Self-Massage: Depression & Anxiety Relief

“I feel like a rock. And it makes me all the more depressed and anxious. A nice massage would sure help, but who can afford one?”

You’re money’s no good here, sir or madam!

That’s because you’re going to use self-massage. And I’m going to teach you how.

(Dis)Comfort With Self-Touch

Before we get started, for reasons that would require their own article (book), some of you may have issues with self-touch. Maybe it’s a self-image thing. Perhaps it’s due to some rigid personal boundaries.

If such is the case, I encourage you to open your mind just a bit – and at least try these exercises. The benefits can be significant.

These Will Feel Great!

Well, let’s get after it. Here are six self-massage ideas and techniques that will ease tension, and provide some depression and anxiety relief…

  1. Massage your hands every day. Starting with the bottoms of your palms, clasp your fingers together and rub the heels of your palms together in a circular motion. With your hands still clasped, take one thumb and massage the area just below your other thumb in a circular motion – moving outward to the center of the palm. Free up your fingers and use your thumbs and index fingers to knead your palms, wrists, and the webbing between your fingers. Then gently pull each finger for a time. Move on to using your thumb and index finger to pinch the webbing between your other thumb and index finger.
  2. Feeling tense? Keep a tennis ball around, and “roll with it.” Foot? Stand with one hand on a wall for support and place the arch of one foot on top of the ball. Gradually add more body weight over the foot, allowing the ball to press into your arch. Begin to slowly move your foot, allowing the ball to massage your heel, forefoot, and toes. If the tennis ball seems too big, use a golf ball. And, hey, you can lie on the ball to get at that hard-to-reach spot between your shoulder blades, or to soothe tension in your lower back.
  3. How ’bout a warm massage? Fill a tube-style athletic sock three-fourths full with uncooked rice, tie off the end tightly with a rubber band, and stick it in the microwave for two minutes. Then rub it up and down your legs and arms for a while. Actually, you can use the rice-sock over and over again – even adding spices for a soothing scent.
  4. On the hour, take a break from your computer or desk work. Clasp your fingers behind your neck, pressing the heels of your palms into your neck on either side of your spinal column. Move the heels of your hands up and down in slow, deliberate motion. Then place the fingers of your right hand on your trapezius muscle along the left side of your neck just below the base of your skull. Press into that muscle, tilt your head to the left, and rub downward until you reach your shoulder. Repeat three times, then switch sides. Finish by stretching your head back so the top of your chair presses into your neck just below your skull. This also stretches out the front of your neck, which tends to get tight during desk work. Hold for 20 seconds.
  5. I love this one. Give yourself a bear hug to relax away shoulder tension. Cross your arms over your chest and grab a shoulder with either hand. Squeeze each shoulder and release three times. Then move your hands down your arms, squeezing and releasing until you get to your wrists.
  6. Headache? Stand up, bend forward from the hips, and place your forehead on a padded chair. The chair will gently place pressure on your head as you relax in the forward bend. Hold about 30 seconds. When you rise, sit down and spread your fingers through your hair, making a fist. Gently pull the hair away from your head. Hold 2-3 seconds, then release. This stretches the fascia along your scalp, releasing tension. Continue to grab different clumps of hair all over your head, working from the top front of your head, progressing to the sides, and then to the back of your head. Once you have grabbed and released your entire scalp, return to work, feeling refreshed (after using water, gel, and hairspray).

Plenty more where these came from. Here’s a link to the Reader’s Digest article from which I pulled what I just offered.

All Done

Life is tough for anyone enduring a mood or anxiety disorder. And I can’t think of a population more deserving of a break. Massage therapy is wonderful. And if you can’t afford a therapist, you’re not excluded…

Turn to self-massage. Not only is the price unbeatable, you may find a new relationship with self refreshing.

Go ahead, choose one of the above and give it a go – right now!

More on the biological aspects of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder? Here’s a list of the 80-some chipur articles.