by Lovena Suson | Apr 5, 2021 | Stress Management
How to Relax in Less Than 30 Minutes with Reflexology
As with my book series, The Self’Treating Patient”, I strive to impart helpful tips and strategies to address basic health concerns. Stress relief is what we can all use during these times. Being cooped up at home and not be able to do the activities we once were so free to enjoy.
One topic that is interesting to me is self-healing. When we are saddled by day-to-day life concerns, finding simple ways to help ourselves can go a long way towards living life the best way we can. One interesting alternative therapy is reflexology. There are practitioners who offer this service. For this topic, however, I’d like to share very simple strategies to calm yourself, alleviate the effects of stress.
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The growing popularity of reflexology proves that many fitness fans understand how important their feet really are. Healthy feet enable you to stay physically active and practice good posture, which can protect you from headaches, back pain, and other health issues all over your body.
Reflexology is an ancient healing art that applies strategic pressure to feet, hands, and ears. The underlying theory is that these areas correspond to various systems throughout your body. For example, when you massage your heels, you’re also helping to align your pelvis.
Studies show that reflexology can be effective for relieving anxiety and physical discomfort. On the other hand, its track record is less convincing when it comes to serious conditions like diabetes or cancer, so it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations.
With that in mind, see how you can use these tips to enhance your health and well-being by just rubbing your feet.
How to Practice Reflexology
TIPS: ***Identify which area you want to work on, look and refer to the charts above. Look for the correct reflex spots on your foot. Apply gentle pressure to the area similar to getting a foot massage.
***Contact to points should feel firm, but not painful. Use your fingers and thumbs to gently work the area for several minutes.
***The amount of pressure should just be enough that it can be tolerated, but maintain the pressure or go into circular motions around the area.
***The pressure you apply to these points will stimulate your body to create endorphins that interrupt the pain cycle and relieve stress.
1. Create a peaceful setting. Play soft music and combine your reflexology with aromatherapy. Light a candle and rub on fragrant skin lotion. Sit or lie down anywhere that’s comfortable such as your bed or a chair. Place a cushion behind your knees to avoid hyperextension.
2. Be gentle. Reflexology is safe for most adults as long as you avoid pressing too hard. Take care of bones and joints. Stop if you feel a cramp. Learn appropriate techniques before trying to use your knuckles or props which can be more intense than using your fingers and thumbs.
3. Loosen up. It’s a good idea to stretch first. Wiggle your toes. Lift your feet up starting at the ankles. A good simple trick is to write the alphabet with your ankles, all uppercase letters. Written with both feet beginning with A all the way up to Z. This helps move many muscles in the foot, ankle, and legs. Do ankle pumps, which is also a great exercise for improving circulation in the legs, even utilized for preventing blood clots.
4. Twist around. Give your feet a hug to wring out tension and make your feet more flexible. Wrap your hands around the middle of your foot, and turn them slowly in opposite directions. Repeat the wringing a little higher, and a little lower until you cover your whole foot.
5. Stroke your feet. Place your palm on top of your foot, and stroke it from toe to ankle. This follows the normal blood circulation from the lower extremities towards the heart. Repeat on the bottom side. You’ll stimulate your circulation and raise your energy levels.
6. Consult a professional. Chiropractors and physical therapists are some of the many health care practitioners who offer reflexology. Schedule a session to receive more extensive treatment and learn methods you can practice at home.
Additional Foot Care Suggestions
1. Exercise your feet and toes. When was the last time you gave your feet a workout? Take turns walking on your heels and your toes. Try lifting each toe separately and lowering it back down. Here are simple exercises that help strengthen the foot and toes, improve their flexibility. Another benefit of these exercises is improved balance, as stronger toes can grip the ground surface better.
A. Towel Curls – Place a towel on a tile, wood, or laminate floor. Place feet on top, the heel stays in contact with the floor: then curl toes to bring towel under your feet. Repeat as many times as you are able.
B. Heel and Toe Raises – this exercise helps strengthen ankles, stretch the calves, and lower legs which are relevant for balance and gait stability when walking.
Holding on to the counter for support, raise your heels up, on tippy toes. Hold for 5 seconds. Then, go on your heels, raising toes up, off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 or more times.
2. Wear comfortable shoes. Do your toes have enough room to move around? Properly fitted shoes can protect you from blisters and provide adequate support for your arches. Are you flat-footed, or possess a high arch? Choose footwear accordingly. If shoes are uncomfortable, use shoe inserts to add more cushioning to shoes you already have. This can also save your back.
There is about 3-4 times your body weight load that is transmitted to the spine upon heel strike. This is when the heel comes in contact with the ground when walking. An extra heel cushion or insert can decrease this load to the spine.
Many types are available to purchase. Gel cushions, memory foam, and other shock-absorbing materials. Check out heel inserts and read reviews or other information about them. This is a cost-effective remedy to easing the impact on the feet and spine.
3. Change your socks. Socks can protect you from blisters and odor. Replace them when they wear thin or sprout holes. For more vigorous or active participation in sports, opt for more cushions or one with breathable material that can repeal moisture. Socks complement the use of your shoes.
4. Take a break. Prolonged standing or other strains can leave your feet hot and throbbing. Try elevating them on a pillow or plunging them into a herbal bath.
5. Stay hydrated. Your feet need moisture to fight dry skin. Drink water throughout the day. Dab on moisturizer daily, especially if you feel a blister starting.
6. Talk to your doctor. While reflexology is safe for most adults, your doctor can advise you about conditions, such as pregnancy or diabetes, which may make you more sensitive to touch. Your doctor can also refer you to a podiatrist or other specialists when needed.
Use basic and simple reflexology to help your body relax and heal itself. It’s a quick and easy way to reduce stress, enhance your posture, and strengthen your immune system.
Until the next issue!
by Lovena Suson | Apr 4, 2021 | Stress Management
Relieve Stress with these 4 Great Tips
Stress can come in many forms and shapes. It happens in everyday life. Traffic, being pressed for time, health concerns, relationships, family, a job can be sources of stress. If allowed to rule your life, it can cause psychosomatic disorders that can manifest in health issues.
Do you feel more stressed out than ever? Is your work life so hectic that you’re starting to burn out? Just faced with a financial crisis? How about the recent pandemic and how it affected your life? I don’t even want to delve into that one. All of us have been affected by it one way or the other.
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Unfortunately, it is up to us to deal with this. Short of paying big bucks for a mental health therapist, let me share easy ways to help alleviate stress. The little things and adaptations we make in our lifestyle can make a big difference. Situations may differ but our bodies react similarly to the physiological effects of stress. So here goes.
If you’re desperately seeking peace and relief from the hustle and bustle of your demanding life, the good news is that you have the power to adopt simple strategies you can use to combat stress.
I am realistic. You or I may never eliminate stress entirely. I talk to people every day with varying degrees of stress. In fact, a life without stress would be pretty boring. The challenges of life often make it worth living. However, employing a few simple strategies to reduce stress will increase your peace and happiness, even in the midst of life’s storms.
Working out can be a great way to relieve stress. Whether you go jogging, pump some iron, or hit the punching bag for several minutes, the physical activity allows you to channel all the frustration you’re holding inside and release it in a constructive manner. Walk it off: by yourself or with someone. You can never underestimate walking outside and seeing nature, the sun, great weather, and just beholding nature in itself.
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Water has a great calming effect on the brain. It may be because we are closely related to water as organic beings. It gives you time to think, promotes circulation that can also reach your brain, filling brain cells with more oxygen for it to function better. Oxygen is found in our red blood cells. With better circulation, oxygen can get circulated better which helps your body get revitalized.
Music can greatly influence your mood. Among its many benefits of boosted memory, it can lighten your mood, reduce anxiety, and even improve your response to pain. Have you heard of how music calms down children with attention deficit disorders? (ADD).
Music therapy has become relevant to alternative therapies for different ailments. Sometimes, all it takes to gain peace and focus is a few minutes of listening to music that soothes you inside. Different types of music affect your mood in different ways and pick a style that suits your emotional need of the moment can dramatically lower the level of stress you feel inside.
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When you’re feeling stressed, try upbeat music. When you’re down in the dumps, you want something that’ll perk you up and lift your spirits. Few things can lift your mood faster than music. How about picking up that guitar you haven’t strummed in a while? Or tinkering with those white and black keys on your keyboard? Even singing karaoke, or just singing along with the music of your favorite artists can make a difference. Experience music in all its forms. YOu have your own unique way of responding to the music of your choice.
When one is stressed, there are two behaviors in response. To overeat, which can risk unhealthy weight gain, or to under eat, where one can be undernourished and not get the nutrients your body needs to fight stress.
Heard of the proverbial ice cream eating while watching TV after a relationship fail or conflict? Yup, that’s very common. When one feels stressed, there is that feeling of wanting to console that empty feeling through instant gratification such as eating. I have heard of people who shop and overspend, only to realize they don’t really need things they have bought. Even go into debt as one does not think clearly when stressed. Emotion rules. Impulse buying can also be the result of this feeling of wanting to fill a need or an empty feeling.
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If your body isn’t getting the proper nutrition it needs, you’re more likely to feel tired and stressed out.
Breakfast is the most neglected meal of the day for busy people. It is called as so, “Break – the ” fast” from sleeping overnight. Fill that belly and feed that body so you have the energy you need to face the day. And make sure it’s a good one too. Balance out your carbs and protein. It does make a difference. Eating healthy prevents from being sluggish, clouded, droopy, and slow to respond to situations or decision-making.
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Meals and snacks are fuel for your body. Are you eating the types of foods that contribute positively to your health?
Keep track of what you eat in a daily log. This simple step will make you more aware of what you’re eating, which often leads to automatically making healthier choices, like these:
- Drink as much water as possible.
- Add as many fruits and vegetables as you can to your diet.
- Look for tasty, healthier alternatives to junk food.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
Small changes in your diet can make a big difference in how you feel and how effectively you handle stress.
Breathing is life. Good gas exchange ensures that your body gets the oxygen it needs to function better. This means move better, think better.
If you learn to control your breathing, you can control the level of stress you feel. Slow, deep breathing takes practice, but a little effort goes a long way. Once you learn to take slow, deep breaths from your belly, you’ll have an unstoppable weapon against stress.
Breathing plays a big part in our lives. Even beyond the obvious biological necessity, it comes into play when exercising, giving birth, easing fears, and even releasing stress.
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Deep breathing slows your heart rate down and relaxes your muscles. It also helps you to calm down mentally. Shallow breaths create a feeling of anxiety within you. Deep breaths fuel your body’s cells with much-needed oxygen and your mind with much-needed confidence in the midst of the challenges you face.
BREATHING TIPS TO OPTIMIZE BENEFITS:
Breathe in through your nose slowly as if trying to fill in your lungs completely. Then, as you exhale, purse your lips as if in a kiss, and count 3 seconds mentally before you completely let all the air out. Repeat this about three times at a time, throughout the day and whenever you get a chance. Doing this deep breathing at least 10 times is also known to lower your blood pressure for a bit.
You can in fact try taking your blood pressure before you do this breathing exercise. After about 10 times, take your blood pressure again. Breathing allows capillaries to open and improve blood flow throughout the body.
With these simple strategies, you can learn to practice peace wherever you are.
Stress is all around us and can come in many shapes and forms. Instead of being tossed about in the midst of your storms, you’ll stand strong and handle challenges more effectively. Life is a gift. Use it wisely.
Experience the confidence and inner peace you deserve by applying these simple stress management strategies today.
Until the next ish!
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by Lovena Suson | Mar 23, 2021 | Health & Fitness, Stress Management
Discover The Power of Deep Breathing
With the current health environment, we have all heard about the effects of COVID 19 on the respiratory system. The need for ventilators and a continuous supply of oxygen just to survive was common. For survivors who lived through the corona-virus onslaught, their fight was fierce. Unable to breathe on their own and the anxiety of other complications are known facts.
It makes one realize that something that we enjoy for free every day can mean the fine line between life and death once your body succumbs to the coronavirus.
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Deep breathing techniques are often cited as an important tool that can help you immediately alleviate stress, anxiety, frustration, and anger. This is also especially useful to the COVID 19 survivors.
Many people have difficulty practicing deep breathing exercises because they either don’t believe that it can help or they try once and are not motivated to try again. No judgment, as I myself am guilty of forgetting this very simple activity that can make a difference in how your day goes. So I have programmed my watch to remind me to take deep breaths every hour.
The same is true for breathing exercises, however, as is true for many other things: practice makes perfect. It is a surprising fact that many of us do not really know the proper and ideal breathing pattern! Singers however are trained to breathe using the diaphragm efficiently for volume.
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The more you get into a routine of practicing breathing exercises, the better you will become at doing so. This will give you the ability to reduce stress, anger, and frustration with more ease than before.
Why do breathing exercises work to relax our bodies and minds?
The body has two systems within the nervous system: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system.
Both of these systems contribute to the reasons why deep breathing exercises can calm us down.
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Discover how the nature of our physiological systems contributes to the positive effects.
The Fight or Flight Response
Our biological systems have a natural ability to react during times of stress, especially in those situations where we face a significant threat. As a matter of survival, humans have this innate ability. In prehistoric times, humans came face-to-face with all sorts of wild animals, such as bears or tigers.
In response to such a threat, our body activates the Fight, Flight, or Freeze Response, or FFF reaction.
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the physical sensations we get when we feel stress, anxiety, or severe anger and frustration. These can include sweaty palms, increased heart rate, and faster breathing. The activation of the FFF response is preparing our bodies to either run, fight the threat, or freeze.
The problem with the activation of the Fight or Flight Response is that it can be activated whenever we perceive that we’re up against a threat – whether we really are facing a threat or not.
Even though we experience negative situations in our lives, this does not necessarily make them a threat to our physical well-being.
Situations involving personal relationships, work responsibilities, work promotions, verbal arguments with others, and bad news about your health or the health of loved ones are just a few scenarios that can trigger the flight or fight response.
Despite the fact that all of these situations may be emotionally hurtful or painful, our body’s nervous system may interpret them as physically threatening. As such, our bodies activate the natural FFF response to get us ready to fight or run away.
Triggering the Opposite Reaction
In order to tell our biological systems that the situations we’re facing don’t require a fight or flight response, we must trigger the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system produces the opposite response to the FFF, causing a relaxation response instead.
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One other important aspect of the Fight or Flight Response is the way that it diverts your blood flow. To prepare you to fight or to get ready to run from a perceived threat, blood is diverted away from the brain to the extremities in the body, such as the arms, legs, hands, and feet.
Deep Breathing Reverses This Process
Breathing exercises send the blood supplies back from the extremities (since we’re not concerned with running or fighting) to the areas of the brain that allow us to think, reason, and problem solve.
TIP: When you notice that your blood pressure is high, take slow deep breaths for at least 10 repetitions. Then take your blood pressure again. You will notice a drop in the reading just with deep breathing. Although this may not be the ultimate solution for controlling high blood pressure it can at least help you deal with it for the moment.
This is why breathing exercises work to calm us when we experience acute stress, anger, or frustration. Blood is returning to the brain and it becomes easier for us to think.
How to Practice Deep Breathing
There are several ways in which you can practice deep breathing to relax both your body and mind.
The simplest way to practice in times of stress or anger is to:
1. Close your eyes. This eliminates distractions in your surrounding.
2. Tense your whole body for four seconds while inhaling deeply: In through your nose.
3. Exhale slowly. This is out through your mouth, slightly pursed lips to regulate the volume of airflow.
4. Repeating this three or four times can take you back to a state of relaxation and calm.
When you are calm, your brain is clearer which helps with being able to think better and make more rational decisions and actions.
As you can see, the body’s natural ability to fight or flee from a perceived threat has been useful throughout the ages and is still useful today.
However, reversing the process through breathing exercises place you in a better position to think more clearly and reason about the stress or issue that you’re facing.
Set your Fitbit or Apple watch to remind you to take deep breaths throughout the day!
Until next time folks!