It’s not hard to think up great ways to treat yourself. We’d all love a spa day topped off with a meal prepared and served by someone else. Maybe a sitter for the night, so the little angels are asleep when we get home. Or just a morning where the cat doesn't wake you up by sitting on your windpipe.
But for every article I see about self care, I roll my eyes at least 12 times and think "Who can afford that?" And sure, I would love to have an afternoon to myself and a bucket of fried chicken, and a cookie dough chaser. But that's not particularly healthy.
So I'm a fan of realistic self care. That is, activities that aren't expensive, don't involve food, and will make you feel good about how you spent that time. Here's a list of my favorites
Meditate, the easy way
If you're the kind of person who can't sleep during the day, napping can be more like torture. But guided meditation is a whole other story. It gives your mind something (easy) to do so the rest of you can relax a bit. There are plenty of free guided meditations online, my favorites are at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center website.
Walk and a picnic
Okay, this one involves food, or just a beverage. Pack a little bag with a snack and a drink and go for a walk. Doesn't need to be far, doesn't need to be fancy. Just get outside, find a rock or a glade or a bench, settle in and sip your beverage. Listen to the quiet, or people-watch. Even better, bring a little trash bag and pick up litter along your route. You've just added in a random act of kindness to your personal time. Go, you!
Read a book
When was the last time you read for pleasure. Even if you can't get to your library, there are plenty of Free e-books on Amazon, and your local library probably may have a free online borrowing program. Or reread some of your favorite books from childhood if you have them hanging around.
If you choose the topic right, learning is great self-care. Pick a topic for FUN. Don't feel like you need to learn something pertinent to your work or a current hobby. Check out Tafe, Open Universities or your local community college to start off with or just dig into some YouTube tutorials.
Bust out a piece for paper and draw something. Even if you don't have fancy pencils or crayons or markers, you can play with shading and pressure and make something cool. There are plenty of free coloring pages you can download and print out.
Write a letter (this one will cost you the price of a stamp)
Remember letters? On real paper? It's becoming a lost art, which is kinda sad. it used to be so exciting to get a real letter in the mail. Not a bill, not an advertisement, but a real letter, with news, from someone you love. It was downright magical. If you feel totally lost and don't know where to start, here's a site to help you out.
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. There are plenty of free apps to help you learn geocaching and get started.
For nearly every song out there, there's a karaoke accompaniment on YouTube. For reals. Crank it up and let ‘er rip. You’re a stress-free superstar now.
Get a kid and play Uno, or find an old deck of real cards and fall into a game of solitaire.
You can go nuts and find a whole bunch of fancy recipes on the internet, or just throw some salt into big bowl of warm water. Put a foot in there. Scrub it a bit with a washcloth. It feels good, the warmth is calming (or use cool water if it's a zillion degrees where you're at), and your feet will be all soft and good-smelling when you take ‘em out.
Got a teabag? Throw it in. Got an essential oil you like? A few drops'll do. No big whoop. When you're ready, dry that foot off and slather with some lotion. Or coconut oil. Or olive oil. Whatever you have is just fine. (Put some socks on to really make it last, and so you don't slip, ok?)
And when all else fails: Nap
Put your jammies on and take a nap. In your bed. Not all jammed up on the couch with the TV on. Close the shades in your bedroom and hunker down for a proper sleep.
There. You don’t have to spend money or fill your belly to feel great and treat yourself well!
We know massage will make us move better and feel happier, but not everyone can make time for regular appointments. Luckily massage is great preventive care and it can have some instantly-gratifying results. Check out these 3 things massage can help you with right now.
Tension headaches (often called stress headaches) are the most common type of headaches among adults. Pain or pressure in your forehead or on the top or sides of your head? Could be a tension headache. It's especially likely if you've been hunching over a desk or some knitting, spent a ton of time in a car.
Massage can help get rid of that headache and regular massage may well keep it from coming back. (If you want to geek out about tension headaches and try a few self-massage techniques, check out this article.)
Low Back Pain
A major research study was published in 2011 showing that massage therapy was better than drugs and usual care for general lower back pain. Better than drugs. I just had to say that twice.
Just about everyone will experience low back pain at some point in their life. If it happens to you, don't suffer. Schedule a massage and get back into action.
Have you ever been so cranky you got on your own nerves? Yeah, me, too. It isn’t fun. When you feel yourself biting everyone’s head off when they ask you a question, it might be time for some self-care.
Massage is great for stress relief. You get to shut off all the things that buzz and chime and aggravate you to the point of eye twitches. Music, silence, warmth, massage. All the cranky disappears.
This is dual purpose. You'll feel better and all the people around you will be happier that you're back to your sunny self.
Got a headache, low back pain, or a case of the grumpies? Book a massage and we’ll handle that fast.
That’s right, your mirror reflects how beautiful you are!
It might sound cliche to encourage you to embrace your beauty (inside and out), but you deserve the kind of love you would show to someone else. Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have so it’s practically required that you acknowledge your beauty.
Try these simple tips to take steps toward accepting yourself and celebrate you.
Look at yourself
That’s the nuts and bolts of this exercise. Every time you walk past a mirror, take a moment to look at yourself. Really look at yourself - without judgement.
Focus on the positive
What is your favorite part of your body? What part of your personality makes you happy? Focus on your strengths.
Wear your favorite color
Whether it’s a swimsuit or shade of lipstick, wear a color that makes you feel alive, comfortable in your skin, and makes you shine.
Buy or repaint your vanity
Having a special place designated just for you, complete with pretty decor (or an inspirational quote that speaks to your personality), will give you space to reconnect with yourself, especially if you’re toting a full schedule.
Take a time out
Show some self love by scheduling a massage, a facial, or a day at the spa. You’ll appreciate how great you feel after.
See? One day is not so hard, right? What would it look like - how would you feel about yourself - if you tried one or two of these simple acts every day?
Does the thought of your soft, fluffy pillow bring thoughts of pain and suffering? When I think of things that cause pain, pillows don’t usually come to mind.
How could such an innocent household item be the cause of so much pain? Your squishy bedtime friends flatten out and their change shape with use over time. So, how long have you had your current pillow? That pillow that was so supportive when it was brand new may need to be retired if it’s not as firm as it once was.
Is your pillow a pain in the neck? Neck and shoulder pain one of the most common complaints that I hear from my clients. When confronted with a client in pain I like to ask questions to understand what has caused the pain. Of course there are loads of other factors (including stress and posture) for many people. If you “sleep funny” or wake up with more pain than you had the night before your foamy or feathered friend might be to blame.
If your neck didn’t hurt when you went to bed but is does in the morning, something about how you sleep may be causing it.
Typically when people think about their bed they think about how they would like to spend more time there, not about foam degradation or long term compression value of down versus bamboo. We have enough other things to occupy our attention. Even if we occasionally wake up with a headache, it’s still nice to crawl into bed after a long day. We do notice differences when sleeping in a new place and we look forward to getting back into our own bed.
Sleep is incredibly important and we should feel better, not worse, in the mornings. Getting a good nights sleep not only makes our days a little brighter, it also can cause changes in weight, personality, stress levels, intelligence and so many more things. And while you are taking a closer look at the bedroom, examine your mattress also.
Pillows don’t cost a lot so it is not a big expense to try a new one. it is money well spent if a few dollars can prevent you from waking up with pain. Mattresses are of course more expensive, so be sure to do your research and get one that you will be happy with for the next ten years.
There are plenty of things in the world that cause you pain so if your a pillow is a problem, replace it. It may be hard to let go of the old one, but you will learn to love your new one too.
I’m constantly telling you to get massages and giving you reasons why you should and for those same reasons and the benefits it provides, I get massages too. I really look forward to them and make sure that I book in a regular time slot so that nothing interferes with my Erin time. They are an important part of my self-care routine, especially with such a physical job. I get an additional benefit in that I sometimes learn a new technique I can include in my work. Importantly, it helps remind me of how things feel while receiving a massage so I can make your massage even better.
I’ve had massages from a lot of people. Most of them have been great, but I have one person I like the best. I believe that the same things that help me get the most out of my massage by working with the same person will also help you.
My massage therapist knows me and my body. I am far from perfect, but he accepts me and all of my perfect imperfections. Massage has helped me feel better about my body. It gives me a positive experience from knowing I will be accepted and not judged, I am less self conscious about my body. He knows where my pain areas are, what needs regular work and what produces the best results for my body.
We have really good communication. Since we have worked together for some time I feel comfortable explaining what issues I am having and what needs attention this session. I know that he will take what I say professionally and respond appropriately. I can speak up during my massage to let him know if I would like more or less pressure, or to let him know that stroke feels great. I am comfortable having a friendly chat during the massage or having a more serious conversation, or we can have some quiet time, and we are both ok with it. The amount of conversation during your massage is always up to you.
Knowing what to expect from my massage allows me the freedom to relax during the massage. I know that I am in good hands and that I will feel amazing when it’s over. I don’t spend my session wondering what will happen next, or how he’s going to address my needs that we discussed before the session.
Most of this comes down to trust. We both know what to expect from each other. A great massage requires great communication. To be able to relax, you need to have enough trust to let your guard down. It can be hard to allow yourself to be vulnerable but opening that gate can allow good things in.
If you have been bouncing between massage therapists whether in a spa or purchasing groupons you may be missing out on some major massage benefits. Why not try working with the same massage therapist and see if you can improve your results by developing trust with them.
Only 32% of adult Americans got a massage in the past 5 years. And only even fewer get massage regularly. So it's not surprising that most people don't know much about massage.
Here are some fun facts to build your knowledge:
1 Massage can help you sleep better (Even if you don't nap during the actual massage). The deep relaxation state caused by massage lasts much longer than your hour on the table.
2 When one body part hurts, surrounding areas might also need some work. The muscles of your body are interconnected and when one is inflamed or painful it can cause extra stress and friction in your other muscles. For example, your back pain might be caused by the muscles in your hip, legs or abdomen.
3 Massage is not for everyone! I sure love it but i also like anchovies on my pizza. We are all unique little snowflakes and it's ok to not like your massage or the therapist. If that's the case you have every right to stop treatment.
4 Massage can help your mood. It's been shown to be helpful in treating both anxiety and depression.
5 Massage doesn't 'detoxify' your body. So are toxins, that whole thing is a silly myth.
6 Massage is safe in the first trimester of pregnancy (unless there are unusual health issues). Some practitioners choose to not do it, but that's their choice.
7 while we are on the topic of things that are not things... Massage doesn't need to be painful to be effective. It's true. Run screaming from any practitioner who insists there needs to be pain in a treatment.
8 Scars are living tissue that can be transformed with massage and other manual therapies, no matter how old they are. And they can be affecting you in places farther away from the visible scar than you'd ever suspect.
9 It's OK to focus on certain areas of discomfort. In fact, if you have a particular issue we should be spending a good amount of time on that region and the surrounding muscles. If your gluts are being a pain in the... you know... I will make sure that issue is addressed.
10 Your massage therapist loves feedback. We like to know if you hate having your feet touched, and if you looove having your ears massaged. We like knowing your musical preference and if you prefer to start face down or face up. That being said, if you want me to just work my magic and design your treatment plan we can do that too.
11 There are approximately 5 million touch receptors in a persons skin. Now you probably understand a little better about why massage feels so good! With 3,000 touch receptors in a finger tip alone how could it not.
12 Interesting enough, touch is the first feeling that develops in the human body and also the last to fade away. Any type of touch can reduce the heart rate, it can lower chances for depression and lower blood pressure.
Do you have questions about massage? Contact me or ask at your next appointment and I would LOVE to answer them!