Give a Massage this Valentine’s Day!!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, the perfect time to treat yourself, or a loved one to a massage (hint, hint husband, boyfriend, or significant other??).  If that’s not a good enough reason, how about this: Not only can massage therapy evoke relaxation and relieve, it can lessen chronic pain, reduce muscle soreness, increase blood circulation and flush out toxins.

Visiting a spa or visiting a independent CMT is always a welcome treat, but if money’s tight, why not try the DIY approach? Offering a partner a massage can be romantic, especially with the variety of aromatherapy oils on the market. Perhaps, you could create a cute coupon redeemable for one 30-minute massage. Make sure to communicate while doing the massage, asking questions like, “does this feel good?” and “how’s the pressure?”

If you’re flying solo this V-day, why not try self-massage? Use oils to enhance the experience and focus on areas where you tend to hold the most tension; maybe it’s your shoulders or calves. You can try a muscle massage stick or other tools made for muscle soreness, or even just your own hands. Lance Armstrong’s site, LiveStrong.com has a great article about how to do self-massage. Read it here.

 

 

A Moment to Yourself…..

 

Where do you get away from it all to meditate, dream, or decompress??

In the Western culture, we live in a fast paced, frenetic society.  It seems that more and more people are getting away from connecting to one another in person and having any meaningful conversation.  Connections and updates about our lives are now on Facebook or Twitter.  How long/often are you on these social networking sites?  Have you ever observed a group of people in the airport, in the grocery line, or anywhere outdoors glued to their Smartphones?  Is it any wonder so many of us feel disconnected?  It seems as though technology is becoming the death of our society. To succeed in the business world these days, you must be tied into social networking.  I prefer to network in person, but to keep up with the times, have succumbed to engaging in social networking.  It’s no wonder I prefer the European mindset of a much slower paced lifestyle with a siesta in the late afternoon.

I am on Facebook, primarily to promote my business.  I generally check in 1-2x a day during the weekday, but for never more than 5-10 minutes. Many people are Facebook stalkers, never commenting or adding anything to their page, just following what others are posting.

I make it a point to regularly connect with my good friends IN PERSON, or at least over the phone.  It is so nice to be able to share time together, for a meal, drinks or, better yet, out in nature.  Time can swiftly get away from you; all of a sudden you realize you haven’t connected with friends in six months, a year!

My favorite way to decompress is travel, whether it is local or abroad.  If I may recommend a few places that I get away regularly to relax that don’t require airplane travel:

Bodega Bay Lodge, Bodega Bay, CA: http://www.bodegabaylodge.com/specials_and_packages

Osmosis Day Spa & Sanctuary, Freestone, CA –  http://www.osmosis.com/

Stafford Retreat Cottage, Scott’s Valley, CA  – http://www.vrbo.com/418853

 

 

 

Serenity N-O-W!!!!

We all too familiar with this scenario…

‘You wake up each morning and are in a big rush to get to work on time. It seems like traffic is always bumper to bumper! By the time you get to work, you are met with deadlines, office politics, and 100 things on your to do list and 50 things to tackle in your in basket. Five o’clock comes and you are rushing home…traffic again! By the time you make it home, you are already late for dinner with your neighbors. The babysitter just called, and can’t make it tonight.’

Whew! I am stressed for you just thinking about it. Balancing your work and home life can be extremely stressful. It seems like there is never enough time in the day for relaxation, or taking care of your self.  Relaxation is a necessary part of health and wellness for your body and mind. There are a few things you can do throughout your day to help relieve stress and find time for serenity NOW.

One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes:

http://youtu.be/PlZvY_LXJco
1. Just Breathe: Take a big deep breath…then let it go. You will be amazed at how quickly you will feel better by simply just doing that. The great thing about this particular breathing technique is that you can do it anywhere. Sitting or standing, slowly and consciously focus on your inhalation. Breathing through your nose, inhale to the count of five. Hold the breath for three, and then exhale thru your mouth counting to eight as you imagine the stress leaving your body. Repeat this 3-5 times, and several times throughout the day. Stress can cause people to unknowingly breathe more rapidly, or worse, forget to breathe at all!  Yoga or meditation classes both use deep breathing to promote relaxation and overall health. Find a local yoga studio in your area, and sign up for a class.  If you’re in Sacramento, I would highly recommend, http://www.padmecenter.com/


2. Be Active: Hit the gym or the yoga studio! Although you may feel more like lying around the house, perched in front of the TV, exercise is great pick-me-up. Exercise releases endorphins that help your body battle anxiety. This alone can elevate your mood. In addition to the chemical benefits, exercise is great for taking your stress out in a constructive way. Kickboxing for example, is a great therapeutic way to relieve stress. Just visualize your stressor (boss, evil co-worker, nagging ex) as the recipient.


3. Laugh: Laughter is the best medicine, and it’s contagious! Pop in a funny DVD, go see a comedy show, or read a funny book, or better yet, hang out with people who make you laugh.  You will forget about your anxieties just as quick as they came about.   I am fortunate enough to have many people in my life who are funny and see the lighter side of any situation.


4. Reach out and touch someone: Have you hugged anyone today or this week? Whether it is from a close friend, son, daughter, or significant other, a simple touch of endearment is an incredible mood enhancer. Having physical contact has been found to raise levels of Oxytocin also described as the “love hormone” while lowering levels of Cortisol, “the stress hormone” helping us relax and feel good.  I have always been a hugger.  I grew up in a family who wasn’t very affectionate so I vowed to be the complete opposite.

5. Smell the Roses: Have you ever noticed that a certain scent just makes you feel better? Is it the smell of a certain flower, scent of a loved one’s cologne or even something baking in the oven? For me, the scent that I prefer is vanilla.  Figure out the scent that is most pleasing to you, and use it throughout your home. In the practice of Aromatherapy, certain scents influence your mood and can even change your physiology. Lavender is the go to for relaxation, but you can also use chamomile, ylang ylang or rose oil in a warm bath or just defuse the scents in the air.

6. Plug in to iTunes/Pandora, etc.: Plug in your ear buds, and tune into to your favorite play list! Studies have shown a strong link between music and lowered stress levels in everyday life. Singing helps too. If you need to relax plug in Enya or any massage music track.  For example, here is a listing of playlists I use for massage: http://www.vssageblog.com/?p=359 You don’t have to limit yourself to just “relaxing” music though. Listen to something that lifts your spirits.

7. Treat Yourself: My personal favorite! This, you may not be able to do every day, but on occasion, you deserve a pampering. Treat yourself to a massage, facial or rejuvenating treatment of your choice. Get the benefits of all the aforementioned tips (aroma, music, touch) in one! If its currently not in the budget, you can do a bit of ‘at home’ pampering by soaking in a warm bath, lighting some candles and slip in a Sade or other relaxing CD to seal the deal.

8. Be Present: Sometimes this can be difficult in our modern society, (Am I the only one getting sick and tired of hearing about the fiscal cliff???!!), but it is one of the most important things you can do to reduce stress and find serenity. The present is what is happening right now, at this very moment. Don’t be consumed with what happened yesterday, or what could happen tomorrow. This is an ancient Zen teaching that helps open your awareness to the moment. This might take time to master, but take baby steps. Try eating a piece of dark chocolate. Instead of inhaling the chocolate and thinking after it is gone how good it was, eat it slowly, taking tiny bites. With each bite focus on the taste, the aroma. Experience how wonderful it is…right now. Take this exercise and relate it to other things in your life. You will find that this helps you have stronger relationships, get more done, and increase your fulfillment from life. All of this can be achieved simply by enjoying the moment.
9. Get Outside: Connect with Mother Nature by taking a short walk thru the woods, sit by a body of water, just get some fresh air and sunshine. Our early ancestors spent most of their lives outdoors, but today we are lucky to get 30 minutes a day. Our body’s still physically and mentally need the benefits of the outdoors, especially the sun. So get out there, everyday if you can, and soak it all up. Breathe in the fresh air, soak up some rays, and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you.  I walk my dog every day, and in the warmer months (above 50 degrees), I ride by bike along the American River bike trail 5x a week for 20-30 miles.

Why do Spas/Massage Envy, etc., Offer Only 50/80 minute Sessions?

 

For a long time in the U.S. and much of Europe and Asia, 30-45 minutes was considered standard for massage. As we’ve realized over the years how much can be achieved with therapeutic massage, typical sessions extended to 60 or even 90 minutes or more. Most massage therapists prefer to take breaks of at least 15 minutes in between every 1 to 3 massages.  I take 30 – 60 min breaks between each client and limit the number of massages I do each day so I am not overtaxed and you receive a quality massage.

In recent years, many businesses (mostly spas) have discovered that if they cut the session by 10 minutes, they can book the therapists for more sessions and make more money. The problem with this “professional hour” of 50 minutes is that you are often paying for the price of an hour, and getting a very weary massage therapist for less than an hour.  When I first began doing massage, I worked in a spa environment for 1.5 years.  I knew early on that I did not want to continue to work in a spa.   I could never do a 50 minute session and would always go over.  The clients appreciated that I gave them the full time, but the spa owner did not. 🙁 10-15 minutes is not sufficient time to ground yourself,  change linens, and prepare for the next session.

Everyone except the spa owners suffer when sessions are cut short. Clients lose a total of one full treatment every six sessions (10 minutes times 6 sessions is an hour)! Therapists don’t get enough time to keep up/recharge and are pressured to try to fit a full massage into 50 minutes, which is hard enough to do even in 60 minutes.  Unless you are dead set on the ‘spa experience’, I would highly recommend an independent massage therapist or a business who can give you the full 60/90/120 minute session.  Pay attention to the time the massage begins and when it ends.  You pay good money for massage so I believe you should get what you pay for!!

 

Make YOU a Priority!!!!

Isn’t it about time for a MASSAGE???????

Can you even remember the last time you had a massage?

Do you happen to remember how you FELT after your last massage?

“It was wonderful!    Relaxing!       Refreshing!     So Good!”

These comments are typical after a massage.  People often wonder why they waited SOOOOO long since their last massage.  Many vow to go more often. Then LIFE gets in the way……

“I’m too busy.     I don’t KNOW a good massage person.     It’s not convenient.    I don’t have TIME.”  The last comment kills me!  You have to make the time.  Don’t leave your massage without scheduling your next one, or better yet, why not make it a recurring event on your calendar.  Is your schedule too hectic or unpredictable to schedule one on the spot? Ask your massage therapist to contact you in 2-4 weeks to schedule another one.

I hear lots of excuses.  I am sure there are a lot of reasons why it’s not a priority.  I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. If it feels great, and you know it is good for your health, why wouldn’t you want to make it a priority?  What on earth would stop you?

Yet the feeling after a massage is almost always the same.

“I feel GREAT!  and  Why don’t I get a massage more often?”

It’s TRUE.  A typical massage may seem like a hassle.

  • Find a Massage Therapist.  Preferably one recommended by your friends/family.
  • Make an appointment.
  • Find your way there (try Google Maps or GPS).
  • Get parking.  Good Luck!
  • WAIT in the office for your appointment.  If you are ex-military, you should be used to the “hurry up and wait” issue.
  • Get undressed.
  • Downtime of 60 to 120 minutes.
  • Get dressed again, trying to safeguard your clothes from the greasy goop all over your skin.
  • Then there’s your hair.  WHOA!  Serious bed head!  Perhaps a hat will help.
  • Pay….. $75 to $150 depending on how long of a session you received.
  • Drive home in traffic.  Maybe you don’t even remember the relaxation anymore??!

Is that why you haven’t been back?  Too much hassle?

PUH-LEASE!!!!  Let me offer you some tips for a hassle free massage at Vssage – Healing Through Touch:

  • Make an appointment 24/7 via my website online without having to play telephone tag http://www.vssage.com/schedule-an-appointment/    You may also email or text to schedule an appointment.
  • Parking is easy for my business, right out front.
  • Directions are very simple, right off the freeway!
  • No waiting
  • 60 to 120 minutes of time devoted to you, where you are able to relax doesn’t seem like a hassle to me.  If week days don’t work for you to schedule something, there’s always the weekend!
  • You are offered a hot towel to wipe down after your appointment, or you can take a shower in the bathroom across the hall.
  • My office is centrally located – close to downtown Sacramento, and other surrounding areas.
  • Massage is money well spent.  If you can focus on how you feel AFTER your massage, you may feel motivated to make it a priority in your life.  My goal is to motivate you to make massage a priority.
  • Have someone drop you off and pick you up from your massage, or try to find a massage therapist who is close to you.

I practice what I preach. I receive a massage generally, at least 1x a week. I began getting massage in my late 20’s.  After my first massage, I was hooked and ready to make it a priority.  I budgeted for it by cutting back on my daily Starbucks/Jamba Juice addiction.  Who knew I would end up enjoying massage so much that I would eventually make it my full time profession!

 

Music CAN Soothe The Soul….

Last week, while at an outcall, I noticed that two dogs (Nina and Shay) were in the room, lying near the massage table, hind end to hind end, fully relaxed, enjoying the fact that their Momma was getting a massage and savoring the music I was playing while she relaxed.  It was an adorable thing to witness.

Since I have had a lot of inquiries recently as to where I get my music for my massage playlist, and now that I have confirmed that dogs like my music selection also, I thought it would be a good time to share that information.  I use Pandora (internet radio) for most of my music needs. It’s worth it to pay the nominal $36 yearly fee and NOT hear intermittent commercials.   For massage, I use the following playlists:

Massage

Reiki

Cello

Zen Garden Radio

Meditation

Yoga

Classical Lounge Radio

 

Focus on You

Now is the perfect season to make the most of your remaining FSA dollars

Healthcare costs aren’t nearly as fun to save for as a vacation or a flat-screen TV. But with a flexible savings account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA), you can save money- tax-free-from each paycheck and apply the money toward your therapeutic massages. It’s important to make the most of the funds you have already allocated-especially in the case of FSA’s, which give the funds back to your employer if the dollars aren’t spent by the end of the calendar year.

FSA’s and HSA’s are a key part of a system of consumer- driven healthcare.

If you have an FSA, here’s how it works: Usually during the fourth quarter of the year your employer conducts open enrollment, during which you decide how much money you will need to deposit for the following year’s medical expenses. When the new year starts, your designated funds are withdrawn from each paycheck in small increments and placed into a special account. An HSA works much in the same manner but is tied to a High Deductible Healthcare Plan (HDHP). With an HSA, unused funds roll over to the next year and accumulate. Because these plans are funded with pretax dollars, you and your employer can save hundreds of dollars in federal, FICA and state taxes.

Both employers and individuals are embracing consumer-directed plans not only for the tax-savings benefits but for the reduction of monthly medical premiums. You’re taking control of what qualified medical expenses you want to pay for. If the money comes out of your personal account, you’ll think much differently about how to spend it.

Is My Massage Eligible?

Massage can be a qualified medical expense, as long as a physician recommends it with a written prescription. The IRS ruling states that medical care expenses must be primarily to alleviate or prevent a physical or mental ailment. Examples of illnesses that qualify include carpal tunnel syndrome, stress, back pain, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression and pain management.

First Steps

If you suffer from one of the above conditions (and who isn’t stressed?), all you need to do to set up massage as a qualifying expense is pay a visit to your medical practitioner. Let him or her know that you have an FSA or HSA and you’d like to use some of your funds toward massage for treatment or prevention of your condition.

Your physician will need to provide three pieces of information on the prescription to help you qualify:

1. Medical necessity: why do you need massage therapy (example: to relieve back pain)
2. Frequency: number of sessions per month (example: minimum of two sessions per month)
3. Duration: length of treatment (example: 12 months/1 hour each)

Once you’ve obtained the prescription, file it away in case you are ever asked to substantiate the expense. It’s not necessary to bring the prescription to me, but you should bring your FlexCard (if you have one) to pay for your next visit. If you don’t have a FlexCard, simply pay for your massages yourself and turn in your receipts for reimbursement. Note that you can’t include tips or pay for your entire costs upfront.

Planning for Next Year

During the fourth quarter is when many people designate how much money to set aside in their FSA for the next year. In your financial planning, don’t forget to include the cost of your massage therapy visits in the total amount. You also can set aside money for massage therapy for a spouse, if he or she has a qualifying medical condition. For each person, you could save $20-$30 a month in taxes, and that’s enough to relax anyone.

 

Any Time Can Be Nappy Time!!

The most commonly checked condition on my client intake form is “sleep problems.” Plenty of other sources reinforce my suspicion that few of us are getting sufficient shut eye at night. Regular napping can help rejuvenate you and make up for the sleep you didn’t get last night.

Napping is definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are some of your options for catching up on your sleep at work.

Power Nap – a quick, rejuvenating nap that gets you to a light Stage 2 sleep, but no further. This 10- to 20-minute nap that leaves you refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the afternoon. The ideal nap for an office worker, AKA: catnap, forty winks.

Caffeine Nap – drinking a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage and then taking a 15-minute power nap. The caffeine kicks in about the time you wake up, augmenting the recuperative benefits of the nap.

Planned Nap – a preemptive nap for when you anticipate being fatigued later. You might take one of these if you anticipate  working long into the night on a big project.

Disco Nap – a type of planned nap before you go out for the evening.  This type of nap I do regularly, especially on Fri/Sat.

Emergency Nap – the nap you simply have to take if you are driving, operating heavy equipment, or otherwise putting yourself or others at risk due to your sleepiness.

Habitual Nap – napping at the same time each day, the way a child naps every afternoon. I don’t nap every day, but do try and squeeze in a nap where I can.  Any time can be nappy time.

Siesta – a culturally specific habitual nap – big in Europe and Mexico.  Every time I travel to Europe I indulge in this treat.  No wonder Europe always feels like home.

Manager’s Nap – a 30- to 60-minute nap that puts you into slow-wave sleep, the stage just before deep REM sleep. Naps of this length are good for restoring and improving decision-making skills.

Problem-Solving Nap – a 60-to 90-minute nap that puts you into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This deep sleep helps your brain make new connections and solve creative problems.

Restorative Nap – a one-and-a-half to three-hour nap to catch up after a long sleep-deprived stretch. Unless you have a really flexible work situation and a very supportive boss, you might want to save this one for the weekend.

Regardless of the type of nap you take, be sure to adopt these best napping practices:

  • for most people, mid-afternoon is the best time for a nap
  • select a comfortable, quiet place
  • lie down – it can take 50% longer to fall asleep if you’re sitting upright
  • focus on your breathing to slow down and relax your body
  • be sure to use an alarm clock, cell phone, or other gadget to keep your nap to the desired length
  • ear plugs, white noise, or soothing music can help mask unwanted background noise
  • avoid feelings of guilt – we are hard-wired to nap midday, and you’ll perform better after a nap

How often do you nap? Is there a break room or other place at your office where you can catch a quick catnap? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Sources:

 

Brrrrr – It’s Cold Outside! Coping with Climate Changes

 

I hate to admit that I have an issue with a climate change, but, alas, I do.  When the colder, shorter days arrive, I have to continually resist the desire to hibernate.  I don’t want to get up out of my warm, cozy bed and have to put on my gym clothes!?!  DARN IT!!!!  How many times can I hit the snooze button and still be able to accomplish what I need to before my work day begins?   It doesn’t help that my 3-1/2 year old Cairn terrier companion, Gracie looks sleepily up at me as I peel myself out of bed with her big brown puppy eyes and then promptly settles back into her blanket cocoon without a modicum of sympathy!!  Who says, dogs are man’s best friend!?

As with anything, there are pros and cons to a climate change.  Being the eternal optimist, I prefer to focus on the pros and don’t let my mind dwell on the negatives.

1.  Catch up on reading

2.  Get caught up on administrative tasks/chores

3.  Watch movies

4.  More time to cuddle

5.  Comfort food!

6.  Whether giving or receiving a massage – I imagine that I am somewhere warm and  tropical

7.   Savor red wine (which pairs perfectly with #5!)

8.   Play board games

9.   Stronger inclination to cook/bake

10. Barley Wine season

11. Crab season

12. Sauna/hot tub weather

13. Hike/ski/snowboard

In reference to # 6 above, a great article on the health benefits of massage for therapists and clients: http://www.edgeonthenet.com/index.php?ch=columnists&sc=kilianmelloy&sc2=&sc3=&id=132256

While I don’t suffer from SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, here is a great article on that topic, if you are interested:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195

Another interesting article on weather and your health:

http://manfredkaiser.com/weather_sensitivity.html

Tummy Troubles???

 

Abdominal or stomach massage often gets overlooked in the overall benefit of massage, while there is little debate to the benefits of a full body massage.

For adults as well as for infants and young children, massaging the abdominal area promotes digestion, alleviates gastric upsets, soothes the nerves related therein, and benefits the organs that are interconnected with the stomach, as well as the intestinal tract.

A stomach massage can be done either in conjunction with a full body massage or can be used specifically to deal with certain digestive and stress issues. It is not uncommon for the digestive process to become interrupted when one is dealing with significant stress or tension.

Abdominal aches, gas, and a “knot” in the gut are all typical reactions to stress and pressure. For individuals of all ages with these stress related issues, a stomach massage can not only alleviate the symptoms, but can actually alleviate some of the stress which causes the symptoms.

Most abdominal massages are done using a firm but gentle pressure, beginning under the rib cage and working clockwise around the area with small but meaningful circular motions. A circle should be completed no less than twice. For many individuals, both grown and growing, abdominal massages can be so beneficial that often the massage is completed four or five times in one sitting.

Abdominal massages can be excellent for stimulating the bowel movements that can become irregular or infrequent due to stress, dietary issues, medication, or other health issues. The muscles of the bowels require some form of stimulation in order to function appropriately. If undulation does not occur, the movement of the bowels becomes sluggish or nearly stops.

A firm and intentional abdominal massage can often help stimulate these muscles and facilitate the movements of the bowels. This works for adults, children, and infants. The pelvic region and genitals are not considered part of a stomach massage.

Colicky infants can benefit greatly from an abdominal massage. There are as many opinions about colic as there are babies who suffer from it. However, there has been documented evidence that stomach massages can create a soothing muscular action which helps relieve infants from colicky feelings and promote peaceful rest during the evening hours. Colic is most likely a digestive issue in infants, and the process of abdominal massage tends to ease the strain of the digestive issue.

Adults as well tend to develop these same digestive issues, we just no longer refer to it as colic. Rather we call it indigestion, acid reflux, gas, bloating, and other forms of digestive malfunction.

When abdominal massage is done correctly, the muscular lining of the abdominal wall activates appropriate muscle activity within the organs protected by the muscular wall. This of course increases the likelihood of a well functioning digestive system.

While healthy eating habits and proper exercise are also excellent for a healthy digestive tract,adding a abdominal massage to the regimen can increase other efforts by at least 25% or more.

The stomach is considered the “core” of the body. Exercise based in control of the stomach muscles such as yoga, abdominal flattening exercise, and meditative exercises are all focused around the strengthening the core.

The reason for this is that so much energy within the body transfers through the core. Emotions as well as physical exertion all can be stimulated or related to the core of the human body. An appropriate abdominal massage can increase the effectiveness of all surrounding organs, ease the tension associated with those organs, and release the inner emotions carried in the core.

Abdominal massages are one of the few forms of relief that one is capable of providing for him or her self. Back/foot and neck massages all carry similar emotional benefits to stomach massage, but without a willing participant, these massages can not be performed in a solitary state.

While it is best if a stomach massage is performed by a willing participant, in a pinch, it can be performed by oneself and create the same effect, making it an immediate and accessible form of self love behavior. I know I have many fond memories of my Mom rubbing my tummy when I wasn’t feeling well; and I know my dog sure loves having her belly rubbed!

If you are really having tummy troubles, and a abdominal massage doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, you might want to consider a colonic treatment. Interested in colonics?  Go see my friend Robbie.  I have been seeing her almost a decade!  She is amazing!!!  She is offering a $49/special through the end of the year!  Tell her I sent you.

http://rmc342.wix.com/colonics-by-robbie