Self-Care Home practices
The Covid-19 Pandemic has been an experience that has tested the boundaries of our comfort zones, our inner peace, sense of stability and so much more. With every day presenting us with new information and for many intense and devastating challenges, it is natural and normal to experience anxiety, depression and negative side effects. However, our incredible Earth and ancestors have provided us with practices we can implement to not only pursue wellness during this difficult time, but to thrive. I'm so excited to share with you some tips and practices you can tuck into your self-care routines. It's important to know that each individual is unique and that your self-care routine is customizable to your lifestyle, interests, goals and body type! It's all yours! Approach yourself with love, cultivating a relationship with self-care through understanding and non-judgment.
SELF CARE PRACTICES
GET NAKED - The majority of my clients experience inflammation, usually as a symptom of a condition, illness or injury, however, inflammation can also be caused by diet, lack of movement, and other lifestyle and mental health factors. It is very common. The lymphatic system is a beautiful network within our body that sits just below the skin's surface and delivers lymphatic fluid containing infection fighting white blood cells throughout the body. It is a superficial and sensitive system, with major pathways in the armpit, groin, chest, and lower abdomen. The system is so superficial to the skin, that if you press into the skin and feel muscle, you've gone too far. So, you can imagine what removing all straps, elastic and the restriction of clothing for a period of time could do for your lymphatic health over time! Allow your body to breathe and circulate. Sleep naked, take baths, walk around the house naked or in a robe, swim naked, do anything that you are comfortable with.... NAKED!
MEDITATE - Ahhhh yes one of the most ancient healing practices. Meditation. There are so many different ways to meditate, explore them and see what works for you! Meditation cultivates focus and nourishes neurological function and health. When someone says "I can't do meditation, I can't focus" or "I can't do meditation, I'm bad at it" or "I can't do meditation, I can't sit still that long" to me, it is the same as saying "I cannot take a shower, I'm too dirty." Meditation liberates humans from suffering through steadying the mind! It's incredible. Methods could include doing something you love (yes getting lost in making art, cooking, gardening, hiking etc is meditation!), positive psychology meditations, listening to sound therapy, visual mandala meditations, yoga meditations and so much more! Meditation can include prayer, crystal therapy lighting candles, and anything else you want!
Check out our online Meditation options HERE
Check out the best sound therapy app ever created HERE
Check out our online Meditation tools HERE
SMUDGING - Smudging with sage, palo santo or other herbs is an incredible home practice. It's ancient in nature, doesn't take very long, and can be an amazing tool for not only clearing energy but manifesting intentions as well. Our wellness coordinator, Maegan Biscia, wrote up a great reference including instructions and benefits of smudging on our Learn page HERE. Make sure to be aware of the source for your palo santo and smudging purchases, as some producers are causing severe damage to our rainforests. For this reason, we found sustainable smudging tools and offer them HERE. You can also grow your own herbs, dry them and smudge!
CBD- Integrate CBD into your daily routine! This is a great supplement, as CBD nourishes the endocannabinoid system of our bodies. This system is involved in regulating energy, mood, immune system activity, pain-sensation and many physiological and cognitive processes. You can use a CBD tincture or edible to ensure daily intake, use CBD bath products such as salves on areas of pain, sprinkle edibles into your diet and so much more!
Curious about CBD? We've created a resource guide for you to explore HERE
Looking to buy CBD from a trusted source? Shop HERE
Want to explore CBD or cannabis further? Gain a national outlook on cannabis jobs and hiring and figure out your timing around the new industry as a consumer, employee or a new business owner! Check out the Cannabis Training Center, created by our founder's sister, Shanon Jaramillo, and enjoy free resources, an amazing podcast and so much more HERE.
REACH OUT - We were put on this earth to continue the reciprocal energy that our earth implements. We help each other and lift each other up when we can, and when we're in need, reaching out is a beautiful thing. If you are feeling depression and anxiety, reach out to a family member or friend for support. Reach out to a health practitioner, counselor or other provider. Reach out to the leaders of your religious affiliation. Use your community and resources to help lift you back up, and then of course remember to extend a hand when you come back wiser and stronger!
MOVEMENT - What is your favorite way to move? Running? Hiking? Yoga? A nice stroll down a trail? When you find your favorite way to move and implement it into your routine, it's going to benefit your body and mind on every level! I find the results of yoga to be the crème de la crème of movement, not to mention you can customize your practice to be completely yours. There are many different forms of yoga, make sure to explore!
Looking for movement for yourself or your kids? Check out our virtual studio!
STRETCHING - Nothing beats a good stretch routine! Daily stretching is good for all of your physiological systems as well as preventative care and treatment for pain and injury recovery! Do some research for stretches that benefit your body's needs and try them out every day for a week to get a glimpse of how much more freely you can move and how much better your mind and body feel!
Don't know where to begin or need some guidance? Try our Zoom private classes coming July 1st!
BLISS ACTIVITIES - Bliss can be found in the activities that bring you joy and a deep sense of happiness. You can identify which activities bring you bliss by reflecting on which activities clear your mind of consistent thought. You are able to reach a state of flow without effort, because the activity puts you there. Incorporate your joy inducing activities into your routine! Common bliss activities include: Music, making art, cooking, hiking, snowboarding/skiing, yoga, writing, reading, gardening, golfing, spending time with animals, spending time with children and family, and so much more. More about the theory and power of Bliss HERE
BATHROOM ROUTINE - We have been talking a lot about cleanliness lately, and it's important to note that your hygiene routines can also be therapeutic in nature! For example, count how many deep breaths it takes you to fill a 30 second period. Next time you wash your hands for full 30 seconds recommended by the health department, count the time by taking big breaths. When you take a shower, meditate on the water cleansing away negative thought patterns and anything that doesn't serve your highest good. Apply lotion to the whole body, taking the time to massage areas of tension or stress. Put on your favorite face mask or hair mask! Remember, you can use items in your kitchen, such as coconut oil for a hair mask, yogurt as a face mask and so much more! Pinterest has amazing DIY bathcare suggestions! Take care of your face with your favorite skin care products and tools, using the power of natural herbal products wherever you can!
Looking for some awesome botanical products? Shop HERE
GO OUTSIDE - Fresh air can do wonders for the mind body and spirit! Practice "earthing", the practice of getting your bare feet on the Earth for energetic connection and immune system health. Do whatever you love outside whenever you can.
YOGA - Have I mentioned yoga already? I can't help it! Yoga is amazing. It stretches and strengthens the body and mind in such incredibly effective ways. It is the practice of optimal human functioning and thriving.
Interested in signing up for my online classes? Go HERE! I'd love to meet you on the mat, I'm happy you found us.
DIET - The quality of fuel you put into your body is a direct reflection of the health your body will provide you in return. Attach your nutrition goals beyond the physical aesthetics, attach your goals to the quality of your mental health, the prevention of illness, your energy levels, and your ability to thrive in life. When we take a step back and look at nutrition as the actual key to our ultimate potential, something that is 100% in our control in a world where so much is out of our control, we cultivate a loving relationship with our diet instead of a source of stress and punishment. Hydrate with consistent water intake and eat un-processed items from the Earth as much as possible. Integrative Wellness does a great job of helping people explore their nutritional needs and Alyssa Knapp councils remotely, perfect for social distancing.
RECYCLE/REUSE - How is recycling and reusing "self-care?" Just like above when we talk about reaching out to others and the reciprocal care and energy we are apart of, taking care of our Earth is a way to actively participate in the health of our reality. Our planet is divine in nature, watch any planet or nature documentary for even a minute and your mind will be blown! It's amazing how your inhale is the exhale of plants around you, and your exhale is their perfect inhale. It's amazing that little tiny bees can plant many of our foods across incredible distances. It's amazing that Earth even has LIFE among all of the planets in our galaxy. We live within an incredible ecosystem, our wellness is interconnected with the wellness of our planet. Recycle and reuse for our planet, for yourself and for all of our fellow beings. Planet-care = Self-care
CREATE MOMENTS OF REFLECTION - Small moments of self-care can be powerful, found in almost every major culture around the world. Here are a few I recommend:
-Drink your morning beverage while outside or looking out a window while setting the intention for a wonderful day.
-Infuse your water with different fruits and herbs, and the entire time you are making the water focus on positive thoughts and love. You can find some great water infusion recipes on Pinterest! You can even customize these to match your nutritional needs, for example lemon and rosemary is a great infusion for inflammation.
-Aromatherapy- Integrate essential oils into a diffuser at home or into your homecare products for a moment to nourish your nervous system and health throughout the day. Different oils stimulate different results.
-Take moments to simply soak in your interactions with people, while you're interacting with them just briefly allow gratitude to come in for that person. This is so wonderful and powerful for relationships.
-Give yourself a hug - YES give YOURSELF a hug while focusing on self love in the same way you would towards someone else you love! Check out some more tips on self love HERE
-Light candles - light a candle to honor and remember a passed on loved one. Light candles and pair with intention, prayer and meditative practices.
ALIGN YOUR CHAKRAS - You can align your chakras through meditation! Check out this chakra aligning mediation HERE. You can also use crystals, aligning the chakras with similar color stones. You can align the chakras through mantra chanting and yoga as well!
SYMBOLS & STONES - The power of a symbol comes from the person who uses it. Identify what those symbols or objects may be for you. These may include personal momentos from meaningful trips or from other people, perhaps a dream catcher to represent energy protection, a rosary or other religious item, or whatever calls to you. I love to promote the use of crystals and stones with setting intentions and meditation! They are ancient and beautiful, and can become powerful tools for manifesting what you want in life as well as bringing in divine connection to our universe. Going out into nature and looking for your own stones can also be so lovely and therapeutic.
SOAK - Creating a great bath routine can be an incredible self care practice. You can simply soak in a tub or hot tub and receive the benefits of relaxation for your physiological systems. You can also bring in many of the techniques listed above! Listen to your favorite music, bring your favorite stones into the tub with you, drink infused water or tea, infuse your bath with essential oils, smudge before you get in, massage your body after with lotion and so much more!
CUDDLE/SNUGGLE - This is one of my favorites! There is actually a physiological function for cuddling and snuggling! It boosts oxytosin and dopamine, which are essentially our happy hormones. This boost is great for neurological function, as well as circulation. Cuddle a loved one, an animal, or a stuffed animal!
MINDFULNESS - Mindfulness is moment to moment awareness of sensations, thoughts, perceptions. Mindfulness puts the being back into human being by drawing your awareness to the moment you are in right now and igniting gratitude. Practicing mindfulness allows us to catch stress and negativity as it comes up, adjust yourself to a better pattern of behavior or pursue therapeutic tools before the stress and negativity is allowed to take root. Bringing yourself into the moment can help with overeating, addiction, depression, anxiety and so much more. It can be used in meditation or throughout the day. It's a powerful tool that allows us to recognize that everything we need is already within us.
SLEEP PATTERNS- How much sleep are you getting every night? Try to get 6-8 hours of deep sleep per night, going to bed around the same time. The human body and energy sync with sleep patterns for vital rest and healing. Unhealthy sleep patterns can cause mental health issues, stagnation in our physiological systems, lack of energy and drive, and an extreme loss in energy. You can see how quickly an unhealthy sleep pattern can slip into all aspects of daily life. Sleeping out of alignment can trigger chronic pain and is often one of the first questions I ask patients with back and neck pain. If the spine is out of alignment for hours every night, it can result in chronic pain.
Tip: If you sleep on your side, make sure your pillow props your head up to align with your spine and try a pillow between the knees. If you sleep on your back or stomach, make sure your pillow doesn't prop your head and chin out of alignment, in fact sleeping without a pillow for awhile can have great results. Try a few weeks of regularity and you will be surprised with how you feel!
Pro-tip: Integrate aromatherapy, CBD or sound therapy into your nightly routine for deep, meaningful, rejuvenating sleep. Allow your sleep and rest to be your secret weapon.
Check out our recommendations for sleep below!
Look for bliss in activities that bring you joy and happiness. Identify the activities you do where your busy mind quiets and you are pulled into the moment without effort. Those are the things that bring you bliss. These things provide stillness for your mind, bring joy to your heart and stimulate your full potential! Once you have identified what brings you bliss, integrate those things into your life, follow them. If you have the opportunity to integrate them into your career, DO IT! Access the nectar of YOUR life, and to quote the famous pioneer of ‘Following Your Bliss’ Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”
-Kathleen J Kweskin LMT RYT
Owner of Grow Wellness
When we fall in love or have a crush on someone, we are elated, infatuated. This can be with a spouse, a child, family member or friend! We cheer them on and root for them in their endeavors because we love them. We support them through struggle, pick them up when they fall. We see the best in that person and their shortcomings or faults roll off our shoulders. When they are sick, we encourage them to take care of themselves, to try new things. The practice of self love is this idea of taking the psychology of falling in love and applying that same beautiful concern, that positive outlook and benefit of the doubt to ourselves. Practice self love through activities that cultivate self awareness such as meditation, yoga, martial arts, massage, reiki, journaling, praying (even if you don’t have a strong set of beliefs, connecting to a greater sense of energy), taking care of yourself when you’re sick mentally or physically, travel (even if it’s simply a walk through a neighborhood you’ve never been through). Allow yourself to become aware of the communication you are involved in and the decisions that you are making every day, asking yourself, is this feeding my purpose and nourishing my happiness? Next time you are hard on yourself, judging yourself and the way you look or thinking too deeply into how others think of you, consciously release that judgement and see yourself through the same lens of love you would see a spouse or your child. Become aware of the thoughts you are allowing yourself to perpetuate in your head, aware enough to brush negative thought patterns out of your mind with the same fierceness you would defend someone you love if another person was spewing negativity at them. If someone screaming at your lover that they are less-than and not good enough would stir you to defend them, your own self doubt, fear or negativity should stir the same call to action. Self awareness is self love. Oh, and be careful how much control you give others over your happiness! So go ahead, practice loving yourself!
-Kathleen J Kweskin LMT RYT
Owner of Grow Wellness
As adults (I use this term loosely), we like to think that we have cornered the market on stress. After all, we work, we raise children, we cook, we clean, we have long tedious days of pretending to know what we're doing. We long for the days when we were younger, nostalgia tinting our memories rose colored, and think if only we could go back, we would appreciate it more. If only we could go back, we would be so much less stressed. Right?
(Warning, these statistics can be kind of dark, but I PROMISE there is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.)
According to a survey by the American Psychological Association done in 2014, today's teens report stress levels that rival, and often surpass, those of adults. The survey found that during the school year, teens reported an average stress level of 5.8 versus adults who average out at 5.1. And the thing is, their stress levels don't go down much in the summer either. They report feeling overwhelmed, depressed, with some skipping meals or being fatigued as a result.
Overall, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America. However, in children and young adults aged 10-24, it is the 2nd leading cause of death, only topped by accidents. A study released in 2016 found that pediatric hospitals reported the amount of suicidal thoughts and actions reported in admitted children aged 5 to 17 more than doubled between 2008 to 2015.
But the stress doesn't end after high school. In September of 2017, the American Psychological Association published an article detailing the rise of students on university campuses seeking mental health help from college counseling centers. Overall, counselors reported a 30% increase in students coming through their doors. And of those that saw a counselor, 61% of them listed anxiety as the reason for their visit, 49% listed depression, and 45% listed stress.
So what do we do? How do we help?
Studies have shown that in conjunction with regular therapy sessions, alternative therapies can help to reduce depression and anxiety levels in both children as well as adults.
Activities like reiki can help to lower the heart rate and reduce blood pressure. Massage has been studied to help not only physical ailments, but mental ones as well, such as depression and anxiety. Aromatherapy has been proven to help with pain, anxiety and agitation. And in a study spanning 8 weeks, those who attended yoga classes twice a week showed a decrease in depression as well as an increase in optimism and mindfulness.
There are also a multitude of things that you can do at home to reduce your anxiety and stress levels. Even something as simple as taking 15 minutes to yourself in a quiet place can do wonders. Try to make it a point each week to find time to do things that you enjoy, whether it's a sport or a hobby, or simply taking a relaxing bath. Meditation is a great option or even just taking some time for introspective reflection. Practices such as journaling or having a creative outlet of some kind are also helpful things to consider.
But just as no two people have identical struggles, there is no single alternative therapy that works for everyone. However, at Grow Wellness, we approach each client on an individual basis and customize therapy sessions for their specific needs.
Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have!
*It is important to note that the first step in helping those struggling with stress and mental health issues, is to talk to them. And if you are a parent and your child doesn't feel comfortable talking to you, a therapist might be a good option. If your child is struggling, it is very important that they speak with a professional as soon as possible. All of the holistic therapies we offer should be used in addition to clinical help from a qualified mental health professional to be fully effective
Devin is a collector of random knowledge, entrepreneur, researcher and writer. Though she is a Texas native, she is currently living abroad writing and studying alternative medicine. She is a proud partner of Grow Wellness, as well as the founder and operator of the blog TechnicallyAdults.
Upper back and neck pain inhibits the lives of so many on a daily basis.
We are left wondering what to do about this nagging pain....
Watch the video above and work this yoga flow into your daily routine to release tension!
Check out more recommendations and loads of useful information below! Remember, everyone heals differently and upper back/neck pain can be triggered by a range of variables, so be sure to try some of the suggestions below and see what works for you. Become mindful of your posture throughout the day, many of the therapies below will help you to stand up tall and keep those shoulders back. Always be in dialogue with your primary care physician about your pain and alternative therapy plans!
Tips to Release Upper Back & Neck Tension
Hydrotherapy is the use of "water" in its many forms (ice, steam and liquid) as an alternative therapy to create powerful results in the body. Check out the list below for some ideas on how to play with temperature to relieve your tension and pain. My BIGGEST recommendation lies in contrast hydrotherapy, where hot hydrotherapy is applied followed by a cold application. The heat will dilate blood vessels and fascia, allowing a surge of circulation to open the area and cold hydrotherapy will constrict the blood vessels and tissue while reducing inflammation.
*Play with the use of hot compresses or hot neck wraps and cold compresses, ice packs or ice wrapped in a towel. If you do contrast hydrotherapy with this, apply the hot compress for 3 minutes and then the cold compress for 3 minutes, for about 3-4 rounds.
* Baths & Showers - Hot water baths are amazing for muscle relaxation and they're also great for stress reduction. Lukewarm water baths also have effective results, as a lukewarm temperature calms the nervous system. In a shower, let the hot water hit your upper back and neck as well as your pecs. For contrast therapy take a hot bath or shower followed by a quick cold shower. To enhance these effects, check out "Aromatherapy" below!
Yoga is a over 5,000 years old and can be found in some of the earliest evidences of written word. The unique practice of yoga cultivates our relationship between the mind body and spirit and has for centuries. Not only will yoga help to stretch and strengthen almost every major muscle in your body but it can help relieve any stress or trauma lingering there. There are specific yoga asanas (postures) that can help release tight areas of the body, like the ones in the video above! Try attending your local yoga classes too, see what feels good for you and employ those flows and stretches in your home practice. *Always tell your yoga instructor about your areas of tension as there are contraindicated asanas as well. If you attend a Grow Wellness Shanti yoga class, give me a heads up and I will work some great stretches for your areas of restriction into the class! For more information on Shanti Yoga and how to sign up for your class click here!
Natural essential oils have incredible effects on our body's physiological systems. They can work as natural muscle relaxers when applied! Check out the list below for some oils that help to relieve pain and myofascial tension!
When shopping for aromatherapy essentials, make sure to go with a top quality brand with no additives. I recommend Doterra or Plant Therapy.
How to use essential oils at home: Add a few drops to that yummy bath we talked about above! Or add a few drops to a scentless lotion or cream and massage into the area for 10 minutes. Throw a couple drops into a diffuser at work or home to affect your pain receptors aromatically.
*Eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, roman chamomile and ylang ylang are my go-to oils for muscle relief!
Hemp being used specifically as medicine is dated as far back at 2900 BC, although many argue it's been used even longer! Our bodies literally have an endocannabinoid system full of receptors that perfectly receive the signals from CBD. This ENC system regulates pain, our immune function and sleep patterns, thus CBD has the potential to create powerful effects on the body. Using CBD to relieve upper back and neck pain can come in the form of a CBD salve, for topical application, or ingested in the form of a tincture or other edible. Make sure to talk to your doctor before you try out CBD and find a reputable and high quality company to purchase your products from. I recommend the CBD Boutique as a great source for CBD products, most of which we carry in our massage studio in Ridgefield CT! Grow Wellness is also one of very few massage places in Connecticut to offer CBD as a massage enhancement, don't hesitate to ask about incorporating this into your next session!
What can you do outside of home self-care? Therapeutic massage is essential for people experiencing upper back and neck pain. Do a little research into your local businesses and seek a well-educated massage therapist who specialized in therapeutic techniques to relieve pain. Myofascial release is a powerful massage tool to release upper back and neck pain as well as deep tissue, Swedish, trigger point, acupressure, and lymphatic drainage techniques. If your pain is derived from high daily stress levels, create a massage routine to balance and enhance your quality of life while serving as preventative care for residual upper back and neck pain. If you live in Connecticut, contact us to make an appointment!
Cupping therapy has been around for thousands of years to treat a wide array of conditions, muscle tension being at the top of the list! It uses negative pressure to create space in the tissues and allow for healthy blood and lymphatic circulation. There are many applications for cupping therapy and the amazing thing is that this form of alternative therapy can treat the conditions that can accompany upper neck and back pain, such as sinus congestion, headaches and inflammation.
Stress, trauma and emotion can store in the body's tissues, requiring a deeper level of therapy to release the tension. Upper back and neck pain can come from daily stress, where in times of anxiety we tend to wear our shoulders as earrings. Injuries and traumatic events can leave our bodies chronically locked up. For example, when I work with clients with whiplash from a car accident, the trauma and fear that rushed the clients body in the intense moment that the accident occurred is also very much present in their neck. I experienced this for the first time myself a few weeks ago when I witnessed something traumatic at home with my family. I went into shock, lifted my shoulders to my ears and tensed up so quickly and powerfully that my neck was in pain for a week. The pain did not give up until I addressed the issue energetically. Below is a list of a few ways to pursue energetic healing.
*Meditation- Learn some beautiful meditation techniques to calm your nervous system and release trauma. I recommend the app "Gaiia" for meditation on the go. Attend a local yoga or meditation class to pick up new ideas and create a wellness routine. You are always more than welcome in a Grow Wellness class, where meditation is always incorporated.
*Reiki- Reiki energy healing is another age old form alternative therapy that has withstood the test of time. A powerful session in the hands of a reiki practitioner to lift trauma and negative, stagnant energy is definitely one of my top recommendations. For more information about reiki click here!
MORE TIPS TO TRY
(I recommend Alyssa Knapp with Integrative Wellness, check her out at integrativewellnessri.com)
(Chiropractic Health Performance with Kyle Innes is a wonderful option for chiropractic care on the East coast, nychirohp.com)
*Mattress & Pillow Selection - Make sure what you are laying your body on for up to 8 hours is good for your alignment!
Some sources to check out:
*The Guide to Modern Cupping Therapy - By: Shannon Gilmartin
*Naturopathic Doctor News & Review - "Hydrotherapy" By: Sussanna Czeranko, ND, BBE
*Medical News Today - "Does CBD work for Chronic Pain Management?" By: Jon Johnson
*Center for Reiki Research
*WebMD- "Massage Therapy Styles and Health Benefits"
Kathleen Jaramillo Kweskin LMT RYT