Here at Sole Shine Barefoot Massage Therapy, we talk a lot about self-care. We encourage it, we support it, we inspire it. But, what is it? Why should you do it? A TED playlist came across my social media desk recently and it really made me start thinking about the nitty gritty of what is self-care. By just looking at the titles of the talks, it seemed they were very different approaches to self-care. I started watching each video and I realized something, self-care is a huge, HUGE field of many different thoughts and options. Massage therapy as self-care is just barely scratching the surface. This is something I knew and we talk about but some of these presenters really explain it eloquently. I thought I would share a series of blogs noting my thoughts on each talk and adding in my own perspective from someone in the field of relaxation for several years.
We have quite a few social workers in our practice because they see the value in self-care. It’s almost ingrained in them. It makes sense, right? They are dealing with other peoples serious mental stuff and truly trying to change our world one person at a time. It’s quite beautiful and I have the utmost respect for each one of them. But self-care is taught as just a part of their life. I’m sure there are some social workers out there that don’t take the proper self-care measures but I don’t usually get to meet those people. They are also some of the more underpaid professionals (especially compared to what they provide for our community) and I watch them as they practice what they preach by focusing on self-care. The ones we know, truly understand why you should put your mask on first before helping anyone else. I always wonder why this theory couldn’t reach many other professions. As massage therapists, we are encouraged to partake in self-care and I’m sure other healing/services industries are as well. But what about the lawyer? Or the dentist? Or the police officer? They are all worthy of self-care! Why aren’t we more encouraging of taking downtime to rest? It seems like the norm is to take the bare minimum 8 hours of sleep (and let’s be real, even that is a far fetched dream for some) and call that “rest” or to watch television and call that “rest.” Yes, you’re body is not moving and you’re resting but you’re not mindfully resting–which is where the repair happens, in my opinion.
Now, what is self-care? What does it look like? I truly believe we are placed on this planet to improve upon each day. We are not just here to soak up the son and try to make as much money as we can. We are here to connect with each other, to thrive in our humanity, and make the world a better place for the next generation. How do we do that? Constantly, we are being pulled in different directions. And recently, our world has put an importance on doing everything faster.
These self-care articles couldn’t have come at a better time, (funny how that works out, right?) I was at laid up at home with an injury to my leg. That’s a big deal being that I use my feet and legs to deliver Ashiatsu! I wasn’t exactly sure what happened to me as I didn’t have a specific action that led to the pain I was experiencing. As I was laying on the couch and doing my best to play with my son, I realized, this was my bodies way of saying, “SLOW DOWN! If you don’t slow down, I’ll slow you down.” Honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I realized I had not been keeping up with my self-care and I had been allowing my mental energy to become exhausted without replenishing it appropriately! Often people come to us with an injury and they want to know how to fix it, when I give them the advice of doing nothing, sometimes they look at me life I know nothing. When in reality, I’m saying, slow down, pay attention, and listen to your body. I laid on the couch and experimented with different stretches and strength building exercises. I finally contacted another massage therapist friend of mine. She came over and knew right away what I should do. “You’re doing it, she said. Rest, but try this stretch.” Sure enough, by the end of the day, I could put weight on my leg without having a mini panic attack about not being able to massage you fine people. It really took someone else telling me to rest and slow down for me to listen to my own body. I had found myself in the loop that I see so many of my clients in. I’m so grateful I have adopted massage therapy as my way of life so I can be surrounded by people encouraging me to trust my own body and to just listen.
The first TED Talk I listened to can be found here. Carl Honore talks about slowness. You may have heard about the slow food movement taking over in the last few years. It’s the concept that we should be mindful of the food that passes through our body from it’s moment of creation to how it feels in our body. How very Zen, right? What I really liked about Carl’s talk is that he’s very real about his experience. No one is perfect at it, especially at first, but it’s about the process, not necessarily who gets there first and who is the best at it. This reminds me very much why I appreciate a yoga practice. It’s not the end result as a focus but all of the mush in between. In so many realms of our life, duality and the push/pull of life is what leads to enriching experiences. If everything were easy, we wouldn’t have a reason to keep doing it. When we lean in to our challenges, we feel alive!
This brought me to another question. Is there a difference between mindfulness and slowness? My conclusion is this, slowness creates more mindfulness.
I’m curious about your thoughts, send me a message or leave a comment!