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Archive for the ‘Nature and Stress’ Category

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

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers, clients, friends, families and to our staff!

Turkey Run State Park. Photo by Sue Shekut.

Turkey Run State Park. Photo by Sue Shekut.

Gratitude is in the name of today’s holiday: Thankfulness is defined by the dictionary as appreciation, gratitude.

According to scientific research, expressing gratitude is actually good for our health! in her article,
7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round
in Forbes magazine, Amy Morin, provides us with helpful ways that gratitude improves health.

• Gratitude helps us expand our social support network, important to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and give us friend to turn to when we need emotional support.

• Gratitude improves physical and psychological health. People that are thankful tend to take better care of themselves, feel happiness and a sense of well-being.

• Gratitude increases our ability to feel empathy and reduces our tendency to become aggressive.

• Gratitude improves our self-esteem and reduces our tendency to make social comparisons which can leave us feeling less than. When we look at what we have rather than what we don’t have, we tend to feel more satisfied and less envious of what we feel we lack.

• Gratitude improves our resilience helping us heal from trauma and making us more resistant to the negative effects of difficult circumstances in the future.

I am grateful to be able to provide hundreds if not thousands of massages for the past 16 years at Working Well Massage, grateful to have such wonderful clients and team members and relationships with partners such as Whole Foods Market and River North Wellness Center and grateful to be able to blog about it!

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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.

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

Chicago has had a very wet Spring, like much of the U.S. Hiking in boggy muddy land is not as easy as hiking on dry land. Sitting inside and waiting for Summer to arrive can be frustrating. While we are waiting for Summer to warm up, it is a good time to start planning some hikes and getting yourself ready for warmer weather. Or venture out and brave the elements now!

Waterfal Glen

Waterfall Glen

Backpacker magazine recently posted lists of great local hikes in major cities around the U.S. They have a few good suggestions for Chicagoans in an article entitled Chicago’s Best Local Hikes.

Keep in mind that some of the best trails in the Chicago area at and near Waterfall Glen are lined with limestone (gravel), not dirt. So although they may be wet, the trails there won’t be as muddy! The trails also make mountain biking a bit more adventurous (versus biking a paved trail like at Tinley Park.)

If you want to brave muddy trails between Spring showers, Outdorky has some great tips for hiking in mud here. And SunValleymag.com has some additional tips of Spring hikes in muddy terrain Sun Valley Mud hike tips.

What are your favorite trails to hike this Spring? Share your thoughts in our comments section

 

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

Costa Rica is a country of many different climates and elevations. From mountains to rain forest to sandy ocean beaches, Costa Rica has it all! But you do not need to actually travel to Costa Rica to experience the beauty and relaxation to be found there. Enjoy the photos below to help you  handle stress and relax your nervous system. Then think about your favorite place and either plan a trip there, or go there using your mind with creative visualization.

Costa Rican Beaches Make Relaxation a Normal part of Life. Photo by Sue Shekut.

Costa Rican Beaches Make Relaxation a Normal part of Life. Photo by Sue Shekut.

Montezuma Costa Rica's Best Swimming Beach. Photo by Sue Shekut

Montezuma, Costa Rica’s Best Swimming  Boat Docking Beach. Photo by Sue Shekut

 

Rocky beaches provide great exercise for your legs and the consistency of crashing waves relax your nervous system! Photo by Sue Shekut

Rocky beaches provide great exercise for your legs and the consistency of crashing waves relax your nervous system! Photo by Sue Shekut

 

Where are your favorite places to relax? When you visualize relaxation places, what do you imagine?

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

Chicago area cyclists, get your ride on this Sunday at the Palos Meltdown hosted by CAMBr, Chicago Area Mount Bikers.
On line registration is now closed but you can register at the race itself on Sunday. Details on start times for each age group here.

Race Cost: $40 Race Day Registration, On Site at CAMBr Registration Tent. Cash or check ONLY. NOTE: Registration closes 45 minutes prior to the start time of each race.

To become a supporting member of CAMBr AND get a discount on your race registration at http://join.cambr.org

Racing Palos!

Racing Palos!

7th Annual Palos Meltdown Hosts 2013 Midwest Regional XC Championships!

Race details from the CAMBr website: The Palos Meltdown is Chicagoland’s premier mountain bike event. With racing for all ages and abilities this event draws riders from all over the region. In it’s fifth consecutive year, the Meltdown is held as a fundraiser for CAMBr to help build and maintain mountain bike trails in Chicagoland.

The race is held on Palos Forest Preserve’s extensive singletrack trail system just half an hour outside of Chicago. The trails are flowy, fun and built with all levels of rider in mind.

The event strives to keep a fun family atmosphere while providing a both challenging and fun race experience for first timers to the seasoned elite athlete. For 2013 we have changes planned to help further raise the level of fun and racing excitement!

COURSE DESCRIPTION

Palos Meltdown!

Palos Meltdown!

From CAMBr website: Snaking, fast and flowy singletrack is what Palos is known for. The course will meander itself over rolling hills and around lakes and sloughs. Much of the course is on rolling terrain so riders looking for elevation change won’t be disappointed! The course will offer leg stinging climbs and exciting descents. The trails are built for all levels of riding ability. Faster riders will find them much more challenging as obstacles such as ravines and roots become a challenge at speed.

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

One of the reasons I enjoy visiting Costa Rica is that the natural beauty of the country relaxes my nervous system. Sitting by the ocean and just watching the birds fly over the water, listening to the sounds of waves lapping at the rocky shoreline and feeling the sun on my skin helps my body naturally relax and soothes the stress from big city life. I’m sharing a few photos with you so that you can  visually experience some of the peace and beauty of Costa Rica. More to come!

Costa Rican Shoreline. Montezuma, CR. Photo by Sue Shekut.

Costa Rican Shoreline. Montezuma, CR. Photo by Sue Shekut.

Another reason to visit Costa Rica is the variety of adventure tours you can undertake. Weather you join a tour group or venture out on your own, the ocean, the jungle and the shore have many wonders to enjoy!

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The little town of Montezuma is only two streets, a few restaurants and shops and many small hotels with yoga classes. A tour company boat drops off adventurous tourists after a long day at sea! Montezuma beach was the least rocky and best swimming in the area this Spring. Photo by Sue Shekut.

I found that walking the rocky shoreline and hiking in shallow water gave my legs a great workout! You can’t help but climb and balance as you walk along the shore. It’s an excellent workout for lower legs and helps improve your balance.

 

Walking and climbing the rocky Costa Rican shoreline gives your legs a great workout! Photo by Sue Shekut.

Walking and climbing the rocky Costa Rican shoreline gives your legs a great workout! Photo by Sue Shekut.

 

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

This past weekend, we decided to get out of the big city and spend some time in nature!  We went to Raccoon Grove in Monee, IL, and saw our first strong signs of Spring.

Raccoon Grove, Monee, IL

Raccoon Grove, Monee, IL

Green buds poking out of the brown dead leaves was a god sign that Spring really is approaching.

Spring peeking through the Fall leaves

Spring peeking through the Fall leaves

I also took a minute to record the soothing sounds of a bubbling brook. Listening to water rushing over stones, like listening to a small waterfall, can be peaceful and relaxing.  Enjoy the video and make a plan to visit a nearby Forest Preserve soon yourself!

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