When many of us think of skin care we think of vanity but here's what Web MD say about skin: "The skin is the largest organ of the body, with a total area of about 20 square feet. The skin protects us from microbes and the elements, helps regulate body temperature, and permits the sensations of touch, heat, and cold." So taking care of your skin is just as important as taking care of any other part of your body and not just all about looks.
Winter in Flagstaff presents a particular challenge for skin. As a massage therapist I deal with the skin all day everyday and have developed a good skin care routine to survive this season.
For a clean slate, start with a good exfoliation. You can buy something or try this simple recipe to make your own. It takes less than 5 min to put it together. Mix 1/4 cup of oil (any oil will do but avocado, sesame, and olive are particularly nice) with 1/2 cup salt or sugar and add about 20 drops of your favorite essential oil (or not). Really its that easy. Then get in the shower and scrub your whole body with it vigorously. When you've finished rinse off with warm water and massage the remaining oil into your skin as your rinsing. Do not wash the oil off of your skin. Get out of the shower and lightly pat dry. Then continue to massage any remaining oil into your skin. It will absorb most of it and your skin should feel wonderfully soft, smooth and moisturized. Do this once a week.
For daily care put a bottle of sesame oil in your shower and apply it while the water is still running as you finish your shower and massage into your skin while your skin is still wet. Lightly pat dry and massage the remaining oil into your skin. Also, unless you've been shoveling out a horse stall or something equally dirty, DO NOT WASH YOUR SKIN WITH SOAP of any kind, not even shower gel. Just wash your stinky parts (armpits, privates and feet) with soap and that's it. Soap of any kind strips your skin of its natural oils and will dry your skin out. I also usually apply lotion which ever time I don't shower, evening or morning.
Finally, HYDRATE. Drink LOTS of water or herbal tea. During the winter this can be a little hard to remember because it isn't hot and we usually aren't as active but it is still extremely important.
One of the many side effects of the the pandemic has been an increase in mental health challenges. The CDC reported that in late June 40% of adults in America were struggling with mental health concerns or substance abuse, a significant increase from similar results during the same time in 2019.
Fortunately massage provides and easy and enjoyable solution to this concern. It is commonly known that massage reduces stress. But studies also show that massage can reduce anxiety and depression as well. The anxiety-reducing and mood enhancing effects of massage are most likely related to changes in the electrical activity in the brain, decreased levels of cortisol and increased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the body and brain during stress. And functional brain imaging shows that during a massage session changes take place in many areas of the brain that regulate emotions and the stress response. One study even found massage to be as effective as psychotherapy in treating anxiety.
So if you are struggling book a massage appointment and experience the relief.
Here is a complete description of all of our protocols for COVID-19:
- Only one client at a time allowed in the office. Clients are asked to wait outside if there is any risk of overlap. We stagger our appointments enough so there is rarely an issue with this anyway.
-Clients are asked to sanitize or wash hand upon entering the office.
-Clients are asked to wear a mask coming into the office.
-Our clients are asked to fill out a screening form before they enter the massage room.
-Tosha and I are carefully monitoring our health and exposure.
-We are wearing smocks that are changed after each client and N95 masks.
-We are washing hands at least after and before every session and sanitizing many times in between washings.
Room and Equipment Protocol
-Our sheets have always been washed in extra hot water. And we aren’t using blankets unless requested and then they are washed after one use. Our table layering is sandwiched between sanitizable covers that we are wiping down after each client.
-We have a fan and a medical grade extra heavy duty HEPA air purifier that cleans the air in the room every 15 minutes and removes particles so small it even traps the coronavirus particles.
-Between clients everything that was touched is sanitized and if time allows we use a UVC ozone lamp in the massage room.
Right now our focus at NAZ Massage Therapy, is on improving the safety and health standards in our office. We are committed to creating an environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable. We already had so many procedures in place it has been hard to find areas to improve:
•We were already wearing the KN95 masks.
•We were already washing hands and arms thoroughly after every session, after changing the sheets and cleaning, and before we walked back into the room with a new client.
•We were already washing our sheet in very hot water.
•We were already sanitizing every high touch area of our office after every client and every inch of it at the end of the day.
•We already only had one client in the office at a time.
•We were already monitoring our own symptoms and exposure potential.
So where was there room for improvement?
•We are now screening every client prior to their session.
•We are now wearing smocks that are only worn in the office and washed at the end of each day.
•We now have a medical grade air purifier that captures particles as small as .01 microns (the coronavirus is 0.125 microns) and purifies all the air in our massage room every 15 minutes.
•We have purchased a UVC sterilizing lamp with ozone, a technology used in hospitals to sanitize rooms that should be here any day now (you know shipping delays).
We hope these measures will help to put your mind at ease and help you feel more comfortable about coming for a massage.
We hope you are all finding ways to relax and take care of yourselves during this time. Here are a couple of ideas if you are needing some inspiration:
First of all I'd like to reassure you that cleanliness and sanitization have always been a priority at Northern Arizona Massage Therapy. But we have added a few measures to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy.
As for your part in all of this, we are asking that you wash or sanitize your hands as soon as you walk into the office. And if you should become aware of being exposed to or start showing symptoms of the virus that you cancel your massage immediately and we will waive any late cancelation fees.
I wish we could do massage virtually but we haven't developed the technology yet. We are dedicated to serving you and will stay open for the time being. When, if the first case of COVID-19 comes to Flagstaff we will reassess at that time and keep you posted. We encourage you to do what makes you comfortable. We are doing everything we can to keep you safe and healthy.
So here is the thought I'd like to offer: Where our attention goes, energy flows. " It has been confirmed through research that what we think and feel impacts our immune system via chemical messages from the brain. Therefore, stress, negative thinking styles, and certain emotional states can have a negative impact upon our immune system, creating an environment increasingly susceptible to disease." ( Mindful.org link to full article) So instead of worrying about this virus I would like to suggest you focus on health.
I would encourage you to continue your regular massages as long as you are healthy. Massage has been shown to boost our immune systems so its a good thing to keep doing.