Improve your health with breath 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. In this post I’m going to look at some ways our breath improves our health – including some techniques you can utilize today. 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 using the breath to soothe an active mind. 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 are outside the scope of this article, but … Read More
Obligations, deadlines, appointments, meetings, work, housework, sports, everything. 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.
It’s World Music day this week (21st June), and since music is a huge part of my life, I thought I’d look at some ways it can improve our health. People use music in all sorts of ways – to focus during study or work and to distract from pain or stress such as when giving birth, in dentists, or having scans such as MRIs. We also use it for leisure whether for relaxing or to boost our performance. I know if my final running track is too soft, then I will struggle up the final hill of my usual route. I make sure I have something with a bit of ‘ooomph’ to give my legs the energy! (Thank you Foo Fighters!) There has been a lot of research into the ways in which music affects the brain, our moods and our wellbeing. Researchers have shown that listening to music not only gives us a hit of dopamine (the reward and pleasure hormone), it also gives us a total ‘brain workout’ as it lights up every area. So, it is not only pleasurable, but good for us too, keeping the brain functioning. So the top 5 ways Music can improve our health are – 1. Reduce stress and anxiety – Music can soothe us if we feel anxious. It can calm us if we feel angry. We can relax and go ‘somewhere else’ in our heads as we listen to it. As children we might have been sung to as … Read More
Gripping a steering wheel. Working a trackpad or mouse. Hovering over keyboards. And cookers…..and laundry….. You get it. We put our hands and forearms through an awful lot of stress every day. Squeezing and clenching and buckling and writing. All of it. And yet, when I start to massage a hand and forearm, I often hear, “Oh! I had no idea my arms were so sore!” It’s a common surprise, but not really a surprise. They get sore. And when they get really overworked, we end up with carpal tunnel, tendonitis, trigger finger and a whole host of other issues. The upside here: it’s pretty easy to massage your own hands and forearms. Here’s how: Start at the top. Using the opposite hand, gently squeeze the meaty, fleshy areas just below your elbow. Squeeze on the inside of your arm then on the outside. Gently is the key here, don’t be jamming your thumb in there hard and causing pain. It should feel good, and if it doesn’t, back off a bit. If you want to get fancy, roll the wrist around and wiggle the fingers as you squeeze. Do that light squeezing all the way down to the wrist, and do this a few times, up and down the forearm to cover all the territory there. Then move to the hand, using a light pincer grip, squeeze that meaty area at the base of your thumb. Lightly squeeze up and down all those finger bones through … Read More
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. 1. 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 organised fitness plan or by incorporating little acts of action that propel them forward toward their goals; such as taking the stairs and parking a little further from the building. A client of mine used to go up the stairs to the top of the building and back down in her lunchtime every day. Simple but it made a difference to her leg strength. 2. 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. If you can, use a timer or your watch to remind you because those hours will whizz by and before you know it you’ve been sat there all morning. 3. Increase your water intake. Hydrate. Do we really need to tell you why? Drinking water is good for you … Read More
It’s Spring, according to the calendar anyway, and at this time of year, my clinic starts to get busy with people who are training for events. Usually a running event, anything from 10k to a marathon, and also some long distance cycling such as 100 miles a day (sometimes repeating for several days). Professional athletes have a team of people supporting them – trainers, physios, massage therapists, psychologists. So, for the amateur, it is worth seeking some support for themselves, even just for the period up to the event. Especially if this is your first attempt at this type of event. If you ara runner that has done some races before, you may get a shock when you start the training regime for a full marathon. It really does take over your life, and with that level of commitment, the last thing you want is for some minor injury or tight muscles to become so much of an issue that you can’t take part in the event, or end up with a longer term in injury. So self-care is very important at this time. When I see people in this training period, I always ask about stretching. These days most people will do some, but I still get the occasional person who sheepishly admits that they ‘know they should, but….’ If they do stretch but seem a bit unsure as to why or what they are actually doing, or say that they have been doing the same stretches forever, or … Read More
Sometimes getting a full night’s sleep seems impossible to achieve. No matter the cause – stress, pain, your work schedule or another reason – if you are not receiving regular quality sleep it can interfere with your health. The US based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says, “Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions – such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression – which threaten our nation’s health.” March is #NationalBedMonth which gives us an opportunity to leave insufficient sleep behind and get back to the quality sleep that is so vital to our health and wellness. Here are a few ways you can start getting on track to better sleep habits. Top Tips for Getting Better Sleep Say adios to technology – well before bedtime. Smartphones are everywhere and it’s not uncommon to find them creeping into your bedroom. Turn them off. Better than that. Turn them off and keep them in another room. Nix the TV, table, laptop and whatever else has found its way into your resting space. Break the habit and allow yourself to relax on a deep level. Establish a routine that is calming and relaxing. Humans are habitual creatures. How you wrap up your day can greatly impact the quality of sleep you receive. Finish the day with warm bath or shower, a cup of tea, cool the temperature in your room, and shut out the lights. Establishing a routine can triggers a natural response that tells … Read More
Procrastinate…..me? In many ways “procrastination” is a naughty word. To some, it implies laziness, being unmotivated, distracted, unfocused and countless other trigger words. It means that we aren’t getting the things done and we are failing as contributing adults. Now maybe that’s an exaggeration, but maybe it’s not. The point is we heap a bunch of responsibilities and pressure on ourselves. There is always a deadline and there is always the next thing to complete. But where is the real procrastination? More often than not we are procrastinating on our self-care and the things that really matter. In the U.S they even have a special week for it – National Procrastination Week (March 5-11), so this week what if we embrace the holiday that is devoted to putting things off and delaying those oh-so-important tasks. Now, it might sound like the focus for this holiday is inactivity, but actually, it is more to do with being ‘active in getting a mental and emotional break’ which will lead to decreased stress and anxiety. And as massage therapists, we are all about that. And as a massage therapist, I am all for that. Here are a few ways you can indulge in procrastination. (Don’t worry, all that other stuff will still be there when you’re done.) 1. Read Ahhh, a good book – there’s nothing like it. No matter the genre, reading is the quickest escape route into another land. Once you pass through that portal there’s no turning back. And … Read More