coping with stress

How to cope with stress this holiday season

The holidays usually represent a time of happiness and appreciation, However,  it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or stressed when you look at your lengthy to-do list or turn on the news.
This year might be a little bit different but you can make the most of the holidays by changing your approach to the way you handle difficult situations. Here are some techniques to help you cope with stress and have a fulfilling experience:

Take care of yourself

You do your best when you feel your best. Taking care of your mind and body is important for increasing your energy, staying positive and keeping healthy. 

Meditation

Meditation brings more patience, calmness and clarity to your life. It helps you observe and  understand your thoughts and feelings without judgement. This allows you to respond to situations instead of reacting based on your emotions. Here are a few techniques that can help you get started.

4-7-8 Breathing Technique 

  • Close your eyes – breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 4 seconds. 
  • Hold your breath for 7 seconds and slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8 seconds.This is one cycle of breathing. Keep repeating the process for as long as you need.

Simple Meditation Practice

  • Find a comfortable space where you won’t be bothered for a few minutes. 
  • Set a timer for the length of time you would like to meditate for. This can allow your mind to relax and be present with the process so you won’t have to worry about the length of time you’re meditating for.
  • You can sit cross legged on the ground, or in a chair with your feet planted to the floor with your back straight. 
  • Begin by taking a few deep breaths. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
  • Gradually lower your gaze and close your eyes. 
  • Focus your attention on the sensations of your body. Starting with the point of contact between your body and the chair or your body and the floor. Notice the sensations – tingling, vibrations, pressure.
  • Slowly scan your body from your head down to your toe.
  • Gradually become aware of your breath. This may be the feeling of air entering and leaving your nostrils or the rising and falling of your chest. There is no need to try to control your breath – simply pay attention to the sensation.
  • When doing this you will notice your mind begin to wander. You may notice thoughts and emotions start to pop up. This is totally normal and part of the meditation experience. Whenever you notice your mind wandering let go of the thought or emotions and gently return to the sensation of breathing. 
  • Continue doing this until the end of your practice.

 

Although meditation can provide immediate relief from stress, in order to experience the lasting effects that meditation is known for – it’s best to set aside some time everyday to meditate.

 

Exercising

One of the most proven ways to relieve stress and improve your mood is to get your body moving. Although the gyms may be closed and the weather is getting colder, there are still many exercises that you can do from the comfort of your living room. Some of these include, bodyweight exercises (pushups, squats, lunges etc.), dancing, yoga, and Pilates.

 

Here are some other fun practical ways that you can cope with stress and have a more fulfilling experience:

 

Connect with friends and family – Although we might not all be able to be in the same physical space this year – you can use video chat to make the experience feel like you’re all in the same room. Video chat platforms now allow up to 8 people to be on the same call.  Set a time with your family to have a group call. You can all cook a special meal and pretend you’re dining together. Whether you’re sharing jokes, or reflecting on your memories, talking to others can help to take the edge off.  Make the most of your resources!

 

Show Gratitude – Thank the people that have been there for you when you need them. You can give them a call, send a text, write a card, or surprise them with a meal. Showing others you care and appreciate them can bring you closer together no matter how far apart you are. Showing gratitude will make you happier because you shift from focusing on what you don’t have to appreciating all that you do have.

 

Journal – Set aside some time to introspect and write down your thoughts. Journaling allows you to express your emotions in a safe space (without judgement from others) that you may be bottling up which can lead to stress and anxiety. 

 

Donate to charity or friends in need – It’s no secret that the act of giving and helping others makes us feel good. Instead of accumulating more this season, try giving what you no longer need to the less fortunate. Also, when we declutter our environment  the added space gives us a feeling of calm and clarity.

 

Get dressed up even if you’re staying home – You don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant or event to get dressed up. Wearing our favourite clothes naturally makes us feel good. It can also make any activity feel like a special occasion. So even if you’re having dinner at home – play some music, set the mood with lighting, and get dressed up.  Give yourself permission to be silly and have fun.

 

Talk to a professional


When you’re going through a rough patch sometimes you might need a fresh perspective from someone outside of your family or friends group. Talking to a professional can help you release pent up emotions, discuss issues that you don’t feel comfortable sharing with your loved ones, and heal from traumatic experiences.

Seeking help from a therapist doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means that you’re brave enough to step outside of your comfort zone and be vulnerable in order to grow.  When you’re ready to open up, we have virtual psychotherapy sessions that can help you cope with stress and improve your mental health.

man with rotator cuff injury

What to do if you get a rotator cuff injury

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that help to keep your arm in your shoulder socket. It’s core function is to help you lift and rotate your arm. Therefore a tear or injury to this muscle can severely limit your movement and your ability to perform daily activities. Not to mention, you might feel severe pain whenever you try to raise your arm.

Before we dive into what remedies you can use to treat a rotator cuff injury, lets examine the common causes.

Common Causes

There are many reasons why someone may experience a rotator cuff injury. It can develop overtime from repeatedly performing overhead motions. This is why it is common among athletes and construction workers. Some other common reasons may include:

  • Falling on your shoulder
  • Sleeping on your shoulder
  • Using poor technique to lift objects over your head
  • Wear and tear
  • Repetitive slouching 

Treatment

First Steps

Reducing pain and swelling will be your main priority following a rotator cuff injury. Some of the methods you can use to gain relief are:

  • Using the R.I.C.E method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). All you need to do is immediately stop any activities that may aggravate the shoulder and apply an ice pack to the affected area.
  • Taking over-the-counter NSAIDs (Non steroid anti inflammatory drug) These drugs also help to reduce pain and swelling. However, you should consult with your doctor first because they can be addictive.

Other treatment options for rotator cuff injuries include:

  • Surgery – This can be a viable option for recovery depending on the severity of the injury and the ligaments that were damaged. If you’re experiencing prolonged or excruciating pain You should consult your doctor immediately. Some injuries can be an indication of more serious issues.
  • Physiotherapy – When your mobility improves you will want to start a physiotherapy program. Physiotherapy is important for recovery even if you’ve had surgery or you’re using the R.I.C.E method. This will help you strengthen your muscles and develop your range of motion in a safe controlled environment. You will be able to track your progress and make any changes needed to avoid further injury. In a matter of weeks to months (depending on the severity) you will be able do your daily activities free of pain.

Although you may be anxious to get back to your regular routine you should give yourself enough time to recover. At Activa Clinics, our physiotherapists will create a program for you consisting of various exercises and movements to help restore your physical health.

man wondering what are the causes of depression

The Hidden Causes of Depression

The causes of depression are complex. They can involve your genetics, brain chemistry, hormones, life experiences, and more. Many of the risk factors for depression are things you’d probably expect, such as drug abuse, low self-esteem, and traumatic events.

However, there are some possible causes for depression that you may not know about. And getting to the bottom of what triggered your depression is a good first step towards overcoming it. So if you or someone you care about is struggling with depression, here are some of the lesser-known causes.

Chronic Pains

It may surprise you to learn that depression and pain are closely related. Firstly, depression can cause physical symptoms like back pain or headaches, or make an existing pain feel more intense. 

But pain can also contribute to depression. For example, if you’re dealing with a chronic pain that just won’t go away, it can wear you down and affect your mood over time. Also, pain can contribute to depression indirectly, such as by causing sleep problems or by preventing you from working.

Depression and pains can also feed into each other in a vicious cycle; The pain makes your depression worse, and then your worsened depression makes your pain more intense.

So if you have a nagging injury or unexplained chronic pain, you should speak to your doctor. They can help you get to the root cause of the pain and stop it from contributing to depression.

Summer Weather

You may be familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that’s triggered by changes in seasons. For most people affected by SAD, it strikes at the beginning of winter. And that makes sense intuitively; As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, some people come down with the “winter blues”.

But what you might not know is that, for some people, summer can also bring on SAD. That’s because what really causes SAD is the change in seasons, as that can throw off your body’s internal clock.

In the summer, the increased sunlight can affect your sleeping patterns and reduce the production of mood-regulating hormones. This can cause insomnia, loss of appetite, and depression.

In addition, it’s been shown that the summer heat can further impact the mood of people with depression by increasing their anxiety and agitation. If you think you’re experiencing summer-onset SAD, you can try limiting your exposure to bright light and cranking up the air conditioning.

Too Much Social Media

There are many studies that suggest spending too much time on social media can be associated with depression. And experts say this is especially true for teenagers and children.

One of the suspected reasons is that “social media addicts” tend to struggle more with face-to-face interactions and have a lack of companionship in real life. 

Another issue that experts point to is “downward social comparison.” That means that when you see social media posts that depict other people’s lives as perfect, it can lead you to develop an unrealistic view of the world and think your life sucks in comparison. 

While there have been many studies showing that a connection between depression and social media exists, most of those studies were unable to show a causal link. That means the findings didn’t show whether social media actually makes people develop depression, or if depressed people just tend to use social media more frequently.

However, one recent study did establish that causal link. It showed that people who cut back drastically on their use of social media tend to see a significant improvement in their mood and how they feel about their lives.

Medications

There are a wide variety of drugs that can contribute to depression. With some drugs, this side effect is well known and probably won’t surprise you. That includes alcohol or birth control pills. However, there are many other drugs on the list that you might not expect. Just some examples include:

Anticonvulsants: A type of drug used to control epileptic seizures.

Beta-blockers: A group of medicines used to treat high blood pressure, heart problems, and migraines.

Opioids: A type of painkiller that includes Percodan, Demerol, and OxyContin.

Chantix: A medication used to aid in smoking cessation.

All of the drugs above alter your brain chemicals in some way as part of the desired effect, but they can also carry the risk of side effects like depression.

If you think one of your medications may be causing you to experience depression, don’t stop taking it. Instead, speak to your doctor. They can help you weigh the risk vs. the benefit of each of your medications, or offer you alternative options. 

Your Thyroid 

Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that secretes hormones. These hormones are used to regulate your metabolism and energy levels, and it affects a variety of vital systems throughout the body.

When the thyroid isn’t functioning normally and it doesn’t produce enough hormones, that’s called hypothyroidism. This condition makes your body’s internal systems to slow down, leading to a variety of symptoms that are similar to depression.  That includes:

  • Depressed mood
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Lowered sexual desire

However, there are some differences in the symptoms that may give you a clue that you’re dealing with hypothyroidism and not depression.

Some symptoms that are more likely in hypothyroidism include:

  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Hair loss
  • Slowed heart rate

So if you think you may have hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor. They can take a blood test that can confirm it or rule it out.

Don’t Wait to Get Help

People suffering from depression often put off seeking treatment, for a number of reasons. One survey of people with depression found that one of the most common reasons is the belief that treatment won’t help.

However, getting help through a mental health program can be very effective at treating depression. It can help you get to the root of your issues, provide emotional support, improve your outlook, provide medication to solve chemical imbalances and change the thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to depression.

So don’t hesitate to seek help! At Activa Clinics, we have a team of psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors, and social workers who can provide a variety of mental health services. Contact us to learn more and take the first step towards beating your depression.

girl needs treatment for dizziness

Restore your balance with treatment for dizziness

If you experience dizzy spells from time to time, it’s something you should address. If the dizziness gets bad enough or happens at the wrong time, it could cause you to injure yourself in a fall. There are many effective options available if you need treatment for dizziness, but the first step is finding out the reason behind it. And to understand the causes of dizziness, you should know the basics about how your sense of balance works.

Your Body’s Balance System

Your inner ear has three fluid-filled canals that are arranged at right angles to each other. Each canal is responsible for sensing movement on a different axis, so by working together they let you sense movement in all three dimensions. This is how you stay balanced and keep from tipping over.

Whenever you move, the fluid in these canals sloshes around, and your body senses the movement through tiny strands of hair that line the canals. This is why spinning can make you dizzy.

When your body spins, the fluid in your inner ear starts spinning too. Right after you stop spinning, the fluid in your ears continues to spin, giving you a false sense of movement and throwing off balance.

This is also what causes motion sickness. It occurs when your inner ear senses movement, but the visual information from your eyes doesn’t match up, such as when you’re riding in the backseat of a car.

But if you haven’t been doing much spinning and are still experiencing dizziness, there are a few different possible causes.

What Causes Dizziness?

Inner Ear Dysfunctions

There are several inner ear issues that can cause dizziness, such as Meniere’s disease. This condition causes an excessive buildup of fluid in your inner ear, which can cause dizzy spells that last up to several hours. One sign that you may have this condition is the feeling of a plugged ear.

One of the most common causes for dizziness is called Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). It can occur when crystals in your inner ear become dislodged and move into the canals responsible for balance. This causes sudden dizzy spells that are triggered by a head movement, and they usually last less than a minute.

Circulation Issues

Dizziness can also be caused by poor circulation. When there’s a drop in blood pressure and not enough blood is getting pumped to your brain, it can make you feel dizzy, off balance, or faint. One sign that poor blood flow is the cause of your dizziness is if it occurs right after you stand or sit up quickly.

Medications

Be sure to double-check the listed side effects on all your medications, because there are several types of drugs that can cause dizziness. That includes antidepressants, sedatives, anti-seizure drugs, blood pressure medications.

Treatments for Dizziness

There are a number of treatment options for the different causes of dizziness.

If an inner ear issue is the cause, it can often be solved through vestibular rehabilitation. That’s a treatment that involves exercises to retrain your body’s balance system.

If the cause is BPPV, treatment may involve a physiotherapist guiding you through a series of head movements that can dislodge the problematic crystals from your inner ear. In other cases, such as with Meniere’s disease, certain lifestyle changes can help such as switching to a low-salt diet.

And in some cases, medications and/or ear surgery may be the best course of action. So speak with your healthcare provider about your dizziness, and they can help you find the right treatment for you.

man in need of running tips

Five Essential Tips for Running

Running is a convenient way to stay active. You don’t need a gym membership, a bunch of equipment, or a special place to do it. Just get outside and start running!
But there are some things you should know. As a high-impact activity, running can put a lot of strain on your body, so it’s important that you do it properly to avoid injuries. 
If you’re ready to get started, here are five essential tips for running:

Warm Up and Cool Down

Most people know that doing some kind of warm-up is important to get your body prepared for exercise and avoid injuries. It gradually warms up your core muscle temperature and increases blood flow.

But did you know that the cool down after a run is just as important? If you stop exercising too suddenly, it can cause cramps, nausea, or even fainting.

So warm up by beginning your run with some stretches followed by 10 minutes of walking or slow running. End your run the same way to cool down.

Start slow

Whenever you are starting a new exercise or increasing its intensity, there is some risk of injury. That’s because your muscles and joints may not be prepared for the new amount of strain they’ll be experiencing.

So if you are just getting into running, don’t overdo it. Start with shorter runs before going long distance, and focus on a comfortable pace instead of pushing yourself to your limits. 

When you’re ready to increase the intensity of your runs, you should do it gradually over time. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t increase the length of your runs by more than 10 percent per week.

Get proper footwear

Wearing the right shoes is essential to running comfortably. Ensuring your shoes provide proper support and cushioning can help you prevent pain in your feet, knees, back, and other areas of the body. So get a good quality pair of running shoes, and make sure you replace them before they get totally worn out.

The best option would be to invest in custom orthotics. They provide support that’s tailored to your unique biomechanics and can help you move as efficiently as possible.

Change it up

If running is your go-to physical activity, you should consider changing it up a bit.

Alternating running with low-impact activities can help you avoid joint pain and injuries. Incorporating activities like cycling, elliptical training, or swimming can add variety to your routine.

Also, cross-training can make you a better runner. Activities like cycling will strengthen the supporting muscles used while running, while also giving your primary running muscles a chance to rest and recuperate.

Stay safe

If you’re running on a road that has a sidewalk, you are required by law to use the sidewalk. However, when there’s no sidewalk, you’re allowed to run on the shoulder, and there’s no federal law about which side to run on. 

To stay safe when running on the side of a road, you should run against traffic. This lets you see what’s coming, so you can adjust your position or react to distracted drivers. Also, always wear clothing with high visibility.

woman with driving anxiety

Driving Anxiety

Driving anxiety is a common issue. It can range from a slight uneasiness at getting behind the wheel to an all-out phobia that causes you to avoid driving, no matter what. 

It’s actually one of the most common phobias out there, and it can have a number of causes. But no matter how it arises, when anxiety gets in the way of driving a car, it can really limit your independence.

So if you think you or someone you know is dealing with a fear of driving, here’s what you need to know: there are a number of options that can help you overcome it.

But first, here are some common causes of driving anxiety, and the symptoms that it can bring.

What Causes Driving Anxiety?

  • Traumatic experience: If you were in a car accident or near-miss, it can trigger a fear of driving. That can also be true if you witnessed an accident or even just heard about one.
  • Panic attacks: If you’re someone who has ever experienced panic attacks or just felt on the verge of one, you may be afraid of having one in the car and losing control.
  • Vicious cycle: Some experts say that if you become anxious about driving, it leads you to make more mistakes, which then feeds your anxiety.  

Symptoms of Driving Anxiety

For people with a fear of driving, getting behind the wheel will cause some of the usual physical symptoms of fear:

  • Sweating
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling faint
  • Tingling
  • Chest pain 
  • Dry mouth 

And these are some behaviors that are common signs of driving anxiety:

  • Avoiding driving altogether
  • Avoiding driving on the highway, bridges, tunnels, or certain routes
  • Feeling as though you were on “automatic pilot” while driving

Overcoming Your Driving Anxiety

Relaxation techniques

As with any form of anxiety, there are relaxation techniques that may help you overcome the symptoms and be better prepared to face your fear. Many people find that simply focusing on taking deep slow breaths is an effective method, but there are a variety of relaxation techniques to choose from, such as:


Mental Health Therapy

If relaxation techniques aren’t working, you may want to consider mental health therapy, as it is highly effective at treating anxiety disorders. Psychologists can help you identify the cause of your anxiety and deal with it. Typically, they do that with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). 

CBT addresses the negative thoughts that contribute to your anxiety and then helps you change those thinking patterns. It also gives you guidance on how to face your fear and see that your anxieties were unfounded.

 

Keep driving

While you’re working on addressing your anxiety, you should continue driving as much as you can. Completely avoiding driving can increase your anxiety, and the idea of getting back on the road will grow into a more daunting task over time. 

Phobias are often treated with exposure therapy, which means facing your fear, one baby step at a time. So try to gradually drive more and more, and work towards the routes or situations that give you the most anxiety.

If you’re worried that you lack driving skills or that anxiety will make you unsafe behind the wheel, there are driving instructors who specialize in helping people with anxiety. And as always, drive safe!

woman with Sciatica

Everything you need to know about sciatica

If you experience pain in your lower back and leg, you may have been told you have sciatica. That’s a fine starting point, but you may be wondering what to do next.

Sciatica is a term that’s often thrown around and sometimes misunderstood. So if you think you may have sciatica, here’s what you need to know.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is not a specific medical condition. It’s actually a set of symptoms that can have several causes.

It involves pain and numbness along the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your hip and buttock and down your leg. The most common cause is a pinched nerve due to an underlying back issue.

How to Spot It

Here are some of the symptoms that can indicate you’re dealing with sciatica:

  • Pain, numbness, and tingling affecting the lower back, hip, buttock, thigh, calf, and/or foot.
  • The pain originates in the lower back and then radiates down.
  • The symptoms are typically only on one side of the body.
  • The pain gets worse in certain positions such as when sitting or twisting the spine.

Common Causes of Sciatica

Usually, sciatica is the result of a back issue that causes one of the bones in your spine to pinch the sciatic nerve. There are several conditions that can be the root cause, including:

  • Herniated disk
  • Spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal)
  • Degenerative disk disease

There are also some risk factors that affect your chances of developing sciatica. They include obesity, age, and prolonged sitting.

Treatment For Sciatica

To get some quick pain relief from sciatica, you can try using hot or cold packs and doing some lower back stretching. But to solve the issue, you should consider getting some treatment.

Sciatica can normally be resolved with physical therapy in a few weeks. A physical therapist can create a custom treatment plan that will reduce pain, address the underlying issues, and speed your recovery.

The treatment can involve a variety of therapies such as exercises, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and more. 

What to Watch Out For

There are also some symptoms that may indicate you have a more serious condition. They include bowel/bladder dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, and symptoms in both legs. So if any of those symptoms crop up, be sure to tell your healthcare provider.

Breathing exercise

10 Steps to Pain Relief with this Simple Breathing Exercise

Breathing exercise for pain

Prescription painkillers are an essential aid for many people. If you’re living with some sort of chronic pain, painkillers might be necessary just so you can function and lead a normal life.   

However, they can also come with strong side effects. That’s one reason you may want to find alternative ways to relieve pain—but there are many other reasons too:

  • Your medications aren’t doing enough.
  • You want to find a more natural solution.
  • You don’t have pain medication on hand.

Whatever your reason, here is a very simple breathing exercise you can use to find some relief from all types of pain. Whether you’re suffering from headaches, an injury, or a chronic condition, this exercise can help you take control of your body and manage your pain.

Breathe Deep and Relax

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable spot.
  2. Put one hand on your stomach, right above your belly button
  3. Put your other hand on the middle of your chest
  4. Take a deep breath and notice how the hand on your belly rises first, followed by the hand on your chest.
  5. Briefly hold the breath, then slowly let it out. Notice how your chest and abdomen move as you exhale.
  6. Continue breathing deeply while concentrating on the air entering your nose and mouth. Picture it filling your lungs.
  7. Try to make your breaths longer and slower.
  8. As you inhale, imagine the air is surrounding all the pain in your body.
  9. As you exhale, imagine you’re blowing pain and stress out of your mouth.
  10. Take notice of how the pain has lessened already, and continue.

Why Does It Work?

Have you ever paid attention to the way you breathe when you’re relaxed? Probably not. It sounds a bit boring, doesn’t it? But you should take a moment to think about it now.

When you’re at your most relaxed, you take deeper and slower breaths than usual. This is one reason that deep breathing can calm you down. It makes your body feel like it does when you’re relaxed, which helps you actually relax. In a way, it’s similar to how studies have shown that the physical act of smiling can make you feel happier.

In addition, deep breathing oxygenates your blood and stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.

Preventing other issues

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you’re in pain, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, and your body releases stress hormones. Pain can also affect your quality of sleep, and lead to changes in your mental state.

If you’re in pain often, those changes can take a toll on your body over time. For example, it can weaken your immune system and increase your risk for heart disease.

However, concentrating on relaxing can counteract those changes. With a little practice, you can train yourself to have better control over your body’s reactions to pain. And that can help you avoid other health issues down the line. 

Other Pain Management Techniques

If you’re looking for other simple ways to help manage your pain, take a look at this list:

Music therapy: Simply listening to your favourite music can work wonders for relaxation and taking your mind off of pain. However, some studies show that making music is even more effective, so consider taking up an instrument or at least humming along!

Massage: Getting a massage from a loved one can provide an endorphin boost, but to get all of the benefits of massage you should consider visiting a massage therapist.

Heat and cold: Sometimes the tried-and-true methods are the best way to go. Cold is great for numbing painful areas and heat can help relax tense muscles or stiff joints.

Mental Health Therapy: Sometimes chronic pain can be related to your mental state. Did you know that conditions like depression or anxiety can increase your sensitivity to pain? That’s why seeing a mental health professional can help relieve pain.

Massage Heart Health

How massage helps heart health

Massage and Heart Health

When you think about ways to keep your heart healthy, massage is probably not at the top of the list. But believe it or not, getting a massage not only feels great, but it can also improve your heart health in several ways.

Reduces Hypertension

Hypertension (or high blood pressure) is a major risk factor for heart issues. That’s because it can damage your blood vessels, cause your heart to enlarge, and possibly lead to a heart attack or heart failure.

 But several studies have shown that massage reduces hypertension. Some findings suggest the reason for this is massage calms the sympathetic nervous system, which controls blood pressure. As a result, it can lower both your diastolic and systolic blood pressure, relieve symptoms of hypertension, and reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Helps You Stay Active by Speeding Up Recovery

Another way that massage can help your heart health is by helping you be more active. Research shows that massage is effective at reducing inflammation after exercise. That means if you get regular massages, you will feel less sore after working out.

In addition, if your fitness routine gets interrupted by a muscle strain or other injury, massage can help you recover faster so you can get back out there. 

Relieves Stress

Stress causes a number of changes in the body that may increase your risk for heart disease. It causes your body to release stress hormones such as adrenaline, which temporarily increases your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. It’s normal to experience some stress, but when it happens frequently or lasts for a long time, these changes in the body can begin to take a toll.

Luckily, massage has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety. One reason for this is that massage increases the production of endorphins, which are the body’s “feel-good” hormones. This helps regulate your mood and control your body’s responses so you’re better equipped to handle stress.

Choose an RMT

While getting a massage from a loved one or at a spa can be very beneficial, to get the most out of a massage, you should visit a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT). They have the training and experience to provide a variety of different styles of massage, and can create a treatment plan that is designed specifically for your needs.

Bloating

Natural Remedies for Gas and Bloating

Gas and bloating remedies

Gas and bloating are completely normal. As your digestive system breaks down food, the gas produced can build up in your intestines, causing abdominal bloating and gas pains. If you experience this frequently, it may be caused by your diet, simply swallowing air while you eat or drink, or a condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Whatever the reason, there are several natural remedies that can help.

Foods to Relieve Bloating

Ginger

Ginger can help with a variety of stomach issues, from loss of appetite to constipation, bloating, and indigestion. One reason ginger can help is that it aids digestion by stimulating the production of saliva, bile, and other digestive compounds.

There are many ways to add ginger to your diet. Here are some examples:

  • Take ginger supplement capsules
  • Add 1 teaspoon of grated ginger to 1 teaspoon of lime juice, and take the mixture after eating.
  • Boil some ginger or use fresh ginger powder to make a tea.

Peppermint

Peppermint can soothe the intestines, reduce bloating, and relieve abdominal pain. There are studies that show taking peppermint oil capsules are effective at reducing the symptoms of IBS. Peppermint teas may also help. The soothing power of peppermint comes from menthol, which can soothe pain receptors and relax the muscles in your colon.

Papaya

Papaya contains papain. This is an enzyme that acts as a mild laxative and helps your body get rid of excess waste. So look for ways to fit papaya into your diet such as eating it fresh, putting it in a smoothie, or taking a papaya extract.

Foods to Avoid

You should cut back on certain foods if you’re dealing with bloating and gas pains. But while some gassy foods are obvious, others might surprise you. They include:

  • Beans are known for causing gas, but if you want to keep them in your diet, soak them in water for 12 hours before cooking.
  • Carbonated beverages.
  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and bok choy.
  • Sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and xylitol which are found in sugar-free chewing gum, mints, and other candies.

A Final Tip

Sometimes that bloated feeling is simply caused by swallowing air while you eat or drink. The way to avoid that issue is to eat more slowly and avoid drinking through a straw. Straws are problematic because each time you take a sip, you swallow the air that was in the upper part of the staw.