Why you shouldn’t feel guilty about getting a massage.
One of my regular clients always comes in for a Deep Tissue / Sports Massage – she is an event runner and runs about 4 times a week. She was bought a massage a voucher for Christmas and didn’t want to use it on her regular treatment but for something relaxing.
This made me so happy as it means that she recognises that relaxation is every bit as important if not more, than the physical complaints she usually comes in to be treated for.
However, some people find it very difficult to prioritise themselves, even if it is just for one hour.
What stops us from booking a massage?
People may be stressed, overworked business owners, stressed parents juggling every day life, commuters who are short of time, or just in a situation where any spare money goes on anything and everything else before themselves.
Some of us feel guilty about setting aside a whole sixty minutes for our own self-care and wellbeing. There is always something they think is more important – food shopping, cleaning, going to the gym, working, doing something with the children. Let’s face it there is always something that needs doing.
It’s scientifically proven to be good for you
I am a scientist by background. Although I love the nice, touchy feely, plinky plonk music and aromatherapy candles, lovely fluffy side to massage, what really excites me is the science behind it.
Massage causes actual physiological changes in your body. This is an involuntary response in the nervous system to touch. When you have a massage, your heart and breathing rates slow down , your blood pressure reduces, your muscles relax and your production of hormones changes. The stress hormone decreases and the relaxation / feel good hormone, serotonin, increases. This positively affects thoughts, emotions and decreases the physical effects of stress such as hypertension, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue. This is all involuntary. It just happens as a result of the amazing power of touch.
Physically, the effects of massage is a bit more obvious. When the body is massaged, basically pressure is applied in various forms to the soft tissue. This relaxes the muscles, which reduces muscle spasms and cramping. It mechanically removes knots , smooths out any muscle adhesions and can reduce compression on nerves which in turn will reduce pain. Touching the skin relaxes muscles, ligaments and tendons. It leads to a better balance and alignment within the body.
Massage increases blood and lymph circulation. This improves the transport of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells, and other tissues within the body. This improves their functionality and eliminates waste products more efficiently, which in turn can reduce swelling in soft tissues.
So that’s just a little bit about the science behind having a massage. But do you still need convincing that massage should be guilt free?
If so, I’d like to talk now a little bit about self care.
What is self care?
Self care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others. (Definition from psychcentral.com)
Taking good care of yourself will help you maintain your emotional, physical and mental health. This will include loads and loads of things and you can make your own list but the basics are eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise, taking some time out to relax and doing enjoyable activities.
Some of us have such demanding jobs, small children that cannot be left, stressful after school activities or so much to do with the children, family issues, financial problems… the list is endless and this causes us stress.
Stress affects everyone but in different ways. It can sap our energy, create negative thoughts, fear, anxiety and can make us more susceptible to illnesses such as heart disease and high blood pressure to name a few.
There are also lots of physical affects of stress. Headaches, pain in the neck and shoulders, stomach aches, insomnia and tiredness.
Self care isn’t selfish
You need to make sure you realise that you are worth some self care and self loving. If you don’t look after yourself, who will? And if you don’t look after yourself, how will you have the energy or motivation to look after everybody else?
It isn’t selfish. It’s a necessity for your overall wellbeing. Physically and mentally.
Self care should be individual and will be different for each of us. You really need to work out what will be good self-care for you. It needs to be planned into your schedule and prioritised.
What should you choose?
If you decide that exercise is important (which it is) and you decide to run for five miles 3 times a week, but you hate running… That isn’t going to make you feel all happy and fuzzy inside. You might feel a sense of achievement but is that really good self care? Maybe. Though I would be inclined find something you really love to do.
Similarly, if you hate your feet being touched you wouldn’t book in for an amazing reflexology treatment. However amazing it is, you won’t like it and it won’t be good self care for you. So pick something that you really like.
Massage can be an amazing part of your self care routine. It requires no more than you booking an appointment, turning up on time, and laying down (in our case on a wonderful heated couch) for an hour. Job done. You will feel great physically, come away feeling relaxed, with an increased feeling of self worth and an overwhelming feeling that you have done yourself good mentally and emotionally.
Don’t believe me? You should definitely try it!
Don’t forget the sciency bit…
- Massage is incredibly relaxing.
- Massage has been proven to relieve stress and anxiety, and lower heart rate and blood pressure.
- Massage eases chronic pain.
- Massage reduces muscle tightness, gets rid of knots and muscle tension.
- Massage boosts your immunity.
- Massage improves your posture and heightens your own self body awareness. A key to your continued self care planning.
- If you exercise regularly, or take part in sports, massage improves performance, improves flexibility, and aids recovery. It has been proven that sporty people who have regular massage are less prone to injury.
I hope you can see that massage isn’t just the fluffy candles and plinky plonk music. It is essential to our mental and physical wellbeing.
We all know it feels absolutely great, but now you know the benefits behind it and how it can improve your wellbeing. Will you still feel guilty about booking a monthly MOT massage?
You could also learn to spot the signs that your body needs a massage.
You only get one body and mind – Look after it.