As many of us are struggling to keep up with the endless barrage of daily demands, to-do-lists, multiple jobs, e-mails and social media, it can seem like time-out will only set us further back — and will be yet another expense which needs to be worked and paid for. However, it is precisely at this point of overwhelm and overdoing, of being wound too tight for too long, when total burnout is right around the corner and permanent damage can be done so easily.
It is also at this point that creating a still point to unwind and renew can be like a magic button helping to ground, nourish and anchor us.
There is an old German saying: “In der Ruhe liegt die Kraft”, which means: There is power in calmness and tranquility.
The truth of this is evident when we look at what happens in the body during times of extended stress and not enough rest. As a basic stress response (fight or flight) the sympathetic nervous system triggers the adrenals to release hormones, which increase the heartbeat and pump more blood to the extremities, while at the same time suppressing basic life supporting and regenerative functions like assimilation of nutrients, digestion, waste metabolism and cell renewal.
Normally, during times of rest, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over and helps the body perform these regenerative functions, but if stress is ongoing without enough rest, our body doesn’t get what it needs for optimal function, yet is being asked to work constant overtime. The result is inevitable: we get run down and feel overwhelmed and exhausted, which actually lessens our productivity, not to mention our quality of life.
When this happens it’s time to exhale, slow down, unwind, reset the system and recharge the batteries BEFORE a breakdown occurs.
Taking an hour to give back to our body, our hardworking friend, can be like a mini-vacation without requiring the planning and preparation of extended time off, while at the same time costing only a fraction.
Sometimes just going for a walk in nature, sitting down with a good book or engaging in another calming activity of choice can be enough to unwind. Receiving professional bodywork can be another option. If the main purpose is relaxation in general, gentler modalities like Swedish massage would be indicated, as well as energy work like Reiki, cranial sacral work, acupressure or a combination.
What happens physiologically during a relaxing bodywork session is this: through safe and soothing touch, nerve endings close to the skin surface receive calming signals that stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping the body restore, digest, clean house and clear the slate while allowing the mind to relax, unwind and let go.
Energy modalities help balance agitated or blocked flow of energy, accomplishing deep and profound relaxation and renewal of body, mind and spirit. Skilled and caring bodywork in a space conducive to letting go can remind the body of being a body, ground us and create that magical still-point where we can become aware of our humanness again, of being a spirit that lives in a temple body deserving of loving attention.
By offering this skilled touch, a safe and inviting space and healthy boundaries, a therapist facilitates this still point, while at the same time working out excess tension from muscles and tissue, thereby enabling smooth functioning of structures essential for helping us do our daily work efficiently.
To be able to do that, therapists need to be in a balanced and receptive state of mind and body so they can fully tune in to the needs of their clients and provide quality work.
With statistics indicating that massage therapists on average burn out after a mere two years in practice, it is important for therapists who care about themselves, their clients and the longevity of their work to practice good self care too.
So, don’t hold it against your dedicated body workers if they take periodic time to do just that: recharge and renew to serve you best, to be there for you 100 percent, so you in turn can function at your very best during this short window of opportunity each one of us has here on this planet, in this body, during this life.
A certified massage therapist since 1996, Ata Susanne Morse has been providing therapeutic massage and bodywork in Moab since 2009. She can be reached by phone or text at 435-260-2874, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org