Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have in life instead of focusing on what they’re lacking. Our brains are designed to problem solve rather than appreciate. We must override this design to reap the benefits of gratitude. Studies show that practicing gratitude can lead to more intimate and connected relationships, reduce feelings of stress and depression, improve sleep, and result in better overall well-being.
Gratitude can improve relationships, as a mutual appreciation for each other often results in a more satisfying relationship. A study with couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner felt more positive towards the other person. As well as felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.
A large part of managing stress is being able to regulate our emotions; practicing gratitude can help with that. A 2017 study published in Scientific Reports looked at the participant’s heart rates before, during, and after practising gratitude. The study found that heart rates decreased. A decreased heart rate is associated with feeling calmer. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed take a moment to list the things you’re grateful for at that moment. It may be difficult but it will likely help to calm you down and put things into perspective.
People who practice gratitude before bedtime report better sleep. This is likely because gratitude diminishes anxiety and stressful feelings, allowing for a more restful and relaxed sleep.
Gratitude can also improve one’s outlook on life. Appreciating what you have can leave you feeling more optimistic and satisfied and experiencing less frustration, envy, and regret. Gratitude also tends to result in increased self-esteem and confidence, which also improves mood.
People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. Find what works best for you and your life. Here are some suggestions:
- Stack it on top of an existing habit. If you stack it on top of another habit you’ll likely find it easier to maintain. Try thinking of 5 things you’re grateful for while in the shower.
- Get specific. Instead of saying you’re grateful for your friend, dive deeper and ask yourself what it is about your friend that makes you grateful to have them in your life.
- Think of different things. Challenge yourself to think of something different each day. Getting specific can help with this.
- Keep a gratitude journal. A space where you can write down 3-5 things you’re grateful for each day.
- Show appreciation to others. Whether that be through a thank you note, an email, or verbal interaction. This act of appreciation will mean more than you think to its recipient.
If you try any of these tips, please share them with us at your next appointment! The staff at Norfolk Chiropractic Wellness Centre would love to hear how you’re incorporating gratitude into your daily life.
As the back-to-school season rolls around so does the back-to-school stress and anxiety that many parents face. A study reported in the New York Times found that 57% of the 2000 parent participants of school-aged children (aged 5-18) revealed the back-to-school season to be the most stressful time of year.
As another school year rolls around here are five tips for how parents can healthily manage their back-to-school stress.
Weeknights can become stressful and overwhelming when you are trying to help your children with homework, prepare dinner, extracurricular activities, and everything else life throws your way. Planning your meals for the week ahead can help alleviate the stress of deciding what is for dinner each night. Once your meals are planned, make a grocery list of what items you will need for the week and go grocery shopping once. This will help to avoid running to the store for last-minute ingredients or impulsively eating out. And lastly, prep your food ahead of time if you can. Having your produce washed and pre-cut will save you hours preparing dinners on busy weeknights.
Set Routines & Stick to Them
Having routines set in place will help not only you but also your child’s stress levels. Routines provide a sense of stability and security. You know what to expect each day and can prepare for it. For example, every night before bed you set your child’s packed backpack by the front door. This will help to eliminate the morning stress of finding your child’s lost homework or permission slip.
Focus on the Positive
It can be easy to get lost in the negative, what-if thoughts regarding your child going back to school. However, it is important to remember that children thrive during the academic year. They work hard to grasp the fundamentals of math, excel on the sports field, or advance their reading level. As we gear up toward another school year don’t fret about what could go wrong. Instead, acknowledge the positives. Your child is becoming an educated, independent individual who is learning how to navigate the world. If you do find your child is struggling, many schools offer support to help them, so that they can also focus on the positive!
Take Care of Yourself
As parents, one of our main priorities is making sure our child is taken care of – properly nourished, with daily movement, and a quality night’s sleep. But what about you? Are you prioritizing that same level of care for yourself? You are not able to show up as your best self if you’re not taking care of yourself and your body. When we feel stressed energy is in our bodies and we need to get it out. Research has shown that one 20-minute walk per week can reduce stress, and anxiety, and boost mood and energy. Find the movement that brings you joy.
Mindfulness increases your ability to be present in the current moment. This leads to reducing stress and better engagement with your child. If you’ve never explored mindfulness before, start small. Begin by appreciating the smell of your morning coffee or the cool crisp fall mornings that are upon us. Find something within your day that brings you joy and take a moment to be present and embrace it. This builds up the skill of being in the moment. You can then apply it to be in the moment with your children.
As we transition into another back-to-school season it is important to remind yourself that you are not alone in feeling stress during this time. However, that doesn’t mean you need to remain in a state of stress. There are steps you can take to alleviate your stress levels by planning your week, setting routines for yourself and your kiddos, and acknowledging the positives of watching your children grow. Remember to take time out of your day to take care of yourself and have mindful moments throughout the day.
The staff at Norfolk Chiropractic Wellness Centre wishes your family a stress-free back-to-school season!
Do headaches or migraines affect your ability to function and live a happy, healthy life? Did you know that massage therapy can play a major role in managing and even eliminating headaches and migraines?
What causes headaches and migraines?
Headache causes can range from muscle tension in the head, neck and shoulders, to active trigger points in a muscle, to stress and anxiety, as well as hormonal and weather changes, and even dehydration. While the majority of headaches can be treated with over-the-counter medications, these are often temporary solutions for a chronic problem. In a proactive role, massage therapy can make a major difference in the frequency, intensity and duration of headaches and migraines.
How will massage therapy help relieve my headaches?
Focused treatment to the neck, shoulders and head in particular can reduce overall muscle tension and lead to a reduction in symptoms of headaches and migraines. Additionally, massage can decrease stress hormones in the body like cortisol and increase feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine, promoting relaxation and stress-relief, leading to better quality sleep and a reduction in the likelihood of headaches. Often when clients arrive for their appointment with an active headache, symptoms can be reduced or even resolved by the end of the appointment.
What will my massage therapist need to know?
When you come for your first appointment, your massage therapist will ask you some health history questions to get an understanding of your overall health and lifestyle, then they’ll ask more specific questions like how frequently you get headaches/migraines? When do you usually get them? How intense are they? How long do they typically last? Where in your head, neck and shoulders do you feel them?
These kinds of questions help start a good foundation of information to formulate a treatment plan specific to your needs and symptoms, and to establish a baseline to be measured against as your headache symptoms improve over time with massage treatment.
To schedule your visit, please click this button
to access our online booking system, or call the office at 519-827-0040.
Cupping therapy might be trendy now, but it’s not new! Last years Olympics shone a light on this ancient treatment - an element of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Everyone was wondering, “What are the purple dots on Michael Phelps?”. This is a healing method intended to stimulate blood flow and lift the skin from the muscle. The cups rupture capillaries, creating distinctive round, painless bruises.
What Does It Help With?
3 Benefits of Cupping
1) Relaxes the body – HOW? It works deep to stretch the muscles and the fascia covering the muscles so that your body feels relaxed.
2) Relieves pain – HOW? Pressure applied to painful areas and swelling. Cupping works to improve increase blood flow and send in nutrients and oxygen to the area ultimately relieving pain!
3) Detoxifies – HOW? Poor circulation can cause toxins to build up. Cupping gently pulls in fresh blood to enter the area and removes stagnate blood containing toxins, debris and dead cells.
Cupping has been used in all sorts of conditions including lung infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis, common cold, headaches or more commonly to relieve tight muscles.
What Does It Feel Like?
When the cups are applied with suction, this creates a pulling sensation in the area. Some people compare it to deep massage.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Generally cupping is very safe – when provided by a trained health professional. Following a treatment, you will have red or purple marks on the skin from where the cups were placed.
For more information on Cupping, and to find out if this technique is right for you please click on the link below to book your complimentary 15 minute introductory visit with Dr. Alaina Gair ND
Essential oils are everywhere and as a naturopathic doctor I get asked about them a lot! Essential oils are one way of preparing medicinal plants that concentrates specific compounds from the plant. There are lots of plants I prefer to use other ways but there are some essential oils I can’t live without! These essential oil are surprisingly specific. They are from medicinal plants that I love and unlike other plants (not listed here), I prefer to use these plants as essential oils.
Tea tree is my go to oil for a disinfectant. I use it topically for skin infections like acne and use it through out my home to help with cleaning. My favorite spot for tea tree essential oil is my steam mop, I add a drop or two to the cleaning pads to boost the disinfecting power in my kitchen and bathroom!
Eucalyptus is amazing for the respiratory tract and although I’ve always liked it for colds I’ve become a bit obsessed since my little one was born. I use a couple drops in a diffuser when she has a cough and she wakes less from coughing (which means more sleep for everyone)! I also throw a drop in my shower when I have a respiratory infection myself. A word of caution here, Eucalyptus essential oil is a potent medicine and something to take seriously. Store this one high up and make sure your little ones can’t get near the diffuser, it doesn’t take much of this essential oil taken internally to be dangerous.
Lavender is all round one of my favorite herbs. My neighbor grows a bunch of lavender on either side of their sidewalk and it is, year round, my favorite part of my walk home from work because it’s such an intoxicating smell. Lavender is a great anxiolytic; even just the smell of lavender has been shown to reduce blood pressure! A few drops in a bath with a cup of epsom salts is my go to recipe for relaxation and good sleep.
One of the side effects of stress is that a lot of people carry it in their bodies. One of the common places is in the neck and shoulders. I (Dr. Katie) sat down with Leslie Brown RMT to discuss how massage can help with managing one of the most common physical side effects I see of stress in my practice - tension headaches.
What are tension headaches?
Tension headaches are trigger points that refer pain into your head. Trigger points are a tight hyper irritable spot that most people call knots. Each muscle has a different location and referral pattern. For example some one might experience pain behind their eyes and someone else might have pain in the back of the head. A massage therapist will know what muscles to treat based on where your tension headache is. Active trigger points will constantly refer pain into your head, while latent trigger points only create pain when you press on the trigger point.
Why do people get them?
Neck problems are so prevalent. So many people have poor posture and are so stressed! Also repetitive computer and cell phone use affects posture and causes neck pain and headaches. These headaches are very prevalent and exhausting. They take away from your focus and energy and impact sleep because when you have pain you don't have restorative sleep, which impacts your overall healing.
How do you treat tension headaches?
I have a lot of experience with treating headaches and neck pain because of my work with people who have been in motor vehicle accidents. Many people do not only come in when they have a headache, they come in for prevention and maintenance. Typical treatment would be 1/month to counteract lifestyle factors such as ongoing postural and stress tension. It is also beneficial as time for self care and to help with relaxation. If you are getting more than 3 headaches a year, treatment can help reduce frequency and intensity of your headaches.
This picture shows some common referral patterns of the neck muscles. The X's are trigger point locations in the muscles and the red areas show where the referral pain (tension headaches) are felt.
Leslie Brown is a Registered Massage Therapist at Norfolk Chiropractic Wellness Centre. To book a massage with Leslie, or chat with Dr. Katie about multidisciplinary headache care call 519 827-0040, or click on the links below to book online.
Anxiety is a funny thing, while most people think of it in terms of worry and excessive thoughts, many manifestations of anxiety are very physical. In fact, especially for men, these may be the only or primary symptom. These symptoms can be caused by many things, and it’s always important to look at physiologic as well as psychologic causes, however, anxiety, especially in men, can get overlooked as the cause despite the fact it is very common. And so with that, here are 5 Common Symptoms that might actually be anxiety.
Trouble sleeping sucks, and it’s tempting to write off insomnia as well, insomnia, but if the reason you can’t sleep is actually anxiety, treating the anxiety is a more effective way to get you better sleep. So if you tried melatonin and “it didn’t work for you” it’s probably not treating the cause of your anxiety. Herbs that calm the mind and ease anxiety are much more likely to help you sleep that even herbs that are for sleep if your insomnia is because of anxiety.
Anxiety can make all kinds of pain worse but headaches are a special kind of overlap because it’s so easy to overlook. I find that headaches from anxiety are often diagnosed as tension headaches, which although not untrue, leaves out a possible treatment option. If your tension headaches are not responding to usual therapy, consider that natural anxiety treatments may be helpful at reducing headache pain.
Having to go...
Running to the bathroom because your bowels are going to betray you is no fun. It’s even less fun when it makes it hard to leave the house. Here is the thing, it may not be “IBS” and even when it is, it still may be anxiety (a LOT of people have both). Treating the anxiety calms the nervous system, including the enteric nervous system which is in charge of making you “go”.
Having to go (the other one)
Perhaps not quite as distressing as having to run for the bathroom, having to pee ALL THE TIME is still super inconvenient. When the usual concerns (like infection and prostate issues) have been ruled out, its time to rule out anxiety before you just label your bladder as irritable too!
Trouble Breathing (Even just when working out)
Everybody knows that difficulty breathing can be related to anxiety, but most people think of it as panic attacks and not being able to breathe. In fact, exercise intolerance, or having trouble breathing when working out, is common in anxiety and can be overcome with a combination of physical and psychological support!
The thing about all these anxiety symptoms is that they have an alternate treatment option. By treating the underlying anxiety (when present) you are treating the CAUSE of the symptom, not just suppressing the symptom itself.
If you are ready to find the root cause of your symptoms click on this link to book your complimentary 15 minute consultation with Dr. Katie.
I'm Dr. Alaina Gair, Naturopathic Doctor. I am passionate about helping women understand and optimize their breast (and overall) health! According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 1 in 8 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. An estimated 26,300 Canadian women and 230 men will be diagnosed this year. That’s 72 women every day. Being that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month I felt this was the perfect time to share some quick tips that you can put into action today!
I created this blog to help you have:
• A clear understanding of what risks are within your control
• Simple strategies for optimizing breast health
• Peace of mind knowing that you are doing what you can to stay healthy
Let’s get started!
Did you know that pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are carcinogenic?
You can limit your exposure by investing in organic produce when picking foods that have the highest pesticide content.
For 2017, here are the fruits and vegetables that were found to be highest in pesticide content, according to the Environmental Working Group:
Eating a diet high in vegetables and fruit has been linked to decreased risk of developing breast cancer. Aim for 2-3 servings of fruit, 4-6 servings of vegetables and 7 or more servings of other plant foods like whole grains, beans, peas and roots.
Eat a rainbow - variety is important!
Dark green vegetables contain chlorophyll which helps to detoxify the blood, thereby decreasing risk for breast cancer. Colourful berries contain ellagic acid – a compound that actually blocks the growth of cancer cells. Members of the cabbage family contain indole-3-carbinol – an important ingredient for managing estrogen in the body.
Filtering your tap water can also help to maintain healthy breasts. Chlorine has been suggested as a cause of 1-2% of cancers in Canada and a simple Brita filter will remove 99% of this chemical!
Pump Up Protein
For protein, stick to lean meats like chicken and fish. These contain healthy fats – omega 3 and 9. Ideally these should be free-range, organic or wild caught. Red meat isn’t totally off the table when it comes to reducing risk for breast health. BUT, it’s quite important to buy grass-fed, organic beef. Red meat animals are particularly good at concentrating pesticides and herbicides from their feed. This is stored in the saturated fat in the meat we consume.
I’m sure most of you already know that keeping sugar to a minimum is beneficial for your health. Diets high in processed foods dump sugar into the blood stream following a meal. The liver responds by releasing insulin-like growth factors which makes cells double and are major stimulators for cancer growth and spread.
Lift Your Lifestyle
Try a few different activities and then pick one you really enjoy and can stick with! The best outcomes for breast cancer prevention are seen with 60 minutes of exercise 5 times a week, but benefits are seen with just 30 minutes of brisk walking daily. This simple strategy decreases risk of developing breast cancer by 18%!
Women's bodies process alcohol differently than men's, and therefore women should keep consumption to a minimum – no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day. Research demonstrates that daily consumption of 2-3 drinks results in an increased risk of breast cancer of 43%.
Chemicals at Home
Try making your own cleaners and stick to personal care products that don’t contain parabens, phthalates or sulfates. These chemicals build up in fat tissue (including the breasts) and have been shown to be carcinogenic. Chemical-free products are available at health food stores and your skin will thank you for investing in healthier options! One product that really goes a long way is castile soap. Use it as body wash, all purpose cleaner or laundry detergent.
All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe:
1 cup distilled water
15 drops essential oil –
(Pick your favorites, I use peppermint, lemon and lavender)
1/2 tbsp. castile soap
This makes an effective, non-toxic cleaner for your home. Remember, if it's not biodegradable, it's probably degrading you. If it's harmful to the environment, it's harmful to you!
Stress management, like exercise, comes in many forms. It is important you to pick a system that resonates with you, that brings you peace, and that is something you could stick with every day.
We can predict cancer risk by assessing whether a person skips breakfast, eats between meals and has irregular hours of sleep. The extent to which this impacts development of cancer remains unknown, but there is no question that factor represents a level of chaos in daily life. Chaos adds stress physically and mentally, so it is important not to allow this into your life.
Consider some of the options below, try them out and then commit to a practice that brings you peace.
Some Stress Management Techniques
Guided meditation - there are many apps available to help you develop meditation as a skill. Consider trying out Buddhify (an app). This product has guided meditations to bring mindfulness to almost any daily activity.
Other activities include:
• Diaphragmatic breathing
• Bubble bath
• Walking in nature
• Spa day
• Make up your own!
Some people need more help with developing a stress management practice - be patient with yourself! This takes time to become routine.
I hope you have found some helpful information that you can put into action and start optimizing your health and wellness today!
Yours in Breast Health,
Dr. Alaina Gair, ND
* Please remember, this blog does not constitute medical advice and does not act as substitution for seeing a medical doctor or naturopathic doctor to discuss your health.
If you would like to book an appointment with Dr. gair to discuss Breast Health, or any other health concerns please click on this link:
The resting position of the jaw and tongue is when your upper and lower teeth are slightly apart, and your tongue is gently resting on the roof of your mouth just behind the upper central teeth.
What is the TMJ?
The acronym TMJ stands for “Temporomandibular Joint”. TMJ dysfunction is a disorder of the muscles of mastication (chewing), the temporomandibular joints and associated structures.
Causes of TMJ Dysfunction:
• Predisposition (genetics or trauma to the face, neck or jaw)
• Tissue alteration (postural dysfunction, spasms, trigger points, etc.)
• Stress (increase in tone of the chewing muscles due to jaw clenching, tooth grinding, or habitual gum chewing)
• Pain in the jaw, face, or ear area
• A clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the jaw
• Headaches (commonly felt in the temples or forehead) or earaches
• Jaw that “gets stuck”, locks, or goes out of place
What can Massage Therapy do?
Massage treatment can be very effective to reduce the muscle tension and trigger points in the jaw, neck and shoulders. These areas will commonly be tender if TMJ dysfunction is present, but working with a RMT to meet your goals (decreasing pain or reducing headaches) will provide positive results. Your dentist will commonly prescribe a mouth guard to wear at night to prevent your teeth from wearing down from chronic grinding, if necessary. Massage treatment in all of these areas will also help to reduce stress and improve posture.
Place the tips of your fingers on your cheekbones, then move your fingers down (they should be about an inch in front of your ears). If you clench your teeth with your fingers there, you will feel the masseter muscles engaged (the main muscles of chewing). You can then make small circles with your fingers to massage the area.
It is common to forget about the jaw muscles that we use for eating and talking all day long, but they can be a large contributing factor to neck pain or headaches. If you think massage therapy treatment would be beneficial for you, please do not hesitate to contact our clinic for an appointment.
Back to school colds are the worst! It seems like you are just getting into the swing of things and all of the sudden one (or more!) member of your house starts sniffling. At best it’s inconvenient, at it’s worst people are missing out on school, work and sleep all for a crummy virus you know is going to show it’s head again next year! The germs are inevitable, most children get 7-10 colds per year until they are 7 years old, and as beneficial as they are for helping their immune systems grow up it’s normal to want to minimize sickness and absenteeism. Here are our top five tips for boosting your immune system, naturally.
Get to Bed
A good night's sleep is essential for an optimal immune system. While each individual has their own sleep requirements, adults need at least 7 hours of sleep, and kids need a minimum of 9-14 hours of sleep depending on their age. To ensure a good nights sleep, create a consistent bedtime and follow a bedtime routine that is free of screen time. This will help support good sleep hormones for better sleep.
Say No to Sugar
Sugar enters our blood stream quickly when we eat it. This increase in blood sugar suppresses our immune system. Also sugar negatively impacts the good bacteria living in the intestines (AKA the microbiome). The microbiome has an important role in regulating the immune system. By avoiding processed sugar you avoid both the blood sugar related suppression of the immune system and also support the microbiome in it’s natural regulation of the immune system!
Stress also has a large negative effect on the immune system. When we are stressed our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. This hormone suppresses the immune system which decreases our ability to fight off infections. Simple stress management exercises, such as breathing deeply or taking a dog for a walk, can help a lot in lowering cortisol levels and keeping the immune system healthy buy keeping stress at bay.
Practice Hand Hygiene
There is a reason public health officials are always talking about hand washing, it works! Washing your hands is a great way to prevent the spread of many infections including the common cold. Teach your children to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow and to wash their hands after doing so. Have children wash their hands after they get home from school. There is no need to use anti-bacterial soap or hand sanitizer, regular soap and water works effectively.
Your immune system cells travel through the blood and their own network of pathways in your body called the lymphatic system. In order to keep the lymphatic system moving well its important to stay hydrated. Make sure everyone in your family drinks plenty of water. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also important sources of water so include as many as possible in the diet. Immune cells act as “surveillance” in the body, they look for infection. In order for them to do this job they need to be moving. Drinking lots of water helps them do just that!
In addition to lifestyle changes, there are other naturopathic tools, like herbs, nutritional supplements and acupuncture, that can be helpful in supporting the immune system. To find out how naturopathic medicine could help you, book your complimentary meet and greet appointment today.