As this country turns toward National Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 6–12), Michelle Ebbin, massage therapy expert and author of The Touch Remedy, believes that holistic practices like massage therapy can play a greater role in helping people keep their mental health in check. She also offers ideas on how to incorporate massage into one’s routine at home and also at work.
“Massage has been scientifically proven to lower the stress hormone cortisol while increasing the release of feel-good hormones (endorphins) in the body,” says Ebbin, a former massage therapist who frequently appears on national TV to discuss the wellness benefits of massage. “Massage is an excellent way to relieve stress, anxiety, tension, worry, and even depression, and it can be easily incorporated into one’s wellness regimen at home and work.” According to a review summary conducted by Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals and Ruth Werner, several studies have found massage therapy has benefits for people living with depression, both as a freestanding disorder and as a part of a complicated health situation. Massage therapy also promotes better sleep.
Maintaining Mental Health At Home & Work
Ebbin says, “At home, I recommend getting a massage on a monthly basis so that you’re not bearing loads of stress and tension that gets unintentionally released in your interactions with partners or family members. There are many types of massage you can request, such as Swedish, deep tissue, sports, or reflexology, as well as assisted stretching, which can suit your desired level of intensity, as well as address specific needs. And, they can be combined with other holistic practices like yoga, meditation, and ongoing exercise to relax the body and mind. Plus, on-demand services like Soothe deliver the massage therapist directly to your home, office, or hotel room with at little as 60 minutes advance notice, which makes it very convenient so you don’t have to drive anywhere.”
“Given that so many employees experience work overload or workplace burnout, having a workplace benefit of weekly chair massage or assisted stretching can really change an employee’s outlook for the rest of the day or even the entire week! Even a brief respite of a 10–15 minute massage can make a world of difference in stress levels, and massage is a wonderful way to start the week because it improves mental clarity and focus and boosts energy levels.”
She adds, “Alternatively, if workplace massage is not an employee benefit, and you don’t have a budget for regular massage, you can always buy a simple self-massage tool for less than $30 to massage tense neck, shoulder, and forearm muscles, which work extra hard when you sit at the computer for extended periods. I recommend using the self-massage tool for 5–10 minutes during your breaks. You can also buy small ‘tune up’ balls for use at home, which you can roll your back, neck, shoulders, and legs onto, to loosen stiffness and tightness. I recommend doing this for at least 10–15 minutes daily. Plus, doing deep bends where you fold over at your hips and allow the upper body to hang like a ‘rag doll’ to release back and neck tension.”
For more information about Michelle Ebbin and her book, visit basicknead.com.