Everyone is coping with stress, whether it is a major life event––a death in the family or loss of a job, or daily stressors such as meeting deadlines, medical appointments or beltway traffic. Stress can be positive when it motivates us to be productive, but it can also be excessive and exhausting, resulting in unexplained physical symptoms or negative emotional feelings.
Situations we often label as most stressful are the life problems that seem uncontrollable. Even if you cannot change the situation itself, you still can attempt to alter the way you view it or the emotions around it. This is called emotional problem-solving. Situations do not cause us to feel stressed, depressed or anxious. Our interpretation of those situations results in how we feel and act which we then experience as stressful. Some people problem-solve in logical or rational ways while others tend to make decisions primarily based on emotion reactions. Combining the approaches provides the wisdom of both to effectively deal with life’s problems.
The research demonstrates that learning to be a good problem-solver can effectively help treat depression, anxiety and stress associated with health problems such as chronic pain and cancer. Stress manifests as a broad range of feelings that differs from person to person like shock, sadness, anger and loss. These feelings can be overwhelming.
Hold off making big decisions during times when intense emotions erupt. Don’t avoid the feelings, but rather acknowledge them and try to understand them before acting on them. Feelings about past unresolved difficulties can also emerge when negative feelings about a current stressor arise, making us feel hopeless. Instead of focusing on the past, focus on what you would like to change and use the past painful memories to guide you toward future decisions and new goals.
Here are steps you can take to reduce stress into manageable pieces:
1. Check your attitude. Giving up a negative attitude, even when something really is bad, can help you see yourself and the problem in a way that can lead to resolution. Accept that problems are a normal part of our daily lives.
2. Get the facts. Understanding the problem you are trying to solve helps separate reality from assumptions, and opens up the actual possibilities for setting realistic goals toward change—“A problem well defined is half solved.”
3. Brainstorm creative solutions. Don’t judge them until you have listed several and thought through strategies that support and refute each one.
4. Make a decision. When the dust has settled and you’ve looked at the possible options and consequences, take action toward your goals.
5. Reward yourself. One of the consequences to help resolve future stressors is to have something positive to remember from your past efforts at coping.
When most people think of massage therapy they probably imagine a day spa with a tranquil setting and imagine a Swedish massage where they are transported to a relaxed state. However, for people suffering from chronic myoskeletal pain this type of massage isn’t worth the time. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, scoliosis, or any undiagnosed pain that cannot be explained by an X Ray or MRI, the solution may be a massage and bodywork technique called, “Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques”(MAT). This bodywork consists of rolfing®, deep tissue massage, osteopathic techniques, and myofascial unwinding. The work is very specific and thorough––addressing the root cause of the symptoms rather than just the painful spot(s).
Today more than ever, people are inclined to sit for hours in isometrically contracted postures without adequate physical activity. Conversely, some people “go, go go” and never know when to take a break and sit down. Both of these situations can cause painful symptoms to occur in the body.
Even the healthiest of us experience pain once in a while. Pain may last from a few days to years. Prolonged unrelenting pain can really interfere with our lives, making it hard to work, socialize, or exercise. Many resort to drugs for relief––often causing additional problems more serious than the original pain.
Pain may arise from a number of situations. Injury is a major cause, but sometimes depression, or a postural imbalance can be the cause. The typical pain pattern goes something like this: Muscle irritation, which leads to pain, which leads to muscle tension, which leads to edema, which leads to inflammation which becomes a fibrous reaction, and finally a functional disability. Many people do not understand the importance of proper posture, ergonomics and routine massage therapy. I feel it is necessary to educate clients on the importance of proper exercise training, nutrition, postural alignment and flexibility. You can’t just lengthen everything with massage, and you can’t just contract everything with exercise. In order to create balance in your body, you need to know which muscles to lengthen and which muscles to contract.
Here is one instance where simple stretching of the pectoralis major and proper posture alingnment through exercise and MAT could save someone form a very invasive surgery. When overstretched weak abdominals fail to counterbalance the lumbar spine, the belly protrudes causing the chest to fall. As the weight shifts anteriorly at the lumosacral junction, gravity begins to pull the upper trunk and shoulder girdle forward on the rib cage. The scapulae externally rotate and protract forcing the clavicle to drop onto the first rib––the beginnings of thoracic outlet syndrome.
Many people who suffer from these painful symptoms are given the option of surgery to alleviate the symptoms and then some physical therapy after surgery. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often misdiagnosed as carpel tunnel syndrome, which requires hand and wrist surgery. The pain isn’t coming from the hand or wrist. That is just where the pain is being referred.
I have seen some people improve from surgery and I have seen some become worse off. Ultimately, it is up to the person suffering from the pain to choose. I think it is nice to know that there are more pain management options today than ever before.
If you’re going to sell in this market here are a few, but important, things you might consider:
Fix up the place. Some folks may think that if they just make the house look better than how they’ve been living in it, then maybe that will draw the buyers. This approach is not working in today’s market. One of the ways to overcome this push-back is to simply visit some houses that are in the same market area and type of home that you own. How do they look compared to yours? On top of that––how does your house look compared to the new construction in your price range? Make the house look, “Wow,” in this market or you’ll lose buyers right when they walk into the front door.
2. Price it below market. Don’t mess around on this second point or you could lose more money as each month floats by without a sale. If the fish are biting at 20 feet, no expensive bait is going to bring those catfish up to 10 feet. The same is true about your house. If your competitors are selling at $30,000 or $50,000 less than yours, the hot tub, new kitchen and bath are obviously not attracting your “fish.” Get with it, lower your bait, and sell now so you can take advantage of the lower prices when it comes time for your own purchase.
3. Market the deal as much as the house. If you will consider closing costs, don’t just say you will, put a dollar mark on it. Offering $5,000, $10,000 or more right up front in your marketing will draw some of the cash-poor buyers to your doorstep.
4. Consider raising the commission paid to the buyers agent’s or better, offering a bonus. Though commissions are usually split with the agents’ brokers, often times bonuses pass through with no split at all.
5. Offer other non-real estate incentives to the buyer. Vacations, automobiles, jet skis, media centers, shopping sprees––could be what the buyer wants when it comes to moving into their new home. Check with your loan officer to make sure you can put together a program that will allow such incentives or you can construct them outside of the sales contract in a separate agreement between the buyer and the seller.
In essence, make your house a one-of-a-kind deal that the buyer would be crazy to turn down.
Breathing is essential to optimal health and fitness. Yet, despite its importance, breathing is often taken for granted, overlooked or completely ignored. As a Pilates teacher, I encourage my clients to develop their awareness of breathing and use it to facilitate movement.
In his book, Return to Life through Contrology, Joseph Pilates wrote, “Breathing is the first act of life, and the last… above all, learn how to breathe correctly.” To most of us, learning to breathe correctly may sound ludicrous at first. “Learn how to breathe? Of course I know how to breathe! If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be alive!” But how often have you found yourself holding your breath when feeling tense? Or simply taking shallow “sips” of air in the course of your day? Understanding the importance of breathing correctly––a fundamental principle of The Pilates Method––will guide you in achieving your health and fitness goals.
Why is breath important? Through breathing you accomplish many things. Breathing pushes oxygen into the bloodstream when you inhale, providing fuel and nourishment to the cells. Exhaling eliminates waste products and toxins from the body. Breathing also helps to relax the mind and body, assists in achieving mental clarity and focus, improves circulation, promotes controlled and fluid movement, and activates the muscles of the body’s “core.”
In The Pilates Method, all exercises have proscribed breathing patterns both to encourage access to the “powerhouse”––the muscles of the abdomen, the lower back and the buttocks––and articulation of the spine. In my work with clients, I often find myself reminding them that they are 3-dimensional beings. Students of the method are sometimes surprised by the notion of expanding the ribcage in all three directions as they breathe. While many notice the expansion and contraction of the ribcage as they inhale and exhale, few are aware of its lateral and posterior movement. In Pilates, this so-called “lateral” or “costal” breathing is often very challenging, but essential to maintaining the abdominal “scoop” necessary for stabilizing the trunk.
Joseph Pilates encouraged his students to breathe fully and deeply, placing a great deal of emphasis on exhalation. If one does not fully exhale, there is always air remaining in the lungs, thereby limiting the amount of air one can inhale with the next breath. This air remaining in the lungs is filled with carbon dioxide and other waste products. Fresh air, on the other hand, contains the oxygen our bodies need. In other words, failing to exhale fully traps carbon dioxide in the lungs and starves the body of the oxygen. If this cycle continues, the body keeps building up more toxins and has little oxygen available for delivery to the muscles to maintain activity.
So, heed the advice of a master––breathe deeply fully and deeply. Give your body the oxygen it needs and notice how much more invigorated you feel.