Massage your stress and anxiety away


Be it before or during the lockdown, stress and anxiety have been a part of our life. Psychologists have noted that stress, anxiety and depression among people have increased manifold during the lockdown due to various socio-economic reasons.

According to Karuna Kunwar, Senior Psychologist at Centre for Mental Health and Counselling Nepal, stress and anxiety can also bring physical problems such as headaches, upset stomach, gastritis, chest pain, low energy, muscle aches, eating disorders and insomnia.

However, the positive thing is that taking care of your body reduces your stress and anxiety, and massage therapy can be one of the good ways to relieve physical as well as mental tensions. And although professional spa and massage services are not open at present, it is possible to indulge in some self-care at home.

“You can massage your head, face, neck, shoulders and foot yourself with your fingertips, while you can seek help from your siblings or a family member for back massage,” says Rajesh Phaiju, Spa Instructor at Tranquillity Spa.

He says although professional spas use different essential oils, locally used mustard oil is still the best.

“Mustard oil heated with the traditionally used jwaano (thyme or carom seeds)/ garlic / fenugreek seeds is effective in massage,” he says and continues, “Many people hesitate to do this type of massage fearing bad body odour while going out. But since the majority of people are working from home and staying indoors these days, such a massage can be done at home now.”

You can also try dry massage — he recommends doing normal/mild pressure massage and suggests not trying extremely firm pressure massages including back walking massage as it can lead to injuries.

Sujita Phaiju, 24, a resident of Bhaktapur feels that massage reduces stress and tension significantly. “Whenever I become stressed and get a headache, I go for oil massage on my head/scalp which also helps me to sleep well and alleviates my stress.”

She adds, “Although the first week of the lockdown had been exciting to stay at home, it started becoming difficult for me to stay at home in the latter days. As such, I have been doing head massage and also neck and shoulder massage whenever I feel stressed and tired. I also read books and am involved in different refreshing activities to keep stress at bay.”

Stating that blood circulation of the majority of people may be low at present due to lower physical activities, Rajesh suggests keeping your physical, mental and spiritual health intact by engaging in yoga, exercises and self-massages along with having healthy foods.

As per Rajesh, massage’s impact on reducing stress and anxiety varies according to body parts. He says massaging your head and shoulders can effectively lessen your stress levels, while massaging your hands and feet contributes to decreasing anxiety.

“There is also a technique of massage therapy called reflexology in which pressing vital points in your hands or feet can relieve stress in other body parts,” he states.

“Moreover, massage makes you relaxed and this can increase your dopamine — which is also known as happy hormone, and an increase in dopamine level reduces your level of stress, anxiety and depression,” informs Rajesh.

Kunwar adds that any activity that is pleasurable to your body also gives pleasure to your mind. As such, massage can reduce stress and make you feel relaxed. “Apart from massages, you can also relieve stress by drinking sufficient amounts of water, deep breathing and adequately sleeping for eight hours. Simple body movements, stretching and walking around also help you feel better,” she adds.

However, she opines although head massage or any other kind of massage relieves your stress instantly, it will only last for a short while. “So, if you are facing stress daily or frequently, it is better to identify the root cause of your stress and address them,” she advises.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 6, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.