Stress is an inevitable part of life. It is almost impossible to take away all the stress and anxiety we may feel on a day-to-day basis. Research suggests that more than 90 percent of illness results from stress alone. Decreasing physical and emotional stress is optimal to improving overall health and well-being. When you ask exactly how massage therapy works to benefit people with anxiety and depression, the most accurate answer is “we don’t yet know.” But that’s not to say the benefits aren’t real, we believe that is has something to do with the sense of touch.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 40 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety disorders. Anxiety and its disorders shape the quality of life and the health of those individuals affected. Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It’s increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations including anxiety.
First, you need to find a massage therapist who knows how exactly to deal with problems associated with anxiety issues. This may entail some research or even some trial and error until you find the right therapist for you. It would also be beneficial for you and your chosen therapist for you to tell him or her about the specific results that you are after. This is why it is crucial to search for a therapist who also knows how to listen to his or her clients. Once you have established a connection with your therapist, you can try different types of massage and find which ones work best for your needs. Relaxation massages are best for treating anxiety, but you can try just about any type of massage to help calm your nerves.
A review of more than a dozen massage studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University Of Miami School Of Medicine concludes that massage therapy relieves depression and anxiety by affecting the body’s biochemistry. In a series of studies including approximately 500 men, women, and children with depression or stress problems, researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in participants before and immediately after massage and found that the therapy lowered levels by up to 53%. (Cortisol can drive up blood pressure and blood sugar levels and suppress the immune system.) Massage also increased serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that help reduce depression and anxiety.
Massage has long been known to enhance relaxation. While massage alone is an effective method for relaxation, studies suggest that massage with essential oils (called aromatherapy), may result in improved sleep quality, more stable mood, increased mental capacity, and reduced anxiety. Clinical studies have found participants who received massage with aromatherapy felt less anxious and more positive than participants who received massage alone. We recommend trying the AromaTouch technique .
A 60-minute massage can lower cortisol (a hormone produced under stress) by an average of 30 percent. When cortisol levels decline, serotonin (an anti-pain hormone) increases by an average of 28 percent after receiving a massage. By lowering cortisol and increasing serotonin, you’re boosting your body’s ability to fight off pain, anxiety and feelings of sadness in addition to boosting the effectiveness of your immune system.
Stress is an inevitable part of life – it is almost impossible to take away all the stress and anxiety we may feel on a day-to-day basis. Keep in mind, too, that massage helps tackle the physical consequences of your anxiety like near-constant jaw-clenching, balling of fists, and shoulder-hunching. Research suggests that more than 90 percent of illness results from stress alone. Decreasing physical and emotional stress is optimal to improving overall health and well-being – schedule your healing and life improving massage today.
For parents, there are two words that can make even the bravest twinge- summer break. While the first week seems like a vacation with sleeping in and lounging around all day, the other two dreaded words will make an appearance shortly – “I’m bored!” So how does a parent stay sane during this time when the kids are home all day and begging to be entertained?
- Keep a little of the structure in the summer days. It is easy enough to let the kids make their own schedules during this time – there is all day to get things done around the house. However, a complete lack of structure will lead to chaos and frustration. Set an expectation that each child should accomplish 5 things at the start of everyday. Get dressed for the day, read for 20 minutes, do some light chores (make their bed, pick up the toys, wipe down the bathroom sink, etc.), write for 20 minutes, and play outside for 20 minutes. These 5 items will only take up a small portion of the day, but that is a portion you won’t have to figure out activities.
- Learn a new skill. There is so much to be done during the school year that the summer break is a great time to learn something new. Teach the kids how to bake and they will have snacks too. Maybe your child wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument. Go to your local music store and see if they rent instruments. With all the resources available on YouTube, you could save money on lessons in case it isn’t an instrument your child is truly interested in. What about teaching your middle school child how to do laundry? Or teaching your high schooler how to balance a checkbook? There are so many new things to learn that summer break allows us all time to explore.
- Paid work. Do you have older children? Nothing inspires a teenager more than the concept of earning their own money. Your child may not be old enough to go to work full time, but there are lots of opportunities available. Check with the local pool to see if they are hiring for part time work. Often small businesses will offer seasonal work to teenagers who are too young to enter the workforce but are looking for ways to make money. There are always parents looking for babysitters – make some flyers for the neighborhood. If there are a lot of younger kids in the neighborhood, maybe your teenager would be interested in running a mini day camp. This gives the neighborhood kids something to do during the day AND gives their parents a break.
- Look for free events. Home Depot, Lowes, and even Pottery Barn will often hold free kids’ workshops. Keep an eye and ear out for these types of events. Local libraries will also hold events for kids, like story time for younger children or teen book clubs. Some libraries even offer classes like coding and computer programming or creative writing.
- At home activities. Be sure to have a plan for those days that are just too hot to venture outside. Have your kids invite some friends over to put on a talent show. Depending on the number of kids and the amount of time you allow for practice and decorating, this could be a whole day event. Or have a movie day where the kids watch a couple of movies. Then you can host a trivia time with questions about the movie. The child with the most correct answers can win prizes or the opportunity to choose the next movie to watch.
- Babysitting Swaps. If there are parents in the neighborhood that have kids around the same age, arrange a swap to give the other parents a break. Sometimes it is easier to manage a larger number of children that can entertain each other than to have one or two that expect you to entertain them.
- Volunteer. The summer is a great time to look for places to volunteer and have the time to do it. Ask your local library if they need help putting books back. Not only are you teaching your children the importance of giving back, but they are hopefully also learning organization skills and about the Dewey Decimal System. Ask around at senior centers – they really enjoy when the kids come in to read to their residents. You can even take the talent show on the road to these centers!
- Schedule a trip. There is at least one tourist attraction or interesting destination in your area. Determine a day to visit and let your kids know about it. The anticipation of going on this trip will make the days go by faster as well. If there are several destinations to see, ask your kids what they want to go see and let them help you plan the outing. This will help them feel more invested in making the trip a fun experience.
- Create a family bucket list. There are lots of activities that we as families cannot seem to find time to do. So make a bucket list. Ask your kids to each make a list of things that they would like to accomplish over the summer. You can make your own as well – and even include things like finally getting the garage cleaned out and organized. Everyone should be involved in deciding what the family bucket list should be. If you don’t get to everything, don’t worry! Save those items for next year’s summer break.
- Take time for yourself. There is a reason that the instructions say to put your own oxygen mask on first. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else? Look to number 6 if you need to figure out a way to get away from the kids for an afternoon. Go and let yourself be pampered with a facial or massage. Letting yourself relax with a massage will allow your tank to refill and your patience level to reset. You are a better parent when you have taken a little time for yourself!
There is no escaping summer break – even if it is only three or four weeks long. Rather than spending time dreading the chaos and whining that seems to come with this “holiday” take a minute to sketch out a plan and then embrace the fun and chaos.
Originating in the temples of Thailand over 2,500 years ago, Thai massage is deeply associated with ancient healing traditions from India. The founder of the technique was both a doctor and a practitioner of Yoga. Jivaka Kumarbhaccha had the honor of treating Buddha with his healing arts and those same traditions have been passed down to what we call Thai Massage today.
The Thai people have a myriad of culture influences throughout the course of their history that all contributed to creating this massage therapy technique, including Ayurveda, Hatha Yoga, Chinese Meridians, Theravada Buddhism, and indigenous practices of the Thai people.
Essentially, Thai massage is a combination of yoga postures and massage. The therapist does not use massage oil (as is traditional with other styles) but does use their palms and thumbs to apply pressure along the body’s energy lines (meridians) and pressure points.
Instead of using a table, Thai massage is done on a mat on the floor. This is a great technique for anyone uncomfortable with being undressed in front of others as you will remain fully clothed, preferably in garments that allow for flexibility and a wide range of movement.
This technique is considered a full body treatment and is said to assist with circulation, the immune system, and provides relief of tension in the muscles. The process also balances the body’s energy allowing for an optimal physical response. For those feeling unbalanced, these yoga-like stretches will help a person re-center and gain footing. The process is also great for those seeking stress relief as it eliminates tension and promotes a high level of relaxation.
This massage mixes point pressures and stretching and is extremely helpful for individuals with issues such as solid, sore, or tired muscles caused by work, sports, or aging. By empowering lymphatic capacity, this therapy style can likewise detoxify the body, promote flexibility, and build up the immune system – all great ways to prevent both potential disease and injury.
Thai massage requires training and experience in the traditional techniques to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
There are a variety of different massage variations available today. If you are familiar with the different massage therapy techniques, you might be tempted to just stick with the traditional massage you’ve always gotten. We would encourage you, however, to learn about the other styles and try them out. You never know when you might come across an experience that you love and makes you feel great!