Deadlines. Projects. Working for a promotion. Regardless of the reason, The American Institute of Stress states work related stress as being the leading source of stress for American adults. That fact, compounded with the APA’s 2010 Stress in America survey which shows that only 40% of American adults feel they are very healthy or in excellent health – a reality largely attributed to not making self-care a priority, creates a recipe for what the APA refers to as “a public health crisis.”

What makes stress, specifically chronic stress, such a health threat?  Aside from the frequently quoted negative effects on the body’s heart, blood vessels, blood pressure, and adrenal function, studies have also shown chronic stress as a significant contributor to the development of depression, anxiety, and memory problems.  In a nutshell, chronic stress hinders both our ability to function, as well as our ability to enjoy and appreciate day to day life.

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How then, does something so seemingly simple as self care combat the effects of stress, and keep it from progressing into chronic stress?  Self care is defined as being any voluntary activity that helps maintain physical, mental or emotional health.  Most define it more personally as doing anything that helps them feel healthy, relaxed and ready to take on their work and responsibilities.  Welcome to the most widely reported effects of massage therapy!

While much of massage therapy’s research is in its infancy, many studies support the claims made by individuals who state that massage therapy has effectively helped them cope with, or completely alleviate their pain, reduces the number of insomnia occurrences, improves stress levels as well as their ability to deal with stress, and increases feelings of overall well-being.

With further, on-going research regarding the positive effects of massage on cancer patients, fibromyalgia sufferers, individuals diagnosed with autism, and even diabetics, the future of massage therapy as a key component in a healthy lifestyle looks promising.

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