Massage and mental stress – the link between mind and body tension

Whether you are writing a novel, studying for an exam, working on a complex project, or striving to find the best solution to a pressing issue, your mental and emotional well-being plays a vital role.

When we spend a lot of time focusing on the same issues but don’t feel like we are getting anywhere with them, our central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) responds with stress signals to our bodies, which, if prolonged, can create mental stress, anxiety, depression, and other effects of long-term stress on the body. Mental stress moves into physical form, creating tension in the neck and shoulders, the temples or base of the skull starts to throb.

When we come to a place of stillness and relaxation through either massage, reflexology, acupuncture, or meditation, our mind unwinds with our muscles, and the solution appears as if out of nowhere. I often carry a small notebook in my handbag, so that after getting off the massage table, I can record my thoughts during my session. When I’m on the table receiving a massage, I often think of a solution to a problem that’s been bugging me, , or consciously release stresses of the day or week, and come up with ideas for art pieces I want to make.
It’s difficult to remember things when you are chronically stressed, sleep-deprived, and otherwise feeling run-down. Studying for an important exam is a stressor, and test anxiety can make you feel like you studied for hours but don’t remember a thing.

One of my clients, a physical therapist who recently moved to Seattle from the east coast, was studying to re-take her exam in order to become licensed in this state to continue her work as a PT. Test anxiety overwhelmed her during the arduous 150-question exam, as it had been a while since she had taken it since graduating school years ago. She missed a passing score by 20 points, but was pleased by how much she remembered from re-studying the material. She came to me for a massage the day before taking the exam a second time, and after the session told me that she used the time to quietly run through the information she had studied in her mind. She reported feeling much more confident of a passing score this time around. And, I’m happy to say, she did end up passing her exam.

A regular massage can help you open up to the answers you are looking for, change your perspective on a subject or a project, expand the possibilities you are contemplating, and create new ideas. Oftentimes, my clients will doze off during the session to awaken and talk through something that was on their minds, and come to a new understanding of it.

It’s another reason why I love the work I do, massage and reflexology help people in so many ways in addition to relaxing muscles and unwinding fascia. Benefits of massage and reflexology such as peace of mind, better sleep quality, reduced anxiety, and increased body awareness lead to greater expressions of creativity.