Massage has been practiced for thousands of years now, and we’re lucky to have more than a few types to choose from. Various massage therapy treatments focus on different parts of the body and have different healing approaches. By easing tension and reducing pain, a proper massage can improve physical or mental health. Read on to learn which massage therapy types are great for your mind.
Massage Therapy and Mental Health
Studies show that massage has the ability to alleviate symptoms of psychological problems. Anxiety, mood disorders, depression, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and eating disorders are some of those. Researchers still don’t know exactly why massage therapy helps with mental health conditions, but they believe how it does:
- Activates neurotransmitters that lower cortisol (stress hormone), blood pressure, and heart rate.
- Increases oxytocin (aka love or social hormone) and serotonin (key hormone in stabilizing mood) levels.
- Increases overall health and stamina.
- Relaxes hyper-aroused senses.
- Helps physical and mental state fight off disease to increase quality of life.
Massage therapy can be a complementary form of therapy. For instance, it can go with psychotherapy like CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Relaxation and other helpful techniques, including ones that can be continued at home, also add to massage therapy’s efficacy.
A type of full-body massage, Swedish massage is very gentle and relaxing. It’s ideal for those who are new to massage, sensitive to touch, or have a lot of tension. The massage therapist releases muscle knots by using deep circular motions, kneading, and long smooth strokes in the direction of the heart.
Hot Stone Massage
If you want to ease muscle tension and improve your blood flow, you should try hot stone massage. A massage therapist will gently press smooth, hot stones on certain parts of your body. This process warms the body and loosens tight muscles while also comforting you and balancing your energy.
A lot of people usually find Shiatsu pleasant. A form of Japanese bodywork, it uses finger pressure on acupuncture meridians in a rhythmic sequence. Each point is held for two to eight seconds to improve the flow of energy. It’s relaxing despite firm pressure and soreness is not too common afterwards. Shiatsu massage is perfect for stress-relief, pain alleviation, anxiety, and depression.
Like Shiatsu, Thai massage aligns the body’s energies using gentle pressure on specific points. You’ll like this if you prefer a more active type of massage. Similar to stretching in yoga, the massage therapist moves you into a sequence of postures. Thai massage improves your circulation and flexibility without doing much work (unlike yoga).
Another massage type that helps with conditions like anxiety and depression. Acupressure is an ancient remedy of Chinese traditional medicine that also balances the body’s energy. It’s perfect for those who want a natural way to relieve pain. Headache, menstrual cramps, and motion sickness are only a few examples of problems acupressure can treat.
Aromatherapy combines soft, gentle pressure with the use of essential oils (plant extracts). You’ll be given a full-body massage while inhaling essential oils through a diffuser. You or the massage therapist can choose which to use. Lavender is a common one because it can help with nausea, anxiety, insomnia, etc.
All in all, massage therapy is one of the best alternative therapies for mental health improvement. Depending on a person’s case, it can and does work for particular conditions. If you feel like giving massage therapy a go, seek professional advice first. Make sure that the therapy you end up with is safe and right for you. Once you’ve done so, look for a licensed and well-trained massage therapist who can meet your specific needs.
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