Saturday, December 8, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide: How to Choose a Gift

It’s the season of gifts.  As mentioned in a previous blog post, this can be a huge source of stress for some during the holidays.  But it really doesn’t have to be!  Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind that will make it a lot easier to come up with several great options for everyone on your holiday shopping list:

1.    Ramp up your listening skills around this time of year.  If you really listen to someone, chances are by the end of a couple conversations they’ll already have mentioned either a problem they have, or something they’ve been eyeing!  This is your cue to think: can I gift them something to help with this problem?

2.    Think about everything you know about the person.  Do you know their favorite snacks?  Their favorite color?  Favorite animal?  A gift that feels personal will remind someone that you went out of your way to get this for them, and didn’t just pick up a pack of identical “gifts” to distribute to everyone else.

3.    Just ask.  This article sums up some interesting research on the variance between the expectations of gift givers and receivers, and advocates for the simple action of just asking someone what they actually want.  If you’re close to someone, this could be a viable option!  Just throw in a small little surprise (as simple as a box of chocolates) to keep it fun and retain that surprise element.

4.    Have a budget for each person on your list.  Your Secret Santa at work probably doesn’t need a lavish gift from you, but your 15-year-old niece, on the other hand…!

5.    Think outside the box.  Get it?  Like the box of the gift?  Anyway, instead of focusing on what is the most expensive, newest thing you can get someone, why not get them an experience instead?  Studies show that gift receivers are more focused on the practicality or use they will get out of the gift, while gift givers are more concerned about the moment of the exchange.  Research also says experiential gifts are also more effective at improving relationships between gift givers and receivers!  A great option for this kind of gift is always a massage.

There you have it! Using these tips, you can streamline your holiday shopping and put a smile on the faces of everyone on your list. Happy gift-giving!

#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #gifts, #holidays, #giftideas

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Phenomenon of Holiday Stress and How To Combat it

It’s official, we’re in full-on holiday season.  ‘Tis the season to indulge in time off, time with family, and lots of delicious food.  However, what some people think of as the happiest time of the year can end up being quite the opposite through a phenomenon known simply as “holiday stress”.

A study published by the American Psychological Association found that leading holiday season stressors include a perceived lack of time, money, pressure of giving or getting gifts, family gatherings, and an inability to stick to health goals.  More than 80% of people surveyed reported feeling stressed and fatigued “often” during the holidays.

Additionally, in order to combat the stress, people tend to turn to less-than-optimal coping mechanisms, eating more and moving less.  We understandably think that indulging often and relaxing our way through these stressful months will make them a little easier to deal with.  However, this leads into another source of stress: an inability to stick to our current health goals!  Consistency is king.  It isn’t our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners that make us gain those extra pounds we desperately want to shed come January 1st, it’s what we do all the other days surrounding these special occasions in the hopes of being able to enjoy ourselves and relieve undue stress.

So, it seems like one thing just leads to another.  Is there no way to break the cycle?

As it turns out there is a calorie-free alternative to relieving holiday stress: the concept of shifting set!  Shifting set is simply a fancy term coined by psychologists to represent “updating or shifting cognitive strategies to respond to the changes in our environment”.  In simpler terms, it’s the ability to be flexible and adaptable.

By adopting a more flexible and adaptable approach to the holidays we can save ourselves a LOT of undue stress.  Just think: instead of stressing out about not getting as much time as you wanted off from work for that vacation, why not just adapt to the new timeframe and channel that energy into reorganizing your itinerary and still going on a fulfilling mini-vacation?  Instead of being upset that your workout schedule has been completely thrown off by traveling and bad weather, be flexible…adapt…create a new workout schedule that works with your current circumstances!

This holiday season, make sure to rely on flexibility and adaptability (and maybe a relaxing massage) to relieve stress so that you can actually enjoy this time of year!

#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #holidays, #stress, #christmas

Monday, November 26, 2018

Guide to Gifting Massage

When you’re relaxing on a massage table, it’s easy to see massage as a gift.  Whether you’re there to reduce pain, to ease anxiety, to help you recover from the physical and mental stresses of work, athletic training, parenting, or just being alive, massage is a moment of freedom in an occasionally crushing world.

If you’re thinking of sharing the gift of massage with someone else for a special occasion or “just because,” you are almost certainly doing so from a place of love and generosity.

Obviously, I’m a big fan of giving massage as a gift!  But there are some things to keep in mind when offering this kind of present:

How to (successfully!) give the gift of massage

Think about the best way to deliver your gift.  Gift certificates are the easiest way to give a massage as a gift, as it allows the individual to schedule on their own (either by calling or going online).  Scheduling on their behalf can sometimes work as well, although this can require additional strategic planning.

Look for genuine excitement.  When you mention massage, are they enthusiastic about the idea?  What you are looking for is, “Oh my gosh, that sounds amazing!” as opposed to a polite, “Yeah sure, I guess I would go if it were free.”  If you can elicit a more excited response by offering new socks, go with the socks.  But many people are thrilled by the idea of getting a professional massage as a gift.

Talk with your massage therapist.  Are they accepting new clients right now?  Do they allow people to purchase massages as a gift?  Do they offer the kind of massage this person needs or wants?  For example, at Healing Hands we offer relaxing massages with aromatherapy and/or Himalayan salt stones as well as deep tissue massages with stretching and heat.  But if you’re looking to give a massage as a gift to someone who wants to experience modalities we don’t offer (such as shiatsu or craniosacral work), we wouldn’t be the best fit.

Consider and remove obstacles.  Unlike a nice sweater or a juicy novel, there can be a few barriers to someone enjoying even a gifted massage.  These include:

     Transportation and accessibility.  Will you need to help them get to their massage?
     Childcare and other caregiving responsibilities.  Will they be more likely to accept the gift if it’s accompanied by an offer to babysit?
     Tips, parking, and other expenses.  At Healing Hands we say “gratuities are never expected but always appreciated.”  If you wish to include this in your gift, we will note it at the bottom of our customized gift certificates.  As far as parking goes, you can let the recipient know that we validate their valet fees so there is no cost to drop off their vehicle when they come for their session.
     Anxiety.  Receiving a massage for the first time can be intimidating.  Going together or talking about what to expect can be useful.

And finally, don’t forget the most important gift recipient: yourself.  You can’t pour from an empty cup!  Rest matters.  Peace of mind matters.  Sometimes, one of the best gifts you can offer others is to take a moment away from the chaotic world, so that YOU can be a better spouse, parent, colleague, neighbor, or friend.  Sometimes self-care can feel like a strangely radical or indulgent act, but it’s a vital one.  When we are around people who know to care for themselves before running themselves ragged, it’s a better environment for everyone.

To give the gift of massage, please visit this page and you will be directed to a secure PayPal link where you can enter the information of yourself and the recipient.  Additional customization available upon request.

#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #holidays, #gifts, #giftcertificates, #giftideas

Monday, November 19, 2018

Staying Healthy During the Holidays

It’s the mooooost wonderful tiiiiiime of the yeeeeear. ♪♫

Yes it is!  The holidays are a time filled with beautiful weather (here in South Florida, anyway), and a time to make memories with your loved ones.  However, it can also be a stressful time packed with lots of traveling, last-minute shopping, and plenty of opportunities to overindulge and be underactive.  Now, no one is saying you should have a salad and go for a run on Thanksgiving.  The priority is to enjoy yourself and have an amazing time with your family and friends!

But the goal can be to indulge and enjoy your holiday season, while not going so overboard that come New Year’s you hastily make resolutions to suddenly become a health guru (more on this later) out of guilt. 

It’s not only possible, but it’s easy.  Here are some practical tips you can implement every day no matter the situation to stay on track with your health and wellness goals this holiday season:

1.    Prioritize movement: It’s fine to scale back on an intense exercise regimen if you’ve got a busy schedule, but there is always a way to get in some extra movement!  Research shows that going for a brief walk even as short as 15 minutes after a meal can aid digestion and burn some extra calories.  So skip the temptation to take a nap post-food-coma and opt for a walk around the block instead.

2.    Skip and/or mix and match leftovers: I’m not going to tell you to try to focus on healthy food for your holiday feast, what fun would that be?  But what you can do, is enjoy it and move on.  If you are in a situation where you are left with huge amounts of leftovers and can’t give them away to guests, a good strategy is to freeze half, and then have the other half in small quantities coupled with some healthier options.  For example, replace the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes plate with a salad topped with some of that leftover turkey.  In short, pace yourself.

3.    Minimize stress: Stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels, which leads to increased weight gain (a good way to combat stress is by getting a massage, you know we had to mention it!).

So there you have it!  Staying healthy during the holidays doesn’t need to be hard, and you don’t need to make a lot of sacrifices.  Small tweaks here and there can make a huge difference.

And above all, don’t forget to prioritize enjoying yourself.  Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Healing Hands!

#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #holidays, #healthylifestyle, #howto, #healthyholidays

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Stand Up For Your Health

Literally!  Well, figuratively too of course.  But today we’re talking about literally standing, and why you should make that a priority to counteract the effects of sitting too long.

Long periods of sitting are associated with increased risk for diabetes, cancer, and can double your risk for cardiovascular disease.  As it turns out, people who sit for prolonged periods of time (more than 10 hours a day) have elevated levels of troponins (a protein that indicates heart damage).  While these elevated levels are not enough to qualify as cardiac disease, prolonged elevated levels could help explain why those who sit for long periods of time are at a higher risk of premature death than people who sit for less time.

Additionally, another recent study found that healthy middle aged adults who spent more time sitting had signs of cognitive decline in areas of the brain connected to memory formation. 

And now for more bad news…

According to a new analysis of studies of this subject published in the Lancet, you may be able to counteract the effects of sitting for too long with enough exercise.  The catch?  “Enough exercise” in these conditions is more than double the recommended amount of exercise for a healthy adult.  This means a MINIMUM of 60-75 minutes of exercise every day.  

The good news?

All hope is not lost! Combined with a healthy diet and exercise regimen, simply increasing your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) can be enough to counteract the dangers of sitting.  This is the energy you expend apart from the thermic effect of food, your basal metabolic rate, and your daily exercise.  Essentially, all the calories you burn from things like fidgeting, standing, and walking.  So, no need to work out for crazy amounts of time!

Ways to increase your NEAT and reduce sitting time could include asking your employer (or doing it yourself) to invest in a standing desk, taking short 10-minute walks every hour or so, and walking or biking to work.

Last but not least, here at Healing Hands we are big believers in prioritizing wellness both at work and at home.  We offer various services through our corporate wellness programs that can help get you up and moving.

So make sure to talk to your employer about any number of ways to encourage movement in the office, and don’t forget…stand up for your health!

#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #sitting, #healthylifestyle #office, #energy

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Future of Massage

Massage therapy is a practice that is more than 4000 years old, dating back to 2700 B.C.E.  The earliest known mention of it is in an ancient Chinese text called “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine”.  While the practice may be ancient, it is far from outdated.  In fact, it’s growing…. a lot!

Research placed the massage therapy industry at approximately $16 billion in 2017.  By contrast, in 2005 the industry was only estimated around $6-11 billion. That’s a 45% increase in 12 years by the most conservative estimates.  Last year between 47 to 60 million adult Americans had a massage at least once.

As it turns out, health and wellness accounted for the primary reasons that people received a massage.  Only 29% of massage consumers in 2016-2017 got a massage for relaxation, compared to 43% who received a massage for medical or health reasons.

The American Massage Therapy Association also found that of the 18% of consumers who discussed massage with their physician, more than half of these received referrals or recommendations for massage therapy from their healthcare provider.  This points to massage being more widely accepted into the healthcare field as an accepted form of treatment for ailments ranging from lower back pain to migraines.

In short, massage inclusivity in the healthcare field is growing.  Accordingly, the future of massage might lie in becoming a more accepted part of the field.  The AMTA reports that nearly 64% of American adults would like to see massage therapy covered by their insurance.  This study found that out of a sample of insurance policies in the US, about 73% covered some type of massage therapy.

The benefits of massage for health and wellness reasons are tightly backed by solid results, which has led to the increasing demand.  Americans are asking for more massages, and for good reason!  Do you have a pain management issue?  We would love to help!

#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #painmanagement, #massagetherapy, #painrelief

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Plan Your Happy

Ever had one of those days where everything seems to be going wrong? Nothing major or life-changing, but maybe you spilled your coffee on the way to work because you were speeding…because you were running late…because you overslept…etc. One of those days where one little thing leads to another and suddenly you’re in a crummy mood and ready for the day to be over.

Days like these are bound to happen. Will you remember that spilled coffee a week from now? Probably not. But in the moment, all the little things seem so…major. And they can leave you in a cranky, upset mood you just can’t seem to shake for the rest of the day. In instances like these, mindsets can make all the difference. You could accept the mood and let every perceived slight of the rest of the day get to you while hoping in spite of it all that your day miraculously gets better, OR you could make a conscious effort to change your mood and the way you perceive the rest of the day’s events.

Let’s explore option B (that is  the one you chose, right?). How exactly do you change your mood? The answer might be surprising: by planning ahead.

Hear me out.

No, this doesn’t mean planning not  to spill your coffee. It means planning how you will react to the spilled coffee. Or arriving late. Or oversleeping. Or any other multitude of ordinary (albeit annoying) events that have the potential to ruin your mood. Plan to be happy, by making a happy list!

There are various versions of what a happy list can look like. It could simply be a list of things that make you happy in life (like this one). I prefer a more practically applicable alternative; a happy list with an actionable component. Specifically; things that you can do to change your mood in 5, 10, 15, 30, and 60 minutes.

In five minutes you can get a good snuggle session in with your favorite furry friend, in fifteen minutes you can get a breath of fresh air while you listen to a couple of your favorite songs, in one hour you can get a massage. See how it works?

So, get to work on building that happy list. Next time you’re having a bad day, take a second to look at it and pick an item off the list that you can use to help boost your mood. Every action has a reaction. Plan your reaction, plan your happy!

#healingshandsmiami, #therapeuticmassage, #corporatewellness, #massage, #wellness, #happy, #healthylifestyle, #list, #badday