It’s no secret that parenting is a stressful job. A never-ending to-do list, sleep deprivation, and a schedule that leaves little time for self-care can leave moms and dads struggling. On top of that, the hectic pace of parenting frequently means that we sacrifice self-care for quick fixes (wine anyone?) while balancing our family’s needs.
Unfortunately, when daily stress builds up over time, it has a big impact on our mental and physical health. Whether you’re a stressed-out parent nearing your breaking point or an invested family member who wants to show Mom or Dad how much you care, here’s why massage works to help relieve stress.
Massages make your muscles feel better.
This one is kind of a no-brainer, but when you consider the stress that muscles take from hauling groceries, pulling kids in and out of the car, balancing laundry baskets…you get the idea. Working the knots out of your shoulders, not only makes you feel better during the massage, but also lets your body move in a less stressful way afterward.
Massages are time efficient!
Let me repeat that. Massages are a time-efficient way for a busy parent to make a difference in their stress level and health. A simple 15 minute back massage is enough to cause significant improvements in physiological health indicators. While scheduling and traveling to get a massage is challenging, in-home options, such as massage chairs, make self-care doable during a brief break in your busy day.
Massages are good for your heart!
When your schedule is too busy to make it to the gym or even grab a healthy meal, massage will help to keep your cardiovascular health in great shape. This might be because massage decreases the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream. Whatever the reason, a massage will reduce your blood pressure and heart rate. In fact, massage is so effective at improving your heart health, it is even recommended as an effective treatment for hypertension!
Massages can help you manage your weight.
New parents have a hard time fitting in time to be healthy. On top of the struggle of managing a new baby, they face the overwhelming task of trying to lose baby weight (or sympathy weight in Dad’s case) when they can barely grab a balanced meal. Elevated blood sugar and a struggling metabolism make this weight even harder to lose. Fortunately, massage impacts insulin levels in a way similar to exercise. This means that your body becomes more efficient at using calories and less likely to store them as fat following your massage.
Massages make you feel good.
There are physiological reasons that you feel good following a massage. In addition to decreasing cortisol, massages increase the level of dopamine and serotonin in the blood stream. These are chemicals that have a long-term impact on mental health and emotional functioning. Additionally, massage increases oxytocin, otherwise known as the bonding hormone. That’s the hormone you need when you end up finding orange juice and crayons ground into the living room rug.
There are a lot of ways to manage self-care and stress levels. While regular exercise and a healthy diet are important, the most effective method of reducing stress will be one that you can do regularly. For many parents, that means bringing exercise or massage into their homes. Using a massage chair can be an easy way to relax during whatever break you’re able to fit into your day.
Massage is also beneficial for reducing back pain, encouraging muscle growth and recovery, and even boosting immunity! For even greater benefits, combine massage with additional relaxation techniques. Consider adding guided meditation or a weighted eye pillow. Even brief yoga sessions can be added to provide a big payoff in improved sleep and reduced aches and pains.