The kids are sick. The car won't start. Work is not going well. Housework is getting further behind. The bills are due and I haven't had a good night's sleep in weeks...

Stressed? Anxious? Exhausted? Has your neck turned to stone and your shoulders feel permanently attached to your ears? Have you wondered, “How will I ever get out of this mess?” After all, kids do get sick, cars break down and work can be stressful at times.

Of course, stress is not always a bad thing. If there is no stress or excitement in life, we might become bored and may not live up to our potential. However, if we find ourselves in extreme stress, or experience stress for an extended time, it can negatively affect our physical and emotional health. When stress affects our health, we may find ourselves in a vicious cycle where matters only become worse.

According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can be responsible for headaches, frequent insomnia or decreased productivity at work. Long-term stress can can result in health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. It has been estimated that 75 - 90% of all doctor’s visits are for symptoms that are at least partially stress-related!

No matter what our situation, sudden or accumulated stress will be present at various times in our lives. Three out of four people say they experience excess stress at least twice a month. Stress and trauma can accumulate in become “stuck” in our bodies. In his 1997 book “Waking the Tiger”, author Peter Levine Phd., noted that humans tend to hold stress in the body for years – perhaps even for a lifetime.

Our tendency is to believe that in order to feel better, we must first reduce the amount of stress in our lives. While seeking ways to minimize stress is recommended, the ability to reduce stress at a given time may not be possible. However, we can almost always take action to manage our body's reaction to excess stress.

Massage Therapy is one stress management tool that offers powerful results. By physically releasing tension in the muscles and other soft tissues, we can also rid our bodies of accumulated stress and stored traumas. After receiving massage, we feel better, have more energy and find our world to be friendlier place. As a result, we are able to think more clearly, feel less anxious, begin to implement positive lifestyle changes and restore balance in our daily lives.

Exercise, diet, rest and humor are among other important tools for coping with stress but the use of massage therapy for relief from stress is on the rise. The 2011 Industry Fact Sheet, a comprehensive survey conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) reports, “In July 2010, 40 percent of adult Americans said they had at least one massage in the last five years to reduce stress or relax—up from 22 percent reported in 2007.”

For more information about massage therapy for stress and to find a qualified massage therapist near you, visit the AMTA's website at www.amtamassage.org.

Author's Bio: 

Alan Jordan has practiced and taught massage therapy for twenty-five years. He is Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTMB). Alan specializes in medical, stress management, pain relief and pre-natal massage. He is located at Intuitive Bodywork Massage Therapy in New Cumberland, PA.