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  • Writer's pictureFrancesco Holistic

How Massage Therapy Can Help With Anxiety

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

Anxiety is a feeling all of us experience at some point in our lives. While some might grapple with it more than others, anxiety in certain situations can be perfectly normal. Anxiety can include feelings of nervousness, worry, fear, uneasiness, trouble concentrating, problems sleeping, as well as a host of other symptoms.

Think back to a significant period of time in your life. Maybe a transitional life moment like having a child or purchasing your first home. Perhaps you moved to a new city on your own or you started a new job with a host of challenges. Did you feel anxious during any of these moments?

Certain situations provide numerous reasons to feel nervous or stressed. Sometimes, when we step outside our comfort zone and work towards personal growth, our body naturally begins to push against that change. This is perfectly normal and a part of the great process of life. Thankfully, there are dozens of different techniques to adapt to those stressors so you can continue to grow and press forward.

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

There are some forms of anxiety that are far more intense than the situation calls for. For example, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) includes persistent and excessive worry about activities or events — even regular day-to-day tasks.

The worry is usually out of proportion to the situation at hand and is difficult to control. Many who suffer from GAD feel anxiety physically as well. It can cause trouble sleeping, and heart palpitations and affect one's overall quality of life.

For some, medication can provide much-needed relief and a host of benefits. For others, a holistic approach to treating anxiety might be more preferential. Which route you take depends on hundreds of different factors including your level of anxiety, your personality, your health needs and beyond.

Remember, everyone has a different path to living a healthy life and what works for one person may not work for another. Embrace your uniqueness and explore the options. Eventually, with the consultation of health professionals, you can find the right path to managing your anxiety and living a more stress-free life.

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Holistic Therapies

There are dozens of holistic treatment approaches to anxiety. They can include everything from various types of meditation to regular exercise and journaling.

One approach that has proven effective for many suffering from chronic anxiety is massage therapy. In addition to health benefits such as improved circulation and reduced blood pressure, massage can help relax the mind and body.

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How Does Massage Relieve Stress?

Massage causes the brain to release dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin. These are known as “feel good” neurotransmitters that help the mind to relax. Massage also reduces cortisol levels in the body which are hormones that contribute to stress. This is a result of the reduction of the fight or flight sympathetic nervous system response.

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The Evidence

There have been dozens of scientific studies measuring the correlation between regular massage treatment appointments and reduced symptoms of anxiety. Many of these studies have had positive results suggesting massage can play a huge role in the holistic journey toward anxiety relief.

For example, the Mayo Clinic found that a 60-minute massage lowers the stress hormone cortisol by up to 30 percent after just one appointment. Even more encouraging is a study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety that found participants who received regular massage treatments for four months had a 50 percent reduction in their anxiety-related symptoms.

In 2018, Doctor James Lake published a piece in Psychology Today that stated the reductions in anxiety after a massage treatment were likely due to decreased levels of cortisol and increased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system.

Furthermore, Lake said that open trials that have seen support for regular massage as a treatment to anxiety found patients with moderate generalized anxiety and anxiety related to work or an invasive medical procedure benefited the most.

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Will Massage Therapy Help My Anxiety?

Anxiety is something that affects all of us at some point in our lives. How we experience that anxiety and its intensity also varies, depending on the person, their health history, situational factors, and other elements. This is all to say that like all holistic health treatments, what works for one patient may not work for another. Part of the journey is learning what your body responds positively to.

That being said, there is evidence to support the use of massage therapy for those suffering from anxiety. In addition to decreasing stress hormones in the body, massage also increases the number of feel-good chemicals like serotonin, as well. When you leave a massage session, you tend to feel lighter and more at ease than before the appointment. That ultimately helps ease the feelings of worry or stress you may have been feeling beforehand.

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Live a Better Life

Anyone that experiences chronic levels of anxiety knows how much it can affect your day-to-day life. Even worrying about an upcoming meeting at work or stressing about a big life change can cause short-term dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Learning to introduce relaxing techniques into your routine is an incredibly powerful tool to combat these feelings.

Helping my patients live happier, fuller lives is my ultimate goal. If you are struggling with increased stress, worry or anxiety in your life and are looking for natural ways to overcome those feelings, consider booking a relaxing massage treatment.

Afterwards, go home and run a warm bath with Epsom salts. These simple self-care steps can have such a positive impact on our mental well-being, and oftentimes we can immediately feel some of the unnecessary worries in our life melt away.

You deserve to live your best life -- I would love to help. Located on the West side of Edmonton, I offer direct billing with most insurance companies. Book an appointment online or send me an email with any questions you might have regarding massage therapy, acupuncture and holistic health practices.

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