Massage And Happiness

Happy Woman Smiling

We all love to feel good, and there seems to be this eternal quest in the modern world for “happiness.” 

There has been a lot of research in positive psychology on how to gain that sometimes elusive positive effect. 

A whole industry has sprung up around it, some legitimate and some not so legitimate.

Here are some ways that massage has been shown to increase positive mood, backed by evidence based scientific research. Plus some bonus tips on other healthy ways to increase your chances of finding joy.

Why Does A Massage Make You Happy?

We all love to feel good. And serotonin is the neurotransmitter that research has shown is responsible for ensuring mood balance.

A deficit of this can lead to a number of things that make us feel off balance and unhappy. A lack can lead to depression and it can also lead to you not being able to delay gratification or follow through on plans.

It can lead to people not being able to finish things, being a little down or snappy and being sensitive or easily irritable by small things. If this sounds like you, it maybe a serotonin imbalance that is in part causing your mood swings.

The good news however is that there are four powerful things you can do to boost your serotonin levels. Four very simple things that, yay, are also hugely enjoyable. So if you are finding yourself having these symptoms perhaps try these things.


If they continue however, always consult a professional medical practitioner like a psychologist, there maybe more at play than low serotonin levels.

Massage And Serotonin

Yep, that yummy lovely things we do for our bodies when we remember to and schedule the time, massage is also a great way to boost your serotonin levels.

A study showed that pregnant women that were regularly massaged by their partners over a period of four months, showed significantly higher serotonin levels than a control group that did not receive the massage.

This is particularly significant for pregnant women where pre and post natal depression can be a large factor in a new mum’s mental health and consequently the health of the baby. A good reason to book in regular pregnancy massages

Serotonin has also been shown to be elevated in new born babies who received regular infant massage over the period of six weeks.

In this study, new born babies who received regular massage had serotonin levels 34% higher than the control group of babies who received no massage.Similarly serotonin has been shown to be elevated in migraine sufferers who received regular massage, with correlational research suggesting there maybe a link between massage and lower migraines.

Yet another study indicated that women with breast cancer who received regular massages also reported higher levels of serotonin.

woman smiling on massage table

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How Does Sunlight Help You Feel Happy?

Good old fashioned sunlight.

Now too much UV light is a bad thing, but some UV light, which gets absorbed through the skin is crucial to producing vitamin D which in turn is essential to producing serotonin.

Experiments in rats have shown that bright sunlight correlated to the rate of production of serotonin in the brain.

Also, when serotonin is released it is then scooped by re uptake cells in the synapses, and this seems to occur faster in the darker months of Autumn and Winter when there is less bright UV light around.

It is this transporter (the one that scoops up the serotonin) that is blocked by anti depressants with the aim to increase the amount and duration of serotonin in the neurons synapses.

Getting enough bright UV sunlight can have a similar effect.

Try to get your bright light hit during day light hours.. bright light at night blocks the conversion of serotonin into melatonin which in turn prevents you from getting a good nights sleep (and this is all about feeling good.)

Frangipani Essential Oil

Why Does Exercise Make You Feel Happy?

Woman running along beach

Feel good after working out? Feel more emotionally balanced and stable?

An increase in serotonin maybe the cause of you feeling so good after your work out. Yoga has also been shown to boost serotonin levels as well.

There is one downside though, for the serotonin boost to work, you need to want to exercise. If you feel pressured into doing it you may not get the same serotonin boost as your gym junkie friends (and doesn’t that suck!).

And here is the catch 22, you may not feel like exercising because you have low serotonin levels and you may not exercise regularly because your serotonin is low.

The key is to do it regularly (yes, we know, that can be really hard) so that it doesn’t feel like an imposition but just part of your normal routine and your serotonin levels don’t drop so low its hard to get the exercise regime kick started.

Why Savouring Can Make You Happy

Thinking back over things that in the past have made you happy, or happy events you have shared with friends, lovers or family, is a great way to boost your serotonin levels. Plus it comes with the bonus of being free and really involving very little effort.

This has been shown to increase serotonin levels in the area of the brain responsible for attention. Studies have also shown that remembering sad or negative events have the opposite effect, reducing serotonin in this region and allowing you to become more distracted.

The best thing about remembering times when you were happy has a double effect .. increasing serotonin plus also reducing that amount of times you remember negative events. This can be hard if you are depressed or in a downward spiral, it can be particularly hard to remember happy events when you are feeling down. One of the biggest negative effects of depression is that depressed people find it difficult to remember when they were happy or find it difficult to remember the happy events.

If this is the case, looking back over happy photos or calling a friend or family member to reminisce about happier times can help stimulate serotonin production in the brain.

So there you have it! Massage, sunshine, a little regular exercise and savouring the good times of the past can help you keep your moods constant and your serotonin levels boosted.

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Author Biography – Ali Saoirse –  BEc University Sydney, GradDipPsych Bond University, Diploma Remedial Massage, Certificate IV Massage, Level 7 Kahuna Massage, Qualifications in Pregnancy Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Aromatherapy, Reflexology from Gold Coast TAFE.

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