Sunday, March 1, 2009

Anxiety & Massage Therapy

By Adam Butler, LMT
We live in a world of instant communications, express shipping, and drive- through everything. We can board a plane at dawn and be virtually anywhere in the world by the time the sun sets. Yet in this world of ever increasing speed, it seems that one thing we cannot escape is stress. Work, school, family, the economy; sometimes it seems that we are under a constant bombardment from all sides. All these constant pressures translate into stress which builds up in the body until the stress overloads the system.

Most people are aware of the physical manifestations of too much stress, knotted muscles and physical fatigue, but many people are unaware that too much stress also manifests mentally and emotionally. One of the most common psycho-emotional manifestations of stress is anxiety. Anxiety is an internal response to stress and includes symptoms of fear, apprehension, and worry as well as physical sensations such as palpitations, chest pain, sweating, and/or shortness of breath.

While it is normal for everyone to experience some degree of anxiety in their lives, more and more people are developing anxiety disorders and experience intense and prolonged periods of distress and uneasiness, often for no apparent reason. It is estimated that 1 in 10 people, including 40 million adult Americans, are affected by anxiety disorders and the World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 major depression, which includes anxiety disorders, will be second only to heart disease as the leading cause of disability worldwide.

It’s pretty clear that this is significant problem that is greatly affecting the lives of many people. So, what can massage do to help? One of the major ways massage helps to relieve anxiety is by relieving the stress that is often an underlying cause for the anxiety. Massage has been used for this purpose since ancient times by every culture on Earth. While this is significant in and of itself, research has shown that the benefits of massage extend beyond just stress relief. Numerous studies have demonstrated that massage decreases depressed moods, anxiety levels, and stress hormones and a study comparing massage to other relaxation techniques showed that while all the techniques studied resulted in lower anxiety levels, the group receiving massage additionally showed changes in behavior and stress hormone levels.

So for anyone suffering under the burden of an anxiety disorder, or for anyone who feels the pace of life is leaving them behind, remember there is something safe and natural to be done. The gentle, comforting, nurturing touch of a massage therapist can help you shed your unease. A caring touch is just a phone call away.

Adam Butler is available by appointment for Massage Therapy at 907-279-0135.

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