The holidays are always stressful, but with all of the added awfulness of 2016 to consider, this year's going to be a real doozy. Add to that the prospect of sleeping on your grandmother's couch or in your childhood twin bed, and it's only a matter of time before your entire body tenses up. Luckily, there are ways to #treatyoself and give your muscles the love they need at home, and get the kinks out of your neck without going out to get a massage.
"We often don't realize the toll physical habits have on the body until long after they have become routine," says Ally Rotondo, a massage therapist from Zeel, a company that offers on-demand, at-home massages. "Physical aches such as a stiff neck and shoulders, back pain, and feelings of stress and exhaustion are all symptoms that it's time for a professional massage. Ignoring the body has repercussions but nurturing your body is an investment in your own happiness."
If you can't get help from a professional and want to try fixing your kinks at home, it's important to know what you're doing."Fast, jarring movements can make matters worse," says Rotando. "I would not recommend trying to regain mobility by pushing through pain in your neck or back. Leave that to a professional!" Here are her five tips for treating your muscles the right way, without having to splurge on a crazy spa treatment.
1. Do Some Shoulder Rolls
You can do this at home during family dinner, or sitting at your desk when it's time to go back to work. "Sit straight with your feet on the floor. Inhale slowly and deeply," says Rotondo. "On the exhale, raise your shoulders up toward your ears, then roll backward and downward."
2. Take A Warm Shower Or Bath
The heat will help loosen your muscles, and the experience will help put you in a more relaxed state. Bonus points for using epsom salts or bath bombs for a little extra luxury.
3. Stretch It Out
Think about how much time you spend staring at your phone. It's not exactly great for your posture. Rotando suggests lifting your chin to the sky, then tucking it toward your chest to reset and elongate your neck.
4. Try Head Tilts
There's a reason why every workout warmup ever starts with nodding your head "yes" and shaking it "no." "Inhale deeply," says Rotondo. "On the exhale, bring your ear toward your shoulder without raising the shoulder. Return to the center, then repeat on the other side."
5. Bring The Massage To You
Getting out the kinks yourself is an easy quick fix, but your body may need something a bit more in the long run. "People need regular massage, a trained professional can release these knots and stresses in the body, sending circulation to thirsty sinews and correcting the length of strained muscles," says Rotondo. "In the same way going to the gym makes you feel good for a day but regular exercise gives lasting benefits, regular massage helps everything from physical comfort, strong sleeping patterns, increased physical performance and mental clarity."
Check out Zeel.com to see if you can get a therapist to come to your parents' house on Christmas afternoon — there's no better excuse for hiding in your room than a little bit of self care.