For many, managing anxiety during the holidays is a serious matter.
Statistics show that more than 69% of people are seriously stressed out about something related to the holiday season.
While massage has already been proven to help combat anxiety and depression on its own, and many seek the oasis of peace and calm bodywork can provide during the crazy holidays, there’s a way to boost the anxiety fighting power of massage even further.
How to beat anxiety with massage and your mind
Mindfulness is a mental, physical and emotional state of being where one simply remains focused on the present moment. It’s a way to free yourself from outside thoughts, emotions and simply exist in the experience of “now”, providing your tired high-speed, thought processing, brain a glorious and restorative break that can last a surprising amount of time.
When practicing mindfulness, thoughts relating to the future and past are simply “observed” as a bystander and allowed to pass on by, without allowing oneself to engage in the thought or emotion.
While you may have heard of Mindfulness meditation and its profound positive effects on mental health and wellbeing, there’s a simple way to integrate its concepts and power into your next massage.
To practice mindfulness during your massage, keep your mind focused on your massage therapist’s touch. It can act as a wonderful focal point that helps keep your mind in the present moment.
Experience fully the feeling of your tired, achy muscles as they’re worked on by your experienced massage therapist.
When your therapist encounters a painful area, don’t try to distract yourself away from the experience. Instead, take a few deep, calming breaths and imagine that you’re breathing directly into the painful spot.
As you breathe out, imagine the pain being dissipated and pushed out of your body with each breath. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can teach your body to “let go” of the tension and pain.
As you first attempt to focus only on “now” and disengage your brain, you’ll undoubtedly encounter a barrage of thoughts, ideas, internal dialogue and more that try to drag you away.
That’s perfectly normal.
Here’s what to do:
-When a thought, body sensation, or image emerges in your mind, observe it loosely, without attachment it, and then label it using one of three categories: talk, body, image.
-Let these things your mind creates spontaneously pass like a piece of wood floating down a river – and right on by you.
-Don’t get pulled into any one thing. When you catch yourself ruminating on something, take a deep breath and focus on the exhale, letting what you’ve been fixated on pass.
-Simply keep letting things pass by, not letting anything pull you in. Sounds easy – but it’s extremely difficult for most. Realize that this is perfectly normal, and that after racing in circles a while, most of our minds will eventually slow down, providing us with a deeply restorative experience.
The mind-body connection is a powerful one.
Massage naturally calms the body and mind. By intentionally helping to slow down your mind with some simple mindfulness exercises, you can significantly enhance the positive effects of massage on anxiety, depression and even physical well being.
Have more questions about mindful massage? Feel free to comment below. MassageBook is a directory of professional massage therapists and bodyworkers who help their clients feel better and be healthier.