I’ve got tension. It’s the holidays, things are crazy and time is scarce.
Where ever we show up, there are about 10 other places we could/should be in that moment: choosing between the kids school Christmas program or the conference call (the sales manager should be fine without you… unless he’s not), walking down to the office pot luck (oops, forgot to bring a dish for that), or answering emails and hoping no one notices the boss didn’t show.
There’s no shortcutting what needs to get done in the next few weeks – work more (in order to have time off with your family), attend more Christmas events than you might really want to, whilst still being fully present in the moment.
Really, I feel like this could be said on any given month of the year, but apparently, we are supposed to appear full of extra peace and joy, while employees take additional days off, and valuable time is used for office Christmas parties and charities are requesting end of year funding.
Can you feel the strain creeping up your neck? That’s stress. And it’s sure to lead to yet another tension headache.
In a warm a fuzzy world you might schedule a massage, but this is reality. The cold hard truth is you need a solution that will give relief in a matter of minutes with no scheduling required.
Let me introduce you to something old.
I tried just about every “new” therapy, pill and breathing technique out there, but this one actually works.
It’s called a Gua Sha tool and it fits in the palm of your hand.
It’s cheap, portable and can be used instantly on any aching body part.
Now, there are professionally trained therapists that use this method, but with a few quick tips anyone can reap the benefits of Gua Sha tools.
What is Gua Sha?
Gua Sha, also referred to as scraping (not as scary as it sounds) increases blood flow to the affected area and smooths tissues under the skin. Benefits include immediate relief from pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, wheeze and nausea among others.
What to do
Use the smooth side of the tool to scrape the skin over the problem area with short or long strokes to stimulates microcirculation of the soft tissue. Use pressure that you can handle. Some discomfort is normal as you break up the problem tissue.
Here’s two health hacks using a Gua Sha tool to instantly find relief from tension headaches and sinus pressure:
Hack 1: Prevent Imminent Headaches and Stay Mentally on Point During the Work Day
For me, headaches are a real distraction in my day. I used to suffer from chronic headaches that would render me useless for hours. Pill popping only brought it down to a dull ache, but I knew it was only a matter of time until said headache was back in full force.
Today, when I feel those neck muscles binding, I attack the source with my Gua sha tool.
Get it done: Rub some kind of lubricating medium on the tight neck muscles such as baby oil or massage oil. You probably don’t want to feel greasy, so even lotion will do. I’d choose something non scented if you’re still at work.
Grab the Gua Sha tool and using a downward motion rub on the back and sides of your neck from the hairline to the shoulder. Repeat until you feel the tension dissipating. Helpful hint: let your head fall to the side to stretch the muscles you are rubbing out.
Hack 2: Clear Nasal Passages to Fully Oxygenate Blood and Increase Clean Energy
Late fall and early winter months are prime for colds and general congestion. Add that irritating sore throat from the nasal drip and you may wake up feeling less than rested. Research shows that blocked nasal passages lead to less restful sleep due to labored breathing and less productive breaths, aka less oxygen.
Our brains and muscles need that oxygenated blood flow to work at maximum efficiency, so help yourself out by clearing nasal passages without decongestants, which can lead to restless nights or foggy mornings all on their own.
Get it done: Put a few drops of massage oil on your finger tips and rub along the nose, under the eye sockets and eye brown line. You might consider using a eucalyptus or pepper mint oil on your neck and chest at the same time so you can breath it in while clearing your nasal passages.
Have a seat or lay so your head is resting and your facing upward.
Next grab your Gua Sha Tools place them on left and right side of the nose. Using light pressure, rub in an outward motion from the nose, under the eye socket back toward the hair line. Breath in deep cleansing breaths with each stroke.
Finally, simultaneously rub from the bridge of your nose, up and over the eye brows toward your temples taking deep cleansing breaths all the while.
Why Gua Sha?
Gua Sha tools can be used as therapy for tons of aches and pains throughout the body, but these couple of hacks are sure to get you through those silent pains that keep you from being on point during this stressful time of year.
I rely on Gua Sha to cure muscle cramps from working out, plantar fasciitis, achilles injuries and more.
This Gua Sha method might be new information to you, but it’s a tradition thousands of years old.
This time of year is full of traditions, so add this new one to your routine.