Do you have a moment? I mean – not a “scan this article and move on” type moment. A real moment to sit and read and take in what I am about to say? Yes? Fantastic! Hold that thought. No? Earmark this article and come back to it later. Trust me – this article is for you!
Now before we get started, I want you to do something for me. Set a timer for 60 seconds, then put down that phone, close your eyes and breathe… Sit tall, breathe into your chair, seat, or the floor (if you are standing). Now count with me – In…2…3…4… Out 2…3…4… In…2…3…4… Out 2…3…4… In…2…3…4… Out 2…3…4… Keep going In..2..3..4… Out 2…3…4… In…2…3…4… Out 2…3…4…
Now with your eyes closed, gently grab your ear lobes and slowly rotate your ear in a circular fashion about 10 times; following through to the top of your ears.
Did you feel the tension leave your body? Did you feel your breath change? Yes? Awesome!
Now answer me: How often do you feel like the tension has dropped from your body? Do you ever take time for yourself to destress? Or are you currently “ON” all the time? How do you find this affects your work? Your connection with your clients? Your decision-making (or lack of)?
A scientific Perspective
I work across complementary industries to deliver a holistic health service, and while I would definitely call myself a spiritual person, I am pretty fond of science too. I have found there is a lot of science that backs up those spiritual perspectives of calmness and wellness on our physical health and mental state. I can hear you saying “Will you stop fluffing around!” Well, I would ask if you could bear with me for a while longer because I want to talk to you about the importance of including restorative therapies and how they work in your day-to-day routine. However, I will take a roundabout way to get there.
From a scientific perspective, restorative therapy techniques impact the Vagus Nerve which is responsible for invoking our parasympathetic nervous system. Remember from your studies? The Autonomic Nervous System and our Flight or Fight responses and how we need to maintain the fine balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic system. The higher your vagal tone, the easier it is to invoke the parasympathetic state and return our bodies to a restorative or relaxed state after experiencing a stressor. This is the state which contributes to recovery and our overall general wellness.
In sports science, we are aware of the impact of invoking the sympathetic state while we train but are also very conscious of the importance of undertaking activities that support our ability to handle exposure to these repeated stressors of the different stresses faced in competition while allowing us to continue to perform at a high level. The current state of the Vagus Nerve (or Vagal Tone) is measured through metrics such as blood pressure, heart rate, and heart rate variability.
How does this apply to me?
The same principles applied to athletes can be applied to us – the average person. We constantly face so much stimulus these days that we are prone to spend more time in a sympathetic state than a parasympathetic state.
While good nutrition and sleep are still number one on the list to help your body get back into a balanced state, the following activities have been found to have an increased impact on the way our bodies handle stress or our repeated exposure to specific situations:
- gentle walks,
- gentle Yoga practices, Tai Chi, Long, slow deep stretching, mobility training
- meditation, and
- self-myofascial release
Athletes who engage in these activities daily show increased performance, less injuries, less illness, better mental health, a more positive attitude, and are better able to perform at a high level to known stressors. They also show a lessor stress response to repeats of a stressor.
I know you are still asking “What does this have to do with me?” Right? Have you ever thought about how physical your job is? How much you don’t disconnect from your technology? How much time you spend giving to clients energetically, and for many – the stresses you feel running your own business? These are the modern-day versions of a dinosaur chasing us and they invoke the sympathetic system. Tell me – when was the last time you truly stood and felt calm and relaxed, not hurried, had an empty mind?
The impact on your life
We are no different to an athlete – we just simply engage in different activities on a day-to-day basis. The same body systems are involved. The same trigger processes are involved. We just simply face our own version of these stressors.
It should also make sense why we, therefore, need to engage in restorative therapies to ensure that we can manage a long day of massage, business stressors, daily life, and every other stressor that we encounter along the way.
Now those therapies listed above go a long way to keeping you mentally, physically, and spiritually balanced. How can we see the impact on your life? Quite simply actually,
- By including Yoga, Tai Chi, mobility, and stretching, you will experience fewer aches and pains at the end of the day and lessen your risk of repetitive movement injuries.
- When you include movement activities in your daily routine, your movements will flow better within the massage and provide a better experience for you and your client.
- Any reduction in pain & stiffness etc, impacts on feeling better, not only physically, but mentally as well.
- Feeling better mentally reduces your risk of mental health issues, and imparts a positive view which means you are better able to deal with negative spots in your day.
- When you are mentally in a better place, you also tend to be able to manage nutrition choices better and sleep better. Both wholesome nutrition and sleep lead to fewer aches and pain from inflammation, better mental health etc.
So, they are all related and circle back around to ensuring we are just in a better space.
Now I am going to ask again – “Do you see the importance of engaging in restorative therapies?” What they can do for you and your longevity in not only massage but life as well? I do hope my roundabout way of getting you to my point has caught your attention.
We challenge you…
I want YOU to do a body, spiritual and mental scan. Write down exactly how you feel. Look at your routine. Are you currently making time each day to engage in one of the above activities? Yes? Then you don’t need to read any further unless you feel like you can do more. But if you don’t, note how you feel right now? How much of the above work are you engaging in? How much alcohol and fast food are you eating?
Let’s pull out our diaries for next week and start looking at how we can include at least one activity each day – do this for the next four weeks. Note down how you feel at the end of the four weeks. Is there any improvement? If there is, drop a message in the Stone Eagle Warriors group. I am sure Sandra would love to hear about it.
Here are a few ways that you can also include some of these activities.
- Fix your sleep routine (simple right?) Each night progressively go to bed 5 minutes earlier, until such time you have a full 7-9 hours sleep a night. (Some people need 7 some 8 and some 9 – you know you, so work toward the hours of sleep that suit you best),
- Go for a walk in nature. Go to the beach. Go to the mountains. Get out and go to ‘your space’, breathe, and be physically aware of all around you,
- Get up 5 minutes before your normal wake-up time. Find a quiet space and do the breathing exercise we started out with.
- Get a weekly massage. Find another therapist and swap treatments.
- Find it hard to ditch the quick-fix foods? On a Sunday, set out 2 hours and make lunches, snacks, and some quick dinners for the week ahead. If it is prepared – it is faster than fast food.
Finding it hard to have a space for Tai Chi, Stretching, or Yoga? Message Sandra and she can put you in contact with myself. We are launching our online mobility program in the next few weeks. It includes a movement assessment and on-demand access to 10-15 minute sessions that you can include in your daily routine. Alternatively – there are many free videos on YouTube.
I truly hope you find value in this blog about restorative therapy. It is something I am incredibly passionate about. I see too many people these days not flourishing in their daily lives when all they need to do is add in some simple, quick, and easy activities to go from NOW to WOW!