Updated: Jun 1, 2018
As a massage therapist, I have many clients who tell me they are stressed out. Between work, kids and housework, they can't find time to unwind. So they come to me and lay quietly on my massage table to relax and get their head (and body) back in the game.
Massage therapy is a great way to just BE in the moment because it engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the body’s “rest and digest” phase. When giving a massage, I listen for the rumbling tummies of my clients because this indicates they have reached the relaxation phase. To help clients relax deeply, I often dim the lights, use soothing massage strokes, and add a calming essential oil fragrance to my massage oil.
Scheduling a massage, at least once a month, should be on everyone's list of “how to stay healthy.” Just knowing you have a massage coming, and anticipating that one hour of time to just be - can truly help your mental state!
Home remedy while waiting for your massage: deep breathing!
Why? Because when we are stressed, our breathing becomes very shallow. And shallow breathing increases our heart rate and our perception of danger, which stresses us out even more!
Deep breaths, and I mean really deep breaths, can engage your parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system and reset you mentally and physically. The best thing about deep breathing is that it you can do it at work, at home or in line at the grocery store.
Training yourself to breathe deeply: Inhale slowly while counting to 8. Pause for a split second, and then exhale to a count of 8. Breathing this way might take time to master, but the more you practice, the better and easier it becomes – and you'll have developed a powerful tool for reducing stress.
One additional thought: I believe that how we respond to situations can often make things seem stressful when they don’t really need to be. For instance, when I get stuck in traffic, I sigh, do some deep breathing, and turn on a favorite song. My best recommendation: Schedule a massage and save that stress for things that are really stressful!