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How Massage Therapy Can Make You Much Healthier

How Massage Therapy Can Make You Much Healthier

Most people consider a massage to be a relaxing spa treatment. They’re not wrong. A good massage can relieve anxiety and help you shake off the stress that you face each day. But massages are not just for those who can afford to go to Canyon Ranch. Massage therapy can actually be an integral part of your general health routine.

For the last 15 years, researchers have investigated the potential health benefits of massage therapy. Some research suggests that massage therapy can help boost immune function. Other studies have suggested that it can improve overall well being in chornically ill patients. It can even help children and parents deal with behavioral disorders.

The way massage therapy affects people depends not only on the individual but on the type of massage they receive. Each treatment focuses on different areas. Each may also elicit different benefits depending on the patient. Here are three great ways that massage therapy can benefit people whether they are sick or healthy.

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1. Massage Can Boost Immune Function

Massages are more than just a relaxing spa treatment. Some research suggests that your immune system will get a boost after you have a massage. Research shows that the number of white bloods cells in your body increases after you have had a 45 minute massage. White blood cells, or lymphocytes, are essential to your body because they help protect it from diseases.

One study was performed on 29 people who each had a 45 minute Swedish massage and had filled in a claims process. The participants were wearing catheters to help the researchers take blood samples during the massage. The study session began with each person spending half an hour resting before receiving the massage. Then, the researchers took a blood sample. After the massage, more blood was taken at several intervals including one, five, 10, 15, 30 and 60 minutes after the treatment was finished.

Researchers then compared all the different samples. The results of the study suggested a heightened immune response in those who had the Swedish massage.

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2. Massage Can Improve Quality of Life

It may seem obvious that massage can help improve your quality of life. Massages help relieve pain and stress. Plus, a massage is incredibly relaxing. There’s almost nothing about massage that would not make you feel better.

Several studies have shown that massage increases your normal comfort level and keeps you relaxed. As a result, several other physiological reactions are improved by massage. When you are relaxed, your body finds it easier to complete basic processes like sleeping and digestion. This helps relieve nausea and fatigue.

But massage can improve your quality of life in several other ways as well. This is particularly true for people suffer from HIV/AIDS. A series of recent reports have shown that massage can help HIV/AIDS patients in several ways.

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One study showed that HIV positive babies who received regular massages were able to gain more weight than babies who did not participate in massage therapy. Another study showed that massage therapy benefits the immune system of HIV patients who otherwise suffer from a compromised system. The results of the second study showed that massage helped increased cell cytotoxicity in patients. This is especially important for HIV patients.

Finally, almost every study done on the subject has shown that HIV patients who use massage therapy have less anxiety. Almost all those who have less anxiety were shown to have a better quality of life.

3. Massage Can Have a Positive Impact Behavioral Disorders

As it turns out, hyperactive kids do not necessarily need to be calmed with medications.

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There have been numerous studies done on the benefits of massage therapy on behavioral disorders. One study demonstrated that massages helps children decrease the amount of fidgeting they do. Another showed that massages increased a child’s serotonin levels. From doing homework to learning how to cope with stress, two out of three children in these studies found it was easier to function in social situations when they participated in massage therapy.

Although different studies had different goals, each one of them has shared a mutual outcome. In every study, the parents and the children both said that regular massage therapy was a positive experience.

At the end of the day, most doctors recommend that you use massage therapy in conjunction with traditional medical treatment. But if you use massage therapy in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, you could see real benefits. Your health is worth more than just an occasional trip to the spa. Getting involved with a licensed massage therapist could lead to a healthier you.

Featured photo credit: Tara Angkor Hotel via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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