Be Mindful of Stress Levels
Our mind, and therefore our body, has the beautiful ability to self heal. We can allow healing. In the same way that cuts and bruises heal – but on a larger scale. A healthy balance in body and mind is our natural state of being. Our minds and bodies are built to handle and bounce back from a certain amount of stress. Life happens! But consistent levels of intense stress and worry have been shown to interrupt our ability to stay in balance and allow the body its easy return to well-being and best levels of functioning. We may easily get caught in a kind of stress loop of reactions and thoughts. The good news is we can consciously intercept these repeated patterns!
Einstein’s wise words are helpful: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
To counter ongoing stress we need to take distinctively positive, relaxing actions. Reading, meditation, naps, taking time to play with family, soothing music, funny movies, walks, gardening, dancing – what is your chosen way to take a break and intercept the neural pathways of stress? How do you reclaim your peace of mind?
Massage is one great option! Massage is a relaxing, healing antidote to stress.
Schedule a MASSAGE soon!
We tend to tense our muscles as a reaction to stressful situations, or even stressful thoughts. It is of course a preparation for fight or flight response. Over time, the nature of our perceived dangers and stresses have changed and become more generalized and pervasive. I know for myself I never used to be aware of how often I do this, or how many muscle groups I would tighten. This kind of reaction can be unwittingly repeated for years. It becomes a false measure of normal. It dawns on me, many of us are wearing invisible suits of armor, no less heavy and resistant than their clumsy, steel predecessors. The problem is as we think we are guarding against unwanted situations, we also compromise our ability to feel pure joy, well being, improving health, love, abundance; to translate the good in a sensory or mental way, allowing it into our experience.
Massage can certainly help and meditation or progressive relaxation techniques are great. As a massage therapist I certainly feel and sense the sheath of armor-like muscles on many people. We spend precious energy maintaining this silent state of tension.
For myself, I’ve begun taking note more regularly and consciously, releasing my tightened (for no good reason) muscles with breath and loving thought. I think this is a part of what is meant by — change your thoughts, change your life.
The more we focus on self love and extending love, the more love comes into our lives and the less often we feel vulnerable. Removing the invisible ‘armor’ definitely allows the body and heart lighter, freer feelings and a stronger desire to interact with the blessings of life.
We can become so unaccustomed to deeply positive feelings that we are suspicious of them or at the very least need to practice feeling them. Practice allowing the heart to swell, to radiate, tingles to ripple up the spine, happy tears to fall freely, mouths to smile, feet to tap dance.
Massage is always a great way to begin to let go of tension you don’t realize you are ‘wearing’!
I’d love for everyone to get massages because massage feels good and they want to pamper themselves — instead of because they are hurting.
In reaction to stress, we often tighten or tense up our muscles. Clients will say, “I carry my stress in my…” For many it is shoulders, (upper traps), neck, (scalene and levator scapulae), for others it might be the forehead (tension headaches might be happening) or their hips. I’ve even had people tell me they carry their stress in their knees and feet. Tensing up may cause digestive issues for some. Tense muscles are a kind of invisible barrier to stress, challenges, sadness, trauma, that we try to create. We are attempting to protect ourselves. Barriers create resistance to the flow of life and in the case of tense muscles, they impede our movement. In fight or flight situations, this natural response is positive, necessary, but in many cumulative stressful situations this tensing reaction creates restriction for our bodies, mind, heart and soul.
I say body, mind, heart and soul because I value the concept of wholeness. We are whole beings! I believe your body is a communication device for your mind, heart and soul! It is wise to keep our communication system (body) pain-free and flowing; an open conduit! Be aware of tense muscles creating resistance in your flow and dance with life. It may happen slowly over time or in sudden response to some significant life transition. Allow yourself time to do physically relaxing activities for body and mind. A few options might be: Simple stretching, a few minutes of deep, slow breathing, meditation, yoga, deeper, gentle, longer stretches and certainly massage! Actually anything that brings you joy will aid in relaxing your muscles! Sing, play an instrument, be in nature, dance, catch up with a dear friend. In essence — be good to yourself and flow with life!
Learning in love!
I often do fascia work on the back before I apply lotion or oil. I like to tell people that I am going to do this so they know that I will use lotion. I once had a full massage without lotion or oil and didn’t enjoy it. Recently a client spoke up after a few minutes and said, “This is heavenly. What did you call it, fossil work?” I tried hard not to laugh, but as I repeated the word, fascia, and explained it, we did have a good laugh. I assured him that I don’t do fossil work and he wasn’t one. I loved the feedback though! Many people have similar reactions to this work!
Fascia is connective tissue in the body, primarily collagen. It is between skin and muscle, muscle and bone and around organs, to state it simply. You can have full body fascia work done, but I only do it on the back, incorporating it into a swedish or deep tissue massage as per a client’s requests. Fascia release helps achieve flow and suppleness between the skin and muscle, breaking up any adhesion that might be there and is a first step of loosening tissue. It is much easier to access and move before applying oil or lotion. Another reason I love doing this work, on the back in particular, is that working slowly outward, from the spine, tends to have a calming effect as it systematically addresses and relaxes the central nervous system. I can feel people let go and breathe deeply during this work and unlike what you may have heard about other types of fascia work, it is not painful work, nor intense. Doing fascia work on the back before I begin the massage also gives me a good sense of where the back seems tight or congested.
Peace and massage to you!
“To sleep, perchance to dream-
ay, there’s the rub.”
Yes! This is a question…often asked in massage. More accurately there is a slight misquote as people often try to decide: to sleep or not to sleep!
Well, let us be assured it isn’t the life altering moment it was for Hamlet, but it is a conundrum or quandary that frequently comes up as people settle onto the massage table. What I usually hear is:
“I don’t want to fall asleep and miss the massage!”
I completely understand that idea, I used to say the same thing when I was new to massage. The experience being wonderful, I wanted to ‘feel’ it and remember it.
As I have observed people on the table for 12 years my feelings about ‘massage sleep’ have evolved. Now I share this thought with my clients:
Your mind wants to go where your body is going! Into that peaceful, relaxed state. Making a concerted effort to stay ‘awake’ may create a bit of conflict. I find that when people are ‘asleep’ during a massage, they still respond when I have to speak to them or ask them to turn over, drifting off again easily. They are not sound asleep. I believe you do ‘feel’ and benefit from the massage even if you allow your mind to become quiet, still, restful.
In fact I truly believe that letting go of active thought during massage is similar to meditation and enhances the benefits of massage. Massage can be mentally restorative and enjoyable, as well as physically relaxing.
Schedule an appointment and see if you agree.