Guest Feature: Benjamin Smith from BestCompany.com
Have you ever had a massage? Some men may feel that they are too manly to go and get a massage. Many others may feel that it is too expensive and that they could spend their money better in other areas. To be honest, these are very common misconceptions. The stress that every day life provides can be very taxing on our bodies. I would like to discuss a number of ways in which men are struggling to care for themselves properly.
During the beginning of June I was experiencing escalated levels of stress as I was working on planning my upcoming wedding with my Fiancée, putting in the needed hours at work, helping to fix up my future in-laws home after a house flood, and moving into a new apartment. Yes, it was a lot and unfortunately I paid the price.
I have been known to carry stress in knots in my upper back and neck. One morning I woke up and by the time I got to work I could hardly sit up straight. My back was in excruciating pain. I consider myself to have a very high pain tolerance, but this hurt. I was very uncomfortable. By the time Noon-day hit I called a local Massage Therapy School to set up an appointment for a massage.
This was completely uncharted territory for me. I had never had a massage. I didn’t understand half of what they asked me on the phone. They asked what kind of massage I wanted (I had no idea there were multiple different types), how long it should be, and a couple other things. That is what I call calling the shots on the fly.
I felt a little bit uncomfortable when I arrived at the facility as I had no idea what I was in for. After being shown to a private room we proceeded with the massage. I can honestly say that I have not felt that relaxed in over 8 years. I live a very fast-paced life and I don’t know if I have ever really taken the time to care for myself in that way.
I am a working man. I will soon be a husband and in the coming years hopefully a father as well. These are all reasons as to why I SHOULD care for myself. So should you!
Bringing Work Home
As I have been thinking about why work has continued to become more and more stressful over the years I have come to the conclusion that much of it stems from the inception of the smartphone. Back in the day (for those that remember) Palm Pilots were used to schedule appointments and have a hand-held calendar.
Today with iPhones and Androids, you practically have your entire computer in your hand. People from the workplace can reach out to you almost any time and expect that you will at least see their email or text message as they pop up on your phone. As of late, home has become an extension of the office.
The added stress that this provides, though varying in intensity, piles on top of what used to be time and home. It is hard to get a break from work if you let this happen.
But I Am A Man
Wonderful observation! It is important that every individual works to care for themselves so that they can work/function more effectively in every aspect of their lives. For example: If you were to come home every day and binge eat junk food, your physical fitness would quickly decrease. The only way to correct your fitness at that point would be changing your diet to include healthier foods and starting to exercise to provide stress relief to your body.
Health experts have worked over the years to understand the effect of regular exercise on stress and anxiety. Staff from the Mayo Clinic have said: “Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries”.
Coupled with exercise, massages, acupuncture, and other personal care therapies can be life-changing for those in need of more balance in their lives. Some positive effects of massage therapy include: Improved Circulation, Benefits for Body + Mind, Customized Experiences, and Relieves Stress + Anxiety.
Men and women need to be willing to take care of themselves in order to better fulfill their responsibilities and function at their best.
Why Spend The Money?
If you have never had a massage before, you may think it is expensive when you go. If you are worried about the cost, here are some ideas to help you better understand what this massage will do for you.
You will be able to sleep better
Reduce pain and soreness
As you do these things, you will have more energy to do the things that are required of you both at work and at home.
What are the most important things that you do every day? For a number of men across the United States these would include:
Other leisure activities
Unfortunately, though this list provides opportunity for individuals to create balance in their lives, there still exists a major imbalance in the way that the majority of individuals are choosing to spend their time away from work.
Let’s take a quick step back and think back on my personal experience. I started having back pain from extra tight muscles during High School. I was playing competitive soccer, participating in multiple clubs at school including student government, attending night classes at a Community College to get my Associates Degree, and working here and there on the side.
It was not often that I did not have a sore back during these years. I believe that I allowed myself to grow complacent and by so doing I neglected the self-care that my body needed. In order to make sure that I could sleep at night, I would make sure that I worked extra hard when working out so that I would literally collapse from exhaustion each night (and get a good night’s sleep, or so I thought).
Now, years later, I realize that I was working myself to a pulp and I was not making sure that my body was getting the care it needed in order to function well.
Going and getting a massage was my turning point. The individual that gave me the massage asked if I exercised regularly, ate healthy, slept enough, among other things. I have been eating healthy foods, but I have been getting far too little sleep. Due to current circumstances and business I had also put my exercise schedule aside and was not getting the exercise that my body needed.
In hindsight, I can see just how poor my decisions were to set aside my physical and mental health. I was not able to function as well as I should have in order to be successful in all of my endeavors.
Don’t become complacent! Don’t allow what is currently on your plate to take over your ability to care for yourself. Taking the time to exercise and relax appropriately will clear your brain, allows you to think and process more clearly, and help you to better use your time regardless of the activity.
If you are struggling to have the desire to become more active, don’t be afraid of attending a local gym. Even if it is only for the free trial. Talk to some trainers there and find out how you can better your physical fitness one step at a time.
You are unable to efficiently help other people if you are unable and unwilling to appropriately take care of yourself. If things don’t seem to be going the way that you would have hoped, don’t be afraid to take a minute for yourself and analyze how you can better care for your own personal needs.
Working yourself to the ground will only leave you on the ground. Step back, stand up, do something nice for yourself, and see what it can do for you.
Men, don’t be afraid to participate in activities that are considered “pampering”. Set everything aside. Put the remote, phone, laptop, or console down and go let yourself really relaxed.
“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.” – L.R. Knost
Benjamin Smith is the Chief Editor of a Fitness & Health and Wellness blog for BestCompany.com. He is a writer with the urge to help people to better understand how to take control of their lives every day. When not in the office he can be found in the mountains or the kitchen.