Massage Therapist Solana Shaw on Self-Care and Touch As Healing
How would you rate your self-care right now on a scale of 1-10?
I would say about a six or 7.
What are you doing well for you?
I am eating really well. Taking my healthy home-cooked food for breakfast and lunch to work. Packing breakfast and lunch is a big step for me. It means I’m feeling and doing better. I’m eating earlier, sometimes on the way to work, and not waiting until 12 or 1 or 2 to eat for the first time.
I’m sticking to a better sleep pattern. My body doesn’t always agree, but I try to go to bed at a reasonable time. Checking things off my to-do list, which may not always seem big but seeing those things crossed off helps. And not over-scheduling myself, because I do that a lot. That’s been really helpful.
What could you be doing better or differently?
I definitely need to get back on an exercise regimen. I’m getting some adulting documentation in place. So there’s all this paperwork that’s in the background I know I need to handle. I sit down to do stuff and always find something else to do, not because it’s daunting or something I can’t do, but there’s just so much. I get frustrated when it’s time to get into insurance-related things and do that kind of finding and filing, so I put it off.
Therapy. I need to go back to therapy. I put in a request for an appointment and am waiting to hear back from a place. But I need to follow up because it’s been over a week. I’ve just been dragging my feet.
With Chakra Verde, you offer intentional & intuitive experiences in bodywork, community, travel, and wellness. How does touch contribute to self-care?
Touch is a form of nonverbal communication that is complimentary to but different from body language you observe through sight. Many people don’t like to be touched, but almost every human desires touch, needs touch, uses it at as way to let people know they care and are concerned.
Yes, there is touch related to abuse and trauma, but one thing that helps heal that is positive, intentional healthy touch.
I don’t look at massage simply as pampering or as part of some trend. Our bodies hold a lot of trauma—emotional, physical, and mental. Touching someone with intention, with knowledge of areas on the body connected to certain types of trauma, could help release some of that.
There are a gazillion studies to show that a simple hug from someone releases hormones that reduce anxiety, depression, bring your mood up, and bring all kinds of feelings of safety.
I think people should get healthy touch as often as possible. Most don’t get that daily. Even those of us with partners, roommates, and other people who we are living with, sometimes the touch we do get is brief and unintentional.
For some, much of of our contact can be clinical and impersonal—a handshake at work or a doctor examining you, or somebody bumps you in the street. Out in the public, on the bus, when on public transit, we’re trying not to touch each other. In fact, when someone sits too close to you, you wonder, “Why is this person all in my space?”
On the flip side of that is, touch is incredibly healthy. Touch is integral to self-care for most people. I’ve had people on my table who get on my table who have things they’ve been carrying around who find it extremely cathartic.
I’ve had first-timers who get on the table and have a big emotional release. People bawl their eyes out, ask me to stop, ask me to give them a moment because it’s just too much. They didn’t realize how much they were holding in.
With touch, you don’t realize how much it means sometimes until you get it.
How does bodywork and connecting with folks through touch and holistic healing impact your self-care?
It’s one of the best things ever. I had no idea when I started this journey that it would change me. I come from an affectionate family and have been affectionate, so touch wasn’t new for me. But working with people like this has transformed my life in ways I never really imagined.
Since learning massage, I can be having a terrible day, and I’m thinking “Oh, God. I’m having the worst day, and I don’t know how I can go in here and offer a good experience and help this person have a better day when I’m feeling like this.”
Within five minutes, I’m in a whole different zone, and I’m there doing what I’m there to do. By the end of the day, whether it’s one person or a series of sessions, I feel better. My mood is completely improved. My energy is better, everything is better. There’s usually an energy exchange between me and the client, and though I sometimes help people work out some rough things, I usually feel a little lighter.
For me, I think it’s kind of a calling. I didn’t know that in the beginning. I just thought it was the next level of work I wanted to do. I’d been doing reiki but wanted to do more hands-on work.
It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
What are you doing to get some joy these days?
That’s a good thing to reflect on because I’ve got to remember to think about me. I’m practicing patience. I don’t know that people would describe that as joyful but the end result is joy.
I’m practicing patience with and giving grace to myself and other people. Taking the time to look at things from more angles, and erecting boundaries for my own mental and emotional health. I can tend to be a caretaker. So much so that my friends call me ‘Mama Bear’ and I enjoy it most of the time, but it can get to be too much.
It’s about patience and the joy that comes with getting back to myself. That makes me a better mom, a better friend, a better everything.
Oh, hey. Behind the scenes, we’re in the midst of pulling together this entire self-care check-in situation. We’re building a database of resources to help you facilitate wellness at home, school and work. We’re also working with community partners to create Self-Care Check-In™ Experiences in unexpected places.
We’re excited. We look forward to involving you in this initiative and to lead with a new posture that highlights expressions of compassion and love for ourselves and for our communities.
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