Sure, it feels great to pop in and see a massage therapist every now and then. It’s a great way to pamper yourself and relieve stress during a particularly crazy time. Self-compassion and the idea of splurging on yourself for once, otherwise known as “Treat Yo-Self,” means that it’s actually really great for you to spend a little time on self-care.
However, have you considered regular, monthly massage appointments? Besides having one day set aside each month, to treat yourself with a relaxing spa session, you will actually start to see some physiological effects of regular massages as well.
Here are a few short-term, and long-term ways you may start to notice your monthly self-care trip is benefiting your health.
After Three Months of Routine Visits to Your Massage Therapist:
Lowered Anxiety and Stress Levels: Even after your first massage, you will start to notice that you feel more relaxed, which can be a major plus if you suffer from stress and anxiety. When our bodies experience stress, we tend to tense up our muscles, which leaves our bodies feeling fatigued and sore.
Just one massage helps loosen up these muscles, increase blood flow, and lower stress and anxiety. Breast cancer patients have even reported feeling less depressed and less angry when they incorporated regular massage into their schedule.
Reduced Chronic Back Pain: If you are suffering from the debilitating problems associated with chronic back pain, you know how much it can cut into your daily routine and leave you feeling frustrated, in addition to the pain you’re already experiencing.
A study found that after 10 weeks of regular massage, people experiencing chronic back pain felt less discomfort, and even needed fewer painkillers to manage their symptoms. Cut down on the number of trips to your medicine cabinet with regular trips to see your massage therapist.
Help with Insomnia: Massages increase your serotonin levels, which aides in your ability to fall asleep, and stay asleep. You may find yourself relying on sleeping pills to get some shuteye, which nobody wants to have to take.
Unlike other sleep aids which can be harmful or addictive, you’ll experience no negative side effects from a massage, and you’ll find yourself able to fall asleep a little easier - especially after an evening massage.
After Six Months of Monthly Massage, You’ll Feel:
For Patients with Diabetes: If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, regular massage could impact your blood glucose levels. Especially when massages happen at the injection or site of absorption for insulin, there have been marked improvements observed in lowered blood glucose levels.
Additionally, regular, increased blood flow as a result of your monthly massages can help with neuropathy symptoms that accompany diabetes, such as nerve pain. Make regular visits to your massage therapist to see improvements in your blood sugar levels, and feel like you’re getting seriously pampered, all at the same time.
Reduced Fibromyalgia Symptoms: Even after your first massage, if you experience the pain of fibromyalgia, you will notice decreased pain, but with regular massage, you will start to notice the following benefits as well:
There was also an uptick in confidence as well. If your child is particularly squirmy, regular massage may help them pay attention to what they need to be doing in the classroom, and at home.
What You’ll Feel After Twelve Months of Regular Monthly Massage:
Continued Improvements for Patients with Diabetes: After 12 months, regular massages, especially at the insulin injection or absorption site, can help Type 2 patients not only see lowered blood glucose levels as seen after six months of massages, but actually close to normal blood glucose levels. Additionally, you may also notice a reduction in the amount of inflammation you are experiencing as well.
Lowered Blood Pressure: A high blood pressure can leave you at risk for stroke and other major health complications, but it’s actually been proven that the relaxation or regular massage lowers your blood pressure. You can help keep your blood pressure in check, all while enjoying the rejuvenating benefits of massage, with regular sessions with a skilled massage therapist.
Additional Health Benefits: Other ways that regular massage can help improve your overall health? With improved blood flow comes improved immunity, making you less likely to pick up to cold that might be floating around your office, or at your kids’ school.
Are you training for a race, or spending a lot of time at the gym or in a pilates class? After an extended period of regular massages, you may also begin to notice an increased range of motion.
Because you are repeatedly reminding your muscles to relax and repeatedly releasing tension, you may find yourself feeling a little bendier in your yoga classes. Tense muscles make it much harder to find your full range of motion, and happy, relaxed muscles support an increased range of motion.
It’s not just one day a month to splurge on sixty to ninety minutes of pampering. Regular, monthly massages will leave you feeling healthier and happier, and truly make a difference in your overall well-being.
Spring is upon us. It’s time to dust off winter, take a deep breath, and ready ourselves for a new season. It can be a busy time of year, but don’t stress. No, really, don't stress. Stress is a natural negative reaction in your mind and body to challenges. And while it can positively motivate you to get through certain obstacles, it can also wreak havoc on your physical and mental health. You can't escape stress, but you can change how you deal with it. When you're faced with anxiety:
*Take a deep breath and focus on why you're actually feeling this way.
*Take a walk or do any exercise where you can think about the situation and how to handle it without blowing up, figuratively and literally.
*Be proactive and schedule regular massage appointments. Massage has been shown to reduce stress significantly on physical and psychological levels.
Was simplifying your life part of your New Year's resolutions? If so here are some things you can do this week to make life a little easier.
Sitting at a desk for 9 hours or more can wreak havoc on your posture sending your whole body out of whack! Ideally your ears should be in line with your shoulders. If you're leaning too far forward or backward, your posture is off-kilter. Here are some tips that might help,
1. Place a rolled towel between your lower back and your chair. This will help support your lower back and will help bring your shoulders back in line
2. Take frequent movement breaks. Get up, get a drink of water, and stretch your shoulders.
3. While your working be mindful to also lower your shoulders. Are they up around your ears?
4. Look at your desk. Is your body well supported? Is your keyboard too high or your monitor too low? Are you using a chair that is correct for your height?
Use these tips whenever you're sitting at your desk and your neck and shoulders will thank you for it!
Can stretching before going to bed help you sleep better? Many experts agree that it can. Stretching not only makes you more relaxed, but it helps keep your muscles flexible so you're less apt to experience discomfort.
You don't have to devote too much time to stretching. Plan for about 5 minutes of stretching prior to climbing into bed. Many stretches can be performed anywhere. Use these guides to help you establish a regular bedtime stretching routine. https://www.pinterest.com/explore/stretches-before-bed/?lp=true
The importance of sleep and your physical well-being is astronomical. Most of your former bad habits or prolonged issues can be linked to a lack of sleep.
The risk of obesity rises with those with a sleep deficit. A study in teenagers showed with every hour of sleep lost, the risk for obesity rose. But it's not just teenagers, so you can't blame it on the hormones, but wait, yes, you can, sleep affects those too!
A healthy amount of sleep balances the levels of ghrelin, the hormones that make you feel hungry, and leptin, the hormones that make you feel full. If you wake up in the morning starving, blame it on a not so good night sleep. When you're restless the levels of ghrelin increase and the leptin levels decrease. Sleep can also affect insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Higher blood sugar levels can increase the threat of diabetes.
When you sleep your heart and blood vessels are repairing themselves, and sleep releases a hormone to boost muscle mass. Continued unrest increases your risk for a host of issues including, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
The good news is physical activity and your nutrition can aid in a good night's sleep. Activity during the day, not close to bedtime, helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Making sure you don't go to sleep hungry or too full and avoiding alcohol and caffeine eases you into a restful slumber.
It’s not hard to think up great ways to treat yourself. We’d all love a spa day topped off with a meal prepared and served by someone else. Maybe get a sitter for the night, so the little angels are asleep when we get home. Or just a morning where the cat doesn't wake you up by sitting on your windpipe.
But for every article about self-care, I roll my eyes at least 12 times and think "Who can afford that?" Yes, it would be great to have an afternoon to myself and a bucket of fried chicken and a cookie dough chaser. But that's not particularly healthy.
I’m all about realistic self-care. That is, activities that aren't expensive, don't involve food, and will make you feel good about how you spent that time. Here's a list of my favorites (bonus: most of these you can do with kids).
Meditate, the easy way
If you're the kind of person who can't sleep during the day, napping can be more like torture. But guided meditation is a whole other story. It gives your mind something (easy) to do so the rest of you can relax a bit. There are plenty of free guided meditations online. Check out the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center website and the free version of the Headspace app, which has plenty of options to get you started.
Read a book
When was the last time you read for pleasure? Even if you can't get to your library, there are plenty of free ebooks on Amazon, and your local library may have a free online borrowing program. Or reread some of your favorite books from childhood if you have them hanging around.
If you choose the topic right, learning is great self-care. Pick a topic for FUN. Don't feel like you need to learn something pertinent to your work or a current hobby. Check out Coursera, MIT or Harvard to start. (But there are PLENTY of sources for free online classes, do your own searching, too!)
Bust out a piece for paper and draw something. Even if you don't have fancy pencils or crayons or markers, you can play with shading and pressure and make something cool. There are plenty of free coloring pages you can download and print out.
For nearly every song out there, there's a karaoke accompaniment channel on YouTube. For reals. Crank it up and let ‘er rip. You’re a stress-free superstar now.
And when all else fails: Nap
Put your jammies on and take a nap. In your bed. Not all jammed up on the couch with the TV on. Close the shades in your bedroom and hunker down for a proper sleep.
There. You don’t have to spend money or fill your belly to feel great and treat yourself well!