Someone on our Team was at a spa during the holidays and indulged in a professional massage. Apparently, massage does release trauma and emotion!
During the process of receiving this sports massage, he asked the masseuse about his body and especially his muscle pain and tightness. While doing some deep tissue release she commented about his “heart chakra” a term he had not heard in decades and upon that--from feeling very relaxed and open, he started began to cry.
He shared with the masseuse about the pain in his back and neck and that he was holding back emotion with his children due to the pain of his divorce. He was trying to be strong for them. His wife was leaving him suddenly.
The masseuse then said to him “That is it! Did you hear your two words? Holding and Back!?”.
There was direct pressure applied to his body, his core, his back, deep massage, heat and hot stones and aroma therapy. When the process was complete he told us that he experienced an incredible weight had been lifted.
We looked it up about the chakra[i]--and it is the area where the “physical and spiritual meet”, according to the article we located. Chakra is an Indian concept describing where each of the seven centers of spiritual power in the human body are located. The heart chakra is located in the center of the chest and includes the organs there including lungs, heart, etc., and controls the lymphatic system.
The chakra is also known as the Anahata in Sanskrit which means unstuck or unhurt—indicating that below the hurt lays a place where no hurt exists.
The overall concept is that people can be living in a place of past hurts.
It suggests that If you let the hurt go, you are able to open your heart with compassion, love and understanding as well as to serve others. The article further notes that the best way to receive love is to give it.
Another recent article[ii] in a more mainstream journal of psychiatry speaks of the mind-body-spirit interventions for patients. It shows that for people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a mind-body-spirit approach to wellness can promote deep rest, reset circadian rhythm, release chemicals inside us that can reduce anxiety and enhance our well-being. It mentions that calming techniques such as bodywork massage provide progressive muscle relaxation which can be a beneficial strategy for trauma recovery. The article also indicates that many people look into alternative interventions in order to relax, including meditation, guided imagery, psychotherapeutic exchanges and somatic awareness exercises.
Massage therapy can be light or very deep it explains. Some therapists use rocking, stretching or petrissage (a kneading technique) and cross-fiber friction techniques. Moderate pressure stimulates certain nerve activity with significantly reduces PTSD symptoms in veterans after massage therapy. And the massage also results in a reduction of substance abuse, depression, disassociation and anxiety.
One study of trauma survivors showed improvements in safety, in limit setting, in bodily feelings and in the degree of shame experienced after massage. Another study[iii] examined light touch manual therapy on soldiers in active duty who had post-traumatic stress disorder and head injury revealing that anxiety, headaches and pain interference were significantly reduced with light touch therapy massage or manual therapy.
There is no apparent reason to underplay the mind-body-spirit connection in health. Even if this is alternative and not western medicine, studies show that touch can cure.
Be mindful. Be open. Close your eyes and see where pressure is in your body and see if you can be open to releasing that. Seek professional and licensed massage therapists in your area to help with your body stress and open up to love and compassion. It is healing indeed.
We can choose love and release of trauma. Choose to win!Read More
Our team is very interested in hormones and how it they affect the human body, mind and spirit. We have written about the hormone Vitamin D, and today we are exploring oxytocin because a physician friend shared that she was investing in research into the effects of oxytocin on autism.
Oxytocin is a neuropeptide which acts both as a hormone and as a brain neurotransmitter[i].
What if this hormone could really influence social behavior in individuals?
What if oxytocin could help those with social phobias? What could the implications be for people with depression and social withdrawal?
We looked the current literature and we wanted to share it with you.
One summary article stated that this is a bliss hormone that can heal the body.[ii] That oxytocin plays an important part in birth, lactation and bonding. During childbirth oxytocin stimulates uterine contractions and enhances the relationship between mother and child.And it plays a role in sexual arousal.
It is nature’s way or sealant for bonding with others enhancing a sense of trust, optimism, mastery and self-esteem.
During love and intercourse, oxytocin surges facilitating the emotions of love and trust strengthening a bond in romance.
The article goes on to state how oxytocin dips during PTSD--post traumatic stress disorder-- when people experience fear and anxiety. Oxytocin is also low when there is childhood trauma and can influence relationships and physical health. In certain cases of ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, a receptor site for oxytocin is genetically unavailable and sometimes the production of the hormone is extremely low as well. The article speaks also about digestion and gut function and states that oxytocin levels can influence the brain to calm gastrointestinal inflammation reducing food sensitivities, autoimmune disorders and systemic infections.
Dr. Joseph Mercola[iii] summarizes that oxytocin can counteract stress by decreasing the level of cortisol and lowers blood pressure, too. He recaps that oxytocin plays a role in why pet owners heal faster than non-pet owners, why couples live longer than singles and why being a part of groups work for people with addiction and disease. The hormone has also been able to reduce addiction cravings for alcohol, drugs and sugar. Mercola specifies that oxytocin can benefit the heart and heal it from damage by reducing cell death and inflammation.
It is suggested that a 20 second hug along with ten minutes of hand-holding reduces the harmful physical effects of stress on the body.
This can be motivation enough to try and does not cost anything!
Over the past decade there have been a wide variety of studies done with regard to autism and oxytocin treatment, etc., especially to treat reciprocity in social behavior.
A current review article[iv], suggests that “acute oxytocin administration improves numerous markers critical to the social circuitry underlying social deficits in autism and that oxytocin might optimize circuits, enhance reward, motivation and learning to improve therapeutic outcomes.”
And concludes that there are a range of treatment strategies including greater focus on oxytocin use that have a neurobiological root in social behavior. Additional and more sophisticated trials are necessary to be done using these approaches placing oxytocin in the autism context.
One article about working together, [v] showed that participants in groups were able to work more collaboratively in decision making when oxytocin was administered. Using oxytocin, the more competent member of a grouping of two was less likely to change their mind during a disagreement and the less competent member showed a greater conformity level when paired with a more reliable partner, suggesting that there can be an improved balance of influence and competence leading to better collaboration within partnerships.
Clearly more research is necessary and underway.
And clearly too, it does not cost money to love, to hug and be tactile, to relax and to bond.
The evidence is in-- that the ways of bonding release oxytocin, and that this release leads to better health.
We can choose. We can choose to love, to hug, to win and to be healthy!
Last week, the Team attended a Grand Rounds at a metropolitan teaching hospital, where an authoritative researcher in medicine presented current data and trends to their department.
The opening comment that moved us was this:
“Never worry alone”.
It was a message from this professionals’ mentor in their field. The admonishment was that if something bothers you, it can be a good hunch that action is needed. And sharing this is more productive than having it circulate in your mind.
The team reflected on this statement because so much of the time we do worry alone.
We worry in bed.
We worry with shame and we worry with fear. Our worry paralyzes us at times.
If we share our concern with another perhaps we can best take action--and perhaps, just the action that is needed!
We think that worry is actually a voice that plays in our head that we come to count on, which always has a similar reaction in every similar situation.
This week the team was planning to write about the concept of worry due to this meeting.
Today we see that David Brooks, an Op-ed Columnist for The Times, beat us to it.
It is so funny what is in our ‘collective unconscious’ as a society.
Brooks writes an essay called The Epidemic of Worry[i]. According to the article, he quotes election-related anxiety currently raging in America within ¾ 's of mental health patients and he cites that the American Psychological Association indicates that more than half of Americans are stressed by the presidential race.
Our team thinks that worry can change the brain chemistry. Brooks refers to altering the "atmosphere of the mind".
Worry does take you out of the present and right into your head -we agree.
Your thoughts can play over and over again with scenarios that you fear.
And you can get paralyzed in those "mind woods", we think.
Brooks describes worry, pessimism and spiraling out of rationality.
According to WebMD, over 4 million Americans have generalized anxiety disorder over a years’ time annually. GAD can begin in childhood and is more common in females. The criteria for GAD are that It has to affect you for more than six months and interfere with school or work time and functioning.
We think that worry and anxiety are different actually.
Worry perhaps we have more control over in some ways.
Anxiety we think perhaps the good bacteria in your gut has more control over. And so in this case, one can do well to take probiotics--or if mental illness, then see a doctor or health care professional.
Back to David Brooks,
We liked his comment that the answer to worry is the same as the answer to fear: direct action.
What if we wanted to create a particular outcome in our own lives?
Would we know what actions to take?
Would we then veto ourselves or engage in ‘self-talk” that agrees or opposes that of our:
partner, kids, parents, friends?
Maybe our self-talk is similar to theirs?
Perhaps they think our plan is not well thought out and the odds and chances were unlikely at best for us to achieve.
But what if we pretended we were at our own finish line?
With all that we wanted to have happen, done and perfected?
Could we then easier look at the future coming not from the past?
Perhaps we can.
We all have the dialogue playing in our heads all the time about what is not possible, what is not supposed to happen, especially not to us. And if the project is really big--not to the world.
Don’t try to shut off your dialog. You really cannot! Just let it be!
But do go and build your future.
What you are passionate about.
It is all possible if we say so.
Like David Brooks said: Make concrete plans.
Like the medical teaching expert said: Do not worry alone.
Share with others what you are embarking on and create specifics!
The time is now. Take action each day. Write it down and commit to it! Tell your friends and family. Have them support you in creating. Not in tearing down what you want to accomplish. Maybe some will have ideas to help. Go with that!
If we step out into something bigger than our fears and our worries there is a chance that they will get less loud in our heads.
And that we will produce a result.
Remember, we can choose.
Choose to Win!Read More
Our Team met a nurse who does occupational nursing on a national network TV station and when speaking to her, Rachel voiced that her passion and purpose was to let the world know the importance of end of life care. We chose to support her by writing this blog.
[i] A recent article this summer discussed that feeding tubes for dementia patients are not as prevalent as before (5% less use) and do not apparently facilitate either comfort or long life. A doctor for Aging Research at Harvard University underscored that care is not terminated just because a feeding tube might be.
End of life care is not cure, but rather daily focused treatment that maximize comfort and quality of life.
Rachel told us that many people still don’t know this and that they have a certain point of view about end of life care. Her face broke and she welled up with tears when speaking with us.
She said, “I have seen everything, every kind of death, and there is a way--an easy way really, that gives the patient: comfort, last requests for what is important to them and completion—so that they can die in peace and comfort and love”. She went on, “it is really available to everyone and it does not have to be awful the way I have witnessed it so many times”.
“It is actually quite simple to give someone what they want like to see a garden or to hear the voice of their grandson or to hold someones hand”. "For those who know they are dying, last requests are usually simple to provide".
The Mayo Clinic[ii] speaks more about end of life care for people with terminal illness. That hospice care is for people who are nearing the end of life, within six months usually. There are services provided which are solely to maximize comfort by “reducing pain and addressing the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs” of the individual and the family too. For families, hospice “provides counseling, respite care for the exhausted caregiver and practical support”
It is the phrase “care over cure”, that has represented this end of life, intervention process.
Hospice care is in effect for a patient as long as the medical team says that the condition is life-limiting.
Types of hospice patients include those with:
It is said that patients on hospice care do better, live better and they live longer.
The burden from the family is eased and hospice prepares the family for grief.
Giving the family or caregiving member a respite is under-emphasized, but very important--someone on our team was told once, you can die too--take care of yourself too!
Hospice is often provided at home (58%), in private residence (35%), nursing homes (14.5%), hospice inpatient facility (31.8%) and acute care hospital (9.3%) as if 2914[iii]. Sometimes a center geared to this, a hospital or nursing home area is designated. More than half of hospice patients are women and 41.1% of all patients are 85+.
The Team for hospice and palliative care includes many professionals who work directly with the family member or primary caregiver making decisions for the terminally ill individual. Visits by staff are made regularly and the hospice staff is usually available 24/7. The team includes:
According to Mayo Clinic, payment is often based on need instead of the ability to pay and Medicare, Medicaid and Department of Veterans Affairs and private insurance pay for hospice care.
Some questions Mayo Clinic suggests might be useful when looking into the program available include:
Transition of life is sad, but it does not have to be unbearable. There are structures in place for support. There is science to back up such choices.Read More
It showed that women who regularly attended church more than once per week had a 33% lower risk of death compared to those who never went. And that women who went to church once per week lowered their risk of death by 26% and those going less than that, by 13%.
These women manifested higher rates of social support and optimism and lower rates of depression and smoking.
Is longevity increased because of participation, belonging and optimism?
Is this religion—or is it being part of something.. Being included?
Being a part of a couple also gives one a purpose and a place to be[ii]. One paper showed that marriage is good for your heart. That both men and women lowered their risk of heart disease by 5%-- just by being married.
The doctors propose that it is emotional support, physical and intellectual intimacy as well as deeper social ties to family that can lower blood pressure, etc..
Positive emotions seem to affect health for the better!
People in a bad marriage were more likely to experience negative cardiovascular effects.
Good health is manifested because of happiness in a healthy vs. a strained relationship.
Married men are 25% more likely to be overweight or obese and than single unmarrieds who exercised more than marrieds.
Married men are more likely to go to doctor for check-ups, etc, because their wives encourage this.
If the marriage is unhappy it is more stressful, there is more obesity and then the benefit of being married does not apply.
The quality of relationships and overall self-care--leads to empowerment of health.
Long-term marriage has been associated with better mental health too:
If couples really appreciate each other, both are empowered.
Such qualities and ways of being seem to affect health both mental and physical as well as leading to longevity.
Gratitude and optimism are correlates of good health.
Optimism[iii] is correlated with better mental health especially depression and suicidal ideation. Optimism is associated with better physical health than pessimism.
An optimistic disposition predicts a better outcome of mortality especially with regard to heart issues.
Some studies do not draw this comparison with lung cancer survival or AIDS.
Optimism facilitates promotion of a healthy lifestyle--the impact for older people especially includes: no smoking, moderate drinking only, regular exercise, etc..
One study of 545 men ages 64-87 over a period of 15 years saw a significant inverse relationship between optimism and death with a 50% reduced risk of death from optimistic individuals.
Gratitude[iv], thank you’ s—these provide many benefits to health as well including:
If couples can be optimistic and grateful, perhaps these significant ways of being can affect their health and their longevity.
Gratitude is associated with feeling energized, alert, enthusiastic as well as with muscle relaxation and wellbeing.
Gratitude can be a motivator to maintaining positive behavior in marriage. [vi]
A study of married couples, over four years, showed that expressing gratitude contributed to maintaining the relationship.
Perceptions of responsiveness and gratitude to feed back on and influence the others' behaviors, perceptions and feelings inspired connection. Compassionate love[vii] may also act as a mediator in couple relationships in older married couples.
Another article clearly showed that lack of longevity and presence of cardiovascular disease[viii] are related to factors such as stress, anger/hostility. And that those who adapt to healthy behavior and optimism seem to have less disease and greater longevity.
Is time flying by for you? Does each holiday mark another year? Where you were last April, who you were with to celebrate a big holiday? What was important to you then? Is it important now?
As humans we seem to have our days planned, what we do.
And, what we never do!
I wonder if we even spend a minute to consider that we are creating a future.
That every choice we make, affects something and someone.
Will it be that we will just do what we do until we pass away? It is said that when we pass, people will go out to eat and remember us--maybe twice a year—maybe more.
Will we thoughtfully create our dream that we have for the future?
Will we create something that if we did not move to do it, it would never have occurred?
In the dictionary, ‘legacy’ is defined around a bequest a leaving behind, usually to do with money or substantial gift. One online source stated that it is a noun from the late 14 century: a body of persons sent on a mission! Yes, that is it!
"body of persons sent on a mission," from Old French legatie "legate's office," from Medieval Latin legatia, from Latin legatus "ambassador, envoy," noun use of past participle of legare "appoint by a last will, send as a legate" (see legate). Sense of "property left by will" appeared in Scottish mid-15c.
What actions are possible and how do we do this?
Of course, legacy can be something for which we volunteer or a cause we believe in.
One friend is creating a camp reunion/”fun raiser” to send underprivileged kids to camp. It is not something she has ever done, is out of her comfort zone, and she is committed to it because she sees it is possible to do and that she loved her camp experience and wants to have those who can never have this experience, have this for themselves in their lives.
Another possible way to approach this is to think of someone you love who passed away.
What is their legacy? Can you call if forth and put it into action?
My other friend mourned her single mother so much-she had been ill for so long. She considered what her mother stood for in her life.
She had sent her mother to art school as an older adult. Her mother had been very creative and talented and loved beauty. So my friend gave these amazing and loving dinner parties with terrific home cooking and uniting others in the similar style that her mom would have done.It connected our friend to her mothers’ legacy, put her into a way of celebrating her mothers’ life rather than having a story of sadness. And each place setting she makes, connects her to that celebration.
This idea of getting at legacy, at what we really are about in life can be very exciting and can maybe even lead to more fulfillment while we live and perhaps our making better choices which can lead to greater longevity for ourselves.
Research does tell us that there are chemical changes with our brain when we create optimism rather than pessimism.
Another friend of mine, realized that she was really all about health. She had learned so much as a long-term caregiver and from her own journey too..and she wanted to share this with others. This is really who she was. That every day she represented being about health. Writing about it, doing videos, teaching others, coaching for health. And because of this, she tells me, her life is fantastic. She is in sync with who she is and what she stands for in the world.
Creating legacy needs only the commitment to look at what is already there. To choose that this is what we want to stand for and to be that. To find ways to create being that or manifesting that in the world.
Legacy-awareness can create our future. A future fashioned to be who we are for others and who we represent to ourselves. To make a difference in the world.
And to create a world within our life-time that would not have occurred otherwise.
We can choose!
Choose to win for your legacy and for humanity.
Even before medieval times there has been a melding of religion and healing.
Research looks at correlates to those who seek a higher power, those who are involved in practicing spirituality/religion and how it plays out on our health.
[i]One study, showed religious involvement is not correlated with depression in the setting of major depression and chronic illness, but was linked to having optimism, gratitude, more generosity and a higher purpose—all positive emotions which can influence the trajectory of depression.[ii]
Another article revealed that 90% of the world is involved in religious or spiritual practice.
Over 3,000 studies show that people engaged in religion or spiritual experience experience well-being benefits and:
Spirituality it is said, includes: ‘personal quest for answers about life and a relationship to the sacred, which may or not lead to rituals and formation of community; and organized system of beliefs, rituals, etc., to facilitate closeness to a higher power or god and the extent to which an individual believes or follows religion.
The article makes a clear case for the distinctions through which to measure religion/spirituality. , that the patients’ belief systems are a powerful influence on response to illness and demands and therefore the standards much be more uniform for measuring.
More awareness and training must be taught now due to the very positive impact of religion/spirituality on well-being.
Taking a spiritual history can improve patient compliance, attitudes about care and health outcomes. Most spiritual interventions have positive results and are highly cost-effective and beneficial to patients and support human health.
[iii] One very far-reaching paper showed nothing but a positive association to Religion/Spirituality on many fronts not limited and including: Well-being, happiness, optimism, having purpose, having higher self-esteem, greater sense of control, ability to cope with pain, stress, disease, loss and general adversity, having gratitude, being forgiving, having altruism expressed through volunteering.
The study highlighted that when religion/spirituality was present there was an inverse presence of depression, suicide, including attempts and to a lesser extent, chronic psychotic disorders like schizophrenia.
One paper[iv] indicated that obesity should be studied further and it is not clear if it correlated with religion/spirituality or not.
If you are one of the 90% who engage in religion/spirituality or if you are not, we think you should do what speaks to you, in whatever way that is.
Community is healthful for people too, in and of itself.
It is exciting that the literature now provides so many science-based reasons to use the practice of spirituality in everyday life not even waiting for when stress arises.
What of incorporating this in our parenting?
I know a woman with a tween, who whenever her daughter asks her for help, she drops everything, sits her daughter down, and says “Okay, let’s go to God”.
It is pretty cool to see this bonding interaction occuring. The gift of looking within for answers in our own hearts and calling the answer from 'god'-what is right and true for our own selves.
This woman has passed on a gift to her daughter, having her daughter incorporate this practice into her own life--even life-long perhaps..
[i] J Psychosom Res. 2014 Aug;77(2):135-43. Doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2014.05.002. Epub 2014May15. Religious involvement is associated with greater purpose, optimism, generosity and gratitude in persons with major depression and chronic medical illness. Koenig HG, Berk LS, Daher NS, Pearce MJ, Bellinger DL, Robins CJ, Nelson B, Shaw SF, Cohen HJ, King MB
[ii] http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1516-4446-2013-1255 Clinical implications of spirituality to mental health: review of evidence and practical guidelines Alexander Moreira-Almeida, Harold G Koenig, Giancarlo Lucchetti
[iv] J Relig Health2012 Mar;51(1):32-48. Doi:10.1007/s 10943-011-9552-y. Are religiosity and spirituality associated with obesity among African Americans in the Southeastern United States (the Jackson Heart Study)? Reeves RR, Adams CE, Dubbert PM, Hickson DA, Wyatt SB
As humans we have inside of us, what is true for us and what we want to do. We may not see it and we may have obstacles in the way of doing it, but it does exist for each of us. When we think we are working at what we are good at or what we know to do or responding to a need that speaks to us, we are in sync with feeling our best and being most alive.
Sometimes we know to do something that we just don’t bother to deal with.
And then we make up excuses for not doing it. And justify it to ourselves or gather agreement that it is not really reasonable to do X or Y.
And yet, that little lie we tell ourselves leaves us feeling a bit less powerful and more diminished in the world.
One great ticket to well-being is doing what you feel called to do!
Especially where and when there is a need.
Perhaps you have seen this in your neighborhood or on a commercial-a community, a cause, a person or group or even animals that need help.
Choosing to participate in a cause bigger than yourself
to help animals, for example---can help empower each of us!
Now for some research!
Volunteers say they feel physically and emotionally better than non-volunteers.
It helps manage their stress, feel a deeper connection to their communities and they are better at taking care of themselves and their own health.
Volunteers also better with chronic illness and it helps them focus on something bigger than themselves.
Volunteering can take many forms and can include, "hands on" work, skill-based work and volunteer executive leadership work such as serving on committees and boards. Volunteering to help the environment[ii] showed that volunteering created improved mood and well-being along with a much better understanding about the environment and how to help. The study was of a small sample but ten percent went on to get work in this area and 50% joined a volunteer group when this ended. This highlights that when people can give back to something that affects the world while learning about it, it can benefit the individual volunteer too.
An earlier study[iii] which focused on volunteering and mortality in people aged 65+, revealed that those who volunteered for one organization for less than 40 hours a week for a year, lived longer and provided social interaction for those seniors who lacked it. The article suggests that volunteering provides self-identity and meaningfulness which is useful to living longer.
[iv] One study found that stress did not predict the risk of death among people who helped others in the past year specifically by buffering the association between stress and mortality, but that stress did predict mortality among those who did not render help.
Two national studies[v] highlighted that helping behavior can buffer the effects of stress but only in those with positive views of others.
What has been present,[vi] is that governments have been advocating volunteerism as a way to improve well-being and decrease health inequality.
Other studies showed that volunteering had positive effects on depression, satisfaction in life and on well-being but not on physical health.
More research and longitudinal studies are in process to look at health effects of volunteering for seniors, especially. It is confidently thought by many that volunteer activities can produce positive physical and psychological outcomes for older people and provide multiple health impacts.(vii]
Just get out there and do it! Listen to yourself and what speaks to you for others!
We can choose!
Choose to win!
We are committed to providing the most current information for you with regard to everything that says health and well-being! Read, share, take action as you see fit for yourself and your friends and your family! Robin Quivers