Give Gifts of Experience This Year!

There are many ways to show affection and pamper the ones you love without purchasing ‘things’. I’ve noticed many people choosing ‘experience gifts’ instead of tangible items. Consider giving someone you love the gift of time together or the experience of doing something they love. I’ve done this with my sons for the past 6 years and we’ve had many memorable times together such as going to Great Wolf Lodge, a trip to New York City, or catching Raptors games. We’ve also gone skating on the Rideau Canal (after a hockey game) and seen Coldplay perform live.

Now when they make their Christmas wish lists they often include ‘things to do’ as some of their items! For the people in your life, what about vouchers for ski passes, yoga passes, gift certificates for restaurants and cafes? Cooking classes, music or art lessons? Spa services are always a popular choice, and tickets to the movies, theatre, concerts, sporting events are always fun.

GIVE THE GIFT OF HEALTH

Another option is to look around your community for services you use, ones that have made an impact on your quality of life, and consider giving your loved ones a certificate to try out those services. Gifts of health are always well received! I’ve had many people purchase an initial session with me or a series of adjustments for people they care about, and there is a tremendous amount of gratitude expressed to me by the recipients.

SHOP LOCAL

If you choose to give gifts during the holiday season, consider ones that are from local stores. Shop within your community if possible and you’ll save on gas, meet new people and support a small business.

But remember, time together is more valuable with the ones we love than any object, and you’ll get the benefit too! Take the stress away from shopping and get creative giving gifts of the heart in other ways this holiday season.

5 Ways You Can Stay Healthy Through The Holidays

During the holiday season many people are overstimulatedover-committed, and that leads to being overwhelmed.  This can leave people feeling emotionally and mentally drained, and certainly getting a lot less sleep than they would like! In my experience, January is a common time for people to get sick…

There are lots of opportunities during the holiday season for indulgent foods and extra alcohol. With the busier pace many people find themselves moving less and workout routines can also slip away. However, this doesn’t have to be how you spend your December! You can celebrate, indulge and still feel good! 

Make a few adjustments in your social calendar and you will enjoy the holiday season and start 2020 in good health.

1. Set intention and stick to it!

See this blog post for more ideas.

2. Be mindful of your food choices.

Eat regularly & prepare for outings. This should be a consideration for all year round, but what happens in the holiday season is that the sheer volume of parties and events can add up to over-consumption. 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 remember there is sugar and calories in every drink, and if you consume too many your judgement will surely be off.  Be sure to increase your intake of water to compensate for the dehydrating effects. Often we mistakenly believe that we are hungry when really what our bodies need is more fluid. Keep this in mind when you head for the table of food at your next event and try having a glass of water instead.To give your body time to digest and detoxify, consider 12 hour fast overnight. This is an easy habit and if done consistently can make a huge difference! Whatever time you eat your dinner, allow 12 hours before you eat your first meal the next day. (if you finish eating at 7pm, don’t eat breakfast until 7am or later the next day) If you have regularly been practicing intermittent fasting, keep it up!

3. Move your body.

Physical activity makes every system in your body work better. Instead of taking a break from your exercise routine during the holiday season, keep it up! Or consider getting started! You don’t have to wait until January to resolve to get in better shape.  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!(Trust me, I make excuses and procrastinate sometimes too! Ask my trainer!) 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.

4. Get social, but with intention.

(Again, see the blog post on why this is an important step!) 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. 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. Reach out to people who may find themselves alone during the holiday season and consider including them in your plans. The rewards will be far greater than just the social stimulation.

5. Give your body added support.

During times of added physical demand or emotional stress, it can be helpful to give your body MORE attention. Although I will always remind you to address the cause of stress in your life and in your body, if there are times when it’s unavoidable then helping your body adapt better will help. Keep up your consistent Chiropractic care, consider using essential oils to support your body, take epsom salt baths to relieve muscle strain and help detoxify, meditate, consider supplementation – whatever healthy habits you have used and loved in the past – keep them up or add more of them to your routine for December!

Healthy habits are always a choice!

Healthy holidays ARE possible. If you make a few small adjustments to your habits you’ll feel good throughout the season.

You CAN think about how you want to feel and make choices that align your holidays with that intention so that you make the right choices for you.

RYH Episode 22: 5 Ways You Can Have a HAPPY & HEALTHY Holiday Season!

There are lots of opportunities during the holiday season for indulgent foods, extra alcohol, social engagements and festive fun! However this season can also be physically and emotionally draining if you don’t keep a few important health habits in mind. You can indulge, celebrate and feel good during the holiday season and head into the new year ready to rock! These 5 tips will give you a good start.
 

Hungry for more? Check out the rest of the Rock Your Health Podcast episodes!
If you’re more of a reader than a listener, you may prefer checking out some blog posts!
If you love conversation, reach out here, I’d love to hear from you!

New Parent Posture!

Are you dealing with ‘new parent posture’? Your new baby arrives in the world, and for the first few months you spend many hours feeding them, rocking them to sleep, and staring down at them lovingly while they are in your arms. Then, after a few weeks of this consistent posture, you find yourself with some pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders. Sound familiar?

I call this “momma posture” but I know many dads that also can relate to this!

Truth is, physically there isn’t much difference between staring down at your phone or laptop and staring down at the newest addition to your family!

The posture is the same, which results in a tremendous amount of strain on the muscles in your neck and the associated vertebra in both your cervical and thoracic spine.  Here are a few tips to help minimize this strain for you:

Switch arms when holding baby. This is good for you and good for them! Your arms will get a rest, and you’ll develop strength in both arms in this position. Your child will also benefit in that their vision, hearing and sense of body position (think brain development) will also get stimulation from both directions.   Carry your baby right from the beginning so that you easily develop strength to hold them as they progressively gain weight. *Read this blog post on why  babies should be in their car seats only when travelling.

Use a variety of slings and carriers. I’m a huge fan of baby-wearing because it’s good for a child’s physical and emotional development, but also because in my experience it can make life as a parent easier! With your child securely attached to you your hands are free to hold the hand of another child, pick up your groceries, fold laundry, work on your laptop, or do anything else! Using different types of carriers minimizes the repetitive strain on your spine and shoulders and will help prevent injuries. When choosing a carrier there is always 1 specific guideline I give all parents watch this video

Stretch your neck and shoulders! When not looking down at your child, think about reversing the position of your neck. Tilt your head forward and back, turn your head side to side, roll your shoulders in circles forward and back, and hold your hands behind your back and open up your chest for a really great stretch. Doing these moves will help break up the repetitive strain on the muscles in your neck, upper arms and shoulders to compensate for forward postures. .

Forget Resolutions, Why Not Set a WORD instead?

Anytime is a great time for making changes in your life, but there is something special about the start of a new year. Whether you feel you need to make some drastic changes, take a few small steps in a new direction, or simply get back into an established routine, commit to doing something  this month to live a better life. I’ve never found resolutions work, and I stopped setting them years ago. Instead, I love this concept and have been implementing consistently. Maybe this year you might want to give it a try!

Think about your aspirations – what do you want for the year ahead? Is there an overriding theme that comes to mind for you? Can you sum up your intentions in a single word? I bet you can.

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.

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! I’ll tell you my word!

One word is easy to remember. Pick one for yourself and let it shape the months to come.

Set an intention for what you want 2017 to mean to you, choose a word to define it, make deliberate choices and take action! I’m here to help if you get stuck 😉

~ Dr Melissa

Fun In The Sun!

ID-10026830My favorite season is summer! I love the sunshine, relaxed schedule, outdoor living and so many sports and hobbies. Here’s a few ideas to help deal with the parts of summer that can occasionally make it a little less fun…

Sun Safety – Natural sunlight is essential for good health, time in the sun is a question of balance. Daily moderate exposure enables the body to produce vitamin D and make melanin (our body’s natural sunscreen). However, overexposure causes damage to the skin, accelerates aging, suppresses the immune system, and can lead to cancers. Children are much more sensitive than adults so taking some precautions is wise. Use hats, and cover the skin with clothing when possible. Seek out the shade and balance time out in the sun with breaks indoors. This also helps prevent heat exhaustion and dehydration. If you are choosing to use sunscreen, be mindful of the toxic chemicals in many sunscreens that can be worse for the body than sun exposure! Check out cosmeticsdatabase.com for a list you can shop with.

Bites and Stings – Stings from a bee or wasp are not usually dangerous unless you suffer from an allergy, but they should always be treated immediately nonetheless. Apply a paste of baking soda and water to a bee sting to relieve pain; make a compress from a pad of cotton soaked in lemon juice and apply to a wasp sting. *Multiple stings, or stings to the eyes, ears or mouth should be treated in the hospital.* Mosquitos Avoid bug repellents that contain DEET which is effective for repelling insects but also extremely hazardous to your health. Instead, prevent insect bites by diluting a few drops (or combination of) any of the following essential oils: eucalyptus, citronella, peppermint, rosemary, clove, citronella or lemongrass in half a mug of water, gently apply to exposed areas avoiding the eyes and mouth. Experiment and find a scent that you like, place in a spray bottle and keep on hand for easy access when enjoying the outdoors. Cider vinegar can be used the same way and the smell evaporates as soon as it dries.

Cuts & Bruises – So common in childhood, but also with active grown-ups, or random accidents! If there is extensive bleeding, or any other unusual symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, or a head of injury, take your child to the hospital for emergency treatment. Carefully clean the area and then apply a clean cloth soaked in witch hazel or a cold compress and some TLC! Arnica cream is also useful for soreness.

First Aid Remedies * Please note I am comfortable handling most minor injuries based on my training but have still made trips to the ER for stitches! If in doubt how to handle an injury or illness, call get in touch with me, contact your medical doctor or head to the emergency room for further advice. There are no pharmaceuticals, harsh chemicals or commercial preparations in my home, period. Any illness, accident or health concern, I can support naturally with some of the items listed here, herbal medicines, foods, fluids or rest! Here’s what I keep on hand for most first aid emergencies:

Arnica cream or Traumeel – for aches and pains, to help reduce inflammation

Homeopathic remedies –  taken orally, 5 granules under the tongue. Directions are on on most packages.

Arnica 30c – for bites, bruises, cuts, broken skin, burns, scalds, nosebleeds, stings, sprains, fractures, muscular aches and pains,

Aconite 30c  – for fear, anxiety, restlessness, sudden illness, intense pain, shock. Give it to any child who has been hurt or traumatized in any way

Chamomilla 30c  – for teething, insomnia, earaches, digestive troubles, anytime they need

Band-Aids, gauze, Tweezers, Ice packs

Hydrogen Peroxide, Rubbing Alcohol – Basic disinfectants, but the best way to clean a wound is to first wash your hands, then wash the wound with mild natural soap and water…this is what I use 90% of the time!

Witch Hazel – Strong natural antioxidant and astringent; good for disinfecting and promotes healing. Also helps with itching and inflammation.

Bach Rescue Remedy – A flower remedy designed for shock, trauma, any type of anxiety. Can be taken orally. Very relaxing and soothing.

Calendula cream – Great healing salve for cuts, stings, burns, scrapes and scratches, any skin irritation. Easy to find at any natural health store or at markets throughout the summer!

Olive oil – soothing to the skin and a great carrier oil for using essential oils. Use about a 1/4 cup combined with 6-10 drops of the essential oil. Essential oils are highly concentrated and should not be used directly on the skin. There are so many essential oils of benefit to keep in your home, these are my top 3:

Tea Tree Oil: antibiotic, antifungal, antiseptic and antiviral Eucalyptus: antibiotic, analgesic (pain relieving), antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory                                                            Lavender:antiseptic,antibiotic,analgesic,antiviral,antifungal,antidepressant,healing,and sedating

Healthy Holidays!

244800b7b65u7f4The words stress and holidays seem to go together, and yet that also seems rather ironic. 60% of North Americans say they stress they ‘won’t get everything done’ before Christmas. Frequent questions I hear in my practice during December include “Are you ready for Christmas?” and “Have you finished all your shopping?”. The stress doesn’t just apply to our emotional states, our bodies are also stressed by the foods we eat, minimal exercise and too little sleep.  I certainly see a higher level of stress and anxiety in my patients during the holiday season, leading to sluggish immune systems and more frequent injuries.

Is that what the holidays are supposed to be about? Of course not. It may sound cliché but we say the same things every year, and yet nothing changes unless we make a change. Doing the same things and expecting different results is…INSANITY!  So if you’ve been feeling the same way, I challenge you to 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’, ‘over-committed’, 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 over-indulge when you are out. If you are planning on consuming alcohol be sure to increase your intake of water to compensate for the dehydrating effects.

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

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

Make good choices for yourself and your family, and you’ll enjoy the holiday season more and start the new year in good health.

Balanced?

Recently I was sitting on the patio of my local café, reading, planning my day. When it was time to get started on the responsibilities I had, I joked with an acquaintance how reluctant I was to get to working, that it was so lovely sitting on the patio! His comment was brilliant:

“Give yourself a break. Enjoy the day. Whatever you have to do will all work out in the end, and if it hasn’t worked out yet – it’s not the end!”

I encourage you to balance time in your life for movement, healthy eating, nurturing relationships, getting enough rest, and playing.  You need all of these things in your life because you are a whole person, and because being healthy requires attention to all these areas.

We all have work responsibilities, family obligations and personal objectives. The key to healthy living is in balancing all of them every week, sometimes every day, and giving ourselves permission to do so.

Are the different facets of your life balanced? 

Sure, there are times when some of our responsibilities dominate, when we must focus specifically on doing the best we can to manage everything.

Some days, weeks, months are more balanced than others. I think it’s important to look at the larger picture of our lives when reflecting on this topic.  When raising young children, juggling work or changes in career, helping aging parents, moving or renovating a property, life can become a little overwhelming, and sometimes very unbalanced. I can say this from personal experience, and from working with people for so many years.

Even during these stressful times we can always become aware, and try to make small changes if that’s all we can make. Do the best you can – a little will always be better than none at all.

If things are seem to be a little unbalanced in your life ask yourself…

Is it a temporary situation given the stage of life you are in, or a constant challenge?

What can you do differently? 

Do you need to shift your priorities? 

How can you make a change, and what do you need to get started?

Where can you create more time in your life to support these other wishes you have?

Change can only happen if you choose to do so. Think about these questions, then act!

A Balancing Act

Just like re-building your body, re-building and transforming a living space is a process. After a year of great physical changes here on Hume Street, there are still projects to start, others to finish.

Life is like that too. Some tasks are still waiting completion, even though they are jobs  I can actually do with the limited buiding skills I have. Why?

Because I believe its my responsibility to live the life I encourage you to live. 

I encourage you to make time for physical activity and exercise.

I encourage you to maintain social connections and loving relationships.

I encourage you to choose good food and prepare as much as you can yourself.

I encourage you to get plenty of rest.

I encourage you to play with your children, and give them the attention they need.

I encourage you to have fun, pursue new hobbies and play!

I encourage you to balance all of these things in your life because you are a whole person, and because being healthy requires attention to all these areas.

Are the different facets of your life balanced? Sure there are times when some of our responsibilities dominate, when we must focus specifically on doing the best we can to manage everything.  However, if this is a consistent challenge for you – what can you do differently? Do you need to shift your priorities? How can you make a change, and what do you need to get started? 

We all have work responsibilities, family obligations, and personal objectives.

The key lies in balancing all of them every week, sometimes every day, and giving ourselves permission to do so.