How to Prepare Now for Holiday Stress

How To Prepare Now for Holiday Stress

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” -Anonymous

Holiday stress is coming! Are you clenching up inside? Stop! You’re not naive. This isn’t your first holiday season. You have a good idea of what stresses you’ll face, how your life will be disrupted. And yet so many of us talk about the coming holidays like it’s a natural disaster that couldn’t possibly have been predicted.

Why feed the drama? You’ve got this.

Get your priorities in order
You may have asked yourself, after a particularly harrowing holiday season “Why do I put myself through this?” It’s a valid question. Maybe the holidays hold great meaning for you. Or maybe you feel obligated because of family custom or social pressure. In either case, remember this: resentment is poison.

Whether you love the reason for the season because of family or religious commitments, or couldn’t care less, resenting the holidays will only punish you. It will sap your emotional stamina, and might even become the source of unnecessary family drama. We’re here to tell you that you have a choice now. You can just react to stress as it comes, or you can plan for it now and go into this stressful time of year prepared–and not only that, happy and ready to fully enjoy everything the holidays have to offer.

If you want no part of it, draw healthy boundaries for yourself and, without antagonism or anger, let your loved ones know you hope they have a great time, but that you have other plans. The worst thing you can do for yourself or others is to go into holiday events grudgingly or with a resentful attitude.

Plan for happy
Think ahead about the most busy times of the holiday season. There’s a list of things to do, events to attend, gifts and food to buy. It seems to go on and on. But why? Maybe it’s a good time to promise yourself to say “no” or “not this year” to a few things. Commit to bowing out of some things now before the social pressure is on; you’ll be surprised how easy it is to back out of some things you just don’t have room on your plate for. And as you go, remember: “no” is a complete sentence.

You can also plan to take care of yourself now! Scheduling your massages early and often is always a great idea, but especially during the holiday season. Our clinic gets busy this time of year just like any business, so seize this chance to grab the times you know fit into your schedule. Book online or give us a call: 425-243-7705. Set your reminders on your calendar. Then take a deep breath, and know that your self-care is one less thing to worry about squeezing in.

Maintain healthy habits
Now may not be the best time to pick up a new habit, even if your intentions are great. Your will power is limited, and there’s no sense in setting yourself up for failure during the holiday season.

By all means, though, maintain the good habits you’re already doing! If you already work out, get regular massage, do yoga, meditate, or eat healthy foods, it’s more important than ever to stick with it. Letting go of your good habits will throw off your equilibrium on days when you’ll need it more than ever.

So what’s it going to be? Are you going to polish your “BUSY” badge of honor and go into the holidays proudly miserable? Or are you going to plan ahead and be thankful for whatever comes?

I know what I’m picking.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to build your brand through social media design and strategy by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

What Is Mousing Shoulder?

What Is Mousing Shoulder

What is mousing shoulder?
If you spend a lot of time at a desk using a computer, you may already be familiar with mousing shoulder, even if you don’t know what to call it. Mousing shoulder results from using a mouse on a computer held away from your body for prolonged periods, repetitively. This strain results from your muscles having to tense to hold the weight of your arm as you hold it out away from you.

The pain that results radiates down from the neck and spreads to the upper back and shoulder. You might just feel a mild ache in these areas from time-to-time. You might feel an odd sense of weakness in these areas. Maybe you’re not thinking much of it–just routine aches and pains. But is it coming from only one side of your body–the side of the arm you use to manipulate your mouse? Remember that all your muscle groups are fully connected and effect each other. When one is over-worked, the others try to compensate. This is a miracle your body performs with zero effort on your part! But the corollary of that miracle is that when there’s trouble in one area, there’s often trouble in the others.

What should I do?
If you’re in pain, go ahead and address those symptoms. Treating this kind of pain involves a number of different solutions. Go ahead and try one, see how it goes, and employ different combinations to find out what works best for you.

Stretching
There are three key stretches you can do throughout your workday to mitigate mousing shoulder. The first is the doorway stretch, demonstrated here.

The second is the tricep/lat dorsi stretch.

The third is the deltoid stretch. Both of these two are demonstrated here:

Whenever you have occasion to get up from your desk, just take a moment and do all three. Ideally, you should do these for 2-3 seconds each, 10 times a day. Not only will these stretches help reduce the pain and strain, you’ll feel more relaxed and less tense over all. You might even see a bump in your productivity.

Massage
This is exactly the kind of pain that can be relieved and healed with therapeutic massage. Massage can stop the immediate pain, but you may need more than one treatment to completely heal. Your massage therapist will be able to evaluate your particular case and recommend the best course of treatment.

We’d be happy to help you with that! Book a session quickly and easily online now, or just give us a call during our regular operating hours.

Meds
If the pain is really that bad, you can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory meds like Ibuprofen or Naproxen.

Not a cure
Where are you going? Not so fast! Stretching, pills, even massage can not cure this! These are only treatments for the pain. What you really need is to stop the repetitive motion and awkward posture that’s causing the problem. It’s time for a change.

No, don’t quit your job. There are several ways to take care of yourself and reduce the risk of mousing shoulder. The key to keep in mind is that holding your mouse out too far in front of you all day is what’s caused the problem. The solution, then is to change it up! Consider replacing your mouse with trackball or marble mouse that you can hold closer to your body. Less than 10° is ideal. You can also try switching to a wireless mouse to give you the freedom to change your position with it through the day. You might even want to try switching to your left hand for a little balance.

Exercise of your back, shoulders, and arms can also help considerably to strengthen those areas and make them more capable of handling the strain you’re putting on them each day.

Bottom line: repetition is the source of your pain with this. Do what you can to change it, or you’ll just keep treating the symptom forever.

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

How Massage Can Help You Hack Depression and Beat the Blues

How Massage Can Help You Hack Depression and Beat the Blues

Depression has been called the common cold of mental illness. Most people at least experience the symptoms of depression in some form or another throughout their lives. It’s so common, in fact, that many (unqualified) people dismiss the idea that it’s even a real ailment that needs treatment, let alone medication.

The facts aren’t kind to this dismissive attitude. Although it’s common, it’s a fact that depression can be fatal. It can lead the sufferer down a path of dark thoughts that seem inescapable, to the point that they might be willing to harm themselves, or sometimes others, to make the pain stop.

But what to do about it? The first stop for anyone who thinks they may be suffering from depression is their doctor. A general practitioner can determine whether medication is warranted, and refer you to a mental health professional who can assist with the many challenges of coping and recovery.

After all that is done, though, consider giving us a call.

Why massage?
One of the most common pieces of advice given out to people who have depression is to exercise more. Exercise reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone that can trigger depression), and increases levels of dopamine (the “feel good” neurotransmitter).

The problem, of course, is that because depression can cause lethargy and sap motivation, it’s extremely difficult for a severely depressed person to motivate themselves to get out and exercise, especially if exercise isn’t already an established habit. So, while studies have shown exercise to be extremely effective, there are huge obstacles for depression sufferers to overcome on their own.

Massage is an excellent answer to this perplexing problem, and here’s why. Massage provides many of the same blues-busting benefits of exercise, but without the need to motivate oneself to get up at the crack of dawn and go to a gym.

In fact, most massage clinics, and ours in particular, couldn’t be further from a gym-type atmosphere. The lighting is low and soft. The rooms are completely private. Everything is designed to suit your comfort. There’s no need to talk through your session–you can chit-chat as little or as much as you like. Our clinic is quiet, peaceful, and serene.

But what exactly does massage do that helps depression? Like exercise, massage increases dopamine levels. It also increases levels of serotonin–a key mood stabilizer. In short, it feels good! And you feel better afterwards.

Uncommon sense
We respond to human touch, whether in a clinical or a personal setting, in a primal way. We’re social creatures that need touch, so when you think about it, it isn’t really a big surprise that compassionate touch therapy can be so effective in stabilizing mood.

Book a massage today, and start feeling better.

Choose to live the good life!

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist you with building your brand and enlarging your digital footprint by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

5 Ways to Add Beauty to Your Life

5 ways to add beauty to your life

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but don’t let that chestnut fool you into thinking beauty is meaningless–a nice, optional garnish to add to your plate at the buffet of life. Appreciating beauty is essential to living a meaningful life–a life you actually want to live.

There’s a quote from the movie Dead Poets Society that really sticks with you, because it’s true. Robin Williams plays an English teacher instructing his prep school students the importance of beauty in their lives.

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

What enriching beauty is, and what it isn’t
When we try to enrich our lives with beautiful things, we might be easily distracted. We’re a distracted generation. So many things draw our attention, or even pose as things of beauty designed to enrich your life. Be mindful: don’t mistake mere sensation or stimulation for beauty.

And don’t be fooled with the idea that appreciating beauty has to involve commercial consumption. You can buy art. But you can’t buy taste.

Stop and smell the roses
Have you ever paused to see the beauty in the world around you? Sometimes all it takes is the initiative to look around and appreciate what’s right in front of you. If you’re into journaling, try writing down one beautiful or awe-inspiring thing you noticed or are grateful for each day.

This is really about deepening your mindfulness and the connection to your senses. Habits like meditation, exercise, regular massage, and getting plenty of sleep can help you open and tune your senses to beauty and wonder.

Read poetry
“I don’t like poetry” I hear you saying, probably because you were force-fed it somewhere in your education. But if you write it off because of that experience, you’re walking away from a gold mine of enrichment, passion, depth, and thought.

A poet’s job is to teach you to see the world in a different way. So let them! See the world through new eyes. Try different poets until you find what you like. You can read a massive library of poems from both classic and modern poets for free at your local library, or at http://www.poetryfoundation.com

Listen to music. No really listen.
You may be used to putting music on in the background of this or that activity in your life–work, driving, getting a massage–but when was the last time you stopped to do nothing but listen?

Is your collection kind of tired? Stream something new, branch out, take a chance on something new. But do it for it’s own sake and really appreciate what’s there.

While you’re at it, go see some live performances once in a while. If you know the rock club scene, try the symphony sometime, or vice-versa.

A little more high, a little less low
Challenge yourself! Push your boundaries. Engage with music or art that’s difficult to grasp, that challenges what you know and dares you to learn more.

Whether it’s music, art, literature, earth sciences, or just about any other subject, there’s a whole world of educational resources out there, some for a fee, many for nothing. Most are online, but don’t forget about your local library. It’s never been easier to catch yourself up and fill in the gaps in your education.

“With what time?” I hear you asking. Try turning off the TV! Your Mom agrees with me on this, and we both know it.

Invest in art
As you’ve built your taste and grown your appreciation for beauty, you may find that you’re ready to take the step of buying some art. Don’t buy for status or prestige. Buy something that speaks to you personally, that you’ll delight in every day, that will remind you of the magnificence to be found in the human spirit.

So roll up that Miley Cyrus poster, put it in the rec room, and put an object of true beauty in the center of your life.

Choose to live the good life!

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to grow your social media presence or build your brand by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

How Heat Can Work Muscle Pain Miracles

How Heat Can Work Muscle Pain Miracles

Heat has long been understood to be a great way to ease muscle pain, but how exactly does that work?

To begin with, let’s understand how muscle pain and strain manifests itself.

As you work your muscles throughout the day, you’re putting them through stress. Even if your lifestyle is relatively sedentary, modern life is still hard on your muscles and soft tissues. Repetitive motion, bad posture, lack of exercise, over-exertion–all these can cause muscle tension that restricts blood and oxygen flow. As this happens–you guessed it–the muscles send pain signals to the brain.

The resulting pain can range widely–from mild discomfort to intense, crippling agony.

What heat can do
Adding heat to muscles and soft tissue dilates the blood vessels to increase circulation. This activates your body’s natural healing process, sending vital resources to the distressed area.

Intense heat also has the benefit of soothing and relaxing the surrounding muscles and tissues. You may feel an instant sense of ease and well being wash over you.

Stop! Don’t heat that!
Is the painful area red or swollen? Is the pain you’re feeling the result of some kind of trauma? You better use ice instead. In fact, applying heat can make things worse.

A treatment, not a cure
Heat has tremendous benefits in the short term, but it can’t fix anything permanently, especially if the tension you’re trying to relieve is due to repetitive motion or poor posture. You’ll want to treat the proverbial disease here, not the symptom.

If your muscle strain is due to repetitive motion due to work conditions, you can keep on treating the symptom, but you may need to change the circumstances of your work somehow. This might mean something as simple as an ergonomic appliance. It could also mean a change of jobs. Whatever you choose, keep in mind that not changing anything will take a toll on your body in the long term, no matter how much heat you apply or how often you receive massage.

As for posture, that is something that can be corrected. Mindfulness is key here. Strengthening your mind-body connection will make you more aware of the subtle pain signals your body is sending. You may find that your body is full of aggravating muscle tension you’re not even aware of.

You can work on this yourself, doing regular mindfulness check-ins to ensure you’re standing or sitting in a way that’s natural. You may find, though, that the plasticity of your muscles has been working against you. Your bad posture habits may have trained your muscles to hold themselves in the wrong shape, trapping you in poor posture that’s difficult to correct. Regular massage and a daily stretching regimen may be called for as you try to loosen your muscles and help them conform to a new, healthier posture.

Heat, a key component of massage
We use heat regularly as a tool in massage therapy, sometimes with simple friction on the skin to warm things up. But we may also employ hot towels to help relax particularly tense areas.

Did you know? Hot towels are a session enhancement that’s absolutely free. Just ask!

We also use hot stones as a specialty treatment or enhancement to help break down adhesions and deepen your relaxation.

Book your next 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 blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help build your brand and expand your digital presence by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

Swim Into The Wave: How Hiding From Your Emotions Can Destroy You

Swim Into The Wave

For experienced ocean swimmers, waves are just part of the challenge. So it is with life. Waves of emotions can throw us for a loop disorient us, and confuse us before we even have time to process what we’re going through. Unfortunately, our cultural biases have taught us to handle our feelings in exactly the wrong way.

Quick fix
What do you do when you’re hungry? Grab a bite (whether it’s nutritious or not). What do you do when you have a headache or some other kind of pain? Pop a pill. The tendency to want to avoid pain and discomfort is not only understandable, it’s completely natural. But it’s not always the best way to handle things, particularly your feelings.

What’s the quick fix for bad feelings? Take your pick! Food. TV. Pornography. Alcohol. Drugs. Everyone seems to have a favorite. You may feel good temporarily, but put off your self care indefinitely and you’re in for a world of hurt.

Here there be dragons
Think you have total contol over your feelings? Think again. You can control how you respond to what you’re feeling to some extent. But the stronger the feeling is, the more difficult it is to control your response in a given moment. You may soon find that you’re repsonses to things are way out of proportion and make no sense. This is often because of emotional problems you’re refusing to address properly.

So, guess what happens when you try to ignore, cover-up, or otherwise run from what you’re feeling? It gets strong. Your feelings are like a monster that feeds on your resistance. The more you ignore it or deny it’s there, the bigger it gets.

It’s like the dragon in this excellent children’s story:

The more the child bought into the mom’s argument that the dragon didn’t exist, the bigger it got. Before long, it was carrying their whole lives away from them.

Keep going
Winston Churchill said “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” The only way out of an unpleasant feeling is through it. This is true for even serious emotional trauma and grief. Mental health professionals are trained in guiding their clients and patients through the process of feeling and re-living their trauma in the most vivid and detailed way possible. It’s not pleasant at all. But neither is surgery.

Even a massage, when used for treatment, can be very uncomfortable. There seems to be a principle at work that dictates that in order to overcome physical or emotional pain and to heal, one must feel it completely.

Ride into the wave, or risk drowning in it.

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

The Enemy Within – Hidden Muscle Tension That’s Making You Miserable

The Enemy Within

What is muscle rigidity?
Your body is a miraculous machine for coping with stress. But, like any machine, it occasionally manifests a bug–a bug that can turn into a serious problem.

When you face stress, your trusty allies, your muscles, contract and tense. They become rigid as your body prepares to fight or flee whatever stressor you’re facing. In this way, your body is trying to keep you alive. You may not be facing a threat to your life when a client or your boss yells at you, but your body doesn’t know the difference. When that stressor passes, your muscles are supposed to relax, because everything is fine.

But what if everything isn’t fine? Suppose, after being yelled at by a client, you start to drive home and almost get into an accident? Or find that you’re overdrawn in your bank account? Suddenly, your muscles are tensing up yet again. If this level of stress keeps up, your body will get the message to always be ready to defend itself, keeping your muscles rigid and tense. While many of your muscles may relax as the stressor passes, some of them may stay rigid in an effort to keep you alive.

This can happen whether the stress is unexpected, or if you intentionally inflict stress on your body through exercise.

Mindfulness
Suddenly the friendly muscles that have been trying to keep you alive have become your enemy. Not only are they not really helping you survive, they’re making everything worse. As the stress continues, more and more of your muscles become tense and rigid. This can develop into debilitating chronic pain. It can affect your posture and create a chain reaction of tension as your body twists itself into a knot trying to stay ready for whatever fresh hell you might be in for.

What’s even more insidious is that you may not even notice this happening until it manifests as a persistent pain. This rigidity and tension can build up in your body, filling your senses with a kind of tense “noise” you eventually stop noticing. After all, you’re too busy pleasing your boss, avoiding car accidents, and balancing the checkbook, right? The busyness of life can easily make you ignore the stress and tension that’s mounting in your body until it manifests as some pain or disease that won’t be ignored. Unless you do something about it.

Those of you who have received massages before may understand this from personal experience. As your massage therapist releases tension throughout your body, may help you discover mucles you didn’t even know were there. As rigid muscles are gently encouraged to become soft and smooth, little pains that have become like background noise are suddenly, blessedly silenced.

Book your next massage when you’re done reading this.

The cure
There are several ways to prevent a build up of muscle rigidity caused by stress. Our favorite, of course, is regular massage, but even that isn’t a complete solution. In any case, not everyone can afford regular massage (though it might not be as out-of-reach as you might think).

Mindfulness is key. Do things that will strengthen your mind-body connection. You can start with something as simple as turning off all distractions during your meals. The point is to help yourself become more aware of your body and what messages it’s sending you, to tune in enough so that you can detect persistent tension and small pain signals coming from your muscles and connective tissues.

Exercise, however moderate, can dramatically reduce muscle rigidity and tension. Yes, exercise can be stressful on your body. It’s supposed to be! Inflicting moderate stress on your joints, muscles, and heart in this way helps your body be more agile in coping with the every-day stressors and hassles that come your way. Remember, though, to consciously and deliberately relax your muscles after tensing them in that systematic way. Stretching is a great way to do this, but there are other methods you can do any time.

Progressive relaxation
Progressive relaxation is a guided meditation practice that helps you turn your attention to each muscle group in turn, breathing deeply. Your guide talks you through putting each muscle group through a slight tension and then relaxation, literally from head to toe. Many of these exercises can be found for free on YouTube. There are several excellent recordings done by psychiatrists and other professionals available for sale at a very reasonable price. It usually only takes 10 to 30 minutes, and is well worth the effort. It’s almost as good as getting a massage, and can even be a great way to help you sleep better.

Massage, exercise, and progressive relaxation are the primary ways to cope with stress-induced muscle rigidity, but more important than these is to try to manage the amount of stress in your life. This might entail some dramatic lifestyle changes as you try to slow your pace and live your more deliberately and with a stronger mind-body connection. If you’ve recently experienced a series of dramatic or traumatic life events, the psychological component may also need to be addressed with the help of mental health professionals.

But why bother? You feel fine, right? Do you, though? Check in with your body regularly. What does it need? What do you feel from day to day? Nobody lives in bliss all the time, but you’re not supposed to be totally miserable all the time, either. Emotional pain, like physical pain, is sending you signals to make a change in order to help you survive. Listen to that, and take to heart some of the suggestions above.

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 and editor of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Note: stress is not the only cause of muscle rigidity. It can be a symptom of a number of diseases including Parkinson’s, tetanus, multiple sclerosis, and many more. This post refers only to muscle rigidity caused by stress. You may need to consult your doctor for chronic pain or stress that won’t go away through some of the means described in this post.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to help develop your brand, logo, and content marketing strategy by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

Talking Through It: Conversation Do’s and Don’ts for Massage

Talking Through It

Your massage is your own, so of course you have some latitude in customizing your experience. Massage therapy is one of those self-care treatments comparable to getting your hair done: you’re working with someone one-on-one in a vulnerable position. Not only are you in close physical proximity to your massage therapist, you’re undressed in a private room getting touched by them–it doesn’t get more vulnerable than that!

Naturally, a relationship of trust will develop between you and your therapist. Not only do we expect this, it’s encouraged! As your therapist gets to know your body’s unique needs and quirks, they can provide better massage with regular treatments. That personal trust and connection can play a vital role in the healing process.

Having said this, it’s important to understand that there are boundaries and limitations to that relationship, and that the conversation shared in a massage setting isn’t exempt from these.

What can I say?
Nothing, if you choose! As a rule, your therapist will probably read your social cues. If you seem game to talk, they may engage you and start a chat while they work on you. If you don’t initiate a conversation, they’ll leave you to enjoy the massage in a peaceful, quiet setting.

You can also feel free to give your massage therapist feedback. Phrases like “That’s too deep!” or “Can you ease up on the pressure there?” or “That stroke is kind of chafing right there.” are all appropriate ways to help guide your therapist and make your massage experience as good as it can be.

If you want to talk, that’s fine, but keep it light. Try to avoid heavy or potentially offensive topics. Would you discuss what you’re about to say with a stranger on the bus? If not, maybe reconsider your choice of topic.

If you’d like to talk and get to know your therapist over several sessions, that’s great. Just keep a few things in mind:

Massage therapist, not “Therapist”
It’s common for people come in for massage who are under serious stress. But the scope of massage therapy is only to address the physical component of healing and stress relief. The mental and psychological components should be handled by trained mental health professionals. You may develop a strong rapport with your massage therapist, but that doesn’t mean they have the training or skill to talk you through your stresses and emotional difficulties.

You wouldn’t expect a licensed family therapist or psychologist to give you a massage, would you? Of course not. The difference there is that those professionals don’t touch you, except to maybe shake your hand. A massage, however, can include a great deal of talking, and even emotional release. Clients under a great deal of stress have even been known to sob through their massage as painful emotions are released along with the muscle tension. But that doesn’t mean your massage therapist can or should become your therapist. Bring your mental health problems to a mental health professional.

Don’t ask for a date, for heaven’s sake
There’s nothing wrong with finding your massage therapist attractive, and the relatively intimate setting of touch therapy might unintentionally inspire romantic or sexual thoughts. But please: keep those thoughts and feelings to yourself during the massage.

Your massage therapist is there to help, and it’s completely inappropriate to flirt, touch them back, hold their hand, ask for dates, or try to initiate a romantic relationship with them. By the same token, your massage therapist has no business making romantic or sexual advances of any kind. In fact, such behavior at The Good Life Massage is grounds for termination.

Even if the advance would be innocent or welcome under different circumstances, it’s completely inappropriate during a massage. Besides, it makes the session far more uncomfortable and awkward. If you find that you’re developing romantic feelings for your massage therapist, consider getting your massage from someone else from now on. After all, we have several therapists to choose from.

We won’t “take sides”
As people start talking, it can be natural to progressively get more personal. You might even feel comfortable enough to talk about personal relationships or conflicts. This is totally understandable. We all need to vent sometimes. But don’t expect your massage therapist to “take your side” or commiserate with you like a personal friend might. They might say “It sounds like you and your partner have some things to work out. I hope that works out okay,” or something equally neutral. We’ll help you release the physical tension from your whatever personal drama is impacting your life, but it’s not our place to join you in dwelling on it.

So, yes, go ahead and chat! Or don’t! But understand that your massage is a professional exchange. Yes, it’s a intimate, even a little personal, but within certain limits that are worth keeping in mind.

Book your next massage now.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and the blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist you with content marketing, social media, and logo/brand development by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

 

Don’t Sabotage Your Massage! – A Pre-Massage Checklist

Don't Sabotage Your Massage

Have you ever been disappointed by a massage? It’s bound to happen eventually if you get regular massage, but there are a lot of factors that go into what kind of experience you’re going to have. Not everything is in your control, and we certainly try to hold up our end of making your experience soothing and therapeutic, there are some simple things you can do as well.

Before your massage …

Drink water
We’ve covered the risks of dehydration in this space before, but a lot of it bears repeating. When your muscles are tight, waste can build up in there. Massage releases that waste, so it helps to come in hydrated to give your body the best chance of flushing it out.

And don’t forget to grab a cup of water aftewards.

Wellness Check-In 1: Am I sick?
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and check in with your body before you come in. There are two questions you want answered, and the first of these is “Am I sick?”

Pay attention. Are you feeling much more tired and achy than usual? Is there a tell-tale tickle in the back of your throat warning you of an on-coming cold or flu bug?

In these situations, it’s best to cancel. We’ve had clients come in feeling a little under-the-weather who got their massage, then had to pulled over to vomit on the way home. Massage is great for your wellness over-all, but it can aggravate an oncoming or present illness. Please don’t hesitate to cancel in this situation! If you’re sick, a massage does more harm than good.

Wellness Check-In 2: What do I need?

The second health check-in you need to do is related to your massage and what you need most. Again, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Bring your attention to your back, your legs, your neck, your shoulders in-turn. Where are you feeling the most tension or pain? Make a mental note of it (or an actual note of it on the intake). That way, when your therapist asks what you need worked on for your massage, you’ll be ready to tell them exactly where you need the most attention.

Get your work-out in
If you’re planning to exercise that day, make sure you plan to get it in before your massage, not after. Some athletes may get a massage before a training session, but certainly not before an event or a game. For the rest of us, massage can relax and warm up your soft tissues to the point that you’ll be at a higher risk of sprain or strain if you jump right into vigorous activity.

Getting your massage after your workout, however, can be a great way to maximize the benefit of the massage. The simple reason for this is that you’re coming in with muscles already warmed and ready to work on! It saves the therapist time relaxing your muscles and soft tissues, and allows them to do deeper work, faster, and with less discomfort on your end.

Like many of the things on this list, this isn’t absolutely essential, but you may find it helps you get the most from your session.

Take a shower
This kind of dovetails in with the last one, but whether you work out beforehand or not, you may feel less self-conscious about any possible odors. Plus, the warm water will have helped you relax, and you’ll be even more prepared for a relaxing and productive session.

Show up early
This is a great idea, even if you don’t need to fill out our intake paperwork for your visit. The worst thing you can do to sabotage your massage is to come in completely frazzled, or worse yet, late, and not even get your full session time.

On the other hand, giving yourself time to arrive early will help you physically and mentally prepare for your session. Our waiting area was created with your comfort and serenity in mind, and we really don’t mind letting you wait for your session time. Take a minute to take some deep breaths. Listen to the sound of our signature waterfall. This is a great time to do that wellness check-in mentioned above.

We pride ourselves on giving clients their full as-advertised time on the massage table: sixty minutes means sixty full minutes of massage, not fifty or forty-five when the transition time is factored in.

If you must eat, eat light
You don’t want to be distracted by intense hunger during your massage, but if you must eat anything beforehand, go easy on the portions. Most people feel queasy when getting a massage after a big meal. They may even feel like they overate, even if they didn’t. Save your meal for after your massage. Eating afterward can be a great way to shake the fuzzy “massage brain” feeling many experience after a session.

Doing these few simple things will help you get the most from your massage experience, and reflect a lifestyle that’s slower-paced, more delibarate, and happier.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist you with content marketing, social media, or brand development by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com.

Is Your Phone Slowly Killing You?

Is Your Phone Slowly Killing You

Is your phone silently and insidiously abusing you?

Neil DeGrasse Tyson: No. It’s a phone, it doesn’t have free will.

Okay, how about this:

Are you silently and insidiously using your phone to undermine and sabotage yourself?

There’s a concept in psychology that’s found some traction in our modern discourse, especially among people having political slap fights on the Internet: cognitive dissonance.

The dictionary definition is the psychological discomfort you feel when you hold two or more contradictory/conflicting behaviors or values at the same time. An example of this can be found regularly on Rotten Tomatoes. This aggregator tool polls movie audiences to rate movies, and pairs that with an aggregate of professional critics. There’s often a sharp difference between the audience ratings and the critic’s aggregate score. Almost without exception, audiences rate movies higher than critics do. Why? There are several reasons, but one of these is cognitive dissonance.

Beliefs about ourselves that we find to be contradicted by our behavior give us the most discomfort. In this example, the audience members rating the movies believe they have good taste, and don’t spend money seeing bad movies (I mean, really, what kind of idiot would do that?). There’s a sense of embarrassment in our culture that tends to follow making a bad purchase of any kind, and movies are no exception.

The audience tends to rate the movie higher because they’ve paid to see it. Every consumer is wise in their own mind, so instead of admitting that they wasted their money, they’re more inclined to pretend to others and even themselves that they’ve made a great decision.

This is how we lie to ourselves. It may soothe our cognitive dissonance in the short term, but this kind of compromise can nickel and dime our morale and sense of integrity over time. It can slowly erode our identity and leave us feeling empty and depressed.

So here’s a more pernicious example: suppose you see yourself as a loving, attentive member of your family (spouse, mate, parent, sibling, friend, etc) and a hard worker. With those beliefs about yourself in mind, how is that reflected in your day-to-day life?

Let’s look at what you do with your time. You go to work. Okay! Not bad so far. You spend time with your loved ones on the weekends. Looking good, right? From a distance, this looks fine. But is it?

On closer inspection, we see this hypothetical you sleepwalking through the grind of your day, wasting more time on the Internet than you care to admit, doing everything you can to amuse yourself through the day. And the weekends? Seems it’s hard to leave that alone, too. Answer this honestly for yourself: when you spend time with your loved ones, is there actually a screen between you? Are you ever with them when there isn’t a screen within a few feet of you?

When you stop and look with intention at your own life, this kind of thing is impossible to un-see. And that’s good.

Why is this happening?
First, if this is you, know that you’re not a bad person. Psychology pioneer B.F. Skinner is known for illuminating how we pursue behaviors for specific rewards in his experiments with rats in cages. Skinner found that when you reward the rate with a treat after pushing a lever just once or twice reliably, you can get them to keep pushing the lever, even if a treat drops at random. We pursue a behavior even more avidly when the possible reward drops with some degree or unpredictability–like on a slot machine or when you get out your phone to check your notifications. When you get even a modest reward from those behaviors, your brain lights up with dopamine–a “feel good” neurotransmitter that shows up when you experience anything pleasurable.

Another interesting thing about dopamine, it doesn’t always show up when you’re grinding away at the job or listening to an exhuberant child’s meandering story about their stuffed animals. Do good workers grind away at the job? Yes. Do good people give children the attention they need and deserve? Of course.

And yet, in the name of the quick, seemingly inconsequential dopamine hit, these things are being neglected, or at least undermined for many of us. And yet, you’re a good person! A hard worker! You know there’s something amiss, though, and can’t put your finger on it (cognitive dissonance). So what do you do?

Some of us try to shrug it off. Some of us pursue even stonger hits of dopamine (in other words, more intense and hard-to-shake addictions and compulsions!). These are both just a race to rock-bottom, just at different speeds.

And then there are others, those who decide to live with intention.

Living with intention
You don’t have to throw your phone away. This isn’t a Lifetime original movie: your phone isn’t an abusive spouse you need to flee from, never looking back, or a stash of drugs you need to flush down the toilet. That thing you’re holding is a tool. Use it as such. Use it for what it’s good for. Use it with intention.

Are you a rat, tapping away at a lever hoping a treat will appear? Or are you a conscious, life-savoring human being putting a useful tool to its purpose? (And yes, that purpose can be enjoying cat videos. But are you doing it intentionally?)

Instead of going through the exhausting mental gymnastics of soothing your cognitive dissonance while your identity erodes like a cake left out in the rain, try bringing that cake inside and enjoying a slice.

STOP
There’s an acronym in the world of preparedness and safety-STOP, which stands for Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan. The idea is that your brain can sabotage you and cause accidents–like the rock climber who’s brain was tricked into thinking her safety line was tied because she tied her shoes. STOP is intended to prevent that.

But next time you get out your phone or click over to whatever non-productive Internet tab is your favorite, STOP.

Stop
Put your brain on pause just for a moment. Just observe yourself in the moment.

Think
Ask questions of yourself. What am I doing right now? Notice yourself noticing.

Observe
How are you feeling right now? Are you hungry, stressed, emotional, or tired? What are you about to do, and why are you about to do it?

Plan
Having observed yourself living in the real world and not in your own head, are you really on track with what you intend for your life right now?

This takes deliberate practice to develop before this becomes automatic, but it’s worth trying. Mindfulness meditation is a great way to get yourself used to thinking in this way. Be patient and kind with yourself.

It’s worth being more content, more productive, more loving, more awake.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor the marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist with social media marketing, content marketing, or logo design by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com