The pace of modern life seems to increase by the day. We are constantly bombarded with emails, social media updates and advertisements on TV, on our phones and through our laptops. Adding work and family commitments into the mix creates a recipe for constant, low-level (if you’re lucky) stress. With modern technology, it’s rare that we can truly escape the daily demands of just existing and truly relax. It’s important not to ignore stress, nor to accept it as an inevitable part of everyday life. Stress can seriously damage your health —creating memory problems, indecision and crippling self-doubt. The wrong kind of stress can make your life (and that of those around you) pretty miserable.
With National Stress Awareness Month rapidly approaching in April, we thought it would be a good time to give you some ideas for stress-busting massages. Most of us will have experienced a standard back massage, but massage is an art-form and there are plenty of varieties to choose. Perhaps you need a sports massage to work out those kinks and niggles? Maybe a sensual or tantric massage would be the ultimate relaxation for you? Read on to find out which is the best stress-busting massage for you.
4 Types of Massage You Should Try
1. Swedish Massage
If you’ve had a massage before, you probably had a Swedish massage. This is one of the most common types of whole body massage. It tends to be a gentle style and is suitable for those who are new to massage or those who hold a lot of tension in their body. Your therapist will work to release any muscle knots they find by gently manipulating the area with their hands. A “muscle knot” is an area of tension. These are often found in the neck and shoulder area. This is especially likely to be true if you spend your days hunched over a computer or laptop.
You’ll be asked to remove your clothes (you can keep your underwear on) and to cover yourself with the sheet or towel provided. Your massage therapist will move the covering to reveal the parts of your body she or he is working on. They will use a range of techniques — kneading, flowing strokes, vibration, circular motions and tapping —to ease any tension in your body and send you into a state of deep relaxation. Although this type of massage is intended to be gentle, you can ask your therapist to apply more or less pressure as you prefer. Sessions generally last thirty to sixty minutes.
Choose this type of massage for relaxation and reducing minor pain. This is a good option if you have never experience massage before.
2. Hot Stone Massage
If you have muscle pain and physical tension in your body, hot stone massage could be a great choice. Likewise, if you’re just feeling the need to de-stress, the purpose of this massage is to give you a sense of deep relaxation. It can help to relieve stress, improve blood flow, ease muscle tension and aid relaxation.
Instead of massaging you with their hands, your therapist will place heated stones on different areas of your body. This is an ancient practice and the stones are placed on key spots that are believed to control your body’s energy flow. The therapist will use both oils and stones on your body. They may hold a stone as they massage you using Swedish massage techniques.
You will be asked to remove all of your clothes, including your underwear (if you feel uncomfortable with this, say so), to lie on the table and cover yourself with a towel or sheet. Your therapist will start by applying oil to your body before gently gliding the stones over you. It may sound odd, but it can be a profoundly relaxing experience. Sessions generally last thirty to sixty minutes.
Choose a hot stone massage if deep-relaxation is your goal. The added heat of the stones may ease more tension than a traditional Swedish massage. This is a good option for those who have tried a Swedish massage and want to try something a little different. It is often a slightly more expensive option than the basic massage.
3. Sports Massage
Many of us use exercise to de-stress after a tough day at the office. However, excessive or incorrect training can lead to injury, which is no fun and can be stressful in itself. Sports massage will not provide the deep relaxation of Swedish or hot stone massage —or at least not in the same way. However, it’s a good option if you have a persistent muscle injury or you’re prone to injuries. Sports massage can help to prevent injuries and reduce the pain caused by existing problems.
Unlike the other massage styles, you won’t necessarily need to remove your clothes for a sports massage. It’s important to discuss your needs with your therapist so that they understand which area of your body you would like them to work on. You may choose for them to focus on one area that is causing you problems or you could ask for a whole-body massage. You can remain clothed or naked —however, you feel most comfortable. Most sessions last sixty to ninety minutes.
Your therapist will alternate between deep tissue massage and lighter strokes. In a sports massage, the dialogue between the therapist and the recipient is particularly essential. Tell your therapist if the pressure being applied it too hard, too light or in the wrong place. Deep-pressure can feel a little unpleasant, especially if your therapist is working on an area of pain. But the benefits can be significant —tight muscles will be loosen, chronic muscle pain may be alleviated and you will feel less stressed and anxious.
This is a good choice if you are very active and are prone to injury. It can also help you manage the pain and stress of repetitive injuries. During the massage you are unlikely to feel the sense of deep relaxation provided by other massage types, but the after effects can be blissful if you’ve been enduring a niggling pain for some time. If you find deep pressure uncomfortable, give this one a miss.
4. Tantric Massage
Tantric massage has been practised for centuries as a means of awakening energies and providing intensely spiritual experiences. If you’re feeling stressed, experiencing gentle sweeping massage strokes combined with aromatherapy and breathing techniques, will evaporate tension and leave you feeling invigorated. Tantric massage is deeply sensual, enjoyable and relaxing.
As with Swedish and hot stone massages, you will be asked to remove your clothes and lie down. You may be asked to take a shower first. Often your masseuse will also be naked. A key element of a tantric massage is the bond between your therapist and you. Take the time to talk to your therapist about your needs and expectations before the session begins. Techniques will vary from masseuse to masseuse, and of course, this sensual massage will be tailored to your needs and preferences. Tantra is all about the spiritual connection between you and your therapist, so every session will be different.
Tantric massage often starts with breathing exercises, which both you and your therapist will undertake together. Deep breathing puts you into a state of relaxation and allows you to connect with yourself and your therapist. Your body will be covered in oil and gentle strokes, pressures and touches will be applied to different parts. During the massage you’re encouraged to let your mind roam free and to release any stress or negative thoughts.
Tantric massage is a great option for anyone seeking a more spiritual and sensual experience than Swedish massage can provide. Tantric massage can help to reduce stress, alleviate depression and increase confidence.
In the whirl of demands that you experience day-to-day, it can be easy to ignore those telltale signs of stress and anxiety. This can lead to long-term health issues and unhappiness. If you let negative stress get the better of you, you’re also less likely to succeed in your career, family and personal life. Devote some time to yourself this month. Can you see the signs of stress in your body, mind and behaviour? Take a good look at yourself and think about what you need, then book that massage today!