Stress is a major factor of life, and although the stress most Americans feel is mental or emotional, it can manifest in physical tension and discomfort. Stress can be debilitating, and sometimes the best thing we can do to alleviate it is to treat ourselves to something special.
It doesn’t always have to be something grand like a vacation; just some alone time with a good book or a glass of wine can be all you need. A date night or a piece of dessert is a great way to decompress after a stressful week. But when stress causes your whole body to ache, you might need something more powerful — like an aromatherapy massage.
You might be thinking that aromatherapy massage is too expensive or too difficult to do yourself. Check out this guide and find out just how easy it is to incorporate essential oils into massage and help yourself or a loved one erase the stress that builds up in the body and the mind.
Why Utilize Massage?
Massage therapy is a tool that has been around for centuries to soothe the body, mind, and spirit. It aids with overall health and well-being and can be done by almost anyone at any time. It continues to grow in popularity and is used as a treatment for dealing with long-term health issues and illnesses, as well as a complementary treatment often combined with other therapies.
Massage is one of the oldest types of alternative medicines, yet it’s still one of the most effective. When you incorporate the benefits of essential oils into the massage, it becomes even more powerful. By combining two popular and powerful techniques for promoting health and reducing stress, you can find the extra psychological and therapeutic care you need to stay mentally and physically healthy.
How to Use Essential Oils in Massage
By blending together some massage oil and learning a few simple techniques, you and your loved ones can give and receive wonderful massages. For an aromatherapy massage, essential oils are blended with carrier oils before being applied to the skin. Essential oils are highly concentrated and carrier oils help reap the benefit of essential oils for relaxation in your message without the risk of them being too strong or irritating the skin.
Essential oils are known around the world for their role in promoting health and well-being. You can boost the experience of a massage by a hundred times when you use a good carrier oil combined with quality essential oils. If you are wondering what essential oils are best, check out these six choices for relaxation and massage:
Coriander comes from the same plant that produces cilantro, but it has many benefits that surpass its uses in the kitchen. It is a warm and sweet oil with an aroma that induces relaxation and peace of mind while creating a soothing atmosphere for massage. Not only is it one of the most relaxing essential oils, but it can promote a healthy circulatory and digestive system. If you’d like a massage that can help promote your overall health, give coriander essential oil a try.
Geranium is an ideal oil for massage. It was used by ancient Egyptians as a beautifying agent because of its ability to enhance the appearance of healthy skin and hair. It’s a sought-after fragrance in the perfume industry because of its beautiful floral aroma that is sweet and supports positive emotions. It is grounding and can instantly help create feelings of calm and ease, boosting the stress-fighting power of a massage.
Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils and one of nature’s most powerful tension-tamers. A massage that incorporates this versatile oil is the ultimate pleasurable experience. Lavender essential oil has the power to improve your mood and change your whole outlook. When used in a massage, its skin-soothing and relaxing properties are released, and its benefits are maximized.
If you are looking for a more sensual massage experience, Neroli essential oil is one you should try. It can soothe feelings of tension while energizing and lifting your mood lifting, which is great when you want to create an intimate moment with your partner. It is known to awaken heart energy and promote feelings of love.
Massage Oil Blends
Mixing your own massage oils can be a fun way to explore your creativity and discover new favorite essential oil blends. There are a few basic steps involved in making custom massage oils, as well as a few precautions to keep in mind. Remember to never use undiluted essential oils for a massage. They must be mixed with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation, protect the skin and make the most of the massage.
While there are many carrier oils to choose from, some are better for massage than others. Some oils that are great for the skin, have a good texture for massage and are good for mixing with essential oils include:
- Coconut oil – is very rich, promotes skin health and adds a tropical sweet note to the aroma
- Grapeseed oil – has a very mild scent and absorbs into the skin faster than most other oils
- Sweet Almond oil – has a nutty aroma that adds a richness to any essential oil blend
When you first begin to mix essential oils, take it slow, mixing them together a little bit at a time until you find a unique mixture and aroma you love. A little goes a long way with essential oils, and you can always add more if you need. Keep track of how many drops you use so you can re-create the recipe later and ensure you are using an appropriate dilution rate. We recommend 1% or less for a full-body massage.
Aromatherapy Massage at Home
If you are ready to try some massage therapy at home, the first thing you need to do is find a partner who is willing to trade massages. It’s much more fun and rewarding when each participant gets to both receive and give. Find a comfortable surface at a height that works for the person giving the massage. Don’t worry about not having a massage table; a bed can work just fine, but it’s more comfortable for the masseur/masseuse’s back to have an adjustable height table. Begin by creating the right mood: dim the lights, light a candle and play some relaxing music. Now, break out your pre-mixed massage oils and try a few of these simple techniques:
A shoulder massage is an easy way to begin de-stressing as it’s one of the most typical parts of the body to hold tension. Focusing a massage on the shoulders can relax the entire body and soothe a stressed mind.
What to do: Rub a small amount of massage oil onto your hands and place them along the shoulders with your thumbs on the upper part of the back. Start to make circular motions with your hands and use your thumbs to make circles on either side of the spine below the collar. Continue to make circular motions, starting gently and then getting deeper as the muscles and tissue of the shoulder begin to soften.
Hands are often overlooked in at-home massages, with the focus often being the back and the shoulders. Anyone who uses their hands a lot throughout the day can benefit from a hand massage. It’s surprisingly relaxing and can be a great way to share an intimate moment.
What to do: Using a dime-sized amount of massage oil, take the recipient’s hand and open their palm so it’s facing you. Gently cradle their hand in both of yours with both thumbs against their palm. Gently rub the palm in a circular motion, spreading the hand flat and working from the center to the edges of the hand. Then, take your time and work up each finder individually, gently squeezing the finger in a circular motion between your thumb and index finger. Give each finger a gentle tug when you reach the tip.
A head massage is a wonderful way to relieve stress and tension. Originating from India, a head massage is based in Ayurvedic healing and is an ancient form of massage therapy.
What to do: It’s best to avoid massage oils when working with the head because the oil can’t penetrate through the hair to the skin. Instead, try rubbing a drop of your favorite massage oil onto each temple before the head massage to reap the aromatherapy benefits. Place your hands on the head with fingers spread and slowly move the fingers in a circular motion like you would when washing. Move around to different places on the head very slowly, and make sure to apply enough pressure to really engage the muscle under the scalp.
Whether or not you spend all day standing on your feet, a foot massage is a great form of pampering and can offer benefits for the whole body.
What to do: You’ll want to massage the feet last, especially after working the head or face. With a small amount of massage oil, rub the bottoms of the feet with the base of your palm. You can get a lot of pressure this way without tiring your fingers. For more direct pressure, hold the foot with both hands and use your thumbs to rub the bottom of the foot, starting at the heel and working across the arch and up to the toes.
Massage Therapy Benefits
Massage has been considered an alternative medicine for a long time but is fast becoming a popular way for mainstream professionals to find relief from common conditions. The most popular benefit of massage therapy is its ability to induce deep relaxation. When the body is under stress or feeling tension, it produces the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to headaches, sleeplessness, weight gain, and digestive problems. Regular massage can decrease cortisol levels and encourage the body to enter recovery mode while reducing stress and improving mood. Massage allows for the release of endorphins that boost levels of serotonin and dopamine in the body, which can help calm nerves and induce feelings of euphoria.
Stress not only takes a toll on our emotional well-being but can also cause problems physically. Regular massage can help release muscle tension and increase flexibility, boosting our muscle health and benefitting our whole body. Massage also promotes circulation, which can send an injured muscle the nourishment it needs to heal more quickly. It can reduce stiffness due to swelling (edema) and increase flexibility to help reduce chronic discomfort.
People who regularly receive massage report feeling more active and willing to engage in life. They tend to breathe better and find their posture significantly enhanced. It can help boost the immune system and — just like regular exercise — is a great way to keep the body resilient and in top condition.