We’re living in exceptional times. The modern world is faster and more connected and full of opportunities than ever before. Modern medicine, digital advancements and global connectivity have revolutionized our lives and we’re lucky to reap their many benefits. But there’s one downside: we’ve never been more stressed.
Today, the same things that fascinate us can also overwhelm us, making life harder for us to manage. A lot of us suffer from chronic stress and a staggering 40 million American adults suffer from an anxiety disorder. Not only do stress and anxiety affect our emotional state, but they can also have nasty implications for our overall health and general wellbeing. So what can we do?
Often, stresses are unavoidable — it’s just the way the world works. But taking time to address stress and anxiety is integral. In this post, we’ll demonstrate how you can harness the benefits of massage to control stress and anxiety and nurture your body and mind.
What Is the Difference between Stress and Anxiety?
Stress and anxiety are intertwined concepts. Both are perfectly natural and are the result of our body’s innate response to danger — it’s only in comparatively recent years that these conditions have been stigmatized. But in the days of our caveman ancestors, humans relied on a flight-or-fight response for survival. If a saber-toothed tiger was prowling a little too close to a settlement, our ancestors would have experienced a boost in cortisol — the stress hormone. This would have suppressed their immune system and decreased their blood sugar to prepare their muscles for either fight or flight — taking the tiger on, or running for the hills. Times may have changed dramatically since those of our earliest ancestors, but our bodies have retained the same system for dealing with stress and anxiety.
We’re pretty sure you’ve never come across a saber-toothed tiger or been in many situations where literally fighting or fleeing were your only options. Commonly, stress and anxiety are caused by everyday life: bills, relationships, jobs, etc. and, while our lives may not actually be on the line, our bodies still trigger the same response. But consistently releasing high levels of cortisol can take its toll on the body. Digestive problems, headaches and insomnia are just some of the physical side-effects of chronic stress — that’s not to mention the many emotional and psychological ones. While a little bit of stress is okay, and can even be beneficial in small doses, chronic stress has many health implications and can develop into a severe anxiety disorder.
For those who suffer from an anxiety-related disorder, the natural fears and worries that we all experience — and for most of us dissipate — never subside. In fact, they grow worse over time. Nervousness, fear, apprehension and unsettling feelings of worry and panic become overwhelming for the sufferer. In the worst cases, anxiety starts to interfere with an individual’s ability to do the daily tasks a lot of us take for granted, such as seeing friends, going to work or going shopping.
There are seven different types of anxiety disorder, each with varying degrees of symptoms, from the vague and unsettling feeling of mild anxiety to all-consuming and traumatic severe anxiety. The worst part? Many people suffering from anxiety do not seek the help they need. In fact, only 36.9% of sufferers receive treatment. If you think you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, you should speak to your doctor and get professional medical advice.
How Massage Can Tackle Your Stress and Anxiety
Research has shown that massage can reduce anxiety and stress. The benefits include eased headaches and pains, reduced symptoms of fibromyalgia, improved quality of sleep, decreased levels of cortisol and an enhanced immune system. This gives ‘magic fingers’ a whole new meaning, but how does it work?
One of the most noticeable side effects of stress and anxiety is tension. When we’re stressed, our muscles clench. When this clenching is held over a long period of time, we start to get those uncomfortable aches and pains. A massage is designed to nurture your muscles, release built-up tension through a combination of strokes, rubs and stretches, each with varying pressure, and work your muscles in a way that delivers complete and utter relaxation and rejuvenation.
The state of deep relaxation induced through massage benefits our entire nervous system. Our heartbeat slows and breathing deepens. The result is that we feel more tranquil and can nod off easily. Sleep, or lack thereof, is one of the major causes of stress and anxiety. It’s particularly dangerous, as it creates a perpetuating cycle: you are stressed, so you cannot sleep. Then, your lack of sleep becomes a brand new stress factor. By using massage to ease you into a deeper, more satisfying and restorative sleep, your mind and body are given time to process and recover from the stresses of the day.
Boosts our immune and digestive systems
Stress and anxiety also affect our digestive and immune systems. When we’re stressed, the body conserves energy by suppressing the immune and digestive systems. That’s why you might feel under the weather and even have flu-like symptoms when you’re going through a rough patch. Massage helps to restore proper circulation and improve the functionality of these systems. When your circulation is normal, your body is better equipped to fight the side-effects of stress we can all experience.
Rebalances and revives stressed minds
Of course, we haven’t forgotten the most important benefit. Massage is a nurturing, healing and restorative practice that can work wonders for our mental health. A good massage clears the mind and revives the senses. We know that meditation benefits our mind by putting us into a balanced and tranquil state. Likewise, a massage does the same. The more balanced your mind, the more able you are to deal with stress and anxiety.
Fighting stress and anxiety with massage doesn’t have to mean regular and costly trips to a massage therapist. Our extensive selection of massage chairs and personal massagers deliver the same stress-busting and anxiety-tackling benefits, all from the comfort of your own home. Stress may be a natural part of life, but it doesn’t have to dominate it. Check out our full range and take control today.