Did you know that massages can improve depression and anxiety? According to my massage therapist, a massage lowers a person’s level of cortisol, which is a brain chemical that accumulates from stress. Massage also increases dopamine and serotonin, both of which are hormones that increase relaxation and reduce anxiety. Most of you probably know that serotonin is a brain chemical that is deficient in people with depression.
The 2 massages that people mostly hear about, in my opinion, are Swedish massage and deep-tissue massage. For Swedish, the therapist uses a lighter touch, and mainly gets your circulation going. It’s relaxing, but with regard to Swedish massage, my nail tech once told me, “I feel that I need a massage after the massage!” Deep-tissue, on the other hand, consists of more pressure and targets specific areas in your body that are particularly tense. It can be a little painful — in a good way — especially once the massage therapist works out the knots. Then it feels incredibly relaxing and kind of exhilarating! Both are full-body massages, but I always get a deep-tissue.
In case you’re wondering what the procedure is, this is my experience: a massage table is in a small, candle-lit room. Aromatherapy may be involved by way of essential oil(s) dispersed through a diffuser. My massage therapist plays soft, relaxing — ok, New Age-y sounding — music to increase relaxation. While the therapist is out of the room, I undress down to my underwear. So for women, although you aren’t wearing a bra, you aren’t completely naked. Neither are men. I then slip beneath the blanket onto my belly, and rest my face on a ring-shaped pillow that’s attached to one end of the table. Then the magic begins!
Because I’m in a vulnerable state, being only in my underwear, it’s important to me that I feel comfortable with the massage therapist. When possible, I try to meet the therapist before scheduling a massage.
I get massages regularly — every 4 weeks — and although they don’t make my depression go away completely, I do feel relaxed and joyful through the next day. If we could afford it, I’d get weekly massages. I know this sounds indulgent to some, but why not treat yourself to one massage, and see how you it makes you feel? I insist!
Have you ever had a massage? How did you feel afterwards?