Massage Chair: Before You Sit
One of the best things about a massage chair is that enjoying the many benefits requires virtually no effort on your part. Simply sink into the seat, press a button for one of the preset massage programs, and voila…you’re instantly transported into a state of utter relaxation and deep muscle tissue therapy. No spa weekend required!
However there are some things you can do while sitting in a massage chair to enhance your experience, and to sink deeply into a mental and physical state that can go great lengths to reduce your stress and anxiety. Below we’ve compiled our proven massage chair tips to reduce anxiety.
Before you even sit down: Tune in to Your Body
Have you ever gone to a massage therapist, and they asked you if you’d like them to focus on any particular body part or treatment? Sitting in a massage chair is no different – you’ll want to be able to apply focus to any particular areas of soreness or muscle tightness.
Before sitting down in the chair, take a moment to mentally scan your body to get a sense of where you might be holding stress, and how that stress is manifesting in stiffness and tension in your muscles. Start at your toes and mentally map each muscle group as you move upwards, noting how each area of your body feels, and where you’d like to focus your muscle therapy. This quick 2-minute body scan can enhance the massage chair benefits by proactively identify those body areas that are “storage points” for your daily stress.
Once you’ve done a quick mental body scan and noticed those areas that are particularly sore (or the muscle areas in which you typically store your stress and anxiety), sit down in your massage chair and immediately focus on your breathing. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class you’ve likely learned how focusing on your breathing can play a big role in helping to loosen muscles for particular poses, and to gather your energy in a relaxed way. One of the easiest ways to enhance your massage chair experience is to pay close attention to your breathing. Controlling your inhales and exhales generates remarkable levels of stress relief. Here’s how:
Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling and envisioning the air coming down your throat and reaching the bottom of your lungs, and mentally focus on that air slowly filling every inch of each lung, all the way to the very top till you can’t take in any more air. It doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or distracting, but getting the maximum amount of oxygen for absorption into the body is important. Hold that breathe for 2 seconds, then gently exhale all of the air through your mouth. Repeat this sequence as your massage begins, until this rhythmic breathing becomes the natural state of your in-chair experience.
Remember those areas of tension you identified during your pre-routine body scan? Visualize each breath moving relaxation sensations to those areas. This may sound easy, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t take the time to consciously breathe deeply and peacefully during their day – and if you’re one of them you’ll be surprised at the wonderful relaxed sensations this exercise causes in your body and mind. By taking these deep, rejuvenated breaths you counter the effects of stress – slowing the heart rate and thereby lowering your blood pressure.
You’ve worked hard – whether at work, school, or at home running a household. You’ve earned your time in your massage chair, and the massage routines are the optimal time to take 20 to 30 minutes of rejuvenating “me time.” Pay close attention to the sensations of the massage hands as they are kneading the muscles of your back and shoulders, and the become consciously aware of the sensations of tension releasing from the muscle fibers. Notice the sensation of blood flow via the increased circulation caused by the massage. Notice the luxurious rolling “thumbs” of the foot rollers as they glide over the muscles and tendons of your feet – the arches, toes, and Achilles tendons.
When you focus on these sensations “in the moment” you are present, and not dwelling on the past or anxiety about the future. And you will immediately feel less tense.
Many people don’t realize that time spent in a full-featured massage chair is not only happiness for the body; this time is also an ideal way to meditate. Even if you’ve never tried meditation, a massage chair makes it easy for anyone to slip into a deep state of mental relaxation.
Research has long shown that meditation may alter your brain’s neural pathways. By doing so, your body and mind are drawn into a state that makes you more resilient to the daily stress from work, relationship, money, and other life pressures. While sitting in your massage chair, close your eyes and focus your attention on a positive mantra. This clears your mind of distractions and allows you to use simple statements to change your mental outlook that can have positive effects long after your massage is complete. You can say these mantras to yourself or out loud, and the mantra can be any affirming thought that is right for you. Something such as “I feel at peace” or “slow down, get more done” or “I am happy with myself.” Your mantra is a pathway to easy and deep meditation in your massage chair.
You might be surprised to know that the simple act of smiling isn’t just for show. Smiling and laughing can actually lower the stress hormone cortisol in your body. Smiling – no matter what mood you might find yourself in – boosts brain chemicals called endorphins, which help your mood. In all likelihood you may smile unconsciously anyway during your chair massage, because it just feels so good, but remember that each smile you crack in your chair is actually triggering stress-busting hormone therapy too!
Let the Music Carry Stress Away
Listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure; reduce heart rate, and lower anxiety. Listening to tunes in your massage chair is a double-dynamo of stress busting awesomeness. Music is best in a massage chair equipped with Bluetooth. With this wireless technology you can play your favorite playlists right from your smartphone or tablet. Create a custom playlist from Spotify, or go to Pandora and create a playlist of spa-style music, such as instrumental songs or natural sounds such as a bubbling brook, waves of the ocean, or birds chirping. A simple search in either service will get you right to the kinds of music that spas use to put you in the most relaxed mental state possible. These music types have proven to help your mind gently align itself (that is, the brainwave frequency) with the soothing nature of softly rhythmic sounds and music. By combining your massage chair with relaxing music and sounds, you’ll achieve one of the most relaxed mental and physical states you’ve felt in a long time.
We hope these massage chair tips help you get the most out of your daily massage routines, and feel better with lower levels of stress and anxiety. Who knew massage chairs packed such a wonderful array of stress-busting goodness?