Why ear massage is your winter superpower
Listen up – the start of the year is hard, but giving your ears some attention can make you feel better
With many of us still licking our war wounds from the last few seasons, the start to the year hasn’t exactly been a carnival, has it? We all need some serious mood-boosting. Luckily there is a lot we can do to lift our spirits.
Science supports taking some time out to enhance your wellbeing, and massage is an excellent place to start. After all, touch is a powerful tool, with psychologists even coining the term ‘skin hunger’ for the feelings we experience when deprived of one of the most basic senses that connects us to our fellow humans. The caring touch of others has even been shown to release the same kind of opiates as painkilling drugs. ‘If you would like to energise your body, release stress and tension, give your immune system a good boost, start adding massage into your daily routine,’ advises massage therapist Sarah Jane Watson
A stroke of genius
According to Sarah Jane, incorporating a little daily massage into your life can be as simple as employing some mindful attention when applying your cleanser, serum or body oil.
Concentrate on doing deep diaphragmatic breaths (7-11 breathing where you breathe in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11 has been shown to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to help quell the fight or flight response we often have to stress) while really taking the time to massage in your beauty products.
Every little ‘soulful skincare’ gesture helps, even if you’re not au fait with specific massage techniques, and it’s a principal that can be applied from head to foot – whether it’s a quick head massage when you’re lathering up your shampoo or giving your feet a post-bath rub.
Lend me your ears
But what’s the most effective on-the-go massage? ‘Studies have demonstrated that ear massage in particular increases levels of endorphins in both the blood and cerebral spinal fluid,’ says Sarah Jane. ‘It can help boost the immune cells in the body, reduce feelings of stress or anxiety, release toxins, improve circulation, relax the body and promote general well-being.’
She points out that – with more than 200 nerve ending points, particularly in the lobes – the ear is considered a potent reflexology zone. What’s more, ear massage can be done almost anywhere. ‘Ear massage is very simple to do,’ says Sarah Jane. ‘If you want to have the added aromatherapeutic benefit of incorporating an essential oil, choose a gentle citrus oil such as mandarin and apply a drop to the temples so you can inhale the uplifting aroma during the massage.’
How to proceed? Sarah Jane suggests following these steps:
- ‘Using the tips of your fingers, start by making circular movements up and down the sides of your face along the length where the ears connect,’ she advises. ‘You should start to feel some warmth being created. Continue by taking these circular movements above, behind and below the ears. Repeat so that you circle the ears three times.’
- Move on to the top of the ears. ’With your thumb and index fingers gently pinch along the top ridges of the ears, moving backwards and forwards,’ says Sarah Jane. ‘Take your index fingers and make small circular movements all over the large flat part of the upper ears.’
- Next make gentle pinching movements along the outer ridges, moving up and down several times. ‘Place your thumbs behind the lower part of the ears and with your index fingers make small circular movements in the part of the ears that sits just above your earlobes,’ suggests Sarah Jane
- ‘Finally, take your earlobes between your index fingers and thumbs and gently squeeze, pull and make circular movements,’ she says. ‘Finish by rubbing the palms of your hands together and place over the whole ears for a few moments.’
‘This can be done once or twice a day or at any moment the winter blues hit,‘ explains Sarah Jane. ‘You will experience lovely feelings of warmth being generated along with a much-improved mood.’