Massage Therapy

Maintaining a Healthy Brain


Exciting new research in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease suggests that even if a person is predisposed genetically to these conditions, it may be possible to prevent or at least delay the damaging changes from happening to our brains.

The key is prevention—working to change the progress of disease before symptoms even occur. Similar to heart disease and diabetes, we’re learning that lifestyle choices can delay the onset and minimize risk and severity.

There are only a few Alzheimer’s prevention clinics in the US currently since “prevention” is a new idea. They use technology, problem-solving tests, and blood work to assess the ABCs of Alzheimer’s prevention. A is “anthropometrics”—things like body fat, lean body mass, muscle strength, waist measurement and more. B is blood biomarkers—all the standard blood work plus tests for inflammatory and genetic markers that increase risk. C is cognition, measuring thinking skills and mental flexibility.

Some risk factors are beyond our control: genetic predisposition, gender (women are at a higher risk), age; but the exciting learning has been in just how much our lifestyle choices can affect our outcome. Modifiable risk factors include what we eat, how much we eat (abdominal fat raises our risk threefold!), how we sleep, our blood pressure, our overall fitness level.

Here are the things the Weill Cornell’s Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic recommends we start doing right now to lower our risk:

  • Get our baseline numbers for things like cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, blood pressure, body-mass index and waist circumference.
  • Take a cognitive test. There’s a 15-minute “SAGE” test we can do at home; for a link, go to alzu.org.
  • Keep our muscle mass. We lose muscle over the years if we don’t work to keep it. Most experts recommend a combination of aerobic and resistance/weight training for best results.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight, especially carrying extra abdominal fat, increases our risk for Alzheimer’s and other medical conditions.
  • Eat “green, lean and clean.” Brains benefit from a plant-heavy diet (veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds) with lean protein (especially fish). Extra-virgin olive oil is their recommended go-to dietary oil.
  • Eat fatty fish twice a week: salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, lake trout or sardines.
  • Cut out evening snacking. At least a few times a week, try not to eat for 12-14 hours between dinner and breakfast. At least cut out carbs to encourage the body to burn stored fats.
  • Get some good quality shut-eye. Plan for at least 8 hours of sleep per night; turn off all devices for 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime.
  • Put some downtime on our to-do list. Every 4 1/2 years of work stress equates to a year of brain aging! Things like yoga, acupuncture, and regular vacations help. (I would add massage the reflexology, among other things!)
  • Find joy and connection with others. Hobbies and friendships can both relax and challenge our brains.
  • Play music. There’s a lot of new research pointing out the benefit of music to brain health. Listening to music is good, but making music is even better. Learning ukulele is achievable for most people, and more towns (St. Augustine among them!) have regular jam sessions for ukulele enthusiasts, which adds a social element as well.
  • Keep up with dental, vision and hearing health. Untreated tooth and gum problems cause inflammation that can lead to other complications. Vision and hearing loss can result in social isolation.
  • Don’t smoke. 
  • Consider genetic testing, if you believe that knowledge is power. There is no test that says definitively whether we will get Alzheimer’s, but if we find out that we are at risk genetically, it might motivate us to try that much harder to stave it off with lifestyle changes.
  • Join a clinical trial. If we want to take part in studies that might lead to a cure, we can search for studies at clinicaltrials.gov. In June, the Alzheimer’s Association is funding the largest ever lifestyle study on preventing cognitive decline. Learn more at alz.org/us-pointer.

Source: “Cheater’s Guide to Beating Alzheimer’s” by Paula Spencer Scott, “Parade Magazine,” April 8, 2018

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

What Are Our Feet Trying to Tell Us?

 

 

Sometimes when I work on people’s feet, they’ll ask me “what does that mean?” if a particular area feels tender or extra sensitive.

All I can say is that it’s a sign of stress: either stress to that area of the foot itself or stress to the part of the body that the reflex point in the foot is related to. (Either way, it’s good to work on it!) Sometimes the client can kind of figure out what might be going on in their feet and/or in their body’s overall health.

I’m not able to diagnose. But I am continually astounded at how interconnected and fascinating we are anatomically—from our feet all the way up to our brains!

Along those lines (pun intended!) an article recently caught my attention, outlining several bodily conditions that might show symptoms specifically in the feet.

Spasms (or “foot cramps”). Muscle cramps can be a sign that there’s a deficiency in your body. Sometimes spasms are caused by dehydration when your cells aren’t getting enough water/oxygen. It could also indicate an imbalance of electrolytes or nutrients (calcium or potassium, for example). Cramps can be caused by overexertion and lack of stretching, poor footwear choices, or even circulatory problems.

Enlarged big toe. Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis and can cause the big toe to become red, warm, swollen and painful. Gout occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the bloodstream. This inflammation often occurs in the big toe and can flare up overnight. Risk factors include genetics, a diet high in purines (meats and seafood, for example), alcohol consumption, being overweight, certain medications (such as diuretics), recent trauma, and some other health conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.

Cold feet. A person who has perpetually cold feet might have poor circulation, diabetes, an under-active thyroid, or anemia. In a more severe case, when cold feet change color from red to white to blue, it could be a sign of Raynaud’s disease—when nerves overact to cold and cause a narrowing of the blood vessels in the feet (or hands).

Swollen feet. Swelling can be a sign of various health problems, some potentially serious. Poor circulation/heart problems, kidney or liver disease, deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), lymphatic concerns and cellulitis can cause swollen feet. It’s a good idea to seek a medical evaluation and not dismiss swelling if it’s severe or if it happens often.

Spoon-shaped toenails. Nails that are soft and sort of scooped out with a depression usually are a sign of a nutritional deficiency—too little or too much iron. It can also be associated with heart disease and hypothyroidism.

Yellow toenails. Nails turn yellow from conditions like infection and fungus, rheumatoid arthritis, jaundice/liver problems, lung issues/breathing problems and even sinusitis. If you have a sudden change in the color or texture of your nails, seek medical attention.

Tingling or numbness. Circulatory problems, peripheral nerve damage, an impinged nerve, multiple sclerosis and a range of other ailments can lead to numbness, tingling or “pins and needles” in the feet. Like swelling, this symptom is not something to take lightly if it persists.

Achy joints. Pain in the toe joints is usually a sign of local injury or trauma or a malformation in the bones of the foot like a bunion or hammertoe. But it can also be a sign of something systemic like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Drop foot. If someone has difficulty lifting the front part of their foot, they could have a condition called drop foot—which is indicative of an underlying muscular, neurological or anatomical problem. Nerve or muscle weakness/damage in the leg, hip or spine can cause the foot to drag when walking. A combination of therapies is used to try to correct the problem including a brace, nerve stimulation, chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy or surgery.

Lingering sores. If you have sores that don’t heal, or you have an injury you didn’t feel or treat that led to a more severe wound, you might have nerve damage to the feet caused by diabetes. Nerve damage, or neuropathy, results in being unable to feel injuries, and when they go unnoticed, even little boo-boos like blisters can lead to bigger issues like ulcers and gangrene. Dry, cracked, peeling skin, calluses and poor circulation in the feet can all be signs of diabetes.

Our feet can tell us a lot about our health! We owe it to ourselves to keep our feet and our whole system as healthy as possible. Regular foot reflexology sessions can help!

Source: https://ia.meaww.com/read/health/10-things-your-feet-are-trying-to-tell-you-about-your-health

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

I Appreciate You

 

Many people adopt a word for each new year. I had not given much conscious thought to choosing a word for 2018, though I think setting an intention is a really good idea.

In general, I’ve been committed to sustaining a sense of internal peace no matter what is happening in the world around me. After reading “The Surrender Experiment” by Michael Singer I adopted the mantra “I will not allow anything to interfere with my sense of inner peace.” Sometimes it works!

As of January 1st, I was invited to join a group committed to being kind and thoughtful. While I always try to be nice when the opportunity presents itself, this 50-day challenge compels me to actively seek out opportunities to lift people up every single day. So this is like a step up in positivity—from just being at peace to being mindfully kind.

These ideas of calm and thoughtfulness are important especially now as the political climate is so acrimonious. It can be challenging to maintain peace or offer kindness.

And then, unexpectedly, I received more inspiration from a new client. I’m continually blown away by the amount of trust people place in me. They allow me to invade their personal space and place my hands on them, even when they don’t know me. When I do my job right, and they allow it, they go into such a state of deep relaxation that they make themselves really vulnerable. Talk about “surrender”!!

This client did just that, and then he allowed another level of vulnerability as he opened up to talk about some emotionally charged stuff. One thing led to another in our conversation, and we admitted that we could not do each others’ jobs (he’s an attorney, his partner is an OR nurse, I’m a bodyworker). But that’s OK because we all do what we’re best at.

In the course of this lovely conversation, he said, “We all have something to offer. I don’t think we appreciate each other enough.” Wow. How true is that?

So there’s my word: appreciate. It’s not enough for me to be at peace, and it’s not even enough to be thoughtful. I will endeavor to be appreciative.

Even when times are troubling, I appreciate the lessons embedded in the experiences. I will try harder to appreciate people’s talents and gifts, even when they get on my last nerve! I appreciate the opportunities to learn and practice and grow as a compassionate person.

If you are reading this, please know that I truly appreciate you!

Category : Blog &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Medical Arts: Alternative, Complementary, Quackery? Part Two

 

Last week I wrote about a perceived disparity between mainstream healthcare and “alternative” remedies. I was troubled by an opinion piece posted on NBCnews.com that lumped every approach outside of conventional Western medicine into an ineffective and irrational “wellness industrial complex.” The conclusion was that celebrities who know more about marketing than medicine bash science to get gullible consumers to purchase overpriced approaches to wellness that don’t work, and a better strategy would be to put all our trust into conventional medicine because it is based on science.

I’m a firm believer in wellness care that includes things like massage therapy, reflexology, acupuncture, chiropractic, and meditation. I’m also a firm believer in going to the doctor for regular checkups and taking medicine when you need it. I believe that different strategies work better for different ailments, and that what works best for me might be different from what works best for you or someone else.

So, I propose that there is room for all kinds of approaches!

Would it surprise you to know that under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services there is a National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health? That’s right, even our own egg-headed GOVERNMENT scientists have figured out that there’s room in our health-and-wellness world for both mainstream doctors and practitioners like me.

Western-trained doctors are referred to as “conventional.” (NOT “traditional,” because some eastern healing traditions go back thousands and thousands of years!) Their website goes on to explain:
▪ If a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine, it’s considered “complementary.”
▪ If a non-mainstream practice is used in place of conventional medicine, it’s considered “alternative.”
“True alternative medicine is uncommon. Most people who use non-mainstream approaches use them along with conventional treatments.” (link provided below)

And that leads us to “INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE,” which is what maybe 90% of us subscribe to: bringing conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way.

The website explains, “The use of integrative approaches to health and wellness has grown within care settings across the United States. Researchers are currently exploring the potential benefits of integrative health in a variety of situations, including pain management for military personnel and veterans, relief of symptoms in cancer patients and survivors, and programs to promote healthy behaviors.”

There are so many wonderful options for us to employ to support our own health. If your appendix ruptures, you might want a skilled surgeon. If you’re in a car accident, you might seek out a chiropractor help you recover. When I injured my hip, I needed the expertise of a physical therapist. For ongoing health maintenance, you could see a massage therapist, and a reflexologist, and an acupuncturist, and a medical doctor—and none would take anything away from what the others had to offer!!

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/integrative-health

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Supporting a Healthy Back

 

 

Back pain is common, and while a certain amount of wear and tear is part of life, some mindful maintenance can go a long way in staving off strains and aches.

Everything we do every single day impacts our back health. It basically comes down to posture and body mechanics. It’s so easy to neglect! Here are some helpful reminders:

Sitting. Sitting in the same position for long periods stresses tissues and can diminish blood flow. It’s very important to get up and move around every 30-60 minutes. Set a timer on your phone if you must! When sitting at a desk, make sure both feet are on the floor and your weight is evenly distributed between your hips.

Standing. Think about your alignment: ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should be pretty well lined up and facing forward in a centered, neutral way. Do you put more weight on one side? Do you hold your head forward? Not good. Do you hold your shoulders too high toward your ears? Set an alarm to check yourself a few times a day. Take a deep breath, and deliberately drop your shoulders down and back as you exhale.

Lifting/Carrying. I set myself up for hip trouble by always carrying books, babies, etc. on one hip jutted out supporting all the weight. As much as possible, it’s far better to divide a load (groceries, laundry) into two totes and carry equal amounts on both sides. For things that can’t be divided (babies!), a backpack is best. When lifting, we need to bend at the knees, avoid twisting, and engage our abs to make sure our backs aren’t doing more than their fair share.

Phoning. Tilting our heads forward to see our phone screens places way more pressure on our necks than you might think. It’s far better to raise our arms and hold the phone up closer to eye level. Use voice commands to send texts when possible, and earphones for long conversations. If you’re reading a tablet or a good, old-fashioned book, see if you can prop it up on pillows to avoid looking down for prolonged periods.

What to do when your back does hurt? OF COURSE, I would recommend massage therapy and reflexology to relax tight tissues and improve blood and lymph flow! You can also try:

You can also try:

Ice, to reduce inflammation.

Heat, to relax muscle fibers.

Alternating between heat and ice (up to 20 minutes of one, enough time to let your tissues to get back to normal temperature, then up to 20 minutes of the other; always end with ice at the end of the day).

Gentle exercise. For an acute injury, a day of rest probably is advised. But then it’s important not to rest too much! Walking a little bit if you can comfortably do so keeps blood and lymph flowing, which is important for healing.

Ongoing supportive exercise, such as yoga or Tai Chi enhances balance, flexibility and good posture long term.

Other “alternative” approaches such as acupuncture and chiropractic can help maintain optimal functioning. Physical therapy can target problem areas, and PTs usually give specific exercises to develop strength so strains don’t reoccur.

Cope with stress. Chronic stress causes tension that causes pain. It’s important to do mindfulness “exercises” like deep breathing, meditation, walking outside in nature, and positive self-talk.

Mindfulness is always a good practice. Most injuries are from misuse or overuse. If we stay aware of how we sit, stand, walk, lift, etc., we can avoid a lot of problems. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!!

Source: “We’ve Got Your Back,” by Alyssa Shaffer, “Better Homes & Gardens” October 2017.

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

Learning a New Way to Support Health

 

I had the privilege of taking a continuing education course last weekend on “The Hidden Messengers”—silent, behind-the-scene centers of energy that work together to keep our bodies balanced and functioning optimally.

In our western understanding of anatomy, we talk about our endocrine system—those glands (think pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, etc.) that produce hormones to regulate our sleep, appetite, stress responses, sex drive and more.

In ancient Indian practice, energy centers called “chakras” closely parallel the endocrine glands. Each chakra is aligned with a nerve plexus (a bundle or network of nerves) that is responsible for a specific area of the body. So while some in our culture might think chakras are too “woo woo” to be seriously considered, there’s actually a lot of overlap with western scientific models of medicine.

Our class also covered a principal of traditional Chinese medicine: that each of us is most strongly governed by one of the five elements of nature (water, earth, fire, wood or metal), and that these elements influence our health including, you guessed it—the health of our endocrine glands.

When any of these systems—endocrine, chakra or elements—is out of balance, our health can suffer. It can change our behavior and attitude as well. And/or, our behavior and attitude can change the balance of these systems!

Whichever way you prefer to think about it, reflexology is a very effective way to restore homeostasis—or balance of our internal environment—and improve the healthy function of all of these systems. As we make contact with each reflex point in the foot or hand, we activate the nervous system and communicate to all the parts of the body. Everything benefits, whether it’s hormonally, energetically, mentally or all of the above!

Category : Blog &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

Staying Hydrated

It’s important to stay hydrated all the time, but especially now during these hot days of summer when we lose more fluids through perspiration.

Severe dehydration causes disorientation, exhaustion, and nausea. Being even a little bit dehydrated can cause difficulty with regulating body temperature, digestion, and elimination. You might notice some of these symptoms:

Bad breath. If you’re dehydrated, your saliva production will slow down and that can cause bacteria overgrowth in your mouth.

Constipation. We need water to keep things moving!

Craving sweets. When we’re dehydrated, our body uses the some of the carbs (glycogen) stored for fuel. Then we crave sugar to replenish. If you find yourself craving something sweet, try drinking a big glass of water and/or have a juicy piece of fruit and see if that satisfies it.

Feeling dizzy. Being dehydrated can cause our blood pressure to drop because we have less fluid volume in the blood. Even mild dehydration can cause feelings of vertigo.

Dry skin.

Feeling cold. Our bodies shift into survival/conservation mode—less blood gets pumped to the skin and we can feel cold even when it’s hot outside.

Headache.

Irritability.

Muscle cramps. Dehydration causes a change in the balance of electrolytes in our system, and muscles need that balance to function optimally.

Feeling sleepy. If we’re not properly hydrated, our energy level will drop as we shift into that conservation mode. Some believe that drinking a glass of cold water will perk us up as effectively as a cup of coffee!

Here are the best ways to rehydrate and stay properly hydrated:

Drink water. Duh. Our bodies are trying to tell us we need more water. Best to sip it. Guzzling can cause nausea and increase urination. Drinking way too much water all at once can throw our electrolytes off just as much as not drinking enough water.

Avoid sugar, alcohol, oily foods, and caffeine. These all cause an increase in urine production which has a dehydrating effect.

Consume the right amount of sodium. Too much sodium can dehydrate us. But too little sodium can make rehydrating difficult.

Ask your doctor or nutritionist how much is right for you long-term. Short term, consider a salty snack like a few pretzels or a salted banana if you’re going to exert yourself and perspire a lot.

Replace electrolytes. If you’re planning a workout, including something like yard work or cleaning out the garage this time of year, you might need to have more than water. A drink like Gatorade (you might only need a little!) or coconut water can keep your electrolytes balanced. Some suggest that fruit juice can usually provide what we need, and because of the sugar content in any of these drinks, we can mix a little bit in a glass of water to get what we need.

Make your own sports drink. To control the amount of sugar and salt you’re getting, you can make your own Powerade type of drink. It’s basically water, fruit (citrus is good), sugar and salt. Here’s a link to some recipes: http://dailyburn.com/life/recipes/homemade-sports-drink-recipes/

Eat fruit. Fruits like watermelon, strawberries, and grapefruit are more than 90 percent water! Other fruits with a high water content include cantaloupe, peaches, pineapple, oranges, and raspberries. Eating them helps us rehydrate and replenish our store of glycogen. And we get fiber and nutrients while we’re at it!

Rest. After exertion, our bodies need extra rest to replenish fluid and return from conservation mode to full working capacity.

Drink milk. Research is showing that drinking milk helps us rehydrate, maybe because it replenishes fluids without stimulating the kidneys to make a lot of urine. Even chocolate milk is OK! But skim or low-fat milk is best. Higher fat content slows the fluid uptake.

Eat soup. Broth is a combination of fluid and sodium—a great combination for rehydrating. Add some vegetables and you’ll get fiber and nutrients while you’re at it!

Eat yogurt. Plain yogurt has a high water content and potassium and sodium. Add fruit for extra hydration and nutrition!

Source: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/health/mindandbody/10-signs-you’re-dehydrated-—-and-how-to-hydrate-fast/ss-BBDt60c#image=1

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Today Is Special

 

“Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.” — Regina Brett

We’ve all heard the quotable quotes: Seize the day! Tomorrow is promised to no one! Enjoy life now, this is not a rehearsal!

When you hear these sentiments, how do you feel? Does it go in one ear and out the other? Or do you pause to think about it, but dismiss the thought? Live more fully—who has the time? I have to … (work, take care of the kids/grandkids/parents, clean the house, work in the yard, organize the garage, do volunteer duty, etc. etc. etc.)

We do have to be practical. But I can share with you a few observations. I sometimes see people at their worst: stressed out, in pain from overdoing and self-neglecting, tired and frustrated and irritable.

I also get to see people at their best: looking forward to or retelling about a vacation or special event. One client delights in sharing plans for each next trip off the “bucket list.” One details with a smile how the fishing has been since his last appointment and any new venues visited for dinner and dancing. One client lights up describing art projects in progress, music concerts coming up for the community band she plays in, and family gatherings being organized.

Do you have something you’re looking forward to? How/when will you make it happen? My mom and dad were always going to go to Hawaii when my dad retired. They talked about it often. Then my dad died suddenly of heart failure at age 59. He never got to retire, and they never made it to Hawaii.

If you have a trip you’ve been wanting to take, some china you’ve been waiting to use, a class or new hobby you’ve been curious to explore—I encourage you to do it now!

I’ll always remember the words an elderly client said to me once. She had been a caretaker for her husband, many years her senior, as he declined in his final years. She had injured her back lifting and helping him. By the time I met her, she was older, too frail to travel and do her bucket list items, and alone, missing her travel companion/life partner.

She looked at me with sad eyes one day and said, “I always thought I’d have more time.” Meaning, more time to be vibrant, to move around with ease, to explore all that life has to offer.

We don’t know how much time we have. Let’s not wait to take the trip, to wear the fancy lingerie, or use the nicest sheets, china, or candle!

I love this quote from an unknown author: “There are 7 days in a week, and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them.”

Here’s another: “Many great things can be done in a day if you don’t always make that day tomorrow.” —Unknown

Today is special! What great thing can be done today?

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Increasing Our Resilience

 

Virtually every day we have to deal with stress. Clearly too much chronic, day-in-day-out stress is bad for us, and we’ve learned about the physical and mental repercussions of that and strategies for managing them.

But unexpected things happen, and usually bring stress. How do we build the mental fortitude we need to deal with it? Believe it or not, we can practice skills to increase our resilience, so that when a major life event causes stress, we can cope. If we can deal with stress better mentally and emotionally, the physical effects will be lessened as well.

An article in the “New York Times” titled “How to Build Resilience in Midlife,” by Tara Parker-Pope gives us techniques to “stretch our resilience muscle.” Professor and author Dr. Adam Grant says, ““There is a naturally learnable set of behaviors that contribute to resilience,” and he claims that adults—because of the perspective that comes from life experience and (hopefully!) the ability to regulate our emotions—are in a great position to deliberately boost our emotional survival skills.

Here are the tips Parker-Pope recommends:

1. Be optimistic. As with most traits, optimism is part nature and part nurture. So even if we’re not natural born optimists, we can still work on increasing our positivity. That doesn’t mean we deny the reality of challenges or negative events. But we can always choose how to react to situations. The example she gives is when a person loses their job. An optimist would replace dire thoughts like “I’ll never recover from this,” with “This is going to be difficult, but it’s a chance to rethink my life goals and find work that truly makes me happy.”

More and more research confirms that reframing how we look at things, and changing our internal dialog to more positive self-talk, really does improve our outlook and our ability to cope with the inevitable hurdles of life. So does surrounding ourselves with more positive, optimistic people.

2. Don’t take it personally. We are quick to blame ourselves when something bad happens, and ruminate about what we could have done differently. To build resilience, we can remind ourselves that even if we did make a mistake, there were likely numerous factors that contributed to the situation. It’s rarely ever ALL one person’s fault. Practice self-compassion (forgiveness!), and shift into problem-solving mode: what can we do now to repair any damage and prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future?

Smart companies have a corporate model of looking at mistakes as procedural, not personal, and they use the opportunity to refine processes and training.

3. Recall previous triumphs. We get a resilience boost by remembering challenges we have overcome in the past. Although a common strategy is to be grateful that things aren’t worse (and even calling to mind someone who has it worse than ourselves), a better exercise is to look back and say—I’ve made it through something even worse than this in the past. This is not the toughest thing I have ever faced or will ever face. I know I can handle this!

4. Be of service to others. While it’s really important to have a support network, it’s even more empowering to BE part of something larger than ourselves. Studies show that gratitude, altruism, and a sense of purpose lead to greater resiliency. Experts say a key component of being resilient is taking responsibility for our lives—creating a life we consider to be meaningful and finding our purpose. It doesn’t have to be a grand mission, but even if our purpose is to support our own family, that focus can see us through all kinds of adversity.

5. Make peace with stress. Stress is an inevitable element of life. Some would even argue that a little bit of stress is good for us and necessary. (Think how boring life would be with no challenges whatsoever!) So rather than resist it or dread it, one expert suggests we just welcome it as an opportunity for personal growth, AND create concrete opportunities to recover. Taking a walk, meditating, laughing with friends—we can schedule breaks from stress just as we schedule breaks from strenuous workouts.

6. Commit to a challenge. We can build resilience by pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. Take an adventure vacation. Climb a mountain! Or go skydiving. Or finish a half marathon or triathlon. Or share your writing at a poetry night. Or sing karaoke. Each time we rise to the occasion, our bodies become better at processing stress hormones. If we live our lives with regular opportunities to overcome stress, we get better and better at it. Then we are in a better position to cope when a crisis arises.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/well/mind/how-to-boost-resilience-in-midlife.html

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth

Stress, Part Two

 

Are you, or is someone you love, the type of person who is always feeling stressed out? Last week we learned how chronic stress can be really bad for our health.

Here are some ideas for quick ways to reduce the negative impact of stress:

  • Chew gum. Studies show that chewing gum lowers anxiety and stress. Some researchers think the rhythmic act of chewing may calm us and improve the blood flow to our brains, while others believe the smell and taste of gum help us relax.
  • Go outside. Being active is best, especially in a setting that you find beautiful. But even close to home, just quietly being outside is sometimes enough to achieve a respite from stressors.
  • Smile. Even if you don’t feel happy, keeping a genuine smile on your face (including the muscles around your eyes as well as your mouth) reduces the body’s stress response. It helps lower our heart rate quicker once the stressful situation is over. Turns out “grin and bear it” is actually pretty good advice!
  • Smell lavender. One study demonstrated a significant reduction in stress when nurses pinned a vial of lavender to their clothes and sniffed it throughout their shift. WebMD cautions that lavender can intensify the effect of some pain killers and anti-anxiety medications, so checking with your doctor for possible interactions is always a good idea. If lavender doesn’t do it for you, there are other essential oils that can provide calm, such as chamomile, frankincense, and vetiver.
  • Listen to music. Sometimes listening to music you like is even more calming than listening to trickling water or other relaxing sounds. One study showed a positive benefit from listening to Latin choral music such as “Miserere” by Gregorio Allegri.
  • Take some deep breaths. Focusing on our breathing distracts us from negative thoughts and quiets the body’s fight-or-flight response. Sit or lie comfortably and take in a full, deep breath that makes your belly move. Really engage the diaphragm! Breathe out slowly—it should take a few seconds. You can say a word or phrase as you exhale that helps you relax. If nothing else, think: inhale relaxation, exhale tension. Repeat ten times.
  • Practice self-compassion. We have something like 50,000 thoughts in a day, and a large percentage of them are negative. We tend to be especially hard on ourselves. Using more positive self-talk helps us calm down and come to better terms with our situation. Self-compassion includes gently talking to ourselves with as much encouragement as we’d offer to our best friend. Try reassuring yourself with “Everything will be OK,” for instance, or “I can figure out how to handle this.”
  • Journal. This one has helped me so many times! Sometimes we just need to write our thoughts and feelings in a free stream of consciousness, either with pen and paper or electronically. Once we have it in front of us, it’s easier to make a plan. And you can write the plan down, too! But the most important thing is just to give yourself an outlet to be honest and let stuff flow out of you.
  • Talk with a friend. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s nice to share with a good listener we trust. If you have a friend who’s dealing with the same worries that you have, even better! You can share ideas and concerns, and feel less isolated.
  • Exercise. When we work up a sweat, we improve our mood, clear our head, and take a breather from whatever is stressing us out. Go for a hike or a swim or a bike ride, hit the gym, dance as if no one is watching. As long as we don’t overdo it, moving always helps us feel better!
  • Play. Be silly. Do something joyful!
  • Enjoy a reflexology session. Human touch is powerful, and there’s almost nothing better to get our nervous system out of fight-or-flight mode than relaxing foot reflexology.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/balance/ss/stop-stress-now

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