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5 Ways Massage Can Improve the Mental Health of your Clients

5 Ways Massage Can Improve the Mental Health of your Clients

As massage therapists we all know the physical benefits of massage, we were all trained to know massage can relieve tension, increase joint mobility and flexibility whilst improving the recovery of soft tissue injuries, amongst many other benefits, but how much do we really know about how it can improve ones’ mental health?

As the statistics of people with mental health disorders rise, the conversation around mental health is getting more widespread and is more of a hot topic than ever before! But how much do your clients know? Do they realise the impact a massage can have on their clarity of mind and the scientific based evidence to support this? Maybe not.

How many times have you heard your client say; “I have pain in my shoulders and upper back so I came for a massage, please concentrate on that area.” Pretty much every massage client right? Now ask yourself this…how many times have you heard your client say; “I really want to gain clarity of the mind, reduce my anxiety, fix my low mood, I’ve not been feeling myself lately, I would like to reduce the cortisol levels in my body and produce happy hormones”, probably never right?! Although, they might say they are feeling stressed so this is your queue to educate them on what’s going on in the body during that post treatment aftercare advice.

Here are 5 ways in which massage has a huge impact on your client’s mental health therefore reducing stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Firstly, lets talk hormones!

1. Massage Reduces Cortisol levels in the body.

Cortisol, the dreaded hormone our body produces when we are stressed. Cortisol is produced in the adrenal gland and transported around the bodies blood flow, although its good to have some Cortisol in our bodies to support our fight or flight response, too much cortisol in the body can result in feeling anxiety and depression symptoms and can also supress the immune system resulting in slow recovery and inflammation. Massage can significantly reduce levels of this hormone resulting in increased relaxation, improved mood, better sleeping patterns and energy levels. So the next time your stressed out client comes in for a massage let them know you are regulating their hormones during their appointment, how amazing is that!

2. Massage produces Serotonin and Endorphins.

So we’ve talked about the pesky Cortisol hormone, what about our happy hormones that make us feel utter bliss and contentment? When Cortisol is decreased Serotonin increases, boosting your ability to fight off pain, anxiety and feelings of sadness. Now everyone knows certain types of massage can be extremely relaxing but do your clients know how and why they feel like they are floating on a cloud during and after your treatment? The answer is this, the increased Serotonin and Endorphins released in the body allow one to feel happiness and relaxation, in turn reducing stress levels and regulating the nervous system. They don’t call them happy hormones for nothing! So next time your client releases a big post massage sigh and says “I feel soooooo good” you can say… “oh that’s just the Serotonin.” Your client will love you for it.

Now how about Human Touch?

3. Human Touch literally reduces depression and anxiety.

Ever heard that saying “you look like you need a hug?”, well there’s scientific evidence proving hugs do actually make us happy and can reduce stress and depression symptoms. Did you know when you sit next to or hug a loved one our body releases Oxytocin, (our bonding and love hormone) blood pressure lowers and anxiety is decreased? If the body can do all of this with a hug imagine what a massage treatment can do? Human touch is crucial to our wellbeing, it has a huge impact on the mental and physical development on humans from infants to adults. Life without human touch cause all sorts of developmental, neurological and physical problems. When was the last time you had a good 20 second hug or even better a massage? As Therapists its equally important we look after our mental health too!

4. The key to happiness and calm is to learn how to regulate your nervous

Our nervous system pretty much controls everything in our body, including our heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and breathing. There are two main parts in the Autonomic Nervous System, called the Sympathetic System and the Parasympathetic System. The Sympathetic system will be turned on when our body feels under threat and the Parasympathetic System will come into action when our body needs to calm down and heal. When both systems are balanced you will experience better physical and mental health. There are many ways we can regulate our nervous system, we can do this with breath work, moving the body, meditation and you guessed it…Massage!

5. Time to switch off the noise.

We can all benefit from a moment of calm, whether you work a busy job, are a full time mum, or are just over stimulated by too much time on your phone or simply need to recharge your batteries from being around people. Massage offers a private haven of relaxation and an opportunity to totally switch off from the everyday stresses life can bring. If you really think about it, when was the last time you had an hour of silence? An hour just for you? With no distractions, total peace and calm…I can guarantee its probably not as often as you would like. How incredible is it that we as massage practitioners can give peace to multiple people, every single day, its our job to provide a safe space for your client to unwind and let go. Without these moments of calm Cortisol will build in the body, the Sympathetic System will get switched on and we will start to experience feelings of dis ease and anxiety, not only will our mental health be affected tremendously but the body will show these feelings in physical form too. When re booking your client for their next massage be sure to ask them how often they actually get time to themselves, this question is usually followed by a long pause or a “not often enough!”, massage is an investment into your clients long term mental health.

So these are my top 5 ways massage can improve your client’s mental health.

I think as Therapists we need to be speaking more about mental health in our consultations and in our aftercare advice, I feel just giving advice on the physical benefits and physical aftercare isn’t really giving a 360 holistic approach…after all, the physical and mental work in harmony together and make us human. Its also important to know how to talk about mental health with your client as discussing this can be a very tricky, embarrassing or awkward subject for a lot of people. Simply asking…” how are you feeling today?” or “How are your stress levels?” can really open up the conversation and gain trust.

As a Therapist like yourself you have chosen this profession because you are a healer and an empath…..we all have the power to heal and change peoples lives, how incredibly beautiful is that.

About the Author

Phillipa Spivey, founder of Phillipa Spivey Therapies, is a Beauty and Massage Therapist with 19 years’ experience in the industry. With a passion for mental health in the workplace and taking care of people she started a small business offering Seated Acupressure Massage in corporate environments to combat Anxiety and Depression symptoms at work. Phillipa has extensive experience in Salons, Spas, Hotels and Aesthetic Clinics in London. Her goal since the very beginning has always been to spread love and light and to simply make people feel better physically and mentally.

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