Sources of Stress and Relief for African American Women

By Catherine Fisher Collins | Go to book overview

whereby a therapist supports and stretches your muscles while you float. In her article [Wondrous Watsu Water Therapy for Mind, Body and Spirit,] Judith Lazarus (1999, p. 67) states that [this water therapy is the hottest trend in spa treatment, and not just because it takes place in warm water, ideally 94°C and chest high. The combination of physically therapeutic, relaxing, and meditative aspects of this water massage often transport those who experience it into another plane.] As this new spa treatment continues to gain adherents, I expect that African American women will be among those reaping the benefits.


HAND OVER THE RELIEF: MASSAGE

One of the ancient Roman therapies was the massage. Remember the last time you stubbed your toe? The first thing you wanted to do was to start rubbing. Rubbing and the soft touch of someone's hand tend to relieve those tired muscles and bring about a sense of relief and relaxation. If you are a mother, remember when you rubbed your baby's back and he or she fell fast asleep? Massage therapy can have the same effect on you. It has been reported that [preliminary research has shown that massage can temporarily relieve tremors caused by Parkinson's disease, and may work against high blood pressure and reduce agitation in Alzheimer's patients [and] massage increases the level of healthy hormones like serotonin, which helps the body cope with pain and boosts mood] (Prevention's Healing in Motion1999, p. 246).

When you combine a massage with essential oils like sweet almond or sunflower seed, this can greatly enhance your mood. Another prescription for easing muscle pain is a rosemary and olive oil rub. A massage therapist with good hands can locate tight muscles and work to smooth them out, relieving tension and easing out impurities that have built up in the muscles. The benefits you can expect from a good massage are many: massages enhance circulation, alleviate pain and stiffness in muscles and joints, relax you and help to reduce blood pressure, promote sleep, and release the [feel good] hormones. If you add aromatic candles and some soothing music, within a few minutes your stress will begin to dissipate. Of course, you can give yourself a massage, and we do when we apply lotion after a bath or when we rub our aching shoulders. However, I prefer to have a massage therapist loosen those tired shoulder muscles. Don't forget a foot massage with a pedicure and a hand massage with a manicure. Both of these techniques will enhance your mood. They're real stress busters.


AROMATHERAPY

One of the five senses reported to be ten thousand times more sensitive than the other senses, and critical in determining your mood, is the sense

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