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20 Reasons Why Massage Can Significantly Benefit Your Health

20 Reasons Why Massage Can Significantly Benefit Your Health

Massages are much more than just relaxing. In fact, our natural instincts turn to them in moments of need. This is the reason that you self-massage sore muscles, and it has also led to the rapidly growing field of massage therapy. As an added bonus, there are numerous health benefits associated with a massage. Fortunately, massages come in a variety of lengths and styles, which means that even people with truly hectic lifestyles can take advantage of this health-boosting technique.

1. Massages Can Alleviate Headaches

Whether you have a tension-type headache or suffer from migraines, medical research has proven that regular massages can help reduce or even eliminate this painful problem.

2. Massages Soothe and Relax the Body

A Swedish or hot stone massage offers the right amount of pressure, sometimes combined with heat, to soothe your achy muscles. If your body is tight from a tense week at the office, either of these massage styles is a good way to relax.

3. Massages Reduce Joint Pain

Joint pain is a common issue that is experienced by everyone from pregnant women to fibromyalgia sufferers. Receiving a regular massage will relieve this pain. In fact, many medical professionals refer patients with joint pain to a licensed massage therapist.

4. Massages Can Dramatically Reduce Anxiety

Approximately 40 million Americans have some form of anxiety, and this can be borderline emotionally crippling at times. Anxiety is even responsible for almost one-third of the nation’s total mental health expenses. The good news is that massage can cut your body’s level of stress hormones in half, which will alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.

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5. Minimize Back Pain with a Massage

Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints, but you do not need to live in pain. Studies have shown that massage reduces the need for painkillers by 36 percent, and it is more effective than chiropractic care or acupuncture.

6. Neuromuscular Massage Addresses Repetitive Movement Injuries

A staggering 86 percent of U.S. adults have a desk job, and the vast majority of them perform repetitive tasks that can injure their hands, wrists, arms, neck and back. Although a typical massage will help reduce this pain, neuromuscular techniques can actually address the root cause of the muscular problem to provide you with optimal results.

7. Massages Promote Flexibility

Most people are not nearly as flexible as they would like to be, and this often causes uncomfortable stiffness. Fortunately, a sports massage is tailored toward making it easier to increase your flexibility.

8. Research Shows Massages Help Cancer Patients

Four out of every 10 adults will battle with cancer at some point during their life. Massage is now being widely used as a complementary treatment because it offers a reduction in many of the symptoms associated with cancer, including nausea, pain, insomnia and fatigue.

9. Re-energize with a Massage

Do you often feel drained by the end of your workday? Swedish massages will relax you, but they are also known for making the receiver feel more energetic throughout the rest of the day.

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10. Massage Relieves Insomnia

At any given time, one-third of adults are experiencing a bout of insomnia, so it is no surprise that people are constantly looking for ways to improve their quality of sleep. Sleep studies have shown a very strong link between weekly massages and reduced insomnia. This is extremely important when you consider the many health issues that are caused by a lack of sleep, including a weakened immune system and a greater risk of depression.

11. Increase Your Quality of Life with Massages

Medical patients receiving palliative care experience a boost in their quality of life with regular massages, and the same is true for everyone. This is one of the primary reasons that more than half of the 32.6 million Americans who get a massage at least once a year do so for health reasons.

12. Massages Help Digestive Issues

Everyone experiences the occasional digestive issue, and an abdominal massage can help. Regardless of whether you have been constipated for three days or have a chronic digestive issue, a massage is a good way to get your system working more properly.

13. Massage Combats Stress

Chronic stress increases your risk of contracting cancer, heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver and lung ailments. Additionally, it is responsible for many accidents and suicides. In other words, stress is quite literally killing some people, but you do not have to remain so stressed out. Instead, you can take advantage of the stress-busting benefits of massage therapy.

14. Boost Your Immune System with Massages

Everyone can benefit from a boosted immune system, especially people who typically deal with several minor illnesses every year. A research group at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center discovered that a single 45-minute massage alters the human body’s immune response. Therefore, getting a massage weekly or biweekly is a great way to strengthen your immune system.

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15. Massages Can Beat PMS

The pain that some women experience before and during their menstrual cycle can be effectively combated by a massage. Even better is the fact that studies have shown a direct connection between massage and a reduction in water retention, depression and other symptoms of menstrual distress.

16. Become More Alert with a Chair Massage

Many businesses now offer chair massages to their employees, and this is a scientifically backed way to make people feel more alert. The mental boost you receive from a simple 15 minute chair massage will make daily tasks much easier and can reduce your odds of being in an accident.

17. Massages Improve Face, Scalp and Hair Health

A simple face and scalp massage is very relaxing, and it will also boost the health of your scalp, hair and facial skin. Some studies have even found that face massages can stop skin from sagging and ward off wrinkles!

18. Massage Fixes Postural Stress

Another major problem associated with sitting all day is the development of serious neck and shoulder pain. This is caused by postural stress, and it can also impact your glutes and lower back. Massages address this physical stress and will relieve your painful symptoms.

19. Massage will Lower Your Blood Pressure

If you have issues with high blood pressure, then scheduling regular massages is definitely a good idea. Individuals with a hectic lifestyle and high blood pressure can benefit from as little as a 10 minute chair massage once a week.

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20. Increase Your Blood Circulation with Massages

Massages help your blood circulation, and this offers a long list of benefits. For example, if you have any health conditions that slow down your blood circulation, massage will provide healthier skin, better organ functionality and improved cell growth.

Self-Massage Tips

Visiting a licensed massage therapist is always your best course of action, but you can also give and receive beneficial massages at home without any professional training. A study even showed that giving a massage reduces anxiety and depression! If you want to incorporate a few minutes of self-massage into your daily routine, you can utilize the following tips: Place a ball between the wall and your back. Any type of ball will do, ranging from tennis to basketball. Use circular and back and forth body motions to massage your back.

  1. Next, ball your hands into fists and use them to kneed your lower back and up along the sides of your spine.
  2. Massage your arms with your hands by alternating small circles and long-flowing strokes.
  3. Your hands will benefit from pressing your thumb down and moving it in a circular pattern.
  4. You can use a light karate chop motion up and down your legs.
  5. Finally, make circular motions with your thumbs to massage the soles of your feet.

Now that you understand more about the many health benefits of massage, it is important to make time for this useful practice in your busy lifestyle. Keep in mind that a lot of the stress, tension and pain that you feel from being on the go all the time will diminish after each massage. It is also wise to remember that putting your health first is the best way to live a long and happy life.

Featured photo credit: Nick Webb via flic.kr

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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