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Healthy at Any Age

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I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me about an ailment they’re experiencing and concluded that “it must just be because I’m getting old(er).”

While it’s true that there is a degeneration that happens as we age, and we can’t get away from that entirely (our parts weren’t meant to last forever, sadly), there IS much we can do to improve our health, functioning, and mobility. Getting older doesn’t have to equate to living in pain or lacking in vitality.

In a recent issue of “Spry Living,” author Marygrace Taylor shared strategies for staying young literally from head to toe. Here’s a summary of her tips:

For your brain: listen to music! Music stimulates the parts of the brain responsible for processing not only sound, but movement (like dancing!), emotion, memory, rewards and patterns. Neurologists suggest that we challenge ourselves to listen to new, unfamiliar music in addition to our favorites. This requires “a greater degree of cognitive effort to process, and may lead to the formation of new connections within the brain.” Sounds good to me!

For your eyes: eat up your veggies! Carrots aren’t the only vegetable that are good for your eyes. Leafy greens like spinach and kale deliver important antioxidants that help protect our sight by supporting the retina’s ability to defend against stressors like sunlight and smoke.

For your face: get some beauty sleep! No kidding, sleep is critical for helping skin stay supple and fresh. In one study, women who slept better had fewer fine lines, better pigmentation, and more elasticity in their skin. They also healed faster from damaging conditions like sunburns and dehydration.

For your heart: hug it out! Managing stress turns out to be just as important as eating right and exercising when it comes to heart health. Hugs trigger the release of pleasure hormones while reducing levels of stress hormones. One study even concluded that women who received more hugs from their partners had lower blood pressure and resting heart rates!

For your muscles and bones: keep moving! Exercise is the single most important thing we can do to prevent loss of bone density and lean muscle. You don’t have to be a marathon runner or a gym rat. Dr. Vonda Wright, who authored “Fitness After 40” recommends walking up to 2 miles, 3-5 times per week on a local high school track, and then adding some step-climbing on the bleachers. Or, if you have knee issues, work out in a pool, walking forward, backward, and lunging side to side in chest-high water for 40 minutes.

For your feet: relax with a nice soak! Older feet have experienced a lifetime of pounding. When we hurt, we can alter the way we walk, which can lead to more problems and more pain. Regular soaking in a gallon of warm water with a 1/4 cup of Epsom salts for 15 minutes can ease stiffness and soreness. Adding a couple of drops of lavender essential oil smells good (eliminating foot odor!), helps us relax, and even helps prevent fungal infections around the toenails.

I would, of course, add that foot reflexology is a GREAT way to keep your feet—and your whole person—in tip-top shape!

If you feel age is a limiting factor, maybe this will provide inspiration: click here

Article source material: “Your Total Body Anti-Aging Plan,” by Marygrace Taylor, “SpryLiving” March 2017, parade.com

Category : Blog &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth &Reflexology

Energy Behind the Wall

electricity

 

People ask me, how does reflexology work?

There really are two components to this wonderful healing art. The first is that reflexologists (at least the ones that train through the Academy of Ancient Reflexology as I did) use rhythmic, alternating pressure, with care given to how we “flow” from one area of the foot or hand to the next. The client gets to decide what amount of pressure is comfortable for them. It doesn’t have to hurt to be effective. In fact, we believe that pain is not healing. It’s much better to allow soothing touch to lull the nervous system into a deeply relaxed state—that’s where healing can really happen.

When we’re in that relaxed state, our bodies leave “fight or flight” mode, and enter into “rest and repair” mode. When we’re stressed, our bodies naturally divert energy to mechanisms that get us ready to fight or flee: our heart rate and breathing increase, our pupils dilate, our hair stands on end, our skeletal muscles get the lion’s share of blood so they have oxygen and energy to MOVE!

Because of this, internal systems are a little bit deprived of blood supply, and things slow down or even shut down. Digestion and fighting infection, for example, can wait until the “threat” has passed. That’s why people who are always stressed out tend to have gut issues and can get sick all the time. They live in habitual fight or flight mode.

As reflexology helps us shift into rest and repair mode, our breathing slows. Blood and lymph circulation improve, digestion is supported and better able to deliver nutrients—all the “internal operating” systems can work at their optimal level because nerves are calm and blood is no longer being diverted to the extremities.

Still, over time practitioners have been able to identify specific reflex points in the hands and feet that correspond to all our organs and glands and parts of the body. We’ve never identified direct nerves from the reflex points to the corresponding body parts. Its more likely that information is relayed to the brain, and then from the brain to the body part.

Is this directly and only through the nervous system? We don’t think so. The second component of how reflexology works is through “subtle energy.” Until recently, this has been largely a mystery to explain. In the eastern philosophies, people are more likely to accept that something works because of the results experienced. But here in the analytical west, we like empirical evidence. Well, experts now are beginning to think, in western terms, that a connective tissue called fascia is involved in assisting the nervous system with the communication between tissues.

Acupuncturists learn about meridians that run through the body, connecting disparate body parts like a conduit for energy. This may seem kind of odd, but it’s possible that the meridians are actually embedded in the fascia, which does have “planes” that run three-dimensionally through the body in measurable and predictable ways.
Think about the electric wiring in our homes. It’s behind the walls. We can’t see it, but we know it’s there. If we want to turn on an overhead light, we don’t actually have to touch the light fixture itself. We can flip on a wall switch some distance away from the bulb, and “magically,” in a way that’s not visible to us, the information travels to the light and turns it on. This is kind of how acupuncture points—and reflex areas—work.

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

Food as Medicine: My Journey

basil, olive oil, tomatoes

 

Do you try to “eat healthy”?

What does that mean to you?

I have struggled with my weight for virtually my whole adult life. I’ve tried a lot of diet plans—low fat, low calorie, high protein/low carb, paleo, Mediterranean, blood type—you name it, I’ve probably tried it.

Each type of plan seems to have “science” and “research” behind it, claiming to demonstrate why this is the superior way of eating. After switching to diet cola, lite salad dressings, low-fat “heart healthy” substitutes of everything, I really just wound up heavier and less healthy, by any standard.

I know now that stress has a lot to do with it. When our hormones are wreaking havoc internally, and our adrenal glands suffer from actual fatigue trying to manage it all, simply changing what we eat is not enough.

Researchers have found that not only do people who live long, healthy lives in the Mediterranean eat well, they live well. They have work-life balance, they have connection with and support from friends and extended family, they walk and ride bicycles and stay active, they love and they play and they laugh.

So managing stress and having a balanced life is super important to good health. Having said that, I do think it’s important to try to eat well. Hippocrates, the father of medicine (for whom the Hippocratic oath is named) said way back in 431 B.C. something like “Let food by thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

But how? If you need specific information on nutrition, I can highly recommend registered dietician Amanda Perrin, of Peace of Nutrition, who shares my office suite. She is extremely knowledgeable.

I can only share with you what worked well for me. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to make the changes I needed to make until I was ready. If we are not in the right frame of mind, it can feel like an ongoing uphill battle. I believe it’s not just a matter of “willpower.” We can’t bully and shame ourselves into making healthy choices, at least I can’t. But once I’m in the right mindset, it feels much more like going with the flow, making good choices to support myself—more self-love and less power struggle.

Once I was ready, I found that making the following changes helped me lose (30 pounds since the beginning of December), and I feel terrific.

1. I joined Weight Watchers. Not everyone needs to do this, of course, but the key thing about committing to a program like this, is that I am being honest about what I consume (they give you tools for tracking every single thing you put in your mouth), and I am holding myself accountable.

I used to have the attitude that if I went out to eat with a friend, I might allow myself to go ahead and enjoy French fries “just this once,” because “I hardly ever get fries.” But then the next day, I might go out for ice cream because “I hardly ever get ice cream.” And then the next day I might choose to sit outside and enjoy some wine with my neighbor—because it’s so lovely out, and we don’t see each other very often. And then a few days later, I might meet someone for beers and nachos, because I don’t get to see that person often enough either. So you see where I’m going with this. It seemed like I didn’t give myself permission to indulge all that often, but really it had become a lifestyle.

Now I track everything. I have a food budget. I can eat whatever I want, but if I choose something indulgent, then I have to give up a lot of other stuff. And I might feel hungry and miserable later. So I chose wisely!

And I have a built-in support group who can relate to what I’m doing and why it feels hard some days. I am blown away by how freely people share at the meetings. The whole program is geared to helping folks steer away from thinking only about food, and instead focusing on the whole person—including emotional factors.

2. I made a commitment to eat healthy.

I know people who follow programs like Weight Watchers, and they still make questionable choices. I know people who’ve lost weight by following a different type of program in which they eat a lot of packaged food and drink meal-replacement shakes. Again, it’s not my place to tell others what to do—maybe different strategies work better for different people. But for me, I refuse to lose weight by eating fake food.

Especially now that I’m on a food budget, I am very strategic about eating! I include lean protein at every meal. I have almost completely eliminated packaged foods and empty calories. I eat many more helpings of vegetables than I ever did before. I’m going for quality over quantity.

I like the idea of the slow food movement. I try to frequent farmer’s markets and support local growers. It just makes sense to me to eat whole food as close as we can to the way it naturally grows. And I think usually the quality of food is better than when something is picked early, treated so that it will last longer, and shipped long-distance.

As I made these changes to my diet, I noticed changes in my health almost immediately. My complexion improved. My bathroom habits got super healthy and regular. My sleep improved. My joint pain decreased. My energy level improved and stayed consistent throughout the day. And, as an added bonus, I’m losing weight.

3. I made a commitment to myself.

It takes time to eat healthy. I realized that I was giving lots of time away to clients, my kids, my projects. I was putting my health last, and it suffered.

I decided to reign in the busy-ness, and make eating a priority. I literally changed my work schedule and eliminated some of my extracurriculars so that I now have more time to shop for fresh food, complete all the necessary food prep, and sit down and eat with a fork at every meal.

I discovered that I love roasted vegetables.

I discovered that it takes a lot longer to wash, cut, cook and eat veggies than it does to drive through Arby’s and wolf something down on my way to something else.

I discovered that sometimes it’s a little bit sad to say no to things I would enjoy doing, either because they involve eating crap or drinking too much, or because I really need to hold sacred the time required to eat healthy and fit in some exercise.

But I’m also discovering that it’s totally worth it. At the end of November, I had a doctor visit that included blood work, which revealed that all my numbers were going in the wrong direction: bad cholesterol up, good cholesterol down and, for the first time, my blood sugar was a little high. Not to mention that my clothes were too tight. And I didn’t even recognize myself in photographs.

In a couple more months, I will go back to the doctor for my follow up. I can’t wait to see the blood work results, further confirming what I already know: I am healthier.

I’m in a good place mentally and emotionally. About 10 weeks into this program, I started exercising regularly. I have a good support group and lots of love in my life. And these are all very important factors.

But the biggest change I made was my eating habits. Eating healthy is a huge part of being healthy. When I lost 10% of my body weight, I was told that doing so decreases our chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes by 50%. My hope is that when I reach my goal weight—about 20 pounds from now—I will be able to get completely off my cholesterol medicine.

I had to have a long talk with myself about changing my path from one of declining health and reliance on pharmaceuticals, to one of doing everything I can to reclaim and maintain my good health as naturally as possible. Food is medicine!

If I can support you in your healthy journey, please let me know!

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Your Bucket List, Revisited

kangaroo whisperer

 

Do you have a bucket list?

It’s fun to have things to look forward to! The planning and anticipation can help make life enjoyable.

Still, I think it’s possible to get so caught up in things we want, things we haven’t gotten to yet, that we might forget to reflect on all the wonderful things we’ve already done.

I was struck by a comic I saw, in a strip called “Between Friends.” One of the characters thought about some of the bucket list items she’d already accomplished. While we tend to focus on trips we’d like to take, or activities we’d like to try (skydiving anyone?), this character realized that even more important to her was finding her soul mate and life partner, and adopting the best daughter she could ever hope to have.

Wow. Those are pretty amazing bucket list items!

What a pleasure, to pause for a few moments and recount in all the “bucket list” items we’ve already enjoyed! The trips we’ve already taken that give us wonderful memories. The devoted friends we’ve made. The successful careers we’ve built. Any financial security we’ve been able to establish. The supportive family we created (either by birth or by other bonds). The lovely home(s) we’ve designed. The thrilling (or funny!) adventures we’ve taken. The devoted pets we’ve adopted. The hobbies we’ve delighted in and new skills we’ve amassed.

Looking forward is great, but sometimes looking back is very worthwhile! Think about all the things you’ve done to get to where you are today. My heart feels full when I think about it—I feel gratitude and love, and pride and happiness.

What bucket list items have you already accomplished? How does that make you feel?

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Sleep: A How-To Guide

elderly lady sleeping

I’m sure you’ve heard of “sleep hygiene,” a practice that encourages doing the same routine each night to try to encourage good quality sleep: turn off electronics, have a warm bath, drink a warm beverage (something without caffeine!), avoid a big heavy meal or alcoholic beverages too close to bedtime, have enough quiet time at the end of the day to allow ourselves to wind down.

Still, many of us struggle with getting enough shut-eye. A blog on improving sleep appeared recently on WebMD, and in the latest issue of Parade Magazine there’s an article entitled “Sleep: You’re Doing It Wrong” by Paula Spencer Scott. Both of these sources provide some good reminders, and a little bit of new (to me) information. The main idea is that sleep is a skill that can be improved with practice.

For many of us, the number one culprit is stress-induced anxiety that can keep us from sleeping. Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, director of the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, suggests treating ruminating about a stressful situation like any other stimulation—do everything you can to keep it out of your bed. She recommends keeping a “worry journal” that you write in during the day, but literally closing the book on those thoughts before you go to bed. (Some people also recommend keeping a little notepad by the side of your bed—not to journal in, but to jot things down that you need to remember so you don’t fret all night about remembering them!)

Experts also recommend being deliberate about sleep time. It’s best to decide what time you need to wake up, and work backwards from there to make sure you get the hours you need. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. We can learn to get by on the less sleep, but we can’t train our bodies to NEED less sleep! The best plan is to be consistent. In the best case scenario, we would have daily routines of eating meals at the same times, exercising at the same times, and going to bed and getting up at the same times. And we’d have a routine nightly ritual that signals our brain it’s time to hit the hay (brush teeth, pray/meditate, snuggle, sleep).

We can’t make up for lost sleep by sleeping in on the weekends—in fact, sleeping in can actually disrupt our body clocks! And as for napping, most people find a SHORT nap refreshing. But if you have chronic insomnia, a long nap too late in the day can decrease the brain’s “sleep drive,” making it even harder to sleep at night.

One tip from Scott’s article was to make sure we are comfortable in our beds. Do you really love your mattress? Pillow? Or does either cause you pain or stiffness? Are your sheets and blankets inviting and comfortable? What about what you wear to bed? Usually natural fabrics like cotton, silk or bamboo—or wearing nothing at all—will help keep us cooler. And cool—and DARK—rooms are best for sleeping.

Another piece of advice from Scott that may be hard to hear, is that our pets can disturb our slumber. A recent study showed that 63 percent of respondents who let their pets sleep with them had poor quality of sleep. Especially dogs, because they take up more room and their sleep cycles are so different from ours. Scott challenges readers to sleep with a device like Fitbit while sleeping with your dog for two weeks, and then while sleeping solo for two weeks and compare the results. Chances are you’ll see that you’ll get much more sound sleep when the dog is not in bed with you.

Both WebMD and the Parade article state that if we truly cannot sleep, it may be best to go ahead and get up for a little while. Try this: remind yourself that if you’re not sleeping, even resting is really good for us. Try thinking dull, pleasant thoughts. Count sheep if you like that, or walk every hole at your favorite golf course in your mind, or mentally bake something you like to create. Try consciously focusing on and deliberately relaxing each part of your body from your head and face to your toes.

If none of that works, get up out of bed rather than lie there and watch the clock and worry. Read, water your plants, do some ironing. WebMD says, “A quiet activity can help you relax and feel sleepy. Staying in bed may lead to frustration and clock-watching. Over time, you may associate your bed with wakefulness, not rest. Serious health conditions have been associated with severe, chronic lack of sleep, including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.”

Yikes! On the other hand, good quality sleep helps us live longer. While we are “resting,” our bodies are actively digesting, repairing, detoxing, lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation. And of course sleep is also necessary for us to focus and be more productive during the day, and also to stay alert while driving.

While stress is the #1 reason why people have trouble sleeping, it’s not the only cause. Illnesses, medication side effects, chronic pain, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea are other reasons people have insomnia. Massage therapy and reflexology can help us relax and get a good night’s sleep. Regular exercise, healthy diet and proper hydration, and sleep hygiene habits are important. But if you feel like you are doing all the right things and you still don’t get enough quality sleep, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your doctor and ask for a referral for a sleep study. Sleeping well is a key ingredient to living well!

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/living-with-insomnia-11/slideshow-insomnia?ecd=socpd_fb_nosp_3640_ss_cm497

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Is It Time for Spring Cleaning?

trunks in the attic

There’s nothing like an unwelcome odor in the kitchen, which may or may not be coming from under the sink, to get me to take everything out of the cabinet and do some detective work—and the deep cleaning I should have done months ago!

As so often happens, I discovered some items under the sink that were decrepit and needed to be pitched, or belonged somewhere else, or were duplicates that could be consolidated, etc. I know that I need to do this in every cabinet, closet and drawer in my house. Do you?

And don’t even get me started on what filth might lie under the bed in between under-the-bed storage containers! Dog hair seems to gravitate to that dark hiding spot, and because it’s hard to clean, guess what—I put off cleaning under there!

Do I even remember what’s in each of the under-the-bed storage containers? Maybe there’s some stuff that can be tossed or donated rather than stored. Because I know that if I didn’t have bins under there, it would be a breeze to sweep and keep it much cleaner.

I recently read an article about the link between clutter and depression. Previously I had learned that the environment we create around us is a reflection of what’s going on internally. So if we feel inner turmoil, our house, car, yard, storage areas are likely to look and feel chaotic as well. This article suggests that the opposite may also be true—that having too much clutter around us can cause anxiety and stress.

Here’s a link:
www.houselogic.com/organize-maintain/cleaning-decluttering/clutter-depression

There are lots and lots of ideas about how to declutter and get better organized. This particular article suggests some simple steps, like consistently picking up 5 things each time your get up from your desk or have to walk across the house. Or just committing to keeping your kitchen sink clear and clean as a way to boost your mood.

Here’s a website that offers other simple ways to begin the process of decluttering, like giving one thing away each day (at the end of a year, that’s 365 things purged!):
www.becomingminimalist.com/creative-ways-to-declutter/

You’ve probably heard of the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” The author recommends decluttering by type of thing, rather than by room or area. So, for example, you might start with clothes. You hold each object and honestly identify which ones bring you joy. If an item doesn’t bring you joy, you let it go so that it can bring someone else joy. Here’s a fun article about one woman’s journey inspired by this book, and the wonderful lessons learned:
www.onekingslane.com/live-love-home/marie-kondo-book-declutter/

As with my kitchen cabinet, the trick is just to start somewhere and do one manageable organizational task. Turns out the odor was coming from the disposal, which was easily cleaned with vinegar and baking soda. Still, having the cabinet underneath clean and organized is nice!! And I feel inspired to clean and organize some more. Hey, if I start with my clothes, that will include those cumbersome under-the-bed storage bins. Bonus!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

What Clients Do For Me

hands statue

I spend a great deal of time thinking about what I can give to my clients. I hope that every time someone comes to see me, they have a truly amazing session. I want to give all of my attention and energy, knowledge and training, intuition and intention to facilitate relaxation and overall wellbeing, focus on trouble spots and, for regular clients, build on progress made and continue to peel away layers of imbalance while improving health and function.

It occurred to me the other day that I don’t spend a great deal of time acknowledging all that my clients give to me. I have the best clients! They give of themselves so freely—trust, ideas, affection—I don’t take it lightly and I never take it for granted. Occasionally I am filled with awe.

Sometimes clients will bring me actual gifts. One week I received a beautiful sachet of lavender from one and a box of healthy muffins from another—both from our wonderful Wednesday farmer’s market. Then the next week a client shared some amazing pieces of fish he had caught, along with a bag full of Altoid tins his wife sent along after learning I’m making little shrine art or “nichos” with them. One client brought me a box of her favorite incense cones, just because she felt inspired by the soothing aroma and she wanted to share it with me. People’s thoughtfulness is just astonishing, and the words “thank you” do not seem sufficient.

One of the best presents is the gift of a referral. I feel so honored when a client is pleased enough with their care that they would pass along my information to someone who is looking for a massage therapist or reflexologist. Other times, a client will share a referral with me—for a great stretching program, or a physician specialist, or a wonderful place to go hiking or kayaking. Some of my favorite nutritious recipes have come from clients.

But really, the most treasured gifts are not tangible. I always hope that a client will leave my office feeling better than they did when they arrived. The flip side is that I always feel better, too!

Even on the rare day that I feel kind of blah when I arrive at my office, once someone comes in and asks how I’m doing with genuine interest, and allows me to “enter their personal space” and begin this phenomenal exchange of healing energy, I feel better physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Some clients are talkative and we share ideas and funny stories and personal challenges. Sometimes we delve into the world’s problems. Other clients are quiet, and I enjoy the nonverbal communication that happens naturally. Often the session becomes a moving meditation, and ideas and creative solutions come to me that sometimes are just small nuggets, but other times seem quite profound!

Even if no new information is revealed to me, I always enjoy the process and the tremendous feelings of well-being that result. So here’s to gratitude: to my clients for their faith and support and generosity and kindness, and to the universe for allowing giving and sharing and goodness to transpire in my office and in my work.

Category : Blog &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

New Recommendations for Back Pain

open hands on back left

Huge news! The American College of Physicians just released new guidelines that recommend trying nonpharmacological therapies (like massage therapy!) for back pain before turning to pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines.

According to an article in the New York Times, in the wake of opioid addiction that too often begins with a prescription for conditions like back pain, a number of states (including Florida) have cracked down on medical establishments (often nicknamed “pill mills”) that over-prescribe pain killers. This situation has caused many physicians to rethink their own prescribing habits.

And now the medical organization that many doctors belong to—the American College of Physicians—has reconsidered the effectiveness of prescribing pain killers for back pain to begin with. The new guidelines encourage doctors to tell patients to try alternative therapies like “exercise, acupuncture, massage therapy or yoga”—and reassure their patients that they will get better no matter which route they choose.

I was discussing this article with a client the other day, and she told me that years ago her son was in an accident and suffered debilitating back pain from it. After seeking treatment from a doctor, she was told that there were three courses of action they could choose from: surgery, injections, or doing nothing. The doctor told her studies showed that over a 3-5 year period, no matter which path a patient chose, the outcome was the same. So they chose to avoid surgery and injections, her son received physical therapy and massage therapy, and sure enough, over time, he made a complete recovery.

But that doctor may have been the exception. It seems to me that doctors want to do something, they want to offer a solution, so they offer pain medicine, injections, or procedures. It wasn’t until early in my practice (which was later in my life) that I learned from a chiropractor that a “typical” back strain produces a very normal inflammatory response—it’s what our bodies need to do to work through trauma—and it typically resolves in 3-5 days with no intervention.

We are just so accustomed to wanting, and getting, instant “gratification” or relief, that we don’t want to wait 3-5 days. We want someone to do something NOW. So many of us turn to a doctor, who might be tempted to offer medication that might provide instant relief. But the physicians interviewed for the NY Times article stated that usually there is no need to see a doctor for back pain at all. “For acute back pain,” one doctor states, “the analogy is to the common cold. It is very common and very annoying when it happens. But most of the time it will not result in anything major or serious.”

Even for chronic back pain—pain lasting at least 12 weeks—doctors are now recommending that patients start with nonpharmacological therapies.

And finally, doctors are admitting that scans like MRI are “worse than useless” for back pain patients, because the results can be misleading. One of my physical therapy colleagues told me this years ago—that if someone went to the doctor for back pain and a scan revealed an irregularity like a bulging disc, they’d probably order surgery or some treatment for the bulging disc, but in reality the bulging disc might not be the cause of the pain at all. Most of us, at a certain age (after years of wear and tear), have at least one bulging disc in our spines, but many of us never have any issues from it. So discovering it in a scan is not necessarily all that helpful.

Now many doctors are telling patients to skip the scan and try alternative therapies first. The new recommendations include:

Stay active. Practices like yoga, stretching, and Tai Chi are great. But you don’t have to start a new regimen—if there’s something you already like to do, do that!
Think positive. A patient has to believe that they can get better.
Keep expectations in check. These are guidelines for managing pain rather than “curing” pain. Alternative therapies can take time, but ultimately can be quite effective.

The physicians interviewed admitted that one challenge to this approach is that the insurance industry is not geared toward paying for things like massage, mindfulness training or chiropractic adjustments. It’s actually easier to get approval for an injection! But in the long run, we have to think about which course of action will yield the best results.

One physician says, “What we need to do is to stop medicalizing symptoms.” He tells patients, “I know your back hurts, but go run, be active, instead of taking a pill.”

Therapies like massage and reflexology can help with pain relief and healing, easing the stress (and worry) that can accompany pain. I personally am not anti-medication by any means, but I am happy when doctors see the value in “alternative” therapies and feel comfortable recommending them to their patients.

Source: www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/health/lower-back-pain-surgery-guidelines.html

pill explosion

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Celebrating Love

skeletal love

 

Americans have turned Valentine’s Day into a multi-billion dollar consumer holiday, demonstrating love with greeting cards, chocolates, flowers, dinner dates, and jewelry.

And while there’s nothing wrong with taking a moment to celebrate couples and romantic love, there’s a lot more to love than that!

In an exercise in my reflexology certification program, we were challenged to think about our core values—what really drives us to do what we do? Because if we want to market our skills successfully, we have to make sure that our message is genuinely in line with our beliefs.

What I learned about myself is that love really is at the core of everything I do. Loving myself fuels me to do my best every day. Loving the community I live in (and the planet I live on) motivates me to do what I can to make the world a better place. Love inspires me to give caring attention to my clients and help them love themselves and their own healing process. I believe that love is what connects us at a deeply subconscious, spiritual level. Love is at the center of empathy, compassion, strength (what is worth fighting for, after all? Something or someone you care deeply about—something or someone you love). Love is at the core of any passion!

Whenever I am in a challenging situation or dealing with a difficult person, I try to remember this mantra: Pour some love on it. Honestly, even when people are being ugly, they need love. They probably need love most of all.

If “love” is too intimate a word for you, try “kindness.” In 2017’s first issue of Parade magazine, writer Paula Spencer Scott challenged us to make kindness a resolution. Clearly, with everything going on in our world these days, we need more of it. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has launched a kindness challenge. One suggestion is to write a thank-you note to a different person each week of the year—52 opportunities to show gratitude and boost happiness! Another suggestion is to make it a point to do something—one simple, kind thing—every day. There’s a book by Orly Wahba called Kindness Boomerang: How to Save the World (and Yourself) Through 365 Daily Acts with specific ideas that make it easy. (Wahba has a TED talk called “Kindness Boomerang” as well.)

Psychologist Harriet Lerner states that the more we see a lack of kindness in public, the more it trickles down into our own personal lives. “But kindness is not an ‘extra,”” she states. “It’s at the heart of intimacy, connection, self-respect and respect for others.”

The good news is that any of us can turn it around. Author Leon Logothetis knows from experience, traveling the globe as an experiment just to see how far he could get relying on the kindness of strangers. He says, “On the surface, we’re in a kindness deficit, but underneath there’s a vast stream of it—if you just scratch the surface.”

Kelsey Gryniewicz of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation agrees: “That’s the power of kindness—it just takes one person, one act. You don’t need money or a ton of time.”

And showing love (being kind) brings us multiple benefits.

1. It feels good. Literally, it lights up our brain’s reward center. And, there’s a real phenomenon called “social contagion.” So when you do your one small act of random kindness, it gives you a lift, it gives the person you are kind to a lift, and it also lifts up everyone who witnesses the act! Then everyone is inspired to “kind it forward.”

2. It improves our physical health. The article in Parade states that “When patients receive kind treatment from medical staff—better communication, an effort to get to know them as people—they have less anxiety and pain and shorter hospital stays… Doctors and nurses, in turn, feel more engaged and less exhausted.”

I would argue that any time we can use better communication and make an effort to get to know someone as a person—even if we are in a debate with someone who holds a view contrary to our own—we’re both going to have less anxiety, feel more engaged and less exhausted.

3. Kindness improves neighborhoods. This is my favorite example, again from Parade: A candidate running for mayor of Anaheim, CA in 2010 was inspired by signs made featuring a simple message: “Make Kindness Contagious.” (These were signs celebrating the life philosophy of a 6-year-old who’d been killed in an accident.) The young girl’s father was a doctor, and he told the candidate that “in medicine, you can treat the symptom or you can stimulate the body to heal itself.” The candidate wondered if the same principle could be applied to a city. “What if a culture of kindness could stimulate the city to heal from within?” he pondered. He has since started programs to help neighbors get to know each other. They form neighborhood watches to minimize crime, and they are more likely to rush to each others’ aid in an emergency or disaster. He encourages volunteerism and participation in the One Billion Acts of Kindness campaign. He even helped bring the Dalai Lama to give the keynote address on kindness to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. These are all good ways to foster connection and help make up the “kindness deficit”!o

There’s more in the article, related to nurturing emotional intelligence in kids and using kindness to combat bullying, acknowledging that millennials lead the way in seeking social workplaces and recognizing empathy as part of a sought-after skill set, and establishing that kindness is key to breaking down barriers socially and building a more connected world.

The call to action is making kindness a verb—to do kind things and live kindness. “It’s easy, it’s free, it feels good—and it really makes a difference,” writes the author.

So this Valentine’s Day, let’s pour some love on everyone we meet. Sure, you can shower your sweetie with gifts if you have one. But everyone needs loving kindness. Pass it on!

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

Give Peace a Chance

girl on hammock in nature

 

As I write this, I’ve decided to take a day off from Facebook and from trying to keep up with every urgent news update.

It’s not that I don’t care about what’s going on or how people feel about what’s going on. It’s just that I need a little break.

These are tumultuous times, politically. I’m worried, and I’m more engaged than I ever have been. And shame on me for not being more active prior to this!

But what is the best way to be involved? It gets overwhelming sometimes, doesn’t it? Well-intentioned friends on both sides of the political spectrum post outrageous headlines from dubious sources, and the reaction is an escalation of outrage. Accusations fly, people get defensive and emotional, and sometimes ugly.

And it occurs to me that if everyone is outraged and yelling, who is listening?

I tried an experiment a couple days ago. I entered an online conversation where the exchanges had already gotten heated. I responded to someone with opposing views from mine. I let him know that I believe his concerns are valid, that his voice is being heard. And yet, I suggested, the “other side” makes solid points as well, and perhaps the best solution to the problem is a combination of what he was proposing AND some of what others were saying. He calmed down. He agreed! We reached consensus.

I have strong feelings and beliefs, as most people do. I will keep fighting for what I think is right and decent. But the “fight” needs to be based on real information and rational stances on issues. It’s helpful to take the crazy-making emotions out of the equation.

So I’m backing off for a day, to reclaim my inner peace. Sometimes being angry is absolutely appropriate, necessary. But clarity is always appropriate and necessary. Sometimes we all need a moment (or a day) to quiet the noise, and to appreciate what is good and beautiful around us.

I love this quote from Peace Pilgrim: “My inner peace remains in spite of any outward thing. Only insofar as I remain in harmony can I draw others into harmony, and so much more harmony is needed before the world can find peace.”

This does not mean everyone needs to agree. We probably never will. And, of course we can’t remain passive when we believe injustice is being done. Some things truly are unacceptable.

But sometimes it’s good to acknowledge that differing points of view can be a positive thing. However challenging, at least some of the time, we can help each other see things from a different perspective.

Maybe if we start from a place of inner calm, we can find better paths toward solutions. Maybe at least we can stop yelling at each other! And take turns listening.

May what’s unique and sacred in me recognize and honor what’s unique and sacred in you. (Even if I vehemently disagree with you.) Namaste.

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth