Self-Massaging to Reduce Stress
Seeing a masseuse for a regular massage fix isn’t always a possibility.
Luckily, at-home, self-massaging routines reduce stress and relieve tension using your own two hands. So when you require a little extra TLC, try these relaxing techniques from the comfort of your home.
Benefits of massage:
Massage is a traditional practice that can be traced back 2,500 years ago in China, though its benefits have existed for millennia in pop culture. Throughout the years, massage has become an integral piece in treating a wide array of medical issues and has evolved into a powerful tool for our health. In addition, studies have shown that integrating a self-massage routine into your day-to-day life can help your activity function.
Massages are beneficial for reducing stress while increasing relaxation in our bodies. It can also reduce pain, muscle soreness, and tension, especially after strenuous activity or a long workout. Some added benefits include improving circulation, energy, and alertness and lowering our heart rate and blood pressure. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also great for enhancing immune function, which is vital during times like these.
What to do at home:
You don’t always have to find a massage therapist to reap the benefits of a massage. However, learning how to self-massage is a great way to treat your body with kindness and prolong the benefits between office visits. Studies have shown that self-massage can have four types of benefits: biomechanical for increased flexibility, physiological for a change in the hormonal balance that promotes well-being, neurological to reduce pain, and psychological to increase relaxation.
The foam roller technique:
Using a foam roller helps increase your range of motion by self-massaging muscle groups that support nearby joints. You can use a foam roller as a warm-up, especially when doing activities that require good mobility. They also come in handy for a cool-down and recovery period. Foam rolling’s impact is increased when you combine it with stretching.
To try it at home, pick up re•spin’s foam roller to use in your warm-up, cool down, or even for yoga, pilates, or a PT session. There are several ways to use a roller to stimulate blood flow and aid muscle recovery. For example, to work on your calves or hamstrings, sit on the floor with your legs extended and place your foam roller beneath the respective area before slowly rolling up and down for at least 30 seconds. If you’re feeling the tension in your neck or side effects of that pain, take your foam roller and rest your neck over the tool. Slowly, begin turning your head to the right and holding when you feel tight. Exhale, bend your head to the left before repeating for 30 seconds. You can repeat these motions over various body parts for a simple routine.
Ayurvedic head and body massage:
Abhyanga is an ayurvedic massage that tackles the whole body, involving rubbing your body down head to toe with an herb-infused oil that will help balance your doshas (energies). This type of massage can help reduce stress and increase heart variability, which can help us become more resilient when it comes to stress and our cardiovascular fitness.
To enjoy abhyanga as a self-massage, you’ll want to pour a half cup of warm–not hot–oil into an empty squeeze bottle (you upcycle an empty shampoo bottle). Apply the warm oil to your whole body, including your head, and begin massaging it into your scalp in circular motions, followed by your ears, forehead, cheeks, and jaw. Next, move down to your chest and start massaging in clockwise, circular strokes. Next, repeat the same motion along the rest of your body, traveling down to your back to your feet, toes, etc. For 10 minutes, let your skin absorb the oil as you begin to relax. Afterward, take a shower or bath and gently cleanse to remove the remaining oil.
Neck and head massage:
Sometimes, you want to keep it simple. For example, if you’re sitting idly and need quick tension relief, start with a short massage for your neck and head that can be done anytime.
Begin by kneading the muscles at the back of your neck and shoulders, making a loose fist to drum up and down the sides and back of your neck. Next, using your thumbs, work for tiny circles at the base of your skull before slowly massaging your scalp with the tips of your fingers. Next, you’ll want to massage your face, making a series of small circles with your thumbs or fingertips as you pay close attention to your templates, forehead, and jaw. Next, take your middle fingers and begin to massage the bridge of your nose, expanding outward as you reach your eyebrow and templates. Finally, close your heads and cup your hands over your face as you inhale and exhale to finish your quick massage.
Hand massages, or hand reflexology, involve putting pressure on various reflex points around your hands, corresponding to different body points wherein the massage can help relieve symptoms. Hand reflexology has been shown as helpful when it comes to anxiety relief and treating headaches brought on by stress by easing that day-to-day strain.
If you’re looking to try this at home, there are a few basic moves that can help you with general relaxation. First, you’ll want to relax your band by rubbing your thumb across your palm, from the center to the edge. Then, gently begin rubbing down in a lengthy motion from your knuckles to your wrist while being careful not to apply too much pressure. Next, wrap your hand around your fingers individually, gently rotating at the joint. Next, you can pinch the end of each finger, followed by rubbing the base of each finger in counter-clockwise motions until you reach the tip. Finally, apply pressure gently in small circles on your palms as well as the pads and back of your hands, moving down to the wrist.