Four Mental Health Benefits of Regular Massages
Many people consider massages to be a luxury, something they can only get on special occasions. While massages are definitely luxurious, they’re not particularly beneficial if you’re only getting them every once in a while.
Regular massages provide a variety of physical and mental health benefits, especially for people who struggle with conditions like depression and anxiety.
Read on to learn more about why you should be making massage a priority in your life, along with some tips on how to find the right massage therapist and make massages more affordable.
Mental Health Benefits of Regular Massages
Some of the most heavily studied benefits of regular massage include:
1. Boosts Neurotransmitter Production and Balances Hormones
Massage therapy has been shown to boost production of both dopamine and serotonin, two important neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that are often low in people who struggle with depression and anxiety.
One study noted a 31 percent increase in dopamine and a 28 percent increase in serotonin, as well as a 31 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated cortisol can contribute to anxiety and promote inflammation throughout the body, which has been linked to depression.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
People who struggle with chronic stress commonly also struggle with high blood pressure (hypertension). As you probably know, high blood pressure can contribute to a variety of other health conditions and increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Massage relieves stress and has been shown to help lower blood pressure. One Iranian study even found that, after just 10-15 minutes of massage three times per week, women with prehypertension noticed a reduction in blood pressure that lasted up to three days after their treatment.
Because the results seem to only last for a few days, massage therapy should probably not be the only treatment you seek out if you’re struggling with high blood pressure. However, it can be a great supplement to other treatment methods — talk to your doctor to see if it’s a good option for you.
3. Minimizes Work-Related Stress
If you have a highly stressful job, regular massage therapy can minimize the physical and mental effects of that stress, including joint pain, shoulder tension, fatigue, insomnia, and headaches.
By lowering your stress, massage can also improve your productivity, creativity, and concentration overall, so it’s a great option for people working in any profession.
4. Promotes Quality Sleep
If you’re not getting good sleep on a regular basis (“good” meaning you’re sleeping a sufficient number of hours and sleeping deeply during those hours), there’s no way you’ll be in a good place from a mental (or physical) health standpoint.
Poor sleep has been linked to a number of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, paranoia, and even hallucinations.
It’s when we sleep that our body does the majority of its healing and repairing — if that’s not happening, you’re going to have a hard time feeling your best.
Massage promotes relaxation and minimizes stress, which, in turn, can help you finally get a good night’s sleep.
In addition to promoting general relaxation, massage also helps improve sleep thanks to the increase in serotonin. Serotonin is required to produce melatonin, a hormone that encourages the body to slow down and prepare for sleep.
Finding the Right Massage Therapist
Okay, at this point, you’re probably sold on the mental health benefits of regular massages. But, how do you find the right massage therapist to help you experience these benefits?
Before you book a massage with the first person who pops up in your Google search results, keep these guidelines in mind to make sure you find someone who will provide a great massage that meets your specific needs:
Know What You’re Looking For
Every massage therapist uses different techniques and has different specialties.
If you’re looking for a relaxing, gentle massage, don’t book an appointment with someone who does deep tissue work. Or, if you’re looking for help with extremely tense muscles, a simple Swedish massage might be too gentle.
Do Your Research
If you’re looking for regular massages, it’s important to make sure you like and trust the person who will be administering them — after all, you’re going to have a hard time feeling relaxed if your massage therapist doesn’t put you at ease.
Look for reviews online and consider setting up a brief phone conversation to learn more about their techniques, experience, education, and certifications.
You can also search online for a massage therapist who specializes in a particular type of massage or who works with a specific type of person. That will help you narrow down your search and feel more comfortable with your choice.
Give Them a Try
Finally, the only way to really know if someone is a good fit is to give them a chance. Consider booking a 30-minute massage to start with to see if you like the therapist’s work.
Remember, too, that, if you really don’t like someone, you have no obligation to go back for another appointment.
Not liking one person’s technique also doesn’t mean that you need to give up on massage altogether — there are lots of massage therapists out there, and, with a little patience, you’ll be able to find someone whose style matches your specific needs.
How to Make Massages More Affordable
When it comes to getting regular massages, many people feel that they’re a luxury they just can’t afford. It’s true that massages aren’t cheap; however, there are lots of things you can do to offset the cost and fit them into your budget:
- Buy massage packages — this requires you to pay more up front, but it also makes your massages cheaper than if you were to pay for them all individually
- Ask for massage gift certificates for your birthday and holidays.
- Look for online deals — many spas offer discounts, especially for your first massage.
- Visit massage schools — massage schools offer massages at more affordable rates because they’re performed by students who are in training. Depending on the type of massage you’re looking for, this can be a good option.
Regular massages are incredibly beneficial, especially for people who struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. If you’re interested in making massage a regular part of your self-care routine, keep these tips in mind and you’ll be more relaxed before you know it!