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I’m ready for you 2021! (Hannah Bellamy, Massage Therapist)

2020 came around and to most people’s relief, is swiftly on its way out. What a year! Between Brexit debates; COVID-19 turning lives upside down; a greater emphasis on the climate crisis and Black Lives Matter; there was plenty to be filling our hearts with sadness and our heads with anxiety. And that’s on top of our general stresses of daily life.

As a massage therapist, I have the pleasure of meeting lots of interesting people and I get to build relationships with my regular clients who then trust me with their chronic pains and injuries. I have seen an interesting trend in the past year, where I have noticed more relapses of older injuries and what were manageable minor niggles have turned into more significant issues. I blame a lot of this on the stresses the last 6-months has brought us; mainly the increased mental strain; the adoption of poor postures for those working at home; increased family pressures and other worries about the future.

In this month’s article, I would like to share some advice I give my clients, which is particularly relevant for this time of year to help reduce stress and hopefully keep your discomfort at bay:

Reminder: Be gentle with yourself and others. Set yourself realistic goals in whatever that may be. And if those goals are reached, then amazing. But if they aren’t, then just know that there will always be tomorrow and that you’ve done an amazing thing to get through another day in these crazy times. Likewise, if someone has not met your expectations, breathe, take a step back, and think perhaps whether they’re having a difficult day, week, month too. Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.

Mindfulness to get us through the next few months. It can seem quite cheesy and old news to some as mindfulness comes up quite often; but trust me, it can really help. There are many video tutorials or articles on the internet, one of which may stand out to you. My go to is “breathe work” and I use this a lot with my clients, as well as for myself.

Keeping SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) at bay. Are you familiar with SAD? If not, then check out the NHS website for more information (or our last Merrow Pages article!). If you feel as if your mood is low in winter, then you might be suffering from SAD. A few tips to help are:

- Sunlight! Get as much natural sunlight as you can; make your home as light and airy as possible; sit near a window when indoors.

- Eat a healthy balanced diet and exercise regularly.

- Consult your doctor who might suggest cognitive behavioural therapy, antidepressants or light therapy.

Keep exercising and releasing those endorphins. Whether you started a couch to 5K programme; joined Joe Wicks or have gained enough confidence to go back to the gym, then keep at it! If none of them work for you then wrap up warm and keep taking nice strolls despite the rain (think of that nice cuppa when you get back into the warm). If all else fails, then put on a bit of music and dance like no one is watching! You might feel silly, but I bet you’ll end up laughing!

Lastly, relationships over money. Times are tight and Christmas in normal circumstances is full of extra costs. Perhaps this year we can focus on something different? Not only does buying fewer “things” help reduce the carbon footprint, it also takes pressure off last minute panic buying or the stress over whether Aunt Norma will like the coasters you bought her (She would have preferred a massage I’m sure…) .Not being able to sit in the same room as relatives or friends or going as far as hugging is a sad reality, and it hurts. If we used that head space to come up with some creative way to reconnect with those around us, then could our relationships bring us warmth until we can resume close contact once again? I’m sure we can, at least for now.

I would like to conclude by wishing you all the very best this Christmas and as we reflect on 2020, let’s make kindness our biggest gift to each other this year. 2020 has been like no other year in any of our lifetimes – I’m so looking forward to 2021!


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