“how to treat and manage anxiety

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

Let's talk about anxiety.

As a massage therapist, there are clients who come to see me for treating and managing anxiety.  This is one of the most vulnerable topics to discuss, but it is essential to talk about it openly for us to live with ease, peace, and more smiles than crying or panicking.

How do we know we have difficulty living with anxiety?  

Nowadays, we are dealing with lots of fear, anger, or anxiety, such as climate change, natural disasters, religious conflicts, money, family relationship, health, work, 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.  

some risk factors of anxiety disorder

-being shy in childhood

-exposure to stressful life events, such as a car accident, loss of a close family member, terror attack, and other traumatic events

- a family history of anxiety disorders or mental health disorders

- having elevated cortisol, stress hormone, levels

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 weren't 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 is to find a massage therapist whom you can really trust.  It does not mean any massage therapy can help manage your anxiety.  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.

Another important thing is that you are always welcome for the massage therapist to request how you want your massage session would be like. 


Such as:

- areas that you want to be spent time on

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

- trying side-lying position for easier breathing and better communication with a massage therapist

- 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

Be the boss of your thoughts.  Be the driver of yourself.

Feeling fear or anxiety is part of our life.  It can help prevent future accidents or diseases.  If the strong negative emotions suddenly attack us, we will be in panic.  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

- Find your favorite essential oil, and take the bottle with you anywhere as a protection and prevention from panicking.

- Try Jin shin Jyutsu, ancient method to calm your feelings.  Hold your fingers for few minutes until your pulse calms down.  The thumb: worry, The index finger: fear, The middle finger: anger, The ring finger: grief, and the little finger: confusion or nervousness.

- Try weighted blanket for creating the feeling of being hugged.


- Declutter your room, car, or work space.  If you don't use something for one year, you might not need it any more. 


- Live simply and be surrounded by your favorite things and people.


- Make a time to light a candle once a day.


- Do something kind to others.  Even if they don't watch you or thank you, do it for yourself.


- Get a touch.  "Touch" can reduce the cortisol level.  Get a massage, hold hands with love ones, hug your family members, friends, doggies and cats included ( No doubt! ).


- Find your favorite way to move your body.  


Emi Hata, CMT

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