Clarity and Connection
During a massage you begin to feel aware of all the different aches and pains or tense areas in your body – any imbalances or problems that might be holding you back. Once these have been acknowledged and worked into, you may experience a feeling of wholeness or being more joined up. For at least part of your treatment, take some quiet time to breath deeply and tune in. Sometimes there may be a feeling of weightlessness, a burst of energy or a feeling of clarity. I like to call this a physical reboot. A soothing atmosphere in the therapy room, created by soft lighting and relaxing music, is particularly helpful when mental health issues are being treated.
Sometimes just the act of having someone invest their time and energy into making you feel better can make you realise your self worth.
Relaxation – A Pillar of Good Health
It is now recognised that regular relaxation time is central to wellbeing – for instance, Dr Rangan Chatterjee cites it as one of the four pillars of good health, along with good diet, sleep and exercise.
How Massage Triggers the Physiology for Mental Wellbeing
During a massage, nerve cell receptors are activated to release good mood chemicals such as serotonin. At the same time, the parasympathetic nervous system is triggered to slow breathing and lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Once you are in a state of calm, you are in a good place to use other coping strategies.
Other Great Ways To Feel Good
Yoga Has Your Back
Yoga is a great complement to massage, relaxing and toning your body and helping to make you feel strong and poised. Yoga With Adriene is a huge library of great free online video practices which are perfect for this; Adriene consciously makes her sessions accessible to all and has a focus on self care. She has a lovely range of healing practices such as Yoga for Anxiety and Stress and Yoga for a Broken Heart. You won’t be expected to crank your body into uncomfortable positions; the approach is “Find What Feels Good”.
If you have access to a quiet, green outdoor space, step outside and listen to the sounds of nature in real life, accompanied by the feeling of the breeze on your skin, to counter the effects of the virtual world. It’s called forest bathing apparently! You might not always have access to the real thing, so relaxation tapes are another way to improve your mental state and help you get a good night’s sleep.
Not enough people really understand the benefits of massage for mental health. Either on its own or to complement another form of therapy or healthy ritual, when life is hard, massage could be just the support you need.