Half-term holidays and Halloween may now be over and done with, but Bonfire Night is coming up and Christmas is fast approaching, making this a very busy time for families.
It's easy to get stressed out and tense at this time of year as you think about who's going to host the annual festivities and wonder what you're going to get for friends and relatives on your gift lists, which can result in feelings of frustration towards your loved ones.
However, if you have noticed that your partner is feeling a little overwhelmed, never fear - we've got the perfect solution. Why don't you give them a relaxing massage?
Not only can this release tension and ease stress, but research has also shown that a good rubdown could be beneficial to the immune system, blood pressure and general wellbeing.
And if you give your partner a good one, they may return the favour, resulting in a very relaxed household indeed. Don't worry; a massage is easier to perform than you think. We've got some top tips for you, which we'll round up below to get you off to a great start.
Find a comfortable spot
It's best if your subject is lying down, so the sofa or bed are ideal locations because they're so padded. However, take care with your own back here, as both are lower than a professional massage table.
You should provide cushions or rolled up towels for your partner's forehead and preferably the front of their knees too, in order to counteract the pressure that'll be coming from above.
It's very important to create a relaxing ambience, so ensure your location won't be disturbed and dim any glare. If possible, do away with electricity altogether and just light some scented candles - our Sandalwood & Oud fragrance would be ideal because it's really warm and exotic. Obviously, make sure you're out of any draughts as well.
Loosen clothing and add oil
There's no point trying to do a massage through clothing, so get your partner to disrobe from the hips up and lie on their stomach - this is why the 'do not disturb' sign is so important!
Also, don't try to rub their skin without any oil or using ordinary moisturising lotion, as it will create too much friction and could give them the effect of a Chinese burn, which isn't what you want at all. We've got some great Neroli & Rose Bath & Massage Oil that you could use, which has a great scent and will provide the lubrication you need. Just warm it between your hands and spread it around the whole back and shoulder area.
Unless you are a trained massage therapist, you should never attempt advanced physiotherapy techniques such as pressing directly on the spine and leaning heavily on the muscles that hold the shoulder blades, as this can cause serious neurological damage. Also, never press on the indentation behind the ear for the same reason.
Soothe the back
Start at either side of the spine just above the hips with your fingers pointing neckwards and slide your hands up towards the shoulder blades. You should provide enough pressure that you feel the muscles moving under the skin, but not so much that you make the recipient of the massage groan in pain.
Next, put one hand on the lower back at one side of the spinal column and place the other one over it, then make small circles with your palm as you move up towards the shoulders and back again. Do this a few times with even, gentle pressure and then repeat at the other side of the spine.
Finally, make your hands into loose fists and slide them up either side of the spine and over the shoulders before dragging them back down.
Loosen the shoulders and neck
Most people know the technique of grasping the shoulders from behind and using the thumbs to massage up and around, but you might find it easier to use a tennis ball to do this, as you'll get more even pressure.
For the neck, just put your palms against the back of it with your thumbs almost touching and your fingers at the sides, then slowly pull your hands away while pressing gently with each finger at the same time. Be careful with this bit, as you don't want to throttle your partner!
Don't forget the feet
Last but not least, raise each foot off the sofa or bed one at a time and place your thumbs on the sole, then gently squeeze it as you move from the ball to the heel to release tiredness that comes about from standing and walking.
Finish off by rubbing some extra moisture into the feet with our refreshing Greentea & Grapefruit Body Lotion.
We hope this has given you some good tips with which to get started on reducing the stress levels in your home this autumn.