You’ve just gotten off of the table. Your muscles are loose, your mind is clear, you’re feeling more positive and pain-free than you have in days. You’re feeling good. And then you walk out of that office door, right back into the craziness of everyday life.
All those good feelings slide right away. You find your muscles tensing again, your mind is back to racing, and the stress comes back in a flash.
If you’ve ever experienced this, you’re not alone.
Massage can be a profoundly beneficial experience – physically and mentally – but sometimes the world isn’t interested in preserving and honoring our health. That’s our responsibility.
Here are a few ways to influence your post-massage attitude and environment, in order to ensure that you get the most out of your session. (And to keep that melty, happy feeling going for as long as possible.)
When you’re scheduling an appointment…
Schedule strategically. While it’s certainly nice to take your lunch break and go get a massage, you’ll benefit more from massages at the end of your workday or on your days off. Why? Because some of the benefits of massage (like better sleep, detoxifying your body, and stress reduction) can be virtually erased if you head right back to a high-stress job. Your body needs time to set new patterns. And healing is a slow process. So, if you can, try to schedule your appointments so you have a little bit of time before and after the session – to get your head in the right place, and then to keep it there.
If you can, schedule a few other self-care activities for that day. It might be the right time to get that pedicure, or haircut, or lunch with a friend. It might also be a good day for a yoga class, meditation session, or other therapy session. If you still have a busy day ahead, take a few moments to consciously make a list of a few things you’re grateful for. (Easy starting point: today’s massage session!)
When you get back in the car…
Pay attention to the positioning of your seat. Your newly relaxed muscles might tell you something about the way you usually sit in a vehicle, whether you’re a passenger or the driver. Be ready to adjust the seat to a more comfortable and supportive position.
Additionally, turn down the volume on your radio (or turn it off entirely). Try to avoid overly stimulating music, talk shows, or the news. All of these things will send your mind right back to its normal patterns, particularly the news. In fact, “violent media exposure can exacerbate or contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder,” according to British psychologist Dr. Graham Davey. If you prefer not to drive in silence, choose more uplifting or soothing music. Preliminary studies have suggested that listening to your favorite songs can reduce anxiety, lower cortisol levels, and even help you boost your immunity – all things that work with massage, rather than against it.
When you’re eating or drinking…
Focus on nourishing your body as best you can. This might seem like common sense, but it’s best to hydrate thoroughly, avoid greasy or heavy meals, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and focus on the foods that make you feel good. This goes for before and after your massage. While you don’t have to chomp on raw carrots or celery sticks (though that would definitely be a healthy choice), you do want to seek out light, nourishing foods. Salads, Buddha bowls, and recipes that call on fresh ingredients are always good options.
When you get home…
Try to keep the train of comfort and self-care rolling. Put on some comfortable clothes. If you enjoy cooking, make yourself a healthy meal. Eat a bit of dark chocolate. Take a bubble bath, or phone a friend. Avoid things that you know stress you out – scrubbing the bathroom or watching the news can wait. If cleaning your closet is therapeutic, go for it! The main thing is to continue treating your body and mind with care.
Light activity will help keep your blood flowing, so don’t necessarily veg out on the couch for the rest of the day. (Though, as moms, we rarely have time for that anyway!) Just do what feels good for as long as you can.
When you go to bed that night…
Keep your electronics out of bed. Studies show that the blue light that emits from our phones, tablets, and TVs can disrupt the body’s ability to produce melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. Sleep.org recommends that you put away all of your devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Get comfortable! Put a bolster or a pillow under your knees, to help keep your spine and hips more aligned. If you’re a side sleeper, body or knee pillows can also offer support. The right environment can help you sleep longer and more deeply. It can also reduce strain on your muscles and joints, offering more time for healing.
Self-care is so important. While it isn’t always possible to do every item on this list, I recommend that you give one or two of them a shot. If you maximize the time you spend feeling good, your massages will feel like a better investment. And if you give your body more time to rest and heal, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.
I hope that this post has been helpful to you! To schedule your next appointment and start focusing on self-care, feel free to call me at (315)651-3805. Check out my contact page for my hours, location, intake forms, and more.