How to Help When Things Get Real

how to help when things get real

There’s been much made in the news about terrible things happening around the world, and rightly so. Families are displaced by wars, genocide goes unchecked in Asia and the middle east, and natural disasters cripple entire societies. When disasters like this strike, aid is organized, charities and religious groups scramble to the rescue.

But what about the smaller tragedies, those disasters that feel enormous and earth-shaking only to that one person or that handful of people you’re close to? The loss of a spouse through death or divorce, incarceration, separation from children, death of a loved one, violent crime, or even the loss of health or employment? Mental health problems can be simultaneously shaming and debilitating, with stigma driving the sufferers and their loved ones deeper into isolation.

When these things happen to someone you know, it’s hard to know what to do or what to say. The best most of us can do is politely offer help (knowing they won’t want to impose by actually asking us for anything), try to “be there” for them (whatever that means). We wish we could do more. We mean well. But we feel paralyzed by fear of doing the wrong thing, of maybe making things worse.

You can do something. It won’t change their life or make everything okay, but it also won’t be impossible for you to do, an they really will feel their burden being lightened, even if only a little. What follows are some suggestions to consider when someone you know has been through something traumatic or devastating.

All of these suggestions are just that, and you should use your own judgement to tailor these ideas to the circumstances.

Dancing hotdog
Give Hallmark the day off. Nobody really buys the schmalzy messages in overpriced gift-cards, anyway. But you’d be surprised what good a little laughter can do.

Send them something funny, something that might draw out a smile–a dancing hotdog GIF, a link to a cat video. But whatever you send, make it personal and private. Use a text message, Instagram, Facebook, whichever platform you prefer. Send one every day, or at least a few times a week. It lets them know you’re thinking about them without getting all sappy about it, and without drawing any possibly unwanted attention to their misfortune.

Logistics
Treat them to some food. Sure, it’s cliché to bring a casserole to the doorstep. But clichés are clichés for a reason. Someone who’s going through something terrible may struggle to do the basics. Modulate your strategy to suit how close you are to the person, but it might be greatly appreciated if you can help with the small stuff.

Have a load of groceries or toiletries delivered to their home.

An Uber gift card, or a parking garage membership can make all the difference, especially when someone is facing frequent hospital trips or have some other crisis that’s making transportation more complicated for them. Even if all you got them was a small pre-paid gas card, the gesture could make a big difference.

It’s easier than ever to send care packages to cover the little necessities of life. It’s both a thoughtful gesture that lets the person know they’re not alone while also relieving some of their troubles.

Shut up
Try to resist the urge to offer advice or be the shoulder to cry on, be someone to vent/rage to, be the one to offer advice. Numbness is a defense strategy that shouldn’t be trifled with, and might result in the person pushing you away–possibly even violently.

Besides, this isn’t about you and your role, or how you see yourself. Make it about them and what they need. Make yourself available and be ready to respond to their needs without needing to be asked, and without drawing attention to the generosity of your offer. Just be present and responsive to what they need.

Be present in every sense and just listen to them. It’s amazing what people say when you just sit quietly and let them express whatever they need to say at their own pace. This is harder than it sounds, so bring some imaginary duct tape to put over your mouth.

Thoughts and Prayers
Now this one kind of is about you. Pray about them. Think about them. You can tell them you’re sending them thoughts and prayers if you want to, but don’t just say it. It’s better to do it and not say it, than to say it and not do it.

Pondering their difficult situation will increase your compassion for them in a deep and genuine way. You’ll be more emotionally responsive to their needs. Side benefit: exercising your compassion in this way could even make you a better person long-term.

Life is hard, as you’ve probably figured out by now. No matter how immaculate our own choices may be, bad things will happen, even to you. If you’re paying attention to the needs of those you love, and are attentive, that builds you crucial social capital–a social savings account of sorts. You’ll build your network of emergency responders of your own, and make you better prepared to survive the encounter when death knocks on your door.

Choose the good life.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help build your brand and reach your customers by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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3 Self-Massage Hacks (To Tide You Over Until Your Next Massage)

3 Self-Massage Hacks

Just because you’re between regular massage appointments doesn’t mean you have to suffer until your LMT gets their hands on you. Self massage is surprisingly simple to do, and can pay off big if you’re trying to get through a tough, stressful day, or want to reward yourself for surviving one.
Here are 5 simple massage hacks you can do at home or at work to keep you going until the next treatment.

1. Sub-Occipital, or the “Sweet Spot”

This one requires no more tools than your fingers on either hand. Find the spot just behind your ears where the back of your head connects to your neck. Press in at that connection point, moving your fingers towards and then away from the middle of your neck in slow repetitions. Do that for about 30 seconds.
How does that feel?

2. The “Play Ball” Back Massage

Get a tennis or racket ball and wedge it between your back and the wall. Use your legs to move your back up and down against the ball. You can vary the pressure however you like, and that ball can reach places you’ll never be able to get to without imposing on a friend or booking a massage.
This one can also be a great way to do a pre-massage check on yourself, so you know just what parts of your back seem to need the most attention from your LMT.

3. Handy Hand Massage

If you spend a lot of time at the keyboard or working with your hands, this one was made for you. This actually consists of not one technique or motion, but several in a sequence. First, firmly, but gently grasp your hands in each other. You’ll be surprised how nice this feels when you really take a moment and focus on the sensations.
Next, take each finger in the other hand and gently pull and twist, running your hand up to the finger tip.
To finish, give your fingers a shake like you’re trying to shake slime off, then clench each fist one at a time, smoothing them over gently.
The hardest, but maybe the most important part 

Don’t forget the mental, emotional component of this exercise in self care. Any massage therapist worth their salt isn’t just going through a series of motions during a session. They’re thinking of you and your needs, paying attention to what they’re feeling going on in those muscles and what needs the most attention.
A sense of caring and loving-kindness is crucial to giving a good massage, whether it’s for someone else or yourself. For many of us, the self-love and self-care aspect of this is the toughest to get past, but these techniques are about more than mechanical motions to go through.

To really get the maximum benefit, send yourself the kind of good feelings, compassion, and awareness that you’d devote to someone you really cared for.

Have you tried these and still feel like a wreck? Book your next massage now!
Choose the good life!
Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can contact him to help you build your brand and reach your customers by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

How Massage Can Boost Your Workout

How Massage Can Give Your Workout a Boost

Massage has long been known as a great way to relax and soothe aching muscles, but the proof is in: massage is truly therapeutic to sore muscles, accelerating healing in muscle and connective tissue.

A recent study at McMaster university showed that not only did sore muscles have fewer signs of inflammation. It also showed that massaged muscles were better able to produce new mitochondria, which accelerate healing after intense exercise.

Why you hurt the next day
Muscles feel sore after an intense workout because exercise puts your body through stress–stress that can actually do some damage to muscle tissue. You’d think this would make exercise bad for you, but the theory is that exercise puts your body through relatively mild stress consistently so that it can better handle short periods of more intense physical stress from time to time. The point is, exercise is very hard on your body! This is known as micro-level fiber damage.

Although you’ve done your body some good by working out in the long term, you’ve actually done some damage in the short-term. You can reduce some of this damage and shorten your recovery time by giving your muscles a little TLC after your workouts.

Performance like you’ve never seen before
It’s not just about feeling better. Massage can help your performance and ensure an injury-free journey to the results you want.

As you put your body through the intense stress of a workout, the connective tissue can scar and gather in adhesions–stubbornly sticky masses that reduce flexibility and inflict unnecessary pain as you recover. Adhesions can also hinder your performance, throwing off your form and making it that much more difficult for your muscles to function smoothly.

Massage breaks down these adhesions, stretching the muscle fibers gently. By the time you’re back in action, not only are your muscles stronger, they’re ready to perform at an optimal level without painful adhesions holding them back.

Massage can also help you maintain your posture–a vital factor in keeping your form even and consistent. This is a particular concern in weight lifting, where form and balance can make a significant difference in results. Have you ever noticed that big bench-pressers can sometimes have a slight hunch forward? That’s because their pectoral muscles aren’t releasing the tension as easily as the opposing back muscles–both of which work together to complete that particular motion.

As they persist without stretching or getting regular massage, the effect compounds on itself. As a result, they’re over-taxing the pectorals, causing their form to suffer over time. You may not be a bench presser, or maybe weights just aren’t your thing, but this kind of imbalance can manifest in any number of activities. And you may not be fully aware of the imbalance until it results in a strange posture, uneven results in your workout, or even injury.

Regular massage after intense workouts will help keep your form consistent and allow your muscles to perform at an optimal level.

Book your next massage to coincide with your workout recovery. (Whatever you do, don’t schedule your massage BEFORE your workout! This could result in injury!)

Choose the good life!

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help build your brand and reach your customers by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com