It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, and we’ve been reflecting on the ways in which we can better support each other (and ourselves) when lives are impacted by mental illness. We’ve all quipped that we’re booking a massage “for our sanity,” but there’s more to that than you may think.
Massage is actually wonderful for mental health—whether the daily stress of everyday life or something requiring more serious intervention—and it should be part of everyone’s toolkit of when the going gets tough. Here are just a few of the research-backed mental health benefits of massage:
It stimulates the production of feel-good hormones that alleviate depression
If you are dealing with depression, even getting out of bed can seem insurmountable at times. But a meta-analysis of 17 studies shows a high correlation between massage therapy and alleviation of depressive symptoms. In one such study, massage was found to affect body chemistry, even increasing serotonin and dopamine, the neurotransmitters involved in depression.
With one of the most isolating feelings of depression being loneliness, leading to disengaging from friends and society, the human touch is often lost or minimized. The good news? Oxytocin, known as the “love” or “cuddle” hormone because it is released when people snuggle up or bond socially, is also released through non-sexual touch, including massage.
According to research, the hormone is also associated with trust and may lead to increased social bonding (those warm and fuzzy feelings.) Our read on this research? Once your massage is over, invite a friend over or get cozy with your partner.
Regular massage soothes anxiety
Anxious? The idea of laying on a massage table trapped with your own thoughts for an hour may actually sound like hell for you, but it helps anxiety, we promise!
Massage reduces the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, by up to 30%
In fact, massage can reduce the built-up stress in your body that leads to the anxiety running rampant throughout your veins. Massage has also been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, by up to 30 percent — doing so helps your body’s ability to fight off anxiety. But not only that — massage offers a safe space to individuals away from their stress and anxiety triggers.
A 2010 study even showed a short-term 50% reduction in anxiety symptoms on the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale for its participants, which includes common anxiety symptoms such as tension, fears, and insomnia.
If you’re interested in incorporating massage into your mental health routine, consider you might want to massage membership. Zeel’s massage membership is a simple, cаncel-at-any-time subscription to a discounted monthly massage.
Massage improves concentration
If you have trouble concentrating, you’ll be happy to find out that massage is one of the ways you can boost your ability to stick to tasks at hand. You know that feeling you get when you’re sitting at your desk and you can feel your shoulders by your ears, tense and taut as a rubber band?
Once tension has been released through massage, blood flow to your brain will improve.
Well, that muscle tension is diverting blood flow to that part of your body rather than to your brain. Once that tension has been released through massage, blood flow to your brain will improve. This, in turn, increases the oxygen and nutrient flow to the brain, allowing you to hone your focus.
One study even shows decreased frontal alpha and beta power, which suggests enhanced alertness, after a 15-minute chair massage. Those who got massages also showed increased speed and accuracy on math problems while the control group’s performance didn’t change. While we’re hoping nobody throws math problems at us, we’ll certainly take increased concentration!
Read more: What Is The Real Key to Employee Wellness?
Massage increases energy
One of the primary benefits—both mentally and physically—of massage is increased circulation.
Think of the body’s lymphatic system like the body’s answer to a drainage system. It removes toxins, waste build-up and bacteria from the body in order to protect it against outside threats. The act of applying pressure through massage can boost your lymphatic system so that your body can detoxify itself more easily.
Lymphatic drainage removes toxins, waste build-up, and bacteria from the body in order to protect it against outside threats
Your blood will circulate better, leading to that feeling of freshness and clarity that you thought you could only find at the bottom of a cup of coffee. Though, we are #teamcaffeine and not advocating skipping that coffee if it makes you happy!
Read more: The Benefits of a Full Body Massage
Massage helps insomnia
There’s nothing worse than that vicious insomnia cycle—you can’t fall asleep, and you become frustrated, which only exacerbates the initial problem. If getting a massage so you can fall asleep isn’t a good enough reason, we don’t know what is.
Just think, a luxurious massage just before you drift off to sleep. In fact, we offer a Sleep Massage. The treatment will lull you into a state of relaxation with the techniques designed to induce calm and deep sleep.
Why does it work? Research has shown that massage both reduces stress and leads to increased levels of serotonin—making it possible to relax so that you can fall asleep.
So the next time you book a massage, remember: you’re doing it for your mental health.