Massage therapy can help the body relax, which in turn can help one let go of anxious and fearful thoughts. Massage can relieve muscle pain and tension, improve circulation, and increase flexibility. As a relaxation technique, massage therapy can work to manage the fight-or-flight response, or stress reaction, that is typically overactive among people with anxiety disorders.
The fight-or-flight reaction is responsible for causing fearful thoughts and reactions that often far outweigh any actual threat in the environment. For example, people with agoraphobia often fear having a panic attack in a large crowd or confined areas where it would feel embarrassing or difficult to escape.
The fight-or-flight reaction typically leads to uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath, accelerated heart rate, excessive sweating, and chest pain. Massage therapy can have an opposing effect on the body by eliciting the relaxation response, reducing tension, lowering heart rate, and generally making a person feel calmer.