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“Anxiety And Massage Therapy”

Emi Hata, CMT 

This is a personal column about the human body and function and is not a medical advice article.  

anxiety and health

Anxiety is one of the most vulnerable topics to talk about.  The link between emotions and physical health is a foundation of traditional ways of healing.  If you leave your anxiety untreated, it deeply affects your health and quality of life.  

How do we know we have difficulty living with anxiety?  

Nowadays, we are dealing with lots of fears, angers, or worries, such as natural disasters, religious conflicts, racism, money, relationship, health, and more.  Anxiety disorder is generally diagnosed when a person reports being preoccupied with worry on more days than not.  Some other symptoms include: feeling restless, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and insomnia.  

massage therapy for anxiety

The Mayo clinic reports a 60-minute massage therapy can lower cortisol level by up to 30% after just one session.  A study published in the journal

"Depression and Anxiety" found participants who received regular massage therapy for 12 weeks had a 50% reduction in anxiety symptoms.  And the benefits were not short-lived either.  Experts recommend going in with an open mind and not talking or thinking about any source of worry during the massage.


One most important tip to treat anxiety is to find a massage therapist whom you can trust.  You need to be in a place where you feel safe.  One who has been trained the massage therapy for people with trauma, depression, and grief is ideal.  You are always welcome to request your massage therapist how you want the massage session would be like. 


Such as:

  • specifying the areas that you want to be spent time on

  • preference of starting a massage from facing-up or facing down

  • trying side lying position for easier breathing

  • your preferred pressure level 

I recommend light-medium pressure for anxiety relief because adding lots of pressure may sometimes tense the muscles, which is not beneficial for soothing effect.

other tips for living with anxiety

Practice to become the driver of yourself.

Feeling anxiety is a part of life.  It can help prevent future accidents or illnesses.  Practice to design your time to feel what you are worried about and turn the negative thoughts into positive ones.  

Look for triggers.

Think of times and places where you noticed yourself feeling most anxious.  Look for patterns and work on ways you can either avoid or confront the feeling of panic.  If you know the cause of your anxiety, that can help you put your worries into perspective.  

More tips

  • Jin shin Jyutsu, ancient method to calm your feelings, is an easy technique you can practice anytime.  Hold your fingers for a few minutes until you feel calm.  The thumb: worry, The index finger: fear, The middle finger: anger, The ring finger: grief, and the little finger: confusion or nervousness.

  • Be surrounded by your favorite things and people.​

  • Find your favorite ways to move your body; running, dancing, practicing your favorite sports.  

  • Get a touch.  "Touch" can reduce the cortisol level.  Get a massage, hold hands with love ones, hug your family and friends.


Emi Hata, CMT

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