Background: Attempts at smoking cessation have been correlated with severe withdrawal symptoms, including intense cigarette cravings, anxiety, and depressed mood. Massage therapy has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress hormones and improve mood.
Method: Twenty adult smokers (M age = 32.6) were randomly assigned to a self-massage treatment or a control group. The treatment group was taught to conduct a hand or ear self-massage during three cravings a day for 1 month.
Results: Self-reports revealed lower anxiety scores, improved mood, and fewer withdrawal symptoms. In addition, the self-massage group smoked fewer cigarettes per day by the last week of the study.
Conclusions: The present findings suggest that self-massage may be an effective adjunct treatment for adults attempting smoking cessation to alleviate smoking-related anxiety, reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, improve mood, and reduce the number of cigarettes smoked.