It’s crunch time at work, and things have been really stressful lately. On top of that, my family seems to go through one crisis after another, and I’m always the go-to guy. Everybody turns to me because I’m so good at handling these situations. I can usually keep my head together. But lately the stress has been getting to me. My life has been go go go, and if I sit down for even a minute I get anxious that there’s something I should be doing. I’ve been thinking I really need a massage. It would be nice to let go and release some of this tension. Is there a particular type of massage that would help me finally relax?
It sounds like you definitely need to take a moment to relax and unwind. When you live in a constant state of stress, your body produces excess cortisol. Known as the “stress hormone,” it does have benefits – it increases your memory recall and your reaction time, allowing you to respond better in a crisis. Your high levels of cortisol help you quickly resolve problems.[i]
But consistently high levels of cortisol also have a downside. That anxiety you get when you finally sit down may be a result of your high cortisol levels. You also may have noticed that you have difficulty sleeping. Cortisol is produced by your adrenal glands, and although it may give you the focus you need to handle stressful situations, it can keep you from relaxing.[ii]
The good news is that massage has been scientifically proven to decrease levels of cortisol, promoting relaxation and lowering anxiety levels.[iii] To help release some of your tension and lower your anxiety, try a Swedish massage. It’s the most common type of massage, so it should be relatively easy to find an experienced and certified massage therapist who specializes in this particular type.
Swedish massage uses long, gliding strokes and fluid, rhythmic movements to induce relaxation. As your body begins to relax, you may find a reduction in your stress levels. The massage can increase your focus and clarity, so your body no longer feels the need to produce so much cortisol.
Any time is a good time for a Swedish massage, so you can call in a massage therapist to come to you whenever and wherever it would fit into your busy schedule. If you’re working late, you can even call a massage therapist to come by your office.
You may feel more relaxed after a single hour-long massage, but to ensure consistent and long-lasting results, make it a part of your regular healthcare routine. A Swedish massage twice a month may help you maintain the calm and focus you need to handle the many demands on your life, while also allowing you to relax. You can always rebook multiple sessions with the same therapist if you find someone you like, but you don’t have to feel beholden to a particular therapist’s schedule. There’s no reason you won’t get the same benefits suing multiple massage therapists.
[i] Hormone Health Network: “What is Cortisol?” https://www.hormone.org/hormones-and-health/hormones/cortisol
[iii] West Asia Organization for Cancer Prevention Journal: “Back Massage to Decrease State Anxiety, Cortisol Level, Blood Pressure, Heart Rate and Increase Sleep Quality in Family Caregivers of Patients with Cancer: A Randomised Controlled Trial” http://journal.waocp.org/article_31709_e6e678e7d2180aeeb884df6497548116.pdf
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