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.
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.
Yoga alleviates mild depression in adolescents and young adults, according to a recent study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. Twenty-eight college students, ages 18 to 29, who were mildly depressed but had not undergone any treatment, were divided into a yoga treatment group and a wait-list control group. None had previous yoga experience. The yoga subjects attended a 1-hour Iyengar yoga class twice a week for five consecutive weeks.
Women suffering even mild depression are at greater risk of heart attack, according to researchers at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The four-year study reviewed almost 100,000 women aged 50 to 79. Women with no history of heart disease who experienced sub-clinical depression (based on inquiries about things such as crying spells and feelings of being disliked) had a 50 percent greater risk of dying of a heart attack during the four-year period than women who were not depressed.
When Bill Williams was working on a 10-session bodywork protocol with his mentor Ida Rolf in the 1970s, he knew he wanted to take it further than the physiology that was being explored. His training in psychology and his interest in energy afforded him insight into the integration that could happen when body, mind, and spirit met. While Rolf, with whom he was teaching and researching at the time, didn’t want to take the work in that direction, she gave Williams her blessing to seek out his own truths. And so was born Soma Neuromuscular Integration.
Depressed patients with a history of back pain are more susceptible to back pain recurrence, according to a recent study published in the journal Pain. While the correlation has been evident for years, researchers ran into the “chicken-or-the-egg” issue: Does depression cause back pain, or does back pain cause depression? While a gray area remains, depression was specifically identified as an independent risk factor for back pain.
1. If you’re over 60, take supplementary vitamin B12. One in five people over 60 and two in five over 80 can’t absorb B12 properly from food. Since the vitamin is necessary for proper neurologic operation, including the functioning of neurons in the brain needed for memory, it’s best to play it safe. Even people who can’t absorb B12 from food can absorb it from
“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
The body movements of tai chi, so graceful and fluid, have long been practiced by both young and old in Eastern cultures. This ancient conditioning exercise, also referred to as tai chi chuan (T’ai Chi Ch’uan or TCC), is rooted in martial arts folk tradition, with “chuan” meaning “boxing,” sometimes referred to as shadow boxing. An exercise in mind and consciousness, the movements are representative of the circular, encompassing state of the universe, bringing “serenity in action and action in serenity.1