Massage and mental health: facts and myths
- Sunday, 04 October 2020
Mental health is a person’s state of mind and is associated with psychological and emotional well-being. Mental health issues can be caused by different reasons, ranging from the worries of everyday life to more serious conditions.
With its significant benefits such as stress relief and overall relaxation, professional massage therapy is being more and more chosen by people who wish to improve their mental health as an additional option to fit into a treatment plan.
Here at Fulham Massage & Wellness we care about your well-being and we want to ensure that you make the most of our professional treatments. We believe it is important that you are fully aware of the benefits of a massage on your body and on your mind, therefore we would like to share six main myths, followed by the actual facts, related to massage therapy and mental health:
- Myth – massage works only on the surface
A misleading belief about massage is that, being a physical treatment, it cannot impact the body’s inner processes. It has been proved, instead, that a professional massage significantly reduces the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. When such hormones are too high, the body’s “fight or flight” response system is put under pressure and, as a result, we feel anxious, stressed or even depressed. Massage therapy boosts blood circulation, helping the endocrine system reach a more balanced state and keep the stress hormone levels in check.
- Myth – massage has to feel painful or “it doesn’t work”
The last thing we want, when we are suffering from a mental health issue, is feeling physical pain too. Another misconception about massage is that, especially if you are tense and stressed out, it will be painful and will make you feel “broken” afterwards. A deep tissue massage, on the contrary, when professionally executed by a qualified therapist will help sooth pain and increase your overall well-being. You might feel a little uncomfortable when a therapist applies pressure to release a “knot” of muscle tissue, but it should be a “good” and temporary pain. If the discomfort persists, by all means don’t hesitate to let your therapist know so that he or she can make adjustments accordingly.
- Myth – massage will make you feel tired and demotivated
Although it is true that one of the main effects of a good massage is body and mind relaxation, this doesn’t mean that you are going to feel tired. Actually, it’s quite the opposite: a professional massage will increase the energy levels in your body, making you feel energized and invigorated as well as calm and relaxed. By facilitating blood circulation, massage improves the release of oxygen and nutrients from the blood into the muscles, stimulating the cellular exchange with the result of an overall feeling of energy and wellness. Also, massage increase the levels of endorphins such as serotonin and dopamine, which are the hormones related to positive emotions, therefore acts as a powerful mood-boost!
- Myth – massage will make you lose focus and attention
Linked to the previous misbelief, there is a myth that massage can make not just the body feel tired, but can also lead the mind to feel confused and distracted, after “too much relaxation”. Such credence couldn’t be farther from the truth: it has indeed been proven that a professional massage helps clarity of mind and increases the levels of attention and promptness. During a massage, the individual has time to relax and think about current problems without any distractions. The reduction of stress levels and the increase of endorphins can significantly help adopting a fresh and new perspective, which often is all that is needed to tackle and effectively resolve an issue.
- Myth – massage has only temporary benefits
A professional massage can do much more than addressing temporary aches and pains. Muscles have a long term memory and holding them in awkward positions, such as when we feel stressed, anxious or depressed, can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health. A regular massage therapy can re-educate muscles to improve body mechanic and posture and will promote hormonal balance, all leading to long term benefits on our health and wellness. Moreover, it has been proven that massage can be extremely beneficial prior or following stressful events and not just when such events occur: keeping cortisol levels low will enable us to become more alert and resilient when facing difficult situations, as well as will help us quickly unwind and relax afterwards.
- Myth – you cannot interrupt or talk to the massage therapist during a treatment
Another common misconception, related to the belief of massages being “painful”, is that during a treatment you are not allowed to interrupt or talk to the therapist, giving the overall impression of massages being impersonal and cold. What a frustrating experience it would be, wouldn’t it? In fact, not only you can – and you must – speak up if you are feeling any discomfort, but also a massage is a safe space for you to be taken care of and truly “heard”. You might be experiencing a period of extreme tension and stress, or you might be feeling tired and fatigued, or simply you are in need of a bit of self-care and relaxation: we want to make sure that, after receiving one of our professional treatments, you leave feeling better and that your needs have been specifically and thoroughly addressed.
We hope that you enjoyed knowing more about how a massage treatment can help improve not just your physical, but your mental health as well. Our team will be happy to assist you with any questions you might have and, of course, we are looking forward to seeing you soon in our Fulham centre!