Can massage help anxiety?

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Anxiety is a common and natural emotion, characterised by feelings of unease, worry or apprehension. These can be triggered by various factors, ranging from significant life events to everyday actions. Anxiety is a response to our world around us, which can be helpful in providing motivation or keeping us safe from harm. Excessive anxiety can disrupt our lives, causing distress, overwhelm and avoidance.

Physical symptoms can include heart palpitations, stomach upsets, or shortness of breath. If you’re experiencing physical symptoms, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying health conditions.

Experiencing feelings of anxiety isn’t the same as having an anxiety disorder, this is a diagnosable mental health condition characterised by persistent, overwhelming and intense feelings of anxiety that are out of proportion to the situation or event that triggered them. Find out more here.

Social and environmental factors can contribute to the development of anxiety and affect our ability to engage effectively in many situations. These social and environmental factors can include childhood trauma, social isolation, negative life events, stress relating to work or education, physical or mental health problems. Gender can also play a part. Women are almost twice as likely to experience anxiety as men. More info here 

How can massage help with anxiety?

You may be aware of the many beneficial physical effects of massage, but did you know it’s hugely beneficial for our mental health. How we feel physically affects how we feel mentally and vice versa, it’s not just the indulgence of a relaxation massage, the soothing and therapeutic touch can have a profound impact on reducing anxiety and stress.

One of the primary ways in which massage helps with anxiety is by activating the release of endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins are hormones produced in your brain to help relieve pain, reduce stress and improve mood. and Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a messenger chemical that carries signals between nerve cells in the brain.

Massage therapy also helps to reduce the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the body. Elevated cortisol levels are often linked to anxiety and can contribute to its physiological and psychological symptoms. By decreasing cortisol production, massage can assist in restoring a state of balance in the body, leading to reduced anxiety levels. Reflexology can also be extremely helpful too, providing deep relaxation, reducing feelings of anxiety and improving overall well-being. All treatments take place in a safe and supportive space.

Self-massage can help too

Here’s some ideas to get you going, take it slowly and remember to breath

  1.  Sit comfortably with your back supported against the back of the chair, feet firmly on the ground and hands and arms open and relaxed. Take a couple of deep breaths before starting.
  2. With a deep breath in, raise the shoulders towards the ears and hold them raised for a few seconds. Then slowly breathe out and drop the shoulders. Repeat several times.
  3. Place your left hand on your right shoulder. Squeeze gently and then release. Repeat down the right arm to the elbow. Repeat several times. Place your right hand on your left shoulder and repeat the exercise.
  4. Place the fingers or thumbs of both hands at the base of your skull; apply slow circular pressures down from the base of the skull to the base of the neck. This feels great for tension headaches too.
  5. Close your eyes, place the fingers of both hands on each side of the temples and slowly massage in circular motion. Give you jaw muscles some attention to loosen any tension held there.
  6. Rub your hands and place them over your eyes and take a few deep breaths. 

Something for your feet

Whilst seated roll a soft ball, may be a tennis ball around the instep area of your foot. Roll it around and back and forth for as long as you want. 

With both the above ease off anything that feels painful!

What else can I do? 

Getting out in nature, exercise, singing, art, and focusing on your breath all can help, see fuller details here, all suggestions are helpful in managing anxiety as well as stress. See here for other coping ideas from the Mental health foundation

For counselling and other resources check the WellBN info here. Scroll down to mental health

Anxiety UK also has more helpful info

Anxiety and how to manage it, talk about it and get help is the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week May 15th – 23rd 2023. 

Feel free to contact me to find out how my treatments can help youThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 07739155807