Without thinking, say the one adjective that describes you. For me, it’s easy: cuddly. I am an incredibly tactile person who likes nothing better than a cuddle (why do you think I loved living in Madrid so much? All those hugs and kisses when you meet someone was a constant fix.)
Despite this, I have never been fond of having my body touched. All those years of body hang-ups still have an impact, which is why I’ve never been a fan of massages. A stranger’s hands on my flaws… No thanks.
That changed on a press trip to La Bobadilla in Malaga last year, when we were treated to an olive oil massage by the pool. As I never write about something I haven’t experienced, I agreed only because I didn’t want to add it on the list of facilities if it wasn’t good.
Spoiler: nothing at La Bobadilla isn’t good. It is one of the most amazing hotels I’ve been to and the massage totally changed my mind. Not only did I come away with beautifully soft skin, but my mind felt as if I’d been sipping on ambrosia with Chris Hemsworth. In fact, I was so relaxed I did an Instagram Live video straight after and you’d swear I’d been hitting the sangria, I’m so zoned out on it.
Menopause and growing older has taught me a lot about the need to look after yourself and make time for self-care. Before this, I’d never quite got the appeal and thought that, mebbes, I just wasn’t a girly-girl. The truth is, I didn’t value myself enough to take the time for me – silk purse, sow’s ear and all that.
But the one lesson I’m taking away and keeping from what my body is going through is that: you only have one body and it’s amazing, so make that time for it.
Plus massage has an amazing number of benefits to offer peri menopausal women and menopausal women.
If, like me, you find yourself making a soft little “oof” sound when you get out of a chair or get out of bed, massage is for you.
Menopause can impact your range of movements, especially if you suffer from aches and pains. Massage stimulates the natural muscle lubricants in your body, especially those between your connective muscles, and helps everything work smoothly.
Chas Rough of YOGAmazing, my favourite online yoga master, says twists and turns are like an “oil change for your spine”. This is what massage is doing.
We’ve all seen older women with a stoop or – foul description alert – a dowager hump caused by bad posture. I know when I’m having a painful day with my aches and pains, my posture goes to pot and my nose points straight to the floor when I walk.
But while slumping may feel as if it’s relieving the discomfort, the truth is it is actually making it worse in the long-run.
By helping our muscles relax and loosen up, massage can help ease the aches and pains, improve our posture and help us walk taller for longer.
Lower blood pressure
Blood pressure can rise in menopausal women. Whether that’s through the change in hormones or because we have a tendancy to put weight on during this time is not sure, but it is something we need to watch out for – especially if you’re on HRT, because that can also have an impact.
The good news is that researchers found that people receiving Swedish massages had lower levels of blood pressure. Swedish massages use long gliding strokes that go in the direction of blood returning to the heart. It’s often called a classic massage.
Watch out, though, as sports massages can increase blood pressure, so make sure you’re having something relaxing.
As someone who lies awake at night stressing about the future of children growing up in a world with Tudor Gammon crisps, this benefit of massage is a biggie for me.
By helping us relax, massage can reduce menopausal stress levels and stop us worrying about the woes of the world. It can also help combat stress fatigue and aid sleep.
Diminishing oestrogen levels has a huge impact on our skin. Mine is certainly drier and much more itchy than ever before.
Massage oils can really help make your skin look and feel better. Almond oil is a good all-rounder (smells great, too), while sunflower oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to really help dry skin.
However, the best oil of all is in your kitchen cabinet: olive oil has been used for centuries and is amazing for helping dry skin. Add a few drops of lavender oil for a sensual overload.
In summary, massage has so many benefits that it should definitely be on a menopausal woman’s self-care list. And that doesn’t mean going to an expensive therapist who uses golden oils harvested from bees raised on Venus. Grab a body lotion or some oil with a nice scent and really work it into your body. Take your time and enjoy it and make it all about you, with nice music and candles (Ikea tealights work just as well as something costing ten times as much).
Then go cuddle someone. Because you still can’t beat a cuddle.
What are your go-to self-care treatments? Is massage one of them? Let me know in the comments below.
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