Are you a once a year massage person or as often as you can afford it?
I was recently down in Whangamatā working in a massage clinic, and some of my clients proudly exclaimed they treated themselves to a massage once a year on their holiday. Well, I can tell you that massaging their tight muscles was a little like plowing up an unplowed field (which I have experienced). I’m afraid to say their massage was probably a little painful at times and harder for me, due to how long it had been since their last one.
It’s great that they equated massage with pampering and self-care, yet one of the ways in which massage becomes a radical act of self care is when it is received regularly, as massage’s effects are unfortunately short-term.
People often ask me how often they should get a massage. It really is different for everyone, and can depend on your budget, injuries, stress related conditions, or just preference.
Personally, I get a good full-body massage once a month as a physical, mental and emotional reset. I also get remedial massage once a fortnight at the moment to treat an old injury.
Why is massage a Radical Act of Self-Care?
1) It costs money, which may be in limited supply.
Our parents and grandparents never used to get massages or therapy for that matter, and fair enough, they had different priorities. But we are a different generation with a whole other set of expectations for our quality of life, vitality, fitness, and physical and mental health. We have learnt that paying for our wellbeing is an investment into our quality of life, because when we pay for something we have some skin in the game and tend to be more committed to following the path.
2) Regular wellbeing check-ins.
Before your massage, a good therapist will revisit your health notes and ask you about any changes. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on where you are at, monitor your progress or set-backs, and set new mini-goals for your health. It’s not the same as visiting a doctor or naturopath, yet it’s possibly more holistic and empowering.
3) Precious me-time.
Parents, teachers, students, busy people rejoice! This is your time to nourish yourself. All distractions are put to one side, kids are being babysat, phone is on silent and the to-do list is paused. Nothing else exists in this moment, except you on the table, receiving nurturing touch from another human being. Glorious!
4) Holistic treatment of stress-related conditions.
Western medicine is finally starting to understand something yoga and ayurveda has understood for millenia, that much disease originates in stress. Research has shown that massage can help treat digestive disorders, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, sports injuries and nerve pain. It can also lower high blood pressure and heart rate, improve immune function and reduce weight due to lowering stress-hormone cortisol which contributes to weight gain. Amazing!
5) More feel-good hormones!
Studies have shown that relaxation massage releases dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins, which is why you feel so good following a massage. Dopamine is a feel-good hormone whereas serotonin helps to regulate your mood, sleep, digestion and memory. Oxytocin is called the love hormone and can promote trust, empathy and bonding which helps us live longer. And endorphins are your body’s natural pain reliever, which the body produces in response to exercise, sex, or a great deep tissue massage.
So there you have it. 5 great reasons you ought to consider regular massage as part of your self-care practise. For those of you who already do, koia kei a koe!