The Elements Massage® brand believes that monthly massages make everything better for your body, mind, and spirit. That’s why we’re so excited that October is Emotional Wellness Month: four weeks set aside to focus on the things that help make all aspects of living healthier, happier, and balanced!
At first blush, Emotional Wellness Month could sound like a time dedicated to feelings or psychotherapy, and while that could certainly be part of it for some people, there’s so much more to it. The National Institute of Health defines Emotional Wellness as “the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.”
In many ways, that’s what massage therapy can be about too. Regular massage helps keep our minds calm and relaxed and our bodies limber and loose. This in turn can prepare us both physically and emotionally for whatever life throws our way.
Like many people, you may have shied away from this often recommended emotional wellness tool because it feels overwhelming, or at least elusive. But beginning may be easier than you think and the benefits are well worth the effort.
Studies show that meditating regularly can help reduce stress-related inflammation in the body and relieve other stress-induced conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, PTSD, and fibromyalgia. More than 18 studies prove that meditation can significantly reduce depression and support you in understanding yourself better and thinking more constructively about challenges that come your way.
Ready to start meditating? Why not start by reading one of the many great books on meditation, attending a local class, or downloading one of the many meditation apps for your phone? Whether this is your first or millionth time taking up meditation, we’re here to help. Eric Stephenson, our own Chief Wellness Officer, is here to share some of the struggles he experienced when starting meditation and the strategies that worked for him!
Another great Emotional Wellness tool is gratitude. According to the Harvard Medical School, positive psychology research confirms that “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” They specifically cite the work of Drs Emmons and McCullough who conducted gratitude research with three groups of people: one kept a gratitude journal, one kept a journal of irritations and complaints and one wrote about their lives with no positive or negative emphasis at all. After 10 weeks, says the article, the group with the gratitude journal felt happier, better about their lives, saw an uptick in exercise habits, and made fewer visits to physicians than the group who journaled about their negative experience. In the world of Emotional Wellness, we call that a win-win!
Ready to start practicing the attitude of gratitude? It’s a simple practice to take up. Just start noticing things you’re grateful for and find ways to express your gratitude. Thank you notes, conversations with friends, leaving rave reviews for service, and / or keeping gratitude lists or journals are great ways to start! Those who practice say the benefits are certainly something to be grateful for!
Movement & Exercise
You’re probably well aware that physical exercise keeps your body fit and ready to respond to the opportunities and challenges life has in store, but did you know it does the same for your mind and emotions? According to the National Institute On Aging, research shows that “physical activities - like walking, biking, dancing, yoga, or tai chi - can help reduce feelings of depression and stress, enhance your mood and overall emotional well-being, increase your energy level and improve sleep.”
Classes and groups are great ways to get started as they come with built-in instruction and accountability, but there’s no need to wait to find the right group, you can move right now! Everyday tasks like walking the dog, scrubbing the floor, and dancing to the radio are great ways to get moving. Work on the second floor? Take the stairs! Work at home? Set a timer and take your stairs 4 or five times a day. Want more ideas? A personal trainer can help you develop a routine that’s perfect for you!
Wait! Did someone say routine? While this isn’t one of the topics we’re exploring for Emotional Wellness month, it sure could be! It’s proven to help reduce anxiety and smooth all facets of life when implemented and observed daily. For more about routine read our September article entry or watch this video.
Elements Massage® studios see the ways monthly massage contributes to emotional wellness first hand and others see it too! Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, said in a recent interview, “Massage therapy can improve a person’s emotional health by reducing stress and stress hormones; by increasing serotonin and thereby reducing depression and pain; and by enhancing immune function and thereby reducing bacterial and viral illnesses.”
Studies show that something as simple as a 15-minute chair massage is proven to relax an adult’s body and mind. Imagine what a series of customized, monthly therapeutic massages could do for you!
These are just a few of our favorite ways to boost your Emotional Wellness, but there are so many more! To learn more about Emotional Wellness and find a great Emotional Wellness Toolkit, visit the National Institute of Health. They have great resources to help you manage emotions, stress reduction, sleep, mindfulness, and coping with loss. Other resources include articles, books, and videos like this one from Eric Stephenson, our Chief Wellness Officer.