You may have seen various health organizations and social media campaigns dedicating time to the discussion of stress awareness and management this month. Stress is an extremely important health factor that can affect a remarkable number of physical behaviours, responses and symptoms. For this reason, it’s critical that we be aware of stress: its toll on our bodies, its role in our massage practices, and what it means to the wellbeing of our clients.
Recent research makes it clear just how important stress management is to our long-term health. Massage Magazine published an article last week sharing the findings of an American study on stress. The data indicates that participants’ negative responses to daily stress correlated with predictions of anxiety and mood disorders ten years later.
This suggests that mental health outcomes can be produced not only by major life events and illness, but also by some of the choices we make on a regular, if not daily, basis. We already know this to be true about physical health. Eating unhealthily, being inactive and poorly managing stress can result in weight gain, high blood pressure and diabetes. And just as obesity has been treated as a serious North American epidemic, stress seems to be a grave and sweeping contributor to negative health outcomes. We already know that one third of Canadians report feeling under constant stress. If we feel compelled to prioritize the improvement of our physical lifestyle habits, we also need to make a commitment to the regular management of stress and a dedication to self-care. That’s what Stress Awareness Month is all about.
Massage therapy is uniquely positioned to target both of these intersecting components of health by treating physical ailments while also providing an emotionally soothing experience for clients. Regular massage therapy can help to facilitate the healing of muscle tissue, lower blood pressure, and improve circulation. But it’s also a highly effective way to reduce stress and take a much-needed break from the mental and physiological strains of a hectic, anxiety-ridden day. So let’s encourage everyone to tune into the tension and stresses in their lives to better our outcomes ten years down the line. We must take care of body and mind. Massage therapy is a great place to start.
For more information about stress management, symptoms of stress, and Canadian stats, click here.