You don't need to go to a spa to reduce your stress levels. Get stress relief at home with our DIY self-massage techniques.
The hustle and bustle of the daily routine can frazzle our minds and tie our muscles up in knots. These do-it-yourself self-care techniques and soothing herbal remedies provide at-home relaxation—no massage therapist required. Valentine’s Day is a great time to pamper yourself with a little TLC.
Our body doesn’t know the difference between good and bad stress, but late nights, unhealthy food choices, and hectic work schedules help to elevate our stress levels.
Physical and emotional stress can manifest in the body a number of ways:
Massage for stress relief
Massage therapy is one of the most widely used approaches to managing muscle stiffness, aches, and pains. It also reduces physiological stress responses including elevated blood pressure, cortisol, and heart rate as well as perceived stress and anxiety.
Be your own masseuse
With our tight schedules and obligations, it can be a challenge to fit in a visit to your massage therapist; however, simple self-care techniques can keep you supple until you can book a session with professionally trained hands.
To release stress and open up healthy circulation throughout your body, massage therapist Derek Woodske suggests a massage technique called petrissage. The movements of petrissage involve various ways of kneading, rolling, and picking up the skin and muscles.
It promotes circulation as well as drainage of both surface and deep tissues. “Helping release the calves will do wonders to help you relax,” says Woodske. “Petrissage will release the strong tensions developed from standing and moving.”
Roll away the stress
“Rolling out your muscles will refresh and energize them,” says kinesiologist Arysta Bogner-Wood, who specializes in myofascial release techniques. Self myofascial release using foam rollers has become increasingly common to supplement traditional massage. Bogner-Wood recommends using a foam roller on the legs and back before and after a long day on your feet.
Somatic movement educator and manual therapist Sue Hitzmann focuses on the connective tissue of the body, not on muscle. Connective tissue is a fluid-based system, and Hitzmann suggests that dehydration is the underlying cause of daily aches, stiffness, cramps, and strain. Hitzmann recommends light touch self-care techniques to restore hydration to connective tissue.
Hydrotherapy for revitalization
“Hydrotherapy is amazing for reviving tired and fatigued hands and forearms,” says Canmore, Alberta-based massage therapist Robyn Feuz. Hydrotherapy uses alternating hot and cold muscle soaks to flush out toxins and bring nutrients to the area.
Reflex the stress away
Self foot reflexology has been shown to be very successful in reducing perceived stress and fatigue. This type of massage stimulates areas of the feet to help relax and rejuvenate other areas of the body, including the glands and organs.
Soothe your stress with herbs
There are many herbs that can be relaxing. “I focus on pleasant, aromatic herbs used as infusions,” says master herbalist Nathaniel Whitmore. “Besides the benefit from ingesting the herb, there is an aromatherapeutic effect, and simply drinking a hot beverage has benefit.”
“The aromatic mints, including peppermint, lemon balm, bee balm, catnip, and lavender, are particularly good. Rose and camomile are also delightful additions,” he says.
Whitmore also recommends the use of herbal tinctures: “My favourites for preventing stress are motherwort, hops, and valerian.” Herbs such as ginseng, Siberian ginseng, rhodiola, licorice, and medicinal mushrooms are more building and energizing when stress is due to “running on empty.”
Nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbott includes magnolia bark, ashwagandha, and pine bark among his most effective antistress herbs.
Try these self-care techniques and remedies to relax, rejuvenate, and prevent burnout.
DIY self-care treatments to relieve stress
Petrissage for headaches
Cucumber hydrotherapy for tired eyes
Hydrotherapy hand and arm treatment
Small ball foot release
Petrissage for exhausted legs
Basic foot rub revamped
Mini rolling routine
Using a 4 in (10 cm) diameter foam roller, you can perform this five-minute mini rolling routine any time. Perform it at the start of the day and again at day’s end to relieve an achy back, shoulders, or legs.
Calf and hamstring release
Upper back release
Soothing herbal infusions can help replenish depleted energy and calm the mind during stressful times.
|Herbs for revitalizing when energy is low||Herbs for relaxing and calming the mind||Herbs for managing and balancing stress||Aromatherapy scents for purifying the air and the mind|