7 Ways To Cultivate Resilience

This time of year I often find conversations about building strength and resilience in the body being essential as we head into the colder months.
However, emotional resilience has also been a hot topic the past year while I’ve supported many families through changing work environments, lack of social connection, online school, and so much fear.

I have a few tattoos, and one of them is an arrow because it consistently reminds me that life just keeps moving forward, and it’s always our choice how to adapt to it.

The loving care you give yourself and your physical body will always help you cultivate greater resilience for whatever challenges present in your life.

In my humble experience I’ve observed that emotional resilience can be shaped by

Unwavering RESOLVE to live by your values.

Have you ever stopped to think about this? What are the 5-10 values that are most important to you and the life you want to live? If you are clear on what your values are, are you practicing them by the actions you make everyday? If you need some direction here ask me for the values exercises I recommend.

Consistent CONNECTION with powerful souls who love you and remind you who you are.

Your personal and professional relationships matter, as does the amount of time you spend with them. Are you consistently making time for the people in your life who matter to you?

Relentless OPTIMISM.

This is easier for some than others, but your thoughts matter and what you consistently dwell upon expands. Choose your thoughts wisely and find gratitude for the simple things you appreciate in your life. [Read the post on gratitude here]

GROUNDING yourself in nature.

If you’re like me at all, this one is a little tougher in the colder months, but time outdoors is so good for our health! Make time to get outside everyday and take a few deep breaths. Even just a brief walk everyday may just clear your mind and help you find a little more peace.

FEELING all the feelings that come up rather than sedating, avoiding or suppressing them.

When we avoid what we feel we don’t heal. Is it time to examine some of the consistent thoughts or feelings that come up for you? Do you need to talk to someone who can help support your mental health?

EXPRESSING yourself in healthy and safe environments.

Expanding on point #2 about connection, do you feel you can communicate freely with the people you need to? Are you holding back or being a little less of yourself in any of your relationships because you don’t feel you can openly and easily? What needs to change?

MOVING your body some way to shake up your energy and shift your mood.

We are not designed to be sedentary beings. Movement is life, and we meant to move! It doesn’t matter if it’s an intense training session, a slow walk, a yoga practice or dancing in your kitchen, just aim to move your body everyday. Trust me, if there was one thing I wish everyone in my practice did more, it’s this one. A trainer I once had often said “You’re just one workout away from a better mood” and based on my personal experience and so much clinical research I completely agree.

Finding resilience is a practice, and life gives us plenty of opportunities. You can can choose to run or you can choose to rise.
Which of these 7 ideas resonates with you most and which do you need to put into practice?

Connection Is Vital

We all need social connections, it’s part of our fundamental design as human beings, and research has also shown that having friendships supports our health!

However, during the holiday season many people are ‘overstimulated‘, ‘overcommitted’, and ‘overwhelmed’ with too many events.  This can leave people feeling emotionally and mentally drained, and certainly getting  a lot less sleep than they would like! I’ll gently remind you, be choosy about how you spend your time. Politely decline invitations you are not comfortable with, and focus on the relationships that truly matter to you! 

After reading this, you might be thinking “This is NOT not what I’m experiencing THIS year”.

I hear you. Most people I have spoken with in my practice are struggling with the opposite: lack of connection

In other words, loneliness.  With changing family dynamics, different living arrangements, simple geography, and recommendations or even restrictions in place in some communities, it’s not being overcommitted socially that is of concern but rather the distinct lack of it that is leaving some feeling at a loss. 

Every year, many people are left alone during the holidays.  If you feel lonely or isolated, are there ways you can consider getting involved in different activities? Are there any volunteer opportunities?  Are you able to reach out to people who may find themselves alone during the holiday season and consider including them in your plans? Can you consider coordinate a phone or video call if physically being together is not possible?

I bet you can try!

It just might take some creativity, but the rewards will be far greater than just the social stimulation.

At every time of year relationships and social stimulation is essential for health and happiness, make it a priority!

A Few Words Can Make A Big Difference…

What do you want the holiday season to mean to you this year? 

Do you feel like celebrating? Or are you feeling angry, sad or lonely about the current events and wondering how that will translate to the time you cherish with loved ones over the next few weeks?

It’s ok. It’s been an interesting 8 months, and you’re entitled to feel all those feels!

I will suggest though, that you spend a few minutes reflecting on how you’d like to spend the holidays with some of the limitations that are currently in place, and something I’ve suggested every year in my practice just might be exceptionally appropriate for you right now.

Set an intention for this holiday season. 

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.

This year has been no different! In fact, perhaps it has given us even more perspective.

Decide what you want the holidays to mean, what your priorities are, and how do you want to feel?

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 this holiday season.

Easter Is A Little Different This Year…4 Things You CAN Do!

Given the current Covid-19 Pandemic, and the fact that our abilities to gather and celebrate has been dramatically affected this year, how will you celebrate Easter with your loved ones? Although everything is different than it used to be, where can you find something familiar?

So much is not within our control right now, but what you CAN control is your outlook and how you choose to spend your time and energy. Perhaps one of these 4 ideas will help you.

Maintain the traditions that you can. Children thrive on rituals, and during any times of stress or change in their lives it can be helpful to maintain some of the consistent habits they are used to.  What have you done in the past that you can still do? Colouring easter eggs? Having a hunt in your backyard on within your home? You can still have some fun doing these with your family. For some ideas on what to put inside your eggs instead of candy and chocolate check out this blog post.

Use technology to connect with long distance family.  Have you used facetime or zoom or some other platform for video conferencing yet? Many of them are free and can be a fun way to see your loved ones. Perhaps plan a time for a virtual visit.

Give where you can. Are there neighbours or people in your community that could use a hand with something? Obviously keeping in mind physical distancing, is there anything helpful you can do to make someone’s life easier? I’ve had friends who rakes elderly neighbours lawns, or Or is there a surprise you could leave on their doorstop that would make them smile?

Consider a special meal. If you want a celebratory meal but are tired of cooking, perhaps do something different  like support a local restaurant offering takeout? Try a new type of food, or order one of your favourites. Be sure to call or email restaurants ahead of time to verify their takeout policies and the precautions they are taking during this time.

6 Ways to Support Your Immune System

Many people in my practice comment that they seem to get sick less often, and that when they do succumb to cold, flu or infection of some kind, they recover faster.  Chiropractic care is not a treatment for your immune system, it’s simply one of the things you can be doing to keep your body healthy and support your resilience.

Some other tips to support your immune system include:

1) Wash your hands with soap throughout the day. Avoid antibacterial products.

2) Reduce/Minimize/Avoid sugar and processed foods. Load up on antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables.

3) Hydrate! Increase your water intake to continuously flush your system of toxins.

4) Move your body every day with some form of physical activity.

5) Use salt water rinses to flush your nostrils and gargle with it once a day. Salt water will help the proliferation of bacteria.

6) Get plenty of good quality sleep! Sleep is when your body heals and regulates many functions.

Give your body what it needs to function properly, and you’ll be surprised at how well your immune system will perform!

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.

 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.

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.

What’s Your Philosophy for Health?

A conversation that has been coming up lately in the practice is that there are different ways to approach your health. From my perspective, there are three ways:

  • Reactive: Managing symptoms. Responding to health challenges as they arise using appropriate interventions, therapies, professionals, and coping mechanisms.
  • Prevention: Developing habits and using therapies and professional services, to support good health and prevent disease from occurring.
  • Wellness: An active, lifelong process of becoming aware of choices, and making decisions towards a more balanced and fulfilling life. Wellness differs from prevention.  Wellness activities focus on maximizing the body’s performance and taking an active approach to health.

When it comes to your health, I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that prevention always works better than reacting, and that wellness is even more rewarding. The reactive approach typically costs more, and it takes longer for healing to occur when there is a crisis.  However, your approach to your health is just that – YOUR approach. My job is to facilitate knowledge, provide you with care, and support you in your choices.

What’s your perspective?

Do you want to react to problems in your body, prevent them from occurring, or pursue exceptional health?  Obviously there is some overlap here. We can consistently behave in ways to prevent illness and optimize our bodies function, and still experience a health crisis that requires more serious intervention. However, what’s the dominant approach you are taking? Does it match the personal philosophy you have?

Once you start thinking about it, you’ll realize your attitude might also be evident in other areas of your life.

Are you being reactive in your relationships? With your finances? With your home? With your career? With your children? Or are you taking preventive measures to ensure they ‘perform’ the way you would like them to? Better yet, are you taking steps to enjoy them in a more fulfilling way? Any form of stress will negatively affect your health. If there are stressors in your life they will continue to challenge you until you take some steps to either accept them, or resolve them.

Hopefully, in thinking about this, you discover that your behaviour is in alignment with your intentions. If there are any incongruencies in what you think, and the actions you are taking – it’s time to change!