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6 Ways Massage Therapy Can Benefit Your Overall Health and Well-being

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6 Ways Massage Therapy Can Benefit Your Overall Health and Well-being

Some people may think of a massage as a simple indulgence, but to some it can be a great tool for overall health and well-being. Massages are known to ease pain and help with inflammation while soothing stress and anxiety. There are many practical benefits to treating your body to a massage. Because persistent tension on the muscles and skeleton can restrict blood flow and nutrients, the connective tissue in the body get denser, and it causes negative effects on posture and breathing. Partaking in a massage will interrupt these stress-inducing patterns and will help the body to return to its natural state of balance.

1. Anxiety Relief

Psychologists have found that on average, those who received a massage had a lower level of anxiety, as opposed to those who did not receive the massage. Though there is very little scientific research supporting this, one of the more popular explanations is that the massage will lower the level of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the fight or flight response. Massages can help the anxiety associated with traumatic or troubling events, circumstances, or settings.

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2. Lower Back Pain Relief

Up to 85% of young adults experience back pain at some point in their lives. The link between massages and the relief of lower back pain is real. With chronic pain, the alarm your body is sending is malfunctioning. Massages will not totally turn that alarm off, but it will lower the volume of the alarm, figuratively. One well-known explanation of this is the gate-control theory. This is when the body is experiencing pain that travels on small-diameter nerve fibers, sending the signal to the brain quickly. With a massage, larger nerve fibers are stimulated and send the messages to the brain faster. Basically, the feel of the massage overpowers the feel of the pain.

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3. Soothe Tension Headaches

Headaches are caused by tension, and massages are performed to relieve tension. In particular, Thai massages have been known to relieve chronic tension headaches. The massage applies pressure along a specific area using gracious gestures. It is suggested to get a Thai massage two times per week for four weeks to alleviate the issues that are associated with these headaches. The massages are focused on shoulders, the upper back, the area between the neck and shoulders, tips of the shoulders, the back of the head, the middle of the head, and the forehead.

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4. Reduce Symptoms of Depression

Research has shown that subjects that have received a massage had a level of depression that was less than 73% of the subjects that did not. This is right along the lines of conventional treatment of depression. Massages boost the body’s natural serotonin levels. It also encourages the body to release dopamine and oxytocin.

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5. Lower Blood Pressure

Massages have been known to reduce blood pressure by significant amounts, but only temporarily. The trigger of the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, helping the body return to a state of biochemical balance and emotional ease after a stressful event.

6. Restore Deep Sleep

About 40-50 million adults suffer from sleep deprivation. This is a problem because it messes with the body’s natural chemistry, making it more vulnerable to lowered immunity, increased inflammation, and increased sensitivity to pain. Research has shown that massages can promote less disturbed sleep, deeper sleep, especially in those that have chronic conditions like fibromyalgia. Massages promote stimulation of the body’s nervous system to rest and relax (opposite of fight or flight), it gives the person a better chance of experiencing deep sleep to restore tissue through the night while allowing the body to cope in the morning.

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Last Updated on November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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Simplify

I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

Absolutely.

And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

  • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
  • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
  • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

Be Mindful

You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

Reflect

As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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