A yellow smiley face is used with a calendar showing March 20 to talk about Massage Makes Me Happy & Healthy Day, celebrated March 20.

Massage Makes Me Happy & Healthy Day, held annually March 20, gives massage therapists tools and information to help them support the public in understanding the benefits of massage—and also learn more, themselves, about massage’s effect on human physiology.

Massage Makes Me Happy & Healthy Day has taken place each year since 2018. The day promotes the positive impacts of touch therapies to consumers. It also features a virtual event for the public and massage therapists.

Massage for Mental Wellness

This year’s event will focus on how massage therapy contributes to mental wellness.

“We know that massage therapy offers many physical, mental and emotional benefits,” said CG Funk, senior vice president of Culture & Industry Relations for Massage Heights Franchising LLC, one of Massage Makes Me Happy & Healthy Day’s cornerstone partners. “Since the pandemic, mental health disorders continue to rise in all demographic populations. Receiving massage therapy on a regular basis brings much relief to those suffering depression, anxiety, stress and other mental health challenges.”

Although massage is not a substitute for professional mental-health intervention, the following statistics from the “2023 State of Mental Health in America Report,” from nonprofit Mental Health America help illuminate the scope of mental health challenges going on the U.S. right now:

• In 2019-2020, 20.78% of adults were experiencing a mental illness. That is equivalent to over 50 million Americans.

• Over half (54.7%) of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment, totaling over 28 million individuals.

U.S. adults say they are experiencing more stress in 2023 than they did previously, with 26% of the respondents to an American Psychological Association poll reporting they expected to experience more stress in 2023, up from 20% in 2022.

“Massage therapy significantly decreases mental health problems like stress, anxiety and depression,” Tiffany Field, PhD, Massage Makes Me Happy & Healthy Day advisor and founder of the Touch Research Institute, told MASSAGE Magazine. But how does massage contribute to mental wellness? “When the skin is moved, as in massage and many forms of exercise, the nervous system is relaxed and stress hormones are decreased,” explained Field. “These are among the many positive ways that massage makes us healthy and happy.”

In a research review published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in 2014, Field noted, “When moderate and light pressure massage have been compared in laboratory studies, moderate pressure massage reduced depression, anxiety and heart rate, and it altered EEG patterns, as in a relaxation response. Moderate pressure massage has also led to increased vagal activity and decreased cortisol levels.”

Educate Clients

“[Massage Makes Me Happy & Healthy Day was created to share the benefits of massage and have a vehicle for massage therapists, massage schools, massage therapy clinics, spas and massage-industry partners to educate their clients and the public on the many benefits of massage therapy,” said Massage Makes Me Happy & Healthy Day Initiative Co-Chair Lynda Solien-Wolfe.

The event’s website offers many free tools for massage therapists to connect with colleagues and market massage, including “50 Ways to Celebrate,” “Massage Research and Benefits” and “Can a Career in Massage Therapy Make You Happy?” The event’s Facebook page features links to videos and articles, and a way to connect with colleagues.

MASSAGE Magazine is, along with Massage Heights, Universal Companies, Massage Warehouse, Pura Wellness and Earthlite, one of Massage Makes Me Happy & Healthy Day cornerstone partners. “As a cornerstone partner of the Massage Makes Me Happy initiative, Massage Height’s aim is to honor massage therapists, share the benefits of massage to our guests and promote the value of massage therapy careers,” said Funk.

Karen Menehan

About the Author

Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief–print and digital. Her recent articles for this publication include “The Top 22 Massage News Articles of 2022,” “A Move to Transcend State Boundaries: Updates on the Interstate Compact for Massage Therapists” and “This is How Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Practices Make Business Better,” one of the articles in the August 2021 issue of MASSAGE Magazine, a first-place winner of the national 2022 Folio Eddies Award for editorial excellence.