Did you know that aside from physical benefits, massage therapy also provides numerous mental and emotional benefits?
Massage therapy, broadly defined, is the manual manipulation of muscles and certain other soft tissues in the body, including connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons, with the purpose of improving a person’s health and well-being. Licensed massage therapists are highly-trained and well-versed in anatomy and physiology, and they use their expertise to improve wellness in a variety of ways.
Let’s take a look at some of the practical mental benefits that come from participating in massage therapy.
1. Improve your relaxation skills:
When people become relaxed, their heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption, and salivary cortisol levels decrease. This helps reduce stress and anxiety, which are the two leading causes of depression.
Great news! You don’t even need to schedule an hour-long Swedish massage to reap the short-term benefits of a quick massage. Studies have shown that physiological and psychological changes occurred even after 10-15 minute-long chair massages. No matter how busy your schedule is, you can easily make time for a short chair massage. For even more significant benefits, try combining massage therapy with aromatherapy.
2. Rest more efficiently:
Massages aren’t only useful for in-the-moment relaxation. Massages have been shown to improve sleep patterns in all types of people including children, adolescents, and adults that suffer from insomnia, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, migraines, and more.
Research has demonstrated that those who received a 30-minute massage twice a week for five weeks reported a significant decrease in pain, which led to fewer sleep disturbances.
Tip: If professional massages aren’t financially doable, recruiting your partner as your massage therapist can help! Even a light 3-minute massage before going to bed can make a difference.
3. Alleviate the symptoms of chronic illnesses and diseases:
People suffering from chronic illnesses and diseases also experience higher stress levels. Elevated stress can worsen the chronic condition which, in turn, can lead to even more stress, all creating a vicious cycle. While massage therapy hasn’t been proven to cure any disease, it has been found to improve the quality of life for many individuals.
For example, children with cancer who have regular massages were found to have reduced side effects from their cancer treatment such as reduced pain, anxiety, and depression. This has the added benefit of placing the child in a better psychological and physiological state to better battle their illness.
4. Increase your overall happiness:
Massage therapy has been known to lower stress, decrease anxiety, and reduce irritability. Along with increasing brain serotonin and dopamine, the combination of these effects lead to a happier individual. Being a happier person can have an infinite number of effects on their personal life and the lives of those around them.
While scheduling regular messages isn’t financially plausible for everyone, it should be carefully considered for people looking for a holistic way of improving their mental health.
For more information on the benefits of massage therapy, we invite you to download our career resource — A Career Guide to Becoming a Massage Therapist.
About the Author
NUHS Admissions Team