Monday, April 7, 2014

Four ways to control your stress levels

As much as we enjoy the emerging flowers and warmer weather of April, there can be a bit of a dark cloud hanging in the spring sky. Often the first few weeks of the month are a rush of receipts and 1040’s as the April 15 Tax deadline looms, and a rush of new schedules as the kids’ sports seasons fire up. Maybe that’s why April is Stress Awareness Month; to remind us to take care of ourselves, and not let stress go unchecked.  The following are four ways you can control your stress levels.

Meditation does not have to be about pretzeled legs, chanting, and reaching enlightenment. It can simply be about creating a moment of stillness in your mind as a way to become more relaxed. Just one minute, 60 seconds of meditation, can dramatically improve your mood, your productivity and the quality of your day.

It can be tough to make time for exercise when the schedule gets tight and tensions get high. But that's when it becomes even more important. Exercise can relieve the physical symptoms of stress like fatigue, pain, and moodiness. If you can't make time for daily workout, try to fit a 5-10 minute walk outside into some part of your day. A little goes a long way when you need it.  Plus, around here, this winter has been rough on all of us.  We all know these nice days are counted, so take advantage of the sunshine when we have it.  You will feel better right away.

Giggle and hum
Both laughter and music can lower the blood pressure. In fact, this study in 2011 showed that 3 months of laughter or music therapy resulted in the same drop in blood pressure that could be achieved with a low-salt diet, losing 10 pounds, or taking a blood-pressure-lowering medication.
So cue up the "Who's on first?" or dance around with your kids while making dinner and work some giggling and humming into your day.  Not in the mood, you can fake it until you become it.  Smile and laugh until it becomes real.  You will get the same effect.

Regular massage can improve sleep, relieve headaches, reduce muscle pain, and improve moods. Plus, massage feels good. When you feel good, you play more, work more efficiently, and take better care of the people you love. Schedule a massage now to prepare for a busy (and fun) spring!

Commit to taking care of yourself this spring! You may be surprised with the results.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tips for Shoveling the Snow the Healthy Way

2014 has started off pretty fierce.  Snow, upon snow, and even more snow.  Melrose Park, and surrounding towns have been covered in this beautiful, wintery blanket.  The cold winter air is enough to get your muscles all tensed up, and add the snow shoveling, or plowing, or blowing over and over again for days, and your back, legs, arms, whole body may be needing a break.  I've written about this before, but I've had requests to talk about it again.  Here are a few healthy tips for how to safely shovel mountains of snow off your driveway, sidewalk, and porch:

  1. Make sure you are wearing layers.  Shoveling snow is a workout, and you may start to feel it before you are even halfway done with your driveway.  Wearing layers that you can easily peel away will help you from feeling over heated.
  2. Go slow and watch your body mechanics!  You don't have to rush through it.  Take your time, do it right, and take frequent breaks if you  need to.  How do you know when you are ready for a break?  If you feel tired, take a break.  If you are out of breath, take a break.  If your skin feels like it is getting too cold, take a break.
  3. Do smaller amounts at a time.  Don't try to show off to your neighbors how strong you are and load your shovel with an insane amount of snow (your neighbors aren't watching you).  Snow is heavy, and if you are repeatedly picking it up to move it, you will get tired.  You will forget your body mechanics, and you will get hurt.  Don't fill the shovel, rather, keep it to 25-50% full of snow, or use a smaller shovel.  Do what is comfortable.  Don't try to overextend yourself.
  4. Use your legs to lift the snow.  This goes back to watching your body mechanics.  Just like lifting a heavy box, you should use the strength of your legs to lift the shovel, and be sure not to twist your back as you toss the snow into its pile.
  5. Abstain from drinking caffeine at least an hour before heading out to shovel.  Your heart rate will go up as you shovel, and drinking caffeine has been related to heart attacks when people shovel. 
  6. Abstain from drinking alcohol at least an hour before heading out to shovel as well.  Drinking alcohol can give you a sense of feeling warmth and this may cause you to underestimate the winter chill outside putting you at risk for hypothermia.

If you are not fit to be shoveling, please get someone else to do it for you.  There are plenty of neighborhood teens going around looking to make a buck to shovel your snow for you (or call your local landscaper - in the winter.  Most of them will plow out your driveway).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Massaging Babies and Toddlers

Evolving Massage

I teach infant massage, and have been massaging my own daughters since the day they were born.  They are getting older, and although they still get their bedtime massage, the touch they get during the day has changed. 

It is much easier to massage a newborn, as they really can't move around much, and you and baby get use to the same massage routine each time.   When they learn to crawl, it becomes a bit more difficult to give an entire massage routine.  So what can you do?   Play massage games!  Below are some examples of massage games to play at various stages of childhood. 

**Remember to get your child's permission before you massage them.

Crawling Around

Get on the floor with your child. If you were doing a belly rub, and your child decides it is time to crawl around, massage whatever is up and facing you.  If it is his back, then rub his back, if it is her side, then massage her arms or legs.  You don't have to go in any specific order. 

This Little Piggy

I'm sure you are familiar with this nursery rhyme.  It is a great way to give a massage for your child's toes.  Roll your child's toes, wiggle them, but don't pull/tug so hard on them.  Make sure not to tickle their feet!

Learning Shapes

My older daughter loves this game.  I stand behind her as she stands in front, and I draw shapes on her back with my hands.  She has to guess the shape.  Sometimes she lays down.  Just be sure that you don't have anything going on that can be distracting for your child, ie...TV on or radio on.  You can do any variation of this game that you find appropriate.  Learning Numbers, or Learning Letters, whatever you are focusing on with your child.

Do you have any massage games to add to this list?  We would love to hear what you do to incorporate massage into your child's life.  Let us know by leaving a message in the comment section.

Monday, August 26, 2013

5 Interesting Facts about Women's Health

5 facts you should know about women's health
This post is in honor of Women's Equality Day (August 26)

1. Women are more prone to certain health conditions than men. 
Did you know that women are more likely to experience depression, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis. Some conditions, like osteoporosis, are directly related to women’s hormone fluctuations and smaller frames. Others, like fibromyalgia, are much more common in women, but scientists have yet to figure out why.

2. Women do not always experience the same symptoms as men with the same conditions.  
While men are more likely to experience a heart attack than women, women are more likely to die of the same heart attack. The reasons may be related to the publicized symptoms: while everyone knows about chest pressure and pain down the left arm, what they don't know is that these are symptoms typically experienced by men. Women may experience dizziness, become lightheaded, or feel fatigue. Knowing the different ways conditions manifest in men and women can truly be a lifesaver.

3. Women have different risk factors than men.  
Remember that bit about women being more susceptible to stroke? In addition to the risk factors shared with men, there are also many women-specific risks, including being pregnant, taking hormonal birth control pills, using hormone replacement therapy, and experiencing frequent migraines. Unfortunately, these additional risk factors don’t always show up in educational materials.

4. Women and men sometimes react differently to drugs and other treatments. 
Women wake up faster from anesthesia. Some drugs, like ibuprofen, seem to be more effective in men than women, while others like erythromycin (an antibiotic) work better in women. And of course there are medications, typically prescribed for sex-specific issues, that can interfere with each other. As an example, acetominophen (AKA Tylenol) can interfere with the effectiveness of birth control.

5. In spite of all this, women’s and men’s bodies are more similar than they are different. 
We share 99% of our genetic material with every other person on the planet. We have the same basic structure, suffer from most of the same illnesses, and heal in the same way. A healthy diet, active lifestyle, adequate sleep, and positive attitude are beneficial to men and women alike. There are no studies showing whether massage therapy is better for any one subset of people than others. Maybe that research will be done in the future. In the meantime, if you’d like to know whether it works for you, there’s only one way to find out!

Book your appointment online to see if massage works for you.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Massage and the Barefoot Contessa

Regular Massage & Ina Garten

I love when celebrities talk about getting massage on a regular basis.  Did you know that Ina Garten, better known as the Barefoot Contessa, gets weekly massage?  I read about it in the New York Times. Have you ever watched her cooking shows?  I have (and I love it!).  Ina Garten always has this calm aura around her.  Have you noticed it too?  I bet she is so calm due to her weekly massages!  =D

Do you know what the benefits are of getting regular massage?

There are numerous benefits to getting massage, but the benefits compound when regular massage is in place.  Even a monthly massage will give you added benefits.
  •  Reduce Blood Pressure
  •  Reduce Headaches
  •  Boost the Immune System
  •  Dampen Harmful Stress Hormones
  •  Relieve Pain
So instead of 'treating' yourself to a massage once in a blue moon, make it a healthy habit to keep on a regular basis.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Speaking to Future Massage Therapists

Yesterday I spent part of my afternoon speaking with a group of massage therapy students at Everest College.  I had a blast, and I know that quite a few of them learned a bit of useful information about what to do currently as a student to prepare for becoming a professional in the field.

I gave them a bit of information of who I am, what I do, what I specialize in, and how I got to where I am so soon after finishing massage school.  I gave the students the pros and cons of working for yourself, as well as working for someone else.

The questions started rolling in from the students about various subjects relating to massage from what oils I use, to what questions employers ask at interviews, and as soon as I knew it, our time was up.

Had a wonderful time speaking with the students at Everest, and I hope to do it again in the future.



Thursday, February 21, 2013

How heavy is your glass of water?

 A friend of mine recently had this as his facebook status:
A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they'd be asked the "half empty or half full" question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: "How heavy is this glass of water?"
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything."
It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!

What is your glass of water?  

Do you sit at a computer all day, or drive long distances often?  Sitting at your computer for much of the day will put strain on your muscles.  The longer you are in that position, the more you will ache.  One long road trip, and you might be sore for a few days.  Driving for hours each day for a few years or more, your aching will seem normal, and you will forget what it feels like to not be sore or in pain.
When stress builds upon stress, it will create layers. The more stress you allow to build up, the more difficult it will become to do everyday activities.  The more your back will hurt, the more your neck feels sore. the easier it will be to become injured.  The harder it will be to heal.

How can you put down your glass?

Before you get to the point of seriously injuring your body, massage can help you feel normal and regular massage can be your way of putting that glass of water down before it starts to hurt again. Book your appointment with Melrose Muscle Therapy and put down that glass, get rid of your stress, and feel better before you feel worse.