We know massage will make us move better and feel happier, but not everyone can make time for regular appointments. Luckily massage is great preventive care and it can have some instantly-gratifying results. Check out these 3 things massage can help you with right now.
Tension headaches (often called stress headaches) are the most common type of headaches among adults. Especially right now, with the constant stress of Covid lingering under our normal everyday stressors, headaches have become an even bigger issue.
Pain or pressure in your forehead or on the top or sides of your head? Could be a tension headache. It's especially likely if you've been hunching over a make-shift home office, spent a ton of time in a car, or if you're shivering and huddling up to keep warm as winter slowly creeps in.
Bodywork can help get rid of that headache and regular bodywork may well keep it from coming back. (If you want to geek out about tension headaches and try a few self-massage techniques, check out this article.)
Low Back Pain
A major research study was published in 2011 showing that massage therapy was better than drugs and usual care for general lower back pain. Better than drugs. I just had to say that twice.
Just about everyone will experience low back pain at some point in their life. If it happens to you, don't suffer. I, personally, have a long history of low back pain and sciatica. I've found many different routes to help it and I'd love to share them with you. Schedule a session and get back into action.
Have you ever been so cranky you got on your own nerves? Yeah, me, too. It's not great. When you feel yourself biting everyone’s head off when they ask you a question, it might be time for some self-care.
Massage is great for stress relief. You get to shut off all the things that buzz and chime and aggravate you to the point of eye twitches. Music, calm, warmth, massage. All the cranky disappears.
There is a dual purpose here. You'll feel better and all the people around you will be happier that you're back to your sunny self.
Got a headache, low back pain, or a case of the grumpies? Get a massage scheduled and we’ll handle that fast.
February 9 started International Random Acts of Kindness Week. Their website is packed with great ideas on how to celebrate, and I especially love the approach of committing a random act of kindness for three different people:
Someone you don't know
This are pretty simple and can quickly become a habit. (That's a good thing!)
Smile. When you're in a depressingly long line at the bank, watching a parent deal with their toddler's public meltdown, or sitting next to another car in traffic. A kind grin goes a long way when you're feeling a bit hopeless about the daily hassles in life.
Someone you know
Take a moment to think about who in your life may be a little touch-deficient. Maybe you know someone who is recently widowed, a single parent with older children, or a new empty-nester. Maybe even a young teenager in an especially introverted stage of awkwardness.
Make it a point to make a connection with that someone. It could be a warm hand shake, high-five, or great hug - whatever is appropriate for that person and situation. Touch is shown to make us happier and healthier, and it benefits both you and the receiver!
People depend on you, so it's important to take care of yourself. If you've only got a few minutes, steal away and flip through a great magazine. If you can set aside some more time, get a massage, go for a walk by yourself to recharge, or window shop at your favorite mall. If I have some space in my day I enjoy walking aimlessly - see where you end up!
Kindness doesn’t have to cost you anything, and it doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. A little goes a long way!
It’s very, very easy to become over-scheduled nowadays. When life gets busy, it’s even more important to take care of yourself, so you can take care of everyone else, too. It’s not realistic to try to overhaul our lives with major fitness plans, trendy diets, and radical self-help theories, so I’m a fan of smaller steps that will improve the quality of life in small and daily ways.
In honor of National Women’s Health & Fitness Day on September 24, here are three very simple actions you can take to improve your health and happiness. (And these tips apply to everyone, not just women!)
Go for a walk
An estimated 60% of Americans don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity. It can be difficult to bring extra workout clothes, make it in time for yoga or get a sitter to make your workout happen. Big change happens in small steps though - and now is always a good time to start. If you’re finding it hard to fit a full-on fitness regimen into your day, start small. Grab a your kid, a friend, coworker, or maybe just your iPod and go for a short walk. If you think you just can’t make the time for it, try adding a short stroll to another activity. If you take the trash out to the curb every Wednesday evening after dinner, just drop the trash in its place and keep on walking until you’ve circled the block. Think about the time we spend parking closer to the grocery door - I parked in the back the other day (tons of space!). If you really look at your schedule, you can likely find a spot to extend an errand or a routine and add some footsteps to your day.
There are plenty of studies to show that people who express gratitude are more optimistic and physically healthier than those who do not. This is a no-brainer. Showing gratitude is easy, and it makes both you and the recipient feel great.
It isn’t necessary to go all-out and start sending fruit baskets to everyone. In fact, a smaller scale activity will reap more benefits and be easier to keep going. I like to call them give-aways.
Give-aways can be putting the new roll of TP on the spool, holding the door for the next person, thanking your dry cleaner for taking such great care of your clothes. Next time you pick up your shirts, be sure to make eye contact and say, “I really appreciate how well you do your job. It makes my life easier. Thank you.” Don’t worry if you feel awkward and fumble the words at first. It will come with practice.
Keep a running Gratitude List and a pen on the fridge, right near the handle; or on the edge of your desk. Whenever you head for a snack or drink from the fridge, or take a break from your desk, write something on the list. It could be a thought as simple as, “I have a great cat,” or something much bigger, “I’m so grateful to have known all of my grandparents.”
Give a massage
Yup, give a massage, not get one. Sure, getting a massage is fabulous. You already know that massage is great for aches and pains, sleeping problems, anxiety and depression. Now you know that giving a massage is great too. A 1998 study showed that elderly volunteers who gave massage to infants had less anxiety and depression and lower stress hormones than the study participants who received massage. I must be feeling pretty great! :) Seriously though, know that sitting down with your pup and rubbing his belly or giving your partner a foot rub may be good for you, too.
Taking small steps to improve your health and happiness will lead to bigger steps, which only leads to better health and happiness.
Busy-ness is the trend these days. People carry over-packed schedules like winning trophies. “I’m SO busy at work!” “How do you have time to do that? I’m too busy to read/take a walk/stop and gaze at the clouds over the foothills/sit on a bench and people-watch. :)” “I can’t get monthly massages, I have too much to DO!”
Too much “busy” could be making you sick, tired, and probably cranky.
When do you relax? Like really RELAX. “Relaxation” is a word we hear often, but don’t always know what it means. For this reason, I’ve compiled some optional definitions for you.
re·lax verb \ri-ˈlaks\
1: the state of being free from tension or anxiety.
2: a way to rest and enjoy yourself
3: recreation or rest, especially after a period of work.
4: the loss of tension in a part of the body, especially in a muscle when it ceases to contract.
5: something that you do to stop feeling nervous, worried, etc.
Now, more importantly - what does relaxation mean to you?
If you’re not a “hot bath and good book” kind of person, you probably cringe at spa photos of people with stones piled on their back. But here’s the beauty of this "relaxation" we speak of: You can make your own definition.
I love projects. I have lots going at home and at my office right now. A fun and interesting "project" sounds better than a "job" for me! So, I'm going to give you a project. A project to figure out what you enjoy doing, what makes you smile, and what makes you feel like you are a hundred miles from your work.
Then, make time for that.
You have a schedule. Write in special time for a hobby, a nap, massage, your favorite show, a weekend getaway, a new class, ANY thing you enjoy can be relaxing.
Need someone to give you a reason? Want permission?
August 15 is National Day of Relaxation. Yes, it’s a thing! And it’s just begging for celebration. Here are some ideas:
Taking care of you is important. And, self-care puts you in a better frame of mind to take care of the people who depend on you. So find the thing that mellows you out, and make it happen!
As much as we enjoy our Colorado summers, there can be a bit of a dark cloud hanging in the sky. As summer activities and camps wind down and school semesters and fall prep rev up - we can get a little lost in the run around. Take this time to remember to take care of ourselves, and not let stress go unchecked.
Meditation does not have to be about pretzeled legs, chanting, and reaching enlightenment. It can simply be about creating a moment of stillness in your mind as a way to become more relaxed. Just one minute, 60 seconds of meditation, can dramatically improve your mood, your productivity and the quality of your day.
I even use my posture as a mediation. Just keep coming back to it. We fall away into the slouch, then come back to awareness, fall away and come back. It's a good practice for our minds and our bodies!
The local Shambhala Center put out a very simple app for this. Check it out in your app store: "Shambhala".
It can be tough to make time for exercise when the schedule gets tight and tensions get high. But that's when it becomes even more important. Exercise can relieve the physical symptoms of stress like fatigue, pain, and moodiness. If you can't make time for daily workout, try to fit a 5-10 minute walk outside into some part of your day. A little goes a long way when you need it.
Giggle and hum
Both laughter and music can lower the blood pressure. In fact, this study in 2011 showed that 3 months of laughter or music therapy resulted in the same drop in blood pressure that could be achieved with a low-salt diet, losing 10 pounds, or taking a blood-pressure-lowering medication. WOW.
So let's laugh and hum ourselves silly! Cue up the "Who's on first?" or dance around with your kids while making dinner.
Regular massage can improve sleep, relieve headaches, reduce muscle pain, and improve moods. Plus, massage feels good. When you feel good, you play more, work more efficiently, and take better care of the people you love. Schedule a massage to stay on top of your busy (and fun) life!
Commit to taking care of yourself! You may be surprised with the results.
March is fun for a few reasons. Exciting basketball, green beer, and a confused body clock. Wait, that’s not fun. March is when we attempt to shake off the winter doldrums and see the light at the end of the tunnel in the form of daffodils and light sweater-weather. Daylight Savings Time robs us of a precious hour of rest we won’t see it again ‘til fall, and our sleep cycles get all out-of-whack.
But sleep issues aren’t just a seasonal problem. It’s estimated that over 60 million Americans suffer from short-term (a few days or weeks) or long-term (more than a month) insomnia. Most cases of chronic insomnia are secondary, which means they are the symptom or side effect of some other problem.
We’ve all heard the standard ‘sleep hygiene’ tips about avoiding caffeine, using room-darkening shades, and going to bed at the same time every night. Here are a few other ideas that aren’t as well known.
Taking a nap during the day can be great for productivity and fabulous for health, but you’ve got to do it right. Aim to nap for 20 to 25 minutes, any longer than that and you’ll feel groggy when you wake up and you risk not being able to fall asleep when it’s bedtime. (If you really want to get good at power naps, there’s a whole kit to help you get it right.)
Be mindful of the temperature.
Take a warm (not hot) shower or bath about an hour before bedtime, and keep your room cool at night. The drop in body temperature signals your body to calm so you’ll fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.
Turn off the electronics.
Okay, so you’ve heard this one. But it’s the most important and the least followed piece of advice.
Get an old fashioned alarm clock so you don’t need to use your phone. Turn your phone, iPad, Kindle, or whatever you’ve got off, and put the devices in another room. Yes, a whole other room. You may think that a phone on silent, hanging out on your nightstand, won’t disturb your rest, but it will. Just knowing it’s there puts your body on alert. It’s far too tempting to reach over and ‘just check a few emails’ if you do wake up in the middle of the night. Save yourself. Break this habit.
Get a massage
Yup. Massage can help with sleep issues. There have been several studies demonstrating the efficacy of massage in people with sleep problems, especially when treating secondary issues that may impair sleep, like back pain, pregnancy discomforts and migraines.
You can call me at 303.859.9799 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and get ready for a better night’s sleep.
October 10th is Mental Health Awareness Day! Let's pay some attention and talk about it!
An estimated 1 in 10 adults in the United States suffers from some kind of depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s around the same percentage of American adults who are left-handed, and yet while handedness is seen today as a quirky curiosity (or sometimes an advantage, in the case of athletes), there is still stigma and silence surrounding depression as an illness. So let’s talk: what is depression? Why is it problematic? And is there anything that can help?
What is depression?
Let’s start with what depression isn’t: a bad day, a brief period of mourning after a loss, or a pessimistic outlook on life. It consists of a period of more than two weeks of a bad mood, decreased interest in things that one normally finds enjoyable, and can also include fatigue, changes in weight, difficulty concentrating, inappropriate guilt, and even suicidal thoughts. While two weeks is the minimum length for defining depression, it can continue for months or even years.
Are there different kinds of depression?
Yes. Major depression is an episode of depression two weeks or longer that messes with your ability to function throughout the day. People can have multiple episodes of major depression throughout their lives. Postpartum depression is a depressive episode that occurs after a woman has given birth. Seasonal Affective Disorder (aptly abbreviated SAD) is a form of depression during the winter months, when there is less sunlight. Manic Depression (also called bipolar disorder) involves cycles of depressive lows and manic highs. There are also mild forms of depression that do not meet all the requirements of major depression.
What are some of the health consequences of depression?
Aside from just feeling like crap on an emotional level (entirely bad enough on its own), depression can also have other serious effects on a person’s health. People who suffer from depression are more likely to engage in negative habits such as smoking and excessive drinking. They are also less likely to get sufficient exercises, and are more likely to stop the physical activities they used to participate in. Depression can disturb sleep schedules and also negatively affect one’s professional and personal relationships, resulting in more stress, which leads to its own host of health issues. It’s a truly nasty cycle.
So why aren’t we all talking about this?
Mental illness has always been something of a taboo subject. Those with more severe problems are seen as crazy and unstable, while those with more mild issues can be accused of making it up for attention, or using the term as an excuse for ordinary laziness. Depression isn’t sexy like breast cancer (boobies!) or have the sorts of clear paths to prevention that lend themselves to awareness campaigns, like HIV. And so we’re left without the sorts of public conversations that in turn, become private ones between friends. It’s easy to ask a friend if she’s taking painkillers for her broken leg. Asking her if she’s considered antidepressants? Not so much
Is there anything that helps with depression?
Absolutely. A physician will be able to speak with you intelligently about options like therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication treatments, if all else fails. Don't like doctors? Although a diagnoses (awareness and acceptance) can go a long way in beginning to address the issue, there are many outlets to boost mood naturally. Take a gander at some daily fresh air, regular exercise, and other ways to enhance your ability to produce the happy hormone, like avoiding sugary drinks.
Oh, and you might also want to get a massage.
Massage for depression? Really?
Absolutely. Massage has been found to reduce depression and improve mood in people of all stripes, from children with HIV, to adolescents with psychiatric disorders, to hospice patients. Why does this work? Well, that’s still being researched. The what is often much easier than the why. But caring touch does seem to have a real effect on mood, whether it’s from a loved one, a massage therapist, or a favorite pet.
Of course, if you’re a regular recipient of massage, you can judge for yourself: is your mood improved after a massage? And if you haven’t received a massage lately (or ever!), this is a great opportunity. Do it for science! Or, do it for yourself. Because everyone deserves to feel better, including you.