No sparkly sequin dress or glass of chilled Champagne has ever lived up to my favorite New Year's Eve tradition of all — getting a massage.
On Dec. 31 for the past three years, I have booked myself a massage in an effort to glide into the new year with a totally clean slate — no stress, no tension.
I follow the same routine every year. After a high energy SoulCycle or HIIT class and a shower, I treat myself to a tasty coffee (maybe splurge on a latte) and make my way to a spa for an hour-long deep tissue or sports massage.
While the pampering is definitely a treat, my yearly splurge comes along with major benefits.
For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, a 60-minute massage can actually lower cortisol (a stress hormone) by an average of 30 percent and increase serotonin (a feel-good hormone) by 28 percent postmassage — meaning a potential decrease in anxiety.
During my massages, the dim lights, the soft, calming music, and the smell of lavender oils help me Zen out. I start to acknowledge that some of the life events I'm overanalyzing or obsessing over are actually pretty silly or insignificant. My stress and worries begin to fade, and my mind quiets in the present — the new year is full of potential and positivity.
And that's only the mental aspect of my massage tradition. Physically, I walk out of my appointment feeling stretched and relaxed — something I rarely experience thanks to my bad habit of skipping a post-workout stretch.
Thanks to my massage therapist's techniques, the tension and painful knots in my shoulders dissipate, and my tight quads and hamstrings finally loosen up.
Remember how I said I always start my New Year's Eve with a hard workout class? Well, one study, in particular, has shown that massage could help alleviate delayed-onset muscle soreness, while another study has theorized that even a 10-minute massage could help reduce inflammation.
While I could think of a million reasons to justify this self-care treat, I hang onto the fact that, for me, it symbolizes letting go of all the trying times and puts me in a positive and receptive mood for what the new year holds in store for me.
So if you're not sure what to do on good ole NYE, go ahead and make it a massage.