self care

Jim Gaffigan’s neck is still a little sore.

As I tend to sit on Sunday mornings, I was watching my favorite show CBS Sunday Morning. Toward the end of the program, an opinion piece by Jim Gaffigan was being teased for the next segment, on how he feels about getting a massage and massage therapy in general. As a therapist, I naturally perked up, and waited, with anticipation, what he was going to say. He’s a comedian, after all; this should be funny.

As I sat and listened to his opinion, I was horrified by what he said. He compared massage therapist’s appearance to “an orderly in a mental ward”. According to him, we are emotionless people who a) like to rub strangers for money and b) murderers.

Now, I understand that he’s a comedian, and it’s HIS opinion, but I’m sure he isn’t alone. As of October 2016, only “19 percent of consumers surveyed reported receiving a massage from a professional massage therapist in the past year.” (AMTA Consumer Survey) I know I can’t change everyone’s mind, but I can challenge his opinion with knowledge from the other side of the table.

Massages are decadent and weird.”– If you expect an excellent massage for a small amount of money, you may be in for a disheartening experience. Not only are you paying in part for the therapist’s experience by the way of consistent training and classes, you are paying for treatment or relaxation, depending on the wants of the client. If you are not getting either, please speak up. We cannot read your mind; we can read some body language, to a degree.

They are always from strangers” – If you don’t have a person that gets massages, find a person that gets massages. They tend to know WHO to go to, to make sure that you have at least a good massage session. If that doesn’t work for you, massage referral services are a great way to find out who you want to get a massage from. The American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) has a massage locator service called FindaMassageTherapist.org. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) has their own Massage Therapist Locator service, as well. Both pages have therapist’s background information, such as licensing, specialties, environments that they work in, and the areas they serve. Massage therapists have a code of ethics that they have to follow to belong to each association. Their contact information is there; call the therapist and ask questions about the session you would like to get.

We get massages from strangers because we can’t count on the people who love us to touch us.”- Positive touch is something humans have been craving since humans walked the earth. The problem is, not everyone knows (or wants to know) how to give a massage to their partner. To some, it’s a little too touchy feely, or they don’t think they would give a good one. Body image issues can be a reason as to why one doesn’t get a massage from a stranger. “What will they think my body?” That’s what a Couples Instructional Massage session is for. You learn how to work with what you have to give a massage to your partner. It’s one of the best kinds of sessions to have because it gives you a little more confidence in how to take care of your partner.

“… why don’t I get in the most vulnerable position I can think of?” While I can understand that being in a state of undress can stress folks out with someone they are unfamiliar with, you do realize that YOU, the client are the most POWERFUL person in the room. You can ask for more or less pressure. You can ask as to why the therapist is working in that spot, even though you mentioned it hurt somewhere else.

Sy Syms, an awesome businessman once said, “An educated consumer is our best customer.” ASK those questions about your massage session. Ask them before, during and after, if necessary; that’ll cover your “I don’t know what to say!” portion of the session. If you’d prefer a quiet session, convey that to the therapist. Chatting helps the stress level lower somewhat. Oftentimes, once you turn over, you tend to fall asleep. If you feel extremely uncomfortable, and you’d like them to stop, say something.

One client on my table clamped her arm to her side because I was about to work on her arm, exposing her unshaven armpit. I replied to her that it’s not an issue for me; I didn’t have a problem with it. With that understanding that I had no opinion about her choice to not shave, she relaxed her arm, and the massage continued with a relaxing pace. We want you to be relaxed so that you can have the best session possible.

What do we know about massage therapists? They like to rub strangers for money while they listen to the “Avatar” soundtrack. That’s a red flag. Those are the traits of a serial killer.” As a kid, I was told that I had such nice hands for massage, I should go into doing massage. I was 8; I wasn’t comfortable with my own body, much less touching anyone else’s aside from my own Nana and Aunts. It put me off from doing massage for years after.

I wouldn’t say that we like to rub strangers for money. I would say that we like to get a person back to a sense of well-being through positive touch. As for the “Avatar” soundtrack, I’ve never seen the movie (That may be a red flag in and of itself, but that’s another story.).

Not everyone likes the sounds of the Blue Whale. Enya, though relaxing can become repetitive to therapists, and the sounds of running water make me want to use the restroom. In some cases, the client brings the music they want to listen to, sometimes, I do. I try not being boring with the music, as that’s as important as the massage itself.

 

They never laugh. You know why? ‘Cause they’re busy imagining making a suit out of my skin. ’cause they’re murderers! They already put the lotion in the basket.” I’ve been accused of laughing too much; I have rather interesting clients come across my chair and table. As far as references to being Buffalo Bill from “The Silence of the Lambs”, EW, no! Please keep the dermis you came in with; it looks so good on you.

Now, with all that being said, I may not have changed his mind or yours. I really do hope that this post has given you something to think about and resources to use in order to have a better massage experience. I’d really love to work with Jim about his issue; it can sometimes feel like a real pain in the neck.

Saying “NO” is a Complete Sentence

No is a complete sentence.

We all have them; people that drive us to mentally figure out “How to Get Away with Murder“. They ask you to do something that you clearly don’t want to do, so you mutter, “No.” That clearly doesn’t deter them. They continue on, and very much like a child in the cereal aisle tormenting a tired parent on a shopping trip, they wear you down, until you just say yes, to get them as far away from you as possible.

Saying “NO” is a Complete Sentence

Boundaries are a beautiful thing. It gives you a line to where you can set them, and folks can see where they can push you- but no further. Boundaries are for you to set, forward or back, but it’s your job to set them. To some, they are easy to set; for the rest of us, setting boundaries takes some practice. Here are a few tips that work for me –

  1. Making sure your head is in agreement with your NO – Nodding your head while saying NO gives
    Jessica Williams saying NO

    Make sure that your head aligns with you saying NO. You would be amazed at how often you nod saying NO.

    the person asking an opportunity to wear you down. It may sound crazy, but see how you look when you say ‘no’. You’d be surprised how you may have been giving mixed signals unconsciously.

  2. Make sure your body isn’t betraying you – Your posture dictates when people can get away with foolishness. If you are standing up straight, and look like you are about a sense of purpose, it is less likely that people will bug you. If you look like the last kid picked for dodgeball, your posture is saying it’s a good time to get away with something inane.
  3. Find more than one way to say it – the moment you are asked, depending on the situation, screaming at the top of your lungs may not be the most appropriate way to answer the question. Find a different way to say it, and apply that way to the appropriate situation.

Remember – 1) it takes practice to maintain boundaries and 2) people will constantly try to move your boundaries to fit their agenda. Saying NO to someone or a situation is essentially saying YES to you and your own agenda. Self-care is NOT selfish, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

P.S. – I know that this isn’t the complete list on saying NO. What do you do to maintain your boundaries and keep your sanity?

 

 

This is NOT what Sheryl Sandberg meant by “Leaning In”

With so many young people using cell phones, texting has exploded with expanded data features, and addictive interaction on social media. With prolonged use of cellphones, tablets and laptops, many chiropractors and massage therapists are treating ‘Text Neck’, or leaning into the screen.

Before this happens to you, these are tips that you can do to help deal with it –

  1. Dial the font size up on your screen. Whether you use your tablet, laptop or cellphone most often, sometimes the font size will cause you to squint or lean in to the screen. This isn’t what Sheryl Sandberg meant by the term. On your computer, Hold down CTRL + the dial on your mouse, and dial to your preferred size of font. On the tablet/smartphone (Apple), go to General > Accessibility > Larger Text > Drag Slider Right. Check your Android phone or tablet in the settings area, for similar prompts.
  2. Take time to look away and focus. Leaning into the screen also affects your eyesight, akin to moving to movie projector closer to the screen. It also puts a ton of pressure on your neck, as it’s holding up your head in a position that it was not really designed for it to be. For every inch you lean into the screen it adds 10 pounds of weight to your head and neck. Take a few minutes to look away from your screen, and focus on a faraway object.
  3. Look up. When you lean in to your screen for a prolonged time, it is about the
    Take a few moments to lean away from the screen.

    Take a few moments to look away from the screen.

    same as repeating the same action over and over. This contributes to headaches and stiff necks. Allow your head to loll back, and lower your shoulders. Don’t worry; your head won’t fall off, even though it just may feel like it. Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Definitely do this several times a day – It gives your neck and eyes a break.

  4. Use the dictation feature. One of the great things you probably never use on your phone is the dictation feature. As often as I am live tweeting (#Gladiator4Life), I have learned that dictation helps to keep up with the program, and keeps you from looking down SO often. I use the mic, and clip it in my ear. Just make sure that you proofread what it is writing, on your behalf. (Dang autocorrect!) Once the software gets used to your style, it tends to make corrections on its own.
  5. PUT THE PHONE DOWN – I get it – when I was in junior high (mumblemumble) years ago, I had classes with my best friend on EARTH all day for a year. I LOVED it; School was a daily hangout all day long. Then, we’d get home, and then get on the phone for hours. We even watched Jeopardy over the phone. This was back in the day when even the house line had a minutes plan. I truly understand what it means to just want to share every single thought with your friends all the time. But at some point, you just have to put the phone down. It’s hard to disengage at first, but actually talking in person does have its’ perks.
  6. Get a massage – Of course getting the muscles to relax increases flexibility, range of motion
    Prolonged texting with your neck craned forward without taking a break can cause a myriad of problems.

    Prolonged texting with your neck craned forward without taking a break can cause a myriad of problems.

    in your neck and relieves headaches. Prolonged texting with your neck craned forward without taking a break can cause pinched nerves, arthritis, and over time, disc degeneration. You are far too young to have to deal with that. Get a massage, or maybe an adjustment, if the problem cannot be solved with just the massage. These treatments are a great compliment to each other.

Note – This blog post is dedicated to Michele McDonald, who gave me the inspiration to write this post. If you have any questions about massage, please feel free to ask away!

Stress Free Tips for the School Year

School in the South has already started! It shouldn’t be a stressful time for parents and children alike, so here are some tips to take some of the stress out of the school year –

1. Plan ahead – No one Expects the Spanish Inquisition, but expect that kids will leave things until the last minute. Create a basket or bulletin board in a common area to hang all permission slips, reports and assignments due.

2. Keep in touch with the Teacher(s) – Make sure your child’s teacher can get in touch with you so that your kid’s ‘last minute’ assignment isn’t actually last minute. If your child knows that his or her teacher is a speed dial or click away, the less likely it is that they will try to get away with something. This also goes for parents of the friends.

3. Have the kids take ownership of their OWN homework. – When I was in school, twenty (cough, cough) plus years ago, homework took forever. I don’t think it has gotten any easier or less stressful for kback-to-schoolids to do their assignments. Kids are going to get frustrated, which will result in YOU getting frustrated. Doing their homework for them doesn’t solve their problem, at all. It saves tears and late nights, but it doesn’t solve the problem. There are a lot of apps, and free videos (especially Khan Academy) that can help your students in subjects that even you needed (or still need) help in!

4. Take a break! Taking short breaks throughout homework time lets the body relax a bit and move the blood around, giving you more energy and creativity.  Skipping breaks tends to wear you down, because the stress level never really abates. Even if you take time to do self-massage, meditate or have a dance break, all of these will help reduce stress.

These are only a few tips, but I’m sure that you have some great ones! What are your best ways to get the School Year off to a stress free start?

Tactical Operations Kit for Finals Week

Testing time, especially Finals Week can be especially stressful for any student of any age. Cramming over books or a computer doing research, can tie the calmest person in knots! It can almost feel as if the Hunger Games are a real event –

Sometimes, Finals week can feel like the Hunger Games...

Sometimes, Finals week can feel like the Hunger Games…

Here are some things that can help you not only stress less during testing time, but actually thrive-

  • Peppermint – This can be Essential Oil, candles, teas or candy. This can help with clarity, focus and concentration.
  • Lavender – This can be Essential Oil, lavender buds, teas or candy. This will help calm you, and relax.
  • Chamomile – This can be Essential Oil, chamomile buds, teas or candy. This also can help calm you.
  • Tennis Ball & Sock – This can help address knots that you cannot reach on neck & shoulders.
  • Golf Ball – Self massage for feet. Roll foot over ball to your preferred pressure. Pick it up after you’re done! 😉
These can help even the most stressed student stress less during testing period.

These can help even the most stressed student stress less during testing period.

Naturespace app for iPhone, Nature Sounds for Relax & Sleep for Android – Relaxing atmospheric soundtracks. You can ‘be’ at the beach or in the woods, for hours on end to help studying, or sleep!
My Thought Coach – Meditations, guided imagery and positive thoughts for varied occasions.
Get a Massage – You may not have enough time to get a full body massage during testing time, but getting a massage is a good investment on your stress level, and those knots you get from studying and doing research for hours on end. Check to see if your Student Activities Board has Massage Sessions set up at your college or university. If not, check out ‘Find A Massage Therapist’ on the AMTA or ABMP websites.