As we all know, stress doesn’t just affect us mentally and emotionally. It also has a physical effect. We feel it in various ways, but one of the most common is tension in the muscles of the shoulders and back.
The body responds to stress by releasing the hormones adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine into the blood. These hormones cause contractions of the muscles and tend to pool specifically in the your shoulders and back, turning the nerve endings there into sensitive “knots.”
A tried and true way to alleviate these symptoms of your stress is a good massage. If you have the means to get to the spa and have an experienced masseuse massage you, you obviously stand the best chance of getting the full benefits from the massage.
But just because you lack the time or finances to get a professional massage doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from one. Have your significant other, a family member or friend give you a massage. What they lack in experience they can make up for by trying different things and by you communicating clearly to them what they’re doing that feels good and what doesn’t.
Have them use their fingers, their knuckles, the palms of their hands, even their elbows and knees if that’s what it takes to loosen you up. A lot of amateur masseurs make the mistake of being too gentle. Sometimes it takes work and force to loosen up tight knots in you muscles.
You’ll know when they start to loosen up. You’ll feel the tension melt away.
If you can, have them use a warm oil or shea butter when they massage you. The reduced friction on the skin and the soothing, healing properties of the oil or shea butter will add to the calming effect of the massage, helping you relax and further reducing your stress.
Finally, don’t just get a massage when you feel stressed out. Make a point of regularly getting a massage, at least weekly if not daily. The effects of stress hormones on the body are a cumulative effect. Regular massages act as a preventive measure as much as a treatment.