Health & Wellness

How Massage Helps With Mental Health

August 31, 2022

Serenity Here
I devour health and wellness information, and love to share everything that works in my life, so you can use the same self care and lessons in yours!
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Anxiety, depression, and stress are on the rise, and massage should be too, here’s why.

It’s only been the last few years that I’ve had to put the kibosh on things that haven’t been serving me well. Recently, I’ve started to wonder if it all came to a head because I’m a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). But, I’m also fiercely ambitious with big goals, and a lot of drive. 

When those things intersect, it leaves me feeling pretty depleted at the end of the day. 

Energized as my mind races and I put thought to action, but then run down after I hit the ground running at full speed. I’ve found myself simply doing too much and not taking the time to reset. When this happens, I’ve discovered it leaves little room for continued growth in the moment because I lose momentum from exhaustion. 

I think I’ve discovered a system finally, which I’ll shed some light on in the near future. I’ve needed to figure out how I can accomplish all the things I want, quiet my mind (or at least settle it down a bit), but not feel like I’m completely wiped out – defeating the purpose. It’ll definitely make the cut into my health & wellness program releasing next year. 

Yes, next year, remember, I’m slowing down! 

I’ve had my fair share of massages throughout my life before it became my career. But it wasn’t until after I started my career that I realized what a good massage really is. Maybe you just don’t know what you’re missing, until you actually have one that leaves you practically drooling. 

Don’t get me wrong, most massages can leave you feeling relaxed and nourished for the most part. The massage I’m talking about is the one that takes you to another dimension, floating somewhere between your conscious and unconscious mind. It’s mind blowing, and until it happens to you, I don’t think most people realize massage is capable of that kind of transformation. I didn’t. 

I think it’s more than the massage itself;  the therapist plays a role too. A client of mine most recently described the experience as medicinal. I would agree, and it’s fun trying to find ways to describe it. It’s similar to other things, like a meditative state, but it’s quite unique. 

It’s like a form of meditation that through the body we can release the mind. 

I think what can really set it apart is that it is a true body-mind connection. Using the body in a healthy, safe way to start to release stress and worry from the mind, while also releasing it from the body at the same time. It’s a beautiful thing and I hope you’ve experienced what I’m talking about. 

Massage therapy is pretty generally linked to relaxation. It’s the mother’s day gift go to, and something people think and talk about as a treat. But, it’s so much more and I’m pretty sure more and more people are discovering this truth. Trust me, or better yet trust the research! 

I love to geek out on neuroscience. The brain and the nervous system are fascinating. I love them so much that I devote time to gorge myself in the complicated facets of them both regularly, and stopped letting it intimidate me a long time ago. Yes, some of it is way over my head. Maybe I’ll be a  neuroscientist in my next life, but in the meantime I love to learn from them. 

So what’s the brain and nervous system gotta do with massage?

Glad you ask. Massage releases endorphins – specifically serotonin and dopamine. When muscles relax through massage techniques, tension is released and endorphin release increases. Not familiar with endorphins!? Let’s break ‘em down. 


Dopamine’s made by the body and used in the nervous system. It’s a messenger of sorts and a pleasure chemical in the body. It typically goes about doing its thing, like helping us focus & plan, and goes under the radar for the most part. But when there’s a problem, there’s a problem!

Like just about anything, too much or not enough, is not a good thing. Balance is everything, and it’s the same with this guy. It can play a big role with things like: sleep, motivation, learning, attention, mood, etc. See how setting it off balance might get noticed?

Mental health problems have been linked to this off balance of dopamine. 

That’s where massage comes in. Dopamine is most well known as the reward system. It sends signals in the body that we’ve been rewarded by flooding us with this feel good chemical. Some things give us more of this than others. Sex, shopping, gambling, smoking, are just some of the things that realease this chemical. Anything jump out at you about this list? Addiction – yep, you got it. 

Can’t get in for bodywork regularly, try upping your intake of: avocados, banana’s, pumpkin, or sesame seeds. They all contain the amino acid l-tyrosine, which could potentially increase levels of dopamine. 


Like dopamine, serotonin is a messenger between the brain and the body. It effects things like: mood, sleep, digestion, sexual desire, etc. Although a small percentage of serotonin is produced in your brain, the majority is produced in your gut, believe it or not. An important distinction from dopamine which triggers hunger, where serotonin suppresses hunger with its strong gut connection. 

A lot of people connect serotonin to Thanksgiving. Turkey is high in tryptophan which triggers the release of serotonin. Nap anyone?

Serotonin is directly connected to anxiety and depression, showing low amounts in both conditions. 

Massage is a great way to combat these, by naturally raising levels, and giving you a comforting, safe experience. 

Other ways to increase your serotonin levels are getting 15 minutes of sunshine, exercising, or eating things like: nuts, seeds, or pineapple. On a side note, I added a little sprinkle of Trader Joe’s Chili Lime seasoning to mine recently, and it was delish! 

Dopamine and Serotonin are often referred to as happiness hormones. But there’s another hormone massage plays a role with, that’s not so happy – cortisol. Massage is shown to decrease levels of cortisol, our stress hormone. Who doesn’t want to rid a little stress in their life? It’s a beautiful trifecta. 

Making massage part of a regular wellness routine, nourishing yourself, and making self care a priority is no longer selfish, it’s necessary. 

It’s an investment in yourself and you’re worth it. Forgo that daily starbucks cup of joe and spend your money getting a massage a couple times a month. It’ll take you further, and do more for you, I promise!

Let me know if you’ve been fortunate enough to experience a transcendent massage. How would you describe it?

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