AtoZ Holistic Self-care: M is for Massage

Many years ago, while living in Hong Kong, I spent some time taking parents who were Vietnamese refugees being detained in camps to visit their children when they were in the hospital. At one point, I was holding a toddler whose parent could not join us. As the toddler in the next bed began to cry, the child I was holding strained to move towards her. When we approached the crying child, the one in my arms reached down and began to massage the others’ ear. Within about a minute, the crying stopped.

No words were exchanged, but the touch was magical.


If you’ve ever had a full body massage, you know how relaxing and pampering it feels. And any Google search will offer numerous health benefits of massage – but if you hesitate to pay for a full-body massage too often, you may consider a few other options to gain the benefits while living on a budget.

Have you ever tried DIY?

Foot and hand massage – use your fingers or a simple wooden tool, buy inexpensive massaging slippers, or use an electronic option. You can find a reflexology map online if you are interested in knowing which points on the feet and hands correspond to which internal organ. In the reflexology world – although oversimplified – when putting pressure on a point on the foot or hand causes pain, the corresponding organ needs attention.

A favorite option for me is walking the rock path in my backyard. I’ve purposely included various sizes to hit different points on the foot. During hot summer months, running cool water from the rain barrel along the path can feel quite refreshing as I walk.

Stomach – An old trick taught by my natural medicine doctor back in Hong Kong to stimulate good digestion. Visualize your torso in three sections. Placing one hand on top of the other, gently press the palm on the bottom edge of the lowest section and massage in 30 clockwise circles. Repeat for each section moving upwards.

Face and scalp massage (including the ears) – I know no rhyme or reason to this, but light pressure from my finger tips turning in circles sure does feel good! A good scalp massage is the main reason I ever go to get a haircut!

With a partner:

If you have a family member or friend to help that’s great. Even a child can help!

Three tricks that even children can participate in:

Back-pounding: with the outside edge of your hand back and forth and up and down the back.

Back-walking: just be sure that the person doing the walking isn’t too heavy. (Knees and elbows can work great too). Our children loved this activity – and it felt great.

Spoons: In Hong Kong we often relieved stress by dipping a Chinese soup spoon in cool water and rubbing the edge of the spoon along the back of the neck. The skin turns bright pink, but the tension release was so real. I just took a quick peak on Google and you can find tutorials that demonstrate how to de-bloat your face with a similar method!

Be sure to drink plenty of water after any massage as it can release toxins in your body and water will help to flush them through.


When thinking about massage from the perspective of the mind, I’d invite you to consider the second definition of massage: “manipulate to get a more acceptable result.”

This makes me think of “fake it ‘til you make it” and “your thoughts become your reality.”

What old tapes or messages need to be left behind? What new thoughts will encourage and energize you? Sometimes it might simply mean changing a “I should” to “I could” – allowing yourself the power of choice.

How can you massage your thoughts to get a more acceptable result in your life?


Experience tells me that a good massage – whether DIY or from a professional, is great for my emotion wellbeing.

When I’m feeling glum and out-of-sorts, taking a few moments to massage my hands, feet, face, stomach or scalp can often lift my spirits.

The way I look at it, trying massage is a healthy alternative to emotional eating, drinking too much, taking drugs, or wallowing in misery. Why not give it a try?


  1. This is my favorite letter so far 🙂 I don’t treat myself to a massage nearly enough… I think because I previously viewed it as a luxury rather than a necessary part of self-care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Molly – so glad you like this. I hope that some of the DIY and w/ a partner will get you started even when you don’t get to a full-body massage. Thanks for joining the conversation.


  2. It is amazing how inter/intra? connected all of the parts and systems of our body are. And that is a poorly worded sentence but you know what I mean! I have kidney issues and neck problems but can get relief through foot massage. It works!! I just like someone to do it for me better than doing it myself. Need to win the lottery so I can afford daily massages.


    • I totally agree – I need to win the lottery too! I would need to start by buying a ticket, though! That’s why I tried to provide ‘free’ options. You are so right, our body systems are so interwoven – but I’d add that our minds and souls are too. So glad you’ve found some relief for your kidney and neck issues. Thanks for joining the conversation.


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