We all experience stress in our lives from time to time. Stress is a normal physical response to events that threaten us, or upset our balance in some way. In these situations, our body kicks into high gear with the “fight or flight” response, the feeling of being stressed. This response can actually be helpful in certain stressful situations where you need to defend yourself, or stay focused (like in an emergency situation).
However, because the body doesn’t distinguish between physical and emotional threats, some of us can become stuck in a “stressed-out” state . Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems.
Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, as well as increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
There are many ways in which we can relieve tension, stress, and anxiety. Massage therapy is an excellent way to help manage stress. Massage can help to get rid of muscle tension (often a direct physical symptom of stress), reduce stress and anxiety, and it’s thought to even boost your body’s immune system. More research is needed into the subject of stress and massage, but studies have shown that patients being treated for cancer who received regular massage reported less anxiety, pain, and fatigue than those who did not receive regular massage. Six out of nine studies on children and adolescents found that they were less stressed and fatigued with the addition of complementary treatments like massage therapy to conventional cancer treatment.
Talk to your RMT about massage therapy for stress management.
Here are 5 tips for relaxation between your massage treatments:
- Schedule downtime. Relaxation time every day is as important as eating well and exercising.
- Yoga or meditation. Research on both shows reductions in stress hormones with regular practice.
- Socialize. Social interaction can help relieve stressful situations and provide much needed support.
- Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant and while it may give you a boost, at the same time it taxes your adrenal (stress) glands.
- Sleep. Make sleep a priority. Research shows that at least 7-7.5 hours per night is ideal.
Massage and Stress References:
Garner B, Phillips LJ, Schmidt HM, Markulev C, O’Connor J, Wood SJ, Berger GE, Burnett P, McGorry PD. Pilot study evaluating the effect of massage therapy on stress, anxiety and aggression in a young adult psychiatric inpatient unit. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2008 May;42(5):414-22. doi: 10.1080/00048670801961131.
Lopes-Júnior LC, Bomfim EO, Nascimento LC, Nunes MD, Pereira-da-Silva G, Lima RA. Non-pharmacological interventions to manage fatigue and psychological stress in children and adolescents with cancer: an integrative review. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2015 Sep 16. doi: 10.1111/ecc.12381.