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The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness and good health seem to go together. But according to a new study, not all forms of happiness are created equal. Researchers have long known that happier people experience less depression and stress, stronger immune systems, lower heart rates, and longer lives. But are all forms of happiness equally good for your health? If you feel elation because the Giants win the World Series, does that produce the same health benefits as the satisfaction that comes from helping a friend in need?

According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the answer is no. Instead, happiness that comes from doing good or fulfilling your life purpose may be better for you than happiness that comes from self-gratification or pleasure seeking. When it comes to your health, it seems, not all forms of happiness are created equal. Apparently our bodies are designed to differentiate between more virtuous—and less-self-serving—happiness, even if we don’t necessarily recognize the differences ourselves.

This could explain the connection found in prior studies between helping others and good health. Research has shown that acting in generous ways lights up areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, and can lead to positive health outcomes like lower stress and better cardiovascular health. In addition, several studies have found that volunteering increases longevity in older adults, especially if that volunteerism is motivated by altruism and not personal gain.

“Finding happiness in a sense of purpose or meaning does not need to be grand or grandiose,” says Fredrickson, one of the authors of the study. “Simply making an effort to connect with others with empathy and compassion could make this shift in your day.”


Being Ticklish Can Mask Underlying Tension

You may not realize it, but being ticklish in certain areas of your body may hide the fact that you have muscle tension there.  It’s a protective response.  While you feel relaxed and at ease, your brain is on alert, continually monitoring what’s going on all over your body.  It’s even working while you’re asleep.

If you’re touched in a ticklish area, your nervous system may overreact since the muscle tension is already high.  You respond with protective movements such as flinching, jumping, wiggling, and other ways to move away from the perceived threat.

Paradoxically, ticklish areas are some of the hardest areas to massage even though they desperately need them.  Deep breathing, meditation, and awareness of the tickle response can help you overcome the difficulty of receiving massage.


Beet your Stress

That’s not a typo!  Eating beets is one easy way to reduce your stress.  This time of year they are readily available at the farmer’s market.  There are many ways that beets helps reduce the toxins in your body.

Beet juice helps stimulate your liver and keeps your bile ducts functioning properly.    Beet betalains provide strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and further detoxification support for your body.  Beets are also high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, niacin, calcium, iron, and biotin.  These nutrients nourish your nervous system, digestive system, and keep your muscles functioning properly.  You can eat all of the beet plant.  I use the leaves as additional salad greens.  You can also cook them many ways.  They’re as versatile as spinach.

Stress management is a highly effective way to prevent disease and discomfort.  So eat your beets to beet your stress!


Massage Helps Chronic Back Pain

A study published in  the “Annals of Internal Medicine,” patients who receive six or more months of massage therapy to treat chronic back pain may benefit greatly.  Dr. Daniel C. Cherkin, of Seattle’s Group Health Research Institute, conducted the study along with several colleagues  to prove that massage, coupled with relaxation techniques, could reduce the occurrence of lower chronic back pain.

The study shows that after just ten weeks of receiving massage therapy, the people receiving massage showed “substantial improvement” over those that did not. The study continued for 52 weeks with consistent findings.


Stop Worrying

If you catch yourself worrying, stop.   I mean it literally.  Stop what you’re doing, sit down if you can, and take a moment to reflect.  It won’t take long, I promise.  Ask yourself:
What am I worried about?
Is that my total worry or is it hiding something deeper?
Can I do anything to change the situation?
If the answer is no, then take a deep breath and let go knowing that you’ve done all you can.
If there is something you can do, ask yourself if you’re ok with extending the effort knowing that it may not change the situation at all.
Take a deep breath and decide if you’re going to do anything.
Either way, make peace with your decision and let it go.
The stress relief is worth the interruption tenfold.
“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace.”

If you catch yourself worrying, stop.   I mean it literally.  Stop what you’re doing, sit down if you can, and take a moment to reflect.  It won’t take long, I promise.  Ask yourself:
What am I worried about?Is that my total worry or is it hiding something deeper?Can I do anything to change the situation?If the answer is no, then take a deep breath and let go knowing that you’ve done all you can.If there is something you can do, ask yourself if you’re ok with extending the effort knowing that it may not change the situation at all.Take a deep breath and decide if you’re going to do anything.Either way, make peace with your decision and let it go.The stress relief is worth the interruption tenfold.
“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles, it takes away today’s peace.”


You’re Never Too old to Exercise

“All Americans can benefit by embracing exercise regardless of their age, even if it’s just walking 15 minutes a day to start,” says Dr. Richard Kratche, medical director for the Cleveland Clinic Twinsburg Family Health and Surgery Center.

“The truth is, it’s never too late to start exercising,” he said. “Everybody can start where they’re at and gradually work up. The benefits are huge.” Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, resulting in “all kinds of diseases and maladies,” he said.

“You don’t really need a doctor’s note to walk around a store,” he said. “People can start walking. Literally, if they can only walk five minutes, the goal is to walk five minutes, but do it every day, and then after a week or two up it to 10 minutes.”

Though some types of arthritis are crippling, the most common form is osteoarthritis which actually benefits from moderate activity to improve range of motion, he said. Running tends to be harder on joints than walking, he said. Swimming is another activity many older patients also can enjoy.

Kratche also recommends people consider exercising with others. “The advantage to walking or exercising with others is the time flies,” Kratche said. “We have these wonderful conversations as you walk.”

Athletes of all ages should pay attention to the weather, he said. “When it gets really hot and humid, hydration becomes even more important.” Stretching also is recommended for all ages before exercising but “probably as we get older, loosening up and taking time to warm up prior to activities is a good idea,” he said.

“Exercise is a wonderful stress reducer, and all of us have stress in our life. Being able to burn some of that off on a walking path or a pool is a great benefit. It’s just good medicine.”


How Can Muscle Pain Be Prevented?

Therapeutic massage does more than just relax you and reduce stress from your body. It’s also surprisingly effective at relieving pain. Muscle tightness can be a cause of chronic pain. Therapeutic massages relieves pain in several ways. It increases circulation which nourishes and cleanses the tissues, softens tight muscles, and loosens scar tissue that may be limiting your movement.

Prevention is important to keeping you active, healthy, and comfortable. Your body needs regular tune-ups, just like a car, to keep it performing efficiently and smoothly. Getting a massage at least once a month lets you release unwanted stress from your muscles and helps you feel your best.


Beat the Heat With Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil is highly effective at cooling off both people and animals. Rub it on your feet, neck, wrists, ankles, back, wherever you like. The leaves whether fresh or dry make a wonderfully refreshing tea. Steep in hot water for several minutes, add ice and drink frequently.

Watch for the signs of overheating, such as fatigue and dizziness. Drink water right away and find a cooler location. Also, eating smaller, more frequent meals in higher heat reduces your body’s efforts at digestion which raises your internal temperature.

Find out more at www.Lesley.VibrantScents.com


Better Self-Care is as Easy as Geico

Now that my schedule fills up faster, I’d like to show you how to take care of yourself better between massages. You’ve probably heard me mention the basics about self-care such as finding stress relief, getting a good night’s sleep, stretching, and drinking lots of water. I don’t just offer this advice, I live it. I experience similar issues to you and practice what I preach. I also forget to do the right thing on occasion and am reminded with pain or fatigue. This is why I continually send out reminders so that hopefully you won’t have to experience discomfort.

Over last two years I’ve added essential oils to my daily routine. I put peppermint on my sore muscles, I diffuse the Peace & Calming blend to help me get a better night’s sleep, I carry the Valor blend in my purse to keep me calm when a stressful situation pops up, and I drink the Ningxia Red essential-oil drink to restore my energy. With the help of essential oils, I have added an extra massage or two to my weekly schedule and am also adding new activities that I didn’t have energy for previously. It’s really helped me turn back the clock in how I feel. I would love to be able to share this with you. If you’re interested, let’s schedule a 15-minute meeting at your convenience.


Massage Helps Animals too!

I just donated some sheets and towels that were past their prime for the massage room.  The SPCA and other animal shelters are always looking for old bedding, towels, and sometimes pillows to house stray animals.  Don’t worry about appearance either since clean, but less-than-pretty items can be used during surgeries.  They will also gladly accept donations of money, food, and pet care items and toys, too!