While many people still view massage therapy as simply a luxury, therapeutic massage has long been used by cultures around the world to relieve pain, promote healing, and to relax the body and mind. Massage can also be key to effectively managing stress without resorting to unhealthy practices like eating unhealthy foods for comfort, using alcohol or drugs, or simply engaging in unhealthy thinking and causing more anxiety.
Stress can manifest itself in many ways physically. Tension headaches, clenched jaw muscles, and muscle knots in the neck and shoulder are just a few examples. Massage helps muscles to relax and can loosen knots and ease tension headaches. Incorporating aromatherapy into a massage brings the added benefit of using natural plant oils to bring about mental relaxation while help loosen tight muscles. By inhaling the scent essential plant oils, the molecules are able to travel to the endocrine system and the autonomic nervous system, bringing a sense of balance to the body. When applied topically, the essential oils are absorbed through the skin and delivered into the bloodstream, where they are carried throughout the body. Self massage is also very helpful for managing stress during the workday or at other times when a massage therapist is not readily accessible. Stretching and applying pressure to sore or stuff muscles can lessen pain and bring about a sense of relaxation.
There are many types of massage therapy that can be incorporated into a stress management plan. Not only can a massage be an indulgent treat to experience every now and then, but incorporating massage into one’s lifestyle directly benefits physical and mental health and overall sense of well-being.