Tag Archives: coping

TGIF! How To Have A Stress-Free Weekend

If I won the lottery, one of the first things I’d do is put a massage therapist on retainer to come de-kink my muscles daily.  (Of course, if I won the lottery I’d probably be a lot less tense in the first place!)

Being on a less luxurious budget, though, I can only manage this monthly at the most. So after several days of traveling last week– always stressful, even when things run smoothly — I enjoyed a much-needed, long massage session yesterday. Which got me thinking about the benefits of massage therapy and why I need to do this more often.

Manipulating the body’s muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and skin does many good things, including a few that aren’t immediately obvious.

Reduces stress. Relaxation is probably the #1 reason people get massages, but there are real health benefits to reducing stress. When you’re tense, you instinctively breathe faster to quickly increase levels of oxygen in your blood. But this also raises your blood pressure. As a result, frequent or chronic stress makes your heart work too hard for too long.

Elevates your mood. Research has shown that massage has a direct impact on lowering the levels of stress hormones adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine that cause the “fight-or-flight” response. At the same time, it helps release “feel good” neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin.

Improves circulation. As the therapist presses down, blood moves through congested areas. And the release of this same pressure causes new blood to flow in. That helps get oxygen to all your body’s cells.

Boosts energy. Since massage aids blood flow, it delivers oxygen to all your body’s cells, which we need for energy.

Soothes anxiety.  If you’re not in a relationship or you spend a lot of time alone, it’s especially important to stay literally “in touch” with others. Human touch is a basic need, as long as it’s safe and comfortable.

Encourages restful sleep. Especially if you have your massage later in the day, and keep that relaxed feeling going by taking a warm – not hot – bath before bed.

Reduces muscle tension and pain. By relaxing tight spots throughout your body, massage is an effective way to reduce pain, even for people with chronic conditions. A 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that massage therapy was as effective as other treatments for chronic back pain.

Counteracts too much sitting.  Got an office job? Chances are, your posture is suffering and your neck and shoulders are taking a hit. Postural stress can also manifest as pain, soreness or weakness in your lower back and gluteal muscles, aka your butt.

Helps you cope with the pain and stress of chronic conditions and disease, such as stomach problems, fibromyalgia, cancer, and heart disease. Interestingly, women diagnosed with breast cancer who received massage therapy three times a week reported feeling less depressed and less angry, according to a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience. That’s pretty amazing, I think.

Eliminates toxins (or does it?) Your therapist may tell you to drink a lot of water to flush out toxins after your massage. But what are toxins anyway? They’ve become a scary buzzword for the buildup of nasty environmental substances that are wreaking havoc in our bodies.

While there are situations that are truly dangerous (e.g., chronic exposure to radon, asbestos and cigarette smoke), it seems that a lot of “detoxing” is more money-making hype than true science, and is at best a temporary “fix”.

Our lungs, kidneys and pancreas are already designed to remove harmful substances. Nonetheless, it’s always a good idea to drink water and rehydrate after a massage,

Improves flexibility and range of motion by loosening up your muscles.

Relieves headaches. According to researchers at the University of Granada in Spain, a single 30-minute trigger point massage decreased tension, anger status and perceived pain in patients with chronic tension-type headaches.

Boosts immunity. By decreasing levels of cortisol, massage can contribute to stress reduction and management. Massage therapy also increases the activity level of the body’s white blood cells that work to combat viruses. According to research from Cedars-Sinai, participants in a Swedish massage group experienced significant changes in lymphocytes, which play a large role in defending the body from disease.

Helps you lose weight.  Sorry, massage doesn’t directly cause weight loss. But it helps release endorphins in the body that make us feel happy. And by doing healthy things for our bodies, we build a better relationship with ourselves. Which may make us less likely to use food as a stress reliever.

Have a great weekend! xx, Alisa

adult alternative medicine care comfort

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

Traveling With Others

Traveling with another person is the ultimate blind date. Do you like to do the same things? Are they overly assertive or passive compared to you? How would they handle a stressful situation?

With luck, you find a partner, spouse or friend whose rhythms match your own. But what about a trip with another couple, your extended family, or someone you don’t know well? That’s a real litmus test.

Mostly, I’ve had wonderful experiences. A trip to London with S forged a friendship that’s lasted for decades. DH and I took a European vacation early in our relationship and learned that we were able to cope when things didn’t go as planned. And our recent visit to Charleston was successful because my friend T and I talked frankly in advance about what we all wanted – or didn’t want – to do there.

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Other trips have been a challenge. Beware of these types of travelers!

The Sloppy Drunk. I’m all for having a good time. But when my ex-husband fell into the bushes after a booze cruise and had to be dragged out by a sailor I should have saluted that red flag and called off the wedding. Live and learn.

Druggie Howser. Similar to the Sloppy Drunk, Druggie will score whatever he can, wherever he travels. An ex-beau bought weed and hashish from a complete stranger when we were in Morocco in the 70’s… did ‘ya learn nothing from the movie Midnight Express??

Sir (or Lady) Bossypants has researched every heritage site, museum, etc. within an inch of its life and is a self-styled expert on all topics relating to the places they insist on dragging you to and Will. Not. Shut. Up. About.

The Slowpoke moves at a different – dare I say, glacial – pace. Unless you are a very patient person (unlike myself) this will drive you stark staring insane.

The Obsessive Planner follows a rigid schedule. By which I mean never, ever deviates from it. You’re enjoying chatting up the owner of a local art gallery? Too bad; gotta get to the next thing on the list. NOW.

Mr. Spontaneity, on the other hand, NEVER wants to plan ahead. You might arrive in another country without a hotel reservation, as happened to a friend of mine many years ago. In high season.

The Hysteric. S*** happens. Train schedules change. Planes get grounded. Connections get missed. Places are unexpectedly closed. You do not want to travel with someone who is totally unhinged by this. Trust me.

Morning vs Night. My father was a morning person. My mother stayed up until 2 AM and slept until noon. On family trips, we had to squeeze all activities between 1:00 and 8:00 PM. Know which one you – and your traveling companions – are, and plan accordingly.

The Cheapskate. Bargain-hunter in the extreme. Will only eat street food, go to a museum on the one free day, stay at a Motel 6, or take the bus even though you risk arriving at your destination after closing.

Hey Big Spender. There are two subcategories: Ms. Moneybags (who can afford it) and Mr. Moocher (money is no object because you’re footing the bill). Watch out for anyone who has no understanding of – or respect for – your finances.

Michelin Or Bust. Michelin-starred restaurants can be terrific — unless you have a sensitive stomach or wallet. Our last Michelin meal was so rich, both DH and I tossed our (artisanal) cookies within an hour of returning to our hotel room. Next time, we’ll suggest our friends dine alone, check out the simple place around the corner and meet up for an after-dinner coffee.

The Bottom Line: Pre-Planning

  • Discuss expectations and set ground rules in advance, even if it feels awkward. Especially if you’re traveling with another couple or someone you don’t know well.
  • Be honest about how you want to spend your time. Be open to compromise unless an activity will bore or annoy you. For example, don’t go shopping just because your friend loves it if you know you’ll hate every minute. A reluctant companion is no fun for either of you!
  • Benefit from others’ expertise. Some of our friends are serious foodies and love to research the newest or best-reviewed places in town. I’m happy to let them pick the restaurants since I don’t care all that much.
  • Eating out with others? Get separate checks. You won’t feel guilty if you have that extra drink or order something more expensive.
  • Travel with people who have similar resources. If you’re on a budget, make sure you don’t get sucked into spending outside your own comfort zone. On the other hand, if you always stay in a suite you may feel resentful if you get a standard room like theirs to be “polite”.

Enjoy traveling this big, wonderful world of ours!

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