Stress Management Tip: Control What You Can

Life sure is different these days, huh?

There are very few people whose lives have not changed drastically in the past month.  New ways of being created upheaval for just about everyone.  While we settle into new routines, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself, and take actions to reduce the stress in areas of your life that you CAN control.

What can you do to create a little less stress?

*Cut back on news consumption. While we want to stay informed, it can be done without being obsessed.  See how your body feels after going a day or two without the news.

*Put on your favorite music.  Dance as needed.  It’s amazing how much better your body can feel after you spend some time dancing to your favorite song(s), and you can multi-task while doing it! I regularly dance while working in my kitchen.

*Are you a parent?  Learning is not all about books and computers!  Baking with them can teach math and science.  Planting a garden teaches science. These are activities you can do together that will provide the quality time they crave, and household tasks completed.  (Can we argue that vacuuming is physical education?) child baking with adult

*For parents working at home, keep the morning routine you had when the children were going to school. Get dressed, eat breakfast, and complete your other routine activities before you retreat to your respective work and school stations. Eat lunch together to reduce anxiety and increase communication. Allow your kids to have afternoon down time. Yes, school is important however, little learning is accomplished when one is not calm.

*Keep a good sleep routine. Go to bed at a reasonable hour every night, it does wonders for your psyche.

*Drink more water, eat your veggies.  Food is fuel, and veggies (and fruit) are chock full of nutrients that help our bodies function properly.  Fresh is best, followed by frozen.  I like to get a variety of both when I go shopping, it makes for fewer trips to the store.  I even have some dehydrated veggies that I rely on when I need something and have run out.

*Take advantage of a hot shower.  While I don’t normally advocate being wasteful with natural resources, sometimes a nice hot shower with the water aimed at your shoulders and upper back is just the thing needed when you can’t get a massage! For other ways to relieve muscle tension, that do not involve seeing your favorite massage therapist, check out some of the products Linda loves and recommends!

*Lower your expectations.  The world will not fall apart if you don’t get everything done.  Set reasonable goals, and if you don’t reach them, don’t kick yourself.  Reward yourself for what you CAN accomplish.

And you know what? It’s okay to spend a day laying around watching movies now and again.  Sometimes, that’s exactly what is necessary. Just remember…when you tune in to tune out, choose wisely…avoid watching movies with violence and other stress-inducing topics.

Most of all, I encourage you to gentle with yourself.  Do what you need to do to take care of yourself, practice self-compassion, and remember that everyone else is struggling in some form or fashion.  Be okay with what you CAN do, and don’t beat yourself up over perceived failures to meet others’ expectations.

Introducing…The VIC (Very Important Client) Award!

There are a lot of incredible women who have come through the doors of Metamorphic Massage for Women.  From all walks of life, women of all ages have graced me with their presence on my massage table.

Very Important Client at Metamorphic Massage For Women

Karen was born in Raleigh and has lived here her whole life.  Her favorite thing to do in North Carolina is going to the beach…her favorites are Topsail and Kill Devil Hills. She has fond memories of annual family trips that have happened since she was an infant and always enjoyed hanging out with her seven cousins.  Both her grandmother and an aunt had beach houses, which made the annual trips easier.  Her favorite part of the beach is watching the sunset while feeling the breeze and listening to the birds and the surf.

When asked why she continues to come to Metamorphic Massage for Women, Karen responded “Linda is very flexible…Sometimes I sleep, sometimes she I talk a lot.  She’s also very considerate.  One time, someone wanted to bring their baby to their session which was happening at the same time as my massage, so she called me, to see if I was okay with that.  She also does a very thorough evaluation when I first arrive, always checking to see if something has changed, address issues each session.   I also love Linda’s sense of humor, and her knowledge about all things healthy.  I’ve learned a lot of organic food and natural remedies, which has been really fun to learn.  I never would have touched anything organic in a grocery store until I met Linda.  As soon as you eat one organic banana, you never go back.  Now I eat as organic as possible.  It tastes better, plus it’s better for you. I’ve also noticed my food lasts a lot longer…it has saved me money because of that.”

Karen retired December 16th,  and is very passionate about enjoying her time.  She’s spent the last several months catching up on reading, bible study, reconnecting with friends, church activities, doing home maintenance projects.  She is loving retirement, doesn’t miss work one bit, and knows it will be hard if she ever has to return to work for some reason.

When asked about what has been most beneficial about getting massage regularly, Karen quickly answered “The relief of achiness and stress has been great. Self- care in general has been much easier since retirement…regular massage, food, sleep…it’s all much easier now that I’m retired. My biological clock is kind of messed up due to the crazy work schedule for years.  I’m trying to find my balance again. I go to gym & work out with trainer twice a week.  I want to start walking again to make up for all the lost movement since leaving nursing, which had me walking all day long.

As always, Karen made me laugh…when asked “If you had one piece of advice to give to someone who is looking to incorporate better self-care habits in her life Karen answered: “Start with a massage with Linda because she can teach you everything you need to know. “

The Benefits of Regular Massage

There’s no denying the power of massage. Some see it as pampering, others as therapeutic.  Either way, massage is a powerful part of a good healthcare routine.

It is estimated that over 90% of disease is related to stress, affecting us both internally and externally. Ideally, we would have no anxiety and pressure at all in this fast-paced world. Unfortunately, that’s almost impossible for most of us.

Scheduling regular massage can do a world of good in managing stress, and it plays a part in how healthy and youthful you’ll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for massage at frequent, consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health.

As we all know, massage relaxes helps ease stress and tension found in muscles, and supports them when they are injured, tired, or overused.  It can also help reduce muscle spasms and cramping.  Most of us have heard that massage helps flush out wastes from the body.

There’s other benefits, as well.  It stimulates and tones the skin, and increases energy and vitality.  Massage has been reported to decrease inflammation, swelling and pain in joints, & increase joint flexibility. It is said that massage releases endorphins, the natural pain regulators that increase feelings of euphoria. Receiving regular massage helps reduce chronic pain, including migraine pain. Because massage pumps oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, it improves circulation, and contributes to healthy Blood Pressure levels. It also enhances immunity by stimulating lymph flow.

Massage also  has been reported to affect your mind, and can help decreases anxiety and depression. It also can improve concentration, reduce fatigue, and improve sleep. Most of all, it just makes you feel good!

Remember:  just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn’t mean it is any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan, and work with your practitioner to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs.

The Holiday Season is Quickly Approaching…

The Holiday Season is quickly approaching, and the massage elves are busy getting ready with something extra special this year!  They’ve been scurrying around Raleigh, NC  in order to provide local,hand-made, local  items to give you a new option this year!

Metamorphic Massage For Women offers gift baskets in additional to traditional gift certificates.  You’ll find a vast array of handmade items for relaxation and stress management. These locally-made items support small women-owned cottage businesses in the Raleigh area.

Gift baskets are available for purchase separately, as well as in combination with the purchase of a massage gift certificate.  They’re a great way to give her a unique gift that will allow her to stretch the benefits of the massage session.




Body Sense Online Issue

There is a fantastic publication put out by Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, geared to clients…Body Sense.

The most recent issue can be read online, and is full of wonderful information, including Managing Stress, the beneits of moderate pressure during massage, and more!

You can read it right here:

Laughter IS The Best Medicine

Did you know that laughter is good for you ?  Not only does it increase levels of happiness, it turns out that laughter can also be a form of exercise!  When we laugh, we tend to breathe much deeper, just like we do when participating in aerobic exercise.  If we laugh hard enough, we also engage our abdominal muscles, and can actually get a mini-workout in!

Laughter also provides several physiological benefits.  It helps to decrease stress, thereby lowering our blood pressure and increasing blood flow.  What a great way to reduce the risk of  a heart attack!   When we are less stressed, our muscles relax, and our immune system also gets a boost. It can also increase energy, and reduce pain through the release of endorphins.  Think about it…how much better do you feel when you are laughing on a regular basis?

Many years ago, I was a whitewater raft quide.  One day, in the midst of an incident, I found myself and half the paddlers from my boat sitting on top of a large rock in the middle of the river,  my boat wrapped around the rock, with rushing water preventing me from easily getting the raft off the rock.  None of my paddlers were comfortable in the water to begin with, so the entire time I worked to get the boat ready for the crew on shore to peel it off the rock, I cracked a bunch of jokes.  This helped alleviate the stress of the situation for the nervous paddlers.  Other people in our boating party were on the banks of the river thinking we were having a grand time…which  we were!  I recall after the trip my participants saying how my light attitude and ability to make them laugh helped calm their nerves.  Using humor helped to shift our perspective from feeling threatening by the situation to it just being part of the adventure.

Find more ways to increase the laughter in your life…learn some new jokes and share them with friends….go to a comedy club….learn to laugh at yourself.  Take life less seriouisly, and feel better!  Its certainly cheaper and a lot more fun than going to the doctor!

Prenatal Yoga Classes in Raleigh

Pregnancy is  a wonderful time, which can also be riddled with aches and pains.  Besides getting regular massage, it is a good idea to take part in a prenatal yoga class.

Prenatal yoga helps to strengthen uterine and pelvic muscles, improves circulation, and can aid digestion, while increasing the mother-to-be’s overall comfort.  The class consists of gentle postures, breathwork, and meditation.

I am often asked where folks can take prenatal classes.  I suggest Bliss Body Yoga.  Ellie teaches a weekday afternoon and a Saturday class.


Massage is Healthcare, Not a Luxury

Often when its time to tighten up purse strings, we look at trimming the luxury items from our budget….things that are fun, not really necessary, but that make us feel happy.  Activities such as movies at the theater,  eating out, and recreational shopping are three things that come to mind immediately when looking where to cut spending.  Others may look at their regular massage sessions and think that this is also a luxury item that can be tabled for the moment while balancing the checkbook.

Some believe that massage is something you do to pamper yourself while you are on vacation, or on your birthday or some other special occasion.  Each time you receive one, you always feel so good, and swear that you are going to schedule one more often.  But, the regular routine sets in again, and all of a sudden a year has gone by since your last massage.

Many people recognize that massage is not a luxury, but a necessity.  Receiving regular massage, whether once or twice a month,  or every other month,  helps to keep stress at a manageable level, and keep muscles from getting too tense and knotted.  Some believe that regular massage helps keep them healthy, and look at massage as a form of healthcare.

    When you feel good, it is much easier to face the things that come your way. 

It is important to recognize that your health is a necessity, not a luxury.  Studies have shown that massage can help reduce blood pressure and improve your immune system.  The stress-reducing factor alone helps improve sleep, balances out stress hormones, and improves overall energy levels. Your thinking is clearer and your moods are stable.   When you are taking care of yourself, you make a better parent, spouse, employee or employer.

 With all the ways you can benefit from receiving massage at regular intervals, there’s no way you can consider it anything but necessary!

Don’t feel like you can justify budgeting money for a massage?  One idea is to start a massage fund. Get a good old fashioned piggy-bank or a jar.  Put all your loose change in it on a daily basis. Throw in a dollar bill every few days.  Skip that cup of coffee, or rent a movie instead of going to the theater, and put the money in your massage bank instead.  In no time, you’ll have enough to pay for something that lasts a lot longer, and is better for you all around.

Remember, your health is the ultimate way to pamper yourself.

Self Care During Stressful Times

I recently read an article that stated that when women are experiencing financial stress, the first thing they let go of is self-care.  I find this fascinating, as the article stated that men continue to take care of themselves, even when money is tight.

What in our psyches makes us believe that our self-care is the least important thing in our lives?  In reality, taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do for yourself or anyone else. 

When we take care of ourselves, through eating right, exercise, massage, and participating in activities we enjoy, our stress levels are reduced, thereby making us better wives, mothers, employees, employers, and friends.  When we are managing our stress appropriately, we are less apt to get sick, forget things, or lash out at a loved one.

The tag line for my business is “You are the most important person in your life.  Treat your body right.”  Continue to do the things that help reduce stress, and you will be a better person for it.

Stress Management ~~ Lessons Learned From A Cat

Recently,  I was adopted by a stray cat.  She showed up one day, and never left.  I welcomed her into mu home, and I have been reminded of certain things from having her here.  Cats really know how to manage stress.  Think about it….have you ever seen a cat that was perpetually stressed out?  They have certain routines that help keep their stress to a minimum.

Take Time to Play Every Day:  Cats have fun while exercising their bodies when they run, jump, chase after leaves, and pounce on our feet underneath a blanket.  Spending time doing something we enjoy is an excellent way to manage stress levels, especially if that activity provides us with some exercise.

Stretch regularly:  Have you noticed that when a cat first wakes up, she stretches before she moves on?  Cats are the most flexible beings I have ever encountered.  I know that when I am taking part in a stretching routine on a consistent basis, I feel a lot better, both physically and emotionally.

Spend Time in The Sun: Do you ever notice how cats will find even the tiniest patch of sun to take a nap in?  Sitting in the sun can be extremely relaxing.  The sun’s rays can warm your muscles and calm your mind.  It also has the added benefit of Vitamin D, which is not readily available through food sources. Recent studies suggest that Vitamin D helps protect our cells from stress that can cause cancer.  Of course, you don’t want to spend too much time in the sun without adequate sunscreen.

 Adequate sleep:  When you get the amount of sleep you need, it makes everything else in life a little bit easier.  Lack of sleep can contribute to high blood pressure.   Cats spend a lot of time sleeping.  Do you know many cats with high blood pressure?

Receive Massage:  Cats are all about getting petted.  After all, that is one of the main reasons they allow us humans into their lives.  Cats  enjoy giving and receiving affection.  For humans, petting an animal can reduce blood pressure, and has a calming affect on both us and our pets.  And, like cats, when we get regular massage, our levels of stress decrease immensely.

Bathe Regularly:  While cats might not necessarily like being immersed in a tub of water, they do bathe regularly.  For us humans, soaking in a bath can help reduce stress.  Immersing yourself in a tub of warm water can help pull tension from your muscles.  Add some bath salts, essential oils,  or Epsom Salts for an added benefit. 

Cats are very wise animals. If we all took a little bit of advice from them, we would all be  better off.