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Massage and the Mind: Mental Health Benefits of Touch Therapy, According to Massage Guru Michelle Ebbin

Massage and the Mind: Mental Health Benefits of Touch Therapy, According to Massage Guru Michelle Ebbin


Unfortunately, Endometriosis is a whole-body disease. It not only causes physical pain but mental pain, too. This chronic condition can wreak havoc on an individual’s personal, professional, and sexual relationships. The good news? There are a few things we can do to ease the pain and reduce stress levels.

Touch therapy, for example, has been proven to reduce the unbearable dysmenorrhea caused by Endometriosis. In hopes of gaining some insight into the health benefits of touch therapy, we interviewed leading massage therapy and wellness expert Michelle Ebbin.

DO YOU ENDO: What is touch therapy, exactly?

Michelle Ebbin: Touch Therapy is any therapeutic, healing technique that involves using touch to relax the body and soothe the mind. It includes all forms of massage, reflexology, acupressure, and hands-on energy therapies, such as reiki and therapeutic touch (TT). All touch therapies are “holistic,” in that they consider the whole person – body, mind, spirit, and emotions – in the quest for optimal health and wellness.

DO YOU ENDO: How does touch therapy impact our mental health?

Michelle Ebbin: Touch therapy has the power to counteract many of the negative effects of stress, both physical and mental. When you’re touched during any kind of touch therapy treatment, a cascade of chemical responses occur, including a decrease in the stress hormones (cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine) and an increase in serotonin and dopamine, the body’s “happiness” chemicals and natural sources of pleasure and pain relief.

The shift in these bio-chemicals has been proven to calm the nervous system, balance your heart rate, lower blood pressure, strengthen the body’s immune system, and reduce depression, pain, and anxiety. These feel-good chemicals also trigger the activation of the vagus nerve, the nerve bundle in the body associated with promoting feelings of trust and social connection. Additionally, touch deactivates the amygdala. This is the part of the brain that triggers emotional responses, such as fear or anxiety. The amygdala is activated by stress.

DO YOU ENDO: How did you get into the health and wellness industry? 

Michelle Ebbin: I was a ballet dancer since the age of four and then, while in college in New York, I started dancing in hip-hop videos and commercials. My interest in health and wellness grew from my desire to keep my body in the best shape possible while enduring long rehearsals and strenuous workdays.

After some injuries left me with chronic pain, I turned to different touch therapy techniques, including deep tissue massage, reflexology, and reiki, to help me relieve pain and heal my body. I had such personal success with massage that I decided to learn more about it, so I went to massage school and I was hooked. Everything fell into place and I soon had a thriving massage practice in Los Angeles. Since then, I’ve written four books on massage, created massage products and a video series for Gaiam, and worked with many companies to teach people about the remarkable benefits of massage.

DO YOU ENDO: How can massage ease stress at work or at home? 

Michelle Ebbin: I believe massage is the antidote to stress. It encourages you to tune into your body and slow your mind. Today research from all over the world confirms the numerous physical and emotional benefits of massage. Studies prove that touch therapy techniques such as massage, acupressure, and reflexology can relax the nervous system; slow heart rate and blood pressure; ease stress, anxiety, and pain; increase alertness; enhance the immune system, and lessen symptoms of depression. 

DO YOU ENDO: Are there different techniques for each type of stressor? 

Michelle Ebbin: There are many different types of touch therapies and they vary from each other greatly in terms of pressure and technique. There aren’t specific techniques for each type of stressor since massage is very subjective. In other words, it really depends on what each person prefers.

When I’m stressed I like to get a deep tissue sports massage. However, this kind of massage might cause more stress for some people and they would benefit more from a soothing Swedish massage. The most important thing is to get to know your own body and how you respond to different types of massage. This way you’ll be able to choose the right kind of massage technique for what you’re feeling at any given time. You might feel like reflexology one day and a full-body sports massage another day.

DO YOU ENDO: What advice do you have for those of us who are too busy to get a full-on 60-minute massage? 

Michelle Ebbin: If you can’t get a 60-minute massage, I highly recommend a 20-30 minute chair massage at work – this is a great way to relieve stress and boost your energy at the same time. A chair massage can effectively ease neck, shoulder, and back pain in a short amount of time. (And you don’t have to take your clothes off.) It’s better than a coffee break!

DO YOU ENDO: You’re an entrepreneur, an author, a spokesperson, and a mother of three, that’s amazing–what techniques or methods do you use to keep your stress in check? 

Michelle Ebbin: I try to meditate daily, even if for just 5-10 minutes, and I practice yoga and kundalini breathing techniques. I also use self-reflexology and acupressure to help acute problems like headaches and anxiety. I have to admit, I also enjoy a nice glass of wine or two at the end of the day!

DO YOU ENDO: Could you tell our readers a little bit about SOOTHE? 

Michelle Ebbin: I have always believed that everyone should be able to find a massage therapist whenever they need one, and now they can. Soothe is an amazing company that is bringing a much-needed service to many stressed-out people. Soothe is the world’s largest and fastest-growing, on-demand massage service that’s now in over 70 major cities with over 13,000 independent, licensed and insured massage therapists, all of whom are background-checked.

They offer four types of massage, including deep tissue, Swedish, sports, and prenatal. The service also offers chair massages and stretching in-office via Soothe At Work. All you have to do is go online or call them to book a customized massage experience to meet your wellness and relaxation needs. It’s super easy and every Soothe therapist I’ve had has been great!

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