By Jill S. Cole, LMT. Jill is the Clinic Education Director with our Massage Therapy Training Program.
For most of us, stress is a real and daily event that we manage or not. Oftentimes, we “push on” through stressful events-be it work, family, illness, major life changes and transitions-and are not connected to our bodies until something begins to hurt or feel uncomfortable.
While stress is a normal physiological response to life events -“flight or fight” response-chronic, on-going episodes may cause harmful effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic stress produces the stress chemicals cortisol and adrenaline that may lead to: anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleeps problems, weight gain and memory and concentration impairment.
So what is the good news? How can we counterbalance the negative effects of stress in our everyday lives? First recognizing and taking an open inventory of our stress is helpful, adding more activity and exercise, a yoga practice and meditation has been proven helpful. Also, incorporating regular massage therapy is not only therapeutic, but it has been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol. Massage therapy also targets and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest response), which is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system (flight or fight response).
A good baseline for receiving a regular protocol of massage therapy is at least once a month, preferably twice. The frequency of massage can also be a reflection of the level of stress at any one time. For example, if a client is experiencing a higher level of stress, 2-3 massages in a month’s time is recommended. Taking the time out of a hectic schedule and life to create good self-care on a regular, consistent basis will reap rewards on a long-term basis. Incorporating massage therapy as a part of that self-care helps to shake out and clear out the stresses of everyday life and give our bodies their “breath” they so preciously need.
So while stress in inevitable, it doesn’t have to dominant or control our lives. With a regular practice of self-care, massage therapy in particular, even the most daunting of tasks can seem more manageable and de-mystified. Finding a well-trained massage therapist for guidance through life’s stresses is also beneficial when dealing with management of stress. It is just as important to feel comfortable with the massage therapist so that comfort can be achieved during the massage.
Further Resource: Massage Can Relieve Workplace Pain and Stress
We encourage you to make an appointment at our Massage Clinic to get started on your treatments today.
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