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Archive for the ‘stress’ Category

The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Tension Headaches

Posted on: July 11th, 2024 by TouchStone Health

by Maggie Seegmiller, RMT

Massage therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches, which are often caused by tight muscles in the neck, shoulders, and head. This non-invasive approach can provide significant relief by addressing underlying muscle tension and promoting improved blood flow to the affected areas. The subsequent increased circulation helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to muscles, thus reducing pain and discomfort. Additionally, regular massage therapy can address long standing postural imbalance which can help to reduce or eliminate the muscle strain that often leads to headaches.

One of the key benefits of massage therapy for tension headaches is the marked reduction of stress, which is often a trigger for this common condition. The soothing nature and focused application of massage can promote the body’s relaxation response, which not only alleviates the immediate symptoms of a tension headache but also helps to prevent future occurrences. 

Overall, massage therapy provides a holistic approach to managing tension headaches by addressing both physical and psychological strain. Its ability to relieve muscle tension, reduce stress, and enhance natural pain relief mechanisms makes it a valuable treatment option for those suffering from this condition. By incorporating regular massage treatments into their routine, individuals can experience a reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life.

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The Benefits of Massage for Nervous System Regulation

Posted on: June 17th, 2024 by TouchStone Health

by Maggie Seegmiller, RMT

Massage therapy has been shown to be beneficial for nervous system regulation through various mechanisms that reduce stress and promote relaxation. One of the primary ways massage achieves this is by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s rest-and-digest response. Research indicates that massage therapy can significantly lower cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress, and increase the production of serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters that contribute to a sense of well-being and relaxation .

Additionally, massage therapy has been found to activate the body’s pressure receptors, which send signals to the brain to reduce the production of stress hormones and stimulate the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve plays a crucial role in controlling the parasympathetic nervous system and helps in lowering heart rate and promoting a state of calmness. Studies have shown that regular massage therapy can enhance vagal activity, leading to improved mood and a reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms.

Furthermore, massage therapy can improve blood circulation and ease muscle tension. Enhanced blood flow ensures that oxygen and nutrients are more efficiently delivered to tissues, which can help in healing and reducing pain. The relaxation of tense muscles and the alleviation of pain through massage can also reduce the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response, which is often overactive in individuals with chronic stress and anxiety .

Overall, the benefits of massage therapy for nervous system regulation are well-supported by scientific research. By promoting relaxation, reducing stress hormones, stimulating the vagus nerve, and improving circulation, massage therapy can effectively help maintain a balanced nervous system and contribute to improved mental and physical health.


References:

  1. Field, T. (2014). Massage therapy research review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 20(4), 224-229.
  2. Moraska, A., Pollini, R. A., Boulanger, K., Brooks, M. Z., & Tepe, R. (2010). Physiological adjustments to stress measures following massage therapy: a review of the literature. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 7(4), 409-418.
  3. Diego, M. A., & Field, T. (2009). Vagal activity, early growth and emotional development. Infant Behavior and Development, 32(3), 355-362.
  4. Moyer, C. A., Rounds, J., & Hannum, J. W. (2004). A meta-analysis of massage therapy research. Psychological Bulletin, 130(1), 3-18.
  5. Delaney, J. P., Leong, K. S., Watkins, A., & Brodie, D. (2002). The short-term effects of myofascial trigger point massage therapy on cardiac autonomic tone in healthy subjects. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 37(4), 364-371.

Feeling Burnt Out? You’re Not Alone!

Posted on: January 5th, 2022 by TouchStone Health

By Julie Robertson, CCLS, MSW, RSW

How Are We Feeling?

Is anyone tired yet? Feel like crying, yelling, or stomping your feet with the latest provincial restrictions? As we continue into this 4th wave of the pandemic and kids return for another round of online schooling, many are feeling pushed past the point of being able to hold it all together. So go ahead, cry, stomp or yell (maybe into your pillow) and let everything you feel have its place. The more people I talk to these days, the more I realize that so many are experiencing burnout from the challenges of the last two years. Yes, we’re coming up to two years living through the ups and downs of the pandemic, and that is a long time to be under this much stress. 

What is Burnout?

Feeling burnt out is a concept we threw around maybe a bit lightly in previous times to describe big stressors such as crunch time during exams, busy streaks at work, or shuttling kids to activities on top of working and caring for family members. Those things all have potential for burnout but add a pandemic on top of that and it seems almost inevitable that most people would be fizzling and fading out this far into it. One difference is that before, we often caught a break. Exams finished, workloads ebbed and flowed, and kids activity sessions ended with each season. Now, there has not been the same balance, no end to the stress of the pandemic, and so much unknown with all of it that we are left is stress mode for way too long with no way to rest and recover. Even if we are eating healthy balanced foods, drinking water, going for walks and getting fresh air, for many people it doesn’t seem to be feeling any better. This is beyond the tired of before and recognizing it for what it is can help switch from swimming in circles to energy conservation mode, allowing the chance to heal when we have space. Burnout can be described as the imbalance between too much stress and the lack of resources to cope with it, or “feelings of depleted energy or exhaustion because of continual stress”. 

Some symptoms of burnout could be:

  • Feeling exhausted, despite efforts to relax and replenish
  • Irritability or hostility
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Feeling distanced from others, friends, family, kids
  • Lack of fulfillment in work, parenting etc
  • Feeling trapped

My Coping Tools Aren’t Working!!

So, hands up if you’re feeling depleted from continual stress? How many are feeling the lack of resources to cope with that stress? Are the tools you usually pull out to help cope just not working under the current circumstances? I don’t think you’re alone with that one! The things that normally help us cope like taking time off with friends, some alone time with a cup of tea, going to the gym, connecting socially with co-workers to vent, or even accessing affordable healthy foods have all been interrupted. Health care workers, teachers, other front-line staff especially are struggling with the heaviness of working in helping professions and holding other people’s emotions. Those working in services jobs also have the stress of face-to-face contact, and grumpy grumps complaining about not getting enough ketchup packets with their order is adding layers to an already stressful industry to work in. 

Is Parental Burnout a Thing?

And then there are the parents of school age kids and youth, who are now facing another few weeks (at least) of doing it all and having no space to take a breath and regroup. Parental burnout is noticeable on the whispers, sometimes loud whispers, of many parents who feel like they are hating being parents right now. On top of feeling the burnout symptoms, many parents then add on shame and guilt for not enjoying their kids as much as they ‘should’, or for not being able to provide as much support as their kids need right now. 

Now What?

So, after recognizing we’re feeling burnt out, what do we do if our usual coping strategies aren’t working anymore, or we can’t implement them because of the circumstances we’re in?

1. First, breathe. That’s all, if nothing else just breathe. Pretend to smell freshly baked cookies with a deep breath, then blow out to cool them off. 

2. Let yourself feel. Everything that is coming up, even the hate, anger or frustration has a place and can be honoured. Just because you have those feelings doesn’t mean they are permanent, but they are valid and can be allowed to be recognized and named for what they are. And scream into a pillow if you need to, just maybe warn people nearby first. 

3. Go back to basics of survival. Eat, sleep, create ways to feel safe and prioritize the most important things to get through each day. Oh, and water, don’t forget to drink water!

4. Move. If your body is already stressed to the point of being in fight or flight mode, don’t push it further into stress by pressuring yourself to fit in workouts you would normally do when feeling good. Be gentle, move your body, get some fresh air, or just stretch when you have a few minutes throughout the day. 

5. Reframe your thoughts in helpful ways. After letting all the feels do their feeling, look at picking out a few mental statements that have room for a shift in perspective and try them on. Things like “I can’t stand a messy house, I am failing at keeping it together if I can’t keep things organized” could shift to “I can’t stand a messy house, but it won’t be like this forever (even if it feels like it right now). I can leave the toys where they are and focus on doing one load of laundry for today”. 

6. If help is offered, take it, or not. If having your mother-in-law in your house for the day to ‘help’ doesn’t feel very helpful, then saying a polite no thank you might be the less stressful choice, and that’s ok. 

7. Talk to someone. A friend, a counsellor, a neighbour, a sympathetic pet. Journaling or making voice notes to vent can also be helpful. If you’re really feeling down, call a helpline or head to your Emergency Department. 

And that is all I’m going to say because a bigger list is not always better. In times of crisis, illness, burnout, we can let go of all of the extras we have padded onto our lives, the frills, bows and expectations that aren’t essential to what we need, and just focus on taking care of the things that get us through. The frills and bows and be added back on later, if we still want them that is!

If you feel you need more support finding ways to cope that can fit with your circumstances, consider booking a free 15-minute consultation, or go straight to booking a 50-minute session with Julie. All sessions are virtual, Social Work fees are covered by most insurance plans. 

By Julie Robertson, CCLS, MSW, RSW

Welcome Julie Robertson, Registered Social Worker to TouchStone Health!

Posted on: December 8th, 2021 by TouchStone Health

Starting in January 2022, Julie will be offering counselling and support to help clients cope with issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, grief, birth and fertility issues including NICU parenting, and parent coaching for those who are struggling with parenting higher needs children. Julie works from a trauma informed perspective and draws from a mix of counselling theories to create a unique treatment path based on individual experiences and goals. She is currently accepting adult clients for virtual sessions and is able to support parents and caregivers with issues related to children and youth.

To book an appointment or for a free 15 minute consultation go to: online booking

TUINA – ACUPRESSURE BODY WORK

Posted on: May 3rd, 2021 by Anna Totzke

By Anna Totzke, Registered Acupuncturist

Tuina is a type of bodywork based on Traditional Chinese Medicine principles. Tuina focuses on the pathways in the body called meridians to help encourage circulation in the body. Acupressure is also applied to acupuncture points to promote healing. Depending on the client’s constitution and concern, various Tuina techniques are used to help the body to heal by either: unblocking, nourishing, warming/cooling, dispersing/gathering, stimulating/calming, and helping with circulation throughout the body.

I enjoy applying Tuina along with cupping, acupuncture, or moxibustion but is a wonderful and effective treatment on its own. Tuina is also a great option for people that would prefer a needle-less treatment or a more hands-on approach.

Tuina Can Help With:

Muscle and Joint Pain and Weakness: Back pain, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, cervical spondylosis, wry neck, chronic neck and shoulder tension, back pain, sciatica, leg pain, hip pain

Menstrual / Fertility: PMS and menstrual problems, painful periods, irregular menstruation, amenorrhea, fibroids, infertility

Digestive: Digestive & inflammatory bowel conditions (IBS, colitis, constipation, diarrhoea, Indigestion, poor appetite, epigastric pain, abdominal pain)

Head / Sinus Issues: Headaches and migraines, Sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, facial paralysis, toothache, teeth grinding, TMJ issues

Respiratory / Chest: Palpitations, angina, cough and asthma, plumstone throat, rib tightness

Emotional / Mental: Stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia 

We Can do Hard Things and Everything is Figureoutable

Posted on: September 14th, 2020 by TouchStone Health

by: Dr. Amanda Cressman, N.D.

I’m always so grateful when the right book comes along at the right time. I’ve had this happen recently when I read Untamed by Glennon Doyle and Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo.

For many people, this year, at this time, in this season is bringing about very hard things where perspective can be lost. These words have helped restore that for me.

In my house, I have a few select quotes that are hung up in rooms as I try to instil these thoughts into my children but also into myself. In my children’s playroom I have this framed quote, “Everything is Figureoutable”. This quote comes from Marie Forleo and her book named just that. Marie is a life coach, an enterpreneur and many other things. She is an example and a reminder that we can define who we are and how we experience things with our attitude and perspective.

A week into having this quote up and framed in our house, I was doing some computer work where I was needing to learn a new system which is one of my least favourite things to do. My youngest daughter saw me sigh, looking defeated and stressed and said, “mommy, you know everything is figureoutable…you can figure this out.” I had put up this quote in their playroom that very week and shared the concept with them, bringing it up when they were frustrated, teaching them that they have the ability to figure things out. When my daughter said this, it made me smile large, seeing that a 5 year old had locked these words in as a belief in a few short days where I obviously had more work to do. I repeated it in my mind

I love this phrase because it’s playful, it’s positive and it’s powerful.

And it’s been very helpful in this peculiar year, in this precarious season as we all have no idea what the next bit of time will be for us all.

But Marie reminds us that everything is figureoutable. I just need to get my mind out of the way to make room for solutions and ideas. If you like this phrase and feel as though it could benefit you, please feel free to download this image.

The second book that has been helpful is Glennon Doyle’s, Untamed. It is a powerful piece of work. It’s raw, it’s real, it’s courageous and it’s important. Glennon shows up authentically on each page and if you have the audio version of her work, she’s as good of an orator as a writer, which is saying something.

Out of many of the highlighted quotes from her book, this one has landed the strongest for me….“We can do hard things.” We are all continuing to experience changes with uncertainty of the coming months, but her words, “We can do hard things” is inspiring and instills in me, “yes, I can do hard things, I’ve done a lot of hard things before and life brings about hard things….I can do this, my kids can do this…we all can do this.”

It’s why I love Naturopathic Medicine, because my job is to help people figure out why they are experiencing what they are experiencing and how to get back to who they wish to be. And sometimes that work is hard. Asking people to look at their lifestyle, to change patterns or behaviours that are blocking them from health is hard stuff.

For me as a person, as a parent and as a Naturopathic Doctor, resilience is what I strive for. Resilient people can weather the season changes of life with grace and and with perspective.

This coming season of life is a big one for us all. It is asking us to be flexible, to be conscientious, to be considerate and to be patient.

For whatever is going on in your life, I hope these words from these two extraordinary women will be helpful…knowing you can figure things out and you can do hard things.

If you like this phrase and feel as though it could benefit you, please feel free to download this image.

Showing Up Authentically

Posted on: May 22nd, 2020 by TouchStone Health

by: Dr. Amanda Cressman, N.D.

This post is looooong overdue.  It has been 10 weeks from today that I had been seeing patients in clinic when COVID-19 had changed our lives.

It’s been such an interesting time and for anyone who knows me, you know I love the word interesting as it is a great umbrella word for a variety of experiences.  What’s so bizarre and difficult to wrap my head around is the variance of experiences in the past 2.5 months.  How this virus can be life threatening to some and not to others, how the isolation has been horrendous for some and absolutely welcomed and enjoyable for others and the financial implications for so many people and businesses.  The only thread of consistency is that we are all connected in this, that this experience has affected us all and that among the variances, we are in it together.  We all know that life will never be quite the same hereafter- how businesses will run, how we interact with each other and ultimately how we perceive others.

With so much disruption, it is jarring, especially for those who are wired similarly to myself.

The reason I called this post Showing Up Authentically is that I ask people in my practice to do this.  I value authenticity and to ask it of others, which means I need to always ask it of myself….especially when it’s hard to do so.

When stress happens we often do one of three things.  We fight, we flee or we freeze.  My response when all this began was to fight.  My nervous system was spun.  Sleep was altered with the dreaded 3 am wakeup where my mind racing, the wired but tired feeling throughout the day was present, causing great levels of anxiety, the change in appetite and cravings were not great, to put it politely and the overall heaviness of this new and very unwelcome reality was felt.  But with time, the fight died off and the freeze took over, a feeling very new to me – numbness, fatigue, lack of motivation and deep sadness.  Collective grief was spoken about a lot in that time and was a great analysis of what we were all experiencing.

But like all things, there is a season, thank goodness there are seasons in nature and in life…as that fight and freeze response had passed to the present reality of acceptance and even finding joy with the changes that have come from all of this.

The point of this article is to remind you that you are not alone and that whatever season you are presently in – whether that be fear, joy, uncertainty, anger or ambivalence…you are not alone.  It’s been an honour to connect with people over the last few weeks and months, hearing their experiences, sharing in their story and supporting them…as it’s been really hard for many.  There is so much information out there, that many of us are in mental overdrive.  It’s hard to digest it all, knowing what to trust, wondering when things will change and how it will all look.  With all the mental chatter, it takes work and effort to connect with ourselves on an emotional level, really listening to what we need and giving space to feel it.  For me, as a health care practitioner, I’ve struggled with feeling some of these not so pleasant feelings and grateful to have given room for them to be felt.

Everything has a season and this has been one of the most bizarre seasons of my life.  I think many can relate to that.  The more we share, the more we open up about what is honestly going on in our lives, the more we remind others that we are in this together.  Showing up authentically is easy when things are great but not when things are tricky.  I hope however you are feeling, wherever you are at, that you are remembering your goodness, your worth and that you are not alone.

 

Helpful Resource

Posted on: April 6th, 2020 by TouchStone Health

by: Dr. Melanie Reidl, N.D. Naturopathic Doctor

I can’t recommend the ‘Calm’ App enough. With nearly every patient that I see, I write the name of this App on their prescription with the hope that it supports their individual mindfulness meditation practices. Also, I often play a guided meditation from Calm during acupuncture sessions so that my patients can practice mindfulness meditation and learn about mindfulness during their appointments.

Why do I recommend this App so frequently? Research continues to show that mindfulness-based therapies can benefit general psychological health, stress management, pain disorders, and as an adjunctive treatment in depression. When practiced consistently, mindfulness-based interventions can reduce stress, anxiety and depression symptom severity, as well as protect against recurrence of some mental illnesses.  Pretty amazing, right?

I hope Calm helps you, wherever you’re at with your mental health, as much as it’s helped me.

In case you forgot…

Posted on: July 31st, 2019 by TouchStone Health

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What are your big rocks?

Posted on: December 10th, 2018 by TouchStone Health

Change of season often brings with it just that…change.  The easy going energy of summer and transitionary time of fall have passed and we often find ourselves busy with routine once again.  Amongst the winter season brings physical and emotional stressors…particularly the months of December-February.  Kitchener Waterloo is a busy city with very busy people.  I see many people in my office trying to juggle a lot and often come in when the stress has become too much, resulting in anxiety, depressed mood, insomnia, etc.  For many, prioritizing self and our health can be tricky when so much is asked of us.

It’s a time to ensure care for self is a priority as this season often brings increased expectations and busyness.

I once heard this great story about a teacher from an elementary class who wanted to remind his students about the importance of priorities.  Apparently this is a true story.

Each kid was given:

  • a gallon jar with the lid
  • a pile of sand
  • 4 large rocks
  • a pile of gravel
  • handful of little rocks
  • a pitcher of water

The teacher asked the students to fit everything into the jar and they attempted to do so.  Many combinations were tried but after 10-15 minutes they gave up, saying it was impossible.  The teacher then showed them how to strategically fit everything into the glass jar, proving it wasn’t impossible.  First the large rocks went in, staggered upon each other.  Next were the little rocks, that fit in between the empty spaces, then the gravel, then the sand and finally, the water.  Each smaller item filled the spots that were left open and finally the lid was put on.

The teacher then shared with his class, the point of the exercise: Life is always going to be very full…with demands and expectations from various areas of ones life and our job is to figure out what the ‘big rocks’ are and ensure they are a priority.

I was told this story about 25 years ago and have remembered it.  As I have grown, the prediction of that teacher proved true – that life is full with expectations coming from so many places.  But when I have identified what my ‘big rocks’ are and ensured they fit into my jar/life first – everything else seems to sort itself out.  The key for me though, was remembering that my ‘big rocks’ change from time to time….some weeks/months demand something different where a former ‘big rock’ has needed to become a ‘small rock’ in this analogy.

This simple example reminded me that there needs to be fluidity in our lives with our goals/ideals.  Life is full of varying experiences and we need to support ourselves amongst that diversity.

I hope this simple story is helpful, reminding you to honour what your ‘big rocks’ are and knowing that nothing is set in stone, per say…things can change from time to time.  But give space for honouring them and seeing if everything you desire fits in the jar more easily and readily thereafter.

Amanda Cressman, N.D. Naturopathic Doctor

564-572 Weber Street North, Unit 3A
Waterloo, Ontario
N2L5C6