Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2019

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42 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k s e p t e m b e r / o c t o b e r 2 0 1 9 education SOMATIC RESEARCH Caregivers Benefit from Massage More Isn't Necessarily Better— Some Is Enough! By Niki Munk, PhD As a young person who inherently received care from others, the reminder on airplanes for people to put their own mask on first before helping others was kind of unnecessary … of course I'd put my own mask on first. My self-preservation was high, I considered myself independent, each seat gets their very own oxygen mask, and I certainly did not want my mother passing out because she was busy helping me put my mask on! Then, I developed a helping-centered career, I had kids, my parents began aging into older adulthood, and others who I began traveling with required assistance in general. My perspective changed as I experienced the impulse to neglect self and spring immediately to focus only on ensuring the health and needs of those within my care and who in many instances, I love. I now understand why those airplane announcements are necessary. Caregivers often prioritize the needs of those they care about, particularly when those loved ones are vulnerable. In the airplane announcement example, the aviation industry has taken it upon themselves to provide reminders in support of the greater (safety) good of everyone on the plane in the event of an emergency. This reminder, and lesson, is a great metaphor for many massage-related situations, whether in regard to clinician self-care or as a reminder to clients. In this column, we will focus on the application of the "put my mask on first" metaphor on a massage population often overlooked: informal caregivers—those who provide unpaid, "informal" care for family members or friends with temporary or permanent conditions that limit functional independence. INFORMAL CAREGIVING Informal caregiving, for any population, has its stressors and particular burdens in the home and supportive care environments. Informal caregiver health and well-being are particularly vulnerable during and following hospital stays due to stress, worry, and related concerns. 1 Increasingly, massage-related research is examining massage benefits for admitted patients or patient populations in particular. This is excellent, and bodes well for the progression of the field. However, there are other populations within the hospital and health-care environment that would also benefit from massage,

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