During this time we are facing a number of challenges, even those who have never had any mental health issues before are finding it difficult, it is difficult to have limited social interaction, boredom and the stress that comes with fear, fear of loss of income or employment or even of the virus or for loved ones all of which is valid and completely justified.
So, what self-care measures have you implemented?
Obviously each household is different, ours is a house of four, two adults and two young kids, so our self-care time is limited and often interrupted and more often than not it has to include the kids, which is fine, as a usually very busy pair of professionals it has been a blessing getting uninterrupted time as a family with no rushing to get somewhere. But time to yourself and time for you and your partner and time with each child and time as a whole family are all equally important.
Now is a great time to care for yourself and do all the things you have put off doing or have not had time to do.
Well I hope this gives you some more ideas on ways to entertain yourself while in isolation. Remember to take care of yourself and your loved ones, we are all in this together and if we do the right thing, we will all come through the other side hopefully sooner rather than later.
Shall we start with the obvious… Massage is great at ANY time! But it is particularly great in winter for a number of reasons:
Massage helps boost your mood
Many people find themselves struggling mentally in the colder months, I am one of them & I put it down to the grey skies and leaving for work in the dark only to head home in the dark also. Getting outdoors in whatever limited sun there is will definitely help, but when those dreary grey days seem to go on forever you can use massage to help get you back to your normal cheery self.
The reason massage can improve your mood is massage has been shown to release a powerful concoction of hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, also known as feel good hormones.
Improved circulation will not only bring warmth and improved body temperature regulation but will help reduce some of those niggles that can become worse in the colder months.
Improved circulation and movement also results in improved function of the lymphatic system.
Increase immune system function
We all know winter is the worst time for all those nasty bugs being shared around so frequently. One way to keep function is to help keep your immune system working as best it can. And you guessed it massage will help.
Most of the heavy lifting is done by the blood and the lymphatic system when it comes to your immune system. The lymphatic system for those of you who don’t know runs throughout your entire body, it is superficial sitting just under the skin, because of its location and the speed at which it functions a relaxation massage is very beneficial for improving lymph flow, so while its winter it may not be a bad idea to get a few relaxation massage instead of or as well as your usual massage appointments.
Sooth dry skin
Dry skin is a common complaint in the colder months due to the significant reduction in humidity and the increased use of heaters also causing the air in our environment to be dry.
Massage will assist with this dryness because of the use of natural and hydrating oils. The best thing you can do is leave the oils to absorb into your skin for as long as possible after any massage.
If your skin is particularly dry this time of year you could always try a different massage or oil for an even more effective treatment, also consider having an exfoliation prior your massage, by removing superficial dread skin cells your skin will more effectively absorb the oils leaving your skin feeling supple and softer.
Improve your sleep with massage
Did you realise that the season, more so the change in weather effects most people’s sleep as it changes the amount of melatonin produced by your pituitary gland.
Did you also know “they” say a 60 minute massage is like having 7-8 hours of sleep! So if winter has you feeling tired all the time why not try regular massage to help regulate your sleep patterns.
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With mother’s day fast approaching and the recent advanced training I have done to specialise in perinatal massage I thought it would be the perfect time to clear up some massage myths for all my wonderful expectant mothers.
Is massage safe during pregnancy
Definitely YES! And so incredibly beneficial all the way through your pregnancy. However anyone can provide pregnancy massage so do your research and find someone with adequate training that can be sure to provide the safest and most beneficial massage tailored to your needs
When is it safe to have a massage
When massage is performed by a qualified perinatal specialist massage can be safely performed throughout your entire pregnancy, from preconception throughout labour and postnatal for recovery. So whenever you feel you want/need one, go for it. A therapist with adequate perinatal training should be able to safely treat your concerns throughout each trimester and beyond.
Should you have your stomach massaged while pregnant
YES, YES, YES! As you know, the stomach will expand during pregnancy and this can cause discomfort and on some occasions even pain. Abdominal massage can assist with this and make pregnancy far more comfortable.
Positioning for comfort and safety
Pregnancy massage can be safely done laying in a few positions such as;
Face down – This can be safely done with a support system up until around 25 weeks gestation. There are massage tables with a hole built into it for the stomach, this is something I would avoid as it is one size fits all it is unlikely to be comfortable and it is definitely not supportive.
Side lying – This is the optimal position for pregnancy massage, and allows for better ability for the therapist to treat common problems experienced during pregnancy and is a safe position throughout the entire pregnancy.
Back – laying flat on your back during pregnancy in not recommended as it puts added pressure on the main blood vessel and therefore is not safe. This is why if you are asked into this position you want to make sure you are in a semi reclined position (seated) rather than flat on your back.
The Best advice I can give to any expectant mother would be to do your research on the therapist, what level of training have they done? and the location, what equipment do they use? If you are content with their answers you will hopefully be in for a good treatment. Never be afraid to ask these questions and do some research before you book.
Gas & stomach noise
Massage, and not just abdominal massage, will have an impact on your digestive system and this is largely due to the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system.
That is as you relax your body utilises the parasympathetic nervous system also often referred to as the rest and digest mode. When you are stressed (in any sense of the word) your body will be functioning in fight or flight mode, which most have probably heard of, or the sympathetic nervous system. Many of us are functioning on the sympathetic nervous system most of the time and that is enough of an excuse to have more massages.
When you are in the rest and digest your digestive system just does its thing, and that’s good, but that also means there will be noises and occasionally flatulence.
So should you be embarrassed if you can’t hold it in? NO, in fact don’t hold it in! as soon as you start trying to contain it you will tense up, and we will notice and already know why you have tensed up, and you wont get the most out of your treatment.
Have we seen, heard and smelt it before? YOU BET! I could not even count how many times it has happened over my career. We are taught it WILL happen and expect it.
Do you need to apologise if it happens? Well that one comes down to you, its polite to say something but like I said we expect it and to be honest don’t care ( in the nicest way I can say that).
It is completely normal to be emotional though a treatment or after a treatment. Massage therapists are good listeners if you want to talk and we can also give you space if you don’t.
But also there is sometimes no reason you can think of for it happening, it could simply be due to the shift occurring within you to normalise your internal state, or a hormonal influence, as there is often a rush of feel good hormones released during a massage.
Snoring & drooling
I have joked with many clients about the level of compliment based on sleeping/snoring/drooling. And YES they have all happened in my treatments over the years, but in all seriousness it is completely normal and fine to sleep, snore and/or drool through your treatment and not something to be embarrassed about.
Moaning & swearing
Some people are more vocal than others and that’s fine, again it is a compliment, most of the time, I have had the odd treatment where the moaning was similar to that of Monica off friends, if you don’t know the reference she has a massage off her friend Phoebe and is EXTREMLY vocal, and of course that level can be a little over the top and disconcerting.
But most importantly I’m not here to judge and am not easily offended so if you naturally respond that way or with the use of very colourful language that’s totally fine too.
Now there is a good thing about studying the body, in that I have a good understanding of it and know that a 100% NON sexual massage can give men an erection, and while I wouldn’t say it is necessarily a common occurrence it certainly happens.
And again I don’t judge, unless there is an ulterior motive to it! For far too long massage has had an unfair reputation and unfortunately there are those who are using this to their advantage, but if you think having a massage with me means anything more you are sorely mistaken and there will be repercussions.
Innocent actions are not something to be concerned about or embarrassed about.
Body Hair & Appearance.
Unfortunately not everyone is comfortable in their own skin, and this can obviously influence how you feel about getting a massage, but I’m here to tell you I’m not looking and judging, I’m to busy thinking about what I need to do and assessing what I am feeling. I have massaged all body types, shapes and sizes and to me a body is just a body to be massaged and its just that simple.
When you are hoping on and off the table I will not be in the room with you, unless you are one of those super comfortable people who start undressing before I get the chance to leave, and you will be completely covered except where I am working.
Women’s body hair really is a non-issue, we often feel the need to say something to help ourselves feel better, but you really don’t need to apologise simply because you haven’t shaved, how many of my male client do you think have apologised for not shaving? 1 in almost 12 years (he was a competitive cyclist).
At your first appointment you will complete an in-depth consultation form, and for some this may seem excessive, but what you may not know is that there are times were we need to know so that we can take the correct actions to ensure safety.
I have over the years treated clients with serious diseases and the only time I would ever refuse service for health reasons, is when it is not safe to do so. My aim is to make you feel better not worse so all I can do is ask for honesty, and if you are unlucky enough to be living with one of these serious conditions know safety is paramount and you are welcome at Oriana Wellness any time, without judgment.
Breathing is an essential part of life, as we all know, but is it something you have ever really stopped to think about? If you have never done meditation/yoga or never had a professional bodyworker its likely you haven’t in too much detail.
Today I’m here to tell you how massage can help you breath easier and how breathing can help improve you massage experience and results.
If you have ever had a deep tissue, remedial or particularly painful massage in your life, you have probably had the therapist tell you to breath through it, we do this for a few reasons, first off it is a good distraction for your brain to get through that moment of pain, it may still be painful but you will find you can manage it better almost instantly. Secondly deep breathing had a direct impact on a number of systems of the body, for instance deep breathing promotes blood flow and improves the lymphatic systems function, which promote healing therefore giving you better results from your massage. You will also feel more relaxed due to effect deep breathing has on your blood pressure and heart rate. And finally deep breathing can reduce pain allowing you to relax and the more you can relax through a massage the better the results you will see.
As I already mentioned you may never have stopped to think about how your breathing is effecting you, but sit quietly now or lay down and just breath, trying not to change it, What do you notice? Is your stomach elevating with each breath? Are your ribs expanding? How long is each breath? Are you breathing through your nose or mouth and is it different when you inhale and exhale? Now take some deep breaths, and take note, Do you notice a difference? Are your longs filling lower down into your stomach? Can you notice a difference in the tension in your torso and shoulders? Is one side moving freer than the other?
This last part is key because as a remedial therapist I look for differences, differences all to often occur and can certainly be the cause of your pain, there are many muscles involved in allowing breathing to occur easily, throughout the torso/ribs, shoulders and neck. If these muscles become tight it restricts the movement making breathing more challenging. So how does massage help breathing? Quite simply by removing the tension from the torso, neck and shoulders there will be freedom for the lungs to expand and fill adequately.
Next time you are feeling stressed or having a massage focus on your breathing, making it deep and slow and take note of the difference it make.
To practice deep breathing firstly I must say it is best to do what feels right to you, now having said that, Ideally you would inhale through your nose, this is because the nasal cavity is designed to catch and filter the small things in the air we are breathing, this should be slow and fill all of your lungs as much as you can expanding all the way into the stomach. Pause, and exhale through your mouth until you have emptied your lungs as much as you can and then pause again before starting again. This kind of practice is best done 3 times per day for about 5-10 minutes, stating of with shorter intervals and if you start feeling light headed then stop straight away.
The Myth of “NO PAIN, NO GAIN”
Unfortunately I have many clients who come in and explain they like or need their massage to be firm, and while I can appreciate this completely, when I hear the words “no pain, no gain” it makes me cringe. Far too many people believe the only way to improve the way they are feeling is to have a painful treatment, well I’m here to tell you that does NOT have to be the case, or at least we need to find a balance, a happy medium!
Massage, even by a professional, has the potential to do harm. Some mild soreness in the days immediately following a massage is normal, even expected after many forms of massage. Having said that, what is normal… well up to three days of tenderness is acceptable, not pain, longer than that and there has been some miscommunication on one or both sides. It should be manageable/bearable, if you feel the need to medicate (paracetamol or ibuprofen) then it was likely too much at this point and that’s not saying you can’t tolerate it but more at this time with this presentation it was too much and could be completely different at your next visit.
So how do we get on the same page? Honest communication, this is the biggest, I find I tell most clients at some point, usually at the first appointment with me, “this is your treatment, not mine” so if something is too much or not enough speak up (with any therapist) everyone has a different idea on pressure so its important to ensure we know what you perceive as light/medium/firm and even from therapist to therapist the varies.
And leave the macho behind! I have been ‘judged’ my entire career when people first see me they have often changed their mind and ask me to “go as hard as you can”, well I’m here to say I had some amazing educators who have given me all the tips to vary easily apply a LOT of pressure with very little impact to me, I will also say many of these people have very quickly changed their minds. Don’t suffer through it if its too much for you, you should feel good during and after a massage. Our perception of pressure varies from one person to the next so never assume what you express will be interpreted perfectly by each therapist you try.
If you can imagine a scale for the pain during a massage you want to be somewhere around a 7-8 out of 10 during the treatment for those problem areas, this is what is considered by most therapists as a therapeutic pain, completely bearable for the few minutes that muscle is being worked on. And this should fluctuate throughout your treatment.
Another reason to make it clear why you should not suffer though a painful massage is that most people will struggle to relax if the treatment is too painful. Although massage is relaxing, I’m not strictly talking about relaxation as a whole here, I’m talking about relaxing the part of the body being worked on to ensure the work needed can be done, it can be very hard to allow someone else to move an arm or leg and even harder to relax fully as someone moves your head around but this is often what is needed to perform some of the techniques we use to improve your condition/pain.
Managing how you feel after a massage is important also, and what you do immediately after a treatment can impact how you feel in the following days. Adequate water after a treatment is very important and I often recommend a warm bath or shower after the massage to maintain the heat in the muscles, this is to increase blood flow which is what heals the body. If you are to have a bath then adding some magnesium flakes or Epsom salts are so beneficial as magnesium is great for sore, tired, spasming, cramping and/or fatigued muscles and is readily absorbed through the skin allowing it to get to the areas needing it most. Topical creams can also be very beneficial after your treatment as well as managing how you feel between treatments.
I hope this is helpful and maybe makes your next treatment more enjoyable too.
So with this week being PANDA week and with perinatal depression and anxiety affecting an estimated 100,000 Australians, I thought it would be a good time to put My story out there for you all.
It is something I own, something I have never been ashamed of, nor should I, it is however something I hid away for quite some time not for fear of judgement or condemnation but something that many of us do, I was naïve. I believed I was ok, that I wasn’t as bad as others so I must be ok, I would be over soon enough with out help.
I have had two children and experienced postnatal depression with both to varying degrees.
My first born was unexpectedly 6 weeks premature and aside from that I would say it went fairly well, whilst she was in hospital I didn’t really have time to process just how stressful it had all been. It was actually this day 5 years ago that we were able to take her home after her 19 days in NICU, the months following that day were no better or worse than those of any other family, however they were tough for me, this is a period of time that I thought my new parent paranoia was “normal” I would fear that if I were to be honest and ask for help that even just one person knowing would result in my child, who I loved more than anything, would be taken from me. You see on a daily basis I would be going about my day and suddenly out of nowhere the most simple of tasks would trigger a vivid image, like watching a movie, of the most horrible things going wrong and killing or seriously injuring my perfect little girl.
I lived through this for months without confiding in anyone, even my husband, who has always been an incredible support for me. Eventually these visions dissipated and life continued on.
I look back on that time now and I realise I did not have that immediate bond with her or at least not to the extent I believed I should have. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her to no end that I knew. I truly believe this was largely due to the fact I had about 1 minute total with her before she was taken to NICU filled with tubes and admitted as I was left behind to wait about 5-6 hours before I could get up to go see her without being able to hold her. This is still to this day devastating, time that I missed out on and can never get back.
Having a second child was never a question, for either of us, so when we found out about our second pregnancy, we were over the moon. To be completely honest I didn’t feel myself throughout this pregnancy and I have never pinpointed why that was, simply assuming it was due to the fact I have terrible morning sickness bordering on hospital admissions at times. Then when we made it to a term delivery we were thrilled, but we did not expect the stressful and traumatic delivery we were in for. Depression kicked in immediately after his birth, with the nursing staff noticing almost immediately. Thankfully this meant a referral to Raphael House (our local support for those suffering perinatal anxiety and depression).
Although I got a referral and knew I “wasn’t feeling right” it still took me days to make an appointment with them, just leaving the house would cripple me with anxiety. This was not something I was familiar with.
Thankfully I was seeing them when, a few weeks later, I had my first ever panic attack. Something that should have been nothing while out with the kids in the back seat of the car saw me hyperventilating to the point we headed to emergency, it felt like an eternity before I could calm down and catch my breath. This is when I was prescribed medication, something I have no problem with but had hoped to avoid, I realised the choice was out of my hands now, so to speak, and I needed to improve faster for the sake of my family.
So what do I wish I knew…..
I wish I had known the visions I was experiencing were not simply the paranoia of a new, first time mother.
I wish I had known it was ok to say I was having these visions and it wouldn’t automatically make people think I would ever/could ever contemplate doing those thing.
I wish I had known I should have dealt with these issues form this situation prior to having another child.
I wish I had known more about emergency c-sections
I wish I had known more about Raphael House prior to my experience.
I wish I had known more about anxiety and what it looked like.
I wish I had known its ok to not be ok with my experience, and the experience of others does not come into this. We are all individual and have individual experiences.
Obviously there is so much more to these stories, there always is.
If you are struggling be it in the perinatal period or not PLEASE remember,
More people care than you realise,
Its ok to not be OK,
There is help,
There is light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long your journey is.
For Help contact
PANDA on www.panda.org.au or 1300 726 303 (MON-FRI 9-7:30)
Lifeline on www.lifeline.org.au or 13 11 14
Lifeline Ballarat Lifeline.email@example.com or 5322 4996
Or in an emergency 000
So here is my first ever blog…. Eek fingers crossed I can keep you guys interested 😊
I thought my first one should give you all a look at who I am, I know some of you who have been in for a massage have slowly gotten to know me but for those who haven’t and those of you who are just finding me, I’m Sarah, a remedial therapist since 2006 and the very proud owner of Oriana Wellness based in Ballarat, Victoria Australia.
I have two young children who keep me very busy & often distracted from all the work that goes on behind the scenes to run this business, but thankfully I have a great family who help me keep it all going.
When I was younger I was very active and like most people who are very active I had some pains at times which saw me going to a physiotherapist and the a podiatrist to get orthotics. This and going to chiropractic appointments with my mother opened my eyes to a career choice that I have never looked back from, although there have been detours! When it came time to do work experience there was no doubt about it I was going to do it at the physio I went to and again it solidified where I wanted to go.
Now I love education, when it’s the right topic, but it is not something I was ever really any good at, so I started looking further knowing full well I would not get a VCE score high enough to enter these courses directly. So I enrolled in BHSc Musculoskeletal Therapy, now how knows what that actually is? I gained my certificate in massage and diploma in remedial massage along the way and commenced work in a day spa in the Yarra Valley. I fell head over heals in love with my work and decided my diploma was enough for now.
This is where my detour started, I stated working with and for some incredible women, many of my clients were women and then I got pregnant and met many more incredible women. Hearing so many stories, about women’s health, pregnancy and postpartum and found my calling. Now I’m still working towards this and I probably always will be but it is a passion to assist women through these challenging times, improving mood, pain levels, knowledge and self-care.
My second major detour came when I discovered Visceral Manipulation (abdominal massage, I’ll do a more detailed post another day on this, the benefits are amazing!) and I thought wow this is great and it is lacking, both in our knowledge as the general population and as therapists! So again my journey with this is only just beginning but this is an exciting venture for both myself and my clients.
So that’s my career in a nutshell but who am I? well I think you have worked out my family and my career/business are my biggest loves, but I love travel, my husband and I were planning on backpacking the world after having some trouble conceiving our first child and were actually in the process of selling all of our belongings, including our house, when we found out we were pregnant! Together we have been to Vanuatu, Thailand, Bali, Hawaii, Canada, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and we are heading to Vietnam in just over a month, along with a fair amount of Australia of course! I live animals and have many at home and I’m sure will add more! I like, I guess, the less mainstream sports like Volleyball, hockey and running although I’m not doing any of these at the moment.
So if you have stayed with me till the end thank you, I hope this has given you an insight into me and why I love what I do. If you have any questions put up a comment and I’ll do my best to answer and of course if you would like to book a massage I’d love to hear from you.