When you are considering gifts to give during the holiday season (or for birthdays or special occasions year-round), here are some recommendations from a professional bodyworker. All of these relax, relieve stress, release tension, and enhance well-being. Who doesn’t want that?
First of all, please consider giving your loved ones gift certificates for massage. There are many modalities available ranging from Swedish to Ashiatsu to craniosacral to hot stones and more. This is a great way to show love — by surprising your loved one with a health-giving, rejuvenating, relaxing massage.
Your loved one will love you for it, and you’ll enjoy their relaxed, post-massage company even more!
Plus, supporting a private practitioner keeps the money in the local economy, so you’re being generous twice.
Here are my recommendations for tools that bring relief between massages:
- The Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow helps side sleepers keep their heads aligned with their spines while they sleep and encourages healthy back sleeping by providing nice curves for neck and head alignment. It is designed to reduce snoring and to relieve TMJ pain. Comes in five sizes based on shoulder width.
- Check out the smaller Therapeutica Travel Pillow if your loved one travels a lot.
- The Sacrowedgy is designed to be placed under the sacrum while you are lying on your back. It can relieve sciatica, back pain, piriformis syndrome, and more. Massage therapists and bodyworkers know that the keys to activating the parasympathetic nervous system (opposite of fight or flight) lie in pressing nerves at the occiput and/or the sacrum. This device cradles the sacrum similar to placing a hand under it, the way we often hold infants. Very calming and relaxing! Sized to fit male and female sacrums. Makes a nice stocking stuffer.
- Place a Still Point Inducer under the occiput when you are lying on your back. Just as the Sacrowedgy induces relaxation via cradling the sacrum, the Still Point Inducer calms by cradling the occiput. A “still point” is a pause in the rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid that results in better functioning of the central nervous system. Inducing a still point can relieve headaches and eye strain, lower blood pressure, and enhance the immune system. Craniosacral therapists induce the still point manually. You can do it yourself at home with one of these.
- A flaxseed pillow shaped to fit your neck and shoulders can be heated or chilled as needed for stiffness and pain. Better yet, get two of these! Freeze one and microwave the other, and then alternate heat and cold on your neck and shoulders for some wonderful circulatory and metabolic stimulation. Comes unscented — add your own fragrance if desired. Lavender is always relaxing.
- This item might inspire a New Year’s resolution! The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair Davies shows where to find trigger points and describes how to release them in layman’s language. (Third edition is recommended.) If regular deep tissue massage is too expensive and you and your partner or friend suffer from trigger point pain and limited range of movement, this book is a fantastic resource. You’ll also need an inexpensive tool, such as a knobble or maybe a back buddy. If you and your partner or friend are able to spend time weekly helping to find and release each other’s trigger points, you’ll both feel so much better by the same time next year!
- The wooden Spine Aligner does just that. You lie on it, on a bed or cushioned surface at first, then on the floor when your body has adjusted. Rest the two central knobs between two vertebrae starting between your shoulder blades. Lie back on it for 10 breaths, then roll it down between the next pair of vertebrae, take 10 breaths, and so on, all the way down to L5-sacrum. The Spine Aligner relieves kinks and misalignments in the back, like you get when you sleep in a strange position or on a strange bed and wake up with a spasm-y, crick-y back. You can even put a knobby end under a glute for a nice tension-relieving stretch that definitely works some pressure points. You can roll the corrugated parts with the soles of your feet for a nice foot massage.
Some body care gifts you can make at home without spending a lot of money:
- Two tennis balls tied in a tube sock. If your loved one’s car does not have built-in lumbar support, and he/she spends much time driving, you can easily make this simple gift. Put two tennis balls into a man’s tube sock. Tie a knot at the open end to keep the balls from coming out. They’ll place the sock behind their low back while driving, with a ball on either side of the spine. They can press into them, giving the low back a nice little massage. Good for between the shoulder blades, too. This is great on long car trips and to relieve the stress of driving in rush-hour traffic!
- Scented bath salts. Buy Epsom salt in bulk at the grocery store, pharmacy, Costco, or online. Measure two cups of Epsom salt into a 16-oz. glass container. Add an essential oil such as lavender, chamomile, orange, sandalwood, rose, or peppermint for different effects. Stick an attractive label on the jar identifying the scent and include instructions to dissolve in a hot bath and soak for at least 12 minutes.
- Make your own gift certificates for foot, hand, or scalp massage, or a back or shoulder rub. No training is needed, and 15-30 minutes keeps it at a good length to be effective but not tiring for you. Ask the recipient to tell you what they especially enjoy, and deliver that.
Taking care of your body, and helping your loved ones take care of theirs, is the essence of healthy living. Body care gifts create good will and make the world a better place, because people who feel great do great things!