We are bombarded with messages all the time telling us that we need to relax – but at the same time, it seems as if we are also bombarded with reasons not to! The truth is that if you take care of your body and mind, it pays dividends and can help you to deal with some of the unwelcome things in life that give stress us out in the first place. The first things to tackle are getting your share of rest and relaxation. Here’s why:
Getting enough sleep, and good quality sleep at that, is absolutely essential for functioning optimally. Whether you’re working, learning or just living, sleep is key. Sleep is also vital for is essential for restoring your body’s energy, repairing muscles and promoting good appetite. Quality of sleep matters as much as the amount of shut eye you cram in. The more time you spend in the REM stage of sleep, the better, as REM (dream) sleep is the most restorative – ideally you should spend about 25% of time in this type of sleep (if you have a fitness tracker, the sleep tracking function can be a real eye opener). Lack of good sleep can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, headaches and depression. Of course, sleep isn’t the only way to rest, relaxation while you’re awake is very important, too.
You may have heard of the fight-or-flight response? Well, it has an opposite – the relaxation response. This happens naturally when your body no longer thinks it is in any perceived danger, and when the autonomic nervous system returns to normal after a stressful situation. The relaxation response is like an off switch, where the body moves from a stressed state (physiological arousal) to one of calm. You can bring this response on deliberately by using techniques that are designed to relax both body and mind. Some of the most effective ways to do this include:
• Breathing Exercises
• Massage therapy
• Spa Treatments
Making time to unwind and enjoy life is really important – and often undervalued. Relaxation has many physical benefits; it can decrease your blood pressure, help to relieve pain, and also improve your
immune and cardiovascular systems. Did you know that a good belly laugh is one amazingly effective way to de-stress, too? Get the funny films out, a big laugh can potentially help your heart and lung health as well as promoting muscle relaxation. We all know that a good giggle can help our mental health too; as well as flooding our body with feel-good chemicals, it helps to reduce anxiety.
If you aren’t getting enough time to relax, you may find yourself feeling tense and stressed out. Next time you feel the fight-or-flight feelings getting on top of you, or you notice tell-tale effects of stress like break outs or constant headaches, stop it in its track with a massage session, yoga class or some deep breathing exercises and feel that relaxation kick back in…
Using Essential Oils in Massage
Otherwise known as aromatherapy massage, a massage using essential oils is a real treat, and has many positive effects that make it a treat worth investing in. There are two main reasons why a massage therapist may use essential oils in their treatments:
• The essential oils used in massage can have beneficial effects on your body and overall health.
• They smell great.
But the aroma isn’t just a pleasant addition to your treatment. By inhaling the oils and applying them topically, you can receive multiple layers of benefits. Essential oils can have physiological effects like helping to relieve muscle tension and stiffness, reduce muscle spasm, and enhance circulation. They can also have psychological and emotional benefits such as helping individuals cope with pain, reduce stress and relax, and improve mood.
Essential oils and pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you should always tell your massage therapist before an aromatherapy massage because although essential oils are safe in the vast majority of cases, there are a few specific essential oils that are best avoided in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Essential oils and pain relief
Using essential oils in a massage is ideal if you’re experiencing symptoms like inflammation or pain. The aromatherapy adds an extra layer of benefit to a soothing massage and seems to magnify the effects of a treatment which can give you even more relief than a basic massage.
Essential oils and stress
Just breathing in the relaxing scent of lavender essential oil can calm you down and help you sleep. Lavender essential oil is great for pain relief and widely used in stress-busting massage treatments.
So what is an aromatherapy massage like?
The first thing you’ll need to do is have a talk with your therapist about what you are hoping to get from your massage, and explain all about any existing health conditions so that they can choose the best combination of oils for you. There are pre-blended mixes of essential oils for general use, but many therapists also make up their own mixes for each session.
When therapists are putting together a custom blend, they will often ask you to pick a fragrance that makes you feel good. There’s not much point in creating perfectly blended massage oil for you if you don't enjoy the smell of it and can’t wait to get off the massage table!
If there’s any of your custom blended oil left after your massage, you’ll be given the rest to take home and use, which is a definite bonus. After an aromatherapy massage you’re likely to feel absolutely amazing – not only have you had the physical benefits of a therapeutic massage but the psychological boost that you’ll get from the essential oils as well.
What’s your favorite aromatherapy oil?
Here Comes Summer – Stress!
When we’re deep in the cold, wet clutches of winter, all we can think of is the lazy, hazy summer days. Picnics, barbecues, days spent lounging outside, and sunshine are all we remember from the last summer.
Then, when we reach summer time, we remember that summer has stresses of its own. Who hasn’t day dreamed about the last summer vacation but forgotten the fact that driving hours to get there left the entire family hot, cranky and dehydrated? Or that on the second day of the break, one of the kids had an allergic reaction to a bug bite and spent the entire week whining about it itching?
With the kids at home, the planned fun and games can also turn into fighting and complaining about being bored. Some days you just wish it was fall already! That’s why, whether you have kids or not, and wherever you are planning to spend time this summer, you need to schedule in some down time. Summer can really stress you out, so making sure that you’re well prepared with pre-vacation treatments and a massage or two to give you some extra relaxation and also help you make your summer holiday about you as well as everybody else.
Remember that even if you are always planning things for the whole family, you deserve some time to yourself too. It might be a cliché that gets over used but there is a lot of truth to the statement ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ – get your fix of self-care up front and you’ll feel much more equipped to give to everyone else.
Top Tips for Stress-Free Summer Months:
Spend time in the sunshine – it really does improve your mood. Load up on sun screen and head out into the back yard with a book and a cool drink, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. Get the kids out on a play date and make some time for you.
Sneak in a nap – sleep can be compromised over the summer when the temperatures rise, so if you have an opportunity in the day time for a nap, take it and stock up in advance on sleep.
Enjoy a yoga class – perfect for regular relaxation and you can take a few of your favorite moves away on vacation with you, too.
Turn off the iPads – and other gadgets. Give yourself a tech detox for an hour or so a day, or even an entire day/vacation if you think you can. Just escaping from the constant ping of notifications can be a great way to unplug stress and chill out.
Don’t neglect your down-time. Schedule in time for YOU in among the fun family days out and other activities.
Enjoy your summer!
You know that massage is good for you, whether you’ve had one in the past and enjoyed the positive effects or you’re just curious about whether a massage therapist’s healing touch could help sort out your aches and pains. So, what’s stopping you?
We have 10 reasons right here that will inspire you to visit your massage therapist today…
1. Massage helps to treat some health conditions
Massage therapy can help with several common health conditions, some that you might already know about and others that may come as a surprise to you. If you suffer with constant back, leg and neck pain; muscle tension and spasm, a good massage will send you on the route to feeing relief. Some musculoskeletal conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome can also be helped by massage, as can the symptoms of chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, arthritis and some digestive disorders.
2. Massage can help to improve circulation
Massage therapy is great for boosting blood circulation, which helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients around the body more efficiently.
3. Massage can increase lymphatic flow
Your lymphatic system is a system of vessels and lymph nodes running throughout your body which comprise an important part of the immune system. It helps to fight bacteria and other infections, and a healthy lymph flow also helps clear toxins from your body.
4. Massage can speed up post injury healing
If you’ve overdone it or hurt yourself accidentally you’ll be glad to know that massage doesn’t just help reduce muscle soreness and stiffness; it can also break up scar tissue, freeing up movement and enhancing your recovery.
5. Massage can help to increase your range of motion
Another thing that a great massage therapist can do is use techniques that stimulate the production of lubricants between connective tissues, which improves flexibility and balance.
6. Massage can help you to improve your posture
Massage helps to train your muscles, which improves the posture of your body as well as correcting any imbalances caused by sitting for long periods – which are common in people who sit at a desk all day.
7. Massage can give your immune system a boost
Massage is known to boost production of lymphocytes – the white blood cells which help fight off disease. Although a massage can’t guarantee you’ll never get another cold, there has been research that suggests it helps the body to fight infections and reduce the severity and duration of bugs and minor illnesses.
8. Massage can make you feel happier
The action of massaging the skin stimulates alpha brain waves, which are associated with relaxation, and promotes the release of endorphins – the body’s feel-good chemicals.
9. Massage can help you to de-stress
Massage is known to help reduce cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone, so elevated levels are not good for your body at all. At the same time, massage has been shown to boost serotonin and dopamine levels, making you feel more relaxed and happy.
10. Massage could give you a better night’s sleep
If insomnia is your bedfellow, try a massage. Massage can help to balance out your sleep pattern and overcome insomnia and the fatigue that goes with not getting enough sleep.
Have we convinced you to book that appointment yet?
Bella Terra Organic Spa and Shoppe in Evansville, Indiana. Sharing stories regarding healthy living, holistic wellness, and green beauty.