There are three things that can help you have a better day: a supportive mattress, quality shoes, and most importantly a pillow that keeps your neck in alignment.
I work with countless clients who come to me for help with neck and shoulder tension. We truly carry the weight of the world on our shoulders and that tension takes a toll! We spend hours hunched over our computers, lug around heavy purses and bags, and sleep on unsupportive pillows.
The first two factors I cannot do much about except to tell you to clean out your bags and purses, carry only what you honestly need and if your company offers ergonomic assessments, request one. Now for the pillow issue, I can make a great suggestion to help you wake up with fewer neck aches.
I was in a car accident over 15 years ago and suffered whiplash and subsequent headaches so I understand the importance of a good pillow. Over those 15+ years I’ve tried at least that many pillows with different materials inside. The contents of most pillows do not give you the support your neck needs and you wind up having to “remush” your pillow throughout the night or worse yet, using two pillows.
What your neck needs most when you’re sleeping is to stay in alignment and if you’re waking up with tension or headaches, due to a bad pillow, it’s time for a change.
My all time favorite pillow can be found at a well-liked store, Target. I cannot say enough about their memory foam pillows! The memory foam forms to your neck and gives you much needed support and alignment whether you sleep on your back or side. The other reason I love it is the price, $39.99. Many memory foam pillows can be $100+, which is highway robbery!
Helping yourself have a better day and happier neck is as easy as getting a memory foam pillow from Target. Run don’t walk to your favorite store and start sleeping more like an angel.
P.S.- I was not compensated by Target for this recommendation but I would not be above that 🙂
Most of us spend a large portion of our work hours on the computer and many of you are feeling the aches and pains of improper ergonomics. This is definitely a case where making some small improvements can reduce or alleviate neck, shoulder and wrist tension and pain.
The following is a simple list of things to check and be mindful of while you are at your computer:
The top of your computer screen should be at eye level.
Your ears, shoulders and hips should line up vertically. For every inch your head juts out over of your shoulders your neck endures an additional 25 lbs. of pressure. No wonder we feel tense and tight.
Elbows, hips and knees bent at 90-degree angles.
Your feet should be flat and supported on the floor.
Strive to adhere to as many of the above suggestions as often as possible. Each hour take 30 seconds to do a few shoulder rolls, neck rolls and walk around to stretch your legs and hips. If you are consistent with these improvements I know you will feel better during and after your time on the computer.
So many of my clients and readers identified with a previous newsletter about eliminating activities that did not excite them. Things they thought were obligations and the constant “should-ing” they found themselves doing. While you were ready to let those things go, one nasty little demon kept creeping into your mind as you began to take action… guilt.
Guilt seems to be a part of our culture and it’s almost like we all take a subconscious class in the art of guilting ourselves over a million things, especially the things that fall in the self-care category. We think “who am I to take time to read a book,” say “no thank you” to your 5th request for your time, or schedule time for a massage or manicure?’ Well why not do those things? Many of us feel undeserving, unworthy or like we haven’t “earned” time for ourselves. Maybe somewhere along the way you took on the belief that other people deserve to be healthy, happy, wealthy or do nice things for themselves buy not you. Everyone else, but not you. Something about you is unworthy or undeserving. I have begun to challenge that belief myself and have realized that I was wrong and that there isn’t anything I have done or not done that makes me unworthy of my own self-care.
In addition to guilt, we also do not want to upset the apple cart, rock the boat or make anyone upset with us. There is an epidemic of “people-pleasing” going on and we need to gently put an end to it. The world will still spin and kind people will understand if you need to decline. You need to do what is best for you and your family and it is OK to do so. And really, so what if someone gets upset with us? That’s their deal and heaven only knows what is causing their reaction, but it is theirs, not yours. Everything will be fine, go on and take a bath, have lunch with a friend or schedule a facial.
Discovering the origin of your self-care guilt is important, and taking a bit of time to do so will be worth a gander. Once you know where it is coming from, you can gently begin dismantling faulty beliefs and move through and beyond them.
If I have heard it once, I have heard it a hundred times from my clients that they do not like the taste of water. They say it is boring and yucky which I know I have thought before and this keeps us from drinking enough of the “wet stuff” to keep our bodies happy.
One of the easiest ways to make water more palatable is to make sure your water is filtered. Whether you use a filter on the faucet, a pitcher in the fridge or a filtering system in your fridge or freezer’s door, this will eliminate a lot of the crud that gives water a bad taste.
Secondly, during the spring and summer I treat my water like I’m enjoying it at the spa. I borrowed this trick from a spa I went to in Duck, North Carolina and it’s my go-to solution when I need to make my water more interesting. I slice up about half of an average sized cucumber and put the slices into a pitcher of water, and depending on how quickly I drink the water, I can get another pitcher’s worth of water out of the cucumber slices. This trick is not only yummy but it’s inexpensive. I just love cucumber-infused water! It is so refreshing, clean tasting and guzzle-able.
My third suggestion was also borrowed from another spa in West Palm Beach. It is beginning to sound like all I do is go to the spa, it is not, but they are my inspiration for these ideas. Back to Palm Beach, the land of citrus; this particular spa thinly sliced oranges and had the lovely little slices working their magic in a pretty glass pitcher which would really wow your guests at your gatherings this summer.
So there you have it, my three tricks for really enjoying getting hydrated.
It’s safe to say that everyone loves spring with its warmer temps, greener grass and blooming flowers. But with the blooming flowers and trees comes allergy season when we find ourselves sneezing, rubbing our eyes and dealing with an array of sinus issues. If you are one the many who suffers from sinus issues and you’re tired of popping medication that makes you feel funky, consider using a Neti pot.
A Neti pot is a small teapot or magic lamp shaped container used to flush out and clean your nasal passages. It originated in the Ayurvedic/yoga medical tradition. Now using one may sound strange and a bit scary but as a Neti pot user myself, my sinuses are so clear and happy when I use my Neti pot nightly during allergy season. You can purchase a Neti pot of your own at most health food stores and online. They come with an instruction sheet but basically you fill the Neti pot with pretty warm water and salt designed for the pot, not table salt, stir until dissolved and then insert the spout of the pot into one nostril, bend over the sink and tilt your head until the water begins to drain out the other nostril. You will not drown.
At this point I may have frightened you into never trying it but if I can do it so can you. By using the Neti pot I have happy clean cilia, the nasal hairs that get congested with allergens and mucus, clear sinuses, fewer headaches and I don’t have to take over the counter pills that make me feel weird.
I wish you a wonderful and enjoyable spring and the courage to lessen your sinus suffering by using a Neti pot.
We seem to be in a contest of sorts to see who can be the busiest person we know. Like we’ll win a great prize of some sort or feel more valuable and worthwhile as a person! And while we’re busy doing a bunch of important and not so important things we feel overwhelmed and disconnected from our friends, families and lives. We think to ourselves, “This cannot be how life is meant to be lived.” You are so right; it’s not.
You weren’t born to accomplish a daily list of “to-dos” and then die one day lonely and exhausted. I truly believe that we were meant to enjoy the experiences life has to offer. Spending time with those we love and care about is one of life’s best occasions. When we say, “yes” to every little thing that comes our way we end up saying “no” to our spirits and souls and the important face-time we really need to be happy and healthy people.
When was the last time you called up a friend to go for a walk, catch up over coffee, meet for a beer or glass of wine or picked up the phone to call rather than text or email? I promise that your life will be so much richer and fuller when you say yes to moments of reconnecting rather than mindlessly rushing through your day. The one who dies with the most toys does not win. Enjoy your life; it is a gift. If you see me around town let’s chat.
I was asked a great question from my friend and client, Bridget (hi Bridget). She had purchased a spa package from a local spa that included a massage. Later she came to see me for a massage and asked if massage therapy should ever hurt? Massage, bodywork and energy work should never hurt, period. If you’ve had a major injury and are seeing a Physical Therapist, that’s a whole separate category and that work can be painful. That’s very different than going to see a Massage Therapist for stress and tension relief.
If a Massage Therapist is using more pressure than is comfortable for you, please speak up! I always invite my clients to let me know if my level of pressure or a technique I’m using doesn’t feel right for them. You know your body better than anyone else and have the right to say something if you’re hurting. Now, there may be some discomfort as I’m working out a knot in a client’s muscle, but it should never cross the line into pain.
To help with any discomfort during your session, take deep, cleansing breaths, which help release tension and detoxify your body. If you’re holding your breath, the pressure is too much. If you’re clenching your muscles, the pressure is too much. All you need to say to the therapist is, “Would you use less pressure there?” That’s it. And if they’re a good therapist they will say, “you bet,” and proceed with less pressure and check with you to make sure their lesser pressure is better.
I want you to enjoy your massage and bodywork sessions and the therapist is there to help you relax and unplug for a while. The world can be tough enough without feeling like you were beat up during a massage therapy session.
There is a lot of confusion about when to use ice and when to use heat for an injury and using the incorrect therapy can prolong your pain. I am going to focus on when and how to correctly use cold therapy.
And now a bit about heat therapy. Heat can be used for injuries or chronic injuries with NO inflammation or swelling. Because heat expands, you will make your injury worse if you heat an area that is already suffering from inflammation, such as a pinched nerve in your back or neck. In the case of sore, stiff and nagging muscle or joint pain, heat is ideal. Never heat after exercise!
By following the above suggestions you can get back to your life and activities in no time.
In middle school, I felt pressure to have name brand clothes and accessories and felt bad about myself because my family could only afford Target’s version of the Swatch watch. This pressure to try to keep up with my classmates and deriving my self-worth or lack thereof, from material things, stayed with me for a very long time. It is only in the last few years that I have been able to separate my purchases from my emotions, therefore saving my family money and feeling much better about myself.
When I began to believe that I’m not what I buy, I didn’t have to have it all, or an expensive version of the day’s “must have item.” I really wanted to have an emergency fund and pay off my debt, two things that stressed me out. You see, I dug myself an embarrassingly deep hole of debt buying things to try to fill an emotional gap that no item or pedicure could ever fill. I needed to “do the work” to heal and fill the emotional hole, which allowed me to cut up my credit cards and make different choices regarding purchases.
I came across a great mantra that really struck a cord with me. It has been a valuable tool in helping me make smarter purchases and has kept me in check when thinking about putting something in my cart at the store. The mantra is: Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.
It takes time to get comfortable with these four ways of thinking and acting but I am so very glad I have. They keep me on track, keep me peaceful, keep me “green,” and more “green” in my wallet.
Clutter is a collection of decisions we have put off making. Reread that statement and think about it for a moment.
Where do you put something that does not have a home?
Where do unintended purchases go?
If you have had a long day where do you put the mail, your purse and laptop bag?
The common answer for these questions is, “I’ll figure it out later.” But “later” often does not come and the piles of clutter grow as does your guilt and frustration about them.
The best thing you can do to eliminate the clutter is to make a decision about each item and act on it. I guarantee you will spend more time ignoring and denying your “collection of decisions” than it will take to act on them. In addition to your wasted time is your wasted energy; both are too precious to throw away on clutter. Do not try to tackle a whole room. Start with a desk drawer or shelf and make a decision about each item you touch. Do you want to keep, donate, give away, sell, recycle or pitch each item? Within 20 seconds of holding an item you will have your honest answer about what to do with it.
So start with a small area and make the decisions, even if you make decisions all day at work or home. Then act on them and watch your clutter areas disappear in front of your eyes. And last but definitely not least, enjoy your new uncluttered areas and the peace of mind they will bring.
Whether you suffer from chronic stomach or gastrointestinal issues, or just the occasional “man, I ate too much at the party last night” discomfort, there’s a simple and sweet solution. Say hello to a peppermint and good-bye to tummy trouble.
A new study confirms what many natural doctors have said for years. Peppermint, whether it’s a candy cane, little wrapped disk or tea, eases and soothes intestinal distress and inflammation. Researchers conducting the study found the mint “turns on” an anti-pain mechanism in our gut giving relief to troubled tummies.
So, now in addition to having a dish of chocolates for my clients to enjoy in my massage office, I will also have peppermints. If you try this trick let me know your results!
Today’s tip I learned from my long-time friend Lyn Erickson. I worked a summer at her family’s International Hockey School in Detroit Lakes, MN. I worked in the kitchen helping Donna cook and in the pro shop during the evenings. Upon squeezing my shoulders one day, Lyn realized she needed to share her trick to helping me relax them.
The sequence I’m going to share with you will only take one minute and 12 seconds to complete and everyone has that amount of time to spare. You’ll need to find a comfortable chair and sit on the edge of it.
The key is to focus, squeeze as much as possible during that phase and then really relax during that phase. Performing this sequence daily will greatly help reduce the tension you carry in your neck, shoulders and back and will be especially beneficial if you spend time on the computer. Just seventy-two seconds to more relaxed muscles, aahhhh, enjoy.
My Zodiac sign is Taurus. And like all of the signs there are strengths and weaknesses associated with being a “bull.” One of my weaknesses that I’ve worked on over the last few years, is calming down my tendency to “charge” at things in my life try to force things to happen. Instead of going with the beautiful flow of life and trusting that everything will work out perfectly, I felt like I was responsible for everything and had to make things to happen. Talk about wearing myself thin and I doubt this crazy way of living is just a “Taurus thing.”
Could you relate to the idea of trying to push and force things in your life to happen? While you were doing it did it feel unnatural, uncomfortable or exhausting? The reason going against the flow of life feels so bad is because we aren’t meant to do it, plain and simple. We force and push because we’re taught we need to “make things happen” in our lives and I get that we cant’ just sit around and wait for things to fall in our laps. But there’s only so much you can do in any given situation before you need to relax your grip and let it go.
It’s in the “letting go” and allowing of the awesome flow of life that we can receive rest, rejuvenation, inspiration and a bit of down time that we all deserve and need.
For most of my life I’ve strived for perfection in all areas of my life, which left me exhausted and unsatisfied because nothing was good enough as it was. Through introspection and just knowing there had to be a better and gentler way to live, I’ve really loosened up. I came across a term that encompasses the new way I am living and it’s called wabi sabi.
Wabi sabi is the Japanese art of appreciating the beauty in the naturally imperfect world. For example, I have two awesome Labradors, Gus and Coco and where there’re labs, there will be dog hair. Before wabi sabi I would have freaked out about their hair everywhere; now I appreciate the joy of having these two wonderful creatures of unconditional love that just so happen to come with lots of hair. I have them groomed, vacuum and all the while, accept that a good life is often messy. No need to get my undies in a bundle.
Wabi sabi also means enjoying the beauty in simplicity. That might mean appreciating the brilliant colors of fall, the warmth of a hot cup of tea or cocoa or the magnificence of a simple and healthy dinner with friends. At some point many of us may have equated perfection to security and protection against our personal “boogie men.” Hopefully sooner rather than later, we realize that perfection is an illusion and if we face our “boogie men” head on, it is less scary.
Because of wabi sabi, I appreciate the occasional unmade bed, choose to leave the dishes in the sink and opt for more quiet conversation, and the brown and yellow dog hair that accompanies two of the greatest blessings in my life.
I subscribe to Cheryl Richardson’s (author and motivational speaker) weekly newsletters and I really enjoy them! They’re positive, uplifting and inspiring. A recent one really tickled my fancy and it used the date 10/10/10 for inspiration. The following activity is all Cheryl’s idea and all credit goes to her. I thought it was neat and wanted to share it with you.
Cheryl calls this her “10/10/10” list and the activity is a helpful reflection and a “taking inventory” of sorts that we all need to do occasionally. The first list she suggests we make is ten things to say, ‘yes’ to in your life. The second list is ten things we feel we should say ‘no’ to and then the final list is ten things that contribute to a good life. In Cheryl’s newsletter she made her lists and shared it with her readers. Since this is my newsletter I will share my list with you to help get you started.
Ten things for me to say, ‘yes’ to more often:
Ten things for me to say ‘no’ to:
Ten things that contribute to a good life for me:
Take a bit of time to make your “10/10/10” lists. They help put things in perspective and make decisions easier. A big thanks to Cheryl Richardson for her great inspiring idea and all the wonderful work she does to make the world a better place.
I was working with my client Angela, “Hi Angela”- doing a muscle release at the base of her skull with my fingertips and she said, “They should make something that did that.” I went on to tell Angela that there is something called a Still Point Inducer and it’s about $25 on-line.
Many of my clients deal with headaches and neck and shoulder tension. The muscles that originate at the base of the skull can get very tight due to stress and unsupportive pillows. I purchased a Still Point Inducer when I was studying Craniosacral Therapy, but I have discovered that you can make on of your own for a fraction of the cost.
The items you’ll need to make your own neck tension tamer may already be in your home. You will need a good old tube sock, two tennis balls and some sturdy string or a needle and thread. Really, this could not be simpler. Put the two tennis balls all the way to the foot end of the sock making sure the tennis balls are tight close together. Then, after the second tennis ball, either tie the sock off with a piece of sturdy string or sew it shut. Cut the rest of the sock off about three inches after the string or thread.
Place your new hand-made tension eraser at the base of your skull where your neck meets you head. You will be able to tell if it’s in the correct place, it will just feel right. Keep it there for about 5-10 minutes and take some deep relaxing breaths while it’s working its magic.
I just love inexpensive homemade remedies and this one will help alleviate headaches, migraines, sinus pressure and neck and shoulder tension. Enjoy!
Many families are buying more organic produce than conventional, non-organic, but navigating the world of organics can be very confusing. Like many subjects there is a spectrum and organic produce is no different. On one end of the spectrum you will find a consumer who buys all their fruits and veggies from the organic section. At the other end you will find a consumer who wants to buy organic but is paralyzed from mixed media messages and so rarely shops the organic section.
I believe you need to do what feels right for you and your family, period. There is so much confusing information about organic produce, and learning about the Dirty Dozen simplified my grocery shopping. Studies were done on a wide number of fruits and veggies to see which items absorbed pesticides and how much they actually absorbed. The twelve fruits and veggies that absorbed the highest levels of pesticides became known as the Dirty Dozen.
The worst offender of the Dirty Dozen is the peach. The studies show that even the pit contained pesticides! Wow, the pit.