• Do You Take an Active or Passive Approach to Wellness?

     “You get what you give. What you put into things is what you get out of them.” ~ Jennifer Lopez

    There are two basic approaches to maintaining or restoring your wellness: passive and Individualized Careactive. Which you choose will greatly affect your results. But what exactly does each approach look like? Here are a few examples of each (taken from my own practice over the last decade or so):

    Passive

    • Complain and whine about what ails you but only get a professional massage if it’s covered by insurance, deeply discounted (i.e.  you get a Groupon for it), or someone gives you a gift card because it’s soooo expensive, yet you can afford tropical and European vacations at least once a year.
    • Be reactive – Get sporadic massage, but only when it’s gotten to the point that it you can’t soldier through the pain anymore, and then only get massage until it’s tolerable again.
    • Get semi-regular massage, but continue doing non-essential activities that consistently aggravate your pain in a predictable way. 
    • Get regular massage but don’t do ANY of the recommended home care , such as stretches or stress relief activities.
    • Get regular massage but refuse to do anything to lower the huge level of stress you have which is exacerbating (and probably causing a lot of) your muscle tension and pain.

    Active:

    • Spend less on “extras” like Starbucks (I know… it hurts me when I do this, too), dinners out, and impulse buys so you can afford to get the massage you need.
    • Be pro-active – get massage until the activities you love (which you refrain from during this time) don’t cause you pain. Then get massage at the right frequency to keep the pain from coming back.
    • Get massage at the recommended frequency, or as often as your budget and schedule allow. Ask what you can do at home to help maintain the results… then do it.
    • Get regular massage and work on improving your stress management skills and reducing the stress in your life.

    Have you heard the term “return on investment?” In investment circles, an initial investment of some amount of money is necessary for that money to increase, or give you a return on your investment. The more money you invest, the higher the possible return. In wellness circles, your initial investment is usually an appointment with some sort of professional. For the sake of simplicity and continuity, I’m going to just stick with massage  therapy in my examples. In theory, the more appointments you make, the better you feel.

    But it’s not as simple as just throwing money around. If it were, every investment would be a sure thing and  there’d be no need for investment advisors and portfolio managers. And every massage would be able to “fix” your tight muscles in such a way that you’d automatically have great posture and ergonomics afterward. Unfortunately, that’s not how the real world works. You have to put some energy into your investments. 

    When investing, you need to research the companies whose stock you want to buy, to make sure they really are a good investment. You also need to know if there have been changes in management, bad press, lawsuits, etc. In other words, you have to put some effort into your choices. That’s a lot of work to do by yourself, especially if you work full time; but it’s what investment advisors and portfolio managers do for a living. They do all the research and then match you with the right investments based on your age and comfort level with risk.

    Think of a massage therapist as an investment advisor for your body. We’ll help you determine some of the postures and activities that may be causing your muscle tension and pain. We can recommend stretches, or other at-home-care, that can keep the tension and pain from manifesting in the first place. We can also suggest some stress management techniques to keep your stress-induced tension and pain to a minimum. The catch is… these suggestions only work if you do something with them.

    Do you take an active or a passive approach to your wellness? Be honest. There’s no judgement. Really. I used to take a very passive approach to my own health so I’m in no position to judge – I’d whine, complain, and soldier through the pain hoping it would just go away, and when it didn’t I’d go to the doctor for some pain meds. It’s a very popular approach. What I’ve found over the years, however, is that I don’t have to soldier through ANY pain (injuries excluded, of course) when I take an active approach to wellness. The beauty of this approach is that the less pain I have to soldier through, the lower my tolerance for soldiering through pain. It also makes the effects of the massages I receive last longer. In other words, the results become the incentive to continue.

    Next week, look for a list of easy things you can do to start taking a more active role in your health and wellness.

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