A regular massage can do wonders for your emotional and physical wellbeing, says Gill South.
Some women's indulgences are shoes, makeup, designer clothing or jewellery. Mine is a regular massage. I've just always been into them - I think being a journalist, constantly hunched over a computer, has made me relish a good, deep tissue massage.
I remember having one at the Hotel Gellert in Budapest (check out gellertbath.com). The grand old hotel had this amazing swimming pool in the basement and rooms off it where you could go for a massage. And I tell you these were no normal masseuses - they were large women in their 50s, who wore enormous bras and what I can only describe as nappies. Talking in loud voices to each other during the entire massage, they tipped buckets of what seemed like soapy water over me and kneaded the living daylights out of my muscles until I whimpered for mercy.
By contrast, my lovely Auckland massage therapist, Trish Bartlett, is like an angel of mercy, honing in on my problem spots with subtlety and a sure strength, having created the most wonderful warm, calming environment. A freshly-made massage bed awaits, with the electric blanket on and the room heated, redolent with lavender and lemon.
All this is telling my body to relax, I am in a secure environment.
By the time I emerge from a massage with Trish, I look incredibly healthy and I sleep like a baby that night. Trish says for someone like me, a weekly massage is optimum, and I heartily agree.
Massage is great for circulation - I get cold extremities - and relaxing tense muscles. It's good for the nervous system too. As sentient beings, we all need the human touch, say massage experts.
Now, I believe you're meant to relax and try to switch off when you have a massage. Of course, me being me, Trish and I chat away - but I'm still very relaxed, honest!
The oils Trish uses are important - today she has used bergamot and geranium essential oils, which are uplifting, and influence the adrenal cortex and reduce stress. Using essential oils is an art in itself - the oils operate on emotional as well as physical levels, Trish tells me.
Her head massages are unbelievable, and one area she focuses on are my sinuses. I'll often find if I am at the end of a cold, it will feel clearer after a massage from her. I skip out the door feeling unburdened and glowing. Better than a new pair of shoes.
Something has been disturbing me when I have a massage - if the right side of my torso is worked on it feels uncomfortable and makes me feel a bit sick. I suspect it may be my liver, and I talk to acupuncturist Lisa Houghton about how diet might be able to help.By Gill South Email Gill