Stress Management

Stress Solutions – Where’s Your Tiger?

By Meg Deak MCAT, LPC

Stress is a just fact of life, right? Just muscle through it and keep going, because you’re too busy and don’t have time to relax, right?  Well, stress can make us feel like there’s a tiger in the room. You may even be so used to the tiger, that feeling becomes normal. It’s really important to take the time to activate your relaxation response – send that tiger packing.

It’s easy to forget or ignore the damage the tiger can do. Remember stress brings hormones, like cortisol and adrenalin – these are for short term use, and not supposed to be constant. You owe it to yourself and your family to deal with the tiger.

About Stress

Let’s talk about your nervous system. You’ve got a

  • central nervous system
  • brain
  • spinal cord
  • peripheral system − all the nerve connections from everywhere else that create pathways to communicate with your brain

Breaking it down further, you have an autonomic nervous system (think automatic) that keeps the show running, things like:

  • breathing
  • heart rate
  • digestion

One part of the autonomic system, called sympathetic, is switched on under pressure – the tiger is in the room; the other part, parasympathetic, switches on when we feel safe and calm – the tiger has left the building.

When the tiger is in the room, heart rate and blood pressure sore, muscles contract and we consume a lot of oxygen – stress for sure!

Once safe, the switch is flipped, and the system:

  • lowers heart rate and blood pressure
  • relaxes muscles
  • decreases oxygen consumption (the heart becomes more efficient)

Thinking becomes clearer; productivity and creativity increase – in a big way.

Our tigers can take the form of work and family stress, financial worry and chronic, troublesome thoughts, which often make us angry, anxious and reactive. Some tigers don’t leave the building – ever.  The switch can’t flip…unless we actively flip it.  Sometimes, we need to learn or relearn how to flip the switch – to activate the relaxation response.

Activate Your Relaxation Response

One really pleasant way to retrain your brain and autonomic nervous system to activate the relaxation response is through Vibroacoustic Therapy (VAT) & Brainwave Entrainment, which uses the vibrations of sound to lull your body into a state of deep relaxation.  Over time, you can “remember” the feeling and recreate it – you can flip the switch.

With VAT and Brainwave Entrainment you can feel your muscles relax as you sit on a zero-gravity chair. As a special CD plays, you feel the vibrations from the chair, hear the sounds from ear phones, and see the vibrations as special glasses transform the sounds into mandala-like patterns of light. Your mind begins to quiet, as this whole experience takes your brain and nervous system into a deeply-relaxed, healing state.

Stress is a fact of life, yes, but to muscle through causes dis-ease and reduces productivity.  Are you really too busy to manage your tiger?

Meg Deak,  MCAT, LPC specializes in the management of stress, anxiety and emotional overwhelm.

For a free 20 minute complementary consultation including a vibroacoustic experience, Call us at 610-395-3355, today!

To subscribe to Twin Ponds Integrative Health Center newsletter click here

 

 

 

 

 Meta Description:

The

 

Massage, the Ultimate Mind Body Medicine

Massage, the ultimate mind body medicine isn’t just for the wealthy any more. . . and it isn’t a rare occasion when someone enjoys a massage.  Now-a-days, many people are taking regular trips for a massage to a spa, chiropractic office, alternative health centers, and even a hospital. Is this a sign that people are becoming proactive with their health?  Let’s hope so!

People of all ages are scheduling a massage on a regular basis because they have learned that it isn’t just a mental sensation that makes them feel better, but a very deep healing process. Something many of us don’t realize is that a massage also involves giving us a sense of being cared for, comfort, empowerment, and adds to the healing process by creating a deep connection with another human being, the massage therapist.  These are all so important for our over-all health.

          We have all heard that newborns need touching or they will die.  It seems that we humans never stop needing to be touched and a massage is the “ultimate touch.”

        Physical contact is more precious than ever in our world where so much of our interaction is virtual (Facebook, e-mails, and texts).

Most people don’t realize that our skin is our body’s largest organ, and when its sensory receptors are stimulated, the hormone oxytocin, the one that makes you feel good, is released. At the same time, cortisol, the stress hormone, is reduced.

We just don’t realize how stressed we are until we have relaxed enough to feel the difference.  That gives us a clue as to how deeply a massage can affect us. Since the skin is the largest “organ” in the body, it is amazing what benefits we experience when it is massaged or even when we are touched.

Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine and is increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations. Check the website, TwinPondsCenter.com, one of the largest complementary and alternative health centers in the country, to learn the many types of massages available.

It is the touch of massage that has become the ultimate mind-body medicine. If you’re into “preventative medicine,” this is a great avenue to take; however, once the body has gotten off balance, some studies have found massage to be helpful for:

  • Digestive disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Paresthesias and nerve pain
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint pain
  • Happiness
  • Lowered blood pressure & heart rate
  • Boosted immune function
  • Relief from pain
  • Stress release  (cortisol hormone level drops)
  • Release of muscle tightness

Because there are many different types of massage for specific conditions or diseases, it is recommended that you talk with a few experienced practitioners to be confident the one you choose is the right one for you. 

Despite the fact that massage is called the Ultimate Mind Body Medicine, massage isn’t meant as a replacement for regular medical care.  Let your doctor know you’re trying massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have.

For more information and help in finding the right practitioner for you, please call 610-395-3355.

 

 

Reducing Holiday Stress – by Greg Schweitzer

Reducing Holiday Stress

The holidays are here and for many of us it is a time of celebration and some sadness. For example, I have a great life, and I miss my deceased parents. They loved the holidays and provided me with my first tastes of Christmas magic. For me, the season accentuates their absence.

Many share bittersweet experiences at the holidays.  Perhaps your family is still intact, but your relationship with them is less that you would like.  At the holidays, we often remember the better times and regret the situation as it is today.  For others, holidays remind us of economic uncertainties.  Job security and unemployment are issues that haunt many.  For those trying to lose weight or battling an addiction, the holidays can present an especially challenging time.  For others, the winter climate in the Northeast can throw us off center.  As the daylight hours shorten, seasonal affective disorder brings on moods of sadness even depression.

Here are a few ideas to lighten our experiences at this time of year. 

  • First, take stock of the situation. What is in your control and what is not?  If you get depressed in the cold cloudy days of winter, you can’t change the weather however you could buy a “light box.”  Light therapy can help.
  • If you’re concerned about your weight or addictions ramping up over the holidays, find a support group or friend with whom you can discuss your concerns.  Enroll in a cooking class and learn how to make tasty healthy treats vs. high calorie low nutrient fare.
  • As for the family, having realistic expectations of their behavior always helps to keep us grounded during reunions.
  • Most importantly, practice self care.  If possible, spend time outdoors in nature – in the sunlight would be ideal.  Go for walks, exercise, meditate, eat nutrient dense food, and spend time with people who bring joy to your life.
  • Laughter is great medicine anytime of the year. And take a few conscious breaths when you are feeling overwhelmed.
  • Finally, there is nothing more important for our health than regular periods of rest.  Do not short change sleep in order to do more. If you feel tempted to answer some email or watch another TV program at night when you’re exhausted, ask yourself, “how important is it?”  Get some rest, go to bed.  You’ll wake up with more energy and be happier because you listened to your body and gave it rest.

Staying on Track for Life

Mehmet Oz, M.D., in his talk at the 2013 Integrative Healthcare Symposium held in New York City, declared that health care in America will bankrupt our nation unless we make changes to our lifestyles.  We need to eat better food, move more and decrease stress, he said.

Many clients say it is difficult for them to stay on track.  The fast pace and pressures of daily life overwhelm them.  Over years, such a life negatively impacts us mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. How to stay on track? 

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Michael Pollan’s excellent book, gives a candid assessment of the complex web of scientific, economic and industrial forces shaping our unhealthy food choices.  Importantly, he also provides simple methods that will help us all choose better food.  One example, check labels; if it has more than five ingredients, it’s heavily processed and nutritionally suspect.  He discusses Sarah Lee’s “whole grain white bread.”  It has over 40 ingredients, many unrecognizable to anyone other than chemists and food scientists.  Is it really food?  In contrast, his grandmother’s bread had 4 ingredients – flour, water, yeast and salt.

And what about stress?  How do we make wise and healthy choices in the face of pressure to do what is expedient.

Three important stress relievers are exercise, meditation and sleep.  Stress wears us down while these strengthen us.  Meditation and sleep provide vital rest that restores us for the activity ahead.  Meditation also quiets the mind and enhances awareness.

Movement and exercise release pent up tension in the body.  At the same time, our body grows stronger so that the challenges of the day are less taxing.

A healthier life is achievable for everyone.  It does require change, developing new habits.   The rewards are well worth it.  What would you pay for extra years of quality life?  It’s all available for a minimal financial investment.

A good place to start is with meditation.  After 15 minutes of meditation, your mind will be quieter.  You will perceive your needs more clearly, make better choices, and be happier.  Quieting the mind is fundamental for staying on track in life.  Effortless Meditation is part of my personal daily hygiene.

Greg Schweitzer, MBA, Director of Stress Reduction Resources and Effortless Meditation™ Instructor for more than 30 years

 

 

 

Immune System Boost

Protection
From Foreign Invaders!

We depend on our national military to protect our country from foreign invaders, but do you realize that YOU NEED TO PROTECT YOUR BODY from its foreign invaders?

Your personal military is your immune system.  How successful is it?  Is it supported and well trained by you?  Are you confident that you are well protected?

Your immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend your body against attacks by “foreign” invaders. These are tiny organisms such as bacteria, parasites, and fungi that can cause infections. Your body provides an ideal environment for many of these invaders and it is the immune system’s job to keep them out or, failing that, to seek out and destroy them.

When the immune system hits the wrong target, however, it can unleash a torrent of disorders, including allergic diseases, arthritis, and a form of diabetes. If the immune system is crippled, other kinds of diseases result and an immune system boost is necessary.

The immune system is amazingly complex. It can recognize and remember millions of different enemies, and it can produce secretions (release of fluids) and cells to match up with and wipe out nearly all of them.

The secret to its success is an elaborate and dynamic communications network. Millions and millions of cells, organized into sets and subsets, gather like clouds of bees swarming around a hive and pass information back and forth in response to an infection. Once immune cells receive the alarm, they become activated and begin to produce powerful chemicals. These substances allow the cells to regulate their own growth and behavior, enlist other immune cells, and direct the new recruits to trouble spots.

Sound like a war zone? Don’t wait until war breaks out. Get an immune system boost with a healthy lifestyle of eating well, exercising, and managing stress, and your immune system will support you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Carrie Lowry, Twin Ponds Integrative Health Center

                                                                                                                        

 

Improving Sleep & More

With State-of-the-Art Vibroacoustic Chair  

What a drag it was to get up in the morning to go to work. When the alarm went off, I just wanted to throw it out the window. I felt like my eyes didn’t want to open and my body felt like a load of bricks.  I finally had enough of this tossing and turning every night and decided to search for some way to get my nerves under control to enjoy a restful night of sleep.  With a stressful and demanding job, I couldn’t afford to work in a fog all day long.

 Then I saw an ad in a magazine about a state-of-the-art vibroacoustic chair at a health center that helps people with sleeping problems, among other things. I wanted to learn about this chair and experience it so I made an appointment with the counselor who is certified in this type of therapy.

I was fascinated that the process of hearing “sound vibration” through the body’s nerves, skin, and bones heals so many physical and mental problems.

Wow!  Just sitting on the o-gravity chair was incredibly comfortable.  I felt like I was floating as my muscles got more and more relaxed. The chair acted like electronic tuning forks that vibrated my whole body.  I was hearing multi-layered sounds from the ear phones and wearing glasses that transformed what I was hearing into mandala-like patterns of light while feeling the chair vibrate. The whole experience took my brain and central nervous system into a deeply relaxed-healing state – my brain was in balanced harmony!

Now that I had a session with the counselor and knew how to work the chair, I can visit the chair at my convenience and go home relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep. This vibroacoustic chair has done wonders for my health–and it’s easy on my pocketbook.

 Meg Deak, MCAT, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Vibroacoustic Sound Practitioner, Certified Emotional Freedom Techniques Practitioner, and Music Therapist

STAYING ON TRACK WITH EFFORTLESS MEDITATION™

After 35 years of teaching, it is very clear that people experience tremendous value from their meditation practice, and yet who hasn’t thought, I don’t have time to meditate today? It’s easy to lose focus on the things that are important to us when we’re running around responding to the relentless pressure of daily life.

What are some of those things that fall through the cracks when we lose focus?  Meditation, exercise, spending quality time with loved ones (building relationships), hobbies and other soul nourishing interests all get pushed out of the way.

Those attending tune up classes find that they help connect them with the power of meditation.  Most would benefit from a quarterly 1.25 hour tune up class, some could use it more frequently than that.  If you’re having difficulty finding the time to meditate, you definitely would benefit from at least a couple monthly classes.  Tune ups will fine tune your practice and jump start it and your life to a new level.

Our computers, automobiles, and homes all need maintenance to maximize the return on our investment.  Our meditation is the same.  As I was exercising the other day at my gym, I was struck by the number of people participating in a yoga class in the mind body studio.  That is good news, people are taking time to refine their practice in group classes.

Small group Effortless Meditation tune up classes are inspiring for all those who attend.  I invite you to join us.  And if you prefer, private meditation coaching is available.

YOGA FOR BETTER BREATHING & LESS MUSCLE TENSION

I recently became friends with Elise who lives down the street from me. I had known of her for a couple years, but just waved and said “hello”.  Recently we were formally introduced when she was hired at the same school I am now employed. It didn’t take long for us to become fast friends through yoga.

She was aware that I was a yoga teacher, so I mentioned to her where I was teaching  and she very quickly became interested in learning more about it. I knew it would help her manage the stress from working and raising a family, so I invited her to join in on my sessions.  She loved the idea.

While I was telling her about the schedule, she asked if she could invite one of her other friends.  I said “of course, the more the merrier”.  She had only done Yoga once before, and it was quite some time ago. They joined my next class and took it real easy at first, but it wasn’t long until they were both loving the challenging poses and the relaxation at the end of each class.  Not only did my friend, Elise, benefit, but her friend was so excited to tell me that after only a few sessions her breathing had improved and her muscles felt less stiff and tense.  She was amazed how great she felt in such a short time.

Now they are both doing all the poses in full length sessions and encouraging each other to practice regularly.  Elise couldn’t wait to tell me after the last session that she is less short of breath going up stairs and on walks with her dog, her tight calves and thighs are much less tense, and that there is improvement in her overall range of motion.

The power of Yoga is truly amazing for moms and even dads!

Laurie Lagerman, CYT, Happy Yoga practitioner and teacher for 13 years.

Living with Uncertainty

As a counselor, I sometimes find that the same issues come up for several people in the same week.  This week the issue has been uncertainty, and it’s only Wednesday.  Well, certainly, we are living in the most uncertain of times, and, as a baby boomer, I know that says something.

When I was a child, the fear was “The Bomb,” and I have vivid memories about the cold war era.  I lived near an Army reserve depot, and there was a flight path right over my yard.  At age seven, my best friend was the boy next door, also age seven, who was an authority on planes, because he and his older brother had built many model airplanes.  So, when the heavy transport planes and bombers would fly overhead, he would look up, shake his head and say with profound seriousness, “I’m not sure it’s one of ours.”  Those few moments were fraught with trepidation, until the plane cleared my house and he reassured me that it was, indeed, one of ours.   It’s easy to laugh now at my gullible little self and the boy who knew how to scare me.

Life is filled with uncertainty, and there’s always something we can find to worry about.  Worry is trying to control something, when we have no say in the matter.  So, how do we accept the fact that the only thing we can count on is change?  How do we ride the wave of not knowing? How do we live with an uncertain future?  Can we change the self-talk that fuels fear?

Almost daily, I see the changes that Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can help make in letting go of the need to control situations and people. EFT can calm a person’s system as they come to terms with uncertainty and change.  In my practice, I have the privilege of watching a mother let go of trying to fix her adult children’s lives, a teen come to terms with anxiety about school, or an abuse survivor begin to feel safe in the world.  I wish EFT would have been around, when those planes flew over my house.

Obsessive EGO-MONKEY-MIND & Meditation Relief

Yesterday, I received a contractor’s invoice for a home service that was totally unsatisfactory. They did not provide much of the service that’s advertised and yet they billed me as if they had.    The “warrior” in me was agitated and wanted justice.   I was determined to right this perceived wrong.

Although my prepaid legal service attorney was very ready to take action on my behalf, I began to feel uncomfortable about his suggested response.  Perhaps I was acting hastily, why was I so obsessed with this?

Eckhart Tolle, NY Times best-selling author of A New Earth and The Power of Now, might say that I was caught up in my ego-mind. The ego-monkey-mind, gets pleasure in running the show, justifying its position vs. others and distracting us from what we really want, e.g. joy and peace of mind.  I had definitely lost my focus and serenity over this issue.

Does such obsessive thinking ever occur in your life? How often?

Certainly, injustices are not fair and ideally can be reversed.  However, a balanced mind and approach to life is my goal.  Is this contractor issue really that important that it should consume so much of my mental energy and focus?

Fortunately, many years ago I learned how to take the steam out of my obsessive ego-monkey-mind thinking with Effortless Meditation™.  Although, as this contractor experience reveals, it’s an on-going process.   Obsessive thoughts still sporadically appear, they grab me; however, their roar and impact is far less today.  In meditation, I effortlessly return to mental stillness, a state of balance and peace.  Through regular daily meditation practice, I’ve experienced a growing internal serenity and freedom that enables me to “let go” of stressors and move on in my life rather than obsessing for long periods over things that I have very little, if any, control!

Injustices, both real and imaginary, are a part of life; however, our responses to them can change for the better.  Today, life is good, very good.  Don’t sweat the small stuff; and you know it’s mostly small stuff!

Greg Schweitzer, Effortless Meditation™ Instructor