Massage therapy is used to relax the muscles and stimulate blood flow to promote healing and relaxation. I have received many requests over the years for advice about how to do self-massage. In fact, some people find that they have difficulty sleeping at night if they don’t get a good rubdown once in a while. Massaging is not just for spa days; it’s great for relieving muscle tension, helping circulation, and promoting general well-being.
Here are seven ways to use massages to help you relax.
1. Relaxing your muscles
If you’re tense, you probably know it. You may feel it in your shoulders, neck, back, arms, legs, or feet. How much time does that stress take? And what happens when you stop fighting it? If you’ve ever had a professional massage done, you were likely offered a choice between oil or lotion. Many find that using moisturizing oils as part of their massage routine feels even better than massage alone.
2. Relieving headaches
Headaches are a tricky business. They may arise suddenly and dissipate quickly, or they may last longer and cause severe pain. While there is no single best way to treat them, massage is considered helpful by many. Studies show that deep pressure applied to the scalp decreases headache intensity, and that pressure applied to certain points along the spine helps reduce migraine frequency. As long as you aren’t too sore after your session, you’ll feel relaxed afterward.
3. Stimulating blood flow
Blood flows throughout the body in vessels called arteries and veins. By gently kneading the skin covering these vessels, you increase blood flow both to and from the area being massaged. The result? Your heart rate slows down, and you begin to relax. There’s evidence that massage increases oxygenated blood flow to the brain, enhancing cognitive function.
4. Reducing anxiety and depression
A recent study showed that people who regularly got massages experienced less anxiety and depression than those who did not. Researchers believe that massage boosts endorphins (hormones produced naturally in the body), making us feel happier.
5. Reducing pain
For obvious reasons, massage reduces pain. Deep pressure applied to painful areas helps break up scar tissue and promote faster recovery, reducing stiffness and soreness. Even small amounts of pressure applied to sensitive spots can send soothing messages to the nervous system, making you feel calmer.
6. Improving sleep quality
When you’re stressed out, your brain sends signals to your adrenal glands, the organs responsible for producing hormones related to fight-or-flight responses. These hormones affect your sleep quality. A number of studies suggest that massage helps regulate hormone production, including cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. Because the release of these chemicals affects sleep patterns, massage could possibly improve sleep quality.
7. Rose Water
Rose water is the best choice for deep relaxation and cleansing the pores and skin. It is also excellent at de-stressing the mind and muscles. A mixture of rose petals and distilled water makes up fresh rose water. Use it as a facial toner after washing your face.
Honey is both soothing and delicious! Its antiseptic qualities make it ideal for wound healing and moisturizing skin. Try using honey instead of lotion on dry skin.
9. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is great for hair care and skin care. Massage coconut oil into wet hair before blow drying. When massaging into skin, try alternating between hot and cold applications to create a soothing effect.
10. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is often used for aromatherapy. As well as being relaxing, lavender is antibacterial and helps reduce inflammation.
11. Sea Salt Spray
Sea salt spray enhances blood flow and delivers oxygen to tired muscles, making them feel rejuvenated. Exfoliating sea salt masks help remove dead cells from the surface of the skin, revealing smoother and brighter skin.