Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do. When you don’t take care of yourself everything else in life becomes more difficult and sooner or later you fall apart. Many people put the needs of others first and put their needs last. This can work out for some time, but eventually if you never care for yourself you won’t be able to care of anyone else. It can feel like you are being selfish when you do something for yourself but it is something you need! Loving yourself is the greatest gift you can give to the people you love. Self love means taking care of your needs. This can be anything from doing a hobby you love, to taking care of your health.
I recently realized I needed a massage and found I had difficulty getting around to scheduling an appointment. I couldn’t figure out what was holding me back. Then I came to the realization that I felt selfish spending money and time on myself. This is crazy because I personally need a regular massage in order to take care of my body and mind. I ask my clients to spend a little time and money on their wellness and I couldn’t even do it myself. So I made the appointment, and I am going to enjoy every minute of my massage knowing that I am taking care of myself so that I can be my best self in order to take care of others. So if you are like me and holding off on doing something good for yourself because of some ridiculous sense of guilt, then stop it! Go for it, take care of yourself because you are wonderful and amazing and you deserve it!
What is Reflexology?
Reflexology works points on the feet, hands, and ears. These areas hold reflected images of the whole body. It is believed that by working the reflex points for corresponding organs and body systems, that these areas are actually affected. For example if you wanted to deepen your breathing, the diaphragm line, located between the arch and pad of the foot, could be worked to help deepen the breath. Reflexology can have many benefits, but it is not used to diagnose or cure any injury, disease or illness. Reflexology can be traced back through history to ancient Egypt, China, India and in Native American culture.
Benefits of Reflexology
What has been proven above all else is the ability Reflexology has to bring a person into a deep state of relaxation. It can even cause a euphoric feeling of calmness and an overall sense of well being. Reflexology can help to reduce stress and support the immune system through relaxation. Reflexology can help to balance energy flow by bringing the body into homeostasis. Improved circulation, the release of toxins, and relief from headaches and tension are some of the many benefits of reflexology. And above all it feels great!
Contraindications for Reflexology
Reflexology can be done on most people, however there are a few scenarios where it should be avoided. These include deep vein thrombosis, compartment syndrome, any contagious skin disease, recent fracture, severe swelling or any other serious condition you have not yet seen a doctor for. Reflexology can be done during pregnancy, however certain reflexes are avoided. Cancer patients can greatly benefit from reflexology as long as they speak to their doctor first. As always if there is ever any hesitation consult with your doctor before receiving any new kind of treatment.
Reflexology can have many positive effects on the body and mind. It has been practiced for thousands of years and more recently been studied by science. If you are experiencing stress (so if you are a person) and want to experience a deeper relaxation, then Reflexology might be for you!
May is Mental Health Month, so I’d like to write a little about what receiving massage has done for my own mental health. As you have probably seen on many lists of “the benefits of massage” it is a powerful tool in helping to ease depression and anxiety. There is a lot of research that proves this, but what I can share is my own proof of how massage truly helped me.
During a time when I was struggling with depression, I received several massages. This was a very powerful experience for me, in that during that hour I was free from any darkness that I felt. It was a time where I could simply be in my body and nothing was expected of me, and that in itself was very healing. I felt emotionally achy all the time and massage soothed me and allowed me to feel loved, comforted and alive. I remember these experiences very vividly, and in my mind as the image of a warm fire on a cold winter night. These experiences are part of what led me to become a massage therapist.
When you are experiencing any form of depression or anxiety it becomes very difficult to not always be focused on those feelings. Massage allows for a deep, wordless experience and a break from the constant chatter of the world and our minds. It is a space to quietly rest and allow the body and mind to recharge their innate healing abilities. For me this had tremendous power in allowing me to begin to heal.
There are many helpful treatments that work for depression and anxiety from therapy to medication. But if you are experiencing any drop in mental health be it from depression, anxiety or just plain being a human, I sincerely recommend that you try adding a massage to your treatment plan, because you deserve it and it might just really help :)
Clients often ask me what exactly knots are upon hearing the crunching sound they make and sometimes the sensation of pain as pressure is applied to them. These often occur along the shoulders, neck, upper and lower back, but they can occur pretty much anywhere. The term for these knots is myofascial trigger point.
There is still some debate over what exactly causes them, however it is believed to be due to a buildup of lactic acid caused by a muscle spasm. This can be due to injury, overuse or lack of use. The individual muscle fibers that cause the knot have continued to contract long after the muscle was being used. This chronic contraction cuts off blood flow to the area causing what feels like a tied up bit of muscle fibers.
Massage can help to alleviate these constrictions by loosening the muscle and stopping the spasm. The muscle fibers than relax and blood flow is allowed back in the area, removing waste and allowing the fibers to remain in a relaxed state.
A certain amount of knots are inevitable due to everyday life. Drinking enough water and being aware of your posture and how you are using your body can help to prevent knots from occurring.
Have you ever wondered why you are always told to drink water after a massage? This is because massage can dehydrate the body. During a massage, the soft tissue is worked, releasing constrictions and allowing for the release of fluids that go into the circulatory system and then to the kidneys, This can cause the need to pee after a massage.
When you have tight and constricted muscles, the everyday buildup of metabolic waste is not flushed properly due to poor circulation in those areas. Massage can release these tightened muscles allowing for the waste to be flushed out. This is why it is so important to drink water after the massage, because lack of extra fluids can cause the waste to stay put and the muscles to tighten up again.
Drinking enough water on a daily basis is very important for the overall functioning of the entire body. It can keep your muscles from becoming overly constricted and allow for overall improved circulation.
What is Acupressure?
Acupressure comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine and dates back thousands of years. Acupressure is a series of points throughout the body that coincide with the meridians, or channels in the body. The points are the same ones used for acupuncture, except instead of using needles, the hands are used to apply pressure.
The life force known as Qi flows through the twelve meridians of the body and illness occurs when the meridians are out of balance.
The goal of acupressure is to help bring Qi back into balance.
How can Acupressure help relieve stress?
Many times when people are experiencing stress, their Qi is not in balance. Qi is the essence of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is the energy and life force that everything in the universe is made of, including our bodies. Meridians are the channels in our bodies through which our Qi flows along with blood and nutrients. When Qi flows freely through these meridians, ones body is healthy. However due to different circumstances, such as excess stress, these channels become clogged and blocked up. This leads to illness and unbalance. Therefore acupressure can help reduce stress by returning the Qi to a balanced state.
According to western science, it is unclear exactly how this phenomena works, however there have been many studies that do prove the benefits of acupressure, especially in relieving pain. Some studies suggest that putting pressure on these points releases endorphins which act as natural painkillers. According to TCM however, pressure on the acupoints actually helps to move blocked Qi in the channels, and healing occurs.
How do I use acupressure on myself?
Find the area by locating the specific point with your finger, then move your finger around the area until you sense the energy vortex, called the acupoint, beneath it. You then hold your finger on the point with medium to firm pressure for 15 to 60 seconds, while breathing into the point.
What points can I use to help relieve stress?
Kidney 1 :bubbling spring”
Located on the bottom of the foot between the first and second toe pads. It is used for bringing down excess energy and is beneficial for a person that is always in their head thinking too much, as well as insomnia related to stress. It can also help release pent up emotions.
Pericardium 8 “Labour place”
Located in the middle of the palm between the middle and ring finger is helpful in reducing headaches, digestive troubles, stomach pain and problems sleeping. It can also help with emotional balancing.
Pericardium 6 “Inner Gate”
Located three finger widths up from the center of your wrist crease. This acupressure point balances your feelings, perceptions, and inner awareness; it also balances and calms your internal condition.”
Gall Bladder 21 “shoulder well”
Located on the uppermost point of the shoulder close to the neck. Helps with uptightness, irritability, fatigue, shoulder tension, anxiety and headaches
Bladder 10 “Heavenly pillar”
Located just below the base of the head where it meets the neck slightly off the midline is used for neck tension and headaches
Governing Vessel 24 “third eye”
Located between the eyebrows is an excellent point for reducing tension headaches and fatigue. It calms the body and relieves anxiety and depression
Conception Vessel 22 “heaven rushing out”
Located in the center of the chest on the top of the sternum. This point helps relieve tightness in the chest often caused by anxiety and can allow for a better flow of air into the lungs. This point can have immediate calming effects during times of stress and anxiety and is a good point to end with.
These are several points that have excellent stress reducing abilities. There are many more for stress and any other troubles you are having both physical and emotional. Acupressure is a good tool for stress management because it can be used wherever you are in the moment when you need it most. Whether you are stuck in traffic, at work or laying in bed most of these points can be done subtly. Any points you use have an instant grounding effect and can bring you out of whatever situation you are in and back to your body.
Whether it is a simple touch on the arm, a pat on the back or a hug, touch can have tremendous affects on both the body and the mind. Just think about a moment when you felt relief from some physical or emotional pain through a simple gesture of touch. There is a lot to massage, but what it really comes down to is touch and its power to heal. Check out these facts below. Who knew?!