Living With A Happy Heart

ID-100375349Emotional and mental stress create tension in your body and affect all body systems. It’s important to regularly check in with yourself, assess your emotional health, and make changes if needed. Consider the following ideas to develop a happy heart. Take some time to reflect on them, then make the choice to move your life forward so you can live with greater peace.

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 Good: 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. 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!

Laugh: Laughter 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.

Get Adjusted! Structure dictates function. A healthy spine means a body that can function the way it was designed to.  Every function improves. Studies have shown people struggling with depression, anxiety, mood swings, and addictions are supported with chiropractic care and symptoms dramatically change. I see it all the time. People routinely remark how they feel calmer, they have more clarity of thought, and their moods are more stable. They feel happier, more in control of their health, better able to develop other positive habits, and more comfortable getting help from other professionals.

“Happiness is not a destination. It is the attitude with which you choose to travel.” – Arit Desal, Yogi & Philosopher

Choose to apply some of these tips to develop your own happy heart…

Tips for Shoveling Snow!

ID-1009691 2Snow season often means I will see a very consistent pattern within people’s spines, and it’s no surprise when you consider that an average shovelful of snow weighs 5 to 7 pounds! Take this load and repeat it over and over to clear a walkway or driveway, and you’ll quickly realize how much weight is lifted in one session of snow clearing — on average, several hundred pounds!

Shoveling snow can be a pain in more ways than one…. Keep these tips in mind to prevent hurting yourself while dealing with the snow on your property:

  • 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 shoveling 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 shoveling, 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 to maximize your spine’s ability to move the way it was designed to!

Define Your Year Ahead!

I love this concept and started to apply it a few years ago, and to be honest I’ve switched from 1 word to 3 based on some other ideas that have come my way and the experiences I’ve had doing this exercise every year. I have found that choosing a word, (or a maximum of 3) has been a powerful way to help me focus my energies and keep my perspective about what truly matters most to me.

So how does it work? 

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 or a few? I bet you can.

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, 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.

A great word sets your intention and will help manifest the people, places, opportunities (and challenges!) to help you achieve your goals. A good friend recently shared her story of using theme words during the past few years. “Abundance” was her focus at one time and she grew her business substantially. “Love” was her focus another year, and she met the man she married. 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.

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.

I’ve found that the best words are the ones that overlap the different facets of our lives and can be applied to different goals. For example, last year one of my words was “strong” to reflect my goals of  becoming physically stronger and also because I wanted to continue to grow a strong business.

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 – and share your ideas!

One word is easy to remember. Pick one for yourself and let it shape the months to come and set the intention for a great 2016.

Keep Your Holidays Healthy!

ID-10067023The holiday season is such a time of celebration, but it can also be a time of stress and challenge! I joke that people occasionally develop an acute case of the “overs”. This condition is triggered by overcommitting to social functions, overindulging in sugary, rich foods and alcohol,  and results in general feeling of overwhelmEmotional states can be stressed, but our bodies are also stressed by the foods we eat, minimal exercise and too little sleep.  This all leads to sluggish immune systems and more frequent accidents and injuries. The great news is that this condition is completely preventable!

Consider the following points and make some changes in your life and within your family this holiday season:

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 you and your family and you will enjoy the holiday season and start 2016 in good health.

Combat the 3 C’s: Colds, Coughs & Congestion

69443tegi1jeqhsMany times when people in the practice are dealing with colds, coughs, sore throats, or congestion they want to stay home, but you’ll often hear me encourage them to come get adjusted and stress the importance of it during illness.

If germs were the only factor that made us sick…we would all be in serious trouble! However, a healthy body is dealing with germs everyday and does not become ill. Sure some bacteria or viruses are more threatening than others, but in general when we become ill it’s because our body’s ability to cope with the demand on our immune system has failed.

Congestion, coughing, sneezing, fevers, and a runny nose are all signs the body is effectively creating an immune response to help the body eradicate the bacteria or virus causing the infection. This is a good thing and not to be suppressed! Medications to make you feel better offer temporary relief, but often create other imbalances in the body that can affect your long-term health.

As per any ailment, my recommendations are always to support the body as best as you can and strategize to boost the immune system, and Chiropractic care is a huge contributor to a healthy immune system!

Chiropractic works!

A study by a neurologist found that 92% of children with chronic tonsillitis had upper cervical misalignments, and after studying 76 children with chronic tonsillitis it was concluded that “tonsillitis goes hand in hand with movement restriction in the cranio-cervical skull and neck junction”

If you’re sick and suffering make a spinal check-up high on your priority list. In addition to increasing fluids, sleep, and nutritional support, your body will likely recover without any other intervention and give your body better health moving forward.

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for cough, cold or congestion.

Give Thanks

ID-100204763“A Man becomes what he thinks about all day long.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson
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 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! 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.

A Few Basic Office Ergonomics

ID-10098747How you spend your day can affect your spinal health, and I’m often discussing ways to improve workspaces to minimize stress on the body, and these tips might help you work more effectively too!

Repetitive postures can create spinal stress, and there are simple ways to improve your workspace to reduce the risk.

How can you tell if your office environment is safe and conducive to your comfort and productivity?

Consider the following questions:

In your workplace, do you:

Sit for long periods of time?     Perform repetitive arm or hand movements?

Spend much time on the telephone?    Have to turn your head to see your computer monitor?

Take few or no breaks?     Sit under dim or flickering lights?

Spend hours time looking down at papers on your desk?      Experience headaches or neck pain?

Experience aching, numbness, or tingling in your fingers and hands?      Experience neck or back pain?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, you could be at risk of developing (or already suffering from) repetitive strain injuries related to your office setup.  Consider these tips: 

The Keyboard: Position it above your lap. Ensure that you can type with your arms relaxed, close to your body with elbows bent at 90 degrees and wrists level.

The Computer Monitor: Position it directly in front of you. (Your eyes should be looking straight ahead, not with your head tilted up and back, and not looking down).  Keep your monitor free of dirt and smudges, to reduce glare. Allow the muscles in your eyes to relax by taking a 20 second break every 20 minutes, during which you look at an object that is located at least 20 feet away from you.

The Mouse:  Use a light grip to avoid strain. When moving it, use your elbow to guide it instead of your wrist.

The Telephone: Use your hand to support the telephone against your ear, and alternate regularly instead of cradling the phone between the ear and shoulder. Consider using a headset or speaker to limit the strain on your neck and arms.

The Chair: Sit upright, all the way back. You can even roll up a towel and place it against the arch of your back for lumbar spine support. Your chair’s height should be adjusted to a level at which your knees are bent at a 90-100 degree angle, with your feet touching the floor.

Take breaks! Move Your Body! By far the most important thing I can stress is to vary your tasks as much as possible throughout your day. Keep your body from being stuck in any position for too long, and give your brain a boost as well. Consider standing or walking during phone conversation and meetings if possible.

Making a few simple ergonomic changes to your work environment is a good investment for your health, and productivity! Take a few minutes to assess your work station – what can you improve?

Allergy Relief!

ID-100311653 2

Every spring and fall I start to hear the same comments in the office…

“I cannot believe the difference in how much less I am sneezing since I started getting adjusted!”

“I need an adjustment, my allergies are acting up again and I know they will be lessened when I leave.” 

“Thank you. My sinus congestion is dramatically better, my breathing is easier, and I am sleeping again.”

What causes allergies? 

Allergies occur when the immune system ‘overreacts’ to an allergen (dust, pollen, pet dander, foods) and produces too many histamines to counteract this process. Histamines are chemicals the body creates to neutralize the effects of the item offending the respiratory or visual system, a way the body’s innate wisdom attempts to correct the problem.  Histamines cause you to produce mucous, sneeze, will make your eyes watery, and even give you rash sometimes, all ways the body tries to expel the offending allergen.

What’s the connection with Chiropractic Care?

As a Chiropractor, my initial focus is restoring proper alignment in the body, to restore proper function and allow the body to better adapt to the ‘stressors’ in your environment, including those of seasonal allergies.

Spinal misalignments (termed subluxations) are caused by physical stress, emotional stress, and chemical stress. These misalignments in your spine cause muscle imbalances, joint irritation, inflammation, pain, and weakness. What is more important though, spinal subluxations affect your spinal cord and impair healthy neurological function.  Chiropractic adjustments correct misalignments in your spine, restoring proper joint movement, balancing your muscles, and improving your overall health! 

The correction of spinal subluxations helps your body respond more appropriately to the pollens, dander and other airborne items you inhale because they help restore balance to your immune system.  There is a direct correlation between your spine and immune system.  A nervous system that is working more effectively permits the immune system to function more effectively, and lessens the overreaction to other irritants – something all allergy sufferers need!  

How can you get started finding relief?

An initial consultation and assessment will help us determine if Chiropractic can help, and whether my approach is right for you.  Following your evaluation we’ll create an action plan to get you functioning and feeling better. We’ll monitor your symptoms and changes over time, and adjust your care as needed. Many people in my practice note dramatic reductions in their allergy symptoms and improvements in their overall wellbeing when they add Chiropractic care to their life.

Once we’ve started to correct the imbalances in your spine, we’ll also start to look at some of the lifestyle factors that might be triggering your allergic reactions, and implement other supportive ways to help your immune system work more efficiently. This might involve examining your diet, emotional stressors, sleep patterns, and natural remedies to help you find faster relief while your body is healing.

If you’re suffering with seasonal allergies perhaps it’s time to consider a new approach?

Disclaimer: Chiropractic care supports overall health and healing, but is not a cure or treatment for allergies.

Barefoot is Best!

ID-10033840 2It’s that time of year again…when I’m kicking off my shoes and adjusting barefoot as much as possible! Many health experts agree that bare is the healthiest state for your feet to be in, because most shoes have no relation at all to the natural shape of the human foot.  

What are the benefits of being barefoot?

– natural shaped feet, including straighter toes free of corns, hammer toes, bunions and callouses in the wrong places

– well shaped legs resulting from a natural and balanced gait.

– a more natural gait, free of weight brought on by shoes

– prevention of blisters, ingrown toenails, and plantar warts

– better posture & spinal health!

It’s also been argued that most adult foot trouble would not exist if properly shaped shoes, or better yet, no shoes at all had been used during childhood.

Children who are encouraged to walk barefoot typically have:

– fewer instances of deformed toes

– greater foot flexibility

– greater ability to spread the toes

– denser muscles on the bottom of the feet

– greater agility than those who had never gone barefoot

– better hip rotation and more flexibility of leg muscles

– greater balance

– better posture, spinal balance and overall nerve system function

Less Stress & Improved Brain Function

People who are barefoot tend to be less stressed and authoritative, leading to a more relaxed environment at both home and work. Many cultures believe that the positive energy of the earth, known as chi/prana, is absorbed through the soles of the feet. When you are walking barefoot your body is absorbing this positive energy, allowing you to think more clearly.

In addition, there is also evidence that the natural motion of being barefoot positively affects brain function!

Other than the spine, the foot is the region of the body which contains the most proprioceptive sensory receptors. These are the distinctive nerve circuits that help your brain know where your body is in relation to the space around you.   The natural unrestricted movement of the feet stimulates all these receptors, and is vital for overall neurological health!

So don’t be alarmed if you see me walking around barefoot. I love shoes, but barefoot is best!

Adding More Life to Your Years

I’m known for working with kids but I love seeing people of all ages experience the benefits of Chiropractic, and have been so inspired lately by the older crowd within the practice…people who in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and living healthy and fulfilling lives.

Most of them have had times in their life when they were not feeling so mobile, when they had significant pain, experienced significant health challenges; and they worried about how their lives would deteriorate, and what would happen as they continued to age.

What inspires me about these folks is that they found hope and help, and made substantial changes in their lifestyle so that they could live a more vibrant life. They asked questions, found the right professionals to support them, and are committed to taking care of themselves as best as possible.

At any age, this is not always easy. 

It’s not ‘easy’ to choose good food when our brain craves something not so good; it’s not ‘easy’ to exercise, and it’s not always ‘easy’ to adopt a positive outlook. But, it’s always a choice.

It has been estimated that by 2050 4.2 million Americans will be living until they are 100 years old. It’s also been estimated that our generations are living an average of 34 years longer than our grandparents did.

So our ability to live longer isn’t in question, the questions are how will you be spending your years? And what are you doing now to support your body and ensure you’ll get there with the level of health you dream of?

While genetics certainly play a role, there has never been a centenarian recorded who had a centenarian parent. Experts claim that in fact, genetics determine less than a third of the factors involved in lifespan. Our chronological age (actual age) increases every minute regardless what we do, but our biological age (how well your body looks and functions) is much more flexible. The difference in your actual age and biological age can be as much as 30 years! We know the requirements for a healthy body: connecting with others, eating good food, getting enough sleep, moving your body, maintaining a happy outlook, and a healthy spine and nervous system!

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.

Along with aligning your spine, working with a Chiropractor can help align the other habits in your life to be more congruent with good health. When you invest in your body, it will always offers excellent returns.

The more you do today, the more your body will reward you later in life with the physical health to allow you to pursue the activities and hobbies you dream of.