Work, exercise, learning, travel, family and social connections are elements of a successful and happy life. In order to sustain our ability to thrive in all these areas, we must make room for an often overlooked necessity: Rest! Here are my recommendations for physical, mental, and emotional renewal and recovery.
1. Get a massage: The Aston® massage techniques I use in my sessions are highly suited to promote recovery of the body’s tissues. They avoid compression or bruising even while working very deeply. Tension is released, inflammation is reduced, while the free flow of blood and lymph is encouraged. It is the perfect way to recover from a strenuous workout or a weekend of gardening. Please email me to schedule your next session.
2. Spend time in nature: Some surprising research points to the fact that we derive great benefits from spending time in a natural setting. The Japanese even have a beautiful word for it: Shinrin-Yoku, or “Forest Bathing.” Our mindset benefits and our immune system can see measurable improvements. Even if you can’t often take a vacation in nature, even a city park will do. For more information, read the article “Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning.”
3. Sleep: As the nights get longer here in the Northern Hemisphere, we should take our cue from the natural world and give ourselves the gift of a good night’s sleep. Recent scientific studies point to the importance of sleep in vital functions:
In this culture, where high productivity is a virtue, people sometimes brag about getting by on very little sleep. This makes as much sense as bragging that we get by without vitamins or that we only breathe half as much as other people. Unfortunately, one of the results of getting too little sleep is that we misjudge how well we are doing cognitively and we are deluded that we are fine. The first step is to recognize the importance of sleep and to prioritize it.
Here are some tips for more and better sleep:
The most simple and under-appreciated bit of advice is: Go to bed early!
I invite you to read the article I wrote for the July wellness issue of Edible Austin, “Self-Care With Essential Oils.” You can pick up a free issue at various restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets around Austin, or you can read the article on-line.
I am studying how to use essential oils and how to make a variety of salves, lotions, body products and home remedies. I think you will love my new home-made anti-inflammatory massage lotion next time you come see me for a bodywork session. It promotes healthy skin and tissues and is completely organic and natural.
Last year I completed my training in Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT). You may have heard that our bodies are 50-70% water. A lot of this water is lymph!
Lymph is part of the circulatory system. Blood leaves the heart and travels through the arterial network to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the interstitial fluid, the fluid space that surrounds the cells.
The return journey to the heart has not just one, but two parallel pathways: the venous and lymphatic systems.
The lymph carries large proteins, foreign bodies, cell debris, and pathogenic substances which can’t be carried by the blood. These substances are broken down in the lymph nodes before the lymph returns to the blood.
Most of us are not aware of the central role that lymph plays in the body, but its action is central to good health, and even our very survival.
Lymph Drainage Therapy stimulates the flow of lymph manually by applying extremely light pressure at specific locations and in a particular sequence. As the lymphatic system increases its output, detoxification of the cellular environment occurs. In addition, the increased flow of lymph through the lymph nodes stimulates the activity of immune cells.
So in addition to being part of the circulatory system, the lymph is also part of the immune system!
Here are a few of the many indications and benefits for LDT:
Drain excess fluid from the tissues in the case of trauma or injury, which promotes healing of the injury
Detoxify the body (fasting, dieting, withdrawal from tobacco and other substances…)
Reduce water retention and puffiness due to inflammation or PMS
Stimulate the relaxation response and reduce the stress response
Reduce muscle spasms
Stimulate the immune response
Improve skin health and appearance
Drain lymphedema due to cancer treatment
Drain sinus congestion
Some people seek LDT specifically, but most people are not aware of this form of massage and its benefits. I often find myself combining techniques as needed. For example, an injury might be swollen and benefit from clearing the fluid first, which reduces discomfort and allow for better access to do detailed release work on the tissues. Or the tissues can be so restricted that they do not allow the lymph to flow freely, in which case the myofascial work would be done first, then a little LDT to help resume the free-flow of fluids through the area.
Now that you are acquainted with the lymphatic system, you can seek help for this vital system through the gentle techniques of Lymph Drainage Therapy.
You can also take steps in your daily life to keep your lymph healthy:
Practice daily movement and exercise, which stimulates lymph flow
Eat a healthy diet, free of additives, artificial ingredients, added hormones and antibiotics
Eat in moderation
Drink alcohol in moderation
Drink plenty of water
Take contrast showers: 2 minutes cold, 2 minutes hot, alternating for a few rounds (The temperature should be slightly shocking but neither freezing nor burning)
Self drainage – I can show you some techniques you can apply yourself.
I wrote an article on making dehydrated backpacking food for Edible Austin magazine. You can pick up your own March / April outdoor issue at various foodie venues in Austin. In addition to my article, there are lots of great features and recipes in this issue. You can also read the article on line.
Don’t miss the biscotti recipe (on line only), which is great even if you are not in the wilderness.