Here they come: The holidays! The days, weeks and months are sure to be full of joy, events, giving, food, laughter, friends, family and, for most of us, a dose of stress. As we negotiate with family about where to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas, and most of us are vowing to start holiday shopping early, the stress and anxiety start to increase. Unfortunately, as December rolls around, we only get busier – parties, kids’ plays, shopping, baking. As the obligations increase, so do the moments of stress.
For many of us, we fear our holidays will look more like “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” than the classic movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
This time of year is about caring, giving and loving others. But what about you? We all know we “should” take care of ourselves so that we are able to care for others, but this is usually more the exception than the rule – especially during the holidays. But it is during the holidays that we need to really focus on staying healthy and reducing stress. And one of the easiest and most effective health and stress treatments is massage.
If you need a reason or an excuse to take time for yourself and get a massage, here are five reasons:
- Stay healthy. Gone are the days when a massage was for “the rich and famous.” Massage is no longer considered a luxury; rather, it is a necessary tool to stay healthy and an effective treatment for many medical conditions.
- Decrease stress. It goes without saying the holidays are some of, if not the most, stressful times of the year. Traveling, too little or too much family, shopping, events, not enough sleep – we all know the scenario. However, a one-hour massage will allow you to relax while the therapist works with your body to release your stress-fighting hormones. This is one fight that requires no energy, just a little time.
- Cold temps bring tight muscles. When the temperature drops, our muscles get tight, which means we are more prone to injuries as well as aches and pains. A massage can increase blood flow, warm up and loosen the muscles and joints, and help relieve pain, especially when incorporating a Massage Envy Total Body Stretch session.
- Oh, my aching feet. The shopping, the standing in long lines, the cooking, the cold. All of these give us achy feet. A massage that includes reflexology can help ease those achy feet and increase blood flow to the whole body. Try a warm pair of wool socks at night with your favorite essential oil for good night’s rest that will also promote health.
- Back pain. With winter holidays comes winter weather and this means mounds of leaves to be raked and bagged, and the possibility of snow. Even those who are fit are likely to get sore from all the raking and shoveling. Use good body mechanics (bend at the waist, lift with the legs, etc.), and let a massage therapist take care of the rest.
Other ways to decrease stress and enjoy the holidays? Here are just a few:
- Close your eyes, breathe deeply. A big “sigh” can do worlds of good to help you relax.
- Eat right. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to have a favorite holiday dish or rich dessert, just remember to add plenty of plant-based and high-protein foods to offset all the carbs and sugar. Veggies and fruits don’t make you feel sluggish and they can help ward off a winter cold.
- Limit alcohol. Alcohol is not only high in calories, but it also triggers the body’s stress reaction, leaves you feeling tired in the morning and often can be the cause of the less-than-ideal behavior. This is certainly one case where “less is more” is a good rule.
- Don’t skimp on the exercise. Exercise helps melt the stress away, increases energy, promotes good sleep at night and helps to keep us healthy. Give yourself permission to miss a workout or two, but don’t put your physical health on the shelf with the elf.
- Focus on people. When it’s all said and done, no one will remember the turkey was a little dry, the shirt didn’t fit, or the kids were late for play rehearsal. What do they remember? The precious moments with family and friends.
By Mark Love
Mark Love is the owner of Massage Envy Spa Prescott, located at 120 E. Sheldon St., by the Sprouts grocery store. For more information on the benefits of massage and to schedule an appointment with a massage therapist, visit MassageEnvy.com or call 928-778-ENVY (3689).
Mark Love is the co-owner of Massage Envy Spa Flagstaff, located at 1235 S. Plaza Way in the University Plaza Shopping Center next to Safeway. For more information on the benefits of massage and to schedule an appointment with a massage therapist, visit MassageEnvy.com or call 928-526-ENVY (3689).