According to the American Psychological Association, Americans are the most stressed they have been in ten years, since the APA began their “Stress in America” survey. Of course, many people wouldn’t need the results of this poll to tell them that anxiety levels are up. The APA’s survey usually credits the primary factors of stress as money, work, and the economy, but this year, the political situation has been leaving Americans more fraught than ever.
We know we’re stressed, but finding solutions for this stress may be more difficult. Depending on someone’s situation in life, there may be no one “fix” for ongoing anxiety, especially since our lives overall have become so much more complex than they were even twenty years ago. But short of quitting work and school and living in a hermitage on a mountaintop, the buildup of stress and anxiety can be alleviated by a simple destressing massage.
Anxiety and the Body
Stress is a physical, chemical response of the body to perceived danger. It is one of the body’s primal responses—originally designed to help us fight or flee wild animals, the brain triggers the release of extra cortisol (sometimes it’s called the stress hormone), which ultimately is designed to keep our muscles ready to either fight or flee. Nowadays, the kind of stress we face isn’t about making a quick escape, but our bodies still get filled with cortisol, which suppresses our immune system and increases our blood sugar. Many times, high levels of stress become sustained, which has a very real and negative effect on our bodies and our overall health.
What Massage Therapy Does
Anxiety, brought on by prolonged stress, can cause digestive issues, high blood pressure, loss of sleep, and many other ailments. Very often, people carry their tension in their neck, shoulders, and upper back, which can become so tight from tension that living a normal life is a struggle at times. Massage therapy can target certain pressure points to relieve tension, which is typically why many people come to massage therapists. However, massage therapy also increases oxytocin and serotonin levels—the body’s happy, relaxing chemicals—and this can actually lower your levels of stress, lower your blood pressure, and boost your mood. Achieving relaxation through massage also helps you sleep better throughout the night.
People tend to think of massages as an indulgence or something used for relieving back or neck pain. But there are many benefits to massage, which can help relieve other conditions including poor circulation, chronic headaches, and arthritis. Not all types of anxiety can be quickly or easily relieved. And while massage therapy can’t fix the government or make your boss a better manager, regular massage therapy treatments can help you regain the balance of your life and take the stress out of your body. As with any physical treatment, make sure your massage therapist is certified, especially when looking for a more specialized massage treatment such as sports massage, reflexology, or prenatal massage.
At Massage Concepts, we are dedicated to helping clients improve health and achieve a more balanced lifestyle. For more information, for appointments, or to view a full listing of our services, visit us at massageconceptsdelmar.com.