October is a busy month for health and wellness. It is most commonly known for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and National Massage Therapy Week. However this month we also celebrate World Mental Health Day on October 10, 2013. It was first recognized as a global holiday in 1992 in order to raise awareness and advocacy for global mental health education. In some countries, it is part of the larger Mental Illness Awareness Week. The 2013 World Mental Health Day theme is “Mental Health and Older Adults”. Although the theme might be focused on mental health in older adults, I want to focus on staying proactive with mental health and how massage therapy can help.
Benefits of Massage Therapy for Mental Health
There are a myriad of mental health disorders, but anxiety disorders are the most common in the U.S, affecting over 18% of the population above 18 years old. That’s over 40 million adults. Fortunately, anxiety disorders are highly treatable, but only one-third of those individuals seek treatment.
Massage therapy has been proven to be effective at reducing stress and anxiety in a diverse range of individuals. According to a study in 2005, positive changes have been shown in biochemistry following massage therapy, such as reduced cortisol and increased serotonin and dopamine. Decreasing cortisol levels reduces the constant feelings of hyper-arousal and the “fight or flight’ syndrome; increasing serotonin and dopamine in the brain helps to ease suffering and anxiety.
With the deep state of relaxation that massage therapy induces, mental alertness and your capacity to handle situations in your life that can contribute to stress are enhanced.
It’s never too early to start thinking about what’s best for your mental health. Attention to regular exercise and your nutrition and looking for the best in situations can surely keep you on the road to feeling good.
It’s also never too late to start thinking about your mental health. In this day and age, high pressure at home and work and in activities of daily living influences greater levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. There is a combination of risk factors that you may not be aware of that can contribute to mental health. Thus, it is more important than ever to put your health first.
Helpful Tips for Your Mental Health
If you believe that you or a loved one might be experiencing a mental health disorder, talk to your doctor immediately. During your conversation with your doctor, you can ask if massage therapy and bodywork would be an appropriate solution. We will work with you and your primary care physician to help you reconnect your body and your mind and achieve peace of mind.