Everyone faces stress; however, studies show that some people are afflicted more than others.
For instance, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), women report feeling slightly more stressed than men, with an average stress rating of 5.3 on a 10-point scale as opposed to 4.9 from their male counterparts.
Furthermore, millennial stress levels are almost double that of “matures,” with scores of 6.0 and 3.5 respectfully.
While it’s only natural to experience some sort of stress in life, the problem with this particular emotion is that it can negatively affect your health, if it’s allowed to accumulate over time.
Case in point: the APA goes on to reveal that, along with higher stress levels, U.S. adults also have poorer levels of health than ever before. In fact, almost one in four label their health as either “fair” or “poor,” a number that is up four percentage points from just three years prior.
Certainly, there’s no way to get rid of stress entirely. However, there are quite a few things you can do to help ease it before it starts to affect your quality of life. Here are seven (and one extra) that work for other massage therapy experts, so you may want to give them a try.
1. Practice Time Management
“Time management is really the key to creating balance in life,” says Amanda Mittan, Massage Therapy Program Director at Carrington College. “Making sure you don’t overextend yourself as a practitioner is so important to career longevity.”
If this is an area where you typically struggle, motivational speaker and self-development author Brian Tracy offers several tips to better manage your time. Among them are to take care of small tasks immediately when they arise, prioritizing your tasks so you always handle the most important ones first, and limiting your distractions so you can focus and get things done.
2. Seek Variety
Another stress-relieving tip offered by Mittan is to change up your routine. Incorporate variety into your day and you likely won’t feel so stressed out. One way to do this is to constantly learn new things, even if those new things involve massage therapy.
“The more disciplines of massage you study, the more diverse your work day will be,” says Mittan. “I love clinic work, but I know I can’t do that all the time so I integrate spa, sports, and Eastern theory into my practice to keep my skills in check and also to give my body the times to relax while I work.”
3. Spend Time in Nature
“I am really lucky to live in San Diego [California], where I can enjoy the ocean and our beautiful canyons,” says Kathleen Lisson, C.L.T., C.M.T., owner of Solace Massage and Mindfulness and author of Swollen, Bloated and Puffy. Lisson says walking every day helps her clear her head, something she has placed more focus on after being diagnosed with skin cancer in 2016.
“I knew it was time to lower my stress levels,” says Lisson.
What do you do if you live in an area that doesn’t have Southern California’s notoriously beautiful views?
“If there is no ocean or park near you, join a garden club,” suggests Lisson. “I volunteer pulling weeds in a public garden once a week and it gets me in contact with the earth. I can watch the plants grow, flower, and die back, immersing myself in nature’s rhythm.”
4. Engage in Guided or Silent Meditation
Another stress-relief tactic that Lisson uses is meditation. “I meditate for at least 10 minutes a day, most often in the morning right after I wake up,” says Lisson. “This relaxes me and lets me bring a peaceful attitude into my day instead of becoming overwhelmed with the things I have to do to run a massage practice.”
Lisson uses the free app Insight Timer, which has over 6,700 guided meditations, music tracks, talks and courses. If you prefer to meditate in silence, you can simply use the app’s timer to set your desired session duration. You can also set different interval bells, ambient sounds and ending bells.
5. Take Relaxing Breaths
Relinda Reynozo, lead massage therapist at The Elms Hotel & Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, says breathing to pre-selected counts delivers a body-relaxing response. “I inhale to a count of six, hold it for a count of three, and exhale to a count of seven,” says Reynozo. “I do this three times in a row just about every night before bed.”
Not only can relaxation breathing make you feel less stressed, but the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health shares that engaging in relaxation techniques such as this can also have positive effects by reducing your risk of or symptoms associated with several physical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few.
6. Stay Physically Active
Rachel Beider, L.M.T., owner of Massage Williamsburg and Massage Greenpoint, both in Brooklyn, New York, finds that staying physically active helps her reduce stress levels. “I find it’s important to engage in physical activities at least two to three days a week,” says Beider, who finds solace in both spin classes and weight training.
The American Council on Exercise shares that exercise reduces stress in four different ways.
First, it lowers your anxiety levels. Second, the neurotransmitters and endorphins it releases creates a relaxation response, which also leaves you in a better mood. Third, it increases your feelings of self-worth; and, fourth, it encourages you to eat healthier, which helps ease your stress as well.
7. Get Regular Massages
Although this should go without saying, the one response that was received most often when asking a number of massage therapists about how to relieve stress was to get regular massages.
Take some time and treat yourself to the same form of stress relief that you provide to your clients daily.
That’s what Joann D’Armetta, L.M.T., with Advanced Wellness in Marlboro and Parlin, New Jersey, suggests because it offers two benefits in one.
“Not only will you be effectively reducing your own stress, but at the same time you can pick up some great techniques from the therapist giving you the massage,” says D’Armetta. “It’s a win-win situation!”
One Final “Extra” Tip…
Melody Althaus, L.M.T. with Here & Now Wellness Massage in Orange County, California sums up stress relief in one simple statement: “Do whatever makes you feel happy. Whether it’s doing some form of exercise, meditation, craft or hobby, just make sure you’re taking the time for you daily.”
Some massage therapists start their day with stress-relieving activities and others place them at the end. Wherever you decide to take advantage of yours, the key is to do them and to do them often.
In other words, make it a point to get rid of your stress before your stress threatens to get rid of you.