With over 350 million people worldwide suffering from depression, more and more people are looking for natural ways to feel better, to experience more happiness, and improve their quality of life.
With medication offering only limited solutions, and often with unpleasant side effects, people are seeking alternatives to improve their mental health and well-being or even complementary natural therapies that work alongside with medication and psychotherapy. One natural way to decrease the symptoms of depression and to improve quality of life and mental and emotional wellness is massage.
Massage has been around for thousands of years and most cultures have used it in one form or another. Massage is much more than simply a luxury item that is only for people with the leisure time to indulge in it. It has a number of positive repercussions for your health and well-being, and studies are finding that it is good for your mental health as well.
How Does It Work For Depression?
Massage works by increasing blood flow to the area, decreasing muscular tension and promoting relaxation. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, massage helps to increase the flow of vital energy, or Qi. When energy in the body is in flow, good health is inevitable. When the energy is stuck, discomfort or ill health occurs.
Massage stimulates the natural production of feel good brain chemicals, including serotonin, and endorphins, which help improve mood and promote happiness.
Moreover, low levels of serotonin are one of the causes for major depressive disorder, and this makes massage the perfect natural alternative for stimulating its production.
Popular Styles Of Massage
There are different types of massage and several ways that massage can help to elevate your mood. Some of the better known types of massage are Swedish, Thai, aromatherapy massage, and reflexology.
Here is a quick outline of these styles of massage:
• Swedish massage uses oil on bare skin and long sweeping, circular, and rhythmic strokes that bring about feelings of inner peace, calm, safety and relaxation.
• Thai massage is done with the recipient either naked or clothed: the practitioner uses different stretching maneuvers and deep pressure to reduce tension. It is usually performed on the floor and the stereotypical image is of the practitioner walking along the back of the recipient!
• Aromatherapy massage is a lot gentler so if you prefer a softer approach this may be preferable for you. Aromatherapy massage uses essential plant oils whose properties are beneficial to your well-being. The medicinal molecules get absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin and can aid in healing. Specific oils can be used to elevate your mood, induce feelings of happiness, and cause you to feel uplifted. Some good oils for this include bergamot, citrus oils like sweet orange, or rose, geranium and lavender.
• Reflexology is an ancient form of foot massage. Points on the feet correspond to parts of the body and are pressed to bring about healing in the related body part. Reflexology is also very relaxing and causes feelings of well-being, just like the other massage styles.
The benefits of gentle caring touch should not be underestimated in and of themselves. Human beings are social animals by nature and studies have found that touch is instrumental in bringing about feelings of contentment and well-being
Some contra-indications for massage include deep vein thrombosis, cancer, blood disorders, open wounds, severe osteoporosis, and fractures. Consult your physician before trying massage if you have any of these conditions.
How Often To Have Massage?
If you are suffering from depression then consider massage as more than just a special treat. Think of it as an essential item in your self-care toolkit.
Weekly sessions can increase your quality of life by enhancing your mood, reducing the tension you carry, and alleviating an array of physical symptoms, which may be related to depression, such as fibromyalgia, back pain, stiff neck, and shoulders, and so on.
If you can make massage a priority in your weekly schedule, you will be doing yourself a great favor. Your mental health will improve, you will feel more relaxed, your physical well-being will improve, and your outlook on life will receive a much needed boost.
Many day spas offer discounts for those who get weekly or bi-weekly massages, and also massage schools are good places to find discounted rates.