Know Your Therapist – Jadian Isaac, LMT

We’re pleased to introduce you to Jadian Isaac, LMT. Jadian comes to us fresh out of Cortiva Institute’s massage therapy program, but we’re lucky to have her. Her talent is clear and we feel lucky to be on the ground floor of what will surely be an amazing career. Her particular strength is in relaxation massage, but that’s not to say you won’t walk away feeling better. Her treatment skills are state-of-the-art. After only a week, she’s already building a loyal following of clients. We sat down with Jadian to get to know her better.

Tell us about your career in massage. How did you get started? What events lead you to working at GLM?
I’ve always had a passion for helping people, and there’s always been a massage school (Cortiva Institute) five minutes away from my house. I decided to check it out. I ended up signing up the same day. I went through a seven-month program, but I graduated about a year ago, and I’ve been at The Good Life Massage ever since.

The Good Life Massage has an incredible family feel to it, and it doesn’t feel like a job to me. It feels like coming and doing something that I love with people that I love.

What do you like most about this job?
I really like helping people. I like seeing their pain go down, or go away completely. I like seeing them being happy after a good massage–that feeling of relief that most people have after getting a massage. It’s very satisfying, and I find giving a massage to be as relaxing as getting a massage.

Describe your ideal client
My ideal client is someone that’s willing to learn, someone that’s willing to try new techniques that I might have to get done what they need to get done, whether it’s treatment work, getting pain relieved, or whether you just want to fall asleep on the table for a little while. I want a client that is willing to accept my professional opinion.

I had one client, he loved to learn about the techniques I was using, and he was really interested in what they were called, what they were doing to the body, and how I knew how to use them. One part of massage I love is educating the clients and it was really fun to have someone that was willing to learn as well as receive the treatment.

What sets you apart from the other therapists at The Good Life Massage? What makes a massage from you special?
My massage is very relaxing. Most of my clients fall asleep, and they still feel the changes of muscle release, muscle tensions going away. I specialize on feet and low back, which are two places people tend to feel tension and pain. And I want to try my hardest to get that to go away.

We’re big on health and wellness here. What’s your favorite health habit?
One health habit I’ve always been fond of is drinking lots of water. I drink between a gallon and a gallon and a half of water every day, and it’s really hard to start when I fall off the wagon and don’t drink that much water. It’s hard to get back up to that much, but the benefits of it are amazing.

Hydration and massage go hand-in-hand in my opinion. Muscles, when they’re not hydrated, they can get dry, and then they can clump together, which is the knots that people feel in their back and their feet and everywhere. And if you hydrate, there’s less likely of a chance that those will happen. And then the massage can just be more about relaxation than deep work that could be slightly uncomfortable. So if you hydrate properly, then it’ll be a lot easier to live your day with less pain and be happier.

Pick a super power: flying or turning invisible, and explain your answer
If I picked a superpower I would pick turning invisible because I’m already quiet, and I’m not someone that needs huge recognition from everyone. I do what I do to help people, to make their lives a little easier. Being invisible–I don’t want them to feel like they need to recognize me. It would be a little easier to just do good throughout the world and have that be it.

Thanks, Jadian!

Book your next massage with Jadian now!

425-243-7705

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage.

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Why Adhesions Cause Pain And What To Do About It

Ad-whatnow?
Adhesions. You may hear your massage therapist use this word. It sounds medical, and usually comes out during your massage as an explanation for why this or that stroke hurts like crazy.

As in, “It feels like you have some adhesions in there!”

What are adhesions?
Adhesions are scar tissue that forms between muscle fibers and organs. They’re a natural result of stress on muscles or organs. They’re one of the reasons you feel stiff and sore after a heavy workout or after surgery.

Usually, however, adhesions have no symptoms at all. This is why you may come out of a massage saying “I’m feeling places I didn’t even know I had!” The adhesions were pulling on your muscle tissue, causing a stinging pain.

Most adhesions are fairly innocuous, and result as a part of normal muscle function and exertion. Most have the consistency of wet tissue paper. With repetitive stress and motion, however, they can get strong, firm, and can begin to adhere tightly to muscle fibers.

Abdominal adhesions
Abdominal adhesions are a special case, and can cause major health problems and chronic pain. Adhesions in the uterus, also called endometriosis, can even cause infertility and painful periods.

Solutions
There’s really very little that can be done for adhesions. There’s no miracle drug, and adhesions won’t even appear on x-rays, CT scans, or any kind of imaging. There’s not even a test to confirm their presence definitively, and Doctors won’t even diagnose endometriosis without surgery.

For severe cases of abdominal adhesions, laproscopic or open surgery is the primary method of diagnosis and treatment.

But there is hope outside of surgery.

Massage to the rescue!
The biggest benefit of massage for adhesions is prevention. Regular massage helps prevent adhesions from becoming so strong that they cause pain and affect your posture. The more they’re broken down with regular massage, they less likely they are to become a problem.

Keep in mind that breaking down adhesions in muscle tissue isn’t for the faint of heart or those who only want massage for relaxation and not treatment. When your massage therapist encounters adhesions in your muscle tissue, you’ll know it. Massaging adhesions causes a distinct, stinging pain you’ll feel on contact.

As the massage therapist continues the strokes, the pain will decrease. This is a good kind of pain! Still, if you want your therapist to ease into it or back off the pressure, please say so. Don’t suffer in silence.

To help manage the pain of having adhesions worked in a massage, remember to relax. Easier said than done. Relaxation takes a real conscious effort in this case, but it’s well worth it.

Breathing is also key here. Focus on your breath, and by no means should you hold your breath through the pain. Slow, deep breaths help decrease the pain and takes your focus off how much it hurts. You’re also sending more oxygen to the area in pain, which can only do it good.

Abdominal massage
The Good Life Massage offers a distinctive abdominal treatment designed specifically to ease the suffering of those who have a large number of abdominal adhesions. It consists of a series of half-hour treatments focused wholly on the abdomen. It was devised by our own Amy Gunn, LMP and is based on scientific research indicating the benefits of massage for treating endometriosis. This treatment is ideal for anyone experiencing abdominal pain that might be a result of adhesions.

Need pain relief? Book a massage now!
For general work on muscles throughout your body, any massage session will work.

For a specialized session for abdominal adhesions, be sure to select Visceral Manipulation when booking.

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.

5 Reasons to Make Couples Massage Part of Your Next Night Out

When was the last time you went on a date? Dating, especially when you’re in a well-established relationship, can be tough to manage. You’ve heard so many of the other person’s stories. You’ve fallen into familiar patterns that, while reliable and maybe even enjoyable, have made your dating life a little repetitive and boring. What’s more, if you share a household with the other person, it’s all too easy for every-day hassles and worries to intrude on your time together.

If you’re dating someone new, the pressure is on to impress, to help the relationship progress.

These two common dating scenarios have one thing in common: STRESS.

And science has shown that stress generally isn’t fun. Not only that, but it can get in the way of intimate time with your partner.

That’s why we’d like to humbly recommend a modification to your dating routine that could make a huge difference.

Couples massage

To define our terms here, a couples massage is when two people come in for a massage together at the same time in the same room. Each of you get a custom massage from your own massage therapist in a relaxing setting.

There are several benefits to recommend this, beyond just stress relief. These are just a few:

Great value
Couples massage is a great value! Our couples session is significantly less than if you booked two separate sessions. To add even more to the value, every massage includes a free select session enhancement of your choice and a chocolate to enjoy on your way to whatever else the evening holds.

Not spontaneous
Trust us, this is a feature, not a bug. Our couples sessions require some advance planning. This shouldn’t be a surprise when you consider the sheer logistics involved: two therapists with different schedules need to both be available at the same time on the same day. This is one reason we’re one of the few massage clinics in the Seattle area that offer couples massage, and we may be the only one the area that has more than one room devoted to that kind of session.

For this reason, you’ll need to plan your session at least a day or two in advance. Even if you could do a couples massage on a whim, keep in mind that a couples massage as a surprise is not a great idea unless you’re very clear on how well your surprise will be received. People sometimes get anxious about disrobing, bodily functions, or have hang-ups about being touched in this kind of setting. Be sensitive to these possible concerns!

Note: if you wish to book a couples massage with us, we recommend calling us at

425-243-7705

Couples massages can be requested through our online booking, but the booking isn’t complete until you’ve had a phone conversation with us, so you may as well just call.

In the mood
If you’re both game, a couples massage can melt the stress out of date night right away. You’ll both be more able to relax and enjoy whatever your evening holds, and stay resilient if things do go quite to plan.

The ultimate appetizer
We recommend making the massage the first item on your itinerary for several reasons. First, you’ll both be in the same relaxed frame of mind at the beginning of the date. You’ll already be on the same page! Also, since massage increases your mind-body awareness, you’ll be able to fully enjoy whatever sensual experiences lie ahead, whether they be intimate or culinary.

Note: do not come for your massage after drinking alcohol, so you may want to save dinner or drinks for after.

So, consider making a couples massage your new date night tradition! You won’t regret it.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage.

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

 

 

Play With A Purpose, Relax With Intention

Unwinding, A Master Class–Part 2How to Play With Purpose Relax With Intention

Sharpen your saw
When a saw blade becomes dull, you put way more work into it than necessary. So it is with you. We’ve talked on this space before about relaxation, and how important it is to practice it as a skill, but it’s high time to revive the topic with some reflections on how to improve your relaxation practice in every area of your life.

The most important work
Unstring your bow, sharpen your saw, whatever analogy you like to use, these metaphors are trying to teach us something about relaxation, and it’s this: relaxation is a form of work–the kind of work that helps you work better. It’s time we start treating it as such. Don’t believe me? Work means change! If you’re doing relaxation well, there should be some change from the beginning of it to the end.

Further, you put yourself to the task for a specific purpose. Unwinding helps you get perspective on your life in a holistic way. True, you need to relax to work most efficiently, but you’re not just a cog in some machine–you’re a multifaceted, complex creature. Sometimes just the right kind of relaxation can help you remember that.

You can pace yourself. Small and incremental change is still change, and it has a sort of compound interest effect as the days add up. The results may be small at first, but they can accumulate over time. Long vacations give you the advantage of being able to go deep in your self-care, but don’t dismiss the benefits of doing a little every day. Establishing habits of self care and relaxation can enrich your life in ways you can’t yet know.

Just as not all stress is the same, so not all relaxation is the same. You need to take that into account before you choose what kind of relaxation you pursue.

Rest the body

This is where regular massage comes in and can be of most benefit to you. The body is put through it’s own stresses, regardless of your activity level, and you need to care for it.

Relax by … moving?
Exercise can be immensely relaxing–not because of how you feel while doing it, necessarily, but how you feel afterwards. Yoga practitioners will talk your ear off about how soothing it is on the nerves, and how good it is for stabilizing both your body and your mood. What any kind of exercise does for you is that it puts your body through stress in small, tolerable portions. When your body goes through this regularly, it grows stronger in order to adapt to this regular, tolerable stress. When something big hits, like a major stressful event, your body is better able to cope with what’s happening, and recovers from the shock of it more quickly.

That aside, a there’s no body more relaxed than a body that’s been thoroughly worked out. If you don’t feel as weak as a kitten coming out of the gym, you might not be getting as much out of the experience as you could.

Regular massage can also play a key role in helping your body recover from exercise and help you get the most out of your workouts. Not to mention that it feels great.

Nom nom
Have you thought of eating as relaxation? It really can be! But it’s not about eating for entertainment–that’s a different thing. Sweets and comfort foods may feed the soul, but a good, nutritious meal can be truly relaxing to your body in the sense that it can prepare your body to do its work better.

A meal that’s truly relaxing to your system

  • tastes good
  • is well-balanced, both in terms of portions and nutrition
  • is light enough to not stress your digestive system

Foodies all over the world are discovering that not only can this kind of eating be good for you, it can be an amazing sensory experience, and an adventure that’s well worth having. What’s more, they’re eager to share what they’ve tasted and how to make it.

Go ahead and add some novelty to the foods you choose when it’s time to party, keeping in mind that what your body really wants is a balance of flavors incorporating whole grains, green vegetables, and lean meat or proteins. Your body will thank you.

Breathing
Close your eyes and take a deep breath right now. Doesn’t that feel good? Taking care of your breath, and learning to breathe deeply is key to helping your body stay relaxed and help you cope with stress as it comes. Activities like aerobic exercise, massage, and meditation can all help you improve your breathing. Pursue improving your breath with intention, and every day will begin to feel like a gift.

The bottom line with relaxing the body is that your body is after balance. You can’t just live on wheat grass and water all the time, and you can’t expect to stay healthy if your body is under constant strain with no rest or variation. The opposite is also true. Always eating the same things and always doing the same things with your body creates stress and wear over time. Remember that your body is that of an animal–it needs a natural balance of rest and activity, feast and fasting to truly thrive.

Rest the mind

Exorcise
Expel the demons! It can be helpful to feed your mind with something other than the worries of the day. There’s something about humans that makes us crave stories. We want our heart strings pulled and our senses shocked. But make your catharsis meaningful. Whether it’s video games, movies, or a long-form television drama, use with moderation, and make sure the morals, meanings, and messages reflect your values. Entertainment can be a test drive for your emotions. What are you preparing your emotions to do? What kinds of reactions are you training your brain to have to different situations?

Reading, writing, learning
Similar to the exercise you put your body through, reading, writing and learning are necessary ways to exercise the powers of the mind. Is it stressful to the mind to learn something new, or to concentrate the powers of expression and reason? Absolutely. But it’s stressful in the mild, strengthening way exercise is helpful to the body.

Journaling or other creative writing has been shown to benefit health in surprising ways. University of Texas Austin psychologist and researcher contends that journaling actually strengthens the immune cells known as T-lymphocytes. It can also just help you cope with the challenges you’re facing, giving you insights about yourself you might not otherwise discover. It can also help you set aside unproductive worrying and focus your work time more effectively.

Relaxation is a skill you can spend your life improving on and enjoying. Pursue it with gusto and intention rather just going through the motions.

Choose the good life.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and Marketing Director for The Good Life Massage. You can reach him to help you develop your brand with content marketing by reaching out to him at tomgunn@gmail.com

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