How to Start a Workout Routine–One That Sticks This Time

How to start a workout routine

Mark Twain said “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”

His point is as well taken now as it was more than a hundred years ago: change is hard! The same can be said of breaking a bad habit or picking up a good one. As of this posting, we’re at that point in the year where New Years resolutions to be more active are a distant memory. Now that the weather is improving, many of us are starting to think about getting taking another crack at it.

But how do you break out of the start-and-stop cycle with your workout routine? What can you do to really make it stick this time?

You may want to begin by thinking about the common obstacles that break your routine and bring your efforts to a silent halt. All these obstacles can be described with the blanket term Resistance. Resistance comes in many forms, and appears whenever you’re trying to make a significant personal change. It swallows your initial burst of enthusiasm with unforeseen circumstances or feelings that can easily derail your efforts and leave you frustrated. Its appearance is inevitable. But if you know it’s coming, you can be ready.

You know the drill
Routine can be key in maintaining an exercise habit long term. This can work really well if most of your days have a steady rhythm. Do you leave work at pretty much the same time each day? Make that unwinding period your gym time. If before work is better for you, then do that. The key to this strategy is consistency and predictability. If your lifestyle isn’t so steady, it might be very difficult to make this strategy work for you.

Your workout won’t take much will power if it’s all part of the plan. If it’s built into your day in a way that’s almost automatic, it will be much easier to punch through the resistance phase and just do it because it’s what’s next on your schedule.

Who’s got your six?
One of the many forms the Resistance takes is the people who are closest to you. Ever try to cut back on your fat intake, only to have your spouse or significant other bring home some form of temptation along with the milk you had them pick up? Ever set a date to hit the gym only to have to cross if off the calendar to do a favor for a friend? Your loved ones aren’t intentionally trying to sabotage you (usually), but when you live with and around people with different needs, their interests inevitably clash with whatever change you’re trying to make in your life. It’s like trying to go the bathroom in an airplane: chances are, meeting your needs is going to mean someone else is going to be inconvenienced.

How do you get past this? It may not be realistic or helpful to announce to everyone in your circle the changes you’re trying to make and ask for everyone’s support. Sure, the bigger the cheering section you have, the better, but not everyone is comfortable with that. Pick at least one person who’s willing to help you be accountable. Tell them when you plan to go exercise and have them check in with you every week or every few days to see how things are going. You’re not asking a lot, and a best friend or romantic partner will probably be happy to help. Better yet, if you have a friend with similar goals, support each other! Keep each other accountable and committed.

If you’re not having fun . . .
You’re doing it wrong! If working out is a miserable experience you dread every time, you’re simply not going to be able to keep it up. Even if you’re just bored and you’re doing it just to do it, you could be in trouble. Sure, you won’t ‘feel like it’ every time, but go anyway. That’s good! The Resistance hates when you do that. But the motivation has to be there. You have to want it, not just for the promised results, but for the experience itself. Try different things! Sign up for various lessons. Find a sport or a class you truly enjoy and make it a part of your who you are. Routines come and go: passion is forever.

Practice makes perfect? No!
Actually, perfect practice makes perfect. Go into each workout with a problem solving mentality, or with a goal to improve. In weight training, that might mean improving your form or raising the amount of weight. In basketball it might mean perfecting your jump shot. Engage with the activity, not just with your body, but with your mind as well. You will see better results from what you’re doing, and skipping out or giving up will be the farthest thing from your mind.

Payoff
Make sure you’re rewarding yourself for sticking with it. Keep track and reward yourself for reaching milestones. (Wherever possible, make sure these rewards don’t involve calories, so as not to compromise your goals.) Massage, it turns out, is both a fantastic non-food reward you can treat yourself to, and a great way to take care of your body. You can even purchase the reward ahead of time as a gift card or in a prepaid package and use it whenever you’ve earned it. It’s easy to place buy a package or gift card online or by phone (425-243-7705). You can also book your appointment online.

A final thought on the Resistance …
If you’re still struggling after trying all these strategies, maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. Is there some underlying issue, some lurking thought error or negative belief about yourself that’s quietly undermining your motivation? A great first step in that direction is to look the Resistance in the eye and recognize it for what it is, no matter what form it takes. If you can name it, you can get around it.

So get out there and stay with it! This time, things are going to be different.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to handle your content and social media marketing needs by contacting 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

Turtle Power, Part One: 5 Reasons Slow is Better

Pretty businesswoman experiencing road rage
Is faster really better? How many times have you been aggressively passed on the highway by someone who just has to go faster than you, only to look over and see them next to you at the next traffic light?

This post is part I in a two-part series. Follow our blog to catch the next installment!

Slow down! Sure, you could probably stand to break your lead foot habit. But slow is more than just a mode or an easier-to-catch version of speed. It can be the way you live your life–a philosophy that can absorb you and enrich your life in ways you may never have considered.

Here are GLM, we try to embrace this way of thinking in everything we do. Of course, we’re prompt and we stick to our schedule, but the way we structure that schedule is informed by this idea: slow is better.

For example, some massage clinics only leave a five minute gap between appointments in which the practitioner is supposed to be able to change the sheets, run to the restroom, take a deep breath, greet their next client, and start the next session.

We actually extend that 5 or 10 minute gap to 30 minutes. We do this not just for the practitioners (though we’re thinking of them, for sure), but for our clients as well. If the clinic becomes a revolving door of clients with therapists striding up and down the hallway in a rush to get the next person on the table, that doesn’t create a relaxing environment for anyone.

Further, we believe stress can actually be contagious. If a therapist is hungry, exhausted, rushed, flustered, and stretched to her limit, is it really likely that some of those feelings won’t spread to the client through the touch therapy?

If your massage practitioner doesn’t have a chance to slow down and take time for self-care, and to make sure the job is done right, we will never be capable of giving the kind of massage you deserve and need.

Think for a moment about how that same principle might be expressing itself in your own life.

No, really.

Stop skimming this at light-speed for a second, close your eyes, and think about how rushing might be harming your life. Just a second or two is enough, but take all the time you need.

Go ahead, we’ll wait.

What did you come up with? Write your answer down somewhere.

Answering some of these questions might help:

How could your rushing around and “busy-ness” be effecting your spouse/partner? Your children? Your co-workers and subordinates? Do you really like living life at high speed, or do you just have problems with procrastination? Is being busy too much a part of your self-image and sense of worth? It might be time to questions those ideas.

Let it go
Is being busy a part of your self-image and sense of worth? It might be time to questions that.

If you’re still not convinced that slow is better, we have at least five reasons you should consider lifting your foot from the gas pedal of your life.

Greater awareness
When you’re slow, you’re present in the moment. You’re experiencing the precious time of your life as it passes irretrievably into the future. You’re living your life as it was meant to be lived.

How much time do you have left on earth, anyway? You have no way of knowing for sure. Speeding through your life may help you believe the lie that you’re packing a lot in, but are you really tasting it? Do you appreciate how fragile your life is, and how quickly it’s passing?

The span of your life is like an ice cream cone on a hot day: you better savor it, because it won’t last forever.

Slow is cheaper!
Moving, thinking, living at high speed comes with a high cost. In your rush to get things done, you may find that you all-too-easily stay busy while not actually getting much done at all. While checking to see how fast you’re moving, you may not be noticing in which direction you’re going.

Ever hear the expression “Haste makes waste?” Old proverbs like that get passed along because they’re catchy, sure, but also because they’re true. Have you really saved time rushing out the door in the morning at top speed if you forgot something important and had to go back for it?

Moving fast, isn’t
Don’t believe me? How many times have you been aggressively passed on the highway by someone who just has to go faster than you, only to look over and see them next to you at the next traffic light?

For most things in life, you’re not earning any extra points for speed. So why not take your time?

If a job’s worth doing…
It’s worth doing right, which means taking the time it takes to do a task with your full attention. Here’s a mind blower: you know that multitasking thing you’ve heard so much about in job descriptions? It doesn’t exist. Human beings aren’t capable of it.

You can do one thing–ONE–at any given time, and no more. You may be able to shift between things rapidly, but only one will ever have your total focus in the moment. Remember that the next time you’re playing with your kids, or when you get behind the wheel of a car.

Where you place your focus and attention truly matters.

Your physical health
Ongoing stress can tax your body in ways you don’t realize. It increases the risk of heart disease and several kinds of cancer, not to mention high blood pressure and hypertension. Slowing down puts you in tune with your body’s natural rhythms and pace.

While vigorous exercise is important, consider the exercise methods that also bring outstanding health benefits, but which are much slower by nature.

Handsome young man resting after workout in gym
Working the free weights–slowly and steadily–increases muscle control and endurance.

Yoga and tai chi are great examples of this kind of exercise. But this approach isn’t limited to eastern traditions and practices. Even good-old-fashioned weightlifting has benefits when you decide to slow down your reps and focus on control. Your mind can focus more intently on each motion of your body as you go through your routine. If possible, consult with a trainer for a session or two. You might find that your form is much worse than you ever thought!

Also, slow-lifting increases your muscle endurance, de-emphasizing the explosive motion and training your muscles to endure great weight for longer periods of time.

Are you convinced yet? If you’re not sure where to begin, that’s understandable. In the next part of this series, we’ll address the nuts and bolts of throttling down your life and living with more intent and focus.

Tom Gunn is the director of marketing and blog editor at The Good Life Massage. You can find him online at http://www.tgunnwriter.com.

Swedish Vs. Deep Tissue Massage

What is Swedish massage?
Swedish massage is a basic massage used primarily for relaxation, but which also delivers a multitude of health beneifts, many of which we’ve covered here.

Muscular Anatomy of the BackThis kind of massage works the superficial muscle groups, or in other words, the muscles closest to the skin. It helps to circulate blood and lymph throughout your body using strokes that will move those fluids back up to the heart. The result is that some people report feeling like they’ve just had a good workout after a massage, only they didn’t have to do anything.

The intensity of this massage can vary broadly, from intense and uncomfortable to light and smoothe. It all depends on your taste and what you feel is most beneficial to you. For this reason, it’s crucial that you keep the lines of communication open with your therapist both before and during your session.

Why is it called Swedish massage?
Like many successful innovations, Swedish massage has many fathers.

For several years it was believed that a Swedish practitioner, Henri Peter Ling, was the originator of Swedish massage as we know it. It is now believed, however, that a Dutchman named Johan Georg Mezger bears more of the credit. But there’s really nothing particularly Swedish about it, as such. It incorporates techniques and methods that have been used in different parts of the world, and which go back much further than either Mezger or Ling.

In Europe, what we know as Swedish massage is referred to as a classic massage. If you think about it, this label makes a lot more sense, but for some reason, the “Swedish” name has stuck in our culture. It may be that since so much of our culture is dictated by marketing and advertising, calling it a Swedish massage makes it sound more exotic and continental. In any case, be aware that the name is just that: a name.

Deep tissue massage
This kind of massage is intended as a treatment to help improve posture or soothe chronic pain. Deep tissue massage aims to work down below your superficial muscle groups to treat muscles and tissue deep inside your body.

Contrary to the popular misconception, this kind of massage is not merely a high-pressure version of the ordinary Swedish massage. Rather, this is designed for treatment of a specific area or muscle group. It is not intended for work over your whole body, nor would you want it to be. This kind of massage over your full body would actually be harmful.

Our LMPs have been thoroughly trained and know human anatomy extremely well. As they work on you, or even as they watch you walk in the door, they’re able to identify areas that could use extra help or attention. But they’ll only treat you if you ask for it.

This kind of massage is often used as a medical treatment, and we tend to see a lot of that for those clients who have been referred by their physician. Are you billing workers comp or making a claim against an auto insurance policy? This may be the kind of massage you need.

Which should I choose?
If you’re like most people, Swedish massage would suit you just fine. If you have chronic pain or posture problems that you want resolved, we may choose to use some deep tissue therapy to address those, but only if you discuss it with us first.

It’s important to start your session with a detailed conversation with your therapist. This should be more about what kind of pressure you like or what music you want to listen to (though that’s important too). This conversation is your chance to ask for help.

  • Are you having a pain in your back that just doesn’t go away, no matter how you adjust or try to get comfortable?
  • Is there an injury they should be aware of?

Even if you’ve mentioned something on your intake form, it’s a good idea to address it with your practitioner verbally to make sure your concerns are heard.

If you have questions about any of our treatments, please feel free to email us at TheGoodLifeMassage@gmail.com and a licensed massage practitioner will address any concerns you may have.

To book a massage, please visit our website or give us a call at 425-243-7705.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. Find him on the Internet at http://www.tgunnwriter.com

Are You Un-Doing Your Massage?

A great massage will have you coming home feeling like a new person. But what about the next morning? For those who aren’t used to regular body work appointments, you might be feeling a little sore after your first visit. Stretching is one of the best ways to help your body recover.

Stretching also has other amazing benefits:

  • improves your joint range of motion.
  • increases blood flow to the muscle.
  • improves flexibility.
  • leaves you feeling fresh and energized.

What kind of stretches should I do?
For athletes, the type of stretching you do and at what time you do it matters a lot. Static stretching, for instance, may be beneficial under most circumstances. But this stretch has been proven to impair performance before a 100 meter sprint. Athletes might focus on more dynamic stretches which involve lots of mobility. For our purposes, our best recommendation is to focus on static stretches.

Static stretches are simple body positions where you reach and hold the position for 10-30 seconds. It’s that easy! Static stretches are best for muscle recovery when done correctly.

Before you begin …
Form is important when exercising your flexibility. Stretching when your muscles are cold can lead to more damage than recovery. Here are things to consider before beginning your regular stretching routine:

Use proper technique
If you feel more pain than a good stretch, it is a good indicator that something is wrong.

Warm-up before stretching
To bring a good blood flow to your muscles, go for a short walk or do some cleaning around the house.

Do not “bounce” when you stretch
It is important to hold your stretch as to prevent stress on the muscle.

Reach until you feel the stretch
Don’t aim for pain. If it hurts, you’ve gone too far. If you’re aiming to improve your flexibility, push it right to the limit of where it hurts, and over time you’ll find that your flexibility improves. Don’t try to force the results.

Maintain a daily stretching routine
The benefits of stretching, like massages, come when you do it regularly.

Stay Hydrated!
Proper water intake prevents muscle cramps.

Great stretches for each part of your body

Foam Roll Calf Stretch
Foam Rollers are great just about anything! If you don’t own your own foam roller, you can purchase them here at the Good Life Massage, are relatively inexpensive, and are widely available.Faszienrolle

  1. Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you
  2. Cross your legs and place them on top of the foam roller.
  3. With your hands to your side, gently lift yourself off of the ground and allow the foam roller to move from your knee to the ankle. Pause in places of tension for 10-30 seconds.
  4. Switch legs crossed.

Wall Calf StretchDehnung der Wadenmuskulatur

  1. While facing the wall, position your feet around four feet from the wall. Place one foot forward.
  2. Lean forward, resting your hands against the wall. Try to keep each part of your body in alignment.
  3. Keep your heel on the ground. Hold the stance for 10-30 seconds. Switch legs.

Shoulder and Tricep Stretch

  1. While standing, position your feet shoulder length a part.
  2. With the forearm of one hand, pull the elbow of your other arm past your shoulder until you feel a pull.
  3. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Switch arms.

Glute Stretch

  1. While sitting on the ground, leave one leg stretched outward, with the other leg bent.
  2. With both hands, grab the leg that is bent and pull backwards while slowly leaning back (be sure to keep your neck and shoulders relaxed).
  3. Once you feel the stretch, hold for 10-30 seconds. Switch legs.

Lower Back Stretch

  1. While sitting on the ground, leave left leg stretched outward, with your right leg bent, crossed over the straight leg.practice yoga
  2. Place your right arm on your left leg and keep your left arm stretched outward. Slowly twist until you feel a slight stretch.
  3. Hold for 10-30 seconds and switch legs.

Cobra Stretch (Lower Back)

  1. Lay down with your chest on the ground.
  2. Place your hands as if you were to do a push up.Yoga bhujangasana cobra pose by woman on green grass in the park
  3. Push off the ground while keeping your hips to the ground. Hold for 10-30 seconds.

Forearm-Finger Tip Stretch

  1. While standing, stretch out your arm with the palm of the hand facing the ceiling.
  2. Gently pull down the fingertips of your hand until you feel a slight stretch.
  3. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Then switch to the other hand.

Neck and Trapezius Stretch

  1. Be especially gentle with this stretch as to avoid pulling any muscles
  2. With one hand, cradle the back of your head and pull slightly towards your shoulder, hold for 10-30 seconds.
  3. Switch arms to stretch the other side of your neck.

Hamstring Stretch (Hurtler Stretch)

red woman stretching her foot on the floor

  1. Sit on the ground with both legs stretched out in front of you.
  2. Bend one leg in towards your outstretched leg.
  3. Slowly lean towards your outstretch leg. Touch your toes if possible. Hold your stretch for 10-30 seconds.

Upper Back Stretch

  1. Kneel down on a soft surface.
  2. Prostrate yourself on the ground extending your hands as far out in front of you as possible.fit woman bending over on mat doing pilates exercise at home in the living room
  3. Hold position for 10-30 seconds.

You won’t need to sacrifice hours in a week to create a daily stretching routine. Just Five minutes a day is an investment that can provide years of mobility as you grow older.

Tanner Zornes is a blog contributor for the Good Life Massage and a student at Brigham Young University. Special thanks to our own Vanessa Mabra, LMP for inspiring this post and assisting in the research. 

Know Your Practitioner, Part III: Nicolle Dourte

Know Your Practitioner is your chance to become more familiar and comfortable with your massage practitioner. If you aren’t sure which of our talented practitioners would be best for you to come back to regularly, this is a great way to meet them and get to know who they are, both personally and professionally. This is Part 3 in the series. To learn more about our other therapists, check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Nicolle Dourte, LMP
Nicolle Dourte, LMP

Nicolle Dourte was the first GLM therapist who is not also one of the owners. Nicolle got her massage training right here in town at Renton Technical College. While she’s originally Canadian, she’s lived in Renton most of her life, and has family connections here going back two generations. GLM hired her right out of school in 2014, having provided her with a required internship as part of her training. While she is relatively young in her career, we were instantly impressed with her skill. We have continued to be impressed with the consistent quality of her work. Her clients feel the same way.

We sat down with her and asked her a few questions about her life, her work, and what makes her particular brand of massage unique.

Tell us a little something about your personal life.
Hobbies, interests, family, friends, etc.

I really like playing sports with my friends; football and basketball are my favorite. I love hiking and camping. If you combine the two, it is even better. I have been playing musical instruments since i was in third grade. A few of those include the alto and tenor sax, flute, and piccolo. The only one I still play is the flute. I am also an expert Netflix marathon watcher.

Tell us about your career in massage. How did you get started? What events lead to you working here?

When I was younger, my sister was diagnosed with scoliosis while going through puberty. Since she had scoliosis, she was always in pain and, me being a nice sister, I would massage her back. The more I helped her, the more I realized it was something that I enjoyed and could possibly make a career out of. I have wanted to be an LMP since I was 13.

What’s your favorite part of this job? What gets you excited to come to work?

My favorite part about this job is that I am always learning new things. It keeps me busy. Seeing and working with my clients makes me excited to come to work.

What is it about your massage that keeps your clients coming back? What makes you stand out from the other GLM therapists?

The thing with my massages that keeps people coming back is that I believe that you can relax a little while getting a treatment massage. You can work on an area that needs extra help, but still feel good throughout the session.

Pick a superpower: flying or turning invisible. Explain your answer.

I would pick flying. If i were able to fly, then I wouldn’t need a car to get to and from places. Flying is also cheaper than driving, so that is always a plus as well.

We’re all about wellness here. What’s your favorite health habit? This can be something that you’re working on, have mastered, or just feel like our clients should be doing.

I like to experiment with cooking. I would much rather cook a whole meal from scratch than to buy it. To me, it tastes better, and is overall healthier for you. It’s just so hard to take the time to actually cook it. Also, I am pretty physical. I like running, swimming, and playing other sports, too. I would say, just try and stay active. You don’t have to go run five miles to be healthy, but try and take the time to at least walk 15 minutes or so if that is all you can do. The more you do this, the better you will feel, and you will have more energy

Finish this statement: I wish my clients knew …

That i really love my job! Also, that I might be small, but that doesn’t mean that I am weak or can’t give a really great massage.

Thanks, Nicolle! This was part 3 of a series, so watch for more therapist profiles in the coming weeks and as more therapists are added to our team.

Click here to book a massage with Nicolle 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.

To stay up-to-date on all our promotions, news, events, and last-minute bookings, follow us on social media.

Facebook: facebook.com/TheGoodLifeMassage
Twitter: @GoodLifeRenton

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.