The New Year is here and the new page of the calendar is the perfect opportunity to begin including self-care in our daily routines!
Self-care, a practice intended to improve one’s health, well-being, and happiness, has become a hot topic over the last few years. Treating yourself to a self-care routine is an attainable goal that doesn’t have to be complicated, time-consuming, or expensive. Putting yourself first has numerous benefits and improves overall happiness and productivity.
If your resolution is to add self-care to your to-do list during 2020, here are 7 tips to help you be the best version of yourself in the New Year.
- Enjoy a healthy snack. Not sure how to start practicing self-care? One of the easiest ways to begin taking care of yourself and improving your health and wellness is to fuel your body with nutritious snacks and meals. Eating mindfully and incorporating healthy snacks into your day can be as simple as choosing fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins over sugary snacks.
- Get creative! If you’re feeling stuck in a rut or bored in your daily routines, try something new – or even pick up an old hobby. Creative activities such as writing and drawing have been proven to decrease your stress levels. Focusing on learning a new task or engaging your brain in a different way can be relaxing and fun.
- Book a massage. Massages benefit your mind as well as your body and are the perfect way to add self-care to your schedule in 2020. In addition to physical benefits such as pain relief, promoting circulation, lower blood pressure, and boosted immunity, massages are proven to decrease stress and anxiety. Massage therapy can also be personalized to suit your individual needs – whether you need additional pressure to loosen tight muscles or aromatherapy to make your experience even more relaxing.
- Take time to be grateful. Practicing gratitude is a simple way to begin to shift any negative mindset into a positive attitude. In addition to reducing stress and anxiety, taking time to pause and reflect on the things you’re grateful for can rewire your brain to seek out the positive in every situation instead of dwelling on the negative. Begin by taking several moments at the start of your day to list out five things in your life you’re grateful for. As you continue your practice, you may be surprised to find your list growing!
- Go outside. Taking a few minutes to get outside and take in fresh air and sunlight has many benefits, both physical and mental. A quick trip outdoors can lower both your stress levels and your heart rate! If inclement weather prevents you from stepping outside, try simply changing your environment. Go for a short walk around your office. Sometimes, simply taking a break from your routine can be enough to leave you feeling energized and refocused.
- Get moving. Adding exercise to your daily routine doesn’t necessarily require an expensive gym membership or cumbersome gym equipment. You can reap the benefits of exercise by start small by walking for 30 minutes three to four times per week. Increasing your heart rate, even for short periods of time, improves both your mood and your physical health.
- Catch some extra zzz’s. If you find that you are tired more frequently than not, it may be time to practice self-care by adding more sleep to your schedule. With our hectic schedules and busy lives, this component of self-care can be challenging, but like many other self-care practices, it’s easy to start small. Try to go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night, and if this is doable, perhaps try 30 minutes earlier. If your current bedtime works for you but you find that you’re not sleeping well, work on removing distractions from your bedroom or turning them off sooner. Put away laptops and tablets and turn off the television earlier to allow your body and mind a little more time to fall asleep.
Start Self Care Today and Book a Massage!
Self-care begins with setting an intention to add practices to your routine that will improve your health and wellness. Making healthier snack choices, adding exercise to your routine, and booking a massage with Graceful Touch Massage Therapy will have you on your way to feeling your best in 2020! We offer massage to fit every schedule and budget. Check out our massage services then message us online to book your massage today!
The cycle continued every week…you’re so excited on Friday because the weekend has rolled around again. While you may think of spending that entire time relaxing, you more than likely have a huge list of things to do and places you need to be. Yes, life is busy, but there are ways we can set ourselves up to get some much-needed recovery time and prepare ourselves for the week ahead. So, here are a few tips on how to use your weekend the way it was intended.
Utilize your free time throughout the week
While your work week schedule may be pretty busy, there are a few ways to utilize your time through the week in order to get things done around the house. If you cook dinner every night for yourself or the family, why not try slow cooker meals. They’re quick and easy and cut down your cooking time each night. You can cook a full meal, soups, or your main dish and just add a quick and easy side when you get home. Or use 1 or 2 nights to meal prep or double or triple your recipes so lunch and dinner is already done for the rest of the week. This frees up more time each evening to either take care of some other must-dos or to just enjoy so you don’t need the weekend so desperately.
If you find yourself cleaning all weekend trying to make up for doing nothing around the house all week, try using that extra time each night to get one room or one task done. Whether its cleaning a bathroom, mopping the floor, or a doing just one or two loads of laundry, doing one thing each evening when you’re already up and moving can mean you get to sleep in on Saturday instead of rushing to clean the house each weekend.
Set boundaries for anything work related
Depending on your job, this may be difficult, but it’s definitely achievable. While you may be receiving work emails that need attention, unplug from work as much as possible. Unless it’s truly a requirement of your job, most things can wait until Monday. But if you absolutely must work, do it strategically. So instead of reacting every time you get a notification, set a certain time each day you’ll check in on work stuff. The rest of the day is yours. It’s also important to set clear boundaries with co-workers as well as your boss. Make sure you let them know that in order to do your job well, you need time to take care of yourself on the weekends.
Go with the flow: We tend to feel as if everything we do needs a schedule that’s set in stone, even when it involves our free time. While you may have events to attend like a birthday party or social outing, try your hardest to allow yourself just to be. Have you ever woken up on a Saturday and realized you had nowhere to be and the day was TRULY yours? It’s one of the best feelings ever.
Learn to say no: While socializing with our loved ones and friends can be therapy in so many ways, overscheduling yourself on the days you should be resting is exhausting. Don’t spread yourself too thin. If you already have plans and get invited to another event, don’t feel like you have to find a way to make it work. Say no. These events are meant to be fun and enjoyable, not you rushing from one place to another, never really being able to relax. It’s okay to say no, or “I already have plans”, even if that plan is you relaxing on your own.
When there’s no way around it, get it done: Sometimes having a to do list on the weekend is unavoidable. Generally, those to-dos drag along with you throughout the weekend as you put it off again and again. When you have things to get done on the weekend, try to get them done as soon as possible, so you don’t have that weight on your shoulder anymore. Then you really can just enjoy your weekend.
While the weekends may be your favorite part of the week, be sure you’re using them wisely and taking advantage of every second you have to take care of you. Get that well-deserved downtime…you’ve earned it.
Browse our massage services, then contact me online to book your next massage today!
Stress is an
unavoidable part of life. I mean, it would be nice if we could go most of our
lives with little to no stress, but for many of us, that’s just not how life
works out. Whether it’s related to work, family, finances, or just little
irritants through the day like traffic, we’re regularly exposed to stressors.
And while mild stress is usually manageable in a variety of ways, the link
between chronic stress and some medical conditions is undeniable.
stressed, your central nervous system (CNS) goes into what is often referred to
as the “fight or flight” response. Your body releases adrenaline and cortisol,
your eyes dilate, your heart beats faster, your blood pressure increases, your
muscles tense, and your digestion stops to allow blood to be redistributed to
those muscles needed to fight or run for your life. When the perceived threat
is gone, the CNS will usually act to ease the mind and body, going
back to a state often referred to as “rest and digest”, because the body calms
and functions return to normal. However, chronic, or long-term stress
means that signal may not be sent for quite some time, so your body is staying
in that state of stress for far too long. This can wreak havoc on your
body over time. Here’s 4 conditions that can be directly related to chronic
Insomnia: When you’re stressed, your mind never turns off
due to all those perceived ‘threats’. This can easily lead to trouble sleeping.
You may be planning the next day’s events, worrying about bills, family issues,
or any number of other problems. But if this continues over time, it’s not just
about having trouble turning your mind off to fall asleep, but can progress
into true insomnia; an inability to fall asleep, even when the brain and
nervous system have calmed. Not getting enough sleep only continues to add to
the problem, by increasing your body’s level of the stress hormone, cortisol.
Depression: When you’re in a constant state of stress,
especially when the root of your stress isn’t easily resolved or is out of your
hands, depression is common. Feeling like you have no control over your life
leads you feeling helpless, hopeless, and sometimes even angry. You may
distance yourself from your loved ones and avoid activities you once enjoyed.
Heart disease: When
you’re stressed, your body produces a large amount of adrenaline and cortisol,
both hormones that put physical stress on the heart. Because these hormones
cause the heart and blood vessels to work harder, over time this can lead to
damage to those structures.
Digestive disorders: When you’re in that fight or flight stage, your
digestive system shuts down most of its functions. This can cause problematic
delays in the digestive process, leading to constipation, diarrhea, and making
you more susceptible to the development of stomach ulcers. Long term stress can
lead to irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, and ulcerative colitis.
While we may not be able to control the stresses that pop up in life, we
CAN control how we react to them. So even though we experience stress, we can
make choices that allow us to handle that stress in a healthy way; in a way
that keeps our bodies from becoming damaged from the stress. And don’t forget
to add massage therapy into your regular stress-management routine to keep you
as healthy and happy as possible!
Have you noticed that you’ve become
more sensitive to pain? Has your perception of pain changed over time? This may
have more to do with an overactive nervous system than it has to do with your
body actually experiencing more pain. Here’s what you need to know about
something called central sensitization.
Did you know that pain can modify the way that the central nervous system (CNS) works? When the CNS becomes modified by pain, it’s often referred to as central sensitization. Central sensitization is when the CNS becomes regulated in a persistent high reactivity state. This means that what used to be a person’s pain threshold is often lowered and they experience pain with simple interactions such as touch. This also means that when they experience situations that are actually painful, the pain is amplified beyond normal. This sensitization can range from very mild to quite severe.
Central sensitization can be caused by anything that hurts the skin, muscles or organs. It can even be triggered by something as small as minor muscle damage. There is no clinical test for this phenomenon. It’s also difficult to diagnose in mild cases because everyone’s pain threshold is different, and you can’t compare one to another. But if you notice that pain threshold has changed, and things that should only cause some minor discomfort have started really bothering you, there is a way that you can find relief from this potential central sensitization; massage therapy.
You may be wondering how massage, which involves touch, can help someone who is sensitive to touch. The answer; Gate Theory. So, when your body perceives that pain is occurring, that signal is sent to your brain, but has to pass through many “gates” before it reaches your brain. The Gate Theory suggests that when you’re experiencing pain, if you’re exposed to touch along those same nerve pathways, the touch signals will “block” those gates, essentially causing your brain to not perceive the pain as strongly. Along with that, the “feel good” hormones from the positive touch can override your brain’s perception of the pain, allowing you to finally feel some pain relief. Have you ever asked yourself why you have the instinct to hold or rub an area that’s suddenly experienced pain? Like grabbing your foot when you stub your toe, or holding your elbow after hitting it? Once you touch it, or even massage it for a minute, the pain goes away, or at least seems more tolerable? Same concept!
My focus in any massage session is
your total relaxation and comfort. Each service is entirely about you, so be
sure to tell me if you’re ever experiencing pain with anything I do, so I can
While each individual’s experience with this kind of overactive nervous system is different, it’s important to work with your health care provider as well as myself, to make sure we can get you the best care possible. You don’t have to live with pain. I can help!
We’ve talked about the ways stress is connected to disease, and things you can do to help combat stress. While both of those are very important to be aware of, it’s also important to make sure you’re taking actions daily to help you manage your stress level. Here are a few ideas you can implement into your daily life to help you manage your stress. Normally, a daily routine starts in the morning, but this one is a bit different. To be prepared for the next day and any stressors that may come with it, it’s important to start the night before.
Before bed brain dump.
Many people struggle with going to sleep right away because they’re still thinking about all the things that happened during the day or of the things they need to get done the next day. Taking 5 minutes to dump everything that is on your mind down on a piece of paper helps you to clear your head before you lay down to rest. There doesn’t have to be any organization to it; you’re just putting thoughts down on a piece of paper that you can look at later. This brain dump may also help you to remember tasks you don’t want to forget.
Plan for tomorrow.
If you have a long list of to-dos without a plan for it, even if you complete a brain dump, your mind may still be running away from you. Write down all of the tasks that must be completed the next day and a plan of attack. When you wake up without a plan there’s a greater chance that your day will be frantic, and you may not get the most important things on your to-do list done. Start with a plan from the time you open your eyes. Give yourself time to complete the tasks you need to with wiggle room so that you’re not overwhelmed if something runs over on time. It’s not just about all the typical accomplishments of the day either. Schedule in some of the things farther down this list.
There is something about a new day that is so refreshing. A fresh start; a chance to accomplish what you may have not done yesterday. Take a few minutes all to yourself. If 5 minutes is all you can manage, start there. Work your way up slowly over time to try to devote up to 30 minutes just to yourself. You can sit there in silence, meditate, pray, journal, read, etc. This is your time, enjoy it. It’s therapeutic.
Whether you take a walk or go for a full body workout, getting your blood pumping will release those feel-good hormones and help you start your day off with a positive attitude. Not to mention all the other great health benefits, of course.
Whether you work from home, commute to work, or you’re a full-time parent, it’s important that you take time throughout the day to take a break and regroup. If you go non-stop without a break you may get overwhelmed and burned out, but if you take a chance to relax for even 5 minutes, you can recharge and take on the rest of the day.
Eat healthful foods
It’s so easy to grab unhealthy foods when you’re pressed for time, but those foods are often paired with guilt, and usually don’t leave you feeling the best physically, either. Eating a balanced diet can help you feel your best all day. And don’t forget to keep snacks with you. There’s nothing quite like being hangry to get your stress levels up.
It’s easy to add to your already busy schedule when a friend, family member, or coworker asks you to come to an event or help them with something. If it’s something that is going to prevent you from accomplishing what you need to and add stress to you, say no. It’s okay, and actually a good thing, to protect yourself from unnecessary stress.
I know that for some people, evenings are just as hectic as, if not more so than, the rest of the day. But if you can spare just 5 or 10 minutes again to take some time for you, you’ll end your day feeling so much better than if you’re constantly running around. This could mean blasting some of your favorite music, quiet time outside, a hot bath, or cuddling up with a good book. Whatever you can fit in and whatever works for your life, you deserve at least a little time to yourself.
Time with loved ones
We can get wrapped up in all that has to be done, but don’t forget what’s more important than the stuff and the to-do’s; those you love. Whether you snuggle up with your kiddos on the couch, your significant other, or even your dog or cat, spending time with your loved ones is therapeutic.
While everyone’s lifestyles and schedules are different, having a daily routine to help you combat stress is important. Take this routine and make it your own. And to be sure you’re taking care of yourself fully, don’t forget to schedule your next massage here at Graceful Touch!