Treat Yourself (For the Sake of Others)


It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the best way to take care of other people is to first take care of ourselves.  Doing our best to meet our own needs is actually the most efficient way to go about it. Think about it, you know just what you need, just when you need it, without even needing to ask yourself.  It’s almost like you can read your own mind!

And when we are walking around as a person who has all or most of their needs met, we are then that much more available to help others who may be having trouble getting their needs met.  Maybe we can help them to better understand their own needs, or help them with something that they are just not capable of doing on their own. We are likely to have more patience towards others, more energy to help, and more time to do so.

A great way to help meet our own needs and to put ourselves in a great mood is to schedule ourselves a massage session at Mantis.  By doing so, you are giving yourself some me time, improving blood circulation, improving your quality of sleep, relieving tension, improving posture, reducing stress, and boosting your mood.  

This boost in mood will stay with you long after the end of the massage session, and here’s the secret: It looks good on you.  Other people will enjoy being around you, even more than they did before. Your good mood is contagious, rubbing off on all the people that you come in contact with for the rest of your day, your week, maybe even your month!

So go get yourself a massage!  If for no other reason, than do it for the sake of others.  


The Importance of Solitude


Such much of lives are filled with others.  We live with others, work with others, and play with others.  Much of the time our lives are enriched by our connections with others, sharing experiences, sharing wisdom, sharing love.  So much of this time shared has a positive impact on our lives, and yet we still find that we need a bit of solitude.

Solitude often gets a bad rap.  So much of the time, solitude is portrayed as something that one would experience only if there were no other available option.  But Solitude, most especially when sought out, when lived on purpose, can have enormous benefits. Solitude gives you the opportunity to filter away all outside influences and to listen to your own inner wisdom.  

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke says it this way, “Listen to your inner self and your feelings every time.  Should you be mistaken, after all, the natural growth of your inner life will guide you slowly and in good time to other conclusions,”.  Rilke speaks much of the power and strength of solitude in achieving an understanding of one’s self. He suggests spending endless hours within one’s depth of solitude.  He was also writing these words in 1904.

Returning back to 2018, it may not be practical for one to sit endlessly for hours at a time, sipping tea and staring out the window.  However, living the often hectic lives that we do in 2018 may mean that the need for solitude has become greater than ever.

So I would encourage everyone, at the next available opportunity, to take some time for solitude.  Allow yourself to get lost in your own thoughts, and not even with the expectation of necessarily finding anything.  Recent studies have shown that our brains are still working out internal processes even when we are sitting around doing “nothing”.

Maybe the next available opportunity for you will be the next time you find yourself lying face down on a massage table.  If you ever don’t feel chatty during a massage session, just let us know. We won’t be offended. In fact, speaking for myself at least, I would be honored to provide you with a safe space for you to explore the depths of your inner solitude.  


The Importance of Self-Care


These past few weeks we’ve been sharing with you some effective self-care techniques.  I hold the importance of self-care as a self-evident truth, however, I realize that it just may be possible that some of you out there are wondering, "Why do I need this?"  So, this week we will explore, what is self-care, why do we need it, and what does it do for us?

Put simply, self-care is the maintenance of one's personal well-being and health.  Every person has a different set of needs when it comes to health and/or well-being, so self-care may look different to different folks.  Of course, we all have physical selves, and non-physical selves. In philosophy, self-care refers to the care and cultivation of self in a comprehensive sense, focusing in particular on the soul and the knowledge of self.


So what is self-care?  It’s whatever you want it to be!  Or whatever your “self” needs it to be.  In this blog, we’ve talked about self-care in the form of proper hydration, getting the appropriate amount of sleep, and taking care of your (tired) hands.  Self-care basically just means taking the time to listen to your body, and letting it tell you what it needs.  And then, importantly, act on it! Attend to your needs! No, we’re not telling you to be selfish or gobble up all of the available resources.  We are telling you that it’s ok to attend to your needs, and reminding you that you will be better able to care for others once your own needs are met.  In fact, self-care can actually make you more effective and improve your energy!

Which brings me to my next point.  We all need self-care, all the time.  But some of us need extra self-care, more often.  Either we’re feeling vulnerable because of our body’s hormonal fluctuations, we’re under a stressful deadline at work, or we’re going through a period of adjustment or grieving.  Maybe we’re spending all of our time and resources caring for someone who has difficulty caring for themselves. When we are caring for others, self-care becomes exponentially, vitally important.  

Even a few minutes taken out of a stressful day for a quick soak in a bath, a short walk through nature, or asking for help when you need it (and saying "no" when you need to) can help reaffirm your sense of self-worth.  Attending to yourself and listening to your needs is important to maintaining a healthy relationship with you. Your new habit of taking care of yourself can help improve confidence and self-esteem too.

Self-care is also an important mirror for the people around you.  Humans are social animals, taking cues from everyone around us. Setting functional boundaries to take care of yourself shows others that they can self-care too, and signals to them that they have your support to do so.




Humans need water to live, and while we’re probably all getting the bare minimum, few of us are getting enough for optimal health on a regular basis.  According to a recent U.S. National Health Nutrition Examination Survey using data from 2009 to 2012, only about 30 percent of American's daily water intake came from plain water.  The rest came from other liquids, such as juice, tea and soda.

While these all have water in them, and do count towards your total water needs, many nutritionists agree that that a high intake of fresh drinking water, separate and distinct from other sources of moisture, is necessary for good health.  This is where you get the common suggestion of eight servings per day of eight fluid ounces.

If you’re looking at all water sources, the average male human needs about 3.7 liters (appx. 1 gallon) of liquid water per day, with the average female human needing about 2.7 liters (appx. 0.75 gallon).  This will vary of course along with how much salt you’re eating, how much you’re exercising, and how often you’re getting massage.  And you can put away your swimsuit, playing in water doesn't count!


So why is it important to stay hydrated?

Your body uses water for EVERYTHING!  But seriously, drinking enough water to stay well hydrated helps your body to maintain its temperature, can help you to lose weight, think better, improve your mood, prevent disease (and headaches!), and make your skin glow.  Water does all this because it acts as a building block, a solvent for chemical reactions, and a transport material for nutrients and waste.


However, it IS possible to drink too much water.  

An overconsumption of water can lead to water intoxication, which can dangerously dilute the concentration of salts in the body. A persistent desire to drink inordinate quantities of water, often accompanied by frequent urination, may be a symptom of a problem and is worth talking about with a medical professional.  

Sleep as Self-Care


Did you know that as infants, it is recommended that we sleep up to 17 hours a day!?  Healthy adults need 7 to 10 hours, but as Americans, we rarely seem to get it. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, Americans are practicing an average of 6.8 hours of sleep per night.  And we’ve been trending towards less sleep. In 1942 the average was 7.9 hours.

There are lots of reasons for this, and we won’t go into them here.  Instead, this week we’re going to talk about what you can do to make sure you’re getting enough shut eye - and why it matters.  

How much sleep we get affects our performance, mood, stress levels and overall health and well-being.  An ongoing lack of sleep can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, emotional difficulties, poor job performance, obesity, a lowered perception of quality of life as well as a higher risk of premature death.  NOT ideal.

So what can you do to improve your sleep practice? Well, first of all, see what I did there?  By thinking about your sleep as a daily practice, instead of just something that does or doesn’t happen, it puts you back in the driver’s seat.  And also, it takes practice! Your body responds very well to routines, and getting enough sleep also means that you are more likely to get tired at the appropriate times, which in turn makes it easier to get enough sleep and so on.  



And on that note, make a plan!  Just thinking you want to get more sleep and then barreling full speed ahead without making a plan is a great way to crash and burn.  Take some time to think about a sleep goal. How much sleep you need depends on your level of daily activity, whether or not you’re pregnant, and even your gender.  According the the National Sleep Foundation, women (on average) need 20 minutes more sleep than men do.

Once you know your sleep quantity goal, you can start thinking about what timing works best for your schedule, and then try to stick to your new sleep schedule, even if your work/life happens at a different time every day.  Establishing a regular routine helps your body tune its natural circadian rhythm.


If possible, try to separate your screen time from your relaxation time.  This means turning off Netflix, putting away Candy Crush and finishing reading these (fantastic) blog posts at least 2 hours before your planned snooze time.  Even though it feels like you’re relaxing while you watch GOT, you’re brain is still working out, worrying about undead dragons and whether or not you’re going to enjoy your new [can we call it life?!] as a White Walker.  


One of the excellent benefits of massage is that it can improve the quality of your sleep.  The reason for this is that massage helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of your body’s regulatory system that can only function optimally once the fight or flight question has been answered.  When you are constantly making stressful decisions, i.e. Life, your body stays in sympathetic mode, and all the other stuff gets sent to the back burner. Sleep is not something that is easy to do while you are in the midst of fighting or flying.  Massage helps signal to your body that the danger has passed, and that it’s ok to start attending to the rest of your body’s needs, like breathing and digestion. Deep breathing and proper digestion help to make your sleep deeper and more productive.  


Remember that position that we had you in during the massage where you were flat on your back, with a bolster or pillow underneath your knees? We do this because it is the optimal position that takes pressure off of your spine and doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on your shoulder joints. If you just can’t fall asleep on your back (the struggle is real!) sleep on your side with a soft yet supportive pillow between your knees, and a pillow for your head that is high enough and supportive enough so you’re not collapsing onto your shoulder. And please, please, please don’t sleep on your stomach. Unless of course you have a perfectly aligned headrest hanging off the side of your bed. There just isn’t a good way to sleep on your stomach without stressing the joints and muscles of the neck. That is of course, if you also intend to breathe while sleeping. Which. We. Consider. Important.


Once you’ve got a good sleep practice going, you are that much more likely to spend at least 2 hours a night experiencing dreams.  Although we may or may not remember our dreams, these unconscious adventures help us to improve learning and memory, and even help us to process our emotions.  Emotional balance helps reduce stress, which makes sleep easier, which means more dreams, which helps us process emotions and reduce stress I’ve put you to sleep :)


Hygge (And How To Not Electrocute Yourself In The Bathtub)

I do a lot of computer work in the bathtub. (Full battery, no charger connection.) As a matter of fact that's where I am right now. Why do I spend so much time in the bath?  If you are a regular clients of ours you know it's because of Epsom Salts. But also:


While I should have been tidying our books and updating staff bios, I was actually perusing our Facebook feed (what do you guys do at work??) and came across a New Yorker story about Hygge. The danish idea of a feeling of coziness is exactly what got me into this bath and like the writer of the story who orders 3 new blankets online because hers is too bumpy, can't find the right scent of candle, and leaves the heat on in her apartment with the window open, I'm struggling with how to execute it.

I think I first came across the idea from a documentary that also mentioned the feeling of flow increasing your overall happiness . I'd link to it but I don't have time to go back and watch the whole thing to make sure I'm citing it correctly so y'all just have to trust me. (As a side note, Happy is a really inspiring film.) My takeaway:

Flow + Hygge = Happiness

Well I've got the flow part down. That's my job! In massage school there's a little evaluation sheet after each clinic shift and Flow is one of the main criteria you'll be judged on. Of course, flow as an intention toward happiness is a little more involved but I really do feel I experience it on a daily basis. Basically, if you can move through your day easily, understanding the expectations and demands and it's within your capabilities to meet them, that's flow. I feel great about the work I do! I do feel like I can meet the expectations and demands of each of my clients and I always leave my sessions feeling refreshed, solid, and like we did GOOD work in there. 

That leaves Hygge.

I understand it to mean feeling cozy and comforted always. So I submerge myself in warm water while I do all my computer work. #AmIDoingItRight? I have no idea.

What I know is that we have very cozy rooms, table warmers at the ready, soft heavy blankets, and excellent Flow ratings on all of our evaluations in massage school. So while I may have to bring my computer in to the Apple store for water damage tomorrow, you can come experience Flow+Hygge in any of our massage rooms, anytime. We've got your perfect equation for happiness.