The past year has for many of us changed the shape of our days beyond recognition – and the effect has been felt by both our bodies and our minds.
From the absence of quick breaks with colleagues to sip a tea and gossip and hunching over a laptop for hours on end becoming the norm, to anyone who’s juggling family life and work (either paid or non) likely feeling a sense of being compressed, it’s been an intense period all around.
Additionally, hardly anyone has emerged from the pandemic unscathed financially, making the sum toll of collective worries quite hefty indeed.
Potential outlets for these accumulated stressors used to include the gym, a particularly lovely glass of wine with friends, a deep tissue massage, some browsing the shops, or a few days immersed in different scenery, but with those options either not allowed or only possible with restrictions, homing in day-to-day little pick-me-ups may well be the key to tackling some of the issues born of the pandemic.
And while myriad mind-first approaches are hugely popular, if you need your body to switch off and chill out before your mind follows suit, a Shakti Mat might well be a game-changer for you. Read on for our review of the wellbeing aid to see if it actually works.
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How does it work?
The mat uses acupressure principles, but unlike a session with an acupressure expert or acupuncturist, it doesn’t target specific points but rather evenly spreads its attention across the site, thereby effectively applying pressure to acupoints which trigger circulation and relieves stress.
We got in the habit of using it to help relax after a long day at the computer and found that it really helped with the sense of switching off, and brought our attention back to our body again, as well as relaxing stiff shoulders.
It was also a really good way to increase circulation in feet and legs while sitting at a desk, and when used right before bed engendered a sense of feeling calm.
What are the benefits?
There are loads of them and of course, it’s a holistic treatment, but more specific benefits include anything from switching off to upping circulation to helping to clear the mind to trigger the mind-body connection. It can also help target niggling areas of tension and release tense areas in the fascia (the connective tissue lying beneath the skin that attaches and encloses muscles and internal organs).
The outcomes vary from person to person, depending on how their body and mind works, and for some, it can be purely physical, while for others the body helps to lead the mind.
We noticed that when our muscles were more relaxed before bed, sleep quality was upped, and that added to our sense of wellbeing the next day. Using it also acted as a little punctuation to the afternoon at our desk almost as a cup of coffee would, giving us more energy with which to carry on the day.
How do you use it?
Pick an area, and then lie on the Shakti Mat with that area exposed. If it feels a bit much at first, you can either put a t-shirt or pillowcase between you and the mat, or opt for the Shakti Mat Light (conversely, if you want a deeper experience, the Intense Shakti Mat might be the one to go for).
Once in place, you’re aiming for 20+ minutes of time on it. We found it’s a good idea to either take the Shakti Mat to bed to read while on it, or to lie on it when ruminating or watching TV. If you are standing on it, two–five minutes is enough – but more doesn’t do any harm, and we drifted off a few times when on it.
At first, you might feel quite uncomfortable, with areas of heat or where your body feels a bit overwhelmed. We found this to be the norm at the beginning of every session for about a week, after which our body was more relaxed and lying on it not quite so hard at the beginning.
Buy now £49.00, Shaktimat.co.uk
The verdict: Shakti mats
We’d tried acupressure mats before, but with its 6000 spikes, this one offered intense and effective treatment that we’d definitely recommend if you like strong physical sensations and find that a massage, say, has benefits for you. It’s also handy that Shakti Mats are made to last and last, with no element needing replacement, making them a savvy investment if you use it often.
For more wellbeing hacks, check out our review of the best sleep apps for tracking patterns, drifting off and waking up gently