Not feeling so “seasonally bright”?

Not in the brightest of moods?

Recently, a discussion group that I belong to posed the question: What have you done to bring  joy into your life during times you don’t FEEL joyful?

I’d been wrestling with this lately because cold weather had me feeling over-dressed and frumpy—which in my experience, often leads to weight gain and poor body image. Maybe you can relate.

There must be as many strategies as there are people, but one that works for me is to—Dress the way I want to FEEL —and build on it from there.

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Way to Stretch!

As a medical massage therapist, Here’s what I know about stretching:

Stretching is a dialogue between muscles and nerves.  It’s always seemed downright sweet to me, not to mention, prudent, that the nerves respond to a stretch with a built-in response mechanism called a reflex to keep the muscle from being stretched too far–to the point of injury.   Unfortunately, the response often triggers a spasm which is a muscle contraction designed to stopping inhibit the stretch NOW.  Quick, jerky movements are highly excitable to the nervous system, triggering the response and cold tissue is more likely to spasm as well.

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Everywoman–of a certain age

The CHANGE    

Meet my friend, Lola

She’s in her mid-60’s, smack-dab int he middle of the baby boomer generation.   Divorced, she’s accustomed to living alone. She’s happy to be the mother of a good mother.  Deeply involved with her grandkids, she’s enamored beyond belief–who knew?                                                                                                         

She had a successful marriage for approximately 15 years then she experienced a change. Many people call menopause THE CHANGE.  Maybe it is.  But maybe the change is more than hormones in need of replacement.  Maybe THE CHANGE is a change of heart and a change of mind.

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Head too heavy?

Do you sometimes feel that your head is too heavy and your neck is too tight to turn?

Remind your self to use your headrest and take advantage of the support.                         Here’s where a little “self-talk” comes in–be conscious of relaxing the neck muscles that you are not using when you rest your head against something.

In that moment, a release can make all the difference.                                                       Exhale the tension that has built up–really empty your lungs as you sit with your head agains the top of the couch or the backrest of your car–or wherever…

It only takes a few moments to change your situational discomfort.  And the relief becomes worth the effort–believe me.

Don’t confuse stiffness with decrepitude

Don’t confuse stiffness with decrepitude. Turn on some music and dance a little–you’ll soon smooth out your moves and groove.

Just because we are stiff, does not necessarily mean that we are arthritic or “losing it”. When you move and stretch to music, you find a way to unlock those stiff, rigid muscles. Go ahead–try it–you’ll see.

Research shows that music stimulates motor cells (muscles) using a different part of the brain.

During WWI, patients who were shell-shocked and catatonic, began to move and even dance in ways the medical community would not say is possible when they heard familiar music.

Experiencing some polio-effects, I can relate.  When I walk, I seem to have more power and movement possible when I’m grooving to my tunes.

Man, I’m stiff!

As a massage therapist, I relate to ‘feeling stiff” a little differently than most… as an aging boomer, I feel it all too well.

I see it as the body’s way of slowing us down until we become warmed up.   It makes me feel old and creaky, compromising my balance and my confidence as well.

The soreness is inflammation from the waste our muscles have created.  Movement and warmth help to carry it away, allowing freer movement while enabling circulation on many levels (it’s not just about blood–it’s lymphatic and hormonal too.

But when we don’t move much–ie sitting on the couch;  working at the computer; lying in bed; tensing up while driving;, etc,–

-we feel stiff.

What to do?

  • Rub what hurts before you get up and go.
  • Warm up literally–in the shower or with gentle movements–such as pumping your legs back and forth or making circles with yout ankles, etc.
  • Avoid over-stretching until you have moved around a bit
  • Use heat patches from the drug store–or some old fashioned Tiger Balm to warm up joints and tight muscles

Ok, that’s my preachy-massage-therapist-advice for this cold Winter’s day.

Let’s not allow inactivity to keep us down.

A limber body makes good use of a limber mind.

(you can quote me  on that!)