**In the U.S. massage laws are regulated by the state. Some states do not require massage therapists to be licensed at all. Know before you go.**
I don’t know about you, but the allure of a professional massage has pulled at me since I first learned it was a thing. You see them on TV shows, and they just look like heaven.
I almost booked one quite a few times, but you know, anxiety. So I never actually made an appointment. I Just daydreamed about the day when I would be able to convince myself to call and make that appointment.
Well, that day came not long ago! Just kidding, my husband booked a surprise session for my birthday, but I went… so it still counts as an anxiety win right?
Well, it wasn’t exactly like the tv shows, it had a less clinical feel to it. The sheets weren’t white, and the lights were very dim, but that wasn’t really any sort of let down for me.
After it was all over, I did find myself thinking about all the things I wish I knew before going so I could’ve had a better overall experience.
Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing. (Thanks Hubs!) But you know… anxiety.
So in the spirit of helping out fellow anxiety sufferers, I present to you (drumroll please) the anxious woman’s guide to getting a professional massage!
When we become anxious and stressed, we tend to tighten up our muscles. This tension can make you sore, give you headaches, and cause lots more not-so-great side effects. If your wallet allows it, professional massages can be a great tool to add to your anxiety arsenal.
- help correct posture
- Promote blood circulation
- Reduce stress
- Relieve anxiety
- Sooth tense and painful muscles
- And so much more.
Who Should Get One?
Anybody who wants one! Seriously. Even if you don’t have anxiety, massages are amazing! That being said, they are especially helpful to those of us suffering from body aches and pains from constant muscle tension.
Professional massages are most beneficial when you can make it apart of your routine. A once and done appointment can be great as a self-reward but to really reap the benefits you need to go regularly.
Who Shouldn’t Get One?
Anyone who finds themselves uncomfortable in secluded areas with other people.
The low lighting and secluded feeling were slightly uncomfortable for me at first and made me feel really anxious.
My massage therapist was male, and I think this largely contributed to my anxiousness.
*keep in mind every establishment is different and your experience may not be exactly the same as mine.
When I arrived, I had to fill out a few pages of paperwork. It was mostly routine medical background questions.
Among the paperwork, they asked me what areas I was comfortable with the massage therapist touching, which ones I was not, and what level of pressure I wanted.
When my time was ready, I was led to a room where I spoke with my massage therapist. He gave me a very basic rundown of what to expect and then instructed me to undress to my comfort level and cover up under the sheets. He said that he would be back when I was finished.
Inside the room the light was very dim, and there were a couple of candles lit. There was a massage table in the middle of the room.
When he returned, he started the timer and began the massage.
He only worked on one body part at a time and would only uncover the area of my body that he was currently working on, and would recover it before moving to the next area. He made small talk as he worked.
After the time was up. The massage therapist instructed me to get dressed and told me he would be back to follow up.
when he came back, he asked me a couple of questions on my satisfaction, spoke about what areas of my body where he felt the most tension, told me to drink plenty of water and recommended another appointment in two weeks.
How much does it cost?
The prices differ from location to the establishment. The prices can be anywhere upwards of 45-50 dollars per hour. If you’re looking into a more luxurious spa, you can expect to pay a lot more.
I went with a 60-minute massage. The cost was $55.00 before taxes, and you do have the option to tip. This was at the introductory rate. Another appointment would’ve cost me $65.00.
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What you should know:
- Bring a hair tie!
I never go anywhere without a hair tie, and in this instance, I’m really thankful for that. If not, I would’ve had to wrap my hair in a towel. That option seemed like it would be really uncomfortable and if you have crazy curly locks like mine, well the towel option may have that gorgeous mane looking quite disheveled.
- You don’t have to be completely naked.
You can dress down to your comfort level. The establishment I chose had a rule where the therapists were not allowed to move or touch any remaining clothing left on. This rule could be a problem if you want that area of your back massaged but don’t feel comfortable removing your bra.
*Tip: Wear a regular bra that unclasps from the back. Unclasp the back and tuck the shoulder straps under your arms if you feel uncomfortable removing it completely.
- A full body massage may include being massaged on your lower buttocks and top of your chest.
If you aren’t comfortable with this, all you have to do is say so. You can ask not to be touched in certain places.
- The therapist may engage in small talk.
I assumed that it would be a very quiet experience, but my massage therapist engaged in quite a bit of small talk. He could probably tell I was anxious and was trying to put me at ease, but I have social anxiety, so this was extremely counterproductive.
*Tip: When you make the appointment tell them if you have anxiety and would like a conversation-free massage. They will understand.
- Take off any jewelry before you go.
I have certain pieces of jewelry that I never take off. I wear them so much that I forget that they are even on. Make sure to take off all jewelry before you go. They will get in the therapist’s way (speaking from experience)
- It can take a while to relax.
If this is your first massage (and if you’re reading this then it probably is), try to go for the longer time allotment. It may take some time for you to let go of your anxiety and actually be able to enjoy the massage. The longer time ensures you actually get more than 10 minutes of relax time before your time is up.
- There is a consultation included in your time slot.
The allotted time usually isn’t 100% hands-on. This clinic sets aside anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning and end of your massage for dressing and consultation. Keep this in mind when booking and prepare yourself for a small amount of social interaction before and after your massage.
- Go for the softest massage available.
When asked about the pressure level I wanted I said medium. Thinking to myself that it was a good place to start. It wasn’t, but me having social anxiety I just couldn’t bring myself to say anything even when the therapist asked me multiple times if the pressure was okay.
It wasn’t painful per se but a little uncomfortable until I got used to it.
No matter what someone tries to tell you, massages aren’t supposed to be painful. You have to work yourself up to certain pressure levels.
If you think you might have a problem with speaking up just do yourself a favor and start out at the lowest pressure.
- They may try to upsell you.
This is one thing I genuinely was taken surprise by. I assumed with massages being as expensive as they are that a nice smelling oil would be included. This was not the case for the establishment I went to, although I’d like to think that this isn’t common practice.
There was a pretty high upsell price for the aromatherapy oils. I opted out of it. Come to find out, it was definitely something I would go back and pay for. The oil they used smelled like anointing oil from my teenaged church going days and it just wasn’t a great smelling experience.
After the massage, I was heavily pressured to sign up for an expensive program. My massage was at an introductory first-time rate. After the first one, any future appointments would go up by ten dollars.
They pushed pretty hard on the program even after I declined multiple times and said that the offer would only be valid until the moment I walked out the door. This kickstarted my anxiety.
This is not good practice in my books and I would definitely not back to the same place just because of this.
*Tip: Know what is included in the price. Ask if there is an extra charge for scented massage oils and don’t let them push you into an expensive program you aren’t ready to commit to.
- Don’t just turn your cell on vibrate, silence it with the face down or turn it off completely.
I turned my phone on vibrate and got a few calls and texts during my massage. I don’t keep in touch with a lot of people, so it really was weird timing. The rooms are very quiet, so when it vibrated, it seemed very loud in that space. It definitely pulled me out of the relaxed state I was in. If you wear a smartwatch, make sure to set it to “do not disturb” as well.
- Massage therapists will lift your legs and arms when they move from body part to body part.
I found this very awkward as I didn’t really know whether to relax or help. (After researching this topic I know now that I should’ve relaxed.)
*Tip Know the correct massage etiquette! Here’s a link for a blog post written by a massage therapist. She tells you what to do (and not to do) at a massage clinic.
Even though my experience wasn’t perfect, I did very much enjoy it. My budget just won’t allow me to go regularly, but I would definitely go again as a special treat for myself or as a self-help tool in those high anxiety periods of life.
Did I miss something? Do you have something to add? Comment below!
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