When I’m feeling on edge, I like to incorporate various practices of stress management (from very rudimentary to more complex).
Stress Management: More Rudimentary Options
This is something I do on a weekly basis (typically deep tissue – and no less than 90 minutes). Massages I benefit the most from are those in which I’m being stretched by the practitioner. Some practitioners may also use different kinds of electrical stimulating devices if I’m dealing with an injury and need to strengthen different areas of my body. Sometimes these services can be covered through insurance, so check with your provider.
2. Extreme heat
I take extremely hot baths with full immersion, at approximately 120 degrees Fahrenheit (no less than 2x a week). These baths also induce restful sleep. I am diligent about my saunas at the NYC Russian bathhouse a minimum of 3 times per week, (either infrared or traditional). Each session is one hour, and I break at the 15-20 minute point and then go back in hoping to tolerate the remainder of my time. I go to The Russian bathhouse at least twice a month where I can do a lengthy sauna at 220 degrees Fahrenheit, then I’ll break into the extreme cold plunge which is set slightly above freezing (very Wim Hof). I’ll stay in the extreme cold plunge for 3 ½ minutes and then break for approximately 10 minutes and repeat this process 2 more times.
Stress Management: More Complex Strategies
3. Flotation tanks
I hit a float tank once to twice per month time permitting. Float tanks are filled with Epsom salt and water that’s almost the same temperature as the human body, and allow no light or sound to enter, thereby enabling you to float on the water’s surface, inducing a deep state of relaxation. Float tanks may lower cortisol levels, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and even help with things like hormone balance or immunity as well as the normalization of digestive functions.
4. Ice Baths
I like to do these twice a week at home where I may put 30-40lbs of ice from the local drugstore in my tub. Immersion time is approximately 4-12 minutes. I will alternate this with cryotherapy. Depending on my mood, cryotherapy is something I may do weekly or several times per week. Frankly, I find ice baths more effective than cryo for sports injuries or running and yoga.
Every couple of months I may do acupuncture, following a rotation schedule going around the block with all of this to hit every metric that allows me to recover quickly and reduce my potential for injury. Acupuncture is relatively painless and simply involves stimulating certain points on the body using a variety of techniques – with the most common being penetrating the skin with super-fine needles (which are then manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation). As one of the oldest healing practices in the world, acupuncture has been proven to help in recovery from muscular fatigue, recovery from overtraining and adrenal fatigue, management of muscle pain, and many of the common issues faced by physically active or overtrained people.
Stress Management: Other
If you want to get professionally stretched, there are destinations I will go to from time to time outside of what I receive during one of my massages. “Stretch’d” in New York City is a popular studio to get up to an hour and a half stretching session. But don’t think it’s all relaxation and it’s actually quite intense.
And of course, we can’t underestimate the benefits of good old fashioned exercise!
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