The Benefits of Regular Massage

There’s no denying the power of massage. Some see it as pampering, others as therapeutic.  Either way, massage is a powerful part of a good healthcare routine.

It is estimated that over 90% of disease is related to stress, affecting us both internally and externally. Ideally, we would have no anxiety and pressure at all in this fast-paced world. Unfortunately, that’s almost impossible for most of us.

Scheduling regular massage can do a world of good in managing stress, and it plays a part in how healthy and youthful you’ll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for massage at frequent, consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health.

As we all know, massage relaxes helps ease stress and tension found in muscles, and supports them when they are injured, tired, or overused.  It can also help reduce muscle spasms and cramping.  Most of us have heard that massage helps flush out wastes from the body.

There’s other benefits, as well.  It stimulates and tones the skin, and increases energy and vitality.  Massage has been reported to decrease inflammation, swelling and pain in joints, & increase joint flexibility. It is said that massage releases endorphins, the natural pain regulators that increase feelings of euphoria. Receiving regular massage helps reduce chronic pain, including migraine pain. Because massage pumps oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, it improves circulation, and contributes to healthy Blood Pressure levels. It also enhances immunity by stimulating lymph flow.

Massage also  has been reported to affect your mind, and can help decreases anxiety and depression. It also can improve concentration, reduce fatigue, and improve sleep. Most of all, it just makes you feel good!

Remember:  just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn’t mean it is any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan, and work with your practitioner to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs.

Body Sense Online Issue

There is a fantastic publication put out by Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, geared to clients…Body Sense.

The most recent issue can be read online, and is full of wonderful information, including Managing Stress, the beneits of moderate pressure during massage, and more!

You can read it right here:

Laughter IS The Best Medicine

Did you know that laughter is good for you ?  Not only does it increase levels of happiness, it turns out that laughter can also be a form of exercise!  When we laugh, we tend to breathe much deeper, just like we do when participating in aerobic exercise.  If we laugh hard enough, we also engage our abdominal muscles, and can actually get a mini-workout in!

Laughter also provides several physiological benefits.  It helps to decrease stress, thereby lowering our blood pressure and increasing blood flow.  What a great way to reduce the risk of  a heart attack!   When we are less stressed, our muscles relax, and our immune system also gets a boost. It can also increase energy, and reduce pain through the release of endorphins.  Think about it…how much better do you feel when you are laughing on a regular basis?

Many years ago, I was a whitewater raft quide.  One day, in the midst of an incident, I found myself and half the paddlers from my boat sitting on top of a large rock in the middle of the river,  my boat wrapped around the rock, with rushing water preventing me from easily getting the raft off the rock.  None of my paddlers were comfortable in the water to begin with, so the entire time I worked to get the boat ready for the crew on shore to peel it off the rock, I cracked a bunch of jokes.  This helped alleviate the stress of the situation for the nervous paddlers.  Other people in our boating party were on the banks of the river thinking we were having a grand time…which  we were!  I recall after the trip my participants saying how my light attitude and ability to make them laugh helped calm their nerves.  Using humor helped to shift our perspective from feeling threatening by the situation to it just being part of the adventure.

Find more ways to increase the laughter in your life…learn some new jokes and share them with friends….go to a comedy club….learn to laugh at yourself.  Take life less seriouisly, and feel better!  Its certainly cheaper and a lot more fun than going to the doctor!

Prenatal Yoga Classes in Raleigh

Pregnancy is  a wonderful time, which can also be riddled with aches and pains.  Besides getting regular massage, it is a good idea to take part in a prenatal yoga class.

Prenatal yoga helps to strengthen uterine and pelvic muscles, improves circulation, and can aid digestion, while increasing the mother-to-be’s overall comfort.  The class consists of gentle postures, breathwork, and meditation.

I am often asked where folks can take prenatal classes.  I suggest Bliss Body Yoga.  Ellie teaches a weekday afternoon and a Saturday class.


Eat Your Veggies!

In March of 2007, the Center for Disease Control and the Produce for Better Health Foundation launched a national campaign with the slogan, “Fruits & Veggies — More Matters”, replacing the old  “Five a Day” campaign, which dates back to the early 1990s.  They have discovered that five servings of fruits and vegetables is just not enough. According to these organizations, adults need anywhere from seven to 13 cups of produce daily to reap all the health benefits of fruits and vegetables.

Many folks have a hard enough time eating 5 servings a day, which generally equals 5 cups of raw fruit or veggies or 2-1/2 cups cooked.  The thought of 7 to 13 cups a day is probably overwhelming to most folks.  How can that much produce be incorporated into the diet?  It really is quite easy.

I have been a vegetarian for most of my life.  Sometimes my diet is not that good, but generally, I can say that I easily eat 7 to 13 cups of fruits and veggies a day.  How?

Breakfast:  I usually  start my day off with a smoothie, made with  1 cup organic vanilla yogurt, 1 banana (about 1 cup) and 1 cup strawberries, or any other fuit that suits your tastes (frozen fruit is great for smoothies).  Or, slice a banana or some strawberries on your favorite cereal.  If you are a morning bagel eater, try it with sliced red onion and tomato, or spread some avocado on top of it. 

Lunch:  Generally, I eat a salad.  I like colorful salads, and often they have seven different vegetables….lettuce, cucumber, red bell pepper, shredded red cabbage, shredded carrot, red onion, celery, and avocado.  A big salad is about 4 -5 cups worth of veggies.  Sound like too much work?  Buy veggies already cut up.  Still too much work?  My “lazy” salad is mixed baby salad greens (pre-washed) with steamed asparagus or snow peas and red bell pepper, with walnuts.  still, about 4 cups worth of veggies.  If you are fortunate to live or work near a store like Whole Foods, they have a great salad bar….it may cost a little more to buy your salad ingredients that way, but it cuts down on the work.  And anyway, aren’t you worth it?  Add a harb-boiled egg, some shredded or cubed cheese, or a small handful of nuts for some protein.

Dinner?  If you don’t want to spend a bunch of time chopping fresh veggies, buy frozen…you can even buy bags of mixed vegetables for a bit a variety.  Add them to soups, or stir-fry them with your favorite protein. Steam them  and serve them as a side, sprinkled with parmesian cheese, Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids or soy sauce, or a splash of your favorite viniagrette.

Snacks:  Buy a bag of baby carrots, celerty sticks, broccoli crowns, cherry tomatoes…these all go great dipped into hummus, which you can also get pre-made.  Dried fruit is also a great snack, you can even keeep them in a desk drawer…just don’t eat too much, as dried fruit has a heavy sugar content, and can also cause stomach pains if you are no drinking enough water.

With a little bit of practice, it really is not that difficult to eat healthy meals. The more veggies you eat, the better you will feel. Mom was right….eat your veggies!

Raleigh’s Best Mother’s Day Massage Gift!

Mothers.  Where would we be without them?  They are the glue that holds the family together.  Mothers work hard, day and night, to make sure all the needs of the family are being met.  Who in your family does most of the  grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, homework supervision, and driving children to the multitude of activities they are involved with….the list doesn’t end.

Because of this, it is very important to show the mothers in your life just how much you appreciate all they do.  What better way than to give her a gift certificate that will allow her to stop running for a while and take some time for herself?

Show the mother in your life how much you appreciate her and give her the gift of relaxation.

Massage is Healthcare, Not a Luxury

Often when its time to tighten up purse strings, we look at trimming the luxury items from our budget….things that are fun, not really necessary, but that make us feel happy.  Activities such as movies at the theater,  eating out, and recreational shopping are three things that come to mind immediately when looking where to cut spending.  Others may look at their regular massage sessions and think that this is also a luxury item that can be tabled for the moment while balancing the checkbook.

Some believe that massage is something you do to pamper yourself while you are on vacation, or on your birthday or some other special occasion.  Each time you receive one, you always feel so good, and swear that you are going to schedule one more often.  But, the regular routine sets in again, and all of a sudden a year has gone by since your last massage.

Many people recognize that massage is not a luxury, but a necessity.  Receiving regular massage, whether once or twice a month,  or every other month,  helps to keep stress at a manageable level, and keep muscles from getting too tense and knotted.  Some believe that regular massage helps keep them healthy, and look at massage as a form of healthcare.

    When you feel good, it is much easier to face the things that come your way. 

It is important to recognize that your health is a necessity, not a luxury.  Studies have shown that massage can help reduce blood pressure and improve your immune system.  The stress-reducing factor alone helps improve sleep, balances out stress hormones, and improves overall energy levels. Your thinking is clearer and your moods are stable.   When you are taking care of yourself, you make a better parent, spouse, employee or employer.

 With all the ways you can benefit from receiving massage at regular intervals, there’s no way you can consider it anything but necessary!

Don’t feel like you can justify budgeting money for a massage?  One idea is to start a massage fund. Get a good old fashioned piggy-bank or a jar.  Put all your loose change in it on a daily basis. Throw in a dollar bill every few days.  Skip that cup of coffee, or rent a movie instead of going to the theater, and put the money in your massage bank instead.  In no time, you’ll have enough to pay for something that lasts a lot longer, and is better for you all around.

Remember, your health is the ultimate way to pamper yourself.

Self Care During Stressful Times

I recently read an article that stated that when women are experiencing financial stress, the first thing they let go of is self-care.  I find this fascinating, as the article stated that men continue to take care of themselves, even when money is tight.

What in our psyches makes us believe that our self-care is the least important thing in our lives?  In reality, taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do for yourself or anyone else. 

When we take care of ourselves, through eating right, exercise, massage, and participating in activities we enjoy, our stress levels are reduced, thereby making us better wives, mothers, employees, employers, and friends.  When we are managing our stress appropriately, we are less apt to get sick, forget things, or lash out at a loved one.

The tag line for my business is “You are the most important person in your life.  Treat your body right.”  Continue to do the things that help reduce stress, and you will be a better person for it.

Staying Healthy in the Cold and Flu Season

I cannot count the number of times I heard my mother (and others) say “you’re going to catch cold going outside dressed like that”, or something along those lines.  Many people still believe that more people get sick in the winter because it is cold outside, and the colder temperatures are what causes us to catch a cold.  In a sense, that is the reason.  But the reality of the situation is this:  When it is colder outside, people spend more time inside, with the windows shut. 

When more people are spending time inside, the germs that are spreading around are concentrated in a smaller area.  We touch the same objects and breathe the same air.  When the windows are closed all the time, it does not give opportunity for fresh air to flush out germs that may be lingering.  So, the air we breathe and the objects we touch are full of cold-causing germs.

Think about how many times you’ve been in an environment with sick people…at work, at home, or the grocery store. People coughing and sneezing.  It’s great when they think about covering their mouths with their hands when they cough.  But then, watch what they touch….thereby spreading their germs to doorknobs, shopping carts, office phones, the buttons on the copy machine,  or the pens the cashier in the checkout line gives them to sign their credit slip with, just to name a few. 

Call me crazy, if you wish.  I am the one you see turning the water on and off at the public sink with her elbow, using her forearm to push the lever to get the paper towel from the dispenser, and using that towel to open the door of the public restroom.  I use my own pen when I am in a store checkout line.  I wash the grocery cart handle.  I also carry antibacterial wipes in my car, and wash my hands when I get out of the store.  And I rarely get sick.   I’m also the one who notices how often people leave the restroom without washing their hands. 

One of the best things you can do to prevent getting sick in the winter is to wash your hands frequently, using plenty of soap and hot water.  If you find the skin on your hands is dry from frequent washing, then use a moisturizer afterwards. 

It is also a great idea to not touch your face…your mouth, eyes, or nose..when you are in a public space.  The germs that you may have picked up on your hands can easily infect you when you touch these mucous membranes.

Drinking lots of water is also beneficial during the cold season.  If we are dehydrated, our systems are more susceptible to illness.  Many of us tend to drink less in the winter because we are not as thirsty.  We still need the same amount of fluids regardless of what the temperature is outside.  Try drinking a nice cup of herbal tea…its warming, and will help keep you properly hydrated. 

Getting proper sleep also helps keep the immune system strong.  When your immune system is functioning properly, you are less likely to catch everything that goes around.  And, as always, eat a well-balalnced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables.  The vitamins and minerals in these choices help keep your body functioning properly.

Develop these healthy habits now, and you might just make it through the winter without catching the colds and flus that everyone else seems to come down with.

Stress Management ~~ Lessons Learned From A Cat

Recently,  I was adopted by a stray cat.  She showed up one day, and never left.  I welcomed her into mu home, and I have been reminded of certain things from having her here.  Cats really know how to manage stress.  Think about it….have you ever seen a cat that was perpetually stressed out?  They have certain routines that help keep their stress to a minimum.

Take Time to Play Every Day:  Cats have fun while exercising their bodies when they run, jump, chase after leaves, and pounce on our feet underneath a blanket.  Spending time doing something we enjoy is an excellent way to manage stress levels, especially if that activity provides us with some exercise.

Stretch regularly:  Have you noticed that when a cat first wakes up, she stretches before she moves on?  Cats are the most flexible beings I have ever encountered.  I know that when I am taking part in a stretching routine on a consistent basis, I feel a lot better, both physically and emotionally.

Spend Time in The Sun: Do you ever notice how cats will find even the tiniest patch of sun to take a nap in?  Sitting in the sun can be extremely relaxing.  The sun’s rays can warm your muscles and calm your mind.  It also has the added benefit of Vitamin D, which is not readily available through food sources. Recent studies suggest that Vitamin D helps protect our cells from stress that can cause cancer.  Of course, you don’t want to spend too much time in the sun without adequate sunscreen.

 Adequate sleep:  When you get the amount of sleep you need, it makes everything else in life a little bit easier.  Lack of sleep can contribute to high blood pressure.   Cats spend a lot of time sleeping.  Do you know many cats with high blood pressure?

Receive Massage:  Cats are all about getting petted.  After all, that is one of the main reasons they allow us humans into their lives.  Cats  enjoy giving and receiving affection.  For humans, petting an animal can reduce blood pressure, and has a calming affect on both us and our pets.  And, like cats, when we get regular massage, our levels of stress decrease immensely.

Bathe Regularly:  While cats might not necessarily like being immersed in a tub of water, they do bathe regularly.  For us humans, soaking in a bath can help reduce stress.  Immersing yourself in a tub of warm water can help pull tension from your muscles.  Add some bath salts, essential oils,  or Epsom Salts for an added benefit. 

Cats are very wise animals. If we all took a little bit of advice from them, we would all be  better off.