The Wellness-Mindfulness Connection

The Wellness - Mindfulness Connection

How are you?

No, really, how are you? Do you really have the information to answer that question? Maybe this is a question you should be asking yourself more often. Anyone experienced in meditation will tell you–answering that question thoroughly can be the quest of a lifetime, and takes more effort than you might think.

We live in a distracted time, so much so that most of us have no idea how to be anything other than distracted–bouncing through our lives like a pinball from one obligation to the next, resorting to our mobile phones or some other bad habit when even the slightest boredom or discomfort threatens our equilibium.

Is this you? If so, what are you afraid of? What’s got you running to cheap thrills every time you feel uncomfortable?

This is how bad habits and addictive behaviors take root in our lives. Some experts think addiction and compulsiveness begin way back in the development of our brains. Inspired by this prospect, a kindergarten in Germany is experimenting with a classroom in which the children are given nothing at all to play with–a room with some simple furniture and some blankets and pillows. Teachers observe, but do not interfere. The children are given no direction in what to play or what to do.

Harsh, you might say, but it’s based on an addiction study which found that, for many, addictive behaviors began in early childhood. In many ways, toys do for kids what bad habits and addicting behaviors do for us: they thoroughly distract us from our bad feelings–at least for a time. The idea is to allow the children to come up with their own games–to give them a chance to find fun in themselves and in each other. The hope is that the children will develop key skills that will help them cope with the adult world–skills like empathy, critical and creative thinking, and above all, self care and healthy self regard.

Could you use a little more strength in any of these areas? (Is there anyone who couldn’t?)

Are you trying to kick a bad habit, lose weight, or just be happier with yourself generally?

Your journey begins with an understanding of how your brain really works as it does its best to keep you happy and breathing. You’ll need a sense of curiosity–adventure, even. Mindfulness isn’t as much a destination as it is a journey into the unknown.

Are you ready? Let’s go.

First, you should understand that your brain is wired to flee pain and seek pleasure. It’s not bad. This instinct helped our ancestors survive. For example, when you find good food–especially high-calorie food–your brain goes out of its way to remember what you ate, how good it was, and where you found it. It doesn’t care that the food is cheap and easy to get, that too much of it might kill you, or that it’s filled with additives that might harm your health. Survival is the priority.

From there, it’s not a big leap to go from satisfying hunger for the sake of survival to soothing other kinds of pain or discomfort. Before you know it, there’s no bad day that can’t be made a little better with pizza or a slice of chocolate cake. The same mechanism works for other kinds of bad habits or addictions. Your body receives a visceral, memorable payoff for engaging in the behavior, and eventually you’re going to it without even thinking.

And the grownup “toys”? They’re everywhere: cheap high calorie foods, social media, alcohol, gambling, narcotics, TV, pornography, and that’s just the beginning. It’s not to say that all these things are bad all the time–there’s nothing wrong with giving a child a toy once in a while. But these distractions, if mistaken for something essential to survival, can destroy your life.

So what’s the solution? Practice mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?
When was the last time you ate a meal–and focused only on the food in front of you and maybe the company you’re keeping in that moment? That’s mindfulness.

Meditation is one method of developing mindfulness. The task in meditation–what makes it such a challenge for so many–is doing and thinking literally nothing. It’s tougher than it sounds. No sooner have you tried to clear your mind than a jingle for laundry detergent or a bill that needs to be paid soon comes flooding in to fill that void.

The trick is to observe yourself calmly and with a sense of curiosity. When mastered, you’ll be able to observe your body and mind working, holding your own consciousness at arm’s length for a moment.

While meditating, one way to gently dismiss thoughts is to picture yourself by a small stream with fallen leaves drifting by on the water. When an intrusive thought comes into your mind, pin that thought to one of the leaves and watch it drift away. When another thought inevitably intrudes, pin that thought on a leaf and watch it drift away.

Are you thinking “this is hokey and hippy-dippy and dumb”? Pin that thought to a leaf and watch it drift away. You can do this with sensory intrusions as well–that car alarm going off, the sound of the heat kicking on, your watch ticking, your phone buzzing at you–pin these to a leaf and watch them drift away. Set a timer and give yourself 15 or 20 minutes to practice this every day. This may feel like a waste of time; it’s anything but. It gets you ready to live in your skin for the rest of the day.

Out there in the trenches of your life, this exercise starts to pay off. You’ll find that when you get a phone notification while you’re driving, you won’t automatically have to check it. When you’ve had a rotten day at work and you suddenly crave cheese fries, you won’t automatically have to give in to it.

These occasions are opportunities to observe yourself, to be curious and collect data about how your body and mind react when a craving comes on. As you work at this, the more intense urge becomes not satisfying the craving, but curiosity about the craving to see what you can learn from it.

Even if you go for that dopamine hit, whatever form that takes for you, observe! You have an opportunity to watch your mind and body as you give in to a temptation. Pay attention to how those cheese fries really taste and how they make your body feel afterward. Ask yourself questions about whether that notification was really worth risking a car accident to check, and what you really got out of the experience. For extra credit, write down what you observe. Journaling adds an extra layer of self-awareness to the exercise which can help develop mindfulness even faster.

The ultimate payoff
Thinking in this way, over time, has a cumulative effect. Your brain is like a muscle. CAT scans of experienced practitioners of meditation show clearly that certain areas of their brains light up more than for the average person. Their ability to observe themselves has grown like a muscle after years of working out. It has an impact on their personality, and these individuals show lower incidence of compulsive behavior and addiction, better focus and concentration, and can better cope with stress.

While it’s true that meditation isn’t a one-and-done proposition, adopting it as a regular practice for even a short time can begin to show significant benefits. In this way, it’s a lot like massage: it feels great once or twice, and can have great benefits long-term, but you have to give it some time.

Honestly, this is just a toe-dip in a vast pool of what there is to know about meditation and mindfulness. There is so much to learn. What’s nice is that if you only want to take it so far, you can. This isn’t a panacea, and there are cautions to consider as you go forward, but just being more aware of your thoughts and your body’s needs is crucial to building more wellness into your lifestyle.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist with your content marketing and social media by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

Massage and Weight Loss: Fact vs. Fiction

Massage & Weight Loss

Let’s rip a bandage off right now: there’s no miracle cure for weight loss. Any doctor worth their salt will tell you the truth: to lose weight, there’s no real substitute for exercise and diet. This easy to say, much harder to do. Most people need a strong social support system, and must be willing to commit to long term change to achieve permanent results.

Now for some good news: Massage can play a key role in helping you achieve your weight loss goal.

No miracles, just healing
While some have tried to find in massage some kind of miracle weight-loss cure, massage isn’t that. Massage does nothing directly to burn fat or calories or reduce your waistline.

But massage can be a great supplemental treatment to give your efforts a vital boost to your brain chemisty and morale as your body transitions to a healthier way of living. Massage can help you transition your mindset from self-loathing and punishment to self-worth and healing, all while providing real physical benefits that accumulate over time.

True recovery
As a mode of touch therapy, massage has been shown to have measurable mental health benefits. Studies have shown that regular massage can help improve body image generally, and can be an effective treatment for depression.

It’s been well established by multiple studies that massage reduces cortisol levels–the stress hormone–and helps increase production of dopamine and norepenephrine–the hormones that give us a feeling of happiness and well being.

This really isn’t all that surprsing when you think about it. Humans have evolved to be connected, social creatures. We thrive on personal connection, and struggle in isolation. Touch gives a sense that we’re going to survive, that we’re not alone, and that we’re an individual with value.

And for many, sugary and fatty foods serve as a way to medicate against feelings of isolation and depression. These foods can trick your brain into wanting more by releasing those pleasurable hormones as you eat. Massage can be a healthy alternative to get that dopamine fix as you try to get your brain chemistry back to a healthy balance.

And when you consider the fact that retaining body fat has been linked to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, massage is a no-brainer for helping you lose weight.

Reward yourself
It’s key to your efforts to set up rewards for doing the hard work of behavioral change. The challenge is to find rewards for yourself that don’t involve food–a reward that could derail your efforts to change.

Massage is the ideal reward for making progress towards your goals. Let’s say, for instance, that you set a goal to work out three times a week for a month. If, at the end of that month, you’ve reached your goal, go ahead and book a massage for yourself! You might even consider a session enhancement or two. (Who knows? Maybe, for you, aromatherapy will become the sweet smell of success.)

Whether your weight loss goals are major or modest, regular massage therapy could mean the difference between success and failure.

If you’d like to get regular massage, but are concerned about the cost, a pre-paid package can save you 10% or more, and can help ensure you’re getting the care you need over time.

If you’re struggling with weight, The Good Life Massage would love to be on your team, both cheering you on and giving you a supportive push along the way.

Book a massage today.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can learn more about his freelance writing and editing work by contacting him at marketstediting@gmail.com

Massage and Pain Relief — Does it really work?

In terms of our work here at The Good Life Massage, we have found that massage therapy can have a significant impact on certain kinds of pain, especially when the source of that pain is strained muscles or repetitive stress on a certain area.

Sure, thank goodness for aspirin, but if you want to feel better in the long term, there’s no substitute for treating the underlying source of the pain. Massage has long been known as a good option for getting to some of the underlying causes of the persistent pain that can result from injuries, or just the everyday stresses of life.

But massage can also play a role in helping you get control of pain above and beyond the familiar aches, pains, and minor injuries.

The last thing you need is headaches
Headaches generally fall into one of two categories: tension headaches and migraines. Massage can help both, but the approach is somewhat different for each.

Tension, or muscle contraction headaches come from tightening of muscles in the neck, head, and face. This can come from stress or poor posture. Massage can loosen those tight muscles and release the tension that builds up because of poor posture. If posture correction is your goal, keep in mind that it will take time, both in practicing the correct posture, and in using massage therapy to help retrain your muscles to find a new, more natural position.

Migraine, or vascular headaches come from a slight build-up of pressure in the head, which can somewhat restrict oxygen-rich blood flow. By soothing and relaxing the muscles of the face, head, and scalp, massage can help reduce this kind of pain

A substitute for heavy pain killers?
As a piece of the overall picture in health care, the subject of pain and how to help sufferers get control of it has been through a lot of ups and downs in the past several years. With the introduction of stronger opiate pain killers, things seemed to be looking up for patients. Now, practical experience and studies have shown these wonder drugs to be highly addicting, and have triggered a plague of addiction across the country.

As a result, doctors have gotten much more strict and careful about prescribing opioid pain killers like oxycontone. Protocols at hospitals and clinics have tightened up to keep these drugs in the right hands, but no system is perfect. It’s probably true that many have been protected from addiction because of these measures. Unfortunately, as a result, many patients are finding it difficult get the pain relief they legitimately need.

The system isn’t likely to budge on this any time soon since the widespread addiction is only getting worse. So how can patients get the pain relief that they need?

Recent studies show that non-traditional treatments, such as massage therapy, can provide significant and noticeable relief, either in conjunction with medication, or as an alternative.

One study conducted in a hospital setting showed a decrease in the average pain levels in patients by 28.5%–a significant improvement. This study also showed that patients showed improved sleep and a greater ability to cope with physical and psychological challenges as a result of receiving massage.

Right hands, right time, right place
And not just any massage will do. A literature review of several studies found that empathy, an on-going connection with the massage therapist, and even the setting and time of day were all significant factors in the massage’s effectiveness. The takeaway: the best results come from regular care from someone you trust rather than a cheap one-and-done experience.

At The Good Life Massage, we do our best to create a relaxing, healing environment for all our clients. Our therapists want to build a relationship with every client. Whenever we can do that, we find that we’re able to provide customized care with the best possible results. Learn more about our staff of massage practitioners on our staff page.

Personal experience
We know of what we speak. Our own Amy Gunn, LMP suffered terrible abdominal pain for years before finally researching a massage solution to the problem. Her research resulted in a new treatment regime we offer to clients called visceral manipulation that has helped her and others like her. Read her story.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

What non-medication methods have you used to get pain under control? What has worked for you? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Do you struggle with pain regularly? Have you considered regular massage treatment as a part of your arsenal in fighting it?

You can book with us online or by phone:

425-243-7705

Tom Gunn is a freelance writer and social media marketing specialist. He is also the Marketing Director for The Good Life Massage. You can see more of his work, or even hire him at www.TGunnWriter.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @elmanoroboto.

7 Mendacious Massage Misconceptions

Massage is becoming more popular every day. The public is finally getting educated on what regular massage can do to benefit your mental and physical health.

Having said that, there are a surprising number of myths and misconceptions about massage that we feel the need to clear up here and now.

This came up as a subject recently in our post about pre-natal massage. In my interview with Christie Ellis, formerly of GLM, the following misconception about prenatal massage came up:

“Prenatal massage can induce labor”
I’ll let Christie take this first one:

“That is a myth! Massage does not cause labor. Acupressure can precipitate labor, and that would be on the level of applying director pressure on a very specific spot for two or three minutes every fifteen minutes over the span of about forty-eight hours.

So there’s no way to come in for a prenatal massage and come out a mother?
“(laughs) No! And to be clear, acupuncture and acupressure are very different than massage. We’re using much broader strokes with massage and there’s absolutely no concern that a nice foot massage could put a woman into labor.

“Another myth I would point out is that abdominal massage can cause miscarriage. That’s out there, too, especially for people who are concerned about the first trimester.

“I do think it’s important to have someone that’s trained for any sort of abdominal work, but massage in general is very safe for expecting mothers.”

But there are plenty of other misconceptions about massage out there. This should put a dent in a few of the more common ones:

“Sure, you feel great right after a massage, but the effects are only temporary”
This idea probably comes from those who really need regular massage, but only tried it once, and went back to the status quo after a day or two. If you suffer from chronic pain or posture issues, regular massage can be particularly beneficial in “retraining” your muscles and your body to be well and whole.

Massage Results take time

You wouldn’t expect to reach all your fitness goals with just one workout, right? Massage is the same way: long-term improvements in your physical health almost never come in the form of a magic bullet. It just takes time and persistence.

If cost seems to be a barrier to getting the treatment you need, you might not have all the facts.

“Does it hurt? It’s supposed to. Just let it happen.”
If you feel pain or discomfort during your massage, say something! While it’s true that some discomfort can be expected in treatment massage, you need to keep talking to your practitioner about your comfort and the treatment they’re doing. Even if a particular stroke or method is supposed to be therapeutic, your therapist can and should honor your requests. The kind of care you receive is entirely in your hands, and should be wholly directed by you.

What’s more, too much pain can actually be counterproductive. If you’re sincerely in pain, you’ll unconsciously tense up other muscle groups, creating the exact opposite of the desired effect for your massage.

“Massage releases toxins and cleanses your system”
Not really. It depends on what you mean by “toxins”. What massage does do is help stimulate circulation throughout your body. This can be helpful if you’re injured. Increased blood flow can be very beneficial in that case. That circulation can include run-of-the-mill cell waste, but there’s no medical magic in stimulating processes that your body routinely caries out anyway. You can get the same effect from vigorous exercise.

“If you don’t walk away feeling like a million bucks, you got a bad massage”
It’s true that, for most cases, people walk away from their massage feeling relaxed, limber, even a little euphoric. But while this is commonly the case, a good massage can sometimes make you feel, well, lousy–at least immediately afterward.

Are you fighting a bug? If you’re getting sick, a massage can sometimes accelerate how quickly you feel the symptoms. You may walk in feeling fairly well, oblivious to the fact that you’re about to get sick, and then get off the table feeling a little weak and achy. If that turns into a bout with a cold or the flu, we feel your pain. But you can’t blame the massage therapist or the job they did for making it happen.

Another scenario is when deep tissue treatment is called for and requested. When your practitioner needs to go deep below the surface tissue to release trigger points and send circulation to distressed areas, this may cause some discomfort both during and just after the treatment.

This can be the case for specialty treatments we offer, including deep transverse friction and myoskeletal alignment. People sometimes report feeling sore after these kinds of heavy treatment-style massages. That does not mean your practitioner did a bad job. In fact, that can be a sign that more regular treatment is called for. It shouldn’t hurt every time, and there should be significant improvement after a good night’s sleep.

“If you have cancer, massage will spread the cancer cells through your body”
This is basically impossible. Massage moves lymph, but cancer doesn’t spread through the lymphatic system. Metastization (the spread of cancer) is due to genetic mutation and a number of factors that have nothing at all to do with the functioning of the lymphatic system.

Having said that, if you’re a cancer patient, it’s wise to consult with your oncologist before scheduling a massage. Relaxation massage at any stage of cancer can actually be immensely beneficial, reducing depression and anxiety. Some studies have even shown that it reduces nausea and pain.

Are there any others you’ve heard that we didn’t cover here? Do you have any questions about massage and what it can do for you?

Let us know in the comments below.

You can also contact us by phone at 425-243-7705

or by email at support@goodliferenton.com

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can find him online at tgunnwriter.com

Amy Gunn, LMP is a co-founder of The Good Life Massage and has been a licensed massage practitioner since 1999. 

What’s a DOR? This Simple Change Can Reduce Stress and Boost Productivity

It’s ancient–3,000 years old, perhaps more. It’s been debated by the sages and philosophers through the ages. It’s even been the subject of recent best-selling books.

It has the power to make you happier, reduce your stress, and make you more productive every single day.

DOR
Day of Rest, or DOR, comes from religious traditions, but you can enjoy the benefits regardless of your personal beliefs. DOR involves choosing one day of the week to set your daily work and routine tasks aside. You may choose to avoid shopping, your smartphone, and media noise. You can replace these things with spending time with loved ones and reflecting on personal goals. A day of rest can become the keystone of your self care.

DOR is known in Judeo-Christian circles variously as the sabbath, shabbat, or the Lord’s Day. From those traditions, DOR made the jump to the culture at large. In the United States, this idea has a long, though forgotten, history. The sabbath used to be a public institution in most US cities. As late as 1918 stores, factories, and other places of business were routinely closed on Sundays in most US towns and cities. Many places even had laws against activities deemed to be violations of sabbath observance.

Although many people of faith still observe a weekly day of rest, few Christians or Jews take it seriously anymore. To the non-religious or unaffiliated, the idea may be a completely foreign concept. And aside from the custom of the weekend, nothing in the culture today resembles the old DOR customs.

Why DOR is due for a comeback
We’re all busy. In fact, many of us wear our stress like a badge of honor. We all like to feel important, and many of us feel like a booked schedule is proof of that. That “always booked” feeling comes with a cost, though.

Long term stress has been shown to increase risk for some of the most deadly diseases of our time. These including heart disease, stroke, and cancer. That’s not to mention the mental health impact, which can include depression and suicidal thoughts.

You may feel like you can’t slow down, that you have no choice but to be constantly going.

But think again. Whatever pressure you find yourself under, you’re in control of your own decisions. Few of us are so important that it’s impossible to change the way we use our time.

In any case, you can’t take care of anyone unless you take care of you first.

This simple life hack can

  • improve your mental and physical health
  • add to your productivity throughout the week
  • add years to your life
  • help you enjoy whatever precious time on earth you have left

Is it worth it?
Imagine waking up on a day when your email doesn’t matter. Imagine your mind being occupied, not by your frantic schedule or the latest horrors on the news, but on taking care of yourself and those closest to you. Imagine a day free of traffic jams, crowds, or the rush to produce/consume more and more and more.

How to get started
Choose a day with you and your loved ones as a day of rest. Invite others to take part, but don’t force it. You can, though, set boundaries with your friends and family and ask that they respect them. The more support you have, the more likely it is you’ll stick with your new habit.

Weekends work best for most people since those are usually days off work. The day of the week you choose makes little difference, but pick a day where you won’t be going to work . It should also be a day when you can cut loose many of your routine responsibilities with minimal impact on others.

What do I do?
What you do will vary with each person. Focus on self care. Choose activities that will help you reconnect with yourself and others on a personal level.

  • Relax!
  • Read.
  • Do some public service or volunteer work.
  • Visit with friends and family. Is there an elderly or shut-in family member that could use a visit? This would be a great day to stop by and put a smile on their face.
  • Attend worship services.
  • When was the last time you went for a long walk?
  • Is there a hobby you’ve been neglecting?
  • When was the last time you focused your attention and listened closely to music you love?
  • Nap!
  • The list could go on and on.

Is there anything I shouldn’t do?
You’re an adult! Nobody will ground you if you break your own rules. But setting boundaries for yourself and keeping them improves your connection with yourself. It helps you feel like a person of integrity.

Some suggested things you may want to avoid can include

  • shopping
  • the news
  • social media
  • television
  • your job
  • medical or dental appointments
  • going to movies, concerts, or sporting events
  • outdoor sports

Rewards!
That little measure of self-discipline and self care can go a long way. What happens the day after your DOR?

Productivity
You’ll return to work with your mind and body refreshed and ready to handle whatever the day has in store. Having taken some time to think about what’s really important to you, you’ll be able to spend your time on the most important tasks rather than just spinning your wheels with busy work.

Connection
You’ll feel more human! With your over all stress lowered, you’ll find your ability to be patient and compassionate, both with yourself and others, considerably increased.

Health
You’ll have lower risk factors for deadly diseases.A day of rest can be a part of the rhythm of your life–a life extended and improved.

Doing our part
At The Good Life Massage, we are doing what we can to re-introduce a culture that embraces a day of rest and self care. From the beginning, we have only been open six days a week. We give our employees and our clients Sundays off. We encourage everyone to take one day a week to stop and reconnect. We know we’re giving up valuable business in doing this, but to us, self care is worth it. There are more important things than producing and consuming.

A day of rest is a chance to remember who you are: not a producer, not a consumer, not a follower, not a viewer, not a Facebook friend, not a cog in someone’s machine, but a whole and valuable human being.

Give it a try! And enjoy.

Share your experiences and challenges in the comments below.
Tom Gunn is the Marketing Director and official blog editor at The Good Life Massage. You can find him on Twitter @tomgunnpoet or on his website tgunnwriter.com

5 Relaxation Tips to Transform Your Life

Relaxation is a major component of staying fit, but it’s more than just doing nothing, and it’s anything but a waste of time.

At The Good Life Massage our mission for our clients is wellness. When most people hear that word, they might think of eating vegetables, exercising, drinking lots of water, etc. Those things are all great, but relaxation is one often-overlooked habit in planning for wellness. Real relaxation requires full attention, uninterrupted time, and maybe even some gentle discomfort.

Relaxation is as crucial to your body’s functioning as the strain of a good workout. Your body needs to work to both extremes in order to maintain a full range of functionality throughout your life. In other words, your body needs to move, yes. But it also needs to be able to be still and truly at rest.

Relaxation vs. Fun
In our language we tend to conflate relaxation with fun. Relaxation can and should be fun to some extent, but not all things that are fun should be considered true relaxation.

Shockwave_coaster_sfot
Roller coasters, to many people, are great fun! They’re also very stressful, and are not generally relaxing.

TV shows, movies, Internet: fun! But are they truly relaxing? They involve sitting still, but they also usually involve your mind going elsewhere. These things are designed to inflict some stress on you, to make your mind race, to put you on the edge of your seat, even make you cry. Not only can these activities eat large amounts of valuable time, they can compromise your mind/body connection.

True relaxation is a rest for the mind as well as the body. It increases and improves your mind/body connection. When was the last time you sat quietly enough that you could hear your own breath, or even your own heartbeat?

A rested mind is creative, patient, agile, responsive, and alert. A rested body can adapt to stress more readily and can relax more quickly once stress has come and gone.

This is what makes relaxation a component of wellness. When you’re well, you can handle daily stresses, including the part where the stressors have passed.

Relaxation can also improve sleep patterns. When your body becomes good at slowing down, it succumbs to sleep more readily when it’s time to hit the pillow.

Truly Relaxing Activities
Relaxation doesn’t have to take long. Just fifteen minutes a day can make a huge difference in your state of mind and sense of well-being. Below are some truly relaxing activities you can start today. Turn off your phone, give one of these a try, and see what happens!

Go for a Slow Walk (and leave the headphones at home!)

Try to pick as natural an environment as possible, but one which will be safe and easy to walk through, preferably a hiking trail, public garden, or a park. While you’re out, breathe deeply. Listen to the small sounds your body makes. Notice the sights and sounds of the world around you. Let the cares of the day drift away and try to stay focused in the present moment.

Places like Coulon Park here in Renton offer a relaxing lake view, a picturesque arboretum, and smooth walking trails.
Places like Coulon Park here in Renton offer a relaxing lake view, a picturesque arboretum, and smooth walking trails.

Massage

This one is self-serving, we admit, but it meets all the criteria above and then some. We use music of your choice, or none at all, and give you the option of adding aromatherapy and other soothing enhancements. A 60 or 90 minute massage can re-invigorate the senses, improve circulation, and help you build a stronger mind/body connection.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

YouTube abounds with audio meditations along these lines. This isn’t the mystical miracle hypnosis of the audio cassette era. This is a guided exercise usually performed lying down or from a sitting position that increases mind/body connection by systematically helping you relax the major muscles of your body. You’ll be taken through a series of movements involving flexing and relaxing your muscles while breathing deeply. This can reduce anxiety, relieve insomnia, and increase focus when practiced regularly. This usually takes anywhere between fifteen minutes and a half hour.

Sit in Silence

You don’t have to pray, meditate, or listen to new age music. Just stop! Listen to your own breathing.

Notice your thoughts as they enter and exit your mind, but try not to give them too much focus.

This is easy, can take as little as a minute or two, and can help you slow down your day’s frantic pace

Take Your Breaks at Work!

Washington State Law requires that you get two paid breaks in a full work day, so use them. If you set that boundary with your boss and co-workers, they’ll generally respect it. Make good use of that legally mandated time by doing some of the things above, even if it’s just a brief moment of silence. Studies have shown that the people who take regular breaks are not only happier at their jobs, but are more productive.

Trying some of the above exercises can help you re-think what it means to really relax and help you develop a whole new relationship with the stress in your life.

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.