Many people battling mental health conditions try to find noninvasive treatments to accommodate those prescribed to them. There are many causes of mental health conditions, and regular massage appointments can be a part of many relief strategies.
Stress and anxiety, sleep problems, and chronic pain can all lead to negative mental health outcomes – massage may be a healthy part of your strategy to improve them!
Why Might Massages Work For Mental Health
Massages use the manipulation of the body’s soft tissue with broad strokes and kneading. These motions improve circulation and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, releasing “feel-good hormones” (endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine) in the body to promote relaxation.
The release of these hormones can decrease the heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption, and salivary cortisol levels in the body. All of these physical benefits can reduce many of the chief causes of depression, such as general stress, chronic illness, sleep issues, and pain.
Massage Sessions Can Relieve Stress
The most obvious way a massage can help with mental health is by relieving stress. Stress is one of the leading causes of mental health issues, negatively affecting health and well-being. By lowering one’s heart rate, relaxing muscles, and releasing endorphins, a massage can reduce feelings of stress.
There’s also a crucial connection between higher stress levels and medical conditions. People suffering from diseases and chronic illnesses and diseases often experience elevated stress, worsening the chronic condition. In turn, this can lead to even more stress, creating a negative cycle that makes it hard to overcome the medical condition.
While it’s not a replacement for prescribed medications, massage can work with them to lower stress and help a patient manage their condition without being invasive.
Massages Can Lead To Better Rest
The American Centers for Disease Control says that not getting enough sleep “is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions,” including depression. A study in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies concluded that massage services relieve sleep disturbances, especially if they come from physical problems like lower back pain.
Much like how the stress of handling medical conditions can worsen the condition to create a negative feedback loop, stress can throw off sleep patterns, producing more stress and any attenuating issues. Massages may improve sleep patterns for people of all ages, including those with insomnia, cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, migraines, and more.
Massages Can Relieve Pain That’s Also Hurting Mental Health
Stress isn’t just a mental phenomenon: it can physically occur in muscles after an injury or due to overuse, building up tension and resulting in an increase in pain. Of course, this then increases the mental form of stress, which hurts mental health. Massages are an important pain management tool for professional athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and those who experience physical pain from strains and ailments. They might be appropriate for you, too!
One study found that people who received a 30-minute massage twice a week for five weeks reported a significant decrease in pain. It all depends on what kind of pain you are experiencing – talk with your healthcare provider about whether massage is a suitable option for pain relief!