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How Massage Can Help Alleviate Anxiety

Updated: Jun 30

Did you know that anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults each year? People with anxiety often describe it as a feeling of dread, fear, or apprehension without an apparent reason. While most people experience these feelings at some point, those with anxiety disorders struggle with frequent disruptions to their daily lives.  


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Anxiety disorders come in many forms, including panic disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), social phobia (Social Anxiety), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Each disorder has its own set of symptoms, but many share physical and emotional responses. Some people function well despite their symptoms, while others find coping challenging.


Common Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

Physical symptoms of anxiety may include difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, feeling a tightness in the chest or experiencing shortness of breath, heart palpitations or a racing heart, nausea or stomach discomfort, sweating, or having a dry mouth. 


Emotional symptoms may manifest as excessive and unrealistic worry, fear, feelings of panic, and a general sense of uneasiness or apprehension. 


It's common for individuals to experience a combination of both physical and emotional symptoms when dealing with anxiety.


Can Massage Therapy Alleviate Anxiety?

Research supports the idea that massage therapy can help alleviate anxiety symptoms. The American Massage Therapy Association states that "massage therapy can assist in reducing the symptoms of anxiety." 


Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive impact of massage therapy on diverse groups, such as women in labor, psychiatric patients, individuals battling cancer, those with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and even children coping with various illnesses.


Benefits of Massage Therapy

Research indicates that massage therapy can have a positive impact on anxiety by addressing physiological symptoms such as high blood pressure, shallow breathing, and rapid heart rate. Massage therapy slows and regulates breathing patterns and can slow the pulse rate, leading to calmness and relaxation. 


Given that these symptoms are often locked in a vicious back-and-forth cycle, one frequently exacerbating the others, the effects of massage therapy can be incredibly beneficial in managing anxiety. Furthermore, taking time to relax and stepping away from the daily stressors can significantly help in managing and reducing anxiety levels.


Combining Massage with Other Treatments

For individuals dealing with intricate anxiety issues, incorporating regular massage therapy into a comprehensive treatment plan can be highly beneficial. By integrating massage with talk therapy, appropriate medication, and positive lifestyle adjustments, individuals can develop a more holistic and effective strategy for managing and coping with their anxiety.


My Experience with Anxiety

Do you want to know something amusing? As a kid, I thought the people in those old Preparation H commercials were wiggling around in their seats because they were anxious. I didn't know the word for it at the time (or what hemorrhoids were), but I knew the feeling that made me wiggle around in my seat. Even though I didn't understand it or have the words to explain it then, I've struggled with anxiety since childhood, feeling a heaviness in the center of my abdomen and often battling intense irritability. 


My treatment plan has evolved to include weekly massage therapy, which helps alleviate the physical tension and provides a much-needed break from daily stressors. Regular talk therapy sessions offer a space to explore and manage my emotions while recurring visits with a psychiatrist ensure that my medication and overall mental health plan are on track. A flexible work schedule allows me to balance my responsibilities without overwhelming pressure. This comprehensive approach has significantly improved my ability to cope with anxiety and maintain a more balanced, fulfilling life.


Navigating the Non-Linear Path of Anxiety


Dealing with anxiety is far from a linear process; it's a journey filled with both good and bad days. Various factors significantly impact my anxiety levels, such as household obligations, which can quickly become overwhelming, and the stress that comes with work, often adding to my sense of unease.


Additionally, my menstrual cycle plays a crucial role, with certain phases exacerbating my symptoms more than others. It's essential to acknowledge these fluctuations and adapt my coping strategies accordingly. Understanding that some days will be more challenging than others allows me to approach my anxiety with patience and self-compassion, adjusting my treatment plan as needed to maintain balance and well-being.


Until Next Time

If you're considering massage to help with your anxiety, don't hesitate to ask questions. Reach out to me, and we can discuss your experiences with anxiety and how massage might help. If you haven't done so, checking in with your healthcare provider, therapist, or counselor is also necessary. If they need more information about the benefits of massage for anxiety, I'm happy to provide it. When you're ready, click the button below to book your next appointment and see how massage can help you.


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