Tag Archives: stress

Decrease Stress with Breath

Breath
Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash

Breath.

Such a simple thing.

It’s essential to life, but yet how often do we think about it?

It ebbs and flows throughout our days and we barely give it a second thought. 

Are you holding your breath right now?

(Fun Fact: when I was in Massage School, we had to put together a business plan complete with a business name. I was going to name my business “Just Breathe,” because I was pretty stressed at the time and was always catching myself holding my breath.)

Deep breathing can reduce anxiety

Implementing a deep breathing technique when anxiety strikes can make the difference between a full on attack and an unwelcome blip in your day. Deep breathing lowers your heart rate, improves circulation, and promotes clearer thinking.

You can use your breath to calm down

Let’s face it, when tempers flair it seems almost impossible to think about anything other than the current situation that set you off. Practicing simple breathing techniques can encourage calmness and help reverse the physical symptoms of anger.

TECHNIQUE for Anxiety and Calm

  • Isolate yourself from everyone for 15 minutes
  • Inhale slowly for the count of 4
  • Exhale slowly for the count of 8
  • Notice the space in between the inhalation and exhalation
  • Repeat until you begin to calm down

Take breathing even deeper with pranayama

Pranayama is the practice of regulating the breath. If practiced right, pranayama can bring harmony between mind, body, and spirit. It boosts your ability to be mentally and spiritually strong. There are very specific breathwork techniques that we’ll cover in future posts (or videos!), but here’s one to get you started. If you attend yoga classes regularly, you’ll probably find that many yoga teachers include pranayama. 

Use with meditation

Breathwork can be a fantastic addition to your mindfulness or meditation practice. 

TECHNIQUE for Meditation

  • Quiet your body and mind
  • Observe your breath as it is
  • Slow your breathing to a calm steady level
  • Concentrate on the air that moves in and out of your lungs
  • Focus on how your body feels and moves as you inhale and exhale

Much like massage, there is no doubt that breathing can encourage relaxation and healthy habits. It keeps the body/mind functioning and curbs stress. Your muscles naturally relax and you can go about your day a little easier.

Breathing may seem insignificant. It happens naturally, so we may not think about breathing all that much, but maybe it’s time we should.

 

Reboot Your Mind and Body

Do you feel stretched in a hundred different directions?

Obligations, deadlines, appointments, meetings, work, housework, sports…..everything else! More often than not, it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week for all that needs to be done. We’re on constant high alert. We’re always moving.

All this chaos can be hard on our bodies and minds. When this happens, we tend to be less mindful of our eating. Or chasing sleep like it’s a lively kitten. Or we get snippy with loved ones and coworkers.

The effects of this day to day stress are cumulative for most of us. Stiff joints get stiffer. Cranky shoulders get crankier, then one rogue golf swing or one heavy laundry basket makes it worse.

Massage is the mini-vacation you need. Without the sand in your shoes and having to pull your computer out of your backpack. Massage therapy is a reboot. It’s the control-alt-delete for your body and mind.

A massage resets your thoughts, slows your pulse, regulates your breathing, and recharges your mind.

Spend some time on one of our cozy massage tables, taking care of you. You can schedule online right here.

8 Health Benefits of Owning a Cat

Everyone knows that pet ownership comes with a boatload of responsibility, but what you might not know is owning a pet provides healthy perks as well. June is Adopt-A-Cat month and we are going to look at ways a cat can improve your life.

Tuxedo Cat

Reduce stress and anxiety

Cuddling with a feline friend can release soothing, happy chemicals in your body and distract you from any worries you might have. Since cats are relatively low maintenance and usually have a short attention span, quality time with your cat is powerful. Even a few short minutes can reduce your stress and anxiety in a big way.

Boosts your mood

Who doesn’t love the spunkiness a cat brings to the table (or in some cases ON the table)? If the cuddles don’t lift your spirits, their playfulness certainly will. Cats are pretty simple. They are able to take the most unexpected item (a plastic cap, a feather) and make it a source of entertainment for hours.

Increase sociability

Owning and connecting with a cat is a great conversation starter. No matter what type of function or event you are attending, pet ownership can be a way to bond with other people.

Decrease loneliness

Having a feline companion can help relieve feelings of loneliness. Especially if you live alone, being greeted by a cat is much more desirable than coming home to an empty house.

Reduce allergies and boosts immunity

Exposure to pet fur and dander can result in an increased resistance to allergies. Owning a cat reduces the risk of depression while also promoting socialization, playfulness, and laughter – which all works to help your immune system function better.

Reduce medical expenses

The calming presence of a cat can lend itself to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and ultimately reduced medical expenses. More and more stories are surfacing about how a cat sensed their owner was about to have a seizure and able to alert them before the episode.

Recover from trauma or grief

Difficult times or mourning is hard.  When someone talks to their pet, coupled with petting, can help them work through what’s ailing them. It might seem weird to talk to a pet, but it’s much easier to talk to someone that will listen and isn’t capable of judgement like humans are.

Promotes relaxation

Much like massage, owning a cat promotes relaxation. A simple snuggle with your cat can trigger feelings of happiness and love. This can also lead to better sleep habits and quality rest.

You might be questioning if you’re cut out for cats. It doesn’t matter if you’ve always fancied yourself as a dog lover, the companionship (and health benefits!) you experience by owning a cat is hard to compete with. If you think you have room for a feline friend in your life, check out a local shelter to see if you connect with a pet that’ll bring you much happiness and love.

6 Healthy Actions You Can Do At Work

May is Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, so we are going to talk about some ways to promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle by giving you simple actions you can do anywhere… especially at work.

Stairs

Take the stairs.
Pedometers, Fitbits, and various health tools track steps and daily mileage. One of the first things people do when they lean into a healthier lifestyle is to increase their movement. This can take the form of an actual organized fitness plan or by incorporating little acts that propel them forward toward their goals; such as taking the stairs and parking a little further from the building.

Get up.
If you’re a desk jockey, one of the best things you can do is to get up and move. Do it every hour if you can. This action can increase blood flow as well as your productivity. A 5-10 minute break can prevent eye strain, cramped wrists and stretch a stagnant body.

Increase your water intake.
Hydrate. Do we really need to tell you why? Drinking water is good for you and will keep you hydrated. Benefits also include improving digestion and clearer skin. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and sip from it often. (Bonus tip: Couple drinking water with a repetitive activity can be a good way to stay on task.)

Eat something.
Very busy people often forget to eat. We’re not talking sugary snacks that boost your energy (and then cause a crash) throughout the day. We’re talking about healthy, good-for-you snacks that keep you feeling full and satisfied without all the calories and carbs.

Breathe Deep.
The workplace can be hectic at times. Finding a moment to take a deep breath can keep the most frazzled days focused and on point. Remembering to breathe will help you reduce stress and anxiety, slow your heart rate, and just feels good.

Get a massage.
Ok, so this one is kinda hard to do on the clock. We’ve managed to find ways around this though. Scheduling a half hour massage on your lunch break might be just the thing to keep you on task and relaxed. You could go for a full treatment off the clock OR maybe you can talk “the powers that be” into recruiting some massage therapists for some seated chair massage right there in the office.

There are so many other ways to practice healthy habits at work. From balancing poses at the copier to correcting your posture at your desk. Practicing healthy habits in the workplace is tricky. Find ways to work them in and before long you won’t even notice the extra tasks that are bringing you one step closer to a healthier you!

Need a break from the office? Book a massage.

What is Ashiatsu?

Known as the “Deepest Most Luxurious Massage on the Planet,” Ashiatsu is a  profoundly relaxing massage that can be modified for light pressure to very deep. Basically, it’s a massage performed smoothly with my feet while overhead parallel wooden bars provide balance as I work.

You use your feet!?

Yes!  No worries though! I clean my feet before and after every massage and I take care to keep my feet smooth and soft.

So…you’re walking on people?…

I actually leave one foot on the massage table for balance and stability, while using the other foot to massage. By shifting my weight from one foot to the other I can easily adjust the amount of pressure to your comfort. Ashiatsu is not a “No Pain, No Gain” massage — your safety and well-being are my top concern.

Should I get an Ashiatsu Massage? 

Are you looking to relax or relieve stress? The slow, flowing strokes of an Ashiatsu massage make for a deeply relaxing experience.

Do you like firm pressure? The foot provides a more comfortable pressure, as opposed to pointy thumbs and elbows. Barefoot massage allows me to provide a deeper pressure than is possible using my hands.

Are you looking to relieve muscles aches and pains? The broad, consistent pressure of Ashiatsu is the perfect match for sore muscles.

Ashiatsu isn’t the right massage for everybody. And in some cases, massage altogether may not be right for you.  If you have any concerns, please discuss them with your therapist prior to scheduling a massage.

Some reasons you should not receive Ashiatsu:

  • You are pregnant or trying to conceive. (You’ll want to contact a prenatal massage therapist instead.)
  • You have had any type of implants in the last 9 months
  • You have osteoporosis or fragile bones
  • You are on blood thinning medication (including high doses of aspirin)
  • You are in cancer treatment or recovery (See more about oncology massage here.)

Again, if you have any concerns about whether Ashiatsu is right for you, please discuss them with your massage therapist. In most cases, even if you can not receive Ashiatsu, massage may be modified so it is appropriate for you.

 

 

How to Offer Support to Families Dealing with Cancer

bridge supports

Families are in the trenches dealing with cancer every day. It’s easy to feel helpless when friends and people close to you are struggling. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we’re going to give you some simple things you can do to help those who are facing the dreaded “C” word.

Do. Don’t ask.

It’s easy to say, “let me know if you need anything.” What the family needs is someone to say, “hey, I’m making you dinner.” Or “I’m babysitting – just tell me what day (or night).” Don’t give them the burden of asking. Just offer it.

Gift cards go a long way.

Treatments can sometimes take a patient and family far from home. Do a little research and purchase gift cards for restaurants, hotel chains and gas stations near the hospital they are using. A gift subscription to Amazon Prime or Netflix may be helpful to someone who is bedridden. Some downtime and low key entertainment might be just what they need. And, of course, a massage gift certificate paired with an offer of babysitting is a perfect way to care for the care givers.

Remember the siblings.

Cancer affects the entire family. Siblings often are trying to navigate many emotions like fear and jealousy. Commit to a sibling and offer to be there for them. Be a friend. Be someone they can lean on and talk to. If you send the cancer patient a gift, make sure you give something to the sibling and include them.

Show up

Shortly after diagnosis, a family will receive calls, cards, and meals. Anything to help soothe the heartbreaking news. After time, these things fade away and the family is still traveling the long road. It could be months or even years. It’s a financial and emotional weight. Keep them in mind and reach out well after the dust settles.

It’s hard to know what to say to a family that’s struggling with cancer. But don’t disappear. Meet them where they are. Sometimes there are no words. Just be present.  Reach out and enlist the help of others to send cards, letters and other nice/silly/fun things that will brighten the family’s day. Even an “I’ve been thinking of you” text speaks volumes.

These tips might not seem like much, but it can mean the world to a family facing cancer. Long days and sleepless nights can be an endless cycle. Little gestures of kindness can bring the family loads comfort.

3 Reasons to Get a Facial Massage

Face and Scalp Massage

Back, shoulders, neck. These are the most commonly requested areas for massage in my office. But what about the rest of your body? Here are some great reasons to give facial massage a try.

  1. Release tension in the muscles of your face.The muscles of our face do a lot of work everyday. Chewing, talking, facial expressions. But these muscles are often overlooked in favor of a longer back massage. Facial massage can ease tension in the jaw and help relieve tension headaches.
  2. Overall Stress Relief. Massage is a great stress reliever. For me, a relaxing massage of the face and scalp is Ahhh-some.
  3. Radiant Skin. A lesser known benefit of massage is that in can keep your skin looking healthy. Massage increases blood circulation to the skin and can give your face a healthy glow. Relaxing the muscles of the face can soften fine lines.

Ready to relax?  Schedule a Massage

The Importance of Touch

What have you touched today? Your alarm clock, a toothbrush, a doorknob?

We touch countless objects everyday. Can you remember the last time you touched another person? Was it today? Last week?

Do you feel anxious even thinking about touching someone? We aren’t a high touch society.  We don’t touch strangers and we may even feel weird touching our friends and family. Touch is often associated with sexuality. Maybe you worry about sending the wrong message.

Are we missing out by shying away from touch?

Why touch?

Touch can speak volumes when words fail us. We humans can communicate surprisingly well through touch. In one study, participants were able to communicate anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, sympathy, happiness, and sadness rather well.

Touch can help us feel more connected to others. It decreases stress, helps build trust, and improves our overall well being.

It is the best way to comfort someone.

Tips for touch

I’m not suggesting that you go out and hug a bunch of strangers. Context matters and some people don’t like to be touched. You may want to ask permission, but you know your relationships the best. Here are some ways you can reap the benefits of touch.

  • Hold hands with a loved one, give them a hug, or give them a hand massage. You can’t touch someone without being touched. Research suggests that the person giving a massage or a hug experiences the same reduction in stress as the person being touched.
  • Touch yourself.  You may be surprised how much you do this already. If you bang your knee, your first reaction is probably to rub it. If you have a headache, you probably massage your forehead. So go ahead, and give yourself a hug.
  • Cuddle up with your pet. Yep, petting your cat can decrease your stress.
  • Get a professional massage. We massage therapists are masters at communication through touch. Massage has a reputation for digging into to your muscles and “breaking up knots.” Sounds pretty aggressive, but massage is wonderful at comforting, soothing anxiety, and easing stress. Words fail to describe how great a professional massage is at telling your body it’s okay to relax and just be. You’ll just have to try it for yourself.

So don’t be afraid to reach out and touch someone!

Got Pain from Sitting at a Desk?

Got Pain from Sitting at a Desk-

“Don’t your hands hurt?” I get asked this pretty often. But they don’t. Not really. If they start to hurt, I change how I’m doing things.

You want to know when my hands (and my neck, and my back) really hurt?  When I had a desk job. 8-hour days working at a computer, hunching, doing mostly data entry. Being so “busy” I worked through breaks and ignored my pain. Until it got really bad. Learn from my mistakes. Pain is your body’s way of saying “pay attention.”

Change it up

As much as you can, change up the way you do things. Stand up while you’re talking on the phone. Get a headset for your phone, so your neck isn’t in a weird position all the time. Raise your computer monitor (or set it on top of some phone books) so you don’t have to hunch over to see it. Starting to use my mouse left-handed made a huge difference for me. Sure it was difficult at first, but it gets easier if you keep it up.

Move your body

Get up and take a walk around the office. Do some neck stretches while you’re talking on the phone.

I remember feeling really silly, but I started doing yoga at my desk. At first, I would wait until the person across the hall from me got up to make copies. But then I didn’t really care. I would rather feel silly than be in pain! Or, get your coworkers involved. Take your “coffee” break together and do yoga instead.

Here are some of my favorite yoga videos to get you started. They come from YogaDownload.com*. The site offers several free 20 minute classes, classes you can  download for a few bucks, or monthly and yearly subscriptions. I love the variety and the convenience of being able to “take yoga anywhere.”

Case of the Mondays: This free class is a series of standing and seated yoga poses. What I really love about this one is that they demonstrate doing yoga in office attire.

Neck and Shoulder Relief: This class is free as well. You can do the entire sequence while sitting at your desk.

Therapeutic Yoga for Wrists, Shoulders and Neck: This is my current favorite class. It’s very thorough and all done while sitting.

Remember to put yourself first

What you do is hard work. It may seem easy, but sitting at a desk all day is difficult. On top of that, your job is probably stressful. Take care of yourself first.

Take frequent breaks, move your body, and get regular massage.

Your body will thank you!

*The links to yogadownload classes are affiliate links. Be assured, I only recommend products and services I actually use and value.

 

 

Strategies for Coping with Caregiver Stress.

What happens when a family member falls ill, and you find yourself taking on the role of caregiver?

There are many circumstances under which we may find ourselves in the role of caregiver for a sick family member. Your life can change overnight, and everything can be thrown in to chaos. Adding to the stress is the fact that you didn’t choose this. If you’re not careful, it can take a toll on your health and wellbeing. How can you deal with the stress and exhaustion that comes with filling this very demanding role? Continue reading Strategies for Coping with Caregiver Stress.