Mindfulness and Massage – Get the Most out of your Massage
As a mental health coach, I often work with clients to develop strategies for becoming more aware of the present moment as a way to reduce stress. Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that engages individuals to become aware and accept their thoughts and feelings while connecting their mental state to their body’s experience.
Anxiety and stress can make mindfulness challenging. Massage is a way to help my clients connect their mind with their body.
I had the chance to interview Colin Baird, a Registered Massage Therapist, who is passionate about empowering individuals to get the most out of massage. Here’s what Colin had to say:
“Massage is not only for your body. Just as important, it can be an incredible gateway to mindfulness and an integral part of your mental health treatment program.
Massage focuses on whatever you want to get out of it. It doesn’t just have to be about relaxation. It should stimulate your senses, calm the nervous system and can even stimulate serotonin (our happiness hormone) to the prefrontal cortex”.
Colin’s top 10 tips for getting the most out of massage:
- If you’re looking for a mental health focus in your massage experience, pick a clinic that has more experience dealing with anxiety and mental health issues and caters to this focus with their setting (for example, a quiet nurturing environment).
- Think about having a “massage goal”. Are you looking to relieve tension? Are you struggling with sleep or headaches? Try to be mindful about your body for a few days leading up to your treatment. Think about your activities of daily living. How are you using your body?
- Don’t rush to get on the table: be open to having a five-minute chat with your therapist before starting the massage so he/she can focus the direction of the treatment. The more information you include, the more your RMT can create a personalized treatment for you. The lighting, the music, your sensitivity to touch: you are the expert of your body.
- Open yourself to the treatment and the experience. It’s okay to give feedback and to release emotion. Your treatment is entirely confidential, so be willing to let yourself engage in the conversation with your body. You are the gateway to how much/how specific your treatment will be.
- Speak up. Your needs can and will change. Ask questions and realize your therapist wants you to achieve your goals.
- Make sure you’re breathing throughout the massage. Be in tune with what is happening in your body. Be aware of where you’re holding stress. Notice your own body and take deep breaths from your diaphragm.
- Commit to taking your mind off work and stress. Visualize the relaxation experience. Like during yoga, work to let go of your mind as each part of your body is released.
- After the treatment, don’t immediately rush out and get on a work call or check your emails. Take a few minutes to ease back into your life and your day.
- Ask your RMT for feedback. He/she just spent an hour working with your body, so ask for feedback and preventative self-care tools to incorporate into your day-to-day life.
- Develop a relationship with a therapist. The more of a rapport you can develop with your RMT, the more you will get out of your treatments and the more in tune your therapist will become with your needs as a client.
Laura MacNiven, Director of Health Education at Springboard Clinic (www.SpringboardClinic.com) caught up with Colin Baird at his practice in Zen-Tai Wellness Centre (http://www.colinbairdrmt.ca).