Warm, healing hands make you melt deep into relaxation. A lotus flower floats in a bowl of water, while soothing music plays in the background. Dressing gowns and fresh, clean towels give you the promise of a world that’s far from the stresses of everyday life.
Sounds nice, right? A good massage can be a total godsend. For many of us, though, a luxurious spa-style pampering is only reserved for special occasions. After all, massages are expensive and time-consuming, and with to-do lists longer than a roll of toilet paper, regularly going to the spa just isn’t possible.
This is where I need to stop you. You can reap the benefits of massage by simply self-massaging at home for just 10 minutes a few days a week. Maybe you can get a back rub from your guy or a hand massage during a manicure. However you do it, here’s why you should insert more massage time in your life:
1. It reduces stress.
Several studies shows that massage can actually reduce stress and body tension. It has been proven to lower the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body, while increasing the levels of serotonin (a chemical responsible for maintaining mood balance) and dopamine (controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers).
2. It alleviates strain from typing and texting.
Do you spend most of your days typing on a keyboard or texting up a storm? If your muscles in your forearms and hands feel tight and ropey, you need some TLC. For a fast fix, grab one of your forearms with your thumb underneath, and dig your fingers into those muscles in your forearm. Use it as rake, and massage back and forth to spread the muscle fibers.
3. It reduces the effects of sitting all day.
If you have a desk job or you sit for hours behind the wheel, you probably have body pains. When you sit for eight hours or more a day, your shoulders are pulled forward and rounded. Your upper and lower back muscles become weak and overstretched as well. According to experts, massage coupled with a regular exercise routine can help alleviate the pain and keep your posture in check.
4. It reduces lower back pain.
So many of us suffer from lower back pain, and regular massage addresses this pain and other musculoskeletal issues, according to a 2011 study. It doesn’t even matter if you’re getting a Swedish massage or just a shoulder rubdown from your guy—bodywork, in general, is helpful to your lower back.
5. It relieves PMS symptoms.
If you’re like most women, those days leading up to your time of the month can be just plain awful and painful. Lucky for us, getting a massage can relieve the usually symptoms of PMS, such as cramps, mood swings, and bloat.
6. It strengthens the immune system
According to a study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, massage changes the blood’s composition for the better. The study found that those who had a 45-minute Swedish massage had higher levels of blood proteins—things that play a vital role in protecting the body against infections, tumors, and other pathogens.
7. It boosts your mood.
Dealing with a manic Monday or just any workday? Is the deadline of your project tomorrow? Is it any other day of the week that makes you so miserable? You definitely need a massage. As I’ve mentioned, massage increases your levels of serotonin and dopamine, which means getting one will pretty much make your day.
8. It helps you sleep.
If catching a few Zs is easier said than done, give massage a chance. A small study found out that even a 20-minute facial massage could increase your sleepiness—pretty much immediately. So stop counting sheep and start relaxing with a late-night facial rub.
Why stay stressed, tight, and tense when you can find relief without booking an expensive hour-long massage appointment (although you’ll often find that these aren’t quite as expensive as you might think, if you canvass a bit)? Much like a set of crunches or cardio at the end of a workout, massage should become part of your health and wellness routine.