Gratitude Is Good For Your Health

Practicing Gratitude is Good For Your Health!

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

Marcus Aurelius

The simple act of gratitude can have powerful effects on your emotional well-being and consequently on your physical body as well.  Negative emotions create muscle tension, weaken our immune system, and even alter our hormone patterns (men too!).  Taking a minute to immerse yourself in simple gratitude for the many blessings in your life is scientifically proven to improve your health.

Practicing Gratitude as a Community

Every October we do something powerful and positive in the practice. We invite people to take a moment to share something they are grateful for on a piece of paper and post it on the wall in the reception room.

Everyday  as we discussed the importance of living with a grateful heart, encouraged people to take a moment to share what they were grateful for, we were inspired by the responses we received.

More than just the act of writing the gratitude note, others read all the notes on the wall, had a laugh, shared a sentiment, and left with a smile on their face.

We watched people reflect, and often converse with others in the practice. We witnessed people coming together, interacting with each other, and watched a community unfold. We’ve already started the wall again this year, but here’s why gratitude is so important:

A man becomes what he thinks about all day long.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

What 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.

The Science Behind Gratitude And What It Can Do For Your Health

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 and beneficial physiological changes take place inside you:

  • Levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline 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

People who regularly practice gratitude report higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy when compared to those who do not.

Practicing Gratitude Individually

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.

You will be pleasantly surprised how it will shift your mental state and the benefits to your health!

chiropractor recommendations office ergonomics

RYH Episode 16: Workplace Ergonomics

It is estimated that Canadians spend almost a quarter of their life at work. When you take into account how much of the remaining 75% is spent sleeping, it becomes clear quickly, how important the health of your workplace is. Today’s podcast will cover a few ways to maximize your work environment to support better spinal health, and thereby, overall health. It’s an investment you won’t regret.

For more information on basic office ergonomics, read this blog post. For information on “text neck” check this one out.

Child receiving chiropractic adjustment

Why I Love Seeing Children

Second to being in the womb, the first year of a child’s life is a period of intense growth. At birth the spine is 20cm, within 24m will grow to 45cm. The entire spine doubles in the first year! The first 12 months of life are also crucial for spinal curve development, and 65% of neurological development occurs in the first year.

Given these rapid changes, the vertebrae are especially susceptible to changing shape in response to pressure by slowing bone growth. Spinal misalignments will causes asymmetrical growth, and tension on nerve system means less ability for growth and development.

This then leads to changes in the health of these sweet little ones. Infants may develop symptoms such as:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Reflux, or spitting up
  • Irritability, or colic
  • Difficulty nursing (impaired sucking, head turning, swallowing)
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Balance issues
  • Delayed developmental milestones

For most parents I meet with, spinal care for their child has not been something they have given much thought to, in fact many adults are the same! But once they observe the gentle care their child receives, and the profound changes in their overall wellbeing, it’s quite easy for them to continue to see the benefits of chiropractic care for their growing family.

I love watching these children grow strong, straight, how they recover more easily from injuries, and get sick less.

What’s even more fun is that when they are not feeling well, or observe something unusual with their body, they ask to see me first!

These children are growing up learning that a healthy body needs good food, exercise, sleep, love, and Chiropractic, and that if something is wrong we can look to figure out what’s wrong rather than just pop a pill or suppress their symptoms, and THAT is what I love the most ?

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health, but is not a cure or treatment for trouble breathing, reflux or spitting up, irritability, colic, difficulty nursing, balance issues or delayed development. 

Setting Goals for Your Health

Across the board, one of the most recommended practices for success is goal setting. It’s not uncommon to see people planning their dream home or dream business, but what about your health goals? Personally, I have several areas of my life that I set goals for, and health is a very important area in my plan for success. Tune in to the podcast today to get some tips on how to prioritize your health by setting goals.

Infant Massage

Massage is an amazing way to bond and connect with your baby, but more importantly, touch is crucial for their brain development! Touch is the second sense to develop after hearing, and they have receptors for touch all over their skin (just like us!). Stimulation of these touch receptors stimulates their awareness, speeds development, improves circulation, tones muscles, and often reduces irritability. It also teaches them to appreciate the power of touch, and its been said that it makes them more comfortable with their own bodies as they grow into toddlerhood. In addition to holding, squeezing and kissing them, a regular routine of massage can be a great experience for both parents and their babies.

When Is a Good Time to Try It?

Whenever you are comfortable and ready to! Infants of any age benefit. Pick a time when you are not rushed or preoccupied and you can be 100% involved in the process. Its wonderful to combine the massage with an evening bath (after) as they can be very relaxed, but any time of day is the right time.

Expect that your baby might not want to lie there for 15 min the first time you try it, you might need to start with 3 minutes and build up to progressively longer sessions, depending on their temperament. Some infants will readily enjoy a massage, others are more sensitive and may take longer to get used to the stimulation, and others just might not want to hold still! Know your baby and do what you feel is best for them watching their cues.

What Do You Need?

Pillow, blanket, waterproof pad (optional), bath towels, olive oil, or a specially formulated baby massage oil…be careful with scented aromatherapy oils, which are too strong for baby’s skin, too pungent for their sense of smell.

How Do Your Do The Massage?

These are guidelines – remember that what you are trying to achieve is time with your baby and stimulation of their brain, don’t get too caught up in the process or feel their is a very specific system necessary to the massage. Feel free to get creative and develop your own routine too! Have fun with it!

Get everything ready before you start, and go slow with all movements. Talk to your baby and maintain eye contact as much as possible. Watch their body language during the process – do they seem to be enjoying it? Are they squirmy? crying? smiling & laughing?

With all the movements below think of repeating them 3 times to create more of a flow to the routine. Start at the feet and work your way up to their head.

Feet – thumb over thumb movement taking turns to stroke upwards on sole with alternate thumbs, moving in same direction; squeeze each toe gently, massage over ankles

Legs – moving up the leg do the ‘rope twist’ (gently alternating hands so that you are effectively ‘twisting the skin and muscles, increasing the circulation in their legs) Do this all the way up the legs

Buttocks – slide both hands/fingertips under buttocks and gently drum fingers into skin, or use palms to massage the skin (depending on age/size)

Belly – rub in circles, then using both thumbs stroke away from belly button out to sides of body

Chest – rub in circles, trace a heart or the alphabet, sing a song,

Arms – gently cap their shoulders, rub a few times then rope twist movement (similar to legs) moving downward

Hands – palms up gently use thumb to make circles, then pull on each finger

Face – stroke forehead starting at point between eyes and drawing circles out around cheek bones ending at nose; stroke from ears along jaw line; rub ear lobes

Back – starting at top of spine stroke downwards to hips; use fingertips to ‘drum’ skin lightly from top to bottom (like playing a keyboard), stroke outward from midline to sides, make circles down both sides

Whether you use the movements above or develop some of your own, try to stick with some kind of routine to the massage. Most babies like routine and knowing what to expect – some temperaments appreciate this more than others so respect the individuality of your baby and their sensitivity. If they don’t like it, take a break, console them and try again another day for a shorter period of time.

RYH Episdode 14: Wearing Purses Without Sacrificing your Posture

Purses and handbags, while handy and always a favourite fashion accessory, can put a lot of strain on your shoulder, neck, lower back and even on your hips. Since we all feel the need to lug all of our stuff around with us day in and day out, I thought I’d take a minute to share some tips to save yourself from injury and the effects heavy purses can have on your posture.

For more on conscious purse wearing, check out this blog post.

 3 Reasons Why Attending a Local Market is Good for Your Health 

I love our local Collingwood Farmers market and have been attending it for the past 10 years. It’s become part of my Saturday routine, and is something that I recommend to people in my practice. While there are many benefits these three are my favourite reasons.

Fresh Food

See what you are buying, connect with growers, try new foods! Buy food that is freshly harvested, higher nutrient quality  early in season you can also buy plants to grow your own!

Connection/Fun

See other people! Conversations, interactions with others good for our health

Low Toxicity

Food that is made locally has fewer pesticides (you can ask farmers their protocols). Markets also make it possible to get local animal products, animals who were treated humanely. Not to mention the non toxic personal care products and cleaners.

Getting out to your local farmer’s market gives you access to fresh, often handmade, products that aren’t readily available on store shelves. It is also great knowing that you’re supporting local businesses, and often, these businesses don’t have a storefront location. Markets are how they make the money they need to follow their passion making/growing/sharing quality, local items.

Want to learn more? Check out this Rock Your Health podcast about the benefits of markets.

Sleep Solutions for a Healthy Spine

Sleep is the time during which your body can focus on the activities of growth and repair. My hope is that you are sleeping 7-8 hours, and that during this time your body is in fact healing and recharging, but the position you sleep in, the type of mattress and pillows that you use can do more harm than a good night’s rest! Let’s review some of the considerations for each of these.

Mattress

Without proper support of your spine while you are sleeping you can create strain on the muscles and ligaments, and cause the spinal joints to become irritated. If you wake up in the morning uncomfortable or with low back pain, but can stretch and get rid of it, likely the mattress is not right for you. In general, other types of back pain will stay consistent throughout the day, and will be affected by different types of movement and activity.

When shopping for a new mattress determine your budget and needs, then do your homework before you go to the store. There are different types of mattresses, such as inner spring, latex, or memory foam, and it can be helpful to understand the benefits of each before you start testing them out. There are concerns about the fibres or composition of some mattresses, environmental and toxicity concerns with some of them, so be sure to learn as much as you can so that you can make a choice you are comfortable with. Most stores have a good return policy, be sure to take it vantage of it if you’re not comfortable on it after a series of nights.

Pillows

The type and number of pillows you use will either support your neck and all the spinal joints, ligaments and muscles, or cause damage! Your head should always be in a neutral position if you are sleeping on your side or back. Problems arise when people either use too many or too few pillows: With too many pillows the neck can be too elevated, hyper-flexed and tilted upwards, with too little support (a really flat pillow) the neck can be tilted back too far. One pillow usually sufficient it should have enough fluffiness to give you comfort, but not stretch your neck too far up her too far down, right in the middle at neutral is best. Memory foam pillows are great because they will contour to your shape. A good pillow can be expensive but it’s worth the investment to find a pillow that’s best for you.

Which Position Is Best To Sleep In?

An easy answer for me here: Side, or back. Never on your stomach!

When you sleep on your stomach you need to rotate your head one direction, and when you stay in this position for 7-8 hours you will strain and stretch the muscles in your neck. When people tell me they wake up in the morning with muscle spasms, extreme tension, and lack of mobility it’s often because their head was twisted to one side all night log. Another concern with sleeping is the position of arms. When you sleep with your arm up over head, you’ll develop shoulder injuries due to the lack of circulation, and interestingly this position also causes the lumbar spied to become compressed. Both are problems for the spine!

Sleeping on your side or back is always preferable. If you feel this is uncomfortable or causes any strain (see your Chiropractor to correct the problem!) but you can also place a pillow between your legs, or under your knees to see if that helps.

RYH Episode 13: Backpacks For Your Kids – What You Need To Know!

An everyday essential for you child, and sometimes a BIG source of stress to their developing spine! This week I discuss tips to consider when purchasing a backpack for your child, how to teach them to carry them, and why this matters for their health!

Find out more ways to support your child’s health and Dr. Melissa Longo’s practice

Add Life to Your Years!

As the physical body matures (and our minds become wiser!), many look for ways to maintain their vitality and continue their quality of life.

“I’m 70 and was starting to feel old and achy. Now I don’t. Everything is better!”

Maureen

Studies have shown that chiropractic patients in their senior years report better overall health, have fewer chronic conditions, spend fewer days in nursing homes and hospitals, are more mobile in their communities and are less likely to use prescription drugs than non-chiropractic patients.  Even when the demographics were nearly identical, the chiropractic group reported fewer ongoing health problems.  Moreover, 87% of these chiropractic patients described their health as good to excellent, compared to just 67% of the non-chiropractic group.

What’s the connection?  

Structure dictates function. Chiropractic is a completely natural approach to strengthening the structure and function of the body.  Based on a simple truth: the human body is self-healing and self-regulating.  What enables it to do this?  The amazing and complex nervous system.  Housed within the protection of your skull and vertebrae, the brain and spinal cord – a vast communication network inside your body.  Each of your 750 trillion cells is connected to a nerve.  The nerves carry life-sustaining energy to and from the brain and all your organs.  For the body to be healthy and working well, there can be no disturbance to this remarkable system.

The problem however, is that interference can be introduced to the spinal cord and nerves by misalignment or poor movement of the vertebrae.  When one, or several, of the vertebrae become stuck or malpositioned, the body’s ability to function optimally is compromised.  Every cell and organ is affected – your digestion, breathing, movement, immune system, and circulation, just to name a few.  When your structure is weakened, so are all the functions in your body.  Using a variety of techniques, Doctors of Chiropractic re-align the spine to restore balance to the body.  Without drugs or surgery, Chiropractors help your body work the way it was designed to.

Whether you simply want to resolve a painful condition, or restore balance to your body on the path to wellness, a Doctor of Chiropractic can help you.

By far the most common phrase I hear from the senior people in my practice is “I wish I knew about this years ago.”

Chiropractic care has restored a wonderful quality of life and refueled the passion for living in countless senior citizens worldwide.  After all, isn’t that what the retirement years are supposed to be about?  Enjoying the freedom to participate in activities and hobbies with time that was once consumed by a career or growing family?

Enjoying the freedom to participate in activities and hobbies with time that was once consumed by a career or growing family? Whether it’s playing with your grandchildren, participating in sports or pursuing hobbies, or functioning pain-free in your day-to-day living, restoring balance to your body and nervous system will help you regain and maintain a sense of vitality for years to come.