Before You Set Your Goals, Set Your Fears

Before You Set Your Goals

“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” -Seneca

So many gurus and life coaches these days will tell you that the best thing you can do to help you reach your goals or turn your life around is to think positive. “Set big, specific goals!” “Go after the life you really want!” And, truly, this is good advice. It’s good to be specific and to think positive about what you want out of life.

With that said, maybe too much attention is paid to what we want and thinking positive. What about the negative things? What about those worries and fears that keep you up at night? Should you just put on a happy face and push down those nasty thoughts with fantasies about your future?

That really isn’t the best strategy.

It’s a bit like when you were a little kid and were afraid of the dark. Everything that seemed familiar and friendly in the daytime suddenly takes on a sinister cast in the dark. The familiar, harmless creaks in the floorboards become a monster approaching. The coat hanging on the door becomes a looming apparition. Remember what happened when you turned on the lights, or the sun rose? Suddenly those sinister things seemed utterly harmless and manageable.

This is the right approach to the things you fear. Look them in the eye. Unlike those innocent days of childhood, you have legitimate things to fear from the world. Terrible things can happen to the best of us, and there are things even worse than death that can happen to us. And yet, not everything is as scary as it seems.

So what do you do with this fear?

Most of us try not to think about it. And that might be the whole problem.

I recently ran across a method for facing the fears that might be holding us back that I’ve found to be highly effective. It’s called fear setting. Entrepreneur Tim Ferriss developed this system based on the teachings of the ancient Greek philosophers known as stoics, and I highly recommend his TED talk on the subject. The link is below.

How it works
The idea is that what’s really keeping you from doing what you really want to do with your life is unspoken fears that may be consciously or subconsciously holding you hostage. What do these fears demand? Your attention. Fear setting is about giving the hostage takers what they want, and that’s all you have to do to liberate yourself.

But fear is a tricky beast to outwit. Since fear helps you survive, it has a way of pulling all your biological strings. It causes your heart to race, your palms to sweat, and tenses your muscles–all without your consent or awareness.

To get around this, you have to attack it systematically.

Fear setting consists of three pages of notes, and shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to an hour of your time, usually much less.

Page one
At the top of the page, write the thing you’re thinking of doing that gives you some level of anxiety, for example, asking that person out on a date, applying for that job, signing the papers (divorce, house, marriage license, car, whatever), making that investment, taking that trip–anything that carries risk which fear might be holding you back from doing. Next, you’re going to make a simple table in the middle of the page with three columns. The first column is every worst-case-scenario thing that could go wrong if you pull the trigger on whatever it is, everything you fear the most.

In the next column, for each worst-case-scenario, you’re going to list all the ways you might be able to prevent that terrible thing from happening.

In the third column, for each worst-case-scneario, you’re going to list all the ways you might be able to fix it if that terrible thing happens, or the names of people who might be able to help you through it.

That’s page one.

Page two
This is where things get fun. List all the good things that might happen if you go through with the thing. Simple, but exhilarating and energizing.

Page three
Just in case you need that little extra push, it’s time to contemplate what might happen if you do nothing and just maintain the status quo. You’ll need another three-column table for this one because you’re going to contemplate what your life will be life if you do nothing for three time periods: 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years. Be sure to take into account any applicable aspect of your life: finances, relationships, occupation, etc. This is where you’ll take a good, hard look at the hell you don’t want, but which might be coming your way if you do nothing.

That’s it!

So what
Is this just a way to talk yourself into doing literally anything? No. This is about being honest with yourself in every possible way. In fact, you’re almost as likely to talk yourself out of something.

Ferriss puts it this way: “It’s not a panacea. You’ll find that some of your fears are very well founded. But you shouldn’t conclude that without first putting them under a microscope.”

What I did
I’ve been working on a creative project off and on for some time. I had put it on hold for a while to focus on some other priorities. After the storm passed, there was the project staring at me with an expectant look. I knew I had to begin again, but I felt some reluctance. What was holding me back? I saw an opportunity to put Ferriss’ method to the test.

I actually forgot to do the other two pages! All I did was page one, and yet … It got me going! It didn’t take long at all, and I jumped right into a highly detailed planning session for the remainder of the project, setting incremental deadlines with clear deliverables.

And I did it with zero hesitation, because I had a clear answer to the question “what’s the worst that could happen?”. We’ll see how the project goes, but I met my first incremental deadlines, and I’m well on my well to meeting the next one. For me, Fear Setting was powerful, and has easily sold me on this method for contemplating other things I might be feeling anxious about.

Ferriss says he does this exercise at least once a quarter. I’ve since used a similar technique just in my head for smaller hassles and sources of anxiety in my life. For instance, I might ask myself “what’s the worst that can happen if I don’t get this done?” or “what would I do if this thing I’m afraid of happens?” If I can answer this uncomfortable questions, suddenly I feel empowered to move forward. And maybe that very discomfort is where the opportunity lies. Joseph Campbell said “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

The cave you fear to enter ...

Tim Ferriss puts it this way:

“The hard choices–what we most fear, doing, asking, saying–these are very often what we most need to do. And the biggest challenges and problems we face will never be solved with comfortable conversations, whether it’s in your own head or with other people.”

Choose the good life.

Tim Ferriss’ TED Talk:

https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_ferriss_why_you_should_define_your_fears_instead_of_your_goals

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor at The Good Life Massage. Visit our website for more information or to book a massage online. You can contact Tom Gunn to help you build your brand with branding design and content marketing by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com.

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Why Massage Feels So Good, And Why It Matters

Why Massage Feels So Good

Why does massage feel so good? Most of the time we try to defend massage on a medical basis. But what about the fact that it just feels good?

Massage has a number of well-documented medical benefits. Massage has been shown to:

  • improve sleep
  • decrease depression
  • help with headaches
  • treat soft-tissue strains and injuries
  • ease joint pain
  • mitigate digestive disorders

And many more! But one benefit of massage that often gets forgotten in the race to demonstrate its value is that it just feels so good.

Why do we distrust that something that feels good can also be good for us? The puritanical roots of American culture run deep, warning us that anything that feels good, especially when done unclothed. Out distrust of human touch makes no sense.

Therapeutic massage can enable you to live your best life, not just because of what it can do, but because of how it feels. Yes, massage does a lot of good, but why are those benefits somehow less valid than the fact that it feels good?

Focusing for the moment on the fact that massage feels so good, let’s examine for a moment why it feels so good, and why it matters.

Primal touch
From the moment we’re born, we depend on human contact. We depend on this less as we grow, but social contact and physical affection remain as necessities for human health, survival, and sanity. This has been well established by numerous studies, unfortunately often when the subjects have been deprived of human contact and touch through some terrible circumstance.

Children from over-crowded orphanages around the world don’t get the touch they need from a parent or the over-taxed staff at these facilities, and often develop severe emotional disorders as they grow, if they even survive infancy. Prisoners subjected to solitary confinement for large stretches of time come out a shadow of their former selves, manifesting debilitating mental disorders. All this for lack of simple human touch.

Touch is powerful. We’re primarily social creatures, which means as a species we depend on each other to survive. This runs deep and goes back tens of thousands, perhaps millions of years. When you receive touch from another human being, something interesting happens. The part of your brain that activates the fight-or-flight response to stress is shut down. Touch activates the Parasympathetic Nervous system, which essentially tells every cell in your body that you’re safe, and that you’re going to survive. This is true relaxation. This is true freedom from stress.

Lifetime benefits
And the effect of touch isn’t just short term. Demographic studies show that people who live in families and communities live longer, healthier, happier lives. If that’s not what our focus on wellness and health is all about, then what is it about? Touch means everything, for your whole life.

The value of touch therapy
A licensed massage therapist has the skill and sensitivity to respond to what your body needs most. If the LMT is doing their job, you’ll feel great no matter what your unique needs and conditions happen to be.

At The Good Life Massage, we strive to foster an environment where therapists can focus on the needs of the client. Most massage chains try to “pack-em-in”, leaving little-to-no transition time between clients. This makes it difficult to do detailed consults with clients about pain they’re feeling or health goals they’re working on.

At The Good Life Massage, we give our therapists between 15 and 30 minutes between sessions, which usually allows for ample time to consult with clients before and after. Nobody feels rushed out the door, and therapists can take the time to listen to their clients and offer expert advice to decrease pain and improve health over all.

Book your next massage today.

Choose the good life.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can contact him for a consultation on how content marketing can work to build your presence online and drive your business by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

 

The Mind Games You Can’t Win

Head Games You Can't Win

You’re a con artist, do you realize that? You really are. Most people are, it turns out. It’s just that most of us are also our own marks for the con.

It’s not usually an act of malice, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Most of us are too busy marshaling our minds to get through one day and then the next to notice what we’re doing to ourselves. That is, until the abuse we’ve been dishing out to the person in the mirror mounts, and a day (or days) of reckoning come.

This reckoning can come in many forms, too many to list here, but let’s just say the cleanup usually involves professionals–people like defense or divorce attorneys, police, doctors, psychologists, sometimes even massage or physical therapists. You can imagine, then, that these are the kinds of consequences you’d like to avoid.

There are so many ways we torment, lie to, and fool ourselves. But here, we’ll try to list some of the big ones and suggest some ways to get out of the traps your are setting for yourself.

Shortsightedness
Are you just reacting to everything? It can happen to the best of us as we bounce from one activity to another just responding to a stimulus, avoiding pain, or feeding appetites. You rise to avoid being late and getting in trouble at work. Someone cuts you off in traffic and you curse without even thinking. Someone says something snotty to you at work and before you know it, your voice is raised and you’re having violent fantasies. You fix yourself a drink after work to unwind. And then another, etc. Keep that up, and you’ll hurt someone–yourself or someone else.

You live in the body of an animal, true, but you’re also a self-conscious human being. So act like it! Be mindful. Be intentional. Take a moment, maybe first thing in the morning, to set just one important intention for the day.
Maybe some of these questions might help get you started.

  • What do you want people to remember about their encounters with you today?
  • What can you do today to move towards creating the future you want?
  • What are your values, and what’s one thing you can do today to live one of those values?

Not only will you help to avoid some unnecessary anguish for a decision made in the heat of the moment, you’ll be much more likely to end your day not feeling merely sated or amused, but satisfied. Content.

Procrastination
Have you ever thought of procrastination as a lie you tell yourself? The lie is basically this: that if you don’t do it now, maybe–somehow, some way–you won’t ever have to do it at all.

This simple decision–a lie told in the mirror without a second thought–creates a terrible tension in your mind and heart. This tension creates a buzzing in the brain that’s so persistent that you might not even be aware of it, like an annoying sound you learn to tune out. But it’s also so obnoxious that it slowly erodes your sense of self-worth and confidence. And that’s where you pay the price for this one.

There’s a really wonderful children’s book about this called “There’s No Such Thing As A Dragon” by Jack Kent. In the story, a boy wakes up to find a kitten-sized dragon in his room. He tells his parents about it, and the more they deny the dragon exists, the larger it gets. Through each stage of the dragon’s growth, the boy tries to get his parents to believe and pay attention to the dragon to no avail. By the end of the book, it’s carrying away their house on its massive back. When the parents finally acknowledge the dragon is there and the boy pets it, the dragon quickly becomes kitten-sized again. What are your dragons? The more you ignore them, the larger, scarier, and more disruptive they’ll become. Ignore them completely, and you may get burned.

Rationalization
Logic is a frightening tool because it can work so well, but you can also fool yourself with it so easily because, by definition, it makes sense. But check your premises–the assumptions, ideas, and beliefs that inform that logic. Logic works, but it’s only helpful if the information is good. Garbage in, garbage out.

One thing that can be so beneficial about talking regularly to a friend or loved one. There can be great benefit in consulting with a mental health professional. They can help you identify some errors in your thinking, like the ones in this blog, especially when you can’t detect them yourself.
.
Worry
Worry is a primary way you can wear your mind out to exhaustion, and for no good reason! It’s like riding the brakes of your mind. Worry serves a purpose: it’s a feeling generated by an awareness that something is amiss and needs our attention. The best strategy is to try to cope with whatever you’re worrying about by taking some kind of action–or— if that’s not possible, recognizing that what’s wrong can’t be fixed, not right now or not by you, and letting the worry go. True, this is much easier said than done, but it also may not as difficult as you might think.

Jagged pills
You may not consciously intend to play these mind games with yourself. If it’s any consolation, it’s very common. You’re far from alone. But being mindful, embracing your network of social support, and consulting with caring people around you can help you live with intention and balance. This requires some humility. It may be hard to swallow, but you don’t know yourself half as well as you think you do.

So meditate, exercise, learn. Do nice things for yourself like making new friends, getting regular massages, and filling your life with beauty. This isn’t just a nice option–it’s key to avoiding terrible consequences if you don’t act.

The only real way to win these mind games is not to play.

Choose the good life.

 

Tom's Byline Photo Cropped

 

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and Marketing Director at The Good Life Massage. You can email him at tomgunn@gmail.com to comment or to get his help developing your brand with content marketing.

Cupping Q&A With Shaila Suleman, LMT

Shaila Suleman Cupping Q&A

The Good Life Massage is proud to offer a new service you may have heard of: cupping! Cupping goes way back to ancient Egypt. It has long been known as a method of getting many of the same benefits of massage, but in a way that dramatically improves circulation. It can give you a feeling of deep relaxation and euphoria like nothing else this side of prescription pain killers, and has a host of other benefits.

We sat down with our resident expert on cupping, Shaila Suleman, LMT to ask her about this interesting and ancient practice, and how it can help you.

What is cupping?
Cupping is a form of traditional Chinese therapy, which has been used for thousands and thousands of years. It started back in Egypt.

The concept of cupping is moving and manipulating muscle tissue and scar tissue, stimulate blood flow. It’s like an opening for congestion or stagnance, or hyper-tense muscles. With massage, we do this with a push motion. Cupping is the same kind of thing, but with a pulling motion.

Cupping - GLM_Jan2018-93Is it uncomfortable or painful?
It can be to some degree, and that’s because it’s a form of therapy. Unlike massage where you’re pushing to move out, it’s pulling, so you have this pulling sensation that can kind of be uncomfortable. But there’s a way to adjust the suction so it doesn’t have to be extremely painful. You can also move the cups, which can also be painful depending on the state of the body we’re working on.

What equipment do you use and how does it work?
The kind of cups we use are plastic pump cups. We us a pump to create the suction that’s more stable and adjustable than silicon cups or glass and fire cups.

What is cupping good for?
If you’re having caral tunnel, that’s one. It’s great for TMJ. A compression in your shoulders can be helped with cupping. If you have scar tissue, you can break that apart. It’s good for removing scar tissue post-injury. Even, like, 20 years down the road, you can still work with it enough and manipulate it enough to where it dramatically decreases the size of the scar tissue. So, post injuries or post surgeries are really great.

If you’re losing a lot of weight, it’s really great, too. When you’re losing weight rapidly, your skin can’t quite keep up with your body getting smaller, because you’re losing so much weight at one time. What cupping does is it stretches the skin out, but as it’s stretched out, it tries to get back to its orignal shape. You stretch it out so the blood can move, as it comes back, it forms close to your current shape.

Is there blood?
Not in the cupping we do, no. The idea is to make an incision on the skin to draw out “bad blood” with the suction. It’s illegal to do in Washington State. Actually, it’s illegal in every state.

If I get cupping done at The Good Life Massage, what will it be like?
For the first part of the session, we’ll start with massaging. The core idea of the massage is to relax the muscles enough so that the pulling of the cups will not be as rough, whereas if you just put a cup right on top from the get-go it can be really painful. So we manipulate the muscles as much as we can, try to get the muscles as loose as we can. Once we’re able to kinda get some movement between the muscles and the tension and the adhesions, then that’s when we use the cups.

The cups start out by moving–what we call “running cups”. We move them around the spine, around the shoulders, wherever needs to be worked on. So, running cups around, and after a few minutes, after the blood starts to come up and show as redness on the skin, that’s when we start placing the cups. Once we’ve started the cupping, we’ll move them down by sections down the back or wherever else they need it. But as the cups are sitting, I can work on massaging the arms or the legs or another body part. A full body session with massage is usually around 90 minutes. If all we’re doing is cupping, 60 minutes is usually enough.

You will end up getting bruises, just because that’s where the blood is more stagnant. They’re perfectly circular. There may also be some mild bruising from the running, but those go away after a day or so.

Where will you not put a cup?
The inner thighs. That’s a really tender, painful area. There are nerves that go through there. You can work it with massage, but only with very light tension. It’s also very uncomfortable. You can do the face, but just don’t be getting your picture taken the next day. If you’re worried about dirt and exposure on your face, the few hours after are when you’re really vulnerable to get that kind of stuff inside it. You should wash your face immediately right after so there’s nothing getting clogged.

Would you recommend doing a Chocolate Fudge Face Mask afterwards?
That would be really good! Because the cupping pulls the pores open. For this reason, cupping isn’t so good for people with severe acne. If you add a Chocolate Fudge Face Mask, it’s all set to go. because it will kind of cover it and clean it out.

If you’re a bride or a groom, or anyone who’s getting their picture taken for a big event soon, what kind of gap do you need after cupping on the face or visible areas?
Probably about a week and a half. That would be the least amount of time you would want to give it.

Otherwise you’re playing with fire?
Exactly. Less than a week is cutting it too close. I know that when I have the running done on me, it takes two to three days for the redness to go away. It really depends on the body of the person.

What are some physical conditions that would keep you from getting cupping done?
Pregnancy. Cupping releases blood clots. People of advanced age are okay. They just have to keep us aware of how they’re doing during the session.

Also, if you have stage four metastasized cancer, cupping is not a good idea because cupping can move the lymph, which helps spread the cancer cells to other parts of the body.

If you have some kind of blood disorder, or if you have any doubts or concerns whatsoever, talk to your doctor before making an appointment.

What about minors?
Minors are great for cupping! We can work with kids from age three and up, but again, it’s really light, mild cupping. We can work with kids!

It’s really good for kids having digestive problems. We can do cupping on the stomach and lower back, which can be really beneficial to their digestion. If they’re having any pain, cupping can be good for that too.

 

Do you need a license to do this?
I thought you did for a long time, but I called the Department of Health and they said our state doesn’t really license cupping. You just have to be trained. I was trained and I trained the other therapists here at The Good Life Massage.

Shaila Headshot

 

Shaila Suleman is certified in cupping and is a licensed massage therapist at The Good Life Massage. You can learn more about her here.

 

 

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 at The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help you build your brand with content marketing by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

5 Ways Everyone Is Doing Relaxation Wrong

Unwinding–A Master Class, Part 1

5 Ways Everyone Is Doing Relaxation Wrong

“Relax!” verb, directive – a phrase you say that will almost guarantee the person being addressed will never, ever be able to relax.

We throw the words “relax and unwind” around too easily. We tell people to do it as though it was as easy as breathing (well, it kinda is, but more on that in part 2). This casual tossing around of these words has damaged the concept in our minds. We’re too quick to think we “don’t have time” to relax (lie), or more commonly that what we are doing is relaxing when it’s absolutely not.

Relaxation isn’t the same thing as “fun”. Relaxing things can be fun, but not all fun things are relaxing. We live in a busy, distracted world, and the best most of us feel we can do to “unwind” is to get some TV in before bed, maybe go out for dinner from time to time and take our annual vacation.

How is that working out for you?

Can we do better?

In this two-part post, we’ll explore what relaxation isn’t, what it is, and ask ourselves some tough questions about how to do it best.

Your body: temple or amusement park?
Be careful about using food as entertainment, especially if it’s cheap, fried, sugary, or some combination of these things. These kinds of foods hack the pleasure centers of the brain, overwhelming your sense of being satisfied with a need for the explosive dopamine hit to continue. This is why “you can’t eat just one”. It’s a food hijacking your brain and using the mechanisms designed to help you to survive to help you gorge.

Foods high in sugars kick up insulin production in your body, which in turn puts stress on your circulatory system and your heart. Over time, this can aggravate the negative effects of daily stress on the body. A diet high in saturated fats and trans fats can have a similar effect. Excess, with food or alcohol can also do a lot of damage, even when it’s done in the name of fun or relaxation.

There’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence now and then, but just know that you’re trading some mental and psychological pleasure for some bodily stress that can accumulate to a deadly result over a long period of time. We’re not saying “no dessert!” (God forbid!) Just use moderation and understand the trade-off you’re making. If bodily stress is a major concern, don’t neglect this aspect of how you treat your body.

Mind games
Real unwinding is not just about your physical well being–the tension in your muscles, etc. It has just as much to do with your mind.

It’s easy to confuse the mind with the self, and so we forget that the mind is a tool. It helps us make decisions, interprets our experiences, and produces our feelings. Since it’s a tool, we need to keep it working well. This means you need to regularly rest it and sharpen it. But too often we abuse it by overindulging it with sensational experiences, cheap thrills, and shallow, fleeting pleasures.

Screens
We can hardly get away from them. An outside observer might guess that we’re slaves to these flat, glowing surfaces. They’ve filled our living rooms, bedrooms, classrooms, workplaces, and even our pockets, purses, and cars. A lot has been said to question the wisdom of this cultural shift, but let’s focus for a moment on how it affects your stress and relaxation.

The light from screens can actually cause stress. Sleep studies have shown that the stimulation caused by the bright LCD and LED-style screens that fill our lives inhibit the production of melatonin, a hormone that signals to your body that it’s night and that it’s time to sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping you might consider keeping the screens off for an hour or two before going to bed and see if that helps at all.

And what about social media? Studies have shown conclusively that the most social media you use, the less happy and healthy you are. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram, while fun and useful at times, can also breed envy and depression as we compare and contrast everyone’s best days with our worst and get drawn into unproductive political debating and ruminating. Even the “news” we find there turns out to be less than reliable.

Porn
Long gone are the days of a guilty pile of mags stashed in the woods or the furtive trips to the adult video store. The device you’re reading this on right now is a private, anonymous conduit to see more naked bodies than a Victorian libertine could’ve seen in a lifetime.

Cultural enthusiasm for this stuff has given way to a justified backlash as critics point out exploitative norms in the industry, and psychologists critically interrogate porn’s value in enhancing our sex lives. Porn use can cost you your job and cause public humiliation, not to mention the damage it can do to your libido, your relationships, and your ability to enjoy healthy sexuality.

Porn is like a mental junk food, hijacking your senses and your brain to keep you riding high on oxytocin and dopamine while it reroutes your sex drive to fleeting, superficial experiences. In most cases, these experiences, while they can be intensely pleasurable in the moment, only serve to isolate you rather than build a lasting bond with another person.

Bingeing
Let’s be honest: if it were healthy, we wouldn’t call watching hours of television on end “bingeing”. Letting yourself get swept up in a drama can be cathartic. There’s nothing wrong with some escapism now and then. But is there any drama that’s worth the loss of sleep and every negative consequence that flows from that?

Entertainment, but for zombies
Going out for drinks, watching TV, video games, movies–we all have a set list of the things we do because it’s the weekend, or it’s time to relax, or it just seems like the thing to do. But does that mean it’s relaxing? Does that mean it’s worth your time?

Examine your recreational choices and question them–really put them under the hot lights and interrogate them–for what they’re actually giving you. Are you really getting out of them what you think? Is it time to break the mold and try something new?

In part 2, we’ll talk about healthy ways to unwind that are truly relaxing and life-enhancing long term.

Choose the good life.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and Marketing Director for The Good Life Massage. You can send you comments to him directly or ask him how he can help you build your brand through content marketing by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

Massage for Better Breathing

Massage for better Breathing

Your breath could be doing so much more for you than just keeping you alive. Skeptical?

Keep reading.

Or …

Come in for a massage, and ask for work on your abdomen, chest, and lower back, then come talk to me.
Massage can be the beginning of a new realtionship with your breath. But that’s just the first step.

The source of your life
Your breathing is a more involved, complicated operation for your body to perform than you might think. The lungs certainly don’t do it all alone. A whole chorus of muscles coordinate with your lungs to keep the oxygen flowing.

Did you know? There are two different networks of muscles that help you breathe: one for exhalation, one for inhalation. These are primarily attached to your ribcage, but some also attach to your backbone. Your muscular system is massively interdependent–that is, they’re all interconnected, and what impacts one has an effect on the others.

If your muscles get tight through stress, over or under-use you may not be breathing as deeply as you could or should. Even if you don’t feel any immediate discomfort, you may not be getting as much from your breathing as you could.

One of the benefits of rigorous physical exercise is that in addition to whatever muscles you may be working in your legs, arms, or core, you’re also working those muscles that aid in your breathing. The more you use them, the stronger they grow! This is just one reason you feel so good as a cumulative effect of exercise: your breath comes in deeper and stronger, not only during your workout, but throughout your day.

What massage can do
If you’re suffering from bronchitis, don’t come in while you’re still suffering symptoms! After you’ve started to feel better, however, coming in for a massage is a great idea. All that coughing causes tension and soreness that lingers even after the coughing has stopped. Massage on the chest and abdomen will help relieve that tension and restore you to your normal breathing.

Do you suffer from asthma? In a clinical study conducted at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine indicated that massage reduces cortisol levels in asthma sufferers, assisting in long-term improvement in breathing.

Even allergy sufferers can benefit from massage. While massage is no miracle cure for anything, massage can definitely help allergy sufferer’s cope with the symptoms and, in time, retrain the body to manage the stress of the onset of allergy symptoms.

Book your massage now, and take a good deep breath again, for the first time.

Choose the good 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.

Field, T., et al. Children with asthma have improved pulmonary function with massage therapy. J Pediatr 1998 May; 132 (5): 854-8.
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.

Get Out: How to Refresh Your Well Being With the Power of Nature

Get Out

When was the last time you spent more than a few minutes outdoors? If you’re like me, you prefer to stay inside, surrounded by a few nice people and your favorite things. But recent studies suggest you might be harming your mental, and possibly even your physical health by staying in too much.

And it’s not just about staying indoors, it’s about city life in general. If you’re reading this, you most likely live in a world full of electronic and mechanical noise, artificial light, metal, plastic, and pavement. But it probably wasn’t like this for your grandparents, or their grandparents.

The urban experiment
In the roughly 10,000 years of human civilization, it’s only relatively recently that a critical mass of humanity has begun living in cities, foregoing rural or nomadic life for freeways, big box stores, and high speed internet. It may seem like it’s been the way life is for most for a long time. But it’s really an experiment in human living that’s only just begun.

How’s it going for you so far?

In spite of the many benefits of living in cities, people are reporting high levels of unhappiness, malaise, and dissatisfaction. Does that mean we should sell our possessions and live in the woods? There may not be any need to go to such extremes.

Take a hike
One study showed that even minimal exposure to nature can make a difference in happiness and well-being. Short walks in the park, keeping potted plants around, or even gazing at landscape painting made a difference in the subjects. Another study showed that when potted plants were present in an office environment, overall stress was reduced, employee sick time plummeted, and productivity improved.

Consciously adding some outdoors time to your self care regime is easy, fun, and relaxing. Even if you’re out in not-the-best weather, you might be surprised how much better you feel afterwards.

Even some artificial nature is better than nothing. At The Good Life Massage, our waiting area has a pleasant waterfall and handsome potted plants, and every massage treatment room is equipped with a white noise machine, usually making the sounds of rain or ocean waves to help deepen your relaxation.

Add a little nature
The preponderance of evidence that suggests that exposure to natural settings and a general sense of well-being and happiness has been overwhelming to the psychological community. So much so that a new field of ecopsychology has arisen, in which mental health professionals are looking further into the ways our happiness, health, and relationship to nature intertwine.

In a sweeping happiness survey of American cities, some interesting patterns showed up. One of the significant factors that connected America’s happiest large cities (Seattle among them!) was proximity to natural or green spaces, along with easy access to large bodies of water. These were only a few of several factors, but it’s interesting in light of the studies about the relationship between happiness and regular exposure to nature.

So turn off the TV, leave your phone off, and get out there. Don’t let a beautiful day, or a beautiful life, go to waste.

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.