During 2019 I saw a number of clients in both Calgary and the Fraser Valley for a number of reasons. They brought some similiar issues to the treatment room for us to address.
The main problem being tackled (which displayed itself through symptoms) was a feeling of life being too much, too busy, too much to do, too much to take care of, too many places to get to... Too much was a common theme.
Here are the top 5, plus how we worked together to resolve them:
#5 Holistic Maintenance Sessions
I have to admit that I was really excited to see Maintenance as a priority with many clients this year. Not really an "issue" but a really positive step. Many were taking the view that Massage Therapy and Holistic sessions are not just a luxury, but instead an essential regular part of maintaining mind/body wellness.
In the past, so many clients wait to book in when they are at an overwhelmed breaking point or the ongoing pain has become intolerable. More and more though, are realizing the benefits of regular sessions, to ensure their body is feeling good the majority of the time, and they are more able to deal with life's stressors as they come up.
Maintenance appointments were across the board for therapies including Massage Therapy, Reiki Treatments, Craniosacral Therapy, Indian Head Massage and Reflexology.
#4 Back, Neck and Shoulder Pain
Technology is wonderful BUT it is really hard on the body. For those sitting at desk jobs working on computer all day, students studying, or those with more physical daily tasks, the upper body muscles seem to suffer the most through the past year.
Many mentioned their posture at work as well as repetitive strain issues with daily tasks. Massage Therapy was the number one choice for dealing with pain through the back, neck and shoulders. Included with those sessions was passive stretching to encourage muscle flexibility. Plus we often had discussions about stretching at home along with ideas for better posture so that muscles are not over strained.
I did notice that those coming for regular Massage Therapy sessions through the year mentioned that they experienced less pain and fewer issues with headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms and enjoyed better sleep.
#3 Anxiety, Depression, Overwhelm, and feeling Disconnected
While a number of clients would end their list of what is bringing discord into their lives with a statement of "well others have it worse, so I shouldn't complain", I was quietly thinking "Wow, you are really dealing with A LOT!"
So many have so much on their plates that it's not surprising that the mind just can not keep up, and in it's attempts to do so, becomes overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety and depression. Honestly, I don't think many people are realistic about just how much the body and mind can take. As a society we are pushing ourselves way beyond our elastic limits.
For too long we've pushed those feelings aside, jumped up after trauma to "soldier on", lived in our whirling minds of getting "it" done and feeling disconnected from our body, and trying to pretend that everything is fine, while we're actually falling apart. It can be scary to allow yourself to fall apart, but it can actually create space for things to fall into place.
I witnessed a greater increase in those asking about and experiencing Reiki and Craniosacral Therapy. During those sessions clients experienced a full 60 minutes of peace, loving energy and unwinding.
Taking that time to get quiet left many saying that they felt clearer, stronger and were heading home to think more on what they needed to let go of and the steps they were going to take to put their well-being first... It was amazing to be a part of those journeys through the year.
Whether tension or migraine there seems to be more and more people dealing with regular headaches. Caused by stress, weather changes, computer screen posture, hormonal imbalances with menstrual cycles and menopause...headaches were causing pain through the day, sleepless nights and feelings of fatigue and nausea.
Treatment choices included Massage Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy and Indian Head Massage. All wonderful for creating relaxation and releasing muscle tension, these therapies also increase blood flow to the brain, encourage the release of "feel good" hormones and ease pain.
The most frequent reason clients booked in for sessions was Stress. Stress that was chronic, overwhelming and causing considerable issues, both physical and emotional. Life has just become too much! To much to do, to take care of, to deal with... Deadlines, bill payments, exams, school activities...
Clients booked for Massage Therapy to help release the tension in the muscles that were holding tight and to get the natural space back between the ears and the shoulders (no, they shouldn't be attached to each other). Encouraging overall relaxation so that your stomach will release some of the knots was another reason for Massage.
Reiki sessions were popular to help ease the insomnia that was a symptom of stress. A session to help with deep relaxation in a quiet space. Where the thoughts stop whirling, the breath comes more deeply and evenly, and life feels more in balance.
Craniosacral Therapy to help the fascia that has become tightly bound and to begin an unwinding process, allowing the whole body to just open up and breathe.
Reflexology because many found it encouraged the entire body to completely relax. Relaxation to the point of falling asleep on the table!
So what would be your reason for booking a Massage Therapy or Holistic session in 2019 and moving forward into the New Year?
Do you ever find yourself holding your breath, without really realizing it? Perhaps I notice it more for myself because I am often reminding clients to "take a breath" while they are on the table.
With so many benefits, why wouldn't you take a deep breath? Deep breathing:
There are many breathing techniques that you can experiment with, here is one...
How and when we breathe has a direct impact on both our body and our mind so make yourself a note to "JUST BREATHE"!
The colder weather is definitely upon us and the season has quickly changed from Summer to Fall. Did you know that Massage Therapy can help you to easily transition between the seasons? There are so many benefits to receiving an Autumn Massage, here are just a few...
Massage Therapy Helps Relieve Anxiety, Depression and SAD
Back to school, sports, indoor activities, the '9 to 5', family holiday gatherings... all of these happenings are good, but they can leave you feeling overwhelmed and fatigued. Decreasing amounts of sunshine and daylight begin to take a toll on your mind and your spirit. Anxiety and Depression increase and can lead to exhaustion.
Massage Therapy helps to naturally balance your hormones. Lowering the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) while increasing serotonin (a mood stabilizer) and dopamine levels (helps to battle depression and increases clarity and focus).
Your Massage Therapy appointment gives your mind and body a "time out". This is a great opportunity to rejuvenate and re-energize so that you can keep your life on track
Massage Therapy is a Natural Immune System Booster
This time of year we spend more time indoors and often in the close company of others, an optimal scenario for the spread of viruses. Preventative action can help you to stay healthy.
Massage Therapy helps to boost your body's white blood cell activity, which strengthens your immune system. It also helps you to sleep better, which always goes hand to hand with staying healthier.
Get a Better Nights Sleep with Massage
A good nights sleep leads to better health, eases depression and is a time for your body to kick into it's innate self-healing mode. Massage Therapy helps to boost serotonin and melatonin production which are key hormones for regulating your sleep cycle.
Massage as a Stress Buster
When stressed our heart rate and blood pressure increase and muscles become tense and tight. Massage Therapy will help to release your shoulders from your ears, lower your heart rate and decrease blood pressure. In a more relaxed state your stress becomes more manageable.
Reduce Pain and Inflammation with Massage Therapy
Colder weather often brings an increase in muscle and joint pain, especially for those who deal with arthritis. Back to school/study/computer posture places more stress and tension on the muscles of the neck, back and shoulders which can lead to increased headaches, jaw tightness and muscle pain.
A Massage Therapy session increases blood flow to muscles, joints and connective tissues while helping to ease inflammation. Greater blood flow and reduced muscle tension eases stress on joints so that they are able to move more freely and with reduced pain. Massage helps to loosen the strained muscles that can become tense with studying as well as increased computer and desk time. Through releasing muscle tension the body moves into it's better, more natural posture resulting in fewer headaches, joint pains and neck strain.
Massage Therapy is for more than Relaxation
Summer is over and it is back to work and school, and after school activities, and raking leaves, or shoveling snow and ... Feeling overwhelmed and stressed?
A Massage Therapy session can help you to ease through the overwhelm and get you back to feeling energized and de-stressed. Plus ease out the back ache that often accompanies raking and shoveling.
Massage Helps to Relieve Stress
Stress can cause your muscles to tense, your heart to beat faster and your blood pressure to rise. All of these trigger your body's natural “fight-or-flight” response which encourages the release of excess cortisol into your system. Massage therapy helps to counteract these effects while encouraging the release of "feel good" endorphins.
Decrease Anxiety and Depression
Autumn brings ever decreasing amounts of exposure to daylight due to shorter days and colder weather that keep us indoors. Less daylight affects the release of both serotonin (mood stabilizing) and dopamine (helps to uplift and to focus) in the body. If you’ve ever experienced anxiety or depression, you know what a toll they can take. Massage Therapy helps to boost your mood and relieve anxiety while encouraging your body to release serotonin and dopamine.
Massage Can Help to Boost Immunity
With the beginning of school days and more time spent indoors it can be difficult to get away from the viruses that are floating about the office, home and school. Massage Therapy has a preventative effect through helping to boost the immune system.
Sleep Better After a Massage
A good night's sleep is vital to our overall health. Without good sleep we get cranky and depressed and our immune system experiences added strain. Did you know that massage therapy has been shown to improve sleep for almost everyone? The increased release in serotonin from a massage makes melatonin production easier and that is the hormone that regulates the sleep cycle.
Reduce Back and Neck Pain
As a therapist I see more clients with back and neck pain at this time of year (save final exams in June). Students are spending more time bent over the books or working on computer, the eight hour workday can leave you with neck and back pain from sitting or being on computer. Chronic strain on the muscles of the neck and upper back can create tension and pain. Massage Therapy can loosen the muscles, improve your posture and increase blood flow,giving your body much needed relief.
Fall Onto my Massage Table this Autumn
When it comes to our Heart health it is important that all aspects of our health are considered...rather than considering only symptoms, Holistic health therapies take into account the whole person (mind, body, spirit) and how the current state of dis-ease is affecting them.
If the symptom is heart palpatations but the underlying cause is stress, it's more important to treat the stress aspect so that the heart and mind can relax...don't you think?
Our Spirit is able to connect and communicate with us more effectively when we are relaxed, open and calm. When we nurture that connection we thrive in a place of harmony, balance and wellbeing! We become more aware of the emotional stress and physical pain in our day to day activities. In that simple awareness we can begin to heal.
Each Holistic Health practitioner will have their own ideas as to which modality is the best for their clients health. Through the past 22+ years of practice, experience has taught me that the client actually knows much better than I do... often without realizing it.
I may suggest Reiki as a generic way to relax, become calm and discover balance, however, if a client is high energy and has difficulty staying still for long periods then that one hour Reiki session is likely to drive them crazy and up their stress level.
In this situation I would be more likely to introduce a couple of modalities where a vigourous massage for the first part of the hour, to begin the relaxation process, followed by Reiki for the second half of the hour, would likely be easier and more fitting for that particular client. This is the reason I take a few minutes at the beginning of a session to understand where you, the client, are at that day.
Each of the modalities that I offer encourage the body to relax and in that relaxed state the mind and spirit are often drawn into the space of calm. It is in that relaxed state that the innate and natural healing process can begin. That is the space you want to get to in holistic health modalities to best realize and maintain your heart health.
My role in that is to listen, to understand and to facilitate in providing a session that will be of the most benefit to your overall wellbeing, whichever modality that is.
Explore the different modalities towards wellness for yourself... (click a button below)
Something I hear from others, but also experience myself is the way in which misunderstanding, hurt and hard feelings come about through the lack of emotion when communicating through technology. When reading a text or other message we tend to interpret what we think the sender is expressing, but we do so through our own filter. That filter through which we see and hear others, is what we've developed through our past experiences in communicating with the world...but, is it true?
In order for it to be true we would have to have had the exact same experiences that the sender has had in their lifetime, and have dealt with those experiences in a similiar way. Yes, there are life experiences for which we can empathize with or share the joy of, but we still do that through our perception.
When communicating face to face, and really listening to another (and I don't mean listening to respond, but really hearing) we have the benefit of facial expression, hand gestures, body language, touch and tone of voice. It creates clarity in communication and the opportunity to ask questions to be sure that you are truly understanding another.
As a hands on therapist I have that opportunity to clearly hear what a client is saying in regards to issues they may be having with their health. I'm able to watch how they are moving, listen to their tone of voice and see their facial expressions.
What I find is that it is more often those personal interactions that are shifted to technology, as we find ourselves busier and busier in our day to day lives, and often relating from a distance. The communication with those that are the most important to us, our friends and family, are left open to the misunderstandings that can be created through our filters. While I see this causing stress in clients lives, I feel it in my own as well.
Many will respond to this dilemma with a shrug and say "well, that is just how the world is now". But is that true? Perhaps it is as simple as picking up the telephone. Granted you only have tone of voice to really listen to, but that at least keeps some of the emotion in communicating. Better yet, if those relationships are important to you then making the time for face to face communication is probably more essential than keeping up with the "busyness" of life. In the long run it is likely that you'll not only experience less stress and negative emotion, but increase the release of the feel good chemicals and endorphins in your body that keep you healthy and vital.
How do you maintain clarity in your communications with others?
How do you make the time in your life for those important, in person conversations?
We're closing in on "that" time of year again...colder weather, kids back in school, more time spent indoors and those wretched cold and flu bugs begin to circulate. Before the germs and viruses become too prevalent is the optimal time to think about strengthening your immune system.
The germs and bugs will still be around, however, with a strong and resilient immune system your body is in a better position to defend itself from becoming sick.
How Can Massage Help?
There is an ever growing body of research that supports the benefits of Massage Therapy for the Immune System, especially during the winter months. Here are some reasons why regular treatments strengthen your immunity:
When it comes to strengthening your immune system regular massage becomes a necessity rather than a luxury as it increases both your physical and mental well-being.
When is it Too Late?
A number of clients will book an appointment when suffering from a cold or the flu in the belief that it will help them to feel better. The truth is that a Massage will spread the virus and will very likely make you feel worse.
If the cold or flu has already hit, your body needs to rest, not have a muscular work out.
OK. If you're a dedicated people pleaser then these tips are likely not for you, however, if you have the understanding that your self preservation means you have more energy and presence to give to yourself and others then read on...
Why is the holiday season so energetically draining? It may be the extra foods, lack of sleep and worries over spending (see Surviving the Holidays Part 1) but perhaps its something closer to your soul. Putting yourself "out there" whether entertaining or visiting takes a lot of mental and physical energy...AND...when you are out there in the midst of family, friends or shopping at the mall, already feeling drained, you can be a magnet for the negativity, fear or anger energy that others are emitting. So what can you do to take care of you?
You'll need about 10 minutes, so brew a cup of tea or coffee, find a quiet space, take out a pen and pencil and let's get to this. I'll admit that some of these suggestions are not going to be easy for some of you the first few times you put them into place but see if you can give 1 or 2 a try.
First, take out a calendar or print one for the month of December.
Next, on a separate piece of paper, write down the absolute have-to-dos on the calendar (include how much time you'll need as well). Keep this to the definites and not the maybes, such as, have to show up for work because the bills need to be paid or must take time to make dinner for the kids, otherwise they turn into hungry monsters...those kinds of things. Then fill them in on your calendar in pencil.
On another piece of paper draw a line down the centre. The left column will be labelled "Shoulds" and the right colum labelled "Needs".
The needs column is the first one to fill out and that should include everything you like to do for yourself that makes your soul sing. It can be as easy and simple as taking a bubble bath, walking in the rain, taking time with good friends, getting lost somewhere for a day with your phone turned off, going for a massage or pedicure (or both), shopping, making delicious and nutritious meals, spending time with your kids...make it as complete as possible.
Then, without scrimping, fill in how much time you need to do each of these things to make your soul sing. For instance: you could take a 15 minutes bath to soak your muscles and get going again. (Personally my soul singing time slot is an hour and that bubble bath will include music, a good book, a cup of tea or glass of wine and candle light.) Don't scrimp on your needs, remember this is just on paper.
OK, Here's the first hard part!
Take 10 needs and put them on your calendar, in ink! Then put them into your phone or whatever reminder system you use. These are dates with yourself that you will not break.
If this is too hard then try 5 to start.
These are often the "shoulds". You know those things that you really think you should do but when you think about them your energy just drains away? Those little (or big) jobs that need doing, the relative you should visit, the gift for someone ... Think about them and fill them in on the right column labelled "Shoulds".
Time to get a little reflective now... on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being a total energy drain that makes you feel bad and 10 being a soul singing experience that lifts you up and makes you feel great. Take some time to be harshly honest with yourself...no one is going to know. It really doesn't matter what people will think or say about your energy draining shoulds so be straight forward with you.
If there is any room left on your calendar fill in time for those shoulds that you rated between 7 and 10 for how they make you feel when you do them.
And now the hard part....DON'T fill in the rest, throw the list away now. So how many of you said to yourself "I couldn't do that, what would others think, say, etc?"
In this busy month when self care is your priority, how could you not?
If you're still not convinced here are some links to study, listen to or read that may help you.
Increasing Self Worth - a Guided Meditation
How to Stop People Pleasing
How to Improve Your Self-Esteem: 12 Powerful Tips
Wishing you a Happy and Fun filled Holiday Season!
Upcoming holidays have you stressed out? It's not unusual. Actually we all feel somewhat stressed over them...good and bad stress, but stress none-the-less Whether we stress about watching what we eat versus enjoying ourselves, getting enough sleep versus keeping the party going, blowing the budget versus buying something really special, feeling like a scrooge because we really can't stand the holidays...the list goes on and I'm sure you have many more you could add.
A little pre-planning, and I mean right now, can go a long way to not only surviving but really enjoying a holistic holiday season (yes, even for the grinches!). Let's put some plans into action together!
Foods, Diets, Sugars & Carbs...It All Looks Sooooooooooooo Good!
Is this a struggle for you? It is for me. There's alot of food & alcohol at holiday events that I normally don't let myself indulge in...but I have managed through the last few seasons to indulge a little and enjoy, without suffering too much the next day. Here's how...
- I usually have something to eat before I go out and that way, despite the temptations of what's being served I'm already full and eat less, if anything. Going right after work? Tuck something extra into your lunch to pull out before heading out for the evening. These ensure you're making your own healthy choices
- Sugar is what effects us the most in feeling yucky and dragged out the next day, whether from food or alcohol. Did you know that you can peruse the offerings and make a choice to choose some a little less sugary? OR that red wine, gin or vodka have much lower sugar content than other drinks? Take some time to look at the offerings and make your choices plus drink lots of water throughout and after the event. If you overdo it then be sure to have the homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica on hand to ease the next day's sufferings.
- Take a look at your calendar, when you'll be eating out and when you will stay in and plan your groceries for the week around that. Nights at home can mean lighter and healthier choices.
Sleep & Exercise...But I Just Don't Want to Go Home!
Lol...I don't care what age you are, when you're partying you want to keep going!
But the holiday season is also the season for colds and flus and lack of sleep can diminish our Immune System's abilities to fight off viruses.
- I have become a huge fan of napping. Something I never would have considered before, has in the past two years, become a favourite. There is something refreshing about taking 20 minutes or so to completely relax. It gives me so much energy for the rest of the day that I actually plan and book some time in for a quick nap a few days a week.
- They say (whoever 'they' are) that you can't store sleep. I disagree. Having one lazy day a week where I sleep in, and maybe have a nap as well, revitalizes me for the rest of the week. It's something I plan. I look ahead in my calendar to see what I have coming up and book a full day off or at least a lazy morning.
- Did you know keeping up with your exercise, yoga and meditation routines will actually give you extra energy for the party nights? AND help fortify your Immune System...so go ahead, you know you want to!
Selfcare ... What's That?
You know those special things you do just for you...come on, you know the things that pamper you and make your soul smile, make you go ahhh. Do more of those! Especially during the holiday season.
One of the best ways to hold off those feelings of overwhelm is to indulge in a little more selfcare time. Book that massage, take time for a bubble bath, pull out a book and make a cup of tea...whatever those little things are for you. You can preplan now by pulling out your appointment book and writing yourself in first! When you take care of you first then you have so much extra energy for all the others in your life and all the extra things to get done during the holidays.
The Energetic Ways to Keep it Simple!
Surviving the Holidays Part 2? Are you ready for the things that, while they may not be popular with those around you, are really good for you? Next Blog read about them and even if you only integrate one or two...you'll feel soooo much better!
It always seems that I have to get that universal kick in the butt before the concept of self-care crosses my awareness. In complete opposition to what I encourage with my clients. Yes, guilty of doing, more than being.
A recent round with a cold/flu virus knocked me back...again...seems this year I've caught everything that is going around. I probably should have received the message the 2nd time around with a cold but it took this last knock for me to sit down and reassess. My body had been talking pretty loudly before the virus...knowing I needed to do more yoga and meditation, take more time for soaks in the tub and "do nothing"time. But as many of us do, I kept putting it off until I "had the time". Well the universe made sure of that.
This time I paid attention. I took time to review just how busy I had been through the last months and in that business had neglected my being. We all get caught in the hamster wheel of "busyness" but I was more than a little surprised to see just how many hours I was logging in with work tasks each week. No wonder I was achy and sore given that both my jobs, holistic therapist and dance instructor, are so physically demanding. I let that number of hours echo around in my brain for a few days realizing I was the only one who could make the changes needed for a more balanced life.
What I find tough in that is how much I love the work that I do and how difficult I find it to say no when a client has injured themselves and is in pain, or a student is working with a choreography and has hit a wall. I realize that I'm not very different to a lot of others in the varied personal service industries, if you've been at it for any time at all it is likely because you have a passion for what you do. But again, I'm brought back to I tell others; if you get sick or disabled and can't work what is going to happen in the different aspects of your world?
So what changes have I made? With both businesses I've reduced the number of hours that I am making myself available. Saying no is difficult so I've decided during the off hours I will stay away from the computer email messages and turn the phone off. A little self preservation that will go a long ways and I KNOW that in the long run, I will have more to give to both others and myself. It is the first in a few steps that I need to implement but it is a start!
(for my adjusted hours at Hand To Health please click here)
What steps are you taking, right now, to look after you?