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4 Ways to Enjoy Some ‘ME Time’ Even If You Are Busy

Being an adult can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be very overwhelming because of the increased amount of responsibilities that you acquire over time. Your to-do list always gets longer as you progress through different stages in life and time is a precious commodity that you can’t afford to waste. If you have been struggling to make time to enjoy yourself or to do some activities to improve your overall wellbeing, take a look at the following 4 tips that can help you accomplish that:

Be Specific

Ask yourself these questions: What specifically do I want to do for myself? What does relaxing, resting, recharging or exercising mean to me? If you are very broad and schedule ‘free time’ for yourself, you are probably going to have a hard time deciding exactly what do to when that time comes, which can lead to wasted time, or you are going to end up yielding that space to on-the-go activities that come up. For example, if you are specific, you know what type of exercise you want to do, instead of just vaguely stating you want to workout. If you want to relax, be specific! Are you going to meditate, get a massage, go for a walk or take a nap? Be specific about what you want to accomplish, start with one or two activities a week and work your way up to integrate more.

Schedule It

Now that you know what you want, you can go ahead and put it in your calendar. This is where you make time for it and find time for yourself. This is as simple as scheduling a doctor’s appointment. You know at what time it is and where to be; by scheduling it you make sure you don’t miss it. So think of your ‘me time’ as the activities that help lift your spirit and keep you healthy. Schedule them just as you would schedule anything important. After all, you are very important!

Make time for yourself

Image: Jon Fife/ Flickr

Make It Non-Negotiable

Since these activities will probably help you be in a better mood, feel better, be healthier, be stronger, or be more relaxed, they should be regarded as non-negotiable and as part of your life habits. Don’t replace them once you have scheduled them unless an emergency needs your attention. Since you have them in your calendar and you understand that taking care of yourself is very important, block those times out. Those 30 minutes or that hour that you took for yourself will help you perform better throughout the rest of the day.

Get Accountability

If you really want to include new activities on your routine, getting some support along the way will make a huge difference. If your goal is to workout and be more active, getting accountability can be as simple as joining an exercise group and sharing your goals with the instructor so they can help keep you on track. You can also rely on your best friend or partner and ask them to keep you accountable, motivated, and to be supportive. Sharing with someone else what you want to accomplish and asking them to join your efforts will provide you with extra motivation!

Taking time for yourself is important; if you are not well, you can’t serve others well. Making time for yourself doesn’t mean you are neglecting other priorities in your life, it just means that you are also one of your priorities—perhaps the most important one since without your health and well being, none of the other priorities can be met.

We hope you are able to enjoy more ‘ME time’ from now on!

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Massages can provide Allergy Relief

If you are one of 40 million Americans who suffer from indoor/outdoor allergies, you are already aware that the season is among us. It’s time to break out the Benadryl, tissues and eye drops but who knew that making an appointment for a massage was among allergy relief treatments?

 

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapists can help relieve some allergy symptoms by reducing stress, increasing circulation, releasing muscle tension and reprogramming the body’s panic reaction, which can exacerbate symptoms.

 

While there are few studies researching massage therapy and allergy relief, we do know that massage helps to relieve stress and stress definitely impacts your allergies. Also, just lying in the face down position can provide immediate relief from sinus congestion related to allergies. This position also allows your therapist to work on the upper back and shoulders, where many sinus trigger points are located.

 

You also may want to add aromatherapy to your massage session. Essential oils such as eucalyptus, pine, menthol, peppermint and lemon placed on points such as temples, neck and ears can open up your sinus cavities and create excellent movement within.

It’s National Soup Month, so eat up!

January is National Soup Month and there is no better way to celebrate then indulging in a warm, hearty bowl of soup. Soup can be a meal or a snack. It can fill you up when you’re watching your waistline or help you defrost on a chilly day.


If that’s not enough to persuade you to cook up a pot of homemade comfort tonight, consider this: Soup also saves time and money. A large batch can feed your family for several days and costs only a few dollars. Here are some healthy ingredients you may want to throw into your next pot.

Beans – Rich in dietary fiber, which has been shown to have a number of benefits including decreased risk of coronary artery disease

Spinach – Provides folate, a water-soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in food and needed to make normal red blood cells and prevent anemia

Sweet Potato – Packed with potassium to help maintain healthy blood pressure and strong bones

Kale – Filled with Vitamin A to keep eyes and skin healthy and help to protect against infections

Broccoli – A natural source of Vitamin C to help build your immune system and fight off cardiovascular disease

Don’t forget to add your favorite seasoning, broth and protein. Now, what are you waiting for? Prepare a pot tonight. Your soul will thank you.

Surviving the upcoming Holiday Feasts

It’s just a matter of time before all of the holiday invites start coming your way– Christmas Eve, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, the excuses to eat continue! Prepare to sit down at a table filled with stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and cookies.  Thank god you’re wearing stretchy pants!

While the holidays are a time to celebrate and indulge, you want to be sure not to go overboard. Enjoy the holiday season without adding inches to your waistline with these basic healthy eating survival tips.

  1. Start your day off by exercising. The more calories you burn now, the more you can enjoy later.
  2. Eat small, healthy meals throughout the day to prepare for a big dinner.
  3. Don’t arrive at a party hungry. This may lead to poor eating decisions. Eat a piece of fruit or yogurt before heading out.
  4. When at dinner, first fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Then add the holiday treats; just be mindful of portion control.
  5. Pass on sugary soft drinks and instead satisfy your sweet tooth with one piece of dessert.
  6. Hydrate with water. Often when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty.
  7. Be mindful of alcohol. Beer, wine and alcohol are high in calories and will definitely stimulate your appetite.
  8. Leave the leftovers. It’s okay to indulge here and there, but don’t take the holiday grub home to your fridge.
  9. Remember, it takes about 20 minutes to start feeling full. Eat slowly and enjoy every bite to help curb overeating.
  10. Finally, have fun! Don’t stress about treating yourself during the holidays. Just enjoy your time with friends and family over good, delicious food.

Get the most of your next session by adding a scent

Roses. Fresh-cut grass. Your mother’s perfume. Mint. An orange being peeled.

These are smells many of us can imagine. Whether good or bad in our minds, smells can take us back to an event in time and provoke emotion. They can wake us up – or relax us. And that’s what’s at work behind aromatherapy.

“Fragrance is processed in an area of the brain that also processes memory and emotion,” says Mindy Green, co-author of Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art and owner of botanicals consulting company Green Scentsations.

“It’s a lock-and-key system,” adds Kathy Padecky, certified massage therapist and instructor at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. “You can smell a scent and immediately feel an emotion.”

Aromatherapy and Its History

It’s important to note that aromatherapy isn’t just about any smell, Green says. A number of perfumed products on the market, she says, have diluted the reputation of aromatherapy – and given consumers the wrong impression.

“True aromatherapy is only gained by essential oils derived from nature,” she says. “You might find a fragrance that smells nice and even evokes a memory, but you don’t get the same therapeutic effect from a synthetic.”

So, what are essential oils? They’re complex mixtures of chemical compounds found in aromatic plants, writes Anne Williams, author of Spa Bodywork: A Guide for Massage Therapists. Specialized structures that store essential oils are found in leaves, needles, twigs, bark, heartwood, flowers, fruits, stems, roots, flowering tops, zests and peels.

While plants have been used as medicine since early civilizations, modern aromatherapy owes its beginning to French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé. Already familiar with chemicals because of his exposure to his family’s perfumery business, he began experimenting with oils to heal wounds, later coining the term aromatherapy.

The Benefits and Caveats

Essential oils have various uses. “For example, some essential oils are topical analgesics,” Williams writes. “When they are applied to soft tissue they decrease sensations of pain. Oils like lavender, Roman or German chamomile, and sweet marjoram sedate the body and decrease stress because they stimulate an area of the brain which causes the release of serotonin.”

During a massage, an oil like lavender can help you relax in order to maximize the effects of your massage. And at the end of a massage, a stimulating oil might be used to help you wake up.

But, Green warns, not all scents are for everyone.

“Everybody has different scent perceptions,” she says. So, if you favor a certain scent over another, go with your preference. Something you dislike may not relax you just because it relaxes someone else.

And, Padecky notes, pregnant women are advised not to use aromatherapy, particularly during the first trimester. In addition, people with allergies or asthma may find triggers in certain oils and should be cautious. Plus, some oils, such as citrus oils, can make skin particularly sensitive to the sun.

For most people, however, aromatherapy has tremendous therapeutic benefits especially when
combined with a massage therapy session. “The whole premise of taking a deep breath and slowing down is part of meditation,” Green says. “Then, you add that to inhaling something you find pleasant, and stress just melts away.”

Massage the Pain Away

One of the reasons many of us turn to massage therapy is to heal and help manage pain, including chronic pain such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), the effectiveness of massage lies in a simple and direct strategy: working from the external, outer mechanisms of pain to the primary, root cause.

From backaches and shoulder pain to leg cramps and muscle spasms, massage can help. We turned to our own C.G. Funk, Licensed Massage Therapist and Vice President of Industry Relations and Product Development for Massage Envy, to give us the scoop.

Proper Posture

Many aches and pains are due to poor posture. With a consistent program of massage therapy, the painful points in muscles are loosened and relaxed, joints have greater freedom, and pressure points are relieved. This allows the body to position itself in a healthy and natural posture, therefore avoiding the movements and positions developed over time as a reaction to the pain.

Tense Muscles

Massage therapy flushes lactic acid from the muscles and improves the circulation of the lymph fluid that carries metabolic waste away from muscles and internal organs, resulting in lower blood pressure and improved body function.

Flexibility

By working on muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and joints, massage can stimulate the production and retention of our bodies’ natural lubricants between the connective tissue fibers, making stretching and movement easier, and keeping the body flexible.

Pain Management

Especially when nursing an injury back to full strength, increasing circulation and relaxing muscles helps the body pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs. This allows the rehabilitating areas to become more flexible and heal at an accelerated rate.

Visit Massage Envy’s Touch of Wellness Blog or http://www.massageenvy.com/ to learn more.

Keeping Active this Fall- it’s easy!

From our Massage Envy Touch of Wellness Blog, we bring you our top 10 tricks and tips for keeping active even as summer passes by and we become preoccupied with the upcoming holidays and stress of everyday tasks.
Do your best to follow a personalized fitness plan daily and you’ll see results!
1.     Find what you love. Whether it’s clearing your thoughts during a long run or dancing the night away in a Zumba class.
2.     Make fitness a priority. Like paying bills and doing laundry, working out should be considered an important priority. Not something you do every once and a while.
3.     Run (or walk) an errand. Leave the car behind. Try running your errands on foot, or bike instead.
4.     Grab a friend or family member and catch up on a long walk instead of via e-mail or phone.
5.     Don’t forget, doing chores around the house burns lots of calories. Great way to kill two birds with one stone!
6.     Have an hour lunch break? Take advantage and squeeze 30 minutes of walking in. It will feel good to stretch your legs mid-day.
7.     Track your progress. It’s important to note major milestones, like your first 3-mile run or the half-day hike you conquered.
8.     Be proud of your accomplishments and share them with family and friends. That extra motivation will keep you going.
9.     Switch it up. Don’t let fitness get boring. Find a variety of activities that get you moving and feeling good.
10. Baby steps. It takes time to work up to your fitness goals. Stay positive and stick to your healthy living routine.

ME Arthritis Charity Event: Healing Hands for Arthritis

One in five adults live with arthritis. Take a look at this video and help us at Massage Envy support the fight as we donate $10 from every one-hour massage and facial on October 12 — World Arthritis Day — to the Arthritis Foundation.

The Arthritis Foundation encourages people with arthritis to be active participants in managing their disease. The Foundation’s vision is simply, “A world free from arthritis pain.” Massage therapy is recognized as being effective in relieving painful symptoms of arthritis and fibromyalgia, improving circulation, increasing joint flexibility, lessening depression and anxiety, improving sleep, and providing an overall sense of well-being. Massage Envy and the Arthritis Foundation share a common understanding of a serious problem and the opportunities for common solutions.

To schedule an appointment and join in the fight against arthritis at a Massage Envy clinic nearest you, please visit MassageEnvy.com. For more information about arthritis or the Arthritis Foundation, please visit Arthritis.org.

Common Health Myths Busted

There are hundreds of health myths that have been circulating both online and offline for years. Here are a few common ones that you may find surprising:

Cold Weather May Cause Illness

  • Believe it or not, cold weather has no effect on whether or not someone will get sick. The rhinovirus, cause of the common cold, is just that – a virus. As such, it doesn’t depend on external forces of nature to spread from host to host. However, cold weather forces more people inside and into closer proximity. It’s likely that this increased cohabitation and interaction allows the virus to spread.

Knuckle Crackers Will Suffer from Arthritis

  • Avid knuckle crackers are at no more risk to get arthritis than people without the habit. However, those prone to cracking their knuckles do find that they have weaker hand strength.  An increased risk of swelling in the hands is also a result of popping your knuckles.

Body Heat Escapes through the Head

  • Various studies conducted have shown that, in cold weather, the majority of body heat is lost through the head. What these studies fail to account for is that the participants were dressed in warm clothing except for hats. By this comparison, more heat was lost from the head than from covered parts of the body. The truth is, body heat is lost through any uncovered part of the body.

Hand Dryers in Public Restrooms are Sanitary

  • In an attempt to be more sanitary, many public restrooms now have motion-activated hand dryers instead of paper towel dispensers. Unfortunately, these dryers often have massive amounts of bacteria growing inside them. The fans can then blow the collected bacteria up to six feet away from the dryer’s own location. As such, these dryers are just as dirty as the door handles.

Reading in Low Light Ruins Eyesight

  • Eyes often adjust themselves according to the light, as experienced when a person steps from a dark room into sunlight. This is also true when reading in dim light. While there is a strain on the eyes, no actual damage occurs. Eyesight returns to normal after a period of rest. This is also true of watching television in the dark or using the computer in the dark.

Humans Use Only 10% of their Brains

  • Recent studies and imaging technologies have shown that there is not a single part of the brain that remains completely inactive. Multiple areas react to different stimuli, functions, and situations. While the brain may not always be 100% active at all times, humans simply could not function if only a portion of the brain was used.

Cell Phones Cause Cancer

  • Radiation has been linked to the development of cancer. However, humans are exposed to amounts of radiation normally throughout the day. Certain foods, like bananas, even give off radiation. The small amounts of electromagnetic radiation given off by cell phones aren’t enough to damage cells, and the body easily repairs any damage that does occur.

These are just some of the myths you should be aware of in your day-to-day war on unhealthy behaviors. So the next time someone tries to lecture you on the dangers of cell phones and cracking your knuckles, you’ll be the wiser!

6 Easy Mood Boosters

1. Make a gratitude list.

“The most effective way I know of to shake a bad mood is to brainstorm everything possible that you’re grateful for and write it down,” says Amy Wood, PsyD, author of Life Your Way. She suggests starting with broad strokes, like being thankful the sun is shining or that you’re breathing. “You’ll find that once you get the ball rolling, more and more ideas will come to you. Studies actually show that it’s impossible to feel gratitude and unhappiness simultaneously. That’s why this strategy works so well, and so quickly!”

2. Practice mindfulness.

“If you’re in a slump, you may also be stuck ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Both of these thoughts are nonproductive,” says Simon Rego, PsyD, director of Psychology Training at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Instead, he suggests practicing mindfulness, which involves being present in the moment without judgment. “Try taking five minutes and eating your meal in a mindful way, paying attention to how it looks, smells and tastes with each bite, before swallowing it. Or take a quick mindful walk, considering the sights, smells, sounds and temperature with each step.” By focusing on the present, you’re less likely to dwell on the outside circumstances that are making you unhappy.

3. Practice a random act of kindness.

According to Dr. Rego, doing nice things for other people will make you feel good about yourself. Try holding a door open for someone else, offering a compliment or smiling at a stranger. These acts of kindness lead to positive thinking about yourself, and usually garner a positive response, like “thank you,” which can easily put a smile on your face, he says.

4. Have A Laugh

“Set up a YouTube channel with your favorite comedy sketches and comedians,” suggests Cory Bank, PhD, founder of StompStressAway.com. “Have it saved so that if you’re in a bad mood you can take a three-minute break and infuse some humor into your day.” Belly laughter will make your endorphins kick in within minutes. Plus, he notes, “you’ll feel better when you take a short break from your day-to-day reality.”

5. Eat An Orange

According to celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, foods packed with vitamin C, like citrus fruits, green peppers and broccoli, are proven to cheer you up. In fact, a study published in a 2010 edition of Nutrition found that vitamin C therapy can help improve the moods of patients who are hospitalized for long-term or critical care. Dr. Sams also stresses the importance of vitamin C (as well as other antioxidants, like vitamins A and E) when it comes to boosting your mood because it helps stabilize free radicals in the body, which are known to accelerate aging and increase the risk of heart disease and cancer. When these highly reactive atoms are neutralized, it prevents them from also damaging brain cells, resulting in better health and improved mood.

6. Just Breathe

Sure, we do this all day long, but breathing in a certain way has the power to relax us as well as lift us out of a slump. Dr. Sams is an advocate of diaphragmatic breathing. “Take a five-count breath in, and a five-count breath out. The goal is to manage your breath, instead of having your breath manage you.” When you breathe into your diaphragm as opposed to just your chest, which many of us do when we’re feeling stressed, you will absorb a lot more oxygen into your system. “Our brains thrive on oxygen—it’s very powerful in boosting your mood.”