Massage therapy offers myriad physical benefits, but we sometimes forget everything hands-on treatments can do for our emotional well-being. Let’s take a quick look at the importance of touch and some of the specific ways it can help our mental and emotional health.
When we find ourselves lacking in quality family time and touching each other less, massage can serve to reaffirm a close bond with our children, and convey a comforting sense of security and trust.
There is a growing body of research pertaining to the effects of various forms of foot massage—including reflexology—on anxiety, depression, immune system response, nausea, pain, and stress. A general review of the literature between the years 1999–2007 found that foot work is demonstrating significant outcomes within a broad spectrum of populations, from postsurgical patients to people with cancer to middle-aged women to hospitalized patients.1
On the surface, it may seem that the best part of a massage is the wonderful feeling of relaxation and being touched, but the benefits are more than just skin deep. For almost two decades, researchers at the Touch Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Miami School of Medicine have documented the specific physiological and psychological changes brought about by massage therapy.
Generalized Anxiety Relief
Winding down after a demanding day often means turning on the television, pouring a drink, or breaking into a pint of ice cream. A more productive, healthy way to chase away tension, anxiety, and the daily blahs is meditation. Here’s a meditation designed to help you quiet mind chatter, focus inward, and explore the limitless realm of your heart and soul.
Eons ago, back when evading predators and foraging for food were humankind’s main activities, stress was essential to survival. The body’s fight-or-flight response to stress in the face of danger set off a chain reaction of physiological changes, priming the body for action and increasing the likelihood of escaping physical harm.
What if there was a single pill you could take to reduce blood pressure, ease anxiety, improve concentration, and make you happier — all with no side effects? Chances are, everyone would be clamoring for it. While not in pill form, mindfulness meditation — the act of sitting quietly for 20 to 30 minutes once or twice a day and emptying your mind — appears to initiate these significant results.
That pain in your jawbone. The ache in your back. Or is it a persistent twinge between your shoulders? Do you pay attention to what your body is telling you? Or do you turn a deaf ear?
“When you suffer an attack of nerves you’re being attacked by the nervous system. What chance has a man got against a system?” —Russell Hoban