Massage is wonderful for mental health—whether the daily stress of everyday life or something requiring more serious intervention—and it should be part of everyone’s toolkit of when the going gets tough. Here are just a few of the research-backed mental health benefits of massage:
It stimulates the production of feel-good hormones that alleviate depression
If you are dealing with depression, even getting out of bed can seem insurmountable at times. But a meta-analysis of 17 studies shows a high correlation between massage therapy and alleviation of depressive symptoms. In one study, massage was found to affect body chemistry, even increasing serotonin and dopamine, the neurotransmitters involved in depression.
With one of the most isolating feelings of depression being loneliness, leading to disengaging from friends and society, the human touch is often lost or minimized. The good news? Oxytocin, known as the “love” or “cuddle” hormone because it is released when people snuggle up or bond socially, is also released through non-sexual touch, including massage. According to research, the hormone is also associated with trust and may lead to increased social bonding.
Regular massage soothes anxiety
Anxious? Massage can reduce the built-up stress in your body that leads to the anxiety running rampant throughout your veins. Massage has also been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, by up to 30 percent — doing so helps your body’s ability to fight off anxiety. But not only that — massage offers a safe space to individuals away from their stress and anxiety triggers.
A 2010 study even showed a short-term 50% reduction in anxiety symptoms on the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale for its participants, which includes common anxiety symptoms such as tension, fears, and insomnia.
Massage increases energy
One of the primary benefits—both mentally and physically—of massage is increased circulation. Our body's lymphatic system removes toxins, waste build-up and bacteria from the body in order to protect it against outside threats. The act of applying pressure through massage can boost your lymphatic system so that your body can detoxify itself more easily.
Your blood will circulate better, leading to that feeling of freshness and clarity that you thought you could only find at the bottom of a cup of coffee.
So, the next time you book a massage in Rome, remember you are doing it for your mental health!