When last did you have a massage?
Neuroscientists recommend that you have a monthly massage.
Life is tough and often turbulent. At the moment in South Africa with load shedding, the state of the economy and the upcoming elections … it’s much more than a roller coaster ride. Many people speak about ‘chasing their tails’ and finding it hard to ‘keep their noses above water’. Never mind the people who complain about living with a ‘knot in their stomach’, plus a feeling of being on a daily, horrid ‘hamster wheel’. Day-in, and day-out the cycles continue: a hard day at work; a long commute to get home; kids and homework or teenage tantrums; making supper and doing home chores – often by candle light given the load shedding. If there is electricity many people go back to their computer to finish off their work ; then perhaps slumping in front of the TV before stumbling to bed (and possibly not getting the required 8 hours of sleep per night). The next morning the dreaded hamster wheel starts to turn again… with that long commute to drop kids at school, and another hard day at work. Whether you resonate 100% with all of that or not, it takes focused choice to jump off your own particular hamster wheel, and to consciously choose to mindfully reboot and look after yourself.
Changing habits and shifting things in our routines can be extremely difficult. So here is a tiny tweak that is hugely beneficial and really easy to do. Simply take out your diary and page through (or flick through digitally) to find time for a 60 or 90 min massage. Ask a few friends: ‘who is the best person to go to for a massage?’ Just do it and make sure that you book that appointment.
A 60 min massage: is it really that beneficial? The short answer is, YES! Here’s why Neuroscientists recommend that you make this a priority for yourself. Life is easier to handle and ‘looks rosier’ when we have more serotonin (the happiness hormone) in our brains. It is remarkable that a massage can actually boost your serotonin levels by as much as 30%. Life is more tolerable, with less stress (perceived or real) and our brains produce less stress hormones, especially cortisol, when we are massaged. In addition, massage reduces bodily pain, because the ‘touch’ effect activates the oxytocin system in your body, which stimulates the production of painkilling endorphins.
Here’s something else to remember: after your massage remember to look ‘inward’ and marvel at the inner workings of your body. Your body is an interconnected system of hormone production. Take that ‘marveling’ to the next level of ‘gratitude’. Neuroscientists tell us that gratitude moments like this, set-up a new upward spiral of positive endorphine production.
Getting off the hamster wheel is tough! Looking at the hamster wheel through a positive ‘lens’, allows us to acknowledge that setting up routines in our lives, helps us to get things done, and that some of these are very useful coping mechanisms.
However, to ensure that we don’t become slave to our routines, it’s useful every month or so to step back and ‘observe’ your life from a difference viewpoint. Make yourself a warm cup of tea or coffee and slip off on your own into your garden or go to a park. Sitting quietly on a bench, imagine that you’re hovering way above the tree-line, perhaps in a helicopter or a hot air balloon. At that height, you’re able to look down on your life … filled with routines, coping mechanisms and duties. Ask yourself the question: ‘What can I shift; tweak; outsource; stop doing or do differently?’ Don’t be a slave to your habits !
Having a quiet, personal mindfulness time in your garden, or in the park may easily slip off your ‘To Do List’ … but don’t forget your monthly massage!