75% OF AMERICANS EXPERIENCE STRESS
You don't have to do a lot of research to learn that stress can wreak havoc on one's life. Lots of studies have been published over the years informing the public about the dangers of stress in the workplace and in overall health. According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, stress prevention activities at work can have a major effect on performance. In one study, a 700-bed hospital decreased medication errors by 50% simply by removing and relieving stress in the workplace. And the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that "Health care expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress."
Despite our understanding of the effects of stress in our lives, anxiety remains a prominent feature in American society. The National Health Interview Survey reports that 75% of Americans experience at least "some stress" every two weeks. And studies continue to indicate rising stress levels at work for millions of American workers, perhaps accounting for the fact that prescriptions for anxiety and depression make up one quarter of all prescriptions in the United States.
STRESS RELIEF IS NECESSARY
Stress and anxiety have been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and other illnesses. And we know that long-term stress affects the immune system and contributes to the development of alcoholism, obesity, suicide, drug addiction, cigarette addiction, and other harmful behaviors.
Yet, in spite of what we know about stress, people often find it difficult to take the time to relieve the stress in their lives. Fortunately for me, I found a doctor who kept my attention long enough to convince me that the best way to handle stress was to dedicate time to rest and relaxation, and to seek out some pampering with a massage and an afternoon at a spa.
Before hearing my doctor's lectures on the therapeutic value of massage, I had always perceived massage as a luxurious indulgence reserved only for society's privileged. However, now that I have experienced the healthful benefits of a massage first hand I have come to believe that massage should be a regular part of a person's healthcare treatment plan because it can be so effective at relieving stress and promoting the natural healing process.
MASSAGES FOR RELAXATION
There are a number of common massage techniques used for relaxation and stress relief.
Swedish massage is a soft, gentle massage normally recommended for those unfamiliar with massages. The therapist uses smooth, gliding strokes, mixed with kneading of the muscles, rubbing, rhythmic tapping/chopping with the sides of the hands/fists, and vibration of the treatment area. The treatment promotes relaxation and stimulates circulation.
Lomi Lomi is a traditional Hawaiian massage. In the Polynesian culture, it is believed that the lack of harmony leads to stress and ailments. The aim of the lomi lomi is to restore harmony and hence well-being to the patient. The session often begins with prayers to seek help for healing from the higher power. Lomi Lomi is a more free-formed massage that consists of broad strokes using two hands, forearms and elbows.
Hot Stone Massage
Hot stone massage utilizes hot stones with other massage techniques. The stones are either placed on the body or used as a tool for massaging muscles. The heat from the stones relaxes the muscles to allow for deeper penetration during the massage.
Thai massage has over 2000 years of history and it is gaining popularity again, especially among tourists to Thailand. Thai massage is a synthesis of many ancient oriental healing techniques, such as acupuncture and yoga. Practitioners believe that the body is made up of seventy-two thousand sen (energy) lines, with ten of the highest priority. By pressing along the sen lines and stretching in yoga-like positions, the therapist aims to stimulate the sen. This stimulation results in released muscle tension, improved circulation and relaxation.
SEARCHING FOR MASSAGE THERAPISTS?
Many practitioners work with a variety of massage techniques. It is important to talk to your therapist and see if he/she can customize the treatment for your needs.