Did you know that one in three adults in America have high blood pressure, or hypertension? While the majority of those diagnosed with high blood pressure are 65 years or older, those under 65 are not immune. There are certain behaviors that increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, including smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet, and being overweight. While blood pressure normally increases in stressful situations, chronic stress seems to be even more of a contributing factor to developing high blood pressure. Depending on the severity of your hypertension, your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes and/or prescribe medication to lower it. Even if you’re prescribed medication, lifestyle changes are still recommended to get the most benefit and get your body in control of your blood pressure instead of solely relying on the medication to do so.
Depression is an all-too-common struggle for people all over the globe. According to the World Health Organization, it’s estimated that 350 million people suffer from depression. While there are many treatment options, one you may not have thought of is massage therapy. Massage can decrease muscle tension and ease some of the daily physical stress you may put on your body, but it can also go beyond just making you feel good.
Let’s face it, getting a massage takes a lot of vulnerability. You are letting your therapist see parts of your body that you don’t allow most people to see. Your stretch marks, scars, cellulite, and birthmarks are exposed and you’re trusting us to respect your boundaries and treat you with the utmost honor and respect.
While some people have an unlimited supply of self-confidence that allows them to feel comfortable in most any situation, some put themselves under a microscope critiquing every inch of their body. We often forget that each mark is a memory or a lesson. Your stretch marks may mark an incredible journey of the time you welcomed a child into the world, the time you chose a healthier lifestyle and released extra pounds you had, or the time that you decided to enjoy life and be happy with who you were instead of obsessively counting calories or limiting yourself. Your scars may be from an accident that taught you how precious life was, or the time you refused to listen to your mom when you were 5 and learned a valuable life lesson. Your cellulite shows that your skin isn’t absolutely perfect, just like all those people using photo shop and filters to fool the world. Your birthmarks show you live, that you are uniquely made and there is no other like you. But there’s another common concern a lot of clients have, particularly women.
We’ve all been breathing since the moment of our birth, but did you know that we’re often doing it wrong? While the way you typically breath will keep you alive, it’s often not as efficient at keeping you at peak performance. That’s because we all leave it up to our unconscious brain to keep up this basic function without thought, which is fine for the most part. However, if you take the time to think through your breathing and practice new ways to breathe, you can often alter how your brain and body work.
Depending on what you’re doing, or attempting to do, you may need to alter your breathing in order to achieve it. Try one of these techniques the next time you need to be more alert or you need to calm down.
When you’re relaxing on a massage table, it’s easy to see massage as a gift. Whether you’re there to reduce pain, to ease anxiety, to help you recover from the physical and mental stresses work or athletic training or parenting or simply being alive, massage is a moment of freedom in an occasionally crushing world. If you’re thinking of sharing the gift of massage with someone else for a special occasion or “just because,” you are almost certainly doing so from a place of love and generosity.
Obviously, I’m a big fan of giving massage as a gift! But just as with choosing to visit a massage therapist yourself, there are some considerations when offering this kind of gift.
Every year around the holidays we’re reminded that it’s a time for us to put others before ourselves. But many of us tend to take that to an extreme and often put even our most basic needs, like exercise and sleep, to the side for the season. While it is important to always think of others’ needs as well as our own, we can’t forget that we aren’t able to fulfill anyone else’s needs if we ourselves are empty inside. It’s important to give and do these good deeds from a place of happiness. Doing for others and giving to others really does make you happy. However, if I have neglected my needs so much that I am running on empty, the place where I begin to give to others shifts from a place of happiness, to a place that may breed resentment. This doesn’t mean that those that I am giving to have done anything wrong; but rather that I can equate myself giving them something that I’m not giving to myself, almost as if I’m not worthy or my needs don’t matter.
Your health and happiness should always be a priority, even during a busy season in your life, whether that’s the holidays or any other busy time in your year. Remember, it doesn’t take hours that you feel you don’t have to keep yourself happy and healthy. For me that happiness may come from sitting down with a good book or sitting on the beach and listening to the waves, just to get away from the craziness of life. Happiness may be listening to your favorite music while driving to visit relatives or taking yourself on a date to your favorite coffee shop or restaurant. Taking just 5-10 minutes scattered throughout your day can make a massive difference in your mood and mindset. Whether it be 5-10 minutes of meditation, silence, stillness, or fun, take that time for yourself to regroup so that you can continue throughout your day healthy and happy. Our bodies and minds speak to us if we listen. When you feel yourself needing time to refuel ask yourself what you need in that moment. You will be surprised at the answers your body will give you when you take the time to ask it a question. Small shifts make for major changes.
It’s that time of year again. A time of celebration, family gatherings, holiday parties, gifting, traveling, and most of all, excitement. While many of us are thrilled and looking forward to the holiday season, that excitement is generally accompanied by STRESS. Stress to pick out the perfect dish, give the perfect gift, maintain a spotless house, show up to every party, and decorate our homes like Martha Stewart. So here’s a few tips to help you keep your holiday stress under control, so you can enjoy what the holidays are truly about.
It’s a common question that massage therapists hear all the time; “Can I talk during the massage?” Some clients are worried about talking too much or too little. They want to be friendly but not ruin the whole experience. But what do massage therapists say?
It’s up to you!
If you want to talk, go for it. If you want to be completely silent, go for it. If you want to talk a little, but not the entire time, that’s fine too. What a lot of clients tend to forget, is it’s your time. Whether you’re getting a 15 minute chair massage or a two hour full body massage, how much conversation there is, is completely up to you.
Many clients find it comforting to talk for the first few minutes of a massage, especially their first few sessions as we’re getting to know each other and build the trust that is really important to a great therapeutic relationship. Then as they get more comfortable, the conversations get shorter and shorter, and sometimes go away completely. For some clients, a large part of the relief they get from their massages is the ability to vent and get everything off their chest to someone they can trust, so they spend the entire massage chatting.
What you need to understand, is that as your massage therapist, my job is to facilitate your healing, in whatever way you need me to, within my skillset of course. For some that means silence, for others it means talking, and others are anywhere in between.
IF YOU LOVE TO CHAT…
Go for it, but please be aware, that sometimes you may not get the full benefits of your massage if you’re talking the entire time. What I mean by this, is that calm breathing and a calm state of mind greatly emphasizes the benefits of the massage. So even if you prefer to talk, I may, at times, ask you to take some deep breaths to calm your body so it can better receive the work I’m doing.
IF YOU’RE THE SILENT TYPE….
Please understand that I may occasionally check in about my pressure, certain areas of concern, and things like that. I’ll do my best to keep quiet and not disturb your experience in any way, but I also want to ensure you get the most of your massage; and that means checking that everything I’m doing is what your body needs and you’re comfortable with it. Even though you may like to stay quiet, don’t hesitate to speak up and let me know if anything is uncomfortable. While your tissues and your body language may give clues as to a pain response, I’m still in the dark as to what exactly you’re feeling, so please let me know if I need to lighten my pressure, increase it, move to a different area, or anything else you feel is necessary. This is your massage and I want it to be perfect for you. The only way that can happen is if there is at least a little bit of communication throughout the session; more so if you prefer clinical or therapeutic techniques.
No matter how much or how little you prefer to talk during your massage, it is completely up to you. Please don’t ever feel obligated to talk unless I’m asking you a question, and don’t be afraid to speak up either.
For a healthy sleep cycle, it is crucial to have a nightly routine that signifies to your body that it’s time to shut down for the night. The hard part about my last statement is life is stressful and it is so difficult to turn your brain off at the end of a long day, especially if you haven’t checked everything off your to-do list, have unfinished projects, or are unclear of the next day’s plans. Here are some ways that you can release stress before bedtime to improve your quality of sleep in under half an hour.