(image: Ashley Smith)
Massage therapy, which is often sought by people for relaxation, is not only offered by luxurious spas but it’s also becoming a mainstream treatment technique for boosting mental and physical health. Nowadays, healthcare professionals especially physical (physio) therapists are using this age-old and unique healing technique to relieve pain that stems from a wide range of physical and mental health issues.
Yes, massage therapy is not only essential for improving the mood and offering relaxation to those who live an utterly busy life where they have to deal with tight deadlines all the time, but it’s also beneficial for people struggling with conditions like stress, anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder apart from musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses.
Yes, the mental health benefits of massage therapy are endless, so you shouldn’t hesitate to seek it. Divided into several sub-categories such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, sports massage, prenatal massage, and infant massage, etc., massage therapy is one of the most crucial techniques that make it easier for you to live a pain-free and fulfilling life.
If you talk specifically about anxiety disorders which include generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, and selective mutism, they can interrupt your life completely.
Characterised by common symptoms like sweating, trembling, sadness, restlessness, excessive worry, fatigue, insomnia, fear, and nausea, etc., an anxiety disorder makes it difficult for you to focus on both your personal and professional life. For example, if you are struggling with a panic disorder, you will keep on experiencing frequent episodes of intense anxiety and fear that prevent you from concentrating on your work. And when your fear reaches a peak, you encounter a panic attack.
Similarly, if you talk about Generalised Anxiety Disorder, you will keep on worrying about day-to-day activities.
According to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), people who suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) experience excessive worry for a minimum of 6 months about various areas of their life like activities of daily living, interacting with people, and personal health, etc. And this fear makes it difficult for them to do good in these areas.
Experiencing anxiety is normal; the problem comes when you suffer from an anxiety disorder. Yes, there is a vast difference between experiencing anxiety and suffering from an anxiety disorder; the former is quite healthy for you, but the later is a mental illness. That’s true. Normal anxiety helps you prepare for future events and situations, whereas an anxiety disorder like panic disorder and social anxiety disorder, make it difficult for you to face those events.
The fear that stems from normal anxiety disappears soon; however, the worry that attacks you due to an anxiety disorder stays with you until you recover from your problem. And what’s concerning is it can worsen with the passage of time in the absence of professional help.
Yes, seeking professional help is the only way to recover from this mental illness.
According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.” It further states that “Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.”
So, here is how massage therapy can help you battle an anxiety disorder.
In Reducing Stress
The stress that stems from facing tough situations can lead to further health complications if you fail to take professional help for it at the right time. You should take corrective steps to minimise your stress levels if you can. Consulting a licensed physical (physio) therapist to seek massage therapy can bring tremendous change in your health.
I believe that since people struggling with an anxiety disorder also experience high-level of stress, they should seek massage therapy to address anxiety, alongside other methods.
When you are stressed out, your body releases a hormone called Cortisol, which affects several areas in your life such as public speaking, social interactions, performance at work, and happiness.
Since you always feel stressed out, you can’t experience happiness in your life. Therefore, to deal with the problems that you face in different areas of your life, it’s essential that you work on improving your mental health, and one of the best ways to start in this direction is to control your stress levels and promote relaxation by seeking massage therapy.
Your therapist might use Swedish massage to reduce your stress level. According to Gulf Shore Physical Therapy Center, “Swedish massage is more gentle and targets more superficial tissues, perfect for anyone looking to relax and relieve mental as well as physical stress. As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body.”
In Minimising Muscle Tension
Muscle tension and muscle pain are the symptoms of elevated stress level, and hence, people living with an anxiety disorder also experience them. Seeking massage therapy, wherein your massage therapist uses hand techniques to reduce muscle tension and pain, can have significant benefits for your mental health.
Since it offers relaxation, it not only helps in improving your performance at work but also allows you to spend quality time with your loved ones at home.
In Improving Sleep
Sleep problems are one of the most common signs of an anxiety disorder, and massage therapy is in our opinion, the best way to address it. Whether you stay awake the whole night because you find it difficult to fall asleep or you are someone who wakes up frequently from your sleep, massage therapy will deal with these issues by offering relaxation and addressing the problem of muscle tension and pain.
When you enjoy a good night’s sleep, you will wake up feeling fresh and energetic in the morning, which plays a crucial role in improving your entire day.
In Enhancing Your Emotional Well-Being
People with an anxiety disorder often struggle with their mental health and some have depression alongside it. Massage therapy can promote relaxation and boost wellbeing. Experts believe that it has several benefits for mental health, you shouldn’t underestimate its potential to improve your emotional well-being.
Since it reduces stress and anxiety, it eventually stabilises your mind which improves your emotional well-being.
In Reducing Chronic Pain
If you are also living with pain due to an injury or illness apart from an anxiety disorder, massage therapy can help reduce your pain. Since it helps in enhancing circulation, you will see a tremendous improvement in the reduction of pain after a massage therapy session.
It will also accelerate the natural healing process by supplying nutrients to injured tissues.
Massage therapy will also help in enhancing your mind-body connection, which is extremely useful for your overall well-being. It can be used alongside conventional therapies, to support relaxation and good mental health. Try it today.
This article was written by Ashley Smith, freelance writer in the USA