Most of us know that self-care is important for our health and well-being but with life’s commitments and responsibilities, it’s easy to get moved down on our priority list. However, when taking care of yourself becomes a top priority, you feel healthier, which allows you to better take care of other obligations, including work, school, and family.
Self-care has truly never been more important for our physical and mental health as Americans are more stressed than ever. A recent report by the American Psychological Association (APA) issued a warning that “we are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come,” long after the physical threat of COVID-19. Our bodies and brains were simply not built to handle the prolonged stress that has come with COVID and its associated social, cultural, and economic upheaval.
Last year, working from home and remote school took a toll on both on our bodies and brains with social isolation, constant screen time with back-to-back meetings and classes, improper ergonomics, and more. Yet, while2020 is behind us, new stressors have arrived with readjusting schedules again for returning to in-person work and school, and decisions about mask usage and the COVID vaccine.
The media exacerbates the situation as we are bombarded with COVID statistics on a daily basis – hospitalizations, deaths, new cases, new variants of the virus, and complications from both COVID as well as the vaccine. When we watch the news, it spikes our cortisol, interrupting sleep, which only increases stress on our body and brain.
It’s no wonder anxiety and depression continues to rise nationwide. As such, many therapists and counselors have full schedules, unable to take on more patients. The good news is self-care can help to reduce anxiety and depression, and boost our overall health and well-being. And completely revamping your schedule to fit in self-care isn’t necessary, as little efforts can make a difference.
Consider these simple, effective techniques you can do at home to help enhance your self-care routine:
· Yoga Tune Up Balls can be great for back and neck tension as well as foot pain. Target specific trigger points and high-tension areas in your body. My favorite are from Tune Up Fitness.
· Partner Thai Stretches: Assist your partner in a spinal twist while laying down – one hand on their shoulder and your other hand on their knee as they twist. Or, try one partner sitting cross legged and up right and the other standing behind them, using the heel of their palms on the shoulders (person sitting) to apply pressure to the upper trapezius. Simply put, this is assisting your partner in a passive stretch while pairing it with breathing. Also referred to as lazy man yoga.
· Foam Rolling: For those who sit at a desk for long periods of time, foam rolling can help with knee pain, low back pain, and tight hip flexors which is common among those working from home.
· Chin Tucks properly align your spine, increase blood flow, can help alleviate headaches, and strengthen neck muscles. Also try holding your cell phone up to eye level to avoid looking down at the same angle repeatedly.
· Gentle Yoga is great for a morning or night routine to calm the nervous system. It tends to be easier, brief, and less taxing on the body. One of my favorite yoga videos on YouTube is here.
Additionally, my clients are reporting many benefits from massage therapy, including improved sleep, better mood with decreased anxiety and depression, increased relaxation, as well as reduced fatigue and more. I offer deep tissue, reflexology, Esalen/somatic massage, Swedish massage, craniosacral therapy, cupping, and Thai massage stretching. To book an appointment or discuss what approach is best for you, please call 603-801-2777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To further aid those working to improve self-care, I am excited to host an in-person self-care workshop at the NH Health & Wellness Center in Nashua, NH on Monday, July 26,2021, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Space is limited to 8 people. Cost is $45. Attendees will receive a set of Yoga Tune Up Balls by Tune Up Fitness. For more information or to register, email me at email@example.com.
Don’t forget that eating well, getting adequate sleep and regular exercise, practicing mediation, and enjoying time in nature all contribute positively to your overall mental and physical health. We each have different goals when it comes to self-care, and incorporating continuous self-care into your daily routine takes time. Remember that even small steps of being kind to your body and brain add up to help your overall well-being.
Meagan Visnaskas works with massage clients at the NH Health & Wellness Center, including guiding them in self-care practices. She has been trained in deep tissue, reflexology, somatic massage, Swedish massage, craniosacral therapy, cupping, and Thai massage stretching. She is a registered yoga instructor and certified Reiki Master Teacher. To schedule a session or for more information, please call 603-801-2777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.