I’ve noticed one of the key factors in the development of anxiety and depression is a feeling of detachment from the world. In fact, one of the first signs I’ve noticed in the episodes of a&d I’ve had in my life is a sense of unreality in the weeks and months leading up to it. One of the ways to help combat that is through touch.
There have been lots of studies that talk about the benefits of touch. I think it’s one of the basic primitive human needs that doesn’t really get met in our modern world. As babies we discover that nothing feels more soothing than being cuddled. Well, adults need it too! It’s amazing how much even a simple hug can slow your breathing and make you feel like everything’s going to be alright. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford regular massages, I highly recommend it. Whenever I get a massage, I give myself permission not to worry and just focus on how good it feels to release the tension. You don’t even necessarily have to have a professional do it. Maybe a loved one can rub your neck and shoulders or feet.
Or perhaps you’re someone who doesn’t like being touched by other people, and that’s okay. I’ve discovered a few tips and tricks I can do myself. When I’m stressed, I find I clench my jaw a lot and hunch my shoulders, which gives me a lot of neck pain. If I notice this happening at work, I try to relax my jaw and bring my shoulders down and discreetly rub the knots that form right where my neck meets my shoulders. If you’re at home, a heating pad (I love my Magic Bag) wrapped around the shoulders and neck works wonders for relaxation. And of course, nothing beats a soak in the tub with epsom salts or a hot shower. I’ve found that if I balance on one leg in the shower I can draw one foot up behind me and let the shower massage the bottom of my foot, which feels like bliss. (Note – only try this if you have good balance and a proper shower with a good grip on the bottom. My shower is a standalone that’s enclosed on all sides so I can lean my free hand against the wall.)
Whatever works for you, I hope you make time for some form of massage every day!