When I was growing up, massage therapy was mostly associated with two things: 1) illicit massage parlors offering thinly disguised sexual services, and/or 2) a luxury service for people with means. If it was legit, it was seen as pampering for those who could afford it.
Happily, most people are now educated about the vast difference between illicit massage parlor-esque activities and the licensed practice of massage therapy. However, the misconception of therapeutic massage as mere luxury service often prevents people from investing in one of the best wellness practices readily available to us. Even people who regularly invest in massage, often frame it as luxurious self-indulgence rather than necessary self-care.
Obviously, as a licensed massage practitioner,* I am grateful when you grace my table with your presence, whatever your reasons. I love pampering my clients. Yet, as self-serving as this may sound, I also believe that massage is necessary self-care worthy of regular investment.
1) It not only feels good, but it's also good for you.
Massage is stress-reducing, tension-relieving, and relaxation-promoting. The fact that massage is a pleasurable way to preserve our health and well-being doesn't make it any less essential.
In the early nineties, the World Health Organization identified stress as the epidemic of the 21st Century . Today, it is a well-established fact that chronic stress is a contributing factor in all the leading causes of death, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, accidents and suicide. Moreover, in the U.S. alone, 77% of people regularly experience stress-related physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, and muscle tension, and 73% of people regularly experience stress-related psychological symptoms, such as irritability, anxiety, overwhelm, and lack of lethargy .
- Better sleep quality
- Decreased irritability and anxiety
- Reduced fatigue
- More stable energy
- Improved concentration.
2) It's an excellent attitude adjuster.
Massage promotes greater self-awareness and self-compassion, which generally lead to greater well-being.
Even in relatively stable times, those of us in the Western world are often challenged to make time for ourselves. In the course of fulfilling our everyday work and life commitments, we sometimes overlook, ignore, and sacrifice our own needs. Especially in recent years of such economic and ecological instability, many of us suffer from fatigue and overwhelm,
Massage offers an opportunity to reconnect and check in with ourselves, releasing tensions and restoring that vital connection, so we can face life's daily distractions and coming attractions with greater well-being.
Plus, when we're more aware and compassionate with ourselves, we tend to be more aware and compassionate with others. Basically, when you get a massage, you're doing everyone a favor, so if you can't do it for yourself, do it for everyone else <grin>.
3) Massage is preventative healthcare.
Don't wait until you're stressed or in pain to get a massage. Seriously. Relaxed, happy people are healthier people, less likely to succumb to illness and injury. Massage is a relatively cost-effective way to take good care of yourself.
And if you're already stressed or injured, massage can prevent some conditions from becoming worse. Although I'm not suggesting that massage therapy can or should replace your primary healthcare (definitely, see your doctors, therapists, etc. as needed), it may make some physical and mental health issues less likely or acute .
When you consider the much bigger expenses associated with the healthcare costs of stress, illness, and injury, the cost of one or two massages per month may seem like a wise investment.
Bottom line: I know that many still think receiving regular massage is a luxury well beyond the budget of average householders, and believe me, I get it. We all have bills to pay.
If you're currently having a hard time feeding yourself or your family, definitely stick with keeping food on the table. Receive as many hugs as you can, and if possible, access some of the many free online self and/or partner therapeutic massage videos until you're in a financial position to invest in some professional care. If you're local, enter your name in my monthly gift massage drawing.
If, however, you are blessed with some discretionary income, consider investing in some good, old-fashioned preventative healthcare that actually feels good and supports you being you at your best. For the average cost of an evening out on the town, or a salon haircut, you can receive all the benefits of a therapeutic massage.
One of my regular clients decided to make her daily cafe latte at home, so she could support her new "massage bliss habit." She tells me that I'm her "bliss-pusher." (Is it wrong that this makes me happy?) Get in touch if you'd like some habitual (or occasional) bliss too.
- Robinson J: Smash Stress. [http://ww.orktolive.nfo/tress-campaign]
- Statistic Brain Research Institute. [http://www.statisticbrain.com/stress-statistics]
- Tracy, Ketura,RN, BSN, LMT. Massage Therapy as Prevention. Journal of Nursing. http://rnjournal.com/journal-of-nursing/massage-therapy-as-prevention.