Happy Hearts, Healthy People

As a Family Chiropractor I am lucky to see people everyday who choose to invest in their health and are actively making choices to feel and function their best. Something that comes up consistently in conversation with people is stress, and it’s often connected to the changes I observe in their body and the injuries I’ll see.

Emotional and mental stress create tension in your body and affect all body systems, including your muscles and joints! It’s important to regularly check in with yourself, assess your emotional health, and make changes if needed.

These are the 5 tips I suggest often, and ones I implement in my own life:

Let Go. You always have a choice in how you handle any situation and how you let it affect you. Holding negative feelings toward someone doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you! Who are you holding anger towards? What do you need to let go of? 

Focus on the GoodWhat you dwell upon expands. If you focus on what you don’t have, that’s all you will see. Focusing your thoughts on victories instead of defeats will help you develop an attitude of gratitude and a greater sense of self-worth. When you change the way you look at things, often the things you are looking at change. 

Be Thankful.The secret to happiness is not found by seeking more, but in developing an appreciation for what we have. A powerful exercise is the use of gratitude journal to reflect on day-to-day success, or simply take a few minutes to think of 5 things you are grateful for in your life. You will be pleasantly surprised how it will shift your mental state.

What’s Your Purpose? A big question I know, but one that you need to make the time to think about. Are you living your life with purpose, plans and passion? If you could do anything you wanted to, what would it be?  It’s never too late to re-design your life and pursue any dream you have. What steps can you take to start moving in that direction? Baby steps still take you forward!

LaughLaughter is “the most inexpensive and most effective wonder drug”. It suppresses the secretion of stress hormones, boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation. Let’s face it – there is nothing like the feeling of a deep belly laugh! Are you laughing enough? Connect with others and share some fun.

I’m Embracing Winter – Are You?

Recently I participated in a  Winter Wellness Event at our local library, and as much as I love sharing health information I love learning from others who are passionate and knowledgeable! Winter is not my favourite season but I’ve never suffered terribly through it the way I know some people in my practice have. One of the other presenters during this event spoke about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and 3 ways to support yourself if this is a challenge for you. 

These 3 tips shared by one of the speakers that evening might help you:

Get outside everyday, for at least 20 minutes. Wear proper clothing to protect yourself from the elements, and stay warm! Moving your body is nature’s best antidepressant. I confess,  there are days I don’t even need to leave my property because my practice and business are in the same building! However, I do notice that when I resist the outdoors  I don’t feel the same when I don’t get any fresh air, so let’s commit to getting a little bit of outdoor time every day. 

Focus on what you love about winter! Are there sports you participate in? Cozy sweaters you love to wear? Wrapping yourself with a blanket and curling up with a book? Sitting by a fire? Taking indulgent baths or sitting in a steam room? Drinking a cup of hot tea? Cooking hearty foods? Make a list of some foods or activities that you enjoy only in the winter months and then see how you can do more of them! Choose to celebrate what makes winter special rather than what annoys you and you’ll find your mindset shifts.

Similarly, choose your words wisely! If you constantly say that you hate winter or find yourself complaining about it to anyone who will listen, consider changing the words you use and start speaking with more gratitude and acceptance for the winter months. Perhaps speaking about the things you noted in the previous paragraph. If you find something to be grateful for then you’ll often continue to find other things to be grateful for. I often say ‘what you dwell upon expands’ so find good things about the colder season to dwell on! 

Feet, Ankles or Knees Sore?

Every joint in the body is dependent on the functioning of the others, like an intricate series of levers and hinges providing you structure and movement. If there is an imbalance in the lumbar spine or hips, there will often be compensation problems in the knees, ankles and feet as the body tries to adapt to the faulty mechanics. Which means it’s common for these to resolve with Chiropractic spinal adjustments!

Chiropractic works for so much more than just back pain, a healthy spine is the foundation for all the other joints in your body and protects the most vital organ – the nervous system. Subluxations in the lumbar spine will affect healthy nerve flow to the legs and feet, and when these misalignments are corrected, numbness, pain, and inflammation in the feet resolves. Many people are pleasantly surprised at the unexpected relief they find, and wonder why they waited so long before seeking the help of a Chiropractor.

The next time your feet are aching consider Chiropractic first. If we can’t help, we will gladly refer you to one of the local Chiropodists for more specific foot care – we look to the spine first when there is any problem, but have a great referral network of other professionals to support you in regaining the level of health you deserve.

P.S. You can also read this blog post about why being barefoot is good for you.

Healthy Food While Travelling? Here’s My Tip

Here’s what I took to Niagara Falls

Just because you’re away from home doesn’t’ mean you have to forget to choose healthy food options.

I’ve been to enough hockey tournaments and eaten at enough restaurants during travels to know that the options can often be slim, and when you’ve got growing, hungry boys to feed you can get stuck making less desirable choices.

So now I prepare! It’s not difficult to pull together simple and nutritious meals.  It’s always about choices and priorities, and yes, a little bit of planning.   

Although we did eat some meals out, and I have teenage boys who really love their pizza, subway, (and some other junk I’d rather not think about) thankfully they do appreciate that nutrition matters and will oblige my nagging about healthy choices. 

Given that most hotel rooms only have a small fridge, and making meals in a hotel room are limited, here’s what I bring that has given us some options: 

  • Electric tea kettle (brilliant for boiling water for tea, coffee, oatmeal, soups) 
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Packs of instant oatmeal
  • Tea, my favourite coffee (and ok I’ll admit, I brought my French press too! I am particular about good coffee)
  • Basic salad dressing (3TBSP olive oil, 3TBSP apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, chopped garlic, squeeze of lemon)
  • Salad greens (any mix you prefer, I like the baby kale or arugula)
  • Coconut yogurt 
  • Granola
  • Orange juice
  • Hummus (usually I make my own but store-bought can work!)
  • Apples, bananas
  • Carrots
  • Bagels
  • Popcorn, tortilla chips (we need snacks!)  

Your food choices matter! Especially for growing children! 

In addition to chiropractic care and daily activity, food is a huge contributor to how you feel and function everyday. Check out this blog post about my basics about what to eat for good health.

It’s 2019! What’s Ahead For You?

As you begin 2019 I encourage you to set aside a few moments to think about what you want most for this new year, and consider doing this exercise to help you align your actions with the results you’d like to see!   Rather than set resolutions, try setting theme words for the year. I personally started doing this exercise 5 years ago and we’ve been doing it within the practice too!

Here’s how it works: 

Think about your aspirations – what do you want for the year ahead? Is there an overriding theme that comes to mind for you? Can you sum up your intentions in a single word? I bet you can. Choose a word that can represent many different areas of your life, and one that will help you stay focused on how you want to feel about 2019 when December 31st comes around.

Why it’s effective: 

A great word can set the tone for your actions and keep you focused. A word can also serve as a reminder of what’s important when everyday ‘life stuff’ frustrates us. For example, when my sons were young and I wasn’t in practice, my word was “Nurture”.  It reminded me of my focus on raising my sons and looking after myself.  It allowed me to accept that my career aspirations would be fulfilled at a later date (like now!) and that the little boys in my kitchen were simply more important for the time being. In other years the words “Grow”, “Balance” and “Focus” have worked well for me as I was rebuilding my life and business.   A great word sets your intention and will help manifest the people, places, opportunities (and challenges!) to help you achieve your goals. Metaphysics aside, what you focus on tends to happen!  The simple act of awareness can powerfully  keep you oriented towards actions that support your goals, and make you more likely to attract success.

How can you decide on your word?

Your ‘word’ might come to mind easily.  You may already have one that has been running through your thoughts repetitively, especially if you have set resolutions or goals for yourself. If not, carve out some time in your week to think about it. Sit quietly and reflect.  Journal if it helps you sort out your thoughts, or, on a blank sheet of paper simply write down words that depict your hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Something will pop out at you, or you may notice a pattern in the words you write down. Don’t over-think it!

Friends, colleagues, and people in my practice have shared their words with me for added support and accountability. Here’s some of their theme words to get you started:  Relate, Believe, Focus, Simplify, Build, Mindful, Refresh, Rejuvenate, and Fun. Once you have your ‘word’ write it down where you can see it regularly. Use it as a password so you have to consciously think about it many times a day. Place post-it notes all over your home if you need to. Get creative and do what works for you!

Love to hear your thoughts! Has this worked for you? Or what other way has helped you begin the new year with intention and positivity?

5 Ways To Stay Healthy During The Holidays

 

Avoid the “OVERS” this holiday season by setting an intention for what you want the holidays to mean to you (read this post to get a sense of what I’m talking about) and then consider these 5 tips to support your physical and emotional health during the most wonderful, but busy, time of the year.

 

 

Socialize – We all need social connections, but during the holiday season many people are ‘overstimulated’, ‘overcommitted’, and ‘overwhelmed’ with too many events. Be choosy about how you spend your social time. Be assertive and learn to say no to situations that will upset you.  Decline invitations (if you can do so without grossly offending the invitee) that create unnecessary emotional stress, or will simply burden your schedule and shortchange you of sleep. 

Reach out – At the other end of the social spectrum is loneliness.  With changing family dynamics, different living arrangements, and simple geography for some people, many are left alone during the holidays.  If you feel lonely or isolated consider getting involved in different activities, volunteering your time at seniors homes, food banks or other organizations geared towards helping others. The rewards will be far greater than just the social stimulation.

Exercise – Quite simply, physical activity makes every system in your body work better. Instead of taking a break from your exercise routine, keep it up! or consider getting started! It doesn’t have to wait until January and your resolution of getting in shape or losing weight.  The fact is, exercise is simply something most people have to build into their lives, work into their schedules. You will always find something better to do with your time! Exercise helps relieve stress and prevents weight gain.  Moving your body will always give you a boost, even just a some stretching or a brisk walk will rejuvenate your body and mind.

Eat Regularly & Prepare for Outings – If you are going to  a party or dinner, don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation.  Doing so will  slow your metabolism, leave you ravenous and more likely to overeat later in the evening. Instead, eat small meals or snacks throughout the day and you’ll be less likely to overindulge when you are out. If you are planning on consuming alcohol be sure to increase your intake of water to compensate for the dehydrating effects.

Take a Breather – It IS the season for family, friends, and being on ‘holiday’ so don’t forget to take the time to relax and indulge in activities you enjoy! Make time for yourself too, often time alone is what is easily neglected with busy social schedules or family commitments.  Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you and change your perspective if you are having a frantic day.  Do something that clears your mind, slows your breathing and restores inner calm, Journal, listen to music, take a brisk walk and look at the lights, read a book, whatever interests YOU and gets you in a quiet place for a small bit of time.

You CAN indulge, celebrate, and still feel good in January!

Make good choices for yourself and your family and you will enjoy the holiday season and start 2019 in good health.

My Top Holiday Season Survival Tip

I often talk with people in the practice about setting goals for their health, maybe even their career, or what they want for their family life, and help them come up with realistic actions to get them results. Why not do the same exercise for the holiday season?

It’s a time of year I observe people being consistently OVERstimulated, OVERworked, OVERindulging and often OVERwhelmed. Which leads to added stress to your spine, and a higher chance of injury. 

You can avoid this though! Give yourself a few minutes to answer this question:

 

What do you want the holidays to mean to you? When you look back and remember them, how do you want to feel?

Set an intention for the holiday season, and you’ll find it helps you stay consistent with choices you make.

But first, be realistic and consider:

What’s happening in your life these days? Where are your children or extended family in the current stage of their lives? Given their ages and interests, what do you want the holidays to look like for you?

Every year our lives are a little different, and it’s important to change our expectations accordingly.

Maybe you have a holiday planned, maybe there is someone in your family who having a tough time, maybe your grieving a loved one? Maybe there has been a change in your home or work life somehow?  Maybe your finances are more strained than usual?Depending on your reflection on these areas of your life and the people in it, you might want to adjust your plans and celebrate a little differently this year.

Decide what you want the holidays to mean, what your priorities are, and how you want feel? And then I want you to write it down.

Choose 3-5 words or perhaps write a brief statement or sentence, then put it somewhere you can see it. You can get creative with this! Make it look pretty or decorative if you like, but what really matters is that you will see it and be reminded of what you wrote. Whether you post it on your fridge, put it on your phone, or write it in a journal that you will look at every day, this is the most important step!

When you have an intention to refer to, it will help you make solid decisions about how you spend your time and money this holiday season. You’ll feel better about your choices because they will be more realistic with your current lifestyle, and this will ease your mind, and help you find more JOY (and less stress) holiday season.

3 Tips To Protect Your Back When Shovelling Snow

Do you love winter? I know many in my practice are excited for the snow so they can hit the hills on their skis or snowboards, but winter is not my favorite season. In the past few weeks I’ve heard many of the same complaints, but also complaints about new or reactivated injuries, and often when I ask a few questions I can easily determine the source: shovelling snow!

Removing snow from your property can be irritating for a few reasons but if you keep these tips in mind you’ll prevent injuries:

 

  • Don’t let the snow pile up: If the weather report calls for several days of snow, frequent shoveling will allow you to move smaller amounts of snow each time. This approach is far less strenuous in the long run. 
  • Pick the right shovel: Use a lightweight pusher-type shovel.
  • Push, don’t throw: Always push the snow to the side rather than throw it. That way you avoid lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow, and sudden twisting or turning movements.
  • Bend your knees: As with any heavy object, you need to use your knees, and leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting, while keeping your back straight.
  • Take a break: If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Shake out your arms and legs. Stop shovelling immediately if you feel chest pain or back pain. If you have back pain that is severe or that persists for more than a day after shovelling, call me rather than ‘waiting for it to go away’. If you have chest pain that is severe, see a doctor immediately.

As always, keep your regular chiropractic adjustment schedule (or visit a Chiropractor for a spinal checkup!) to maximize your spine’s ability to move the way it was designed to!

Find out more by booking your complimentary “Meet Dr. Melissa” visit here

Does Your Baby Need To Have “Tummy Time”?

YES!

From a neurological perspective it is vitally important that babies (from three weeks of age onwards) start to have short bursts of ‘tummy time’—time spent lying on their tummies and holding their own heads up. This simple act builds up their neck muscles and activates brainstem pathways which are critical for healthy brain development.

 

 

Here’s how:

  • lay your baby on your chest and talk to them, you will encourage them to lift their heads and look you in the eyes.
  • each time you change your baby’s diaper, roll them on their stomachs for a few moments.
  • Give them supervised time on their tummy on a playmat or on the floor with a variety of toys or interesting objects around them. They will move in their own way to grasp what they want, and develop other movement skills during the process.

Note: if your infant does not appear to like lying on their stomach, this could be an indication of spine or nerve irritation and it is best to have them checked by a Pediatric chiropractor. Curious to find out more? Call or email for your complimentary consultation.

How Do I Explain Chiropractic To A Stranger?

Recently I was interviewed on a Facebook live show about health and wellness and this question came up, and it’s actually something I encounter frequently! I may be at a social event, public talk I’m giving, or even just waiting in line at the grocery store!

As much as I love to talk about all the other health benefits with Chiropractic, improving movement and body mechanics is something that most people can understand. Usually, the conversation starts with movement, and how spinal care improves function and mobility while also reducing inflammation and pain.

As a Chiropractor my role is to assess the alignment and movement of the spine and all related joints to ensure that the body is moving the way it was designed to. If there are any imbalances, then I correct them with specific chiropractic adjustments and provide lifestyle recommendations to support ongoing healing and minimize the recurrence of problems. The results are incredible.

With segmental spinal adjustments you get improved movement, less inflammation, less pain, but also the stress on your entire system is reduced because of the changes within your brain that occur with every adjustment. This is Powerful! With proper spinal joint movement pathways to your brain are also stimulated, resulting in better function of every single cell in your body. (You can read more about the effects on the brain in this post, or this one!)

With Chiropractic care movement and mobility improves quickly, but so do many other functions within the body. It’s not uncommon for people to tell me they are sleeping better, have improved digestion and elimination, are thinking more clearly, and are feeling like they have more energy.

Ready to consider Chiropractic for your family? Reach out. I’m happy to have this conversation with you in person 🙂  Book your consultation here