It is easy to get stressed these days, especially when the kids are running around in different directions, the economy is shaky and you have to work overtime just to pay the bills. Take some time to relax. You may not be able to completely banish stress from your life, but you can find temporary relief. One of the best ways to relieve stress is through massage. A simple foot massage can do wonders for you and is an inexpensive (or free if you do it yourself) and quick remedy.
When a person is stressed, there are high levels of adrenaline and cortisol, also known as the “stress hormones.” According to the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, massage reduces stress hormones, enhances attentiveness, reduces pain, improves immune function and alleviates depression symptoms.
Massage has many health benefits. Massage releases endorphins that relax the muscles and soothe the nervous system, increases circulation, relaxes muscles, gives an overall sense of well-being, reduces anxiety and tension, improves blood circulation, speeds up the body’s removal of toxins and can help with pain management. The mind and the muscles are connected and once a person relaxes her muscles, the mind will follow. According to the 1996 China Reflexology Symposium Report, blood tests taken from individuals before and after a foot massage reflexology session showed decreased levels of free radicals and an increase in antioxidant enzymes after the sessions.
Foot massage is often confused with reflexology, a treatment emphasizing and working with the foot’s reflex points. Reflexology theorizes that the foot’s reflex points correlate to different organs in the body. By stimulating these reflex points, reflexologists are opening the organs’ energy pathways to allow healing and relaxation. Reflexology works through nerve endings, whereas massage affects muscles and soft tissue, which is then thought to clear your mind. Regardless of differences, both massage and reflexology relieve pain and promote relaxation.
You can get a foot massage either at a spa from a licensed massage therapist, via an electric foot massager, from a willing friend or loved one, or from yourself. It is easy to give yourself a quick foot massage. Simply place one hand under and one hand on top of your foot. Stroke the foot four times up and down and lightly knead your toes. Lightly pull and gently squeeze each toe. Make hard circular movements against the arch and heel. Knuckle the foot in a circular motion before stroking and rubbing the foot to end the massage.
When giving yourself a foot massage, try rubbing some massage lotion with lavender essential oil on the feet. Create a calming environment: light some candles, play relaxing music and burn some incense. But if you can’t create a sanctuary around yourself, you can still feel the benefits of a massage. One quick hands-free massage tip is to place golf balls under your feet and rub them around. You can even do this at office while you work.