If you suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or another type of clinical anxiety, you may find that the unpredictability of your symptoms causes as much anxiety as anything else. However, using medication or cognitive behavioral therapy to manage your anxiety may sometimes still leave you dealing with its physical manifestations — from clenched teeth and headaches to heart palpitations and excessive sweating — when you least expect it. Fortunately, regular sessions with a massage therapist may fill in any gaps in your treatment regimen that could be allowing anxiety to seep back through. Read on to learn more about the types of massage that can be most effective at quelling clinical anxiety.
This type of massage is performed by many chiropractors and massage therapists and focuses on energy transfer as much as actual muscle manipulation. The theories underlying rolfing massage involve gravity shortening the fascia of the body, leading to energy imbalances that can leave you with everything from digestive upset to anxiety or depression. By focusing his or her massage techniques on lengthening this fascia, a rolfing massage therapist is able to relax you while helping restore balance to your nervous system, leaving you feeling mentally and physically lighter at the end of your massage session.
Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage involves firm manipulation of some of the deepest muscles in the body, with particular focus on the back and legs. This massage can be ideal for relieving the physical side effects of stress and anxiety, especially if you tend to carry stress in your back or neck muscles. Deep tissue massage can sometimes border on painful due to the pressure the massage therapist must apply, but its ability to release anxiety-quelling endorphins will leave you feeling relaxed for hours or even days after your treatment.
Another popular massage technique, Swedish massage focuses on energizing the body through short, small strokes rather than the longer and deeper ones associated with deep tissue massage. This can be especially effective when it comes to relieving anxiety, as the positive energy gained from a massage session can boost your mood for some time and give you a much calmer slate on which to implement cognitive behavioral techniques (like affirmations) that can minimize the effects of your anxiety. Swedish massage of the head and face can also be perfect if you tend to clench your jaw or grind your teeth while sleeping.