A few weeks ago I attended an engagement where I had to give a speech.
As the day grew closer, I could feel my nervousness mounting; the dry mouth, the deer in the headlights look in my eyes, the butterflies in the gut. Try as I did to meditate my way through that, I still had an overwhelming fear of facing my audience. Now I know I am not alone in having anxiety about public speaking, so I thought I’d look at this scenario with best self-care strategies in mind.
As I contemplated how ill I was feeling about my speech, I spent extra time preparing my material and considering questions that might arise. Organizing myself by rehearsing, making cue cards and timing my presentation had a way of reassuring me that I was doing all that I could towards reaching a positive outcome.
But that wasn’t enough and the jitters persisted. Know that this is when we are most vulnerable in seeking relief by turning to unhealthy, non-therapeutic ways like taking a swig of something strong to take the edge off, or taking prescription anti-anxiety agents like Valium or Ativan. So instead, I headed off to my local health food store and found myself in front of a display case of homeopathic remedies.
Homeopathic medicine has been around for over 200 years. It is recognized by the World Health Organization and is popular in India, South America and Europe. Based on the principle that ‘like cures like’, various remedies are made with ingredients that actually cause the condition, but are extremely diluted so their toxic effects are eliminated. Taking the remedy stimulates your own body’s healing powers to restore health and well being.
I found a remedy that was listed to help with ‘stage fright’. Five miniscule tablets under the tongue, three times a day and I immediately felt more relaxed and back in control of things. Considering the options, I found this approach to be very helpful in coping with my anxiety. No side effects, no chance of dependency.
In choosing a homeopathic remedy, it is always best to seek the help of a Homeopathic Doctor. But there are somewhat standard remedies for a variety of ailments such as muscle soreness, cold symptoms and even acute grief. As with any alternative medicine, care should be taken and seek the advice of a medical doctor if you are already taking prescription medications for other conditions.
But if you are not, and are looking for a way to battle the nerves before a presentation or speech, a homeopathic remedy might be an approach to try.
If you want to restore optimal body function, reduce stiffness and decreased mobility, you may want to try Block Therapy.
According to its founder Deanna Hansen, Block Therapy is a self-care version of fluid isometrics– a body work practice she developed aimed at reducing restrictions in tissues by increasing blood and energy flow to various affected areas. The technique involves lying on a cedar wooden block known as a Block Buddy. Placement of the Block Buddy is specific to key areas of the body. Each pose is held for approximately 3 minutes and during that time, the participant practices diaphragmatic breathing. Just as with a deep tissue massage, it is not uncommon to experience some pain – but you are in control and can back off on the intensity. This practice is contraindicated if you have a surgical mesh or have had a spinal fusion.
If you are pregnant, any of the belly positions are contraindicated. (Anyone with any serious health concerns would be wise to seek medical advise before starting any new practice.)
Some of the benefits of Block Therapy include improved posture, increased energy, increased flexibility and increased metabolism. It is an excellent compliment to any exercise practice and is like exercise, meditation and therapy all in one.
Block Buddy classes are being offered at various fitness facilities and are an excellent way to introduce yourself to this type of therapy. For more information check out www.blocktherapy.com
Chronic back pain? Migraines? Arthritis? Panic Attacks?
If so, this may be a treatment worth pursuing.
Otherwise known as cold laser therapy, LLLT utilizes red and near infra-red light for a variety of conditions. LLLT differs from those used by physicians in surgery or cosmetic applications as it is less intense and has no heating effect. LLLT is used to treat injuries, reduce inflammation, enhance healing of wounds and provide relief in both acute and chronic pain conditions.
Soft tissue injuries, frozen shoulders, sciatica have been effectively treated with LLLT, as well as tennis elbow, tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis. LLLT also being used for smoking cessation, stress, insomnia and even weight loss.
The treatment is painless and non-invasive. No needles, no intense heat, no side effects. Costs vary so it’s wise to call around. Ideally the practitioner should have a health care background such as physiotherapy or nursing.
Whether it is chronic pain, an acute tissue injury or anxiety that you would like to treat without the use of drugs, laser therapy is an option to consider discussing with your physician.
There’s nothing worse than coming home from the gym and feeling the ache of muscles that are strained or worse – in spasm. Whether its as a result of a too-quick warm-up, or a new program targeting less used muscles, the effect can cause a great deal of discomfort. My traditional go to people are the chiropractor and massage therapist, but another option (thanks to the recommendation of a good friend) is seeing an Osteopath.
According to the Canadian College of Osteopathy, this alternative natural medicine bases its beliefs on the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Osteopaths take a holistic approach in restoring function to the body by addressing position, mobility and quality of tissues.
With palpitation the Osteopath gently touches tissues and systems and can detect minute modifications in the quality of tissues that will gear treatment. This may result in firm but gentle manipulation of tissues so that they are able to relax. As a result, increased circulation to the problem area occurs. Often this approach can result in the body returning to correct alignment. This effect can be similar to the manipulation done by a chiropractor, but without physically moving the bones.
Osteopaths also deal with fascial release of membranes or connecting tissues. And once again the approach used achieves release without the application of force.
So if you are sore, strained, in spasm, seeing an Osteopath may be a great option to consider. Unfortunately, as in the case of many alternative treatments, not all health care coverage includes visits to an Osteopath. But sometimes self care necessitates splurging on what ever helps you feel well.
Those who advocate engaging in detox diets cite a number of benefits such as cleansing the body of toxins, giving major organs like the liver, kidney and intestines a much needed rest, as well as providing a boost in energy levels. Sounds like an excellent way to provide some good self care for our bodies.
While I am all for giving my body a boost, I have yet to find one that is even remotely enticing. Just the thought of detox brings back memories of endless meals of cabbage soup, or drinks with cayenne pepper or apple cider vinegar in them. Headaches, hunger pangs and low blood sugars inevitably have me cutting those regimens short.
If you are like me, and like the idea of detox but not the process, trying a day of eating raw foods may be a gentler, people friendly way to give your body a bit of a break.
The concept around a raw diet is simple. Eat foods that you don’t need to cook, are not processed and are mostly organic if possible. With farmer’s markets in full swing there is no shortage of enticing fruits and vegetables to keep taste, variety and ease in preparation a possibility. Instead of proteins in the form of meats, utilize seeds and nuts. Avocado and pomegranates are a few of the high protein fruits, and leafy greens such as kale can also pack a protein punch.
Eating a raw food diet for a day or two has another benefit that may help encourage healthier eating in the long run. Not only do you get a break from cooking, but it doesn’t take long to experience eating as a means to fuel your body rather than a way to satisfy cravings. And with farm fresh ingredients so readily available this time of year, you can use a little creativity to whip up a few dishes that will have even the most sceptical veggie eater intrigued.
We all lead busy lives. Responsibilities, commitments and deadlines are constantly pulling us in different directions. On any given day, our to do lists can look long and daunting, and by bedtime we can only hope that a few of the items can be crossed off. We’ve long given up on getting them all done.
But what would happen if you gave yourself permission to take a DND?
Waking up on DND, you realize you still feel groggy, so instead of dragging yourself out of bed like you normally would, you roll over, snuggle back into your covers and catch a few more z’s. When at last you finally feel good and rested, you get up and rather than fixing your quick, grab and go breakfast, you cook up a delightful spread of things you’ve been craving. A plate of blueberry pancakes with crispy bacon, an omelette stuffed full of your favourite fillings. A new smoothie recipe chock full of delectable ingredients.
Taking your cup of java on the back porch, you delight in the weather – no matter what that may be and decide whether you will forgo your usual shower and opt instead to lay around in your P.J’s watching a bunch of shows you have taped on your PVR, finishing off that book that has you intrigued or calling a friend and catching up.
The day is yours to spend as you please. The only rule, if you want to call it that, is that anything you do on DND is because you WANT to, and not because you HAVE to. Picnic lunch at the park? A mini day trip to a local town? A long and leisurely look at the new exhibits at the art museum? Doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s all about you, and your interests.
And as night falls, and DND comes to an end there will be a smile of contentment on your face. One that recognizes that you didn’t take a day and do nothing with it, you took a day for yourself, because you are worth it and you deserve it. And as you head off to bed you will know you are ready to face tomorrow, and the day after that with a renewed sense of vitality.
Acupressure has been around for thousands of years and is recognized as a form of Chinese energetic healing which involves applying pressure to specific meridian points, or energy pathways to increase flow of vital “chi” or relieve possible blockages.
Acupressure is often used for the treatment of nausea and travel sickness, with proven success. Wearing a wrist band with a small plastic disc positioned correctly on the wrist can significantly reduce nausea and is a great alternative to medications. But there are so many more potential uses of acupressure.
Other uses of acupressure include the treatment of pain, allergy and sinus problems, gastrointestinal issues, hormone imbalances as well as a quick and easy fix for anxiety and/or stress. Although acupressure treatments are often carried out by a trained or certified professional, there are many techniques that can be carried out on your own, such as for anxiety.
When applying self-acupressure, use the pads of your index or third finger and apply firm but not painful pressure to a specific region on the body. A common site used for the treatment of anxiety is located on the lower arm. Measure three finger widths down from the crease in your wrist, in the center between the bones and apply pressure for two to three minutes while you slowly inhale and exhale. The calming effect can be felt very quickly.
This particular point is known as P 6 or the Inner Gate (acupressure.com) and can be very helpful not only in making you feel calmer, but also to help you feel more grounded and in balance.
Definitely worth a try.
Anyone who has ever owned a pet can easily understand how beneficial an animal can be to our own sense of health and well being. Having a furry friend look up at you in hopes of a scratch behind their ears or a rub on their tummies can elicit a flood of oxytocin – the feel good hormone. This in turn produces a calming effect, which has been scientifically proven to improve cardiovascular health and reduce blood pressure.
Pet therapy has gained recognition in healthcare; many retirement, nursing homes and hospices have recognized the advantages of having animals in residence to lift spirits, decrease depression, loneliness and anxiety. Spending time with an animal encourages a bond that benefits both people and animals.
Dogs specially trained for service are active in areas of trauma treatment and disabilities. The benefit of pet therapy is also evident in children with behavioural issues and learning disabilities.
Probably the greatest benefit of spending time with animals is the social connection that is established. Everyone loves to feel loved, and animals often do that better than humans do. The feeling of being loved unconditionally can be soothing to the soul and maximize healing.
Because of all of these benefits, pets have a way of increasing our resilience to stress, can make life a little brighter and provide a sense of purpose.
Lomi Lomi is a type of Hawaiian massage, derived from ancient Polynesian culture. The word ‘Lomi’ in Hawaiian means “to knead, to rub, to soothe.” The Hawaiian philosophy of ‘Huna’, which is a fundamental assumption that everything seeks harmony and love, is at the heart of this type of massage. The approach utilizes ‘loving hands’ to work muscles deeply but gently with long, continuous flowing strokes.
The purpose of this type of massage is not just to induce a state of relaxation but to allow space for an individual to let go of self-limiting beliefs, patterns and behaviors that might be holding them back.
Hawaiians believe that thoughts and beliefs can become stuck in various cells of the body and so engaging in this type of massage helps release of unwanted emotions and feelings.
Most people are familiar with the term ‘Aloha’ meaning either ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye.’
When in fact it’s meaning goes much deeper and is referred to as ‘the joyful sharing of life energy in the present”, which is the very foundation of Lomi Lomi massage.
What better way to indulge in a little ‘me’ time, then with a Lomi Lomi massage to promote relaxation and an overall feeling of well being?
Reiki for all Woes
Reiki is a Japanese healing technique, founded by Mikao Usui, that employs the ‘laying of hands’ by a trained practitioner. The word Reiki comes from two Japanese words: ‘Rei’ meaning “God’s wisdom or the Higher Power” and ‘Ki’ which means “life force energy.”
In a traditional Reiki treatment, a person lies on a massage table and the practitioner utilizes this spiritually guided life force energy. It is a holistic approach that involves the physical body, the mind and the soul to promote a state of relaxation that is conducive to healing. Rarely is direct touch employed. It is an excellent tool for stress reduction and can promote feelings of wellbeing. Treatments usually last an hour. Depending on the degree of relaxation experienced, participants might even leave the session feeling as if they have gained insight on a particular difficulty in their life.
It is also a simple technique to learn. The ability to do Reiki is passed on to a student during an ‘attunement’ given to them by a Reiki Master. This allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of ‘life force energy’, regardless of their intellectual or spiritual capacity. Reiki is not a religion, nor does it have a certain dogma that must be believed.
Reiki does not affect traditional medical treatments nor does it have any side effects. It can enhance healing and promote recovery through the life force energy and because of its ability to induce a state of relaxation. It is an excellent tool to use for chakra clearing.
Whether you are dealing with illness, stress or anxiety, Reiki can be an effective tool in promoting a sense of well being.