Be Well: Massaging Your Mind

Massage is probably not the first option that comes to mind when considering mental health treatment, but its power to relax and release tension make it an effective tool for many people. A study in Psychological Bulletin found that massage therapy reduced trait anxiety and depression symptoms similar to the impact of psychotherapy. While it should not replace talk therapy entirely, touch therapy is a great addition to a mental health treatment plan, says Sarah Weaver, board-certified massage therapist and assistant professor at Northwestern Health Sciences University.

“Cheater’s Meditation”

If you are looking for some of the benefits of meditation but haven’t mastered the skill, massage might be the next best option for you. Due to this shortcut, Weaver jokingly calls it “cheater’s meditation.” It can help treat mental health conditions like depression and anxiety because it likely impacts the stress response known as fight, flight, or freeze, and can help people reach a calmer physiological state.

Certain disorders, like PTSD and anorexia, result in dissociation from the body but massage can help reconnect those dealing with the disorders in their bodies and foster better overall body image, says Weaver. By experiencing the touch of an experienced massage therapist in a safe environment, patients can learn to trust, become more present, and achieve a relaxed self.

Read the full article from Minneapolis.St.Paul Magazine online here!