Although many look forward to chillier temps, crisp air, and boot season, as the winter months wear on, it can bring us down. With shorter days and oftentimes dreary weather and grey skies, it’s no wonder folks frequently complain about the “winter blues”. There is the general feeling of dread that comes with week after week of facing frigid winds, snow, ice and then there is Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. It is a real form of depression that set in during the fall and hang on until springtime.
There are a number of ways to combat these occurrences, including light therapy, exercise, and clean eating. A recent article from the American Massage Therapy Association suggested that massage therapy is yet another solution for tackling the winter blues. When the mercury plummets, it can defeat all of those healthy plans for the New Year and cause us to become lethargic and depressed. In fact, AMTA’s article on the subject revealed that, “studies show that regular massages improve mood and reset circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep and more energy.”
The president of the AMTA Jeff Smoot, explained that massage therapy can alleviate the body’s reaction to negative forces, including anxiety, illness and the weather. Furthermore, the healing power of human touch both soothes and stimulates circulation. Massage does not benefit just those with sore muscles. One study examined its effect on a group of adolescents living with the diagnosis of HIV-positive. After twelve weeks, the control group, those who had received regular massage therapy, reported that they felt less anxious and depressed.
Another study on the benefits of massage therapy included women who had stage one and two breast cancer. After periods of regular massage sessions, subjects noted that they felt less angry about their diagnosis. They also indicated reductions in anxiety and depression. Over the long-term, it was revealed that massage therapy alleviated depression and increased serotonin levels. This is important as related to the AMTA findings because, “Serotonin, is a neurotransmitter with functions in various parts of the body, works to regulate mood, appetite, sleep, memory and learning.”
One more way that massage therapy was shown to be helpful in beating the winter blues is the way in which it aids sleep. This is achieved by boosting circadian rhythms or the body clock. The long dark evenings of wintertime are hard for many of us to adjust to and massage therapy can help. It is thought to achieve this by promoting relaxation by increasing the secretion of melatonin, which in turn helps us to calm down and sleep better.
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