Healthy Immune System Part III – Covid-19, Loss, Stress

A healthy and strong immune system can help to guard us against illness, such as the one we are facing now. The coronavirus has rudely placed itself in the center of all of our lives causing massive disruptions – social isolation, changes in work and other daily patterns, and an uncertain future on many levels.

As I mentioned in a recent blog, it is a complicated matter involving many different factors. For an overview of those click here. One of the major players in the complex matter of a balanced immune system is correct stress management, which is also a complex matter.

The massage therapists of the world are people who often help other people to deal with stress. A colleague of mine, a massage therapist who is now not able to work at her trade of helping  others, joins us her to share some of her stress borne of having temporarily lost her job.

My name is Sandra and I have been a licensed massage therapist for 10 years.

My specialty is pain relief while using different modalities to reduce stress, even temporarily. Because, let’s face it, no amount of anatomical understanding or skill set will help my client unless they are able to step away from their stress, if even for 10 minutes out of an hour session. And yes, sometimes it takes that long to get there, if ever, in the first session. It took years to build the stress and pain. It could take a while to be free of it for a moment.

My job looks different than you might expect. It’s not seaweed wraps and cucumbers on the eyes, although I do use calming music with as little pan flute as possible. My client and I have to build trust to get to where they can heal, because I am physically touching their pain. Their ability to allow me to care for them is truly a reciprocal gift.

As the Covid pandemic changes the world, I am legally unable to do my work because the state could take my license. I understand that, and I understand the rationale.  However, losing the ability to work has sent me into a grief cycle that I did not see coming. So, as I work through my own stress and grief, let me share what works for me as I make my way through it.

First of all, feel your grief. Our plans within plans are put on hold and, my goodness, do humans love a good plan! Whichever stage of grief you are in is fine. Cry, sleep, exercise, stare into space, encourage your old plan and your new plan be friends. All of it is valid. Have the feelings now, express them,  or they could help to produce an ulcer for you 5 years from now.

Second, allow the stages but don’t wallow in them. Find that moment in each day that breaks up the bargaining you’ve been doing since 3 am. Mine is my goofy-faced dog. I’m pretty sure my dog masterminded this whole thing, so that I’d be home more. For real.

Third, try a smile when that moment comes. Even if it doesn’t feel right the first, second, or third time. Faking it ‘til you make it has sound scientific backups that prove that it changes your brains chemistry and is an all natural pain and stress reliever. Also, let’s not get frown lines we can’t undo over the next few months. Reversing your daily muscular holds with help reduce those nasty little lines. Stretch everything.

Fourth, be patient with yourself. It took years to get to this place, expedited by a crisis, and it could take a while to get out of it. I have found that if I allow myself even five fleeting minutes of forgetting this mess and smile at my silly dog, it becomes easier and easier for 5 minutes to turn into 10.

When this blows over, I am ridiculously ready to be back and helping my clients and welcoming some new ones to unwind their stress and pain so they can function at their best.

Your LMT tip of the day: let’s get out of our heads and into our bodies. When the wallowing creeps in, gently massage circles around your ears to your temples. We humans love a good jaw clench in times of stress. This small action will relieve jaw pain you didn’t know you had and headaches as well!

Be patient and kind to yourself. You’re worth it.    ~  ~  ~

You can see more about Sandra’s work and contact her right here

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