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Top 10 Benefits of Massage

I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a massage.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally worth it, but my massages hurt.  Sometimes I have to remind myself why I’m doing it in the first place.  So I decided to put together a list of the:

Top 10 Benefits of Massage

Now, I have arthritis in my neck.  This sucks for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s aggravated by being on the computer all day.  *sigh*  The malady landed me in physical therapy for about six months and in a neck brace when I’m working to “remind me to relax.” It’s super sexy.

The arthritis causes knots in an intricate line down to my shoulder blade and seem to condense there.  Fortunately, I found a massage therapist named Richard Dennis who is a lifesaver.  I’m sure that working on my back is not easy (and probably akin to something like massaging beef jerky), but he does so with aplomb.  That’s right.  Aplomb.  Which brings me to the first point on my top 10 benefits of medical massage list.

Top 10 Benefits of Massage - Beauty Chaos

1) Massage Relieves Muscle Stress and Pain

This is my biggest reason for seeking out massage in the first place, and part of the reason that it hurts while I’m having it.  I receive deep tissue massages that leave me with bruises on most of my body, but a couple days later I feel so good.  Massage is the only method that truly keeps my pain at bay, and at one point the pain was so terrible I couldn’t sleep, work, or exercise.

Top 10 Benefits of Massage - Beauty Chaos2) Massage Reduces Anxiety and Depression

Cortisol is the enemy here.  It elevates when the body is introduced to stress, causing a whole myriad of problems.  Massage therapy lowers cortisol levels by up to 50 percent, and elevates the good stuff like dopamine and serotonin.  And that’s dope, y’all.

3) Massage Helps You Sleep Better

Did I mention I’m also an insomniac?  Yeah, I’m plagued by all the fun stuff.  But I never sleep as well as on the day that I get a massage.  Insufficient sleep can lead to all kinds of problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, obesity, the list goes on and on.  Sleeplessness also leads to motor vehicle and machinery related crashes. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

4) Massage Improves Cardiovascular Health

Several long-term studies have shown that regular massage improves diastolic and systolic blood pressure.  Lowering blood pressure can reduce the risk of a heart attack.  And again, we come back to the stress issue here: stress is a huge problem for the heart, causing cardiac arrhythmias which can lead to less blood reaching the brain and other vital organs.  Best of all, massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive approach to preventing heart problems and even assisting with healing them.

Top 10 Benefits of Massage

5) Massage Can Reduce Many Different Types of Pain

These include post-operative pain, fibromyalgia pain, lower-back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic neck pain (my personal fave), lower joint replacement pain, and I’m sure many others.  Is that a large enough list for ya?  By getting blood pumping and oxygen circulating to the muscles, massage can help heal and prevent pain.

6) Massage Can Help Temper the Effects of Dementia

I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to live with dementia.  The good news is there are things you can do to attempt to stave it off, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and daily mental stimulation such as crossword puzzles or, interestingly enough, dance.  But once dementia has begun to rear its ugly head, there are things that you can do to manage it. Massage helps by lifting the patient’s mood, as well as aiding with circulation and detoxification.  Some say that even a short shoulder rub can keep the symptoms at bay.

7) Massage Can Increase Range of Motion and Flexibility

Top 10 Benefits of MassageThinking back to college, one of my favorite days in dance class was “massage day.”  We would pair off, and spend the entire class (which was usually about 90 minutes) massaging each other.  After spending hours and hours of classes developing our muscles and strengthening, this definitely aided in the stretching part of our fitness. Best of all, massage can make your joints more fluid and less prone to injury by working on muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints.

8) Massage Promotes Relaxation and Lowers Blood Pressure

I’ve had a relaxation massage before.  They feel amazing.  I’ve even fallen asleep.  With deep tissue massage, however, it’s likely that you won’t sleep.  However, the after-effects can be quite amazing.  For some people, as stress levels reduce, so does blood pressure — and massage definitely can help with stress levels.  Also, massage can help improve circulation which can reduce swelling or edema (the technical term) that occurs alongside high blood pressure.

9) Massage Can Improve Balance In Older Adults

Top 10 Benefits of Massage - Beauty ChaosNow this one, I had no idea.  According to the NIH, “Massage therapy (MT) may produce adaptations that decrease risk of falling.” Falling in older adults is a huge problem, causing billions of dollars every year.  They are the leading cause of death in adults over the age of 65.  With therapeutic massage, these risks are reduced, as massage decreases postular instability which leads to better balance.  Hence, less falling.

10) Massage Can Help Cancer Patients

Studies show that massage can decrease stress in cancer patients, and also reduce chemotherapy-related nausea.  Based on this NIH study in pediatric chemotherapy patients, massage reduced the incidence of chemotherapy related nausea and vomiting.  Plus, I’m sure getting a rubdown helps patients feel a little better, at least during the time they’re being massaged.

So there you have it! And with the advent of phone apps, it’s easier than ever to get a massage therapist right to your doorstep.  Or if you live in a city like I do, there are massage places all over such as The Massage Place (I know, so on the nose); Massage Masters; Massage Envy; the list goes on.  Just, you know, be discerning ;).

Has massage helped you?  Have a top 10 list you want me to tackle?  Leave me a comment or message me here!

Favorite Meditation Podcasts for Busy People

 

Honestly, I used to think that I would be the world's worst meditator. Is that a word? Meditation practitioner? Anyway, the thought of sitting still for an hour, or 20 minutes, or even five minutes sent me into a panic. I can barely sit still through the first 10 minutes of a movie, and that's when I'm being entertained. How could I possibly sit with my own thoughts?

I had a therapist once who, as an exercise, wanted me to sit with my thoughts, without any distractions, for 15 minutes a week. You see, I am a master distraction artist.  TV, books, magazines, movies, I can distract myself through any kind of crisis, as long as it means I don't have to cope with my feelings.

Meditations for Busy People - Beauty Chaos

Enter the age of apps and podcasts.  I admit I came very late to the podcast game, but I've been devouring them since introduction.  My favorites are true crime and mystery...and meditation.

Now, since we live in an age where information is consumed in bite sized morsels and the pace of the world moves faster and faster, I started coming across more and more articles on meditation. Meditation for weight loss; for insomnia; for manifesting.  It seems there is something for everyone.

Favorite Meditation Podcasts for Busy People

So I decided to start exploring.  I found a few meditation apps through the app store and tried those, but most of them either required in app purchases or were very long meditations (40 minutes plus).  So on a whim one day, I decided to do a search in my podcast app, and was I pleasantly surprised.

Not only were the meditation podcasts choices plentiful, but there were many available that offered short, manageable meditations, ranging from 5 to 20 minutes in length.  I started picking one meditation to do per day, depending on my mood.  Then, I decided that starting my morning with meditation and maybe some journaling was a good idea.  So I found a couple of 4-minute morning meditations to start my days off right.

And you know what?  I actually started to feel a difference.  I could feel myself getting less worked up about little things, like being cut off in traffic, or some perceived slight at work that I normally would have exploded at.  And I started to enjoy the feeling of...peace.

So here's my list of my favorite meditation podcasts for busy people.  These are just the ones I'm subscribed to; I'm sure there are plenty of others out there, and I welcome any suggestions!

Meditation Oasis

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Meditation Oasis by Mary and Richard Maddux has a great variety of sessions with an without music.  According to their description, they are, "Meditations to help you relax deeply, be more present and flow more easily with life."  There are also instruction sessions in their podcasts on how to do meditations on your own.

One of my favorites, when I have the time, is the Morning Energy Meditation.  This one is 17 minutes long, so a bit lengthier than I normally prefer, but thorough  and energizing.  I also enjoy the Body Awareness Meditation.  I like to use this one for Shavasana after my Do Yoga With Me sessions.

Meditation Minis Podcast

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Meditation Minis is hosted by Hypnotherapist Chel Hamilton.  These meditations are, "mind-shifting mini meditations to calm your anxiety, overcome negative thinking, and increase your confidence in 10(ish) minutes or less."    Chel's soothing voice flows gently through these short meditations, soothing the soul and preparing you to tackle the rest of your day.

For Meditation Minis, I love the Energizing Meditation by the Sea.  Accompanied by ocean sounds in the background, this meditation is great for clarity, energy, and generally a more positive outlook on your day.  I also love the Finding Your Purpose meditation.  If I'm ever feeling lost, or like a failure, this meditation helps center and calm me.

Guided Meditations

Guided Meditations - Meditation Podcasts for Busy People
Guided Meditations

One Mind Dharma has a great meditation podcast simply titled Guided Meditations.  Some of these are slightly longer, in the 25-minute realm, but if you have the time, they're wonderful.  Guided Meditations podcast "covers a variety of Buddhist topics including mindfulness, compassion, concentration, and more."

I particularly enjoy the Mindfulness meditations, of which there are several.  These meditations are great for centering yourself when feeling overwhelmed or chaotic.

Meditation Station by Stin Hansen

Meditation Station - Meditation Podcasts for Busy People
Meditation Station by Stin Hansen

Stin Hansen's station has a fantastic variety of short podcasts, designed for anything from destressing to focus to finding stillness.  The description reads, "These regular meditations are designed to turn your desires into reality and still some of the craziness."

Meditation Station has lots of options under 10 minutes.  There are a couple of morning meditations, Morning Rejuvination and Good Morning, Sunshine, that are each 4 minutes long and really set a good start to my day.

So whether you're looking to relax, energize, lose weight, manage pain, and a host of other things, these meditations have a little something for everyone.  With some clocking in at less than 10 minutes, it's easy to simply pop in some earbuds and take a mini break.  The longer podcasts are great for a lazy weekend afternoon that needs some centering.

Have a meditation you love?  Tell me about it! Leave me a comment or message me here.