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Chronic Stress and Massage Therapy

Updated: Mar 6

Did you know 75-90% of doctor visits result from stress-related complications? Stress can play a part in headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.

Holy crap! That's terrifying. We're all stressed. Does that mean we're destined for horrible health problems and stacks of medical bills?


Thankfully, no. It doesn't. Our bodies manage small amounts of stress well. Fight-or-flight mode, the natural stress response, motivates us to avoid danger and maintain comfort, connection, and security.


What is fight-or-flight mode?


Fight-or-flight mode keeps us alive. When our brains perceive danger, they produce hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to help us escape the situation.


While fight-or-flight has been instrumental in humanity's ability to thrive, our lizard brains haven't figured out the difference between a project deadline and imminent death. As a result, that part of the brain perceives all stress as a danger.


Chronic stress occurs when the fight-or-flight response is activated often or for a long time. Though our bodies were made to handle stress, they need time to heal. Experiencing repeated stressors without relief can lead to various health problems.


What are the symptoms of chronic stress?


Though this list is incomplete, some symptoms of chronic stress include:

person holding lower back in pain
  • Headaches

  • Muscle tension

  • Fatigue

  • Change in appetite

  • Change in sex drive

  • Weakened immune system

  • Memory problems

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Addiction


How can massage therapy help with chronic stress?


Massage therapy has been used to relieve stress for thousands of years by cultures worldwide. It's thought to help manage stress by decreasing cortisol levels and activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the opposite response of fight-or-flight.


Despite a lack of definitive scientific evidence, anecdotal reports and positive findings in research trials indicate that massage therapy reduces anxiety, improves emotional resilience, and enhances feelings of general well-being.


As a massage therapist, I see the relaxing effects of massage every day. More than half of my clients doze off during their sessions. And, yes, some of them snore.


What's the best massage for managing chronic stress?

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a person receiving a massage on their back

Many types of massage are excellent for managing chronic stress, but the most common is the Swedish massage. This type of massage is also often referred to as a relaxation massage.


A Swedish massage is gentle and uses long, slow techniques to relax the mind and body. It uses oil or lotion to allow the massage therapist to apply firm pressure with confident movements. It's typically a full-body massage that focuses on superficial muscles.


Are you stressed AND sore?


No worries, friend. I want you to have an exceptional experience, so my treatment plans are flexible. If you want to manage stress and work on a problem area, I suggest booking a 90-minute session.


When you arrive for your appointment, we'll discuss your goals for the session. Of course, your priorities may change from session to session, so please don't hesitate to tell me if you need something different. We can mix and match techniques depending on your needs.


How else can I manage chronic stress?


Chronic stress and massage therapy go together like peas and carrots, but it's only one tool in our tool belt. Other ways to manage stress include:

  • Spend time participating in a hobby you enjoy.

  • Foster healthy friendships with people you can trust.

  • Prioritize what matters in your life and let go of what doesn't.

  • Keep a gratefulness journal.

  • Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.

  • Seek professional counseling (My therapist is great, and I'm happy to share their contact info!)


Until Next Time


In the grand symphony of life, where stress often plays the role of an unruly percussion section, the secret to maintaining mental and physical harmony lies in stress management. And guess what, friend? Your ticket to tranquility is just a click away.


In a world that sometimes feels more second grade chorus concert than Carnegie Hall, remember that you hold the power to orchestrate your own serene melody. Book that massage. Your muscles will thank you, your mind will high-five you, and stress will be left scratching its head, wondering where you went.



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