I've already told you how bodywork has helped me deal with the childhood pain I continue to hold in my body—I recommend finding a good bodyworker to everyone. The most commonly available type of bodywork is massage, and you don't have to be a scientist to know that getting one of these is a great way to get rid of stress. But massage has also been shown to reduce anxiety, elevate mood, ease pain, lower blood pressure, and be helpful with insomnia. It seems to promote the release of the brain's natural opiates, which encourages a feeling of well-being. Add in restful music and aromatherapy—particularly when you use calming essential oils, such as lavender, neroli, and sandalwood—and you get extra benefits.
There are a number of different types of massage. Just as with yoga, there are some that are gentle and relaxing and others that are more vigorous. Swedish massage is the one you're most likely to run across, and it's a good one to try if you're new to the idea because it's soothing and gentle. Deep-tissue massage targets deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue and can be quite intense. Yet there are any number of styles in between, such as Shiatsu, Thai, reflexology (which targets your feet), and hot stone. There are even specific massages for athletes, pregnant women, and the elderly.
If you want to experiment with different styles to find the one that de-stresses you the most, see if there is a massage-therapy school in your area—they often want volunteers for students to practice on. And if you've never experienced a massage because you feel a bit uncomfortable about the idea of undressing and lying naked under a sheet while a stranger touches you, break yourself in with a 10- or 15-minute neck-and-shoulder massage. These are increasingly available all over the place. Once you become aware of how amazing massage can be, you'll be hooked.
Beauty bonus: One particular type of massage promotes lymphatic drainage. As I mentioned previously, your lymphatic system is a complex network of vessels, ducts, and organs that is responsible for moving toxins away from healthy cells. Massage aids in moving the fluid through that system, helping eliminate metabolic waste, excess fluid, and bacteria. Lymphatic massage also assists in hydrating your skin, dispersing toxins, and clearing up acne; and it may even improve the appearance of cellulite.
Next: Find the beauty of balance