Why get a Massage When You’re Grumpy

This might sound crazy, but I’ve actually ran into people who have said that they don’t want a massage because their mood isn’t great. Or that they don’t want to come in for their massage because they’re grumpy and don’t think they would be “good company” or something. Can you believe that people don’t realize how massage can stabilize their mood?

 

Guess what?! YOU SHOULD COME IN WHEN YOU’RE GRUMPY!!

 

First off, if you’re worried about being “bad company,” please don’t. We see people in all sorts of different levels of vulnerability. We have clients who talk the entire time–about their problems, life, exciting news, whatever–and we have clients who say almost nothing despite seeing them regularly. If you’re grumpy and don’t want to talk, don’t talk! If you want to make sure that your massage therapist doesn’t talk, just start off by saying “Look, you do amazing massages, and I enjoy you as a person, but today, I really need to just focus on me. I’d appreciate it if we only talked if necessary or when you’re checking in with how the session is going.” I guarantee you no massage therapist here will have a problem with that, nor will they be offended by it!

 

 

Massage also has a myriad of great benefits. In a Livestrong article from July, massage can help:

  • Reduce Anxiety
  • Improve Mood
  • Increased Relaxation
  • Promote Energy

 

With the improving mood part, it’s because massage can release endorphins which make you happy. So if you’re unhappy or grumpy, it would make sense to seek out something that is going to boost the endorphin levels in your body. Massage has more benefits than that, but we just want to focus on the mood stabilizing parts right now. There are also acupressure points that help stabilize moods, which can easily be incorporated into massage.

National Stress Awareness Month

Written by Eleanor Le Fevre

National Stress Awareness Month, sounds silly right? Really if you think about stress and its effect on your body, mind, and spirit, EVERY month should be stress awareness month! Chronic stress is linked to the 6 leading causes of death including heart disease and cancer. Stress! Can you believe it?

We are a society who thrives on stress; deadlines, the constant need to be going and doing, staying connected to society at all times. Our blanket response to “How are you” is either “Busy” or “Stressed” at least I know that is my response. According to the American Institute of Stress,  44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did 5 years ago and 3 of 4 doctor’s visits are due to stress related illnesses. Not surprising when stress is linked to 60% of all illness and disease.

So what does stress look like for you? Are you overtired or not sleeping well? Secretly noshing on chocolate in the middle of your day? Are you feeling extra tension in your neck and shoulders, or sometimes find it difficult to take a deep breath? Or do you have chronic stomach issues that will just not go away? These are signs and symptoms of being over stressed, so what can we do about that?

Here are a list of 8 things I want you to work on right now to help you combat stress:

  • Turn off your phone! (That’s right people turn it off!) When you get home tonight just completely unplug and do not switch back on until the morning.
  • Sit outside and breathe. Tress are blooming and birds are singing right now! Go outside for just 5 mins and sit in silence, listen, and breathe!
  • Notice your breathing patterns. Is it shallow? Are you hunched over? Try this; stand up and place your hands over your belly button. Now inhale and fill your belly to 80% capacity, then allow the next 20% to inflate and lift your chest. Reverse the motion on the exhale letting breath out of chest then belly. Repeat 10 times and be mindful of how you feel afterwards.
  • Say no to things you do not want to do. (Within reason) I’m talking about the extraneous stuff that we don’t HAVE to do but feel like we SHOULD. Just don’t do them today, and don’t worry about doing them either.
  • Book a massage! Now I wouldn’t be a good massage therapist if I wasn’t trying to promo the office at least a little bit. Seriously though! We are specialists in the field of stress reduction, this is what we do!
  • Take a bubble bath! Lock the kids (or furry children in my case) out of the bathroom. Light some candles and put on some soft music and just lay there for 20 mins.
  • Lay off the coffee. I know I have no room to talk on this matter, since coffee is essentially my life force. Try some herbal tea, water or seltzer water after the clock strikes noon. It will reduce your anxiety levels and help you wind down throughout the day instead of keeping you amped up. You’ll be ready for your bed as soon as you hit the pillow and have less tossing and turning at night.
  • Lavender oil – super beneficial for relaxation and stress reduction. Try adding a couple of drops to some lotion and give yourself a little leg and foot massage before bed, or put some in a diffuser overnight. As a bonus we’re running a special 20% off Lavender oil this month so it’s a good time to stock up! Or if Lavender isn’t your jam I recommend YL’s Stress Away. It’s a light scent and amazing in a diffuser.

Give some of these a try over the next week and take note of how you feel. Less stressed? Excellent.

Take Care of Yourself

“In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die…
And where you invest your love, you invest your life.”-Mumford & Sons, “Awake My Soul”
Investing in ourselves always seems to be the last thing we think of when deciding how to spend our time and money; it should be coming in close to the top of our priority list, and yet it isn’t. Stress alone is one of the largest causes of disease in the world and yet people seem to value stress as an expense of having a successful life. The busier we are, the more stressed we are, the more successful we appear. The less we care for ourselves the more (apparently) we have to give to others when in fact it is actually the opposite.
According to the mayo clinic, stress is “when your brain perceives a threat it releases a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for response. This has been labelled the “fight-or-flight” response.” And “Unfortunately, the nonstop stress of modern life means that your alarm system rarely shuts off.” This is why stress management and self-care is so key to shut off this alarm system and allow for a healthy AND successful life.
The human body can only take so much stress before it buckles under the pressure and you start getting sick frequently, headaches from staring at screens, shoulder pain from hunching at the computer and driving long hours to get to work and sit for extended periods of time.
So when you’re in pain or sick, how much are you really able to give to others? Do you want to be playing with your kids when you have a pounding headache? Can you go out for dinner with friends when you’re suffering from the dreaded winter cold? How much is too much before your body starts telling you to slow down?
Not only are you less able to care for others if you are run down and lacking in self-care but dang it you deserve some care too! It’s not just about caring for yourself to be able to give back, self-care is actually for you (shocking I know).
Living in the world of google and pinterest (yes pinterest is my google) you just have to search the words “self-care” to come up with a million hits and tips of how to take a moment for yourself in a busy day to either go for a walk, meditate, get a massage (best self-care ever!) But how many of us really follow all of these tips and tricks on a daily basis? Even massage therapists who receive whole classes on self-care can get very busy and start slacking on ourselves. We all know how best to care for ourselves but we rarely take the time to do it. Why? What’s holding us back? Is it time? Money? Guilt of “treating” yourself? What is your barrier to self-care?
Personally I use time as a reason/excuse to avoid my own self-care. Unless I schedule time for myself to go to my workouts, have coffee with friends and get a massage, I simply don’t do it because it doesn’t come on to my radar until I am rundown or sick.
Massage may be a more time consuming method of self-care but in my opinion it pays off in more ways than many other forms of self-care (and you can always request shorter sessions). Showing yourself some love and booking a regular massage can help improve your quality of sleep, reduce blood pressure, boost immunity, reduce anxiety and help to manage chronic aches and pains. Do you ever get stressed and suddenly that shoulder ache you haven’t had in months is back in full force? Do you “throw your back out” when you’ve been busy and neglecting yourself?
Making massage a regular part of your self-care routine can help to reduce the frequency of stress flare-ups and increase your self-awareness to stressors on your mind and body. Being more mindful of our bodies is something everyone needs because if you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?
The best way to care for ourselves is just to start. Start scheduling time for yourself, set alarms and reminders to do what makes you happy whether it be going for a walk or watching your favourite show. And book your time with your massage therapist because your body deserves to be taken care of!
Written by Eleanor Le Fevre

Mental Health and Massage

We’ve talked before about how massage can improve your mental health, but only in conjunction with other topics. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s talk about mental health and massage.

 

Depression and anxiety, clinically diagnosed or the amount most people deal with everyday, can make many situations debilitating: social gatherings, new jobs or job interviews, even checking your email or social media. Depending on the severity of your depression, anxiety, or other mental health situation, massage has the power to help you.

Depression and anxiety are not the only forms of mental health, although they are probably the two biggest and the two to which everyone can relate. Mental health includes bipolar disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There’s ADHD, addictions, eating disorders, panic disorders, phobias, OCD, schizophrenia and more. The most damaging result of a mental health issue is suicide. For more information on any of these and more, click here. While a massage might not return someone to their happiest state, while even if you get massage, you will still deal with your situation. You have to consistently work on things to keep going.

 

Physical touch in general can be deeply beneficial for those struggling with their own personal demons. “A review of more than a dozen massage studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine concludes that massage therapy relieves depression and anxiety by affecting the body’s biochemistry.” (Prevention) In that same article, that study showed that massage with over 500 people decreased cortisol levels by up to 53%! That’s amazing!

 

Cortisol is your stress hormone, and if you suffer from anxiety, you know that cortisol sets off your anxiety. If you have depression, you know that more stress, aka high cortisol, can send you into a deeper depression. High cortisol levels equals more stress, which leads to more imbalances, exacerbating any illness, disease, or dis-ease we might already have. Stress shows you where your weaknesses are, whether it’s a previous injury, nerve damage, or a psychological imbalance. Even the most balanced person will suffer from depression, stress, anxiety, and many other imbalances.

 

Massage and other types of bodywork, like acupuncture, aromatherapy, yoga, and reiki, have had a positive impact on many mental health issues. Ultimately, you have to figure out what works best for you. If you would like to know options of other types of alternative healthcare for your situation, please let us know.

 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Even if you’re feeling depressed or anxious, even if you feel like you have nothing to offer another, you do! Send someone a text saying how much they mean to you. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while and see how they’re doing. Smile at someone you’re walking by in the grocery store. Hold the door open for someone, even if they don’t have a disability or have their hands full. And if you’re doing all of that and want to do more, or if you feel like you need help with your own situation, visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net. You can also visit the Colorado specific website for more local help.You can find all sorts of resources and get involved and get help.

Just Keep Swimming

Swimming is an amazing way to get exercise and get fit. While swimming is amazing for the body, it takes a lot of strength and using muscles you don’t necessarily use every day, as well as relying upon your arm and shoulder strength. Click the picture to learn reasons to swim.

As you start to swim, your body has to reteach itself how to breath. You have the weight and pressure of the water against you, you have to hold your breath until you have the opportunity lift your head out of the water and take a usually chlorinated breath, as chlorine will hover about 6 inches above the water. Your breathing muscles get really sore and your diaphragm, muscles between your ribs, and some of your neck muscles can feel strained just from breathing differently.

Your shoulders are your powerhouse! You have your rotator cuff, consisting of 4 muscles to rotate the humerus, and your shoulder girdle, consisting of your lats, traps, rhomboids, pecs, and a few other muscles. These muscles need to be stretched appropriately and iced regularly, especially if you are training every day. Icing can also help when you are training 2-3 times a week.

 

Your legs kick and kick and are consistently using those fast twitch muscle fibers. Legs will become fatigued just as much as your shoulders can. Different injuries to the leg can also become problematic.

 

Swimming is a full body workout! You use your core for direction, legs for added propulsion, and shoulders and arms for power.

 

As with any sport, you become more prone to certain injuries. Swimming is no different. The most common injury for swimmers is a type of tendonitis called Swimmer’s Shoulder. It affects mainly the bicep tendon and one of the rotator cuff muscles, the supraspinatus, because of the repetitive nature of swimming. Depending on which stroke you use, you also open your body to other possible injuries. Breaststroke can stress the MCL, the medial collateral ligament, in the knee or you can develop petellofemoral syndrome, a painful stress on the tendons on the knee and going up the leg. You can stress your elbows or ankles.

 

Prevention is key! Massage is an amazing way to prevent these injuries. Massage also helps reduce the effects of any tendonitis. According to Pain Science, specifically deep friction massage is especially effective for tendonitis. It helps by breaking up the adhesions and fascia that’s too tight around the tendons. You can do friction massage yourself at home. However, doing this at home does not take the place of your massage therapist. Anytime you have a pain in your body, there’s an automatic compensation program that your body embraces. Your massage therapist will help you with the tendonitis as well as other muscles, preventing further development of tendonitis in other areas of the body. Massage will also help decrease likelihood of soreness in all muscles and can help prevent injury. Read more for sports massage and getting the most out of any exercise program through massage.

Stress Kills; We Can Help

Many people might think that massage is too expensive or just a luxury, not a necessity. Some might say, “Only people with butlers and maids who send their clothes off to be dry cleaned and buttons sewn back on can afford it. Besides, it’s only good to relax, and I don’t have an hour to sit with cucumbers on my eyes!” Well, stress kills, and we can help.

With the every-day stresses that accompany our daily lives, stress can be a really silent, slow killer. The only way you can escape it is if you are a care-free three-year-old only playing and eating what you want! We, as a society, tend to over-stretch our glutes and back muscles while shortening our pecs and hamstrings, just to be very general. We have forward head posture, which causes Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which can cause headaches and does cause numbness in our hands. We spend hours at computers working and Facebooking and watching TV or YouTube in awful positions that end up causing us pain or muscle strain. We spend loads of time texting and on our phone and while we are talking about phones, we still try to hold our skinny smart phones between our ear and shoulder while we are talking on it. We get in car accidents, slip on ice, fall down stairs, stub our toes and run into things. And that’s not even getting into the psychological stresses: deadlines, weddings, divorces, kids, no kids, kids sports and activities, church or other volunteer opportunities, pets, significant others, roommates, parents, siblings, extended family, in-laws, job changes, job promotions, new managers, new co-workers, losing jobs, sleep deprivation, sickness, technology not working, phone contracts, internet installation, turning 50, pluming issues, car work, and the list goes on.

 

Stress of any kind raises cortisol levels, the stress hormone. Cortisol is good. It’s that feeling you get that lights a fire under you so you do what you need to do. It regulates your metabolism and blood sugar levels; it’s anti inflammatory and helps with memory storage in your brain; it regulates your blood pressure. So you can’t just remove it from your body and call it good. If you were to do that, you would have all sorts of other bad symptoms. Too much cortisol can lead to high blood pressure, osteoporosis, weight gain, mood swings, and muscle weakness.

 

You can regulate its production by one of many de-stressing ways:

  • Go for a walk
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Learn how to say no (especially when your plate is full)
  • Voice your feelings, in a healthy, respectful way
  • Do yoga
  • Accept things you cannot change
  • Write in a journal
  • Listen to music
  • Be less busy
and, of course….
  • Get a massage
Massage can lower cortisol levels. An old CNN article pointed out many benefits of massage, so this is not some new study you’ve never had access to. Massage works in helping with stress–physical, emotional, psychological, and sometimes even spiritual.
We also have some great essential oils that you can take with you everywhere you go. Check out our post about Stress Away.