How can Massage help with anxiety?

Life can be stressful and more so the past couple of years with COVID 19 bringing uncertainty and lockdowns. 

Whilst some anxiety is normal and unavoidable (everyone feels anxious before a big event like a job interview) in some people it can take over and become a serious problem.

When anxiety is a problem

Severe anxiety is an overwhelming sense of apprehension, fear, and dread.  It often has physical symptoms like increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, digestive issues and shakiness.  Many anxious people have difficulty sleeping and constantly feel anxious. 

In severe cases it can escalate into panic attacks and hyperventilation. 

If you have severe anxiety please consider professional help from your doctor or a counsellor as there are many effective treatments including medication and talking therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).

Massage and anxiety

 As a counsellor and massage therapist I have found that massage can really help with symptoms of anxiety.  A lot of anxious people get very caught up in their head and their thoughts. 

They experience anxiety symptoms like palpitations or “butterflies in stomach” which feel unpleasant so they tend to zone out of their body and avoid feeling physical sensations.  Over time they become more cut off from their body and the body becomes more and more tense, shoulders get tenser, jaws get clenched and physical symptoms like headaches and back pain start.

Massage is a gentle way of getting back in touch with your body and easing those symptoms.  Massages can help to decrease blood pressure, improve sleep and induce a feeling of calm and wellbeing.  It also helps release the muscular tension caused by anxiety and relieves the tension and pain that accompanies tight clenched muscles.

Aromatherapy oils can be added to your massage which can help induce relaxation even more.  Some of my favourite oils for anxiety are frankincense and chamomile.

Some self help measures for anxiety are:
Exercise

Exercise triggers the release of feel good chemicals called endorphins which can naturally help ease anxiety.  Aim for 30 minutes daily of anything that makes you feel slightly out of breath.  This could be a brisk walk, an exercise video on youtube or a workout at the gym.

Cut down on caffeine

Caffeine can make anxiety worse and interfere with sleep.  If you feel edgy, better to reduce the caffeine if you can.

Journalling

Many people find journaling helpful.  For example write in when you feel anxious and see if you can spot any recurrent thoughts or issues that need your attention? 

Meditate

Many people find meditation helpful.  I love the app insight meditation timer that has lots of free guided meditations and introduction to meditation courses ranging from complete beginner to seasoned meditator.

Get more sleep

When you haven’t had enough sleep, your brain sends signals to your body that something is wrong. This results in higher levels of anxiety and feelings of stress. Prioritizing your sleep will help make sure your body doesn’t feel like it’s under attack.

About Me

My name is Anna and I became a massage therapist because I was interested in holistic health.  Over time I realized how much the mind and emotions affect the body and so I trained in counselling and hypnotherapy. 

I use my knowledge of physiology and counselling to help people living with chronic pain and anxiety and depression.

If you have any questions please contact me

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