Posts Tagged ‘Stress Management’

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

I came across an interesting and, in my view, important blog today called KevinMD.com. (Founded by Kevin Pho, MD, KevinMD.com is the web’s leading destination for physician insight on breaking medical news.)

Kevin-Pho-MD, Founder of KevinMD.com

Kevin-Pho-MD, Founder of KevinMD.com

The blog is written by medical doctors and covers topics about health care in general from a doctor’s point of view. Sadly, as I read some of the posts, I realize that doctors are as frustrated with our health care system as we are. Many of them want to help their patients but health care billing and payment cause them to make some hard choices in order to survive. In the post, Why I decided to opt out of Medicare as a provider by Dr. Natasha Deonarain, it is clear why continuing to see Medicare patients is not financially feasible for many physicians. I also believe that relying on insurance companies and Medicare separates people from their own health care decisions. Health care can be costly, but there are other options for routine checkups and basic medical needs.

In another blog post, by Dr. Doug Olson, Primary care doctors may no longer be needed, he explains how nurse practitioners (with nurse practitioners complete 2,300 – 5,350 hours of education and clinical training during five to seven years, compared to physicians’ standardized path of 21,700 hours over 11-12 years) and physician assistants can see 80-85% of the patients medical doctors see. Dr Olson believes that “we need to develop systems that get that select the 15-20% of patients that need a physician.” In his view this is  a better use of primary care physicians training and expertise is to treat the more complex medical cases while the nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants treat the remaining 80% of less complex cases. as patients relatively healthy folks can self select our health care providers by only going to primary care docs if they need complex services, and using Walgreens, Target and other urgent care centers for simple colds, flues and minor injuries and illnesses. And recently in Chicago, there is a service that offers doctors making house calls, Chicago Express Doctors.

Chicago Express Doctors

Chicago Express Doctors

Massage Therapy and The New World Of Health Care

So where does massage therapy fit into all this? First off, I acknowledge that at least in the State of Illinois, massage therapy is not really a recognized health care option. According to the scope of practice for Illinois Massage Therapists, we are to provide massage therapy for the purposes of general health and well-being, but not to treat nor diagnose illnesses. Yet one of the most reported benefits of massage therapy is stress reduction (which can be thought of as pertaining to “general health”). The health effects of stress on the body include numerous illnesses and can even lead to injuries. KevinsMD has an article on How the stress of caregiving can lead to stroke. The Mayo Clinic reports that many health problems can be effected by stress including stomach pains, headaches, chest pains, sleep problem and anxiety. According to WebMD, “Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.”

So what does massage therapy do for clients with stress-related ailments? According to one research study at Duke University, massage therapy was shown to reduce self reported stress in patients with brain tumors. Another pilot study showed that stress levels of inpatient psychiatric patients were reduced after massage therapy. And, according to the MayoClinic, massage therapy can not only reduce stress, but lead to other health benefits as well.

I do not think massage therapy is s substitute for medical care. And I do not think massage therapists should try to act as doctors nor prescribe nor diagnose illnesses. But I do believe that massage therapy sessions can be a source of relaxation, a time for our nervous systems to ramp down to parasympathetic mode versus ramping up to sympathetic (flight or flight) mode. Allowing ourselves to be cared for, relaxed and to spend time in an environment of reduced noise, stress and constant demands allows our bodies to better do what they do naturally: our hearts beat, our immune systems fight off infection and our lungs and muscles allow us to work, move and life. Allowing our bodies to stay healthy means less needs to visit the doctor so our medical providers can focus on us when we very sick, not for routine illnesses and injuries. For this reason, I think that massage therapists can offer stress relief BEFORE we get an illness, a stress-related injury or just plain get cranky from stress!

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

Recently I found out that a fellow student in the graduate psychology program at Roosevelt University has a company, Personalized Relaxation, that provides personalized relaxation CD’s. As a fellow personal trainer and master’s level psychology student, Jason Klinowski, , founder of Personalized Relaxation,  knows stress–and relaxation techniques–to help you combat the damaging effects of stress. In addition to his normal training in the master’s program, Jason also completed an additional Stress Management certification program at Roosevelt.

Here is what Personalized Relaxation  CD’s offer (from his website):

Jason offer two types of relaxation CD’s, a standard and a personalized. The standard CD includes progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, autogenic training, sound meditation, mindfulness meditation, yogaform stretching, and imagery. All are proven forms of effective relaxation exercises and can be done anywhere.

Mini Personalized Relaxation Workshop in a client's private home

The personalized relaxation CD includes 5 personalized spot relaxations (© Johnathan Smith 2009), or ‘Stress Stoppers’ tailored for individual lifestyles. Stress Stoppers are quick simple exercises that utilize certain aspects of relaxation exercises for use in highly stressful and inconvenient situations. These exercises can be used quickly and suddenly to help stop the negative effects of stress before they start.

Personalized relaxation offers you the following options:

  • A standard CD with 8 basic exercises that are great for all experience levels – (Order the download version and save on shipping costs!) The standard CD will help you to discover what forms of relaxation work best for you.
  • A personalized CD with up to 120 minutes or 10 tracks of exercises based on experience and preference –
    (CD’s Available Upon Request.) Each personalized CD will have different and unique tracks and scenarios. New personalized CD’s can be made for increasing experience levels and different themes/scenarios. Jason also gives you an added bonus with  every personalized CD order– A free stress ball!
  • Workshops tailored to fit the needs of your company or organization (church group, not-for-profit, spa party)

To learn more about Personalized Relaxation, click on the website here.  Or call Jason directly at  708-574-9298.

Note: Other than attending classes with Jason, I have no affiliation with Personalized Relaxation and receive no compensation for recommending his company. I am simply sharing the information in case any of my loyal readers is looking for stress management assistance beyond massage and exercise!

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

While I’ve been interviewing and setting up the new massage services at the Lincoln Park Wellness Club, I’ve been able to receive demo massages from a variety of talented massage therapists. And at the same time, I’ve been extremely aware of my own muscle issues and tension. As a massage therapist myself, I frequently feel my client’s tight muscles, work out muscle adhesions and try to educate them as best I can about proper body mechanics at work and how to stretch. But I myself find that, when times are stressful and my workload is intense, I don’t always have time to practice what I preach, exercise-wise. And that’s where massage therapy really saves me.

I don’t see massage therapy as a luxury these days. Without a few weekly chair massages and a table massage every other week, I would be in too much pain to function properly. When people tell me they can’t afford  a massage, I think, I can’t afford to NOT get a massage. Massage therapy is part of my wellness routine. Just like drinking water, getting enough rest and exercising as much as I can, time permitting. But why is massage so important to me and why do I promote massage, not just at my own Working Well Massage locations, but in general?

1. Massage therapy offers me a few minutes or an hour of time that is just for me. I don’t have to answer emails texts or phone calls. I don’t have to talk to the massage therapist if I don’t want to. My massage time is devoted to me and my wellbeing. The rest of the week I may be working hard, attending to my own clients but My massage time is just that MY time!

2. When I’ve been recovering from muscle injury or chronic tension, I can try to work out the muscle tension myself, but even for an experienced massage therapist, it’s tough to work my own neck and shoulders!

3.  For stress management, I can either hop a plane to somewhere warm and snorkel out in the ocean or I can go get a massage. Cheaper than a plane ticket, easier to do more frequently than a few times a year, and certainly less expensive!

4. I find that most massage therapists and certainly the ones I select to work at Working Well Massage locations, are warm, kind people. They care about my well being and my pain and they try to help me. I like my dentist too but even though he is super nice and tries not to hurt me, I don’t run to see him as often as I get a massage.

5. In our fast paced world, it’s s easy to lose touch with our physical bodies. I can spend hours in front of the computer and not move. I try not to but I know that many of my clients are in the same boat. When your job involves computer work, it’s difficult to get enough movement in during the day and it’s easier to forget that our bodies need movement and rest. On days I am computer bound, I tend to feel more muscle tension and even feel a little cranky. But within about 10 minutes of a good massage, my mood lifts, I feel less tension and I know I will feel much better at the end of my massage. And I do!

6. I am not an anti-Western medicine fanatic. I go to the doctor for my checkups, I get mammograms and take prescription drugs when needed. But I don’t tend to need a lot of prescription drugs.  Due to my relatively healthy living habits, most of my pain tends to come from allergies or muscle aches and pains. So instead of taking a pill every day or needing frequent medical care, I get regular massages to help me manage the aches and pains of an active aging body.

There are many other reasons I get regular massage, but enough about me!  What about you? Why do you receive massages? Tell us in your comments.

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

Recently I gained  a new Twitter follower, Ted Stark. Ted likely found me via one of my many posts about hiking in nature (with pics included). I checked out Ted’s website, and was visually inspired. Ted’s nature photos make me want to travel and see first-hand the many beautiful sights he captures in his pics. Ted also take great pics of wildlife and urban scenes, but it’s his nature photos that move me the most. To go to Ted’s Website and photo gallery, click on this link.

Ted Stark, photographer

For those of us that live and work in an urban environment, simply looking at photo of a restful nature scene can help relax us for a moment.  Nature pics take us out of our fast paced multitasking mode and give our eyes and minds something to focus on.

Check out Ted’s photos and see for yourself if you are moved or inspired. It’s more likely to relax you than a game of Angry Birds. 🙂

Who is Ted Stark and Why is He So Wild About Wildlife Photos?

From his website: Theodore A. Stark is a Colorado native and an avid nature, wildlife, and architectural photographer. He also does limited portraiture work, focusing in the candid style. Stark is a graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in Management Information Systems. He and his wife, Erin, currently live in Centennial, Colorado.

Stark has been involved with photography since 2001 when he experienced a life changing event that, literally, changed his perspective on the world around. Add to that Stark is a Type I Diabetic and, as he puts it, “… I am aware that I very well may lose my vision at some point, so I should share what I can see while I still can.”

Find Ted’s tweets on Twitter here. And, if you are so moved by his work that you must have some for yourself, he does sell calendars, prints and books of his photography here.

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

I came across an interesting blog from a Wellness Center in New York, The R.E.S.T. Initiative. I really like the post about relaxation and how practicing relaxation exercises may actually change the way your body responds to stress: How Relaxation Exercises Can Heal You – Mind, Body and Spirit.

An excerpt of the article is below:

“Dr. Herbert Benson was quoted in the US News and Planet Report saying, ‘What we’ve discovered is that after you evoke the leisure response, the very genes which can be turned on or off by tension are turned another way. The thoughts can actively flip on and flip off genes. The mind is not separated from your physique.’

His research demonstrates that equally as you may trigger well being issues within the physique by means of way of life choices, it is possible to also create superior well being by means of way of life also. This may be the very first extensive study to indicate how thoughts says can impact gene expression…

Studying to harness your own individual energy and to calmly concentrate inside is often a useful ability for managing hectic instances of tension. Fostering an capability to slow your breathing and decrease your heart rate by way of practiced relaxation strategies is often highly restorative, permitting you to think additional plainly and calmly. Equally as you’ll be able to harm your wellness through tension connected sickness, research are actually being completed to indicate that you can recover your physique by means of employing tactics that relaxed the mind and body. Positive outcomes from rest techniques were long thought to become “all inside the head” with the consumer, but Scientists are now beginning to discover much more definitive evidence that these approaches of relaxation response possess a biofeedback mechanism that alters gene expression.”

To link to the complete post click here.

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

Worksite Wellness Programs Increases Productivity and Employee Retention

This coming week is National Workplace Wellness Week!  And no, it’s not just another Hallmark Holiday,  it’s a government resolution to promote workplace wellness.

History of Workplace Wellness Week

In 2008, the the U.S. House of Representatives passed a federal resolution creating National Workplace Wellness Week. The resolution, which was endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA), Chamber of Commerce, Partnership for Prevention and many other groups, designated the first full week of April as “National Workplace Wellness Week.” During this week, private and public employers across the country are encouraged to invest in the health of their employees by creating worksite employee health promotion programs, or by sharing their worksite wellness experiences with other employers.

Workplace Wellness Statistics

The American Heart Association offers a handy fact sheet with some alarming statistics on workplace wellness:

· Health care costs in the United States doubled from 1990 to 2001 and are expected to double again by 2012

· Chronic illnesses affect more than a third of working-age Americans and the costs associated with chronic diseases account for approximately 75 percent of the nation’s annual health care costs

· Over 130 million Americans are employed across the United States and since a significant part of their day is spent at work, comprehensive, culturally sensitive health promotion within the workplace is essential to maintain and improve the nation’s health

· Nearly 60 percent of employers’ after-tax profits are spent on corporate health benefits. An estimated 25-30 percent of companies’ medical costs per year are spent on employees with excess health risk. That contrasts to three decades ago when only seven percent of corporate profits paid for health costs

· Addressing risk factors early can make a difference. For example, $5.6 billion in heart disease costs could be saved if one-tenth of Americans began a regular walking program

· Employer spending on health promotion and chronic disease prevention is a good business investment. Programs have achieved a rate of return on investment ranging from $3 to $15 for each dollar invested with savings realized between 12 and 18 months

National Workplace Wellness Week starts on April 5th and offers a new approach to some old stubborn problems that employers and employees face related to costs, health, productivity and morale, to mention a few. This information can help any company and can help them to take action to conquer their own health and wellness issues.

Get Well With Working Well Massage

One way to help employees reduce stress, increase productivity and computational skills and reduce muscle tension is to bring in Licensed Massage Therapists from Working Well Massage to give staff members a short chair massage.  Massage is an easy, cost effective way for employers to kick off or inject new energy into a workplace wellness initiative.

If your company already has a workplace massage program, tell us what you like about it! How has it benefited you?

if your company does not provide employees with massages, ask your Human Resources Department to look into it. You, and your fellow staff members, will be glad you did! For information on setting up a workplace wellness program including massage therapy, go to our website.

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Image via Wikipedia

An important part of stress management is managing how we perceive events and situations in our lives. Now, new research shows that talking about our problems and finding resolution can make us happier than cold hard cash. Who knew? Read more from Health Day News to find our why talk therapy may make you happier than money in the long run.

SATURDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) — Psychological therapy may be much more effective at making people happy than getting a raise or winning a lottery prize, suggests an English study.

Researchers analyzed data on thousands of people who provided information about their mental well-being and found that the increase in happiness from a $1,329 course of therapy was so significant that it would take a pay raise of more than $41,542 to achieve an equal boost in well-being.

That suggests that therapy could be as much as 32 times more cost-effective at improving well-being than simply getting more money, the researchers said.

The study was published online Nov. 18 in the journal Health Economics, Policy and Law.

“We have shown that psychological therapy could be much more cost effective than financial compensation at alleviating psychological distress,” said study author Chris Boyce, of the University of Warwick. “This is not only important in courts of law, where huge financial rewards are the default way in which pain and suffering are compensated, but has wider implications for public health and well-being.”

Read entire article at Health Day News here.

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