For some people, the arrival of winter means cozying up to the fireplace, enjoying snow sports, and the excitement of celebrating the holidays with family and friends. For others, it means the arrival of shorter, darker, colder days, and a mood that heads steadily south until the weather turns nice again months later. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects some 9% of residents in the northern United States, bringing symptoms of depression, stress, and decreased energy along with the change in the weather.
If the dark, short, cold days of winter have gotten you down, there's a surprisingly easy and effective solution: get a massage. Many people don't realize that massage therapy can be an effective treatment against the symptoms of SAD. While many people have heard of using antidepressants or phototherapy (bright light treatment), many aren't aware that massage can also foster positive outcomes in patients suffering from SAD.
Although it is often difficult to pinpoint the exact mechanisms by which massage therapies generate symptom relief, most clinicians believe that massage helps SAD in at least two ways: by targeting stress and creating a supportive, caring environment. Massage treatment can help reduce stress, one of the key components of SAD, by helping relax tightened muscles, regulate hormone imbalances by targeting the endocrine system, and increase the body's serotonin levels.
The time spent with your massage therapist also works to reduce stress and alleviate depression by allowing you to develop a relationship with that individual. This bond, even when strictly clinical, enables you to feel more supported and able to overcome the negative symptoms of SAD.
Working on at least these two levels, therapeutic massage can help you reduce the sadness and stress that may come along with shorter days, darker nights, and colder temperatures. Even for those not suffering from symptoms severe enough to be officially diagnosed with SAD, massage treatment can help keep you happy and healthy through the winter. If you're interested in learning more about how Swedish massage and other types of massage can help keep your mood and your body healthier this winter, contact your local massage center. Talk to a massage therapist about your SAD or SAD-like condition and ask them how massage treatment can specifically help you. They should be able to offer advice regarding particular massage styles as well as schedule your appointment for therapeutic massage.
So don't dread the arrival of winter this year. Combat those down feelings with a relaxing and healing massage therapy session!