When I came back to school this past fall, I had fallen into something like a mental health slump. I hadn't had any issues for a long time, but when I started school again, I was constantly feeling tense. This wasn't necessarily a tenseness in my muscles; it was an anxiousness that made my stomach churn and my mind spin. Instead of switching up medications (I had done enough of that), I decided to try out some more natural methods. The first one that looked possible was massage therapy.

It was worth a shot, right? I was tired of feeling anxious and tense and I would have tried anything to feel better. Junior year is tough on a college student and I really needed to focus on my work without worrying about little things that throw off my every day life. So I contacted a local massage therapist and she agreed to meet me right away. When I walked into the office, we talked about what I was hoping to get out of the experience. I asked if she could do anything to help with anxiety, and she said she could.

The first session was okay. I was a bit nervous and not sure what to expect. I walked away from it thinking, "Okay, that was nice but I don't feel much of a difference." I followed her instructions to drink a lot of water. I remember trying to stay relaxed and focused. I remember being truthful in my application. Why didn't I feel anything yet?

I thought maybe it wasn't for me. But in a little over a week, I was back again. I hoped it would work this time, and it did. I remember feeling completely relaxed for the whole day. I was able to dismiss any sort of anxiety that formed in the back of my mind. For the first time in months, I finally felt relieved.

Getting a massage isn't just for luxury anymore. Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine and it's increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations. I've been going every other week or so for the past few months and I haven't had an anxiety attack since.

Sure, the medication helps. In fact, I think that it keeps me from having severe, debilitating anxiety attacks. But my mind capitalizes on small uncertainties and can shut me down for a few hours, and this is not something my medication always helps with. However, I've found that doing massage therapy has helped me with that immensely. When I go away from the therapy too long, I find myself feeling anxious again. It works.

My advice to anyone who is looking into alternative methods to help mental health is to try massage therapy. It's safe, unbelievably beneficial, and worth it.