Stress Relief: The Next Best Thing To A Massage
Back when I worked twelve-hour days at a corporate job, I was so stressed and full of tension from sitting at a desk all day that getting a massage once a week wasn’t an indulgence, it was a priority. It was that one-hour of the week where I could shut everything off and enjoy the moment. What I did not know back then was that massage is an extremely important health practice especially when we are stressed. Massage benefits our mind, body and spirit in countless ways. It lowers stress hormones and increases immune function. It relieves muscular tension and injuries, while enhancing circulation and detoxification. Massage also boosts feel good hormones and neurotransmitters such as oxytocin, nitric oxide, serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. When you can’t get in for a massage due to scheduling, budgetary concerns or whatever the reason, here is your next best bet… Years ago my favorite masseuse advised me, “If you can’t get in to see me, be sure to take an Epsom salt bath. An Epsom salt bath has many, if not most, of the same benefits and effects of receiving an actual massage.” Ever since then I always keep Epsom salt in my bathroom for those unexpected stressful days. Epsom salt is a form of magnesium. Dr. Mark Hyman, a bestselling author and Functional Medicine M.D., refers to magnesium as “the most powerful relaxation mineral,” “the secret antidote to stress” and “one of his secret weapons against illness.” When we experience prolonged periods of stress, we deplete our magnesium stores, and magnesium is critical to our overall health. Diet, environment and many other factors can also create a magnesium deficiency. By taking an Epsom salt bath, we absorb magnesium through our skin. Add two cups of Epsom salt to your next bath to begin. Use the hottest water you can comfortably stand and stay in for at least 12 - 20 minutes to get the full benefit. I sometimes use an entire carton when my muscles are really tight. I also love to add a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender when I need an extra sense of calm or eucalyptus in the winter time when my respiratory and immune systems could use a little boost. If you are struggling with insomnia, this is the perfect way to wind down before bedtime!