Traffic, work deadlines, and competing within a changing global economy are just some of the everyday stressors associated with modern life. Even the simple act of watching the evening news, complete with graphic footage of social unrest and increasingly violent conflicts, can elevate our stress to dangerously high levels. High levels of stress lead to high blood pressure, tension headaches, and muscle strains. Regular massages can reduce stress and help keep life simple in an increasingly complex world. Benefits of Massage Because massage therapy has been shown to increase circulation, reduce anxiety, and relieve pain, one non-profit organization is dedicated to bringing massage therapy to children’s hospitals for young patients and their parents. Being the parent of a sick child is one of the most stressful situations imaginable, and massage is helping these parents stay strong and healthy enough to care for their sick children. Everyday stress can also be debilitating. A study conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in which 53 volunteers received massages concluded that even one single massage caused positive biological changes. The volunteers showed a significant decrease in their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, and an increase in white blood cells, which strengthen the immune system. A number of other studies support the conclusion that regular massage can help correct the hormonal and chemical imbalances caused by the stressors in our lives. Chronic pain is worsened by stress, and over time, adversely affects our mental and emotional well-being. Massage has also been shown to be effective in treating many of the psychological conditions related to stress, like anxiety and depression. These conditions affect one of the most important aspects of our lives—our relationships with other people. In a University of California-Los Angeles study, 95 massage volunteers displayed an increase in the production of oxytocin, the hormone associated with compassion, affection, and social connection. A Cost-Effective Alternative Corporations have long realized the financial benefits of stress reduction. Companies with health and wellness programs report 28% less sick leave, 26% less health care costs and a 30% reduction in worker’s comp and disability costs. Reducing stress is one of the best ways to prevent many serious health issues, as well as treat existing ones. Corporations that have invested in on-site massage chairs have enjoyed a healthy return on that investment, reporting fewer injuries and illnesses as well as increased productivity. Massage chairs have proven to be as good an investment for individuals as they are for corporations. The average cost of a massage is $100, which doesn’t include the time and money spent traveling to and from the appointment. While many insurance companies now recognize the value of massage, many still don’t cover this beneficial treatment. The cost, coupled with remarkable advances in technology, are making home massage chairs an attractive option for many people. The features offered by today’s massage chairs, which would have been almost unimaginable ten years ago, don’t just reduce existing stress, but provide healing relaxation that helps prevent it.