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"An Hour-Long Hug": How Massage Therapy Can Ease Anxiety

"An Hour-Long Hug": How Massage Therapy Can Ease Anxiety

Elements Massage Scottsdale Promenade

“Anxiety” is a broad term. Though many people experience mild anxiety sparingly (“I’m anxious about giving my presentation at work today”) many others experience severe anxiety over a long period of time. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that about 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders. Of those, about 6.8 million have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which impacts twice as many women as men and manifests itself physically through symptoms such as the following:

muscle tension and aches,
difficulty swallowing,
frequent urination,
hot flashes, and
shortness of breath.

The onset of GAD is gradual and often begins between childhood and middle age.

Anxiety is so ubiquitous that, in one way or another and at one time or another, it touches nearly everyone. About 16% of adults between the ages of 18 and 54 experience anxiety for at least one year of their lives, not to mention the undiagnosed and the many others whose anxiety is much more akin to being nervous about a presentation than a clinical disorder.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, “Massage therapy can assist in reducing the symptoms of anxiety,” This means that, regardless of your relationship with anxiety, massage can help you to restore your inner peace.

The Mayo Clinic Health System finds that an hour-long massage is enough to reduce the stress hormone cortisol by 30% while simultaneously increasing the feel-good hormone serotonin by 28%. This hormone shift enables the body to better kick pain, anxiety, and sadness to the curb and regain the energy that it needs for daily life. Supplementary to this internal work of massage therapy is the safe and nurturing space that is established in the massage studio. Angela Olinger, M.T., puts it this way: “Massage provides a safe and nurturing place for individuals to relax, refocus and find clarity. It can increase awareness of the mind-body connection…generate confidence and enhance self-image and self-worth.” In short, she says, massage is “an hour-long hug.”

As indicated by the physical symptoms of GAD listed above, anxiety is not contained to the mind. “Research suggests that more than 90 percent of illness results from stress alone. Decreasing physical and emotional stress is optimal to improving overall health and well-being,” says Olinger. Ease your anxiety and provide rest to your mind and body alike with massage therapy.* Schedule your next session at Elements Massage Scottsdale Promenade today.

*Consult your primary care physician to make sure that massage therapy is right for you.


Kecskes, A. A. (2014, November 05). Therapeutic Massage for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved October 24, 2016, from

Massage Therapy for Anxiety. (2013, September). Retrieved October 24, 2016, from

Olinger, A., M.T. (2014, June 25). Can massage relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress? Retrieved October 24, 2016, from

Robson, S., RMT. (n.d.). Massage Therapy for Anxiety and Depression. Retrieved October 24, 2016, from

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