Young Living, and Doterra. You can do your own research to find a brand that will best work for you and your budget. Remember that a bottle of essential oil will last a long time since you typically use only a few drops at a time.
Essential oils that are great for treating anxiety include:
- Dark chocolate.
- Green tea.
- Behavioral therapy.
- Deep breathing.
- Speaking with your health care professional.
Ashwagandha or With ania somnifera is among a group of herbs called “adaptogens.” Adaptogens affect systems and hormones that regulate a person’s stress response. Ashwagandha has a long history of use in traditional Indian, or Ayurvedic, medication
- Step back and look at how you’re responding.
- Find a distraction.
- Take a deep breath.
- Look at the bigger picture.
- Do something nice for someone else.
- Recognize automatic negative thoughts (ANTs)
- Acknowledge your successes.
- Drinking too much caffeine.
- Not getting enough sleep.
- Being in a cluttered or messy space. .
- Being stressed.
- Experiencing financial troubles.
- Being in conflict.
- Experiencing major life transitions.
- Falling into ‘negative self-talk’
The Booming Business of American Anxiety
A flurry of companies and entrepreneurs aim to fill the demand for mental health help
A search for “anxiety relief” on Google pulls up links for supplements in the form of pills, patches, gummies, and mouth sprays. There are vibrating devices that hang around your neck and “tone your vagus nerve,” weighted stuffed animals, bead-filled stress balls, and coloring books that claim to bring calm. Ads for online talk therapy apps pop up on social media sites.
Americans are anxious—and a flurry of old-line companies, upstarts, and opportunistic entrepreneurs aim to fill the demand for relief.
Anxiety has come into focus across the country in part due to the stress of the pandemic, increased awareness about mental health, and more screening in schools and at doctors’ offices. In a recent federal survey, 27% of respondents reported they had symptoms of an anxiety disorder. That’s up from 8% in 2019, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Americans looking for help have found that the supply of available and qualified therapists hasn’t kept up with demand. Some can’t afford the fees. That has left a growing industry geared toward anxiety outside the medical and traditional mental-health professions, including supplements, products, and mental-health coaches.
The science behind much of the industry is unclear and in some cases questioned by scientists and researchers. The antianxiety claims of most products have no federal or regulatory oversight. The role of the Food and Drug Administration is to ensure that supplements meet safety standards, and are well manufactured and accurately labeled, but the agency doesn’t need to approve supplements before they can be sold or marketed. Supplements might interact with other medications.
Wearable devices aren’t regulated if they are intended for general wellness. Some scientists say there haven’t been enough large-scale, peer-reviewed studies to determine whether such products, which can cost hundreds of dollars, work. There’s also limited research on mental health coaching, and clinicians warn that adequate training is needed to identify people in crisis and direct them to appropriate treatment.
Some in the industry say the science will catch up, and their goal is to fill the gap in a shortage of options for treatment.
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Benefits of Massage for Anxiety
Did you know that aside from physical benefits, massage therapy also provides numerous mental and emotional benefits?
Massage therapy, broadly defined, is the manual manipulation of muscles and certain other soft tissues in the body, including connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons, with the purpose of improving a person’s health and well-being. Licensed massage therapists are highly trained and well-versed in anatomy and physiology, and they use their expertise to improve wellness in a variety of ways.
Let’s take a look at some of the practical mental benefits that come from participating in massage therapy.
1. Improve your relaxation skills:
When people become relaxed, their heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption, and salivary cortisol levels decrease. This helps reduce stress and anxiety, which are the two leading causes of depression.
Great news! You don’t even need to schedule an hour-long Swedish massage to reap the short-term benefits of a quick massage. Studies have shown that physiological and psychological changes occurred even after 10-15 minute-long chair massages. No matter how busy your schedule is, you can easily make time for a short chair massage. For even more significant benefits, try combining massage therapy with aromatherapy.
2. Rest more efficiently:
Massages aren’t only useful for in-the-moment relaxation. Massages have been shown to improve sleep patterns in all types of people including children, adolescents, and adults who suffer from insomnia, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, migraines, and more.
Research has demonstrated that those who received a 30-minute massage twice a week for five weeks reported a significant decrease in pain, which led to fewer sleep disturbances.
Tip: If professional massages aren’t financially doable, recruiting your partner as your massage therapist can help! Even a light 3-minute massage before going to bed can make a difference.
3. Alleviate the symptoms of chronic illnesses and diseases:
People suffering from chronic illnesses and diseases also experience higher stress levels. Elevated stress can worsen the chronic condition which, in turn, can lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle. While massage therapy hasn’t been proven to cure any disease, it has been found to improve the quality of life for many individuals.
For example, children with cancer who have regular massages were found to have reduced side effects from their cancer treatment such as reduced pain, anxiety, and depression. This has the added benefit of placing the child in a better psychological and physiological state to better battle their illness.
4. Increase your overall happiness:
Massage therapy has been known to lower stress, decrease anxiety, and reduce irritability. Along with increasing brain serotonin and dopamine, the combination of these effects leads to a happier individual. Being a happier person can have an infinite number of effects on their personal life and the lives of those around them.
While scheduling regular messages isn’t financially plausible for everyone, it should be carefully considered for people looking for a holistic way of improving their mental health.
Discuss in-depth research and the science of the Benefits of Massage for Anxiety
Massage therapy has gained recognition as a complementary approach to managing anxiety and promoting relaxation. While my knowledge is based on information available up until September 2021, I can provide you with an in-depth overview of the benefits of massage for anxiety, supported by research and the scientific understanding of how massage affects the body and mind. The Benefits of Massage for Anxiety:
- Stress Reduction: One of the primary benefits of massage is its ability to reduce stress levels. Massage triggers the body’s relaxation response, leading to decreased heart rate, lower blood pressure, and a reduction in the production of stress hormones like cortisol. This physiological response helps counteract the body’s stress response and promotes a sense of calm.
- Release of Neurotransmitters: Massage is known to stimulate the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. These “feel-good” chemicals play a crucial role in regulating mood, emotions, and anxiety levels. Increased levels of these neurotransmitters can contribute to an improved mood and reduced anxiety.
- Improved Parasympathetic Activity: Massage can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the “rest and digest” system. This counteracts the effects of the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the “fight or flight” response) and promotes relaxation, slower breathing, and a sense of well-being.
- Reduction of Muscle Tension: Anxiety often leads to muscle tension and physical discomfort. Massage helps relax tense muscles, release knots, and increase blood flow to the tissues. This can alleviate physical symptoms of anxiety and contribute to an overall feeling of relaxation.
- Mind-Body Connection: Massage promotes mindfulness and body awareness. The focused attention on physical sensations during a massage session can divert the mind from anxious thoughts, fostering a stronger connection between the mind and body.
Scientific Understanding of Massage’s Effects: The mechanisms underlying the benefits of massage for anxiety are complex and involve both physiological and psychological factors:
- Touch and Sensory Stimulation: Human touch has been shown to activate areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward. The sensory stimulation provided by massage can trigger the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers.
- Autonomic Nervous System Regulation: Massage stimulates the autonomic nervous system, which plays a critical role in regulating bodily functions. This stimulation helps shift the balance from sympathetic dominance (stress response) to parasympathetic activation (relaxation response).
- Hormonal Changes: Research suggests that massage can influence hormone levels. For example, cortisol levels may decrease after a massage session, contributing to reduced stress and anxiety.
- Anxiolytic Effects: Massage is thought to activate the body’s “restorative” systems, promoting a sense of safety and well-being. This can lead to a reduction in anxiety and increased feelings of relaxation.
Research on Massage for Anxiety: Numerous studies have investigated the effects of massage on anxiety:
- A study published in the “Journal of Clinical Psychology” (2010) found that massage therapy significantly reduced anxiety levels in patients with generalized anxiety disorder.
- A meta-analysis published in the “Journal of Clinical Psychiatry” (2010) reviewed 17 studies on massage therapy for anxiety and stress. The analysis concluded that massage had a positive impact on reducing both state and trait anxiety levels.
- A study in the “Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine” (2014) reported that a single session of Swedish massage reduced anxiety in women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy.
- Research published in the “Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies” (2018) indicated that aromatherapy massage reduced psychological and physiological measures of anxiety in patients with colorectal cancer.
While these studies highlight the potential benefits of massage for anxiety, it’s important to note that individual responses to massage can vary. Additionally, massage should not replace professional medical treatment for anxiety disorders but can serve as a complementary approach. In conclusion, the science behind the benefits of massage for anxiety involves a combination of physiological responses, neurotransmitter release, and psychological effects. Research suggests that massage can effectively reduce anxiety levels, promote relaxation, and improve overall well-being. However, ongoing research and further studies are needed to better understand the specific mechanisms by which massage exerts its effects on anxiety.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.