Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November is Military Family Appreciation Month

Imagine a normal day. You wake up, grumble about not having enough sleep, and reluctantly get out of bed. Today your day is routinely filled with work, errands, and other ordinary tasks. It’s nothing you would consider special.

Between grocery shopping and getting the oil changed in your car, you have a laundry list of things to accomplish and Junior has a soccer game tonight. And that’s all before you have a chance to get dinner on the table.

A typical day for us is filled with seemingly mundane tasks that really are quite amazing when you compare to what other families - across the country, across town, across the street - are going through.

I’m talking about military families.

I’m talking about the families that live through all those mundane tasks but have much higher hurdles to clear. Each situation is different but they all hold a common thread; a spouse in the military.

When a serviceman or woman is deployed their spouse has to keep things together while they are away. They pick up the reins for every imaginable task. Household chores, wiping noses, paying bills, playing with the kids, vehicle maintenance…. every last project falls squarely on their shoulders.

In 2012, military families across America, more than 900,000 children experienced the deployment of one or both parents multiple times.[1]

When the a military member is not deployed, their spouse is subject to the schedule given to them; countless hours of PT, missions, and all the military work involved. In some cases, the spouse is forced to leave their job - reducing their household income - due to relocating, having children, no childcare, and other reasons.

Military families (also known as "dependents") endure quite a bit of moving, too. Transferring from base to base can raise lots of challenges. Each new place requires learning the area, finding and making new friends, and countless other adjustments. Their lives are filled with change and uncertainty. And if there are children involved (usually there are), it creates instability sometimes leaving them feeling insecure.

A 2012 demographics report states active duty members with children shows 42.4% of those children are between the ages of birth and 5 years old. [2]

Military family members are faced with bittersweet moments too. Junior takes his first step and they can’t revel in the moment like you and I could. The excitement and thrill of this new feat can easily be followed up with a longing for the service member missing from the moment. And we’re not even talking about holidays.

Dependents are the built-in support system for our military members. They offer the connection to home, offering their love and a letter right when the troops need it most.  But it doesn’t stop there, military family members are there when those in service returns from deployment. They are the ones who help pick up the pieces. Like a behind-the-scenes crew, trying to clean up the mess and sometimes at a loss as to what they can do.

Military families are the backbone of this country.

They are constantly adjusting to someone else’s schedule and agenda, they pick up and move at a moments notice. And often they sleep in a half empty bed with a cold, vacant spot waiting for they deployed. Military spouses pick up every last toy, fold every last sock, and wipe every tear. They do whatever needs to be done and often they do it alone.

When I think of military families I think of strength, resiliency, and courage. I think of patience and an undying support system.

I also think of the heartache and sacrifices they make. Not an easy thing to do. Friends are often hard to find and keep. And most often relatives live far away - so I have to ask, who supports them.

During Military Family Appreciation Month, I want you to look beyond feeling gratitude for the mundane task you need to get done. I want you to reach further than recognizing the ability to lay your head down at night feeling utterly safe.

I want you to look at the people who support our military on every level imaginable.

Make an effort to show your appreciation for military family members. It might come in the form of dropping off a casserole, helping them plan a budget, fix a painted shut window, getting them a massage (it is free for you to do, just send them to this link), or offering to take their kids for a few hours. Look at the many ways you can help out and DO it.

So, in honor of Military Family Appreciation Month, we’d like to say thank you to all the military families who are on the front lines of supporting the men and women who protect us.

Monday, November 17, 2014

5 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

Here is a list of ways you can reduce the amount of stress you feel around the holidays.
      1. Be thankful for what you do have.
        During the holidays it is easy to get caught up in the I need and the I want mentality.  Do you really need the newest gadget?  If you don't get it, will you be super disappointed?  Focus on what you do have and realize that so many people in the world don't have that.  Be thankful, you will feel better.
      2. Ask for help.
        You don't have to do everything yourself.  Ask for help from your friends and family.  Work together if you can and spend time together.
      3. Laugh.
        Have you heard of laugh therapy?  How about fake it till you make it?  That is the idea here.  Even if you don't feel like laughing, just start laughing.  Eventually, that laugh will become a real one.  Laughing triggers the body to release endorphins and you will start feeling better.  Laughter really is the best medicine!
      4. Take time for yourself.
        Many people, especially during the holidays, take care of so many other people that they forget to take time for yourself.  Don't be that person.  Make sure to schedule a little 'me' time. 
      5. Say no.
        Did you overload your next month with way too many activities?  Did you sign up to volunteer and realize you can't possibly meet your obligation and have time to sleep too?  It is okay to say no to some activities, and yes to others.  You don't have to say yes to everything that comes your way.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Come in for some relaxation and make your next massage appointment today.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Does Your Neck Feel Sore from the Winter Cold?

It is starting to get  a bit chilly outside, and I have been seeing many more clients complaining of their neck being sore.  Did you know that it could be due to the cold?  When we are cold, we automatically raise up our shoulders to keep warm.  Doing that for a while can cause a real pain in the neck

Here is a way to help your neck feel a little better until you can get in for your massage appointment.  Get a long tube sock and fill it with rice.  Knot off the open end so the rice can't escape. This will be your homemade heated neck roll.

Place the neck roll in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute.  Just long enough to warm up the rice, but not long enough to cook it.

Shake it up to even out the temperature, and then lay it around your neck on top of your shoulders.  The heat will help relax your muscles, and the weight will help to ease the tension in your neck.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

De-Stress In A Minute

"For fast acting relief, try slowing down."

-Lily Tomlin

It seems that no one has time anymore and we are all busier than ever.  It is important to take a moment for yourself each day.  Here are a few ways to de-stress in a small moment's time and slow down so you can calm down.

1. Take a deep breath.
Count to 6 on your inhale.  Count to 12 on your exhale.  Place your hands on top of your head and take another deep breath.

2. Shout out loud for a second. 
Make sure you are someplace that you will be able to do so.  Maybe head to an empty parking lot and sit in your car to just let it all out.

3.  Close your eyes and imagine a relaxing place. 
Take a mental vacation from where you are.  Close your eyes and imagine the most serene place and picture yourself there in this very moment.  With your eyes still closed, pretend to look around and take in all the peacefulness around you.  Pay attention to the details.  What do you see?

4. Play your favorite song.
Do you remember how you felt when you were younger and you heard your favorite song on the radio?  Music can instantly change your mood and get you to feel happy, relaxed, or excited.  So put on some upbeat music and get up and dance!

5. Clean up a cluttered area.
This could be the top of your desk, or your bedroom.  Whatever it is, you will feel better once it is done. Set a timer and take just 5, 10, or 15 minutes to just work on this one task.  You will be surprised how much you can get done when you are focused on one thing and not multitasking.

Do you have anything to add to this list?  Let me know what you do to relax when you only have a few minutes.

Monday, August 4, 2014

I'm too busy to relax

Busy-ness is the trend these days. People carry over-packed schedules like winning trophies. “I’m SO busy at work!” “How do you have time to do that? I’m too busy to read/watch TV/exercise/do anything fun.” “I can’t get monthly massages I have too much to DO!”

Too much “busy” could be making you tired, sick, and probably cranky.

When do you relax? RELAX. “Relaxation” is a word we hear often, but don’t know always know what it means. Here, I’ve compiled some options for you.

re·lax  verb \ri-ˈlaks\

1: the state of being free from tension or anxiety.
2: a way to rest and enjoy yourself
3: recreation or rest, especially after a period of work.
4: the loss of tension in a part of the body, especially in a muscle when it ceases to contract.
5: something that you do to stop feeling nervous, worried, etc.

More importantly, what does relaxation mean to you?
If you’re not a “hot bath and good book” kind of person, you probably cringe at Calgon commercials and spa photos of people with stones piled on their backs. But here’s the beauty: You can make your own definition of relaxation.

It’s your job to figure out what you enjoy doing, what makes you smile, and what makes you feel like you are a hundred miles from work or home jobs?

Then, make time for that.
You have a schedule. Write in special time for a hobby, a nap, massage, your favorite show, a weekend getaway, a new class, ANY thing you enjoy can be relaxing.

Need someone to give you a reason? Want permission?
August 15 is National Day of Relaxation. Yes, it’s a thing! And it’s just begging for celebration. Here are some ideas:

  • Spend part of the day alone.
  • Spend part of the day with your family, doing ONLY fun stuff.
  • Meditate
  • Devote time to your hobby.
  • Sleep in. Or get up extra early. Whichever excites you!
  • Arrange for take-out or pre-cooked meals all day.
  • If you’ve always wanted a day to “not leave the house” today’s the day! Wake when you wish, eat when you’re hungry, stay in your jammies and read a book.

Taking care of you is important. And, self-care puts you in a better frame of mind to take care of the people who depend on you. So find the thing that mellows you out, and make it happen!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Let's Celebrate Great Dads!

Some applause for great dads
Gone are the days of dad working all day to come home to a pipe, slippers, and the evening paper while the kids sit waiting for dinner. This generation of fathers and step fathers are “all in” when it comes to child-raising. There’s more to a dad these days than little league coach. Men who play an active role in their children’s lives deserve a little recognition.

Whether they are baby-wearing or carpooling, more dads are helping care for families “in the home,” some even full time. According to the US Census Bureau there were 93,000 stay-at-home-dads in the United States in 2000. Fast forward to 2012 and they reported 189,000 stay-at-home dads and it’s not only moms at “Mommy and Me” anymore!

Dads who work in the home chase kids, hold babies, sing lullabies, clean messes, play taxi driver, and juggle after school schedules. They get stressed out, touched out, and overwhelmed. These guys need “me time,” too. What does he do for down time? Video games, hunting, fishing, workout, massage?

Stay-at-home-dads aren’t the only awesome ones, though. Many working fathers don’t take a break when they arrive home but dive right in to home life. Cooking, cleaning, and playing with the kids is more than “pitching in,” it’s a part of life with a family. More and more dads share in the sometimes exciting, sometimes mundane activities called life.

Weekend dads are important, too. Sometimes circumstances arise in which a family lives apart. Trying to pack a week’s worth of time into a weekend can’t be easy. Going from a full house to an empty nest every other week can have an emotional effect, especially if they live miles away.

What can you do for the special man in your life who shares your home, your children, and your life? You could find tickets to his favorite team’s game! Maybe there is a concert coming up he’d like to go to. Send him on a fishing/boating/hunting trip. Slip a massage gift certificate into the stack of homemade cards from the kids. Heck, make him a card yourself! Cutting and painting construction paper sounds fun and he’ll know you’re “thank you” is coming from the heart! 

Melrose Muscle Therapy is also hosting a Dad's Day contest and there is only a week left to enter.  Let us know who you know that is the Best Dad and have a chance to win some great prizes. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Mother's Day to all 'Moms'!

Whether you are a mother, have a mother, or know a mother, Mothers Day is time to honor those who've played this important role. Stepmothers, birthmothers, and godmothers too. While there are as many ways of being a mother as there are moms in the world, one thing is certain: it's a tough job, but a rewarding one. Here are just three ways massage might be of service to the mothers in your life.

Expecting Mothers
Prenatal massage is a growing field, as training programs for massage therapists increase and old myths about massage during pregnancy fade. Massage can ease the aches and pains associated with increased weight, loosened ligaments, and shifts in center of gravity. There are all kinds of cushions and props that can help pregnant women relax comfortably on a massage table, no matter what their dimensions. Contrary to the old tale, massaging the feet, ankles, back, or even stomach will not cause miscarriage when done appropriately.

Of course, massage therapy, while helpful, isn't a cure-all. Massage can't stop that nosy neighbor from touching your belly every time she stops by, or cravings for hot Cheetos and root beer at 2:00 AM. But it can alleviate some of the symptoms that naturally come with growing a new human being, leaving expectant mothers more free to focus on the hope and joy that make pregnancy such a fabulous stage of life.

Learn more about our Pregnancy Massage Packages here.

Adoptive and Foster Mothers
Biological mothers typically get a nine-month period to prepare for parenthood. Foster and adoptive mothers might wait and wait for news … then find themselves parents of a tot or teen virtually overnight. Plenty of mothers juggle soccer practice with homework, but fewer have to add court dates and social worker visits to the mix. Not only can these realities place unusual stress on foster and adoptive moms, their uncommon nature means that it can also be harder to find much-needed understanding and support.

Massage can help manage this stress, for all members of the family. Symptoms of stress, such as headaches, high blood pressure, and anxiety, can all be alleviated by massage. And for children who come from backgrounds where touch was lacking (or inappropriate), pediatric massage can help them develop a healthy relationship with touch. When foster and adoptive mothers learn some of these techniques for themselves, it can also be a way for children and their new parents to bond.

Mothers of Young Children
Unlike pregnant mothers, who often feel like their motherhood draws too much attention to themselves, society tells mothers of young children that their role is all about their children first, second, and last. Getting up in the middle of the night to change a leaking diaper? Chasing a toddler into the street? Taking time off work to care for a kindergartener with an ear infection? No matter, it's not about you, mom. It's about your kids.

It's true, to a point. Who wouldn't make sacrifices for their children? But one factor that can contribute to a healthy, happy childhood is a healthy, happy mother, and every person deserves to take steps towards their own well being, mothers too!

Massage therapy can help the body rest and recuperate from the effects of a busy schedule, interrupted sleep, and the physical strain of lifting and interacting with growing children. It also provides precious time for moms to focus on their own needs, apart from the responsibilities of mothering. And for those mothers who find themselves dealing with the very real condition of postpartum depression, massage may also play a role (although far from the only one) in an appropriate treatment plan.

Learn more about our Infant Massage Classes here.

Moms who are not moms
For women who don’t have children, by choice or circumstance, Mothers Day can be melancholy. There is great joy in being a Favorite Aunt, Baby Spoiler, and Super Supporter of all her friends with children, but we don’t have specific days to celebrate those roles. Women without children don’t always get all that snuggle time with little ones that raises oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins. Massage is a great way to get the happy chemicals pumping.  If there’s a woman in your life who loves your children, or makes your job as a parent better or easier, Mothers Day is a great time to recognize her.

There's no one way to be a mother
Despite what the sensationalist headlines about the Mommy Wars would have us believe, and there's no one way to take care of your health and wellness. Whether the mother you're thinking of needs a sports massage after her next marathon or a deeply relaxing hour so she can doze, it's all worthwhile. So this Mothers Day, let's do all our moms a favor and call a ceasefire, honoring them in whatever ways make sense for their own lives.

Get your favorite mom(s) a massage gift certificate here.  It’s easy, fast, and a gift she’ll love!

And to the mothers out there reading this, on Mothers Day and every day … here's to you.

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).