On the chandelier above the kitchen table at my Aunt Mickey and Uncle Ross’s house hung a souvenir in the shape of a rubber heart they brought back from Denmark that bore the words “Giv Dig Tid.” I always liked it, though I didn’t know what it meant. I’ve since learned that those words appear on heart-shaped traffic signs throughout the country that tell drivers to “Give Yourself Time.”
Self-care is very much about giving yourself time. It is about slowing things down - physically, mentally, and spiritually so you can live more sanely - well.
When we run in fight or flight mode, we are more likely to react to situations. We cannot see clearly. Our ability to problem-solve becomes diminished.
Physically, stress hormones kick in, cortisol and adrenalin, and our bodies become stressed, our energy depleted.
Self-care involves choosing to slow things down; to engage in activities that will let you break the stress cycle. Things that feed your body, heart, and soul.
Massage facilitates this process. It can help break the stress cycle and open a window onto wellness. Physically, it stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone associated with contentment. Research has also demonstrated that oxytocin can decrease anxiety and protect against stress, particularly in combination with social support.
By breaking the stress cycle you see your options and have a better capacity to choose. How do I want to deal with my frustration? What can I do to take care of myself right now? What do I need to do to change the situation so I don’t make myself ill or nuts? When you get quiet enough you might even be able to see what you’re personally adding to the situation that could be making it worse.
Massage is a pleasant and effective tool among many that you can put in your self-care toolbox. Below are some others. Self-care is a beautiful journey and one that involves attention every day. It is involves nurturing yourself in very concrete ways.
It can be as close as taking a deep breath and saying "stop" to yourself when you see yourself winding up. It can be taking time to really taste your food or feeling the warmth of the sun on your face or the breeze in your hair. It is about learning to say "no" and asking for help when you need it. It can be drinking a nice cup of tea. And mostly certainly, enjoying a great massage. ;)
Thank you, Aunt Mickey and Uncle Ross (may his name be a blessing) -- for Giv Dig Tid and so much more.
To find out what others do to practice self-care, click here.