Self-Care at Home
Work (and life) can be stressful and while it’s too bad that we can’t get a massage every day, we can find ways to reduce our stress and the stress on our bodies as we go through our days.
Self-care and stress relief between sessions doesn’t have to be a big project and can (and should!) be enjoyable. Sure, there are big things you can do, but there are also a lot of small things that can have big impact on keeping you in good space. Here are some ideas – pick one or two (or more, if you’re feeling ambitious, but don’t overwhelm yourself, that would be counterproductive!)
Most immediately, if you sit at a desk for work, or spend a chunk of your day in the same general position: Take frequent breaks. Drink a glass of water, walk around, stretch. Breathe. Set a timer on your phone to remind you to get up every so often. It may feel like you are interrupting your activity, but actually, you will be more productive if you get some blood flowing.
You can perform self-massage on your upper back with tennis balls by placing the tennis ball between your back and a wall and moving around. When you find a knot, maintain a static hold there for 30-45 seconds. You can also purchase a foam roller to use at home, either online or at sporting goods stores. A foam roller is a cylinder of hard Styrofoam which you lay on (and occasionally roll, ha ha) to provide static or moving compression on a muscle. You can find videos on YouTube to teach you how to use it for different pain areas or body parts.
At home, I love the heat packs that you can put in the microwave but you can also use electric heating pads or even a hot shower or bath. You can also use an application of cold, if there is inflammation (redness, heat, swelling) or just to numb the pain, but not on the neck or back. I also use and recommend topical analgesics, such as Biofreeze, arnica rub, or my personal favorite, White Flower oil which is a blend of essential oils – wintergreen, camphor, peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is necessary for many bodily functions including muscle relaxation. We get it through our diet, but many people don’t get enough. You can take supplements as well but my favorite easy way is to use a topical magnesium spray. Or, if you have a little more time on your hands, take a warm bath with Epsom salts. You can buy Epsom salts at any drugstore. Use two to four cups per bath and stay in for a minimum of 12 minutes. This allows your body to absorb the magnesium in the salts, which is essential for many bodily processes, most importantly in our case, muscle relaxation.
Stretching on a regular basis is a helpful practice, as is yoga. You can find a local yoga class, or there are many free videos online. My favorite is Yoga with Adriene, on YouTube. She has many videos for specific areas that need attention, and she makes it fun and easy, even if you’ve never done yoga before.
And overall, try to make sure you stay hydrated and well fed. Exercise. Sleep well and enough. Make time for hobbies or pastimes that relieve stress for you. I love music and will crank it up in the car as I drive and sing (don’t ride with me, your ears will regret it!) Maybe you like to draw, cook, dance, meditate, read, ride bikes… whatever it is, make sure you include it in your life! If it has been so long since you took down time that you have no idea what you like to do — think back to childhood, and what you liked to do then, and try some things! Coloring with crayons, anyone?
All these ideas can go a long way towards making sure you stay in the best condition between sessions. I hope you found something in here that was useful. Let’s hear from you in the comments if there’s something you find helpful for staying relaxed between massage sessions, whether mentioned here or if I missed it.
Click here for a one-sheet list you can print and keep handy.
Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash