I don’t know about you but as I get older I have an overwhelming sense that I need to take better care of myself. I am not entirely sure whether this is due to daily stresses manifesting themselves in a stiff back, headache and constant tiredness or because with every passing school term, dubious summer and Strictly Come Dancing final, I have a heightened awareness of my own mortality. Either way, the daily race to get teeth brushed, shoes on the right feet and breakfast things cleared away before Weetabix sets like concrete to the kitchen table, does leave its mark in a few extra wrinkles and a feeling of chasing one’s tail. Not least because these are the personal challenges I face, before I even wake the kids! The wrinkles (or laughter lines as I have come to affectionately name them) I can handle but it’s the effects of stress on my insides which is a concern, an anxiety which only serves to exacerbate said feelings of stress! If this scenario sounds familiar, I think Haelan Therapy just might be able to help you.
Today marks the start of Self Care Week. This is a national awareness week which serves to encourage us to better look after our own health both in the short term and the long term. One way in which we can do this is through physical therapy such as massage. With immeasurable benefits to both body and mind and not least being a fantastic antidote to stress, research has shown that massage can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, relax your muscles and increase the production of endorphins, your body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemical, enhancing feelings of contentment and well-being.
But stress isn’t only a feeling. It’s a built in physiological response to a threat. When you’re stressed your body responds. Your blood vessels constrict and your blood pressure rises. You breathe faster and your bloodstream is flooded with hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. When you’re chronically stressed those physiological changes, over time, can lead to health problems. These manifest themselves not only in the more obvious presentations like anxiety, depression and headaches, but also in gastrointestinal pathologies such as heartburn and IBS. By reducing stress levels alone through massage you will:
- decrease anxiety
- enhance sleep quality
- improve concentration
- increase circulation
- reduce fatigue
So let Self Care Week be the week to take some of the unconditional love you freely bestow on your children, spouse and parents and reflect it back on yourself. Don’t vacuum this week, read another chapter in the book you’re enjoying; instead of spending the commute thinking about that dreaded 9 o’clock meeting, use it to focus on breathing deeply, allowing your brain to benefit from a little more oxygen; avoid listening to that inner monologue of self doubt and instead talk to a friend who listens. Or create a couple of hours of ‘me time’ and book yourself in for that massage treatment, where the focus will be entirely on you. Whatever opportunity you have to be kind to yourself this week, take it. Let’s learn to nurture our minds and nourish our bodies, starting from right now.