My thoughts began to coalesce around this topic this morning in the shower. As my practice has evolved and I am in a better position to observe the common thread that weaves through it - I have come to describe it as stress management (and mind/body balance). But I think that's a term more familiar to and more narrow to the boomer generation.
Without divulging any confidences of my clients, one thing I have noticed from intake form is the prevalence of medications for anxiety and or depression. Nearly everyone that comes to me is on some form of medication for anxiety and or depression. Granted my practice has never focused on mechanical things; body part repairs, bad backs, etc. so for others it may be different. People get massage for a variety of different reasons.
As I peruse internet forums and online conversations to get a better understanding of how other generations view this world (so that I myself may make sense of an increasingly unfamiliar and unhappy place we now inhabit) I see just how widespread generalized feelings of anxiety exist in the population. Without elaborating on the details of the world in 2024; wars housing, economic uncertainly, political polarization, social isolation...etc....etc.... etc. Suffice to say that its easy to see how and why people are in a constant state of worry or panic. This also helps explain the near universal appeal of "nostalgia". People long for a simpler time, whether the experienced it or just imagine it.
Our brains are not built for all this worry. Our brains developed and are wired specifically to pay attention to "danger" signals and react. Think being eaten by a sabre tooth tiger, surviving an ambush from a villian. The brain is wired to let non threatening inputs just pass through. However we no longer live as cavemen. The physical threats have mostly vanished but have been replaced by virtual threats, Things we read about, things we disagree with, things we worry over - ALL THINGS BEYOND OUR CONTROL.
Worrying about things we have no control over is anxiety. Worrying about things in our past that we cant let go of is depression. I'm not medical and I may have this slightly wrong so please feel free to help me learn, in the comments if you have an informed take.
One other fascinating aspect of the brain is that it creates for you this beautiful, textural 3d universe of sights, sounds, colors, feelings, tastes, smells. It literally "creates" the world around you, for you. Yet the brain itself exists in silence and darkness. It never feels the sun, or smells the flower or tastes the nectar - it creates these things for you, from a constant input of basically electrical impulses, that it interprets and weaves this tapestry of the universe for you. The downside is that think about what we choose to fill our brain with and how - Facebook feeds, Instagram scrolls, people looking happier than us, people disagreeing with us, people complaining, on and on and on....so its paints that for you!!!! Yikes
So what can you do about it? I ponder and struggle with this myself. Start by turning down and tuning out the noise. Get tactile, live in the moment......stick your fingers in some dough, play some music, ride a bike, feel the sun warm your skin....real experiences, not to post about just experience.
So how does Massage fit into this?
Massage is immediate, its in the moment. Its tactile. It feels good. It allows your brain to sort of turn off for a bit.
One of the analogies I use to describe massage is this. If you think of your 5 senses, sight gets all the attention. We take in the world primarily through our eyes. Sound is second, we hear, we listen, we communicate. The other senses are tamped down and stay in the shadows. Touch, being the first sense to develop and the most essential to early childhood development is the most neglected. Its the Cinderella of senses. Its wayyyyy in the back. So like a shy child in the chorus, massage helps touch come forward, out of the shadows and step up to the microphone. and be heard. The brain can be refocused on the wonderful sensations of touch and over time with a commitment to self care you can reward your brain with this joy.
Massage calms the nervous system (not vigorous massage - see my many posts on the wide misunderstanding around "deep tissue" and the general overuse and un-necessity of this treatment).
Massage restores a sense of balance, It releases feel good chemicals that are helpful to your body. It can make you relaxed. It can make you happy. It can make you more calm. It can temporarily help you forget your worries. There is no downside.
If you want a better you, consider making massage a key component to your commitment to self care. Its not a once a year indulgence - Its essential.
My practice focuses on mind body balance, stress management and now I will add anti -anxiety to the list of descriptors.
I look forward to seeing you soon.
A Really Good Massage Blog
I write about things that I myself need to be mindful of. ways in which I would like to improve. It is not from the perspective of preaching - but rather writing helps me work out what I myself need to do - we are all in this together.