Wednesday, September 10, 2014

De-Stress In A Minute

"For fast acting relief, try slowing down."

-Lily Tomlin

It seems that no one has time anymore and we are all busier than ever.  It is important to take a moment for yourself each day.  Here are a few ways to de-stress in a small moment's time and slow down so you can calm down.

1. Take a deep breath.
Count to 6 on your inhale.  Count to 12 on your exhale.  Place your hands on top of your head and take another deep breath.

2. Shout out loud for a second. 
Make sure you are someplace that you will be able to do so.  Maybe head to an empty parking lot and sit in your car and just let it all out.

3.  Close your eyes and imagine a relaxing place. 
Take a mental vacation from where you are.  Close your eyes and imagine the most serene place and picture yourself there in this very moment.  With your eyes still closed, pretend to look around and take in all the peacefulness around you.

4. Play your favorite song.
Do you remember how you felt when you were younger and you heard your favorite song on the radio?  Music can instantly change your mood and get you to feel happy, relaxed, or excited.

5. Clean up a cluttered area.
This could be the top of your desk, or your bedroom.  Whatever it is, you will feel better once it is done. 

Do you have anything to add to this list?  Let me know what you do to relax when you only have a few minutes.

Monday, August 4, 2014

I'm too busy to relax

Busy-ness is the trend these days. People carry over-packed schedules like winning trophies. “I’m SO busy at work!” “How do you have time to do that? I’m too busy to read/watch TV/exercise/do anything fun.” “I can’t get monthly massages I have too much to DO!”

Too much “busy” could be making you tired, sick, and probably cranky.

When do you relax? RELAX. “Relaxation” is a word we hear often, but don’t know always know what it means. Here, I’ve compiled some options for you.

re·lax  verb \ri-ˈlaks\

1: the state of being free from tension or anxiety.
2: a way to rest and enjoy yourself
3: recreation or rest, especially after a period of work.
4: the loss of tension in a part of the body, especially in a muscle when it ceases to contract.
5: something that you do to stop feeling nervous, worried, etc.

More importantly, what does relaxation mean to you?
If you’re not a “hot bath and good book” kind of person, you probably cringe at Calgon commercials and spa photos of people with stones piled on their backs. But here’s the beauty: You can make your own definition of relaxation.

It’s your job to figure out what you enjoy doing, what makes you smile, and what makes you feel like you are a hundred miles from work or home jobs?

Then, make time for that.
You have a schedule. Write in special time for a hobby, a nap, massage, your favorite show, a weekend getaway, a new class, ANY thing you enjoy can be relaxing.

Need someone to give you a reason? Want permission?
August 15 is National Day of Relaxation. Yes, it’s a thing! And it’s just begging for celebration. Here are some ideas:

  • Spend part of the day alone.
  • Spend part of the day with your family, doing ONLY fun stuff.
  • Meditate
  • Devote time to your hobby.
  • Sleep in. Or get up extra early. Whichever excites you!
  • Arrange for take-out or pre-cooked meals all day.
  • If you’ve always wanted a day to “not leave the house” today’s the day! Wake when you wish, eat when you’re hungry, stay in your jammies and read a book.

Taking care of you is important. And, self-care puts you in a better frame of mind to take care of the people who depend on you. So find the thing that mellows you out, and make it happen!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Let's Celebrate Great Dads!

Some applause for great dads
Gone are the days of dad working all day to come home to a pipe, slippers, and the evening paper while the kids sit waiting for dinner. This generation of fathers and step fathers are “all in” when it comes to child-raising. There’s more to a dad these days than little league coach. Men who play an active role in their children’s lives deserve a little recognition.

Whether they are baby-wearing or carpooling, more dads are helping care for families “in the home,” some even full time. According to the US Census Bureau there were 93,000 stay-at-home-dads in the United States in 2000. Fast forward to 2012 and they reported 189,000 stay-at-home dads and it’s not only moms at “Mommy and Me” anymore!

Dads who work in the home chase kids, hold babies, sing lullabies, clean messes, play taxi driver, and juggle after school schedules. They get stressed out, touched out, and overwhelmed. These guys need “me time,” too. What does he do for down time? Video games, hunting, fishing, workout, massage?

Stay-at-home-dads aren’t the only awesome ones, though. Many working fathers don’t take a break when they arrive home but dive right in to home life. Cooking, cleaning, and playing with the kids is more than “pitching in,” it’s a part of life with a family. More and more dads share in the sometimes exciting, sometimes mundane activities called life.

Weekend dads are important, too. Sometimes circumstances arise in which a family lives apart. Trying to pack a week’s worth of time into a weekend can’t be easy. Going from a full house to an empty nest every other week can have an emotional effect, especially if they live miles away.

What can you do for the special man in your life who shares your home, your children, and your life? You could find tickets to his favorite team’s game! Maybe there is a concert coming up he’d like to go to. Send him on a fishing/boating/hunting trip. Slip a massage gift certificate into the stack of homemade cards from the kids. Heck, make him a card yourself! Cutting and painting construction paper sounds fun and he’ll know you’re “thank you” is coming from the heart! 

Melrose Muscle Therapy is also hosting a Dad's Day contest and there is only a week left to enter.  Let us know who you know that is the Best Dad and have a chance to win some great prizes. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Mother's Day to all 'Moms'!

Whether you are a mother, have a mother, or know a mother, Mothers Day is time to honor those who've played this important role. Stepmothers, birthmothers, and godmothers too. While there are as many ways of being a mother as there are moms in the world, one thing is certain: it's a tough job, but a rewarding one. Here are just three ways massage might be of service to the mothers in your life.

Expecting Mothers
Prenatal massage is a growing field, as training programs for massage therapists increase and old myths about massage during pregnancy fade. Massage can ease the aches and pains associated with increased weight, loosened ligaments, and shifts in center of gravity. There are all kinds of cushions and props that can help pregnant women relax comfortably on a massage table, no matter what their dimensions. Contrary to the old tale, massaging the feet, ankles, back, or even stomach will not cause miscarriage when done appropriately.

Of course, massage therapy, while helpful, isn't a cure-all. Massage can't stop that nosy neighbor from touching your belly every time she stops by, or cravings for hot Cheetos and root beer at 2:00 AM. But it can alleviate some of the symptoms that naturally come with growing a new human being, leaving expectant mothers more free to focus on the hope and joy that make pregnancy such a fabulous stage of life.

Learn more about our Pregnancy Massage Packages here.

Adoptive and Foster Mothers
Biological mothers typically get a nine-month period to prepare for parenthood. Foster and adoptive mothers might wait and wait for news … then find themselves parents of a tot or teen virtually overnight. Plenty of mothers juggle soccer practice with homework, but fewer have to add court dates and social worker visits to the mix. Not only can these realities place unusual stress on foster and adoptive moms, their uncommon nature means that it can also be harder to find much-needed understanding and support.

Massage can help manage this stress, for all members of the family. Symptoms of stress, such as headaches, high blood pressure, and anxiety, can all be alleviated by massage. And for children who come from backgrounds where touch was lacking (or inappropriate), pediatric massage can help them develop a healthy relationship with touch. When foster and adoptive mothers learn some of these techniques for themselves, it can also be a way for children and their new parents to bond.

Mothers of Young Children
Unlike pregnant mothers, who often feel like their motherhood draws too much attention to themselves, society tells mothers of young children that their role is all about their children first, second, and last. Getting up in the middle of the night to change a leaking diaper? Chasing a toddler into the street? Taking time off work to care for a kindergartener with an ear infection? No matter, it's not about you, mom. It's about your kids.

It's true, to a point. Who wouldn't make sacrifices for their children? But one factor that can contribute to a healthy, happy childhood is a healthy, happy mother, and every person deserves to take steps towards their own well being, mothers too!

Massage therapy can help the body rest and recuperate from the effects of a busy schedule, interrupted sleep, and the physical strain of lifting and interacting with growing children. It also provides precious time for moms to focus on their own needs, apart from the responsibilities of mothering. And for those mothers who find themselves dealing with the very real condition of postpartum depression, massage may also play a role (although far from the only one) in an appropriate treatment plan.

Learn more about our Infant Massage Classes here.

Moms who are not moms
For women who don’t have children, by choice or circumstance, Mothers Day can be melancholy. There is great joy in being a Favorite Aunt, Baby Spoiler, and Super Supporter of all her friends with children, but we don’t have specific days to celebrate those roles. Women without children don’t always get all that snuggle time with little ones that raises oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins. Massage is a great way to get the happy chemicals pumping.  If there’s a woman in your life who loves your children, or makes your job as a parent better or easier, Mothers Day is a great time to recognize her.

There's no one way to be a mother
Despite what the sensationalist headlines about the Mommy Wars would have us believe, and there's no one way to take care of your health and wellness. Whether the mother you're thinking of needs a sports massage after her next marathon or a deeply relaxing hour so she can doze, it's all worthwhile. So this Mothers Day, let's do all our moms a favor and call a ceasefire, honoring them in whatever ways make sense for their own lives.

Get your favorite mom(s) a massage gift certificate here.  It’s easy, fast, and a gift she’ll love!

And to the mothers out there reading this, on Mothers Day and every day … here's to you.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Four ways to control your stress levels

As much as we enjoy the emerging flowers and warmer weather of April, there can be a bit of a dark cloud hanging in the spring sky. Often the first few weeks of the month are a rush of receipts and 1040’s as the April 15 Tax deadline looms, and a rush of new schedules as the kids’ sports seasons fire up. Maybe that’s why April is Stress Awareness Month; to remind us to take care of ourselves, and not let stress go unchecked.  The following are four ways you can control your stress levels.

Meditation does not have to be about pretzeled legs, chanting, and reaching enlightenment. It can simply be about creating a moment of stillness in your mind as a way to become more relaxed. Just one minute, 60 seconds of meditation, can dramatically improve your mood, your productivity and the quality of your day.

It can be tough to make time for exercise when the schedule gets tight and tensions get high. But that's when it becomes even more important. Exercise can relieve the physical symptoms of stress like fatigue, pain, and moodiness. If you can't make time for daily workout, try to fit a 5-10 minute walk outside into some part of your day. A little goes a long way when you need it.  Plus, around here, this winter has been rough on all of us.  We all know these nice days are counted, so take advantage of the sunshine when we have it.  You will feel better right away.

Giggle and hum
Both laughter and music can lower the blood pressure. In fact, this study in 2011 showed that 3 months of laughter or music therapy resulted in the same drop in blood pressure that could be achieved with a low-salt diet, losing 10 pounds, or taking a blood-pressure-lowering medication.
So cue up the "Who's on first?" or dance around with your kids while making dinner and work some giggling and humming into your day.  Not in the mood, you can fake it until you become it.  Smile and laugh until it becomes real.  You will get the same effect.

Regular massage can improve sleep, relieve headaches, reduce muscle pain, and improve moods. Plus, massage feels good. When you feel good, you play more, work more efficiently, and take better care of the people you love. Schedule a massage now to prepare for a busy (and fun) spring!

Commit to taking care of yourself this spring! You may be surprised with the results.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tips for Shoveling the Snow the Healthy Way

2014 has started off pretty fierce.  Snow, upon snow, and even more snow.  Melrose Park, and surrounding towns have been covered in this beautiful, wintery blanket.  The cold winter air is enough to get your muscles all tensed up, and add the snow shoveling, or plowing, or blowing over and over again for days, and your back, legs, arms, whole body may be needing a break.  I've written about this before, but I've had requests to talk about it again.  Here are a few healthy tips for how to safely shovel mountains of snow off your driveway, sidewalk, and porch:

  1. Make sure you are wearing layers.  Shoveling snow is a workout, and you may start to feel it before you are even halfway done with your driveway.  Wearing layers that you can easily peel away will help you from feeling over heated.
  2. Go slow and watch your body mechanics!  You don't have to rush through it.  Take your time, do it right, and take frequent breaks if you  need to.  How do you know when you are ready for a break?  If you feel tired, take a break.  If you are out of breath, take a break.  If your skin feels like it is getting too cold, take a break.
  3. Do smaller amounts at a time.  Don't try to show off to your neighbors how strong you are and load your shovel with an insane amount of snow (your neighbors aren't watching you).  Snow is heavy, and if you are repeatedly picking it up to move it, you will get tired.  You will forget your body mechanics, and you will get hurt.  Don't fill the shovel, rather, keep it to 25-50% full of snow, or use a smaller shovel.  Do what is comfortable.  Don't try to overextend yourself.
  4. Use your legs to lift the snow.  This goes back to watching your body mechanics.  Just like lifting a heavy box, you should use the strength of your legs to lift the shovel, and be sure not to twist your back as you toss the snow into its pile.
  5. Abstain from drinking caffeine at least an hour before heading out to shovel.  Your heart rate will go up as you shovel, and drinking caffeine has been related to heart attacks when people shovel. 
  6. Abstain from drinking alcohol at least an hour before heading out to shovel as well.  Drinking alcohol can give you a sense of feeling warmth and this may cause you to underestimate the winter chill outside putting you at risk for hypothermia.

If you are not fit to be shoveling, please get someone else to do it for you.  There are plenty of neighborhood teens going around looking to make a buck to shovel your snow for you (or call your local landscaper - in the winter.  Most of them will plow out your driveway).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Massaging Babies and Toddlers

Evolving Massage

I teach infant massage, and have been massaging my own daughters since the day they were born.  They are getting older, and although they still get their bedtime massage, the touch they get during the day has changed. 

It is much easier to massage a newborn, as they really can't move around much, and you and baby get use to the same massage routine each time.   When they learn to crawl, it becomes a bit more difficult to give an entire massage routine.  So what can you do?   Play massage games!  Below are some examples of massage games to play at various stages of childhood. 

**Remember to get your child's permission before you massage them.

Crawling Around

Get on the floor with your child. If you were doing a belly rub, and your child decides it is time to crawl around, massage whatever is up and facing you.  If it is his back, then rub his back, if it is her side, then massage her arms or legs.  You don't have to go in any specific order. 

This Little Piggy

I'm sure you are familiar with this nursery rhyme.  It is a great way to give a massage for your child's toes.  Roll your child's toes, wiggle them, but don't pull/tug so hard on them.  Make sure not to tickle their feet!

Learning Shapes

My older daughter loves this game.  I stand behind her as she stands in front, and I draw shapes on her back with my hands.  She has to guess the shape.  Sometimes she lays down.  Just be sure that you don't have anything going on that can be distracting for your child, ie...TV on or radio on.  You can do any variation of this game that you find appropriate.  Learning Numbers, or Learning Letters, whatever you are focusing on with your child.

Do you have any massage games to add to this list?  We would love to hear what you do to incorporate massage into your child's life.  Let us know by leaving a message in the comment section.