When it is your desire is to the take the utmost care of your body – say for wanting to age gracefully, or achieving great health; than bodywork is a necessity. When utilized as a lifestyle rather than a luxury, it becomes a journey. One that requires patience, consistency, discipline and at time intense awareness; but that also comes with deep personal fulfillment, transformative healing, and offers lasting, life changing results.
When you are able to keep soft tissues supple and make way for our various channels to flow with ease, the functioning of our organs are heightened to optimal levels – keeping us feeling healthy, vibrant and energetic.
Whether our goal for bodywork is to reduce stress, release tension, alleviate pain, restore balance on the more subtle levels, or we are undergoing therapy for an injury, there is so much one can do to MAXIMIZE their experience. Here are eight tips for taking the work done in your massage, acupuncture, yoga or other therapies sessions to the next level.
1. Staying well hydrated.
Benefits, in the context of bodywork include:
- Releasing tension in your muscles happens more easily, with less resistance, allowing for more time to release other areas of tightness
• Faster progress in your treatment plan with less regression between appointments
• Decreased tenderness, making for a more pleasant experience during your treatment
• Promotes elimination of the toxins that are stirred up in the blood stream, preventing re-absorption
• Increased circulation and function of eliminatory systems
• Minimized soreness post-treatment
Daily stretching, especially yoga, is an incredibly helpful regimen to keep the body flexible, soft, symmetrical and balanced in muscle tone. Stretching effects more than just the muscles and joints, it also reduces blood and lymph stagnation, invigorates the organs to function at high capacity and promotes deep breathing.
Stretching is beneficial for people of all ages. The importance of stretching before and after doing strenuous physical activities cannot be emphasized enough. It is certainly one of the best ways to prevent and to heal injuries.
3. Dietary Lifestyle and Supplementation.
Proper nutrition is the cornerstone of optimal health and overall energy levels. When muscles are not supplied with proper nutrients they begin malfunction and various symptoms of illness begin to manifest. Not supplying our cells with adequate nutrients is the major cause of fatigue, muscle spasms, ischemia, inflammation and an inability to relax (further continuing a vicious cycle of health problems). Malnutrition is the underlying cause of numerous diseases, including osteoporosis, arthritis and depression (which most times causes the body to hurt all over). By fueling yourself with the right kinds of foods and raw materials, your body will feel better and repair faster!
Whether we are discussing prevention or healing (reversing) an ailment, nutrition should always be considered.
4. Actively Tending to Life’s Stresses.
Stress affects every area of one’s life when not properly managed. It’s important that you check in periodically with where levels of stress are, and how it’s affecting you. Consider what balance looks like for you in each of these areas:
• physical (the state of your body, your environment, your finances)
• emotional (relationships with self and others)
• spiritual (higher purpose)
• mental (moods and attitude)
Utilizing a variety of tools and techniques to support you in times of stress can be invaluable to your health and well-being. Make a list of all the things that you can think of that fill up your cup, that invoke joy and make you feel nourished. Discover every single outlet you have for reducing stress and increasing joy, such as dancing, meditation, laughing, drinking herbal tea, massage, writing, screaming into a pillow, smelling essential oils, or vigorous movement. Then do more if these things.
What can you today to healthfully feel better than you do now?
*I suggest you write your list when you are in a clear balanced state. That way you have it as a reference for when you are in states of stress or are feeling depleted. Even better yet, you can practice doing these things before you even get to those more extreme cases.
5. Building Strong Support Systems.
During times of breakdown, it is useful to remember that we need more support, not less. Often times, people typically go through tough periods relatively unsupported. It doesn’t have to be like this.
When you are in middle of a breakdown, seek out support by a positive, resourceful and helpful friends. Build support around you and consider that you might want to ask for support from a:
There are two important points to consider, when building strong support systems. One is in your ability to receive. How capable are you to receiving compliments, gifts, time, a warm hugs, or other acts of kindness? How courageous are you in asking for help when you are feeling vulnerable, weak, or out of sorts?
Secondly, how willing are you to give support, of any kind, to others? Spend some time each day, consciously aware of how you can you support your friends, family and community better? Be the support you seek. You may find great joy in helping others, also adding to your own sense of well-being.
6. Open Communication with Your Therapist.
The best way to have your treatment customized to your needs and desired experience, is for you to be involved in the process. This includes:
7. Listening to the Body’s Messages.
In our culture, pain is viewed as an enemy to be avoided at all costs. A radical shift in thinking would be to treat pain as a friend or messenger sending important signals from your sub-conscious mind that something is out of balance and demands your attention. That’s right, what I am proposing is for you to focus your attention on the pain, and be with it. Ask it what it is trying to tell you, rather than resisting it.
When you allow the wisdom of your body to help guide you, you invite healing and wholeness into your experience, instead of a lifetime of numbing, masking and denying the real root cause of the problem. Nothing beneficial ever comes of this approach. In fact, things almost always get worse.
Listen and trust your body’s own inherent wisdom, I think you will find that it never fails. Nope. We have been blessed with these amazingly fragile yet resilient bodies, with incredible intelligence and capacity for healing. If only we listen.
8. Synergistic Therapies.
Seeing through holistic health-care eyes, one must understand that there is no one single “cure-all” modality. The human body is very complex and requires a variety of tools to keep it in peak performance and help correct it when in crisis. Taking an integrative approach can bring about transformative healing, and have many health benefits for body, mind, and spirit. Some approaches include:
Health is a lifestyle. Its best to not wait until it’s broken to fix it. These same ways for maximizing results are the same protocols for prevention. The first step is acknowledging that taking care of your body is fundamental to health. The second is to make self-care a priority and build it into your schedule and budget. Commitment to consistently evaluating and implementing that which your mind-body-spirit needs will keep you operating at optimal levels.
Your ability to give ALL that you are, to your life and to all your relationships, really BEGINS here.