The isolation and financial stress of the pandemic have done a number on the mental health of millions of individuals over the past year. Our ability to get out and stay active has been diminished, the chance to see friends nearly gone and our bodies aren’t getting or producing all of the chemicals it needs as a result.
When things get out of whack chemically, symptoms of mental illness start sprouting up and taking root. One way to throw a wrench in that process is to get a message.
We’re going to talk about the mental health benefits of massage therapy in this article, giving you a little insight into how it might be able to get you back into your groove.
Let’s take a look.
Understanding The Mental Health Benefits of Massage therapy
It might seem like a stretch to think that getting a simple massage could alleviate symptoms of depression. The same goes for anxiety or loneliness.
Those issues manifest in ways that feel incredibly personal, complex, and difficult to describe or understand. You sometimes feel like nobody could relate to the issue and that there isn’t anything that will really help.
That said, we fail to give enough credit to the role that neurotransmitters play in our mental health. The body’s production of hormones and neurotransmitters is what keeps our physical and mental health in check.
When one hormone is lacking, there’s a direct negative effect. For example, those who don’t produce enough melatonin at night will find that they cannot sleep and the rest of their life suffers. Alternatively, people who don’t produce enough cortisol in the morning will have a difficult time waking up and that can cause issues.
Massage therapy directly impacts the production of numerous hormones that are directly responsible for feelings of happiness and relaxation. So, while a massage isn’t going to help you understand your psychic pain, it will absolutely help you improve your state of mind.
What Chemicals Do Massages Produce in The Body?
The first thing about a massage that leads to the production of chemicals is simply physical touch. Something a lot of us have been missing over the last year.
Physical touch produces a chemical called oxytocin. It’s released when people are cuddling or existing extremely close to one another. It’s the source of the positive feeling we have when we’re loved and shown physical affection.
The simple fact that someone’s hands are touching you kindly will lead to the production of this neurochemical.
Serotonin and Dopamine
Serotonin is often thought of as the “happy chemical.” It’s not exactly right to say that serotonin makes you feel happy, but it does play a significant role in keeping a healthy mood.
Healthy amounts of serotonin allow your brain and body to function well and normally throughout the day. Individuals with mental health issues often find that there’s some connection to the amount of serotonin their brain and body produce.
Dopamine is another chemical that contributes to our feelings of satisfaction and happiness. Dopamine is released when we feel we’ve achieved something, and the memory of that feeling drives us to keep doing those sorts of things.
It can also come about in other ways that don’t have as much to do with accomplishments, but the feeling we get as a result is still there. We feel satisfied, relaxed, and happy.
Massages can lead to a massive increase in the serotonin and dopamine flowing through our bodies. That amount of mood help is sure to change the way you’re thinking and feeling for a significant amount of time.
Studies show that massages also reduce cortisol, which is the chemical responsible for feelings of stress.
Cortisol gets released when you’re faced with any stressful situation. It comes on a little slower than a rush of adrenaline, but it isn’t too far behind. Stress is insidious and can lead to heart disease, mental illness, and a number of other adverse effects over time.
It’s tough to reduce stress once you’ve found yourself in the thick of it, too, which is why it’s so important to have outlets that effectively lower your cortisol levels.
Massages have a reputation for being relaxing, and relaxation is just another way of saying “lowered cortisol.”
Bodily Pain is Reduced
Our mental health is directly affected by the way our bodies feel. If you’re sore and stiff all of the time, your mind is probably feeling about the same. Additionally, the presence of pain and aches might actually release cortisol, and vice versa.
A massage can significantly improve the way that your muscles feel. In fact, there might be a lot of tension in your back and shoulders, legs, arms, and neck that you didn’t even know was there.
The way you stand, walk, sit, sleep, and feel might all be significantly different if you’ve never had a massage before. These factors play a big part in the way our mental health pans out.
If you stand with better posture as a result of less tension in your back, you will likely behave more confidently. That effect will come subconsciously, but it will be there and others will pick up on it as well, consciously or subconsciously.
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, a big part of your mental health is the impact of hormones and neurotransmitters. That’s in no way saying that the psychological and personal experiences a person has aren’t valid, but that there’s a lot that the body has to do with our mood and perception of things.
Getting in for a regular massage can produce all of the feel-good chemicals you need and reduce the ones that make you feel bad. Why not give it a shot?
Need More Reasons to Get a Massage?
If the ideas above weren’t convincing enough, we’ve got more information for you to look through in your search for massage health benefits. You might even be asking the question “what is massage therapy?”
We can help you find the massage therapy answers you’re looking for.
Contact us for more insight into the benefits of massage therapy, how it works, and how you can schedule an appointment today.