I got a massage recently. It was glorious! A massage always makes me feel better and function at my best. And like many of you, I was overdue.
Everyone has experienced the benefits of massage…even you! When you wake up in the morning, you rub your eyes to see more clearly. When you are cold, you rub your arms to generate heat. When you bump your leg, you rub it to make it feel better. Massage is an important part of self care.
There are many physical benefits to massage, improved circulation and blood flow, reduced pain, stronger immunity and increased flexibility. What I enjoy most are the mental and emotional benefits. My stress level goes way down when I have a massage; heck, just scheduling my massage makes me feel calmer. While I am on the table I pay attention to how my body feels and reconnect my physical self with my spiritual self. I regain my sense of wholeness.
Getting a full body massage from a professional is the best way to experience all the benefits. But what about between massages?
Here are a couple of tips to help keep your muscles relaxed and reduce your stress:
First, recognize the tension. Many of us are so tense that we carry our shoulders up around our ears. Try this exercise to learn how to consciously relax.
1. Lift your shoulders toward your ears in a shrugging motion.
2. Slowly allow your shoulders to drop. Lengthen your neck by stretching up with the top of your head. Feel the stretch.
3. Make a mental note of how it feels to have your shoulders down where they belong and make a practice of keeping them there.
Working at a computer all day can lead to pain in your wrist, fingers and hand. Try this hand massage to increase circulation and prevent pain.
1. Hold your left hand up, palm facing outward. Using your right hand, pull the fingers back toward your wrist until you feel a stretch, hold that position for 5 seconds. Repeat the stretch on your right hand.
2. Press the palms of your hands together at chest height. Lower them towards your lap until you feel the stretch in your wrists. Hold for 5 seconds.
3. Spread your fingers wide for 5 seconds.
4. On your left hand, gently pull the thumb back toward your wrist until you feel the stretch. Hold it for 5 seconds. Repeat on your right hand.
5. Curl your fingers into a fist starting with the pinky finger and gradually folding in the remaining fingers. Then curl your wrists inward until you feel the stretch, hold for 5 seconds.
6. Massage the inside and outside of each hand and then gently shake them out.