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By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Deep breathing from Anxiety Therapy Online

Deep breathing from Anxiety Therapy Online

The Wounded Warrior Project on Facebook. recently posted about another study on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatments for veterans.  This study looks at effects of meditation on PTSD in improving outcomes and helping vets become less dependent on medication. (It’s confusing I know, meditation and medication, but follow along!) The article, “Meditation may reduce PTSD, medication in soldiers in UPC.com,” by Stephen Feller, explains that Dwight Eisenhower Army Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic and Augusta University researchers conducted a study mounted the study that taught active duty military personnel with concussions and PTSD to use transcendental meditation as part of their recovery. The study demonstrated that meditation techniques helped reduce the anxious, hyperactive state that is common with those suffering from PTSD symptoms.

According to Fellers article: “One month into the study, 83.7 percent of the meditation group had stabilized, decreased or stopped taking meditation, while 10.9 percent increased their medication dosage. Of the non-meditation group, 59.4 percent had stabilized, decreased or stopped using drugs, while 40.5 percent increased the amount of medication taken. Similar patterns were seen at two- and six-month follow-ups.” That’s good news for military and civilians with symptoms of PTSD.

How does TM help those with PTSD and concussions? Feller states that meditation helps people tune out distractions and feel an inner calm that helps reduce the amount of stress hormones in the brain while meditating.

Want to learn how to meditate via transcendental meditation? Go to the TM website here and learn more.

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach

The story about lead contamination in Flint, Michigan’s water supply is all over the news the past week. but lead contamination is not solely a problem in Flint. Any home with old pipes, or that obtains water from sources that are contaminated, can have lead in the water coming out of the tap.

From guelph.ca website

From guelph.ca website

Pregnant women and children are most vulnerable to the effects of lead ingestion, but there is no “safe” level of lead exposure. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website, “Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood.”

The WHO website goes on to explain how the higher lead levels affects children’s health specifically, causing  coma, convulsions and, in some cases, death. Children who survive severe lead poisoning may experience severe cognitive declines and behavioral issues.  Kids with lower levels of lead exposure may have lower intelligence quotient (IQs),  shorter attention spans and increased antisocial behavior, and do less well in academic achievement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information on how lead can get into your water and how to get your water tested here.

And outside Chicago, according to Vox, lead contamination in water is not just limited to Flint, Michigan water. Check out this article on Vox, “It’s not just Flint — every major American city has hazardous amounts of lead hurting kids” for information on lead contamination in New York City and New Orleans as well as other areas.

Chicago parent has specific tips on how to protect your children and family from lead exposure in your water here.

To learn more about preventing and treating lead exposure, check out, “9 Ways to Prevent and Deal with Lead Poisoning,” from Parents.com.

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

I really like the Wounded Warrior Project on Facebook. Aside from the great work they do helping wounded vets, Wounded Warrier Project Facebook authors tend to post about some of the most recent research on PTSD and other mental health interventions for veterans and military personnel. Much of the research is also beneficial for the general population as well.

I recently read one of their posts about a new study designed to determine if using nature as form of therapy for veterans with PTSD is helpful.  Sara Legg from the Daily Utah Chronicle, does a nice job of summing up the research for lay people in her article, aptly named, U Researchers Examine Nature as a Form of Therapy for Military Veterans. Legg reports that the recently funded study will be undertaken in late Summer or early Fall 2016 at the University of Utah. The research group is in the process of designing their research parameters and plan to use personal interviews, surveys and photos in the project.

 

Daniel Dustin, PhD, one of the study principal investigators and is a professor in University of Utah’s Parks Recreation And Tourism Department in the College of Health.

Daniel Dustin, Ph.D

Daniel Dustin, Ph.D

From his university bio: Daniel L. Dustin is a Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism in the College of Health. He holds a bachelor’s degree in geography and a master’s degree in resource planning and conservation from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in education with an emphasis in recreation and park administration from the University of Minnesota. Among his recent works as an author and editor are Stewards of Access-Custodians of Choice: a Philosophical Foundation for Parks, Recreation, and Tourism; Speaking Up and Speaking Out: Working for Social and Environmental Justice through Parks, Recreation, and Leisure; Service Living: Building Community through Public Parks and Recreation; The Wilderness Within: Reflections on Leisure and Life; Making a Difference in Academic Life: a Handbook for Park, Recreation, and Tourism Educators and Graduate Students; and Nature and the Human Spirit: Toward an Expanded Land Management Ethic. Link to Dr Dustin’s previous research here.

I am excited to read more about the study this Fall or Winter, 2016! I’ve been posting about the effects of nature on stress and mental health for years. Here are some of my research based posts on nature and stress:
A Cure For Burnout and Stress–As Simple as a Walk In The Woods!

In the Nature Versus Technology Contest, Nature Wins

Check out the Nature and Stress category of my blog for other posts about local and international places to experience nature, relaxation and peace.

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Recently I was looking for a new yoga class. I visited a local yoga place, hoping to get a gentle, basic hatha yoga class. The class was okay, but the teacher spent more time talking than she did having us relax and rest in the poses. Which was not actually relaxing.  So I went online and found a really great basic class on Amazon! After an hour going through the poses on a yoga mat in front of my very own television, I decided the video was worth sharing, for those of you that want to do yoga on your own in the comfort and warmth of your own home. many yoga classes are great in person, but I was happy to find this video for days that it is to cold to leave the house, or when you want a yoga class but your favorite teacher is not teaching that night!

 

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Yoga For Beginners: Poses for Strength, Flexibility and Relaxation is a basic yoga  class taught by Kanta Barrios, a Spanish yoga teacher. The class is taught by the ocean on a wooden pier. Barrios teaches in English, and when she has you hold each pose or she transitions between poses, the video shifts to pictures and sounds of ocean waves. Very relaxing and calming! One thing I like about this video is that she does not have you hold the poses for very long, so it is easier for those new to yoga to participate. Barrios only speaks about the poses and relaxation, she does not intersperse her class with ideas about her view of the world. It’s just pure yoga and it is very calming!

Barrios has other yoga videos on Amazon and once you master the first Beginning yoga class, you may want to check out her Yoga for Beginners: From Basics to Expansion class. Both classes are free with Amazon Prime, but are available on DVD from her website as well here.

Kanta Barrios, yoga teacher

Kanta Barrios, yoga teacher

More about Kanta Barrios from her website here. According to her website, she currently teaches at two studios in Dublin, Ireland. if that’s too far for you to trek to check her out, try her online or DVD classes!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 44,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

For many years, we’ve been offering gift certificates for sale in our WWM booths inside Whole Foods. However, customers have asked us if there is any way they can buy gift certificates online. We are happy to report that starting today, Working Well Massage is now offering gift certificates for our chair massage stations through our website!

Brian gives a relaxing chair massage at our Lincoln Park Location

Brian gives a relaxing chair massage at our Lincoln Park Location

Giving the gift of massage for the holidays let’s you make gift giving easy and appreciated! We offer individual gift certificates in increments of 15, 20 and 30 minutes. We also offer packages of 5 gift certificates and packs of 10 in increments of 15 or 20 minutes.

When you purchase your gift certificates online they will be mailed to you within one business day, along with a WWM brochure so that your gift recipient can learn more about using our massage services before he or she comes into the booth.

To purchase your gift certificates, go to the WWM website and make your selection. The website will guide to through  the purchasing process.

 

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

It’s helpful to receive comments on this blog. Comments often lead to new resource and connections. A recent Working Well Resource commenter, Julituli, directed me to Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky and her blog on Psychology Today, The How of Happiness.

I read through Dr. Lyubomirsky’s blog and found an intriguing post on Martin Seligman’s latest book, Flourish.

 

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Dr. Lyubomirsky’s review summarizes the premise of Dr. Seligman’s book, that we should focus on “flourishing” versus the overused term, “happiness.” Dr. Lyubomirsky makes the convincing agreement that, “Research reveals that happy people are not self-centered, gratification-seeking hedonists lacking in meaning or fulfillment.  To the contrary, hundreds of studies have shown that happiness relates and leads to such positive outcomes as creativity, productivity, effective coping, satisfying marriages, close friendships, higher earnings, longevity, and strong immune systems.” and she cites this as reason enough to continue to use the term “happiness.”

I’ve followed Dr. Selgiman’s work since I first heard the term “positive psychology.” His research has led to the creation of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness which teaches  resilience training for our nation’s soldiers to help them prevent incidences of PTSD and suicide and to help them cope with, not only the impact of serving in wartime, but of coming home to a life so different from what they experience in the field of battle.

Merriam Webster defines the word “flourish” as to grow well: to be healthy; to be very successful: to do very well, and to thrive. According to Amazon’s summary of Flourish, Dr. Seligman asks, “What is it that enables you to cultivate your talents, to build deep, lasting relationships with others, to feel pleasure, and to contribute meaningfully to the world? In a word, what is it that allows you to flourish? “Well-being” takes the stage front and center, and Happiness (or Positive Emotion) becomes one of the five pillars of Positive Psychology, along with Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment—or PERMA, the permanent building blocks for a life of profound fulfillment. ” In addition to stories of how the U.S. Army is now trained in emotional resilience, the book provides the reader with interactive exercises to help you explore your own attitudes and aims, with the goal of helping you get more out of life and to well, flourish!

If you want to learn more about how to Flourish, check out Dr. Seligman’s book, Flourish.

To read more of Dr. Lyubomirsky’s blog, go to The How of Happiness.

Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky

Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D.

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