Stressed? Congratulations, you deserve a little me-time.
Instead of vegging out in front of the TV, though, do something just as lazy—yet much more therapeutic for your body and mind: Get a massage. If you prefer, work on your energy flow with an acupuncture session. Or get thee to a Rolfer!
You can feed your body healthful foods and refresh your muscles and mind through exercise, but let's be honest. Nothing feels quite so good as 60 minutes with a trained professional who knows how to knead your weary body, unknot your muscles, or bring your body back into balance.
Some people swear by the intensity of deep tissue or trigger point massage. Others might prefer the long, light strokes of Swedish massage or seek out the yoga-like flow of Thai massage. The truth is, the different massage modalities are all useful for bringing you to a relaxed state. So go ahead and indulge in hot stone therapy, or myofascial release, or whatever can best melt away your stresses.
How does massage relieve stress? Studies have shown that massage can reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which has the added benefit of boosting immunity. Research on patients with fibromyalgia has also shown that massage improves sleep and decreases levels of substance P, a neurotransmitter associated with pain and inflammation.
The experience of seeing a licensed acupuncturist is calming, unhurried and intimate, not like the rushed doctor's visit that is all too common today.
You will have plenty of time to discuss your concerns with the acupuncturist, who may recommend different types of acupuncture or other treatments like cupping or moxibustion. You will be examined, and you will learn how your qi may be blocked or inappropriately channeled. The needles will pinch for a moment but not hurt. And then, as the thread-like needles work their magic, you will sit or lie in quiet tranquility for anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes.
Studies suggest that acupuncture can calm the sympathetic nervous system, reduce the effects of post-traumatic stress, and lower cortisol levels.
Structural integration, alternately called Rolfing, is a form of bodywork that focuses on connective tissues known as the fascia. If this intricate network becomes tight or misaligned, you may feel joint pain, soreness or experience a postural shift. Structural integration does not focus on temporary stress relief. Instead, it aims to rebalance the body, which will have the effect of diminishing physical and emotional stress.