BENEFITS OF MASSAGE THERAPY
by Sarah Knutson, Holistic Therapist
Massage therapy is something I have been passionate about for several years, from the time I received my first massage up to the last massage I gave to someone. Many people think massage therapy is for mere luxury and relaxation, but we now have scientific proof that it has several health benefits that are greatly increased through regular massages. Being a massage therapist, it’s very important that I stay balanced to provide the best service, so I find it personally beneficial to get an hour massage every two weeks for maintenance and stress reduction.
Consider adding massage into your normal health care routine and you will notice the benefits it provides. Research shows even a fifteen-minute massage is helpful and very effective at reducing stress-related symptoms. As always, it’s a good idea to talk to your primary health care physician before starting any new health regimen.
- Increases circulation, allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.
- Stimulates the flow of lymph, the body’s natural defense system, against toxic invaders. For example, in breast cancer patients, massage has been shown to increase cells that fight cancer.
- Relaxes and softens injured and overused muscles.
- Reduces spasms and cramping.
- Increases joint flexibility.
- Reduces recovery time and helps prepare the body for strenuous workouts, reducing muscle pain.
- Releases endorphins — the body’s natural painkiller — and is beneficial in patients with chronic illness, injury and post-op pain.
- Reduces post-surgery adhesions and edema and can reduce and realign scar tissue after healing has occurred.
- Improves range-of-motion and decreases discomfort for patients with low back pain.
- Relieves pain for migraine sufferers and decreases the need for medications.
- Assists with shorter labor for expectant mothers, as well as reducing need for medication, easing postpartum depression and anxiety, and contributing to a shorter hospital stay.
Next time you’re feeling sore or stressed, consider treating yourself to a massage!
Source: Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals
PLAN YOUR MENTAL HEALTH DAY
by Melissa Fletcher, Spiritual Care Advisor
Do you ever find yourself needing a break? Are you easily distracted and overwhelmed? Have you lost your creative nature and feel stale or stagnant? Do you feel stressed to the point of burnout? Perhaps you need a mental health day.
Medical experts claim that in order for individuals to stay productive and perform well in their jobs, taking a mental break is a good way to promote health and wellbeing for the mind, body and spirit. The problem is, most people don’t take the necessary time to give their brain a break, and if they do, they generally feel guilty about not being productive or filling their day with tasks and to-do lists. If we aren’t careful, depression and anxiety can creep into our lives, which can wreak havoc on our health.
If you are finding yourself in need of a mental health break, here are some tips to help you take some time to rest, rejuvenate and restore your health:
1. Identify a day of the week that you can utilize just for YOU. If this day happens to be during the work week, be sure to discuss it with your employer in order to avoid any unnecessary conflicts.
2. Coordinate your day with your spouse, roommate or other family to prevent interruptions and to make sure that your household tasks are taken care of.
3. Plan ahead. Make arrangements to have a quiet place at home or if needed, to have a time of rest and relaxation someplace else. Be sure to organize the supplies that you will need ahead of time, schedule a massage or plan activities that will give you fulfillment and a sense of joy and peace.
4. Engage in activities that can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety and can release the effects of endorphins in your body such as exercising, spending time with friends and family, or getting in a good laugh. Or, catch up on some needed sleep that promotes the release of oxytocin, which is thought to help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
5. Eat healthy to promote good nutrition. Often when we are stretched for time we make unhealthy food choices, filling our bodies with empty calories and empty nutrition. We also don’t always take the time to really enjoy our food. Savor every bite.
6. Take time to be still and enjoy your day! Proper rest is an important part of healing our bodies physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
7. After returning to your normal routine, watch for returning signs of stress and burnout. While we can’t always control every situation or outside factors that influence our lives, we can begin to recognize when our bodies are being stretched to their limits. Be proactive and guard your health — your mind, body and spirit will thank you for it.