Massage has so many benefits: it eases tense muscles, helps to relieve stress, encourages the nervous system to re-set into the relaxed parasympathetic state and out of the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ sympathetic state; it brings awareness into the body, and into habitual patterns of use that may be causing long-term tension to build up. Constricted muscles limit the blood flow into the area, and our tissues do not receive the nourishment from fresh oxygen and nutrients that they need, and equally, the waste by-products of metabolism are not effectively removed. Over time this can lead to chronic patterns of tension that become harder to break.
Receiving a professional massage is a valuable self-care practise as it allows you to unwind, relaxing your mind as well as your body, and effectively re-set. A skilled massage therapist will be able to identify patterns of tension and use specific techniques to help release them.
However, when going to see a massage therapist is not an option, the next best thing is self massage. Self- massage shares many of the same benefits, and when done mindfully is extremely valuable in helping us to maintain a relaxed body and mind. With self-massage you get instant feedback as to where the most tender areas are, how much pressure feels good, how much is too much. It needn’t take long, you don’t need to undress or use oil, or to go anywhere and you can build self-massage into your working day, which gives you an invaluable mini break from hunching over a desk, and refreshes both body and mind.
By incorporating stretches, massage techniques and mindful breathing, you can help your body come back into and maintain a sense of balance. You needn’t take a full hour and cover the whole body in one session – regular five-minute breaks focusing on a specific area are very effective, and repetition over time brings the best results. It will also encourage you to become more aware of your posture as you work at your desk and promote better habits, which in turn will help to decrease long term patterns of tension.
So why not set a reminder and try to incorporate up to three mini massage sessions in your working day. By introducing some movement, taking your focus into the body and increasing blood flow to the tissues, you’ll find that your brain is also refreshed and you’ll be able to work much more effectively.