The Tipping List
Necessary Indulgences Part 2
Taking care of you
By: Margaret Jaworski
Before you can take care of anyone else, it’s important to take care of yourself. Here are more tips on how to chill out and feel good, and at the same time indulge yourself in a few simple pleasures:
1. Massage and muscles: hands-on healing
This ancient tradition is practiced in nearly every corner of the world and extolled as antidote for everything from sore muscles to stomach problems. Roman physicians routinely prescribed massage for stiff muscles and weak limbs (gladiators were frequent patients). The Greek physician Hippocrates, he of the eponymous oath, wrote, “Physicians must be experienced in many things, most assuredly rubbing.”
As it turns out, “rubbing” has many rewards. “Muscles collect metabolic by-products and when those by-products are released through stimulation and massage, we feel more energized and active,” says James Heskett, MD, founder of Wellpath, a women’s health and holistic-medicine spa in Manhattan.
Also, the experience of feeling pampered and cared for creates a sense of well-being, which in turn reduces stress levels. The production of cortisol, the bad stress hormone, diminishes, and the level of endorphins, those much-touted feel-good hormones, increases. According to Tiffany Field, PhD, an expert in touch research and the head of the Touch Research Institute and Wellness Center in Florida, the act of being touched in a therapeutic way has significant benefits. Touch enhances growth in preterm infants and increases immune function, alertness and general well-being.
2. Hug it out: chemical reaction
It’s official. Just 10 minutes of warm, supportive cuddling improves mood and reduces stress according to research published in Psychosomatic Medicine. Hugging spurs release of oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle” hormone. And according to Laura Cousino Klein, PhD, assistant professor of biobehavioral health at Pennsylvania State University, in stressful situations women release oxytocin, which, in combination with other female hormones, encourages “a pattern of ‘tend and befriend’ rather than ‘fight or flight’ behavior.” The act of befriending produces a calming effect.
In fact, hanging out with female friends, the researchers believe, counteracts the effects of everyday and extraordinary stress. Translation: Making time for a girlfriends’ getaway, a weekend at a spa or a trip to the state fair is both fun and physically beneficial.
Can’t spare the time or money for an out-of-town jaunt? You don’t have to forgo the oxytocin rush. Create a girlfriends’ get-together close to home.
3. Throw an impromptu wine-and-cheese party with the help of http://www.discover-wine.com/. Created by the pros at Robert Mondavi Vineyards, the website gives the vino-challenged all the tools they need to host a wine-tasting soiree. On the site, you can download host and winemaking notes plus info for your guests, and then create the invitations on-site to snail or e-mail to your invitees and voilà, you’re ready for a girlfriends’ get-together, an end-of-treatment celebration or an any-occasion party.
4. Host a tea party. “Tea tempers the spirit and harmonizes the mind,” counseled Lu Wu, in the Ch’a Ching, a reference on the art, joy and healing qualities of tea that was written in the eighth century. Bring out your best china, buy a few scones and some clotted cream, slap together a few tea sandwiches and you’re ready to steep tea and revel in the warmth of your friends.