Stress is a major buzzkill. Many of us don’t know basic coping mechanisms to de-stress or reduce it.

If you need some ideas, look at my post from a couple of days ago. Cuddle Therapy works wonders to reduce tension and anxiety. For this reason, I refer to my furball children as the Purr Doctors. It makes writing very challenging. It makes almost anything but loving on my cats challenging, but it’s worth it.

There’s another effective way to relieve stress and tension. It’s a therapeutic massage. Massages are so effective at helping relax muscles and relieve pain, some doctors even prescribe them to patients. I have yet to meet one of these magical practitioners, but I still enjoy getting a massage once in a while.

Today was that once in a while. It’s been a long while. I’ve been through a lot since my last massage. Chris’ kidney transplant, publishing two books, had a summer job doing outdoor maintenance for the state parks. I was becoming one entirely too big ball of stress.

With my trip to AAZK conference coming up, I thought it would be a perfect time to redeem a reward card I filled for a massage. I still have a lot of work to do for the conference, but having some serious quality me time was definitely called for.

If regular massage isn’t in your budget, I recommend using a reward card system to reinforce yourself. When you complete a step toward achieving a healthy habit, or hit your goal for the day, mark off on your reward card. When you fill it up, redeem it for something worth the wait. A massage or a shopping spree at your favorite bookstore.

But massages aren’t just for pampering yourself. It feels remarkable, but there are serious health benefits for massages.

It is clinically proven to reduce anxiety, and relieve headaches. If stress is so bad in your life you can’t sleep, massages can help with that as well.

If you have injuries due to sports, massage can help alleviate pain and discomfort. Today, my therapist helped alleviate a lot of tension in my shoulders. I didn’t even realize I had it until I felt her rubbing out the hard knots. She also used a new device to relieve some of the stress surrounding my knee issues. No, she didn’t CURE my knee issues, but she sure as hell made them feel better.

Massage can help with digestive disorders, Fibromyalgia, and other syndromes which result in higher levels of pain.

So treat yourself, and your health to a wonderful reward. Get a massage and let your troubles float away.