Life can be stressful. Whether it’s a demanding job, financial pressures, relationship issues, or general anxiety, most of us deal with stress on a regular basis. While a certain level of stress is normal, chronic stress takes a toll on both your mental and physical health. Finding healthy ways to manage and relieve stress is important. One approach that many people find helpful is massage therapy. Here’s an overview of how massage can aid stress relief and where you can get a therapeutic massage.
How Massage Helps Relieve Stress
There are a few key ways that massage therapy helps counteract the negative effects of stress:
- Lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone released when you’re stressed. While it helps give you an initial burst of energy to respond to stress, chronic cortisol elevation leads to anxiety, depression, digestive issues, and more. Massage has been shown to decrease cortisol levels, helping you feel more relaxed.
- Releases tension. Stress causes the muscles in the body to tense up. Massage helps release built-up muscle tension and knots. This reduces body aches and pain, improves flexibility, and promotes an overall sense of relaxation.
- Improves sleep. Stress and anxiety often interfere with sleep. The relaxing effects of massage help improve sleep quality, allowing the body to recharge.
- Elevates mood. Massage boosts serotonin and dopamine levels in the body, two neurotransmitters that play a role in regulating mood. This helps counteract feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Boosts immunity. Studies show massage may improve immune system function. This can reduce your risk of getting sick when stressed.
Where to Get a Massage
Now that you know how a massage can help relieve stress, here are some options of places to go:
Many cities have massage therapy studios you can visit. Therapists here are often licensed professionals who can provide a variety of massage modalities, such as Swedish, deep tissue, sports, and hot stone massage. You can book an appointment online or over the phone. Massage studios offer a quiet, professional setting. However, prices per massage tend to be higher.
Luxury hotel spas and day spas at shopping centers frequently have massage services. The massage therapists are trained, and you’ll enjoy a relaxing environment. In addition to massage, spas offer amenities like hot tubs, saunas, and pools. Spa massages are on the pricier side, but are a good option for a special treat.
Many chiropractors employ massage therapists to complement chiropractic adjustments. You may be able to get a massage as part of your chiropractic visit. The massage therapists here commonly perform more medical, clinical styles of massage. Chiropractic massages may be covered by health insurance if prescribed by the chiropractor.
Larger gyms often have massage therapists on staff. You can book a massage at the gym you already belong to. Gym massages are typically more affordable than those at massage studios and spas. However, they may be shorter sessions (30 minutes versus 60 or 90 minutes). The massage therapists may be less specialized than those at dedicated studios. But gym massages are very convenient.
If you don’t have time for a full body massage, chair massage is an option. Therapists come to offices, malls, airports, and special events to provide short (10-30 minute) seated massages focused on the back, neck, and shoulders. Chair massage provides a quick, convenient way to enjoy some of the stress-relief benefits of massage.
Some massage therapists travel directly to clients’ homes or offices. This allows you to experience a luxurious spa-like massage without leaving home. Mobile massage removes transportation time and costs. Prices vary based on location and massage length.
The key to getting stress relief from massage is consistency. Regular massage (such as weekly or monthly) provides greater cumulative benefits. Even a monthly 60-minute massage can help you manage life’s demands in a healthier way. Evaluate your options and budget to decide which massage setting would work best for you.