If you are a working person in 2023, you know that productivity is king in many facets of life. Your boss expects increases in productivity, and often we project high productivity within our personal lives when it comes to maintaining our social life, homes, families, etc. With all of the demands of everyday life, a person can begin to feel overwhelmed, and burnout can occure. The solution to this is very simple, but for many, it doesn’t seem possible. That solution is rest.
While the question of productivity vs rest came to light during the madness of 2020, it has been something bubbling up for a couple decades now. It’s almost become a question of “does taking time to rest make you a lazy person?” Our answer is no. You are a living breathing entity. Our bodies are not made to be worked to the bone day in and day out. It’s essential for not only our physical health, but our mental health, to be able to sit back and rest. Rest your body. Rest your mind. You are not a robot.
Why has rest become seen as a sign of weakness or laziness?
We live in a productivity obsessed culture. Taking breaks can make one feel lazy or immoral because that is valuable time that we could be dedicating to output. In fact, most people directly link their output or productivity to their worth as a person.
If you think about a day where you have nailed a presentation, closed a big deal, or made a really good proposal, you feel like you’re on top of the world. You have that sense that you’re a person of value, and worthy of your keep. On the other hand, days when you feel sluggish, your output may not be as high, and you can start to wonder why your boss keeps you around or that you’re just not good at whatever it is you do. So you end up pushing through those days to reinforce that you are valuable. This can become a toxic cycle if gone unchecked, and can lead to a decline, not of quantity, but the quality of your work.
Your brain is a muscle
If you’ve ever been to the gym, you know that between each workout, and even between each set within a workout, you need to plan time to rest that targeted muscle group. Biologically, it is essential to get the results you want. If you don’t take these breaks, your muscles deplete and you can’t eek out another rep. Your brain is no different. When you mentally extend yourself, your brain begins to slow down, and doesn’t make connections as easily as when it is “working fresh”. At this point, your work or your relationships begin to suffer. Just because you're producing, doesn’t mean you’re fully present, and it doesn’t mean what you’re producing is at a standard that is worthwhile.
Rest is essential to your brain so it can function properly.
It’s time to reframe the need for rest. It is not taking away productivity. It is enhancing your productivity! Whether your version of rest is a nap, a walk, taking a bath, reading a book or our personal favorite, Getting a massage; they are all in service to improved health, creativity and productivity. After all, even God took a day to rest!
As the leaves will soon begin to change and we enter a new season, it is a great time to sit back and reflect on where we are in life. If the summer I’ve experienced is any indication of positive changes, my reflections will be amazing.
For those of you who haven’t met Dave yet, allow me to gush about my new husband just a little bit! As I mentioned, he has been working for Sanford Medical for 22 years, currently in the Sanford Hospital Cardiac Care Unit. In addition to his full-time position, he is attending Northwest Technical College to earn his diploma in HVAC/plumbing . Quite active, Dave enjoys all sorts of outdoor activities: hunting, fishing, hiking, kayaking, skiing, biking. He truly has a zest for life that is just contagious! We laugh a LOT when we’re together, and it’s been a joy to find a kindred spirit where we both really enjoy each other’s company, a very important building block to a successful marriage!
Looking towards the future, we continue to grow and not just by the size of our family! As I mentioned, Dave is going to school for HVAC/plumbing, but I have also been furthering my own education! I have always been a lifelong learner, and value education and the positive changes it can bring. I have been pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering. Don’t worry, this does not mean I am moving on from Living Touch Massage! The knowledge and experience I have gained over the years as a bodyworker has inspired me to find additional avenues to help people. As I merge into these new stages of life, my passion to work with people and their wellness will continue to be my focus and delight. Massage will always be part of my inspiration and a core value. As we grow and adjust to the changes throughout life, for me, massage will always be a part of who I am.
The way you set up your morning is more important than you may realize. The entire tone of your day can be established within the first few moments of when your eyes open! If you’re anything like us, you strive to have the best day ever every single day! While you may not be able to achieve this every day consistently, there are some things you can do to set yourself up for success that are not only painless, but VERY easy!
Hydrate! The very first thing that everybody should be doing when they wake up is to drink some water and get your body hydrated. Our body is our vessel through life, and it needs to be maintained with the same care (or better care) than your car. You wouldn’t let your car run with no oil, would you? The same principle applies to your body. Take care of it, so it can continue to take care of you!
Let in the sunshine! In those first few minutes of being awake, most people these days immediately grab their phone and start scrolling. That’s just the world we live in these days. However, this could be impeding on your entire day! Social media, while it has many advantages, comes with a fair amount of disadvantages, which can lead to a feeling of anxiousness for many people. Instead, while you’re drinking your water, throw open your shades and let the sunlight in! Getting exposed to natural light is the perfect way to boost your mood, and start your day off on the right foot. Especially in Minnesota, where our winters can be long and dark, we need to take full advantage of the days when the sun is up before we are!
Make your bed! Chaos leads to more chaos. Not to say that an unmade bed is the worst thing, but creating order first thing in the morning can spark that same sense of order throughout the day. When everything is in order, you feel a sense of accomplishment and control, which leads to feelings of happiness and fulfillment. Plus it’s always nice to crawl into a made bed at the end of the day. So don’t look at making your bed as a chore, think of it as the start to the many things you’ll accomplish throughout the day!
Drink Greens BEFORE caffeine! Alright, we get it. This one is a hard sell. Caffeine and coffee is REALLY what makes the world go round these days. We’re not saying to forego your morning cup of Joe, but we ARE saying that green drink can help your body run optimally for the day (in addition to the water we’re already asking you to drink).
It’s no surprise that right now, the average American is not eating enough vegetables. This can be for various reasons, but the bottom line is that these nutrients are SO important. They are loaded with antioxidants which will detoxify your body. They also boost your body’s immunity, fighting disease and preventing illness. You’re also getting your probiotics, which are good for gut health and liver function. These drinks can be made in a blender or food processor, and typically contain broccoli, spinach, kale, and celery. Alternatively, if you don’t have the time to be cutting and preparing vegetables in the morning, you can opt for a green drink powder mixed with water! Now you don’t necessarily need to be taking green drinks everyday, especially if you eat vegetables on a regular basis, but a few times a week is better than nothing!
Journaling 5-10 minutes! Journaling is hard for a lot of people, especially if your mind is wired for it or used to the practice. But it can really get you into the right headspace for the day, and the beauty of it is, you can write whatever you want! Maybe it’s a list of what you want to accomplish for the day. It could be reflections of what you accomplished the previous day. Daily affirmations, or writing down what you're feeling grateful for are also totally fine! It’s really just a tool to “prime the pump” for your brain to start firing on all cylinders! Just a few little scribbles, or a lot of big scribbles depending on the day!
Putting it all together. We know that many people are already thinking to themselves, “I’m already pressed for time, how can I add 5 new things to my morning routine?” Well, start small. Then gradually add to it! You’ll find that a lot of these things can be done at the same time, so in total, you may be adding a mere 10 minutes to your morning. You can easily sip on your water while making your bed, and you might as well throw open those windows on your way to the kitchen for that water. That’s 3 steps in 1 right there! In the summer, we HIGHLY recommend taking your green drink and your journal out on the porch, and knocking those two tasks out at the same time too WITH the added bonus of a little fresh air! It just feels so much more pleasant than rushing your way out the door in the morning. It’s just a matter of building that routine. So give it a try! The only thing you have to lose is a bad day!
When you think of getting a massage what comes to mind? A trip to the spa? A special treat? Did you know that massage is more than that? There are many healthy benefits to massage therapy that might make you reconsider your definition.
Improved Posture - Millions of people suffer from poor posture. Work, slouching, and illness are a few very common examples that can lead to your posture worsening over time. No matter what the cause is, it can be painful! It can lead to nerve damage, weakened bones, and many other physical problems. A dip in confidence is a pretty common issue due to unpreferable appearance, which may lead to depression and anxiety.
Massage therapy can be used as a tool to combat poor posture. Massage in the shoulders can loosen up muscles, improving range of motion. Massage in the lower back can reduce pain and also improve range of motion. Massage therapy can also be an effective tool for treating scoliosis and other spinal conditions. Help yourself stand tall and healthy through Massage!
Emotional Benefits - Massage is a safe and nurturing experience that leaves people with lower stress levels, improved relaxation and mood, decreased anxiety, more energy, and feelings of wellness. The amount of cortisol, which is the stress chemical, decreases while serotonin is released–the happy chemical. This helps your body fight off pain, anxiety, and sadness. Let yourself feel complete relaxation and connection to yourself and the earth underneath you.
Physical Conditions - Massage has been proven to improve headaches, cancer symptoms, fibromyalgia, and general aches and pains. Headaches are something that everyone struggles with once in a while. Some, more often than others. They can be crippling. Studies have shown that massage therapy can help manage frequent headaches and migraines. Massage therapy has been used to treat pain from cancer symptoms along with anxiety, fatigue, and quality of life. People who suffer from fibromyalgia have been proven to have higher quality of life, reduced pain, and better sleep. Pain in all parts of the body has been proven to be reduced through massage therapy. Most commonly; back, neck, and shoulders. With the help of massage therapy, you don’t need to be in pain –feel good again!
Increased Circulation - Poor circulation can lead to swelling, tension, tightness, and pain. Massage therapy optimizes blood circulation which has many benefits. Healing wounds, keeping the brain sharp, and keeping healthy skin. The reduction of cortisol also reduces skin conditions; dark spots, dry skin, and pore build up. Look and feel good using massage therapy.
Improved Sleep - Good sleep is absolutely necessary to maintain a clear mind and a healthy body. Massage therapy increases the production of serotonin and melatonin–hormones that help the body reset its circadian rhythm. The lowering of blood pressure and heart rate cause deep relaxation. All of these factors combat insomnia and poor sleep habits. You’ll wake up realizing you just had the best night of sleep that you’ve had in a long time.
Meditation - Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to live life in the moment. Massage helps you connect with yourself and the earth under you. By paying attention to the relaxation that massage brings you, you can let go of everything else on your mind and relax. Reconnect with yourself–you might learn something new!
Flexibility - Massage therapy can help promote flexibility and range of motion by having different muscles in the body get worked. When the body is more flexible, the less injury prone it becomes.
Immune System Boost - Massage therapy has been proven, in many ways to improve the immune system. Lymphocytes are cells that help the immune system fight off harmful substances. The level of lymphocytes is increased during massage therapy. Stress and pain are known immunosuppressives. Since pain and stress is reduced, the immune system is at its strongest. Flushed toxins and increased blood flow throughout the body also contribute to a strong immune system. Feel good and stay healthy with the help of massage.
Prenatal Massage - Prenatal massage has many benefits; decreased anxiety and depression, reduced muscle aches and joint pains, and can even improve labor outcomes and newborn health. Let pregnancy be beautiful and powerful–it doesn’t have to be hard and scary.
Athletic - Whether you’re a frequent runner or a tennis player, massage therapy is important for people that stay active. Research is increasingly proving that massage plays a significant role in athletic success. Massage therapists work hard to find an individualized massage depending on the sport. Stretching and relaxing muscles increases blood flow–decreasing muscle soreness. Athletes also become more aware of their physical injuries which prevents serious injuries. Enjoy the sport and play to win when your body is feeling right.
As you can see, massage therapy is more than a special treat to pamper yourself. Heal your body, mind, and soul in an alternative, intimate, relaxing way. It has many healthy benefits that can contribute to a happier, healthier version of YOU. Book with us today, and begin to feel the benefits that therapeutic massage can offer you!
A restful night's sleep is often something that can be elusive for many of us. Between 10% and 30% of adults struggle with chronic insomnia. It is believed between 30% and 48% of older adults experience insomnia. Many people simply acclimate to their situation, and live life constantly tired. While this may work for them, we don’t recommend it. Being well rested shouldn’t be unattainable for anyone. We’ve put together a list of some recommendations that we hope will help you get the rest you need so you may live a full, happy, WELL RESTED life!
Put yourself on a sleep schedule
This one seems obvious, but is it something you’ve tried? If so, do you close your eyes once you’re in bed, or do you find yourself scrolling social media?
I think that most parents, especially those with babies or young children, would agree that getting their children on a sleep schedule makes their lives easier. Not only does it help mom and dad get into a routine for themselves to accomplish their parental duties, it is vital if you want to curb those sleepy eyed temper tantrums from the little ones. Implementing a sleep schedule for yourself is doing the same thing, although we hope you’ve learned to manage your emotions a tad more than a toddler! Even so, adults can also get very cranky and short with others when not rested.
Seven hours is the recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult. Most people don’t need more than eight hours to be well rested. If you can, go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even weekends to reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle. If you find yourself not falling asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. Pick up a book, and read a chapter. Listen to some calming music. Anything to help lull you into a sleepy state, and go back to bed. Repeat as needed, but maintain the sleep/wake up schedule you’ve set for yourself.
Pro tip: Cut off all electronic stimulation a half hour before your bedtime.
Monitor what you’re consuming throughout the day
Discomfort from either eating too much OR not having eaten enough could be keeping you awake.
Caffeine, alcohol, and even nicotine can also be major factors too. Stimulants can take hours to wear off, and are likely hindering your sleep, and while alcohol can make you sleepy at first, but when it metabolizes while you’re asleep it can wake you up.
Everyone’s experience will be different based on your history, but pay attention to your body, and make adjustments to see if they have any impact.
Your bedroom. Is it set up for rest?
The space where we sleep has a huge impact on how we sleep. Is your bedroom set up to be a place of rest, or is it chaotic? An ideal set up for your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Any light, or noises (except for white noise) can really mess with your ability to sleep. Our body temperatures naturally drop during sleep. A cooler room will assist in getting you to sleep, and more importantly, STAYING asleep. Light also has the same effect, especially if you’re not a heavy sleeper. Black out curtains can help eliminate as much light as possible. The condition you keep your room in is key as well. We’re not saying that it needs to be completely sterile, with everything in its place. We know that’s not realistic for everyone. However, it is hard to be restful surrounded by chaos. Tidy up your room and give it a try!
Make time for physical activity every day
If you have a job at a desk, or something that doesn’t require much physical exertion, you’re probably mentally tired by the time you get home, but not physically tired. It’s important to get your body moving. Sleep is meant to repair our bodies, however, if your body doesn’t need to be repaired from lack of activity, it might be cheating you out of valuable sleep time!
Try getting outside for a little while each day to move your body. It doesn’t have to be major. A half hour in the garden, maybe an hour long walk. Something to trick your body into being physically tired is what you’re looking for.
Are you a bedtime worrier?
If you’re like me, bedtime is when you tend to reflect on the day you just had, and start thinking about the day ahead. If your daily life is busy, you probably find yourself already worrying about tomorrow, and making a to-do list in your head while you're laying down waiting to go to sleep. In my experience, those thoughts can swirl around inside your head for hours on end. Work on those worries and concerns before bed. Keep a notepad and pen on your nightstand. Get them out of your head and onto paper so those thoughts are waiting for you when you wake up, but aren’t swirling around in your head while you try to fall asleep!
You may need some deeper stress management work as well. Start with the basics, such as getting organized, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Meditation also can ease anxiety. A worried mind is hard to get to rest. Instead of kicking the can of stress down the road for tomorrow, do yourself a favor and deal with it today.
As you can see, there are a variety of reasons that can be preventing you from getting the sleep you need and deserve! Try out a few of our suggestions to see if they could help you out! Just remember that your sleep habits are ingrained within your body, and whatever you try, give it a reasonable amount of time before trying the next thing.
Until our next blog, Take Care!
Mental self-care relates to any activities or routines that can help individuals maintain good mental health and support their well-being. Like any form of self-care, this can take shape in a variety of ways. Some types of mental self-care include mindfulness, self-reflection, setting boundaries, seeking support, engaging in hobbies and interests, getting enough sleep, and practicing self-care rituals routinely.
Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with curiosity and without judgment. It can help promote mental self-care through reduced stress, improved concentration, increased self-awareness, and enhanced emotional regulation.
Mindfulness practice can promote overall well-being by increasing positive emotions, such as happiness and gratitude. It can also aid in developing self-compassion by helping create a kind and non-judgmental attitude towards yourself.
Overall, mindfulness practice can help to develop a greater sense of self-awareness and self-compassion, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall mental well-being.
As humans, we are wired to crave connection, to create deep lasting bonds; be that with a social circle, or just a social life in general. It is important to keep people around us as a support group or network. It’s part of how we develop as humans, and a tool we can use to manage our mental health state.
When was the last time you nurtured your spirit? We tend to focus a great deal of our energy and time nurturing the physical body through diet and exercise, but our spiritual health is often forgotten, ignored, or pushed to the back of our minds when we need to focus on something else.
What Is Spiritual Self-Care?
Spirituality has different meanings for everybody, usually influenced by the ideologies you grew up with. Many associate spirituality with religion or cultural traditions. Observing rituals, attending religious services or ceremonies, and studying religious texts are types of spiritual self-care for billions of people around the world.
For others, the concept of spirituality is experienced in nature, in personal relationships, or within oneself. It could be through art, music, and dance; anything that is meaningful and kindles a sense of sacredness, even if only felt by the individual.
Spirituality is a personal practice. No matter what path is chosen, they all converge upon something you desire on some level—the need for connection, purpose, and happiness.
We are now hitting the time period where everyone starts to slip on their over ambitious New Year’s Resolutions. If you happen to be one of those overzealous resolution setters and are finding your goals starting to slide a little, we have the perfect resolution tweak that is very achievable and rewarding at the same time - Daily Practical Self-Care.