Holiday Season 2017 – What Do You Want It To Mean For You?

Every December in my practice, for 15 years now, I hear and observe the same sentiments from people. As much as there is excitement about the holiday season, there tends to also be a lot of overwhelm. People are often overstimulated, overfed, overcommitted, and they may also overspend on gift-giving. This added stress is not good for your health!

The good news is that how you feel during the holidays is up to you. You CAN choose to celebrate but feel positive, rested, and healthy! The first place to start though, is to get really clear on what you want the season to mean to you, and so I’m encouraging you to reflect on this idea briefly, and then do this one thing that will make a tremendous difference:

Set an intention for the holidays.

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.

~ Dr. Melissa

Is Your Body ‘Out of Balance’?

The body is a self-healing, self-regulating organism and perfectly designed to express good health. As a Chiropractor our whole clinical philosophy is based on this simple fact, and after all these years in clinical practice I’m still amazed and the ability of the human body to coordinate all internal functions, heal and grow when given the right environment inside.

On the wall in my reception room it’s written: “There is a vast difference between treating the effects and adjusting the cause.”  In addition to providing spinal care, it’s always been important for me to take a holistic approach so that people’s health can improve, and so they can completely heal and thrive.

When a body is NOT functioning well, whether it’s pain or lack of mobility in the neck, low back, or hips or some other symptom of dis-ease (bowel trouble, compromised immune system, allergies, etc) the question we need to always be trying to answer is “What is the cause of this imbalance?”

The easiest and quickest way to answer this question is one word, can you guess what that is? STRESS. But, it’s also a little deeper than that, there are generally 3 main categories of stress in the body:

  1. Trauma: accidents & falls, sports injuries, car accidents, repetitive strains, poor posture habits
  2. Toxins: pesticides, chemicals in personal care or household products, pollution, food sensitivities, drugs, nicotine, alcohol
  3. Thoughts: mental stress, overwhelm, anxiety, negativity, emotional trauma

Nowadays I think it’s also important to consider a 4th category too:

4. Deficiency: lack of proper nutrients, sedentary living, lack of mobility, lack of adequate brain stimulation

How do these stresses affect your health?

Trauma, Toxins, Thoughts & Deficiency  —–>  STRESS on body

STRESS —>  internal changes in body physiology to adapt, leading to dis-ease, then disease

What is the solution?

Restoring health doesn’t generally just happen with a ‘quick fix’, it’s a consistent way of living to ensure your body functions the way it’s naturally designed to. There are often 3 parts to this process:

Remove or minimize the stressors. This might mean lowering your level of stress, improving your movement patterns, reducing your toxic exposure or any number of other things depending on your unique situation.

Restore proper mobility  This is where Chiropractic comes in! 

“The more mechanically distorted the spine, the less energy available for metabolism, energy and healing.” ~ Dr. Roger Sperry, Nobel Prize Winner for brain research

Support the body by adopting lifestyle habits that are congruent with good health and allow the body to  to function the way it was designed to!

In my practice we look at all 3 of these areas so that you can not only feel better faster, but so that you’re results will last and all aspects of your health will improve, and it’s an approach that has consistently worked for the past 15 in practice.

Can You “Feel Fine” and Still Benefit From Chiropractic?

So many times when I speak with someone about what I do, they comment “I would hate to know what you’d find in my spine, it’s probably a mess!”. This attitude still surprises me, and you can imagine it starts an interesting conversation!

Some of the sickest people on this planet have no symptoms and “feel fine”. We all know people who seemed to be fine but then suddenly are diagnosed with a major illness. People who ‘suddenly’ have a heart attack, stroke, are told they have cancer.

Waiting for your body to give you symptoms is like waiting for a bomb to go off…everything is quiet until suddenly there is a huge impact.

The attitude “if it’s not broken, why fix it?” does not apply to the human body, but I can relate to this thinking because it’s how I used to approach my health.

Like many people, I only thought there was a problem when my body wasn’t feeling right, and I only responded to any symptoms with medications. Luckily, over 20 years ago, a shoulder injury forced me to see a Chiropractor, and from that point on everything changed. Not only my own health, but my attitude about it.

The Chiropractic approach is just that – an approach to supporting your body from the inside-out in every way. Giving the body what it needs from the top-down (neurological function from the brain through the spinal cord), as well as all the other ingredients necessary for optimal function….food, hydration, movement, love and social connections, sleep, purpose and passion!

Chiropractic is not just an adjustment or treatment for a symptom, it’s an approach to looking for the causes of problems in the body, rather than just reacting to them.

Waiting for something to happen before you take action often makes the healing take longer, and requires more investment of your time and resources.

People who choose to make chiropractic care a regular part of their life understand this, but they also see the profound changes in their health, and are more empowered to be in control of their body. It’s a beautiful thing to watch in my practice and something I will never tire of.

People often hear me say “health comes from choice, not by chance”. Choosing to honour your body and give it what it needs on a consistent basis is one of the wisest decisions you can ever make.

If you’re still struggling with some aspects of your health, ask for direction.
If I can’t help you, we’ll find someone who can.

Can You Just Do 5 Things To Support Good Health?

Taking care of your spine and nervous system is an amazing way to improve your health, but there are many other lifestyle factors that will help you feel fantastic. For some people though, the thought of improving their body and making some lifestyle changes can leave them feeling intimidated, and even overwhelmed. It doesn’t have to be this way though!

What if you just tried to do 5 daily things to improve your health?

Imagine doing 5 little, yet important, intentional acts everyday to get you closer to your most important health goal: feeling and functioning well. I’m not talking about massive, major changes to your health that require a dramatic lifestyle change, but small daily things that ultimately create a bigger impact because you are actually doing them.

“Success in anything is created through the performance of a few small daily disciplines that stack up over time to create stunning results”-Robin Sharma

It’s much easier to build on small steps and gradually add more, than to attempt a massive change.

It’s likely that you’re already doing some great things to support your health, but perhaps they have already become so routine for you that you’ve even forgotten they are good for you!

Focusing on the good things you are already doing, and all the good things your body is capable of doing is also a powerful gratitude reminder and can motivate other small changes.

Can you think of 5 things that you do on any given day to support good health?

Need some ideas? Here’s some to get you thinking

  • reduce your caffeine or alcohol
  • drink more water
  • go for a walk/run/swim/bike/hike
  • visit a friend
  • eat some fruit
  • go to bed a little earlier
  • play with your children
  • read a book
  • put that donut or cookie down
  • take a yoga class
  • breathe (with awareness! consciously relaxing, with full deep breaths)
  • do something you love
  • learn something that can help you live healthier
  • get adjusted!

Expand Your Abilities

One of my favourite conversations from people in the practice is always when they start to observe (and are often surprised)  they are that they are able to do ‘so much’ without physically harming themselves, how they feel they are able to deal with stress more effectively or ‘handle more’ before feeling overwhelmed.

Let me remind you: The body is amazing!

Every minute of the day your body is coordinating a multitude of activities…your heart is beating and sending blood and oxygen to all your cells; your lungs are expanding and contracting to exchange oxygen with the environment; your digestive track makes use of the food you take in to give you energy and will remove wastes; your immune system is constantly fighting microorganisms that try to inhabit your body…I could go on and on. Your body can do all these things simultaneously, every second of the day, because your brain is coordinating it all.

Spinal subluxations are caused by stress (physical, mental, emotional & chemical) but they also create stress within the body.

Chiropractic adjustments work because they remove stress from your nervous system and maximize your brain’s ability to coordinate all internal activities, and yes, your joints will move better too! Healthy joint function allows you to move freely, without pain, and push yourself more to become stronger, fitter and more flexible if you choose to.

You are designed in perfection to be who you are, to express every gift inside you, and to perform!
It’s up to you to use those skills, to pursue your interests, and to take responsibility for your health and ensure your body performs the way it was designed to.

Forget limitations, the goal of your care with me is to help your body thrive in every possible way by removing stress from your nervous system, and then guiding and supporting you in developing other health habits.

Chiropractic helps your ability to work, play, and live with a full range of physical abilities and emotional awareness, and ultimately to expand your potential.

Fertility & Chiropractic

It’s always exciting for me when couples who have struggled with fertility, and who have often tried numerous other therapies and sometimes invasive interventions in hopes of conceiving are able to do so after consistent chiropractic care.

Not limited to fertility challenges, other problems with reproductive health in both men and women such as menstrual irregularity, PMS, menopause, and impotence and erectile dysfunction have also shown improvement and even resolved with chiropractic care.

What’s the Chiropractic Connection?

Every part of your body works better with a spine that is moving properly. Our goal with Chiropractic care is to simply facilitate your body’s own ability to work the way it was designed to. For some couples who have tried everything to conceive, who have undergone extensive testing and still been told there was nothing wrong with either of their reproductive abilities, chiropractic has given them hope, and success!

Spinal misalignments (subluxations) cause muscle imbalances, joint irritation, inflammation, and early degeneration. Most crucially, subluxations disturb the healthy mechanical and neurological functions in the body. Subluxations in the lumbar spine and hips and can lead to dysfunction of the internal organs in the lower abdomen, particularly the bladder, bowels, ovaries, uterus, and prostate gland.

While not a treatment for any ailment or a treatment for infertility, Doctors of Chiropractic correct spinal subluxations to restore proper motion and function within the body. Many people find relief when they support their body naturally, and when combined with other lifestyle changes they feel and function better, and in the case of fertility  many of us have seen this anecdotally in our practices.

If you’re curious how this might help you or someone close to you, be sure to reach out and connect for a complimentary 15 min consultation, I often do these in person in the practice, over the telephone or on video, and I’m always happy to help you find a Chiropractor close to you with my extensive connections internationally.

At A Desk? Ask Yourself These Questions

Unfortunately many people need to sit at their desk for many hours in a day, and this can create many aches and pains in the lower back, hips, neck and shoulders. However, there are a few changes that can be made to you workspace that may help, so review these questions and see what improvements you can make.

Do your feet rest flat on the floor?

Is there 2 inches between back of chair and  your knees?

If you are sitting on a chair does it support you lower back?

Can you easily reach your work without interference from the arms of the chair?

Are your arms and shoulders relaxed without interference from the chairs?

Is your mouse positioned centrally or do you have to rotate your shoulders or reach far to use it?

Is your keyboard level with your elbows are they in your forearms?

Are your wrists in line with your forearms or they bent to the sides or back far?

Is your keyboard on a flat surface or slightly declined is OK to

Is top of your computer screen at or slightly below eye level?

Can you see detail on your computer screen easily without leaning forward?

Are you able to read the whole screen comfortably without tilting your head up or down?

If you spend more than half your day combined on the computer or on the telephone do you have a headset

Are your keyboard and monitor located in the centre line in front of you

Do you take short frequent breaks throughout the day to reduce fatigue

Practicing Gratitude

One of the easiest, most powerful things you can do everyday for your emotional and physical wellbeing is taking some time to set your mind on thoughts of gratitude. Why? Because what you dwell upon, expands.

“A Man becomes what he thinks about all day long.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson

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.

The health benefits of gratitude are an amazing example of just how connected the mind and the body are. Research shows the feelings associated with gratitude, appreciation, love and caring enhance health. When you find one thing, however small, to be thankful for and hold that feeling for as little as 15-20 seconds, many subtle but powerful physiological changes take place inside you:

~ Levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin decrease, supporting many organ systems and boosting your immune system

~ Coronary arteries relax, increasing the blood supply to your heart. Heart rhythms become more harmonious, affecting other organs and lifting your mood

~ Breathing becomes deeper, increasing the oxygen level of your tissues

Studies have shown that people who regularly practice gratitude report higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy when compared to those who do not.

Somedays, some weeks, this might not be as easy as it sounds! I get it. But as my dad says

“When you change the way you look at things, often the things you are looking at change.”

We can’t always change our circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.

The secret to happiness is not found by seeking more, but in developing an appreciation for what we have.
Make gratitude part of your life by adopting more thankful thoughts or making the time to write them down.

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. Chances are you won’t be able to stop at just 5! I do this every morning before I get out of bed, and my sons and I do this at dinner most nights (sure they roll their eyes sometimes, but I challenge them to it anyway!)

Make simple acts of gratitude part of your everyday life, and you will be pleasantly surprised at the shifts in your mental state and how much better you will feel.


So Much More Than Relief From A Muscle Spasm

Some of you know I recently attended a research day at Collingwood General & Marine Hospital during which time I shared information about how spinal adjustments impact brain function. This type of research brings me back to days of studying neuroanatomy and neurophysiology while I was completing my chiropractic studies, and I love it! I do realize though that the exact mechanisms by which a spinal adjustment affects your entire body may not be entirely entertaining to you, so let me try and break down some of this into a few simpler more applicable points:

Consider this 2011 study by 9 doctors using PET scan technology (neuro-imaging technique), which concluded that ONE CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENT did the following:

1. Sympathetic tone was inhibited (ie. anti-stress effect) 

            When you experience a stressful feeling, the sympathetic tone goes UP, creating more muscle tension among other sensations. When you get adjusted this ability for the tone to go UP actually is restricted from happening. This literally means that your body has a harder time feeling stressed when you get adjusted.  Think about that!   Wow!

2. Salivary amylase was decreased (drop in the feeling of being stressed)

            This is a measurement of the type of saliva that is present in someone who is highly stressed. When you get adjusted the amount of this ‘stress saliva’ present in your mouth goes down.

3. Regional brain metabolic changes (the brain is greatly influenced by the spine)

            The metabolism of your brain is altered – it becomes more efficient in its firing (hence your general feeling of more energy) and it quiets down, just like it would in a stress-free environment.  This is why you will feel greater clarity of thought, more energy and greater focus when you are adjusted. It’s also why many children who struggle with attention in the classroom respond favourably to chiropractic care, and are able to increase their school performance without resorting to any medication.

4. Decreased muscle hypertonicity (relaxation of muscles)

            Muscle ‘hypertonicity’ means the muscles are more tight than they naturally should be. During a spinal adjustment the muscles around the neck, shoulders and back all release their tension – even in areas of the spine that weren’t actually touched! This is why for so many of you a proper upper spine adjustment is exactly what is required to release the tension in your lower back, and why after I adjust your neck the range of motion in your hips improves!

5. Decreased pain intensity (feeling better)

            Pain is a chemical reaction! It is also highly subjective, some people can tolerate a great deal of discomfort while others cannot. After an adjustment, the level of mechanoreceptors and pain receptors are altered to a level that they would be in a stess-free person. This means that the potential to experience the feelings of pain is greatly reduced.

It is because of all these reasons that Chiropractic care is not only a great solution when you are immobile or in pain, but essential to a healthy life! Curious? Book your complimentary consultation and let’s see if my practice is the right fit for you.

How Can You Find The Right Chiropractor for YOU?

One of the things I hear regularly within my practice, from new people I meet with, is the negative experience they may have had within a different practice. Or possibly that they have never been to a Chiropractor, but what they have heard has not been positive.  It’s upsetting because I know how much they are missing by not having their spine regularly checked and adjusted by the RIGHT Chiropractor for them, and it makes me tremendously happy when they have a different experience in my practice because I know they are the path to better health.

A big reason for this is because on the first few visits with someone new I spend time getting really clear on what outcomes they are aiming for, and I’m willing to refer them to a different practitioner if I don’t feel I’m the right one for them. I believe everyone should have a Chiropractor on their health team, but who that particular Chiropractor is for each person will depend on their skills, techniques, approach, and the type of environment. What it really boils down to is FIT: finding the right Doctor for you depending on what your needs and health goals are.

If you had a really bad meal at a restaurant, would that mean you never ate out at a restaurant again? Of course not, you’d just try a different place. If you had a really awful haircut, would you never go for a haircut again? Of course not, you’d just find a different stylist. The same can be said for your experience with all other professionals or services you seek out.

What I hope you get from this post is a new willingness to try Chiropractic again. Here are some questions to consider when finding a Doctor who is right for you:

  1. Did you feel heard? Were the reason why you sought help understood and validated?
  2. Did you like the environment of the practice? The energy, the team, the location?
  3. Did you have opportunity to ask questions? Were your questions adequately answered?
  4. Did you feel a genuine connection with the Doctor? Everyone has a different personality. Some people become fast friends, while others have nothing in common. Your chiropractor is not necessarily your friend, but if you don’t feel like they are someone you want to have a relationship with…you might need to reconsider.
  5. Do they seem like the kind of Chiropractor you are looking for? If you’re looking to have a sports injury experience but the office is designed for paediatrics, it might not be right one; if you’re looking for a calm serene environment and hour long appointments, but find yourself in an high energy family practice…again not the right spot for you.

If your answers for any of these questions are NO, look for another Doctor.

If you can honestly answer YES to these questions, then you are likely in the right spot.

If you’re still not seeing the results you want, it could be that you just need to give it time. Restoring proper joint movement and function is a process, and all healing takes time. Ask your questions, get clarification about the care you are receiving, believe you will be well and be open minded to the suggestions your Doctor is providing you.