We are all moving on from Covid in our own way. Our experiences have been different, depending on existing life circumstances and how we have been personally affected by Covid and lockdowns. For many people, the pandemic has exacerbated feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression.
If you are feeling anxious, you are not alone. According to WHO, the pandemic triggered an increase in anxiety of 25% worldwide in the first year. In particular, young people, women, and people with pre-existing medical conditions are most likely to have experienced a rise in anxious feelings and thoughts.
The last few blog posts have been about physical conditions such as arthritis and how massage can help. But massage is more than a physical treatment. It is a often called a holistic therapy, because it treats the whole person. Our minds and are bodies are interlinked, and stress and anxiety can manifest in physical ways, such as stomach pains and headaches, and vice versa. Often depression can feel like a heaviness over the whole body.
So how can massage help with feelings of anxiety and depression? Firstly, of course if you are feeling this way, it is always advised to go see your GP. They can help you find the treatment that is best for you as an individual. Holistic therapy treatments such as massage can often be used in conjunction with other therapies and treatments.
It is not really known why massage helps with depression but the evidence is there to suggest it does. A study found that massage lowered the stress hormone cortisol in patients suffering from anxiety by 53 percent, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). Research has also found the natural treatment increases serotonin and dopamine, which helps those experiencing depression.
Massage stimulates more activity in the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the nervous system responsible for digestion and rest. When cortisol levels are decreased and the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, this has a dual effect of lowering stress and promoting relaxation. The benefits continue for a few hours after the massage, and many people find their sleep improves as a result.
There is also a link between the relationship between the therapist and client, and benefit received. If you have a therapist you trust and see regularly, you are more likely to relax fully and see the greatest benefits.
Have you found massage helpful for anxiety or depression? Share your thoughts below.