Stress can lead to many physical side-effects as well as an increase in unhealthy coping behaviours such as over-eating and inactivity - and experts say a relaxing massage can help cope with it.
In the 2009 study by the American Psychological Association (APA), 71 percent of Americans cited money as their biggest source of stress.
Experts at Massage Envy clinic want to steer people toward healthy ways to manage stress, especially during tax time.
“A relaxing massage may be one of the easiest and best ways to not only cope with stress, but also to make you healthier in the long run,” says Winston Moore, regional operations manager and certified massage therapist with Massage Envy.
“So many things we tend to turn to when we’re stressed are bad for us, but massage actually boosts your immune system, flushes toxins out of your body and lowers your blood pressure,” adds Moore.
Moore recommends a few simple remedies that can be done even as you sit at your computer working on your returns:
1. If you’re experiencing a headache from stress, try a pressure point located in the triangle of flesh between the thumb and forefinger. Use your opposite thumb and forefinger to squeeze this point applying firm pressure for about 10-20 seconds. Repeat on the opposite hand. Do this several times until you feel your headache pain lessen.
2. Other headache relieving points lie at the back of the head, on either side of your spine, just below the rounded bones at the base of your skull. Apply pressure here with your thumbs or forefingers for the same slow count of ten. Do this several times.
3. Ear lobes also have pressure points that can relieve headache pain and have a calming effect on the body. You can grab both of your ear lobes between your thumb and forefinger and squeeze while pulling down firmly, but not to the point of causing pain.
Do this for 20 seconds at a time until you feel calmer. Deep, slow breathing in and out through the nose, while expanding the belly, not the chest, can enhance relaxation during any of these exercises as well.
4. Many of us store tension in our neck and shoulders; this can be intensified when we’re typing on a computer for a long period of time. Try shrugging your shoulders as high as you can up towards your ears and holding for 5 seconds.
Then drop the shoulders as low as possible and hold that for another 5 seconds. Repeat this several times, then follow with slow shoulder circles in both directions. This will increase blood flow to the area, and allow your muscles to relax.
5. Stress can play a large role in the quality of your sleep, as the 2009 APA study indicated. If you have trouble falling asleep, try using a tennis ball to signal the nervous system to relax and help stretch tense muscles.
While lying face up in bed without a pillow, place a tennis ball behind your head, in the crook of your neck and lie back for 10-15 minutes before going to sleep. You should reach a deeper sleep faster after doing this.
6. The feet contain many nerve endings that refer to different parts of the body. You can enjoy a relaxing foot massage while at your desk. Remove your shoes and place a golf ball on the ground. Roll your foot along the golf ball while applying pressure, says a release of Massage Envy.
This helps release the tension in the muscles and tendons of the feet, and hits pressure points that can induce relaxation. Repeat for about 5 minutes to help relieve tension and relax your body.