How Massage Can Help You Hack Depression and Beat the Blues

How Massage Can Help You Hack Depression and Beat the Blues

Depression has been called the common cold of mental illness. Most people at least experience the symptoms of depression in some form or another throughout their lives. It’s so common, in fact, that many (unqualified) people dismiss the idea that it’s even a real ailment that needs treatment, let alone medication.

The facts aren’t kind to this dismissive attitude. Although it’s common, it’s a fact that depression can be fatal. It can lead the sufferer down a path of dark thoughts that seem inescapable, to the point that they might be willing to harm themselves, or sometimes others, to make the pain stop.

But what to do about it? The first stop for anyone who thinks they may be suffering from depression is their doctor. A general practitioner can determine whether medication is warranted, and refer you to a mental health professional who can assist with the many challenges of coping and recovery.

After all that is done, though, consider giving us a call.

Why massage?
One of the most common pieces of advice given out to people who have depression is to exercise more. Exercise reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone that can trigger depression), and increases levels of dopamine (the “feel good” neurotransmitter).

The problem, of course, is that because depression can cause lethargy and sap motivation, it’s extremely difficult for a severely depressed person to motivate themselves to get out and exercise, especially if exercise isn’t already an established habit. So, while studies have shown exercise to be extremely effective, there are huge obstacles for depression sufferers to overcome on their own.

Massage is an excellent answer to this perplexing problem, and here’s why. Massage provides many of the same blues-busting benefits of exercise, but without the need to motivate oneself to get up at the crack of dawn and go to a gym.

In fact, most massage clinics, and ours in particular, couldn’t be further from a gym-type atmosphere. The lighting is low and soft. The rooms are completely private. Everything is designed to suit your comfort. There’s no need to talk through your session–you can chit-chat as little or as much as you like. Our clinic is quiet, peaceful, and serene.

But what exactly does massage do that helps depression? Like exercise, massage increases dopamine levels. It also increases levels of serotonin–a key mood stabilizer. In short, it feels good! And you feel better afterwards.

Uncommon sense
We respond to human touch, whether in a clinical or a personal setting, in a primal way. We’re social creatures that need touch, so when you think about it, it isn’t really a big surprise that compassionate touch therapy can be so effective in stabilizing mood.

Book a massage today, and start feeling better.

Choose to live the good life!

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist you with building your brand and enlarging your digital footprint by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

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Talking Through It: Conversation Do’s and Don’t for Massage

Talking Through It

Your massage is your own, so of course you have some latitude in customizing your experience. Massage therapy is one of those self-care treatments comparable to getting your hair done: you’re working with someone one-on-one in a vulnerable position. Not only are you in close physical proximity to your massage therapist, you’re undressed in a private room getting touched by them–it doesn’t get more vulnerable than that!

Naturally, a relationship of trust will develop between you and your therapist. Not only do we expect this, it’s encouraged! As your therapist gets to know your body’s unique needs and quirks, they can provide better massage with regular treatments. That personal trust and connection can play a vital role in the healing process.

Having said this, it’s important to understand that there are boundaries and limitations to that relationship, and that the conversation shared in a massage setting isn’t exempt from these.

What can I say?
Nothing, if you choose! As a rule, your practitioner will probably read your social cues. If you seem game to talk, they may engage you and start a chat while they work on you. If you don’t initiate a conversation, they’ll leave you to enjoy the massage in a peaceful, quiet setting.

You can also feel free to give your massage therapist feedback. Phrases like “That’s too deep!” or “Can you ease up on the pressure there?” or “That stroke is kind of chafing right there.” are all appropriate ways to help guide your practitioner and make your massage experience as good as it can be.

If you want to talk, that’s fine, but keep it light. Try to avoid heavy or potentially offensive topics. Would you discuss what you’re about to say with a stranger on the bus? If not, maybe reconsider your choice of topic.

If you’d like to talk and get to know your therapist over several sessions, that’s great. Just keep a few things in mind:

Massage therapist, not “Therapist”
It’s common for people come in for massage who are under serious stress. But the scope of massage therapy is only to address the physical component of healing and stress relief. The mental and psychological components should be handled by trained mental health professionals. You may develop a strong rapport with your massage therapist, but that doesn’t mean they have the training or skill to talk you through your stresses and emotional difficulties.

You wouldn’t expect a licensed family therapist or psychologist to give you a massage, would you? Of course not. The difference there is that those professionals don’t touch you, except to maybe shake your hand. A massage, however, can include a great deal of talking, and even emotional release. Clients under a great deal of stress have even been known to sob through their massage as painful emotions are released along with the muscle tension. But that doesn’t mean your massage therapist can or should become your therapist. Bring your mental health problems to a mental health professional.

Don’t ask for a date, for heaven’s sake
There’s nothing wrong with finding your massage therapist attractive, and the relatively intimate setting of touch therapy might unintentionally inspire romantic or sexual thoughts. But please: keep those thoughts and feelings to yourself during the massage.

Your massage therapist is there to help, and it’s completely inappropriate to flirt, touch them back, hold their hand, ask for dates, or try to initiate a romantic relationship with them. By the same token, your massage therapist has no business making romantic or sexual advances of any kind. In fact, such behavior at The Good Life Massage is grounds for termination.

Even if the advance would be innocent or welcome under different circumstances, it’s completely inappropriate during a massage. Besides, it makes the session far more uncomfortable and awkward. If you find that you’re developing romantic feelings for your massage therapist, consider getting your massage from someone else from now on. After all, we have several practitioners to choose from.

We won’t “take sides”
As people start talking, it can be natural to progressively get more personal. You might even feel comfortable enough to talk about personal relationships or conflicts. This is totally understandable. We all need to vent sometimes. But don’t expect your massage therapist to “take your side” or commiserate with you like a personal friend might. They might say “It sounds like you and your partner have some things to work out. I hope that works out okay,” or something equally neutral. We’ll help you release the physical tension from your whatever personal drama is impacting your life, but it’s not our place to join you in dwelling on it.

So, yes, go ahead and chat! Or don’t! But understand that your massage is a professional exchange. Yes, it’s a intimate, even a little personal, but within certain limits that are worth keeping in mind.

Book your next massage now.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and the blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist you with content marketing, social media, and logo/brand development by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

 

4 Things That Surprised Me About My Four-Hand Massage

4 Surprises from my Four Hand Massage

I don’t normally use such a personal tone in my posts, but today I feel I need to make a notable exception.

We’ve posted about four hand massage on this blog before, but now that I’ve had a taste of this epic massage experience first hand, I thought I’d pass on exactly what it was like for me.

The idea behind a four-hand massage is this: two practitioners (generally with two hands each) massage you at the same time. This is usually handled in a way that one practitioner is working on the upper body while the other works on the lower body, and then they may switch. Hypothetically, one can work on the right side while the other works on the left, but this was not my experience for this session.

If you’d like to book a four-hand massage for yourself, just let us know.

The two practitioners I had work on me were Vanessa Mabra and Tianna Hull. Both have a reputation at The Good Life Massage for being able to do both relaxation and treatment work very well. Vanessa, however is a bit stronger on the relaxation side. This was a great combination.

I admit that it was a little strange to meet my practitioner for the session and find that I was talking to not one, but two people! I’m not sure just why, but it was somewhat intimidating. There was no reason to be intimidated, of course.

They had me lie face down on the table to start. Normally I like music with my massage, but I settled for the soothing sound of waves from the white noise machine. I wanted to be particularly mindful during this session, paying close attention to what was going on with the massage and what I was feeling.

We began with Vanessa working my back, getting me settled in and warmed up while Tianna did some much-needed treatment work on my thighs and glutes. I’ve been walking and riding a bike around town a lot more lately, so it was badly needed. According to Tianna, I was pretty tight down there, which would normally mean that whatever work she did would have been somewhat uncomfortable, if not painful.

But here’s the thing:

I don’t remember and discomfort!

Vanessa was doing such an excellent job working my back and getting me relaxed that I didn’t even notice what was going on down there.

By the time Vanessa had moved up to give my neck and scalp a treat, Tianna was already working on the bottoms of my feet. I’m very ticklish there, but Tianna used just the right pressure on my feet in just the right places. Vanessa had made me feel like I was floating on a cloud while Tianna had made me feel like my feet had been replaced with a brand new set.

I had a 90 minute session, and it’s hard to imagine a better way to pack so much care into so little time.

I walked away with a lingering feeling of relaxation and well-being over my whole body I won’t soon forget. In fact, I dare say it helped me make some much-needed spiritual and mental adjustments. I found myself doing more self-care in the days that followed. I felt more connected to my body and my own needs in a way I couldn’t have expected.

If you’d like to try a four-hand massage, don’t hesitate. The cost may seem high for just one massage, and I get that, but it really is an experience that’s greater than the sum of its parts. It’s not just two sessions-in-one, but a form of nuclear fusion for massage–two skilled practitioners combining their expertise to maximize both care and relaxation.

Four hand massage is also the ideal way to gift someone massage. It’s the kind of thing where someone you love might feel like they would want it, but couldn’t justify spending the money, even though they would really benefit from it. Trust me: it’s a gift they’ll be thanking you for repeatedly in the years to come.

Want a massage experience you’ll never forget? Book your four hand session now.

I was about to write that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I’ll definitely be coming back for more.

Be well.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can contact him about hiring him for your social media, writing, or marketing needs at tomgunn@gmail.com

Swedish Vs. Deep Tissue Massage

What is Swedish massage?
Swedish massage is a basic massage used primarily for relaxation, but which also delivers a multitude of health beneifts, many of which we’ve covered here.

Muscular Anatomy of the BackThis kind of massage works the superficial muscle groups, or in other words, the muscles closest to the skin. It helps to circulate blood and lymph throughout your body using strokes that will move those fluids back up to the heart. The result is that some people report feeling like they’ve just had a good workout after a massage, only they didn’t have to do anything.

The intensity of this massage can vary broadly, from intense and uncomfortable to light and smoothe. It all depends on your taste and what you feel is most beneficial to you. For this reason, it’s crucial that you keep the lines of communication open with your therapist both before and during your session.

Why is it called Swedish massage?
Like many successful innovations, Swedish massage has many fathers.

For several years it was believed that a Swedish practitioner, Henri Peter Ling, was the originator of Swedish massage as we know it. It is now believed, however, that a Dutchman named Johan Georg Mezger bears more of the credit. But there’s really nothing particularly Swedish about it, as such. It incorporates techniques and methods that have been used in different parts of the world, and which go back much further than either Mezger or Ling.

In Europe, what we know as Swedish massage is referred to as a classic massage. If you think about it, this label makes a lot more sense, but for some reason, the “Swedish” name has stuck in our culture. It may be that since so much of our culture is dictated by marketing and advertising, calling it a Swedish massage makes it sound more exotic and continental. In any case, be aware that the name is just that: a name.

Deep tissue massage
This kind of massage is intended as a treatment to help improve posture or soothe chronic pain. Deep tissue massage aims to work down below your superficial muscle groups to treat muscles and tissue deep inside your body.

Contrary to the popular misconception, this kind of massage is not merely a high-pressure version of the ordinary Swedish massage. Rather, this is designed for treatment of a specific area or muscle group. It is not intended for work over your whole body, nor would you want it to be. This kind of massage over your full body would actually be harmful.

Our LMPs have been thoroughly trained and know human anatomy extremely well. As they work on you, or even as they watch you walk in the door, they’re able to identify areas that could use extra help or attention. But they’ll only treat you if you ask for it.

This kind of massage is often used as a medical treatment, and we tend to see a lot of that for those clients who have been referred by their physician. Are you billing workers comp or making a claim against an auto insurance policy? This may be the kind of massage you need.

Which should I choose?
If you’re like most people, Swedish massage would suit you just fine. If you have chronic pain or posture problems that you want resolved, we may choose to use some deep tissue therapy to address those, but only if you discuss it with us first.

It’s important to start your session with a detailed conversation with your therapist. This should be more about what kind of pressure you like or what music you want to listen to (though that’s important too). This conversation is your chance to ask for help.

  • Are you having a pain in your back that just doesn’t go away, no matter how you adjust or try to get comfortable?
  • Is there an injury they should be aware of?

Even if you’ve mentioned something on your intake form, it’s a good idea to address it with your practitioner verbally to make sure your concerns are heard.

If you have questions about any of our treatments, please feel free to email us at TheGoodLifeMassage@gmail.com and a licensed massage practitioner will address any concerns you may have.

To book a massage, please visit our website or give us a call at 425-243-7705.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. Find him on the Internet at http://www.tgunnwriter.com