Updated: May 18, 2021
Self-care is often thought of as self-indulgence or being selfish. Self-care is caring for yourself in ways that maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit. For many of us, self-care practices will differ. It is important to find what brings you joy and balance when restoring your energy.
Massage is just one practice of self-care. Busy day-to-day activities and the constant hustle of life can put our body in a heightened state of stress. When our sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) is engaged, hormones like cortisol are produced that impact body functions, slowing down digestion and even shutting down immune protection. When the body is on alert for extended periods of time, it can lead to health problems such as anxiety, depression, weight gain, trouble sleeping, problems with digestion and heart disease. Cortisol isn't all bad though. It plays an important role in our survival. The fight-or-flight response is a natural response to perceived threats that trigger systems to act and protect the body in times of stress.
What happens to the body at rest? During massage your parasympathetic nervous system is engaged, releasing feel good hormones that do just the opposite of hormones such as cortisol. Heart rate is slowed, blood pressure is decreased while lymph is increased, moving vital nutrients and oxygen through the body. During this time our body is resting, digesting, refueling and recharging. Not only does massage encourage relaxation and engage the parasympathetic nervous system, activities such as yoga, meditation, reiki and even mindful breathing will bring your body to a place of rest.
Often we brush off stress as if it’s unimportant. However, checking in with yourself and asking what it is you and your body need is most important for you and your health. Emotional self-care, physical self-care and spiritual self-care are equally important. Whether you are receiving bodywork, practicing mindfulness in a way that you enjoy or simply taking a few minutes for yourself, self-care is a proactive choice that allows you to care for your well-being. Some ideas to add or ways to begin your self-care practice include journaling, meditation, yoga, quality sleep or spending time in nature – identify what brings you joy, brings light to your life and a smile to your face.
Today I encourage you to simply identify what it is that brings you to a place of peace – what recharges you and how you can ensure this practice is a priority. Putting yourself at the top of your to-do list everyday will allow the rest to simply fall into place. Self-care is about self-compassion. Be kind to you today, tomorrow and all the days.
Stephanie McCutchin is a Licensed Massage Therapist and owner of Sakom Massage and Wellness. The word Sakom is inspired by the Menominee language and translates to extending peace to yourself and others. Creating a peaceful space for clients to relax, recharge, and recuperate is the main focus at Sakom. Stephanie’s practice is located in the historic Willow Tree Wellness center in the heart of Lodi, Wisconsin. The center is solely dedicated to professional healers who offer a variety of services. To learn more about massage and to book your appointment today call, 608-564-5330 or click here.