Holiday Greetings, and welcome to the December 2014 newsletter!
Heading into the holiday season this year, take time to plan your activities, so you don’t take on more than you can handle. You’ll find some helpful holiday hints below in excerpts from an article by a brain-health expert. (Read the entire article online at www.huffingtonpost.com.)
This month’s other featured article is yet another reminder of how powerful a health aid regular massage sessions can be to your overall well-being.
Nothing beats stress and supports health like massage! Can you think of a better way to help your body’s many systems to stay in balance? Be sure to make your health a high priority and schedule your next appointment, for your personal well-being and for those who count on you.
If you’re still trying to decide what to give some of the folks on your shopping list this holiday season, remember that massage gift certificates are a wonderful solution—and just a phone call away.
May you find the time to connect with all the special people in your life and make the most of your holidays!
Many already view massage as an important approach to relieving muscle pain or as a means to relax. However, working with a qualified massage therapist can also play a significant role in improving cardiovascular health as evidenced by a growing body of research, according to the American Massage Therapy Association.
Massage therapists share the goal of all health care team members—providing customizable, personalized care to help clients or patients reach and maintain their best health. Incorporating regular visits to a massage therapist into an individualized care plan can relieve stress (a major contributor to heart problems), lower blood pressure and lead to a decrease in recovery time following a cardiovascular procedure.
A multitude of recent research shows a direct correlation between massage therapy andimproved cardiovascular health. In a 2013 study in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers concluded massage therapy could serve as an effective intervention in controlling blood pressure in pre-hypertensive women. The study showed that the immediate results of lowered blood pressure lasted up to 72 hours after massage.
A separate study in the same publication had similar findings; those that receivedregular Swedish Massage Therapyover a period of four weeks had significantly lower blood pressure than those who did not have a massage.
The American Heart Association (AHA) warns against the risks of high blood pressure which can lead to cardiovascular issues including stroke, heart disease and kidney failure. With proactive management of high blood pressure, individuals can lower their chance of developing these conditions.
"Most clients think of massage therapy as a useful approach for managing back pain or promoting relaxation, but there are other benefits to massage that improve overall health, particularly when it comes to the heart," says Nancy M. Porambo, President of the American Massage Therapy Association. "Many see tremendous outcomes from introducing massage into their cardiovascular rehabilitation routine, as this Research Round-up shows."
A qualified massage therapist can play an important role in the health care team for individuals dealing with cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure or increased stress levels. Individuals should consult with a qualified massage therapist to determine the best massage therapy approach for their specific needs. By meeting or exceeding state training requirements, ascribing to a code of ethics andparticipating in continuing education, qualified massage therapists are appropriate additions to any wellness regimen; able to create specialized approaches based on individual conditions, fitness and goals.
De-Stress Your Brain This Holiday Season by Marie Pasinski, M.D.Harvard Neurologist
When we are stressed, our bodies' natural alarm system that is designed to help us to respond effectively to short-lived emergencies, starts sounding like Salvation Army bells. And many studies show that stress, especially when chronic, can wreak havoc on our body and in our brain. When we are tense, we produce a surge of cortisol, known as the "stress hormone," which has been shown to be toxic to the neurons in the brain's important memory center called the hippocampus. This can add to that mental fog we often experience during the holidays.
When we are stressed, our concentration, decision-making skills and efficiency while juggling a busy schedule are all impaired. We often add insult to injury by making unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as eating too many sugary treats and drinking too much alcohol, which puts even more stress on our bodies and our brains. My advice, therefore, is to make a resolution this year to nurture and care for your brain over the holidays. Here are several ways that you can do this:
Laugh It Up— Laughter reduces the level of cortisol and improves our mood through the release of endorphins.
Savor Your Senses— Allow your mind to be in the moment by focusing all of your senses so you can soak in the beauty of the season.
Cut Down On Caffeine— Did you know that caffeine accentuates the stress response? It increases the heart rate, blood pressure and ultimately makes it difficult to relax, which is what we need to do when we are stressed. You mightthink you need that chemical jolt to get you through your "to-do" list, but instead of reaching for that extra cup of Joe or can of jitter juice, choose herbal teas or a decaffeinated version of your favoritewarm beverage. Drink more water :)
Get in the Spirit— Even if you hate the holidays, let go of your inner Scrooge and go with the flow. Listen to inspiring music that can uplift your brain as well as your spirits. Put on your favorite tunes, sing out loud in your car on your way to work.
End the Party at Midnight— Keeping a more regular schedule during the holidays will help you feel more relaxed and happier. Our brains perform best when we go to bed and wake up at the same time. When we disrupt this rhythm, our hormones become out of sync and we experience the equivalent of jet lag. So, with the exception of New Year's Eve, do your brain a favor and don't pull too many all-nighters.
One cannot find peace in work or in pleasure, in the world or in a convent, but only in one's soul. — W. Somerset Maugham