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.

Advertisements

6 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Wellness Goals

6 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Wellness Goals

The Good Life Massage would like to commend you on trying to live a healthier lifestyle! Even simple things like reading this blog post are steps in the right direction. But is every step you take a step forward?

We’d like to point out a few things people commonly do in the interest of taking care of themselves that are actually counter-productive and even self-sabotaging. Do any of these describe what you’ve been doing?

“Diet” Soda and other pre-packaged “Health” Foods
To be sure, diet soda is not as bad for you as regular soda, but it isn’t doing you any favors, either. You’ll tend to drink more of it than you think you are, which can damage your teeth and marinate your nervous system in caffeine! Regular consumption can even increase appetite, especially if you’re used to drinking it with meals or snacks. Low fat/carb “treats” from companies like Weight Watchers also tend to deceive you into thinking you’re eating well, when in fact you’re eating very poorly. Read labels! They may have reduced the fat, but they also may have increased the sugar to balance it out.

Leave it to Western consumerism to create a cycle where what you consume (low fat, high sugar food products), creates a problem (weight gain), which in turn has to be solved by some other product. It’s a cycle of madness that stops the minute you stop thinking you can buy your way into eating better. The science is clear: a diet consisting mainly of whole foods–whole grains, nuts, lean meats, vegetables, and fruits–is the key to good nutrition. Don’t be seduced into thinking some magic product will remove your responsibility to make better choices.

Being your own trainer
Sorry, but you really can’t be your own trainer. It’s an appealing idea, especially in American culture, that you can bootstrap yourself into physical fitness and lifelong habits of activity and health. Unfortunately, this isn’t usually a realistic expectation.

You’re a more complicated, more social animal than that, whether you want to admit it or not. Don’t believe me? Those mostly-wasted gym memberships of years past and the lightly-used abdominizer which you bought from TV and that now languishes under your bed are all the evidence you need that I’m right. That’s not to say a more detailed explanation isn’t merited.

There are just some things you can’t do all on your own. Even if you have the athletic experience and history on your side, your own will power is a finite and unreliable resource. You just can’t depend on it alone. You’ll need several levels of redundancy to account for it’s inevitable failure. These can include sheer habit–a powerful tool–or building in some kind of accountability. If you can’t afford a trainer and can’t find a workout buddy, consider joining a team or taking a class, preferably in-person so someone will hold you to your commitment.

Skipping meals
Sure, you’re motivated. You want to eat less, hoping that it might give your metabolism a kick in the butt. And besides, you’re busy! Who has time to eat anyway! So goes the logic. But skipping meals is a big mistake if better health is your goal. It actually slows your metabolism down! Regularly stressing your body like that signals your metabolism to store more calories as fat in the interest of long-term survival. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a famine and being busy. Don’t send it the wrong message by skipping meals!

Eating small meals high in protein and complex carbohydrates will keep your appetite at a moderate level, while reassuring your body that it will get all the fuel it needs to survive.

Going it alone
We get it: health is a personal thing, and not everyone wants to share their progress towards their health and fitness goals on social media. (And truthfully, most of your followers probably don’t want to follow you *that* closely!) But that doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Invite those closest to you–those people you know in three dimensional meat space–to be your cheering section. And get your doctor, massage therapist, and other health professionals in your life in on it! They’ll be able to help you measure your progress, set realistic goals, and give you expert advice on diet and exercise tailored to your body’s needs.

But above all, having people support you feeds your progress! When you have people interested in your progress and in seeing your wellness improve, you won’t want to flake out and let them down. And when you succeed, it feels even bigger and more significant. Because it is big. It is significant. Your life matters, and we all want it to continue as long as possible.

Getting lost in the stats
Data can be helpful… to a point. Knowing whether or not it will rain today: helpful. Knowing exact rainfall stats for this day for every year in recorded history? Consuming all those numbers might be interesting, but ultimately doesn’t help you decide how to dress. All the information you get from your food scale, measuring tape, wearable fitness tracker, nutrition labels, and your bathroom scale–numbers, numbers, numbers–can create an unhealthy obsession.

Not convinced? Consider this possible scenario:

You’ve been good! Excellent, even. You’ve been pushing yourself hard on your workouts, and you’ve been eating well (which is more enjoyable than you ever could have expected). You rise one glorious morning feeling fantastic–healthier than you’ve been in years. You do your workout, and feel pretty good about it.

But your wearable fitness tracker gives you results far worse than you were expecting. Kind of frustrating, but no big deal, right? Surely the results will show on the scale. But no! Betrayed there, too! What was the point of all this? Why have you worked so hard, made so many big changes if this is the result you could expect?

Remember, you woke up feeling great, feeling healthy. But the only conclusion you can draw from all that scientific data is that you were wrong about that–that you aren’t as healthy as you felt. And while you may know logically that what you’re doing is fine, that the way you feel about your progress is valid, that you just have to keep at it, the emotional signal you’re giving yourself is the opposite: you’re defeated. You’ve been wasting your time. You should quit. You might not be committed to that defeatest way of thinking. No! you say to yourself defiantly. This is good. I will persist! And while that war is raging inside you, someone brings a big bag of candy bars to the office to share with everyone. It’s pouring rain and freezing cold for your jog the next morning. What do you do? Chances are, your efforts have just come to a quiet, ineffectual close. Why? Because the data psyched you out.

You’re always telling yourself a story about yourself. To persist as the hero of that story, you need to be able to trust your own gauge on how you’re doing in moving forward with it. Data can be very helpful! It can even be essential, not allowing you to fool yourself about what you’re doing or how well you’re doing. Just don’t forget to think long-term. The game isn’t won or lost with one days’ data. Take control of your narrative by taking that data with a grain of salt. Try working out a few times with the wearable left at home. The results you want will, in time, be fully measurable and satisfying, but don’t let those numbers stop you from moving towards that goal.

Ignoring your body, because “the program”
This is common early on, especially when you’re determined to make a change and you’re feeling zealous. If you’re too hard on yourself, you could actually injure yourself, sabotaging the whole project. Educate yourself on what kind of pain you should be feeling and when! If it’s the day after your first heavy activity in a long time, don’t be surprised if you feel sore. But don’t dismiss all pain!Pain

Contrary to that meme, pain is not just weakness leaving your body–it can also be health leaving your body and being replaced with pain–terrible, agonizing pain. So be smart! Get in for a massage after your first few workouts, or after a particularly tough session. See a doctor if you have pain that persists for longer than a few minutes. Get your form down so you can up the intensity without hurting yourself. Yes, progress matters, but don’t damage your body in its name.

Don’t quit! We’re pulling for you.

Choose the good life.

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

 

How Massage Can Benefit Digestion

How Massage Can Benefit Digestion

Massage has a whole range of benefits–so many in fact that a rapid-fire listicle just won’t do it justice. After three or four bullet points, the eyes glaze over and you say “Okay, I get it. Massage is good.”

But no, seriously: Massage. Is. Amazing.

We’re so committed to sharing our wonder at the benefits of massage that we want to dive deep over the course of several posts on this space to share those benefits with you.

Today we’re going to talk about a massage benefit most aren’t at all aware of. Massage can actually aid the functioning of your digestive system.

It’s not a cure for any serious illness as far as we know, but it does reduce symptoms and provides relief for debilitating and embarrassing digestive problems.

Keeps things moving
You don’t usually have to think about it, but digestion is complicated. The reason you don’t usually have to think about it is because it’s a part of the autonomic nervous system–that aspect of your nervous system that controls all the bodily functions you can’t control. When you get a massage, your massage therapist is moving blood and hormones, releasing tension in muscles, and warming and relaxing soft tissues. All this aids in the functioning of your autonomic nervous system. Think of it like an oil change for your car–it keeps things moving. This effect has a direct impact on your digestion, which is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. The improved circulation helps with waste removal and the production of enzymes essential to digestion.

Keep your cookies
Did you know that massage can reduce nausea? It’s particularly beneficial for morning sickness in pregnant women. This works because massage relaxes the muscles over-all, and increases the flow of blood and hormones. All these have the added benefit of reducing nausea because the muscles of the stomach are more prone to relax. Massage has been clinically proven to help reduce stress and aid sleep for pregnant women, both of which help reduce nausea.

Keep in mind, though, that if you have a stomach flu, clinical massage is not the answer. In the short term, we’re likely to make you feel worse. If you feel sick on the day of your appointment, please give us a call and cancel immediately, for your own sake.

Clear your plumbing
Massage helps stimulate and facilitate peristalsis in the large intestines. Peristalsis is the odd, snakelike motions your digestive system goes through to move food and waste through your system.

Here’s an animation to show you how peristalsis works:

#GrossbutCool

What does this do for you, exactly? To put it delicately, it helps clean you out. When you live a relatively sedentary lifestyle as most of us do, the contents of your intestines can settle and gather, causing gas and colic. (And yes, that means that children and babies can benefit from some light massage just as much as adults.)

This increased peristalsis also helps prevent constipation.

Having stomach issues? Come see us and see what massage can do for you.

Book now.

425-243-7705

On a related note, if you regularly have muscle pain in your abdomen, we strongly suggest you learn more about our visceral manipulation massage. This is a specialty treatment of ours you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s worked wonders for our clients, including our own staff. Check it out.

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 contact him to help build your brand and develop your content marketing strategy by emailing 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

 

Drawn In: A Primer on Aromatherapy as a Massage Enhancement

Drawn In

We do a lot to at The Good Life Massage to help our clients feel relaxed, and to create an atmosphere of calm and healing. This can be done with all five senses–our specialty being touch, of course. But our second favorite way? Follow your nose.

Our aromatherapy session enhancement is the ideal way to give your massage a little dose of emotional healing. Massage already has great benefits for mental health, particularly depression, negative body image, and others, but adding the aromatherapy enhancement gives that aspect of your treatment a powerful boost.

Skeptical?
It’s understandable. There are no studies or evidence that aromatherapy can heal or cure disease. But that’s not what it’s for, and we make no claim to that. It’s undeniable, though, that aromatherapy has an impact on emotional health and well-being.

Still skeptical? When was the last time you smelled fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies after a hard day? Or coffee as you try to wake up on a rough morning? Smell is potent in shifting mood, and in activating memory and emotion. You might be surprised what the right aroma can do to activate your senses and metaphorically turn your world from black and white to living color.

Our treatment
Our aromatherapy enhancement is simple, but highly effective. You can add the enhancement at any time, even at the last minute. You’ll be offered a wide selection of essential oil blends to choose from. All our oils are naturally sourced. Some of the oils have been blended for a certain effect, or diluted for safety, but each is a natural product of real plants. There are no artificial fragrances added.

You may find that you have too many choices to pick in only a minute or two! Talk to your massage therapist about the different aromas, their qualities, and what they’re good for. Also, this blog isn’t a bad start for learning more about what we have to offer.

Your therapist will begin your session as usual, but will have you lying face down. You’ll be prompted to take a deep breath while the therapist holds a small pool of the essential oil under your face. This gives you a powerful hit, and instantly helps you relax before your therapist has even begun working. In fact, your therapist will be able to go deeper in less time if deep tissue treatment is what you’re after.

The therapist then works the essential oil into your skin throughout the massage, allowing the aroma to interact with your body heat. This causes the aroma to linger over and around you, embracing your senses with comfort and a feeling of well-being.

In my personal experience, when I’ve had this done, I’ll be face down on the table with my eyes closed. I keep thinking the therapist is holding their hand under my face again, because the smell comes back to me, ebbing and flowing in waves. But they’re not! It’s interesting to observe the little tricks your senses can play on you.

Add aromatherapy to your next massage today!

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire Tom to help you boost your brand or logo design, or manage your social media and content marketing needs by emailing him at tomgunn@gmail.com

The Wellness-Mindfulness Connection

The Wellness - Mindfulness Connection

How are you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you ready? Let’s go.

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

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

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

So what’s the solution? Practice mindfulness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Early Warning Signs You Need A Massage

4-warning-signs-that-its-time-for-a-massage

Is it time for a massage? Don’t answer so fast. Your body could be telling you, and you don’t even know it.

They say ignorance is bliss, but it can also be very expensive. That pain in your neck could become debilitating, preventing you from working and enjoying your life. Consider the cost of doing nothing, and you’ll see why it’s wiser to take care of yourself from the beginning.

Exhaustion
Are you getting to the end of a normal day feeling like you just did a 50 mile hike? Do you seem to fall asleep the moment you get comfortable? Your body may be working harder than it has to. This could be due to bad posture, poor sleeping habits, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, or all of the above.

Regular massage can help you feel like yourself again and boost your energy by improving circulation. Massage can also help correct poor posture, making it easier to rest and move your body more naturally.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, massage is one of the best treatments for that. A study by the Mayo clinic found that patients reported better sleep and lower fatigue than a control group. It really does help.

Loss of muscle control
For athletes and musicians, control is everything. Power and energy in using your muscles is important, but control is what turns that power into inspiring wins or beautiful music.

You may not be in pain, but if you’re noticing control errors in your playing, it might be time to schedule an appointment.

Pain that goes away–for a while
Headaches are the most common form of this, but pain can be your body’s way of sending you subtle and not-so-subtle messages. You may try temporary measures to find relief (aspirin, hot or cold packs), and you feel better…for a while. But if the pain keeps coming back, you’re not getting the message.

The message almost always has to do with self-care, but how to best interpret that message depends on the situation. If you just had a massage yesterday, you probably need to rest your body from the usual strain, and probably need additional treatment down the line anyway. But if it’s been some time since your last massage, and the pain keeps coming back, it might be a good time to schedule your next one.

Loss of emotional control
Your feelings are like lightning calculators, taking the input your brain receives and manifesting a tidy sum response to that input. What most people forget is that your feelings are responses–not just to what happens to you–but what’s happening inside you as well.

Pain can be like an annoying sound in the background–you may almost forget it’s there or how irritating it is–until, suddenly, it’s gone. Your body can develop a tolerance for it, a numbness. But your feelings and emotions aren’t so easily distracted.

Irritation in the body can come out as irritability with friends or with yourself. Are you feeling more sad for no apparent reason? Are your responses to things more dramatic than usual, in either a happy or sad/angry direction? Do you ever feel like you’re watching yourself react, but can’t stop the reaction?

Regular massage can help you stabilize your emotional responses by reducing the input your mind is receiving from within–quieting that noise of the body so you can respond to the stresses of life in a balanced and healthy way.

Do any or all of these describe you? Consider a massage. It really isn’t just a luxury, and you really don’t have to be rich to get it on a regular basis. And it could be a lot less expensive than trying to go without it.

When you come in, be open with your massage therapist about what you’ve been going through and what you need. The more you tell them, the more effective the treatment will be.

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 a freelance writer and social media editor. He is also the editor of this blog and the marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can see more of his work or hire him at www.TGunnWriter.com