Thursday, April 6, 2017

Are You Getting the Sleep You Need?

We all need sleep! A good nights sleep makes us feel recharged and ready for our next day activities. Research has show that sleep deprivation leads to chronic health issues.  So how do we reach and get that ultimate good night sleep? By setting up a Sleep Hygiene program. So what is a "Sleep Hygiene" program you ask, and why is it important? Just as you have a teeth brushing routine to have healthy gums and good healthy teeth. A good night sleep is just as important. The National Sleep Foundation has recommended us all to set up a Sleep Hygiene program.
  1. Set up a consistent time each night that you get in bed and shut off your lights
  2. Set up a routine that you will follow consistently even when you are traveling it is even more important.
  3. Get at least 30 minutes a day of daily exercise but not to close to bedtime, at least 2 hours before.
  4. Try not to eat heavy foods or drink wine, coffee or chocolate close to bedtime. Sometimes wine will rebound you and wake you up after a couple of hours. Chocolate and caffeine are stimulates.
  5. Power down electronics at least 1-2 hours before bedtime. That includes not having your mobile phone next to your bed. 
  6. Keep bedroom at a cool but comfortable temperature 65-69 F. 
  7. If light keeps you awake get night shades and or wear a eye mask to block out the light. 
  8. Essentials oils like lavender, frankincense and serenity applied to the bottom of your feet, back of your neck and behind your ears helps to calm one and prep you for sleep. 
  9. 6 + hours more uninterrupted sleep is good. 8 hours is great! 
Nite Nite Sleep Tight!!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Detention replaced with Meditation

Meditation is starting to gain momentum as it becomes a more familiar form of stress reduction and ease of anxiety, depression, and pain. The overall theory behind it is that when you sit with your emotions and focus your energy on yourself, you are able to combat stress and improve attention. You are then able to make healthy decisions about what to do with your anger or stress, rather than simply acting on it impulsively. Meditation on an individual basis is gaining popularity, but the movement as a whole has not necessarily reached the masses. So how can this principle be applied systemically?
Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, MD has put meditation into practice, and replaced detention rooms with meditation rooms. Consider the reasons that students get sent to detention: altercations, stress- or anger- induced outbursts, disrupting the class, being hyperactive, etc. Detention (or one step further: suspension) is used as a form of punishment to remove the student from the environment and hope that they “think about what they’ve done” and come back a better student. Yet this does not necessarily address the problems that cause the actions, and is not conducive to the student changing their behavior. That is where meditation steps in. Students that are sent to the “Mindful Moment Room” at Coleman Elementary School engage in deep breathing, stretching, and yoga, and build their ability to be mindful and calm. They are then sent back to the classroom feeling better and ready to contribute positively to the classroom experience by being peaceful and doing their work. Sound skeptical? Well, since the implementation of the program, the school has had zero suspensions, and the principal rarely sees children for disciplinary reasons anymore.

This program has the potential to set a precedent for other schools to follow and hopefully change the school system in a positive way. A high school in the Baltimore area has already followed suit and created a room for students to do yoga and decompress after the day. The full article is available on CNN here:

Sunday, March 5, 2017


Stretching: an often ignored, yet important component of exercise and healthy living. Whether you are an avid runner, a yogie, a lifter, or someone who likes to exercise in a class or individual setting, stretching is an key part of helping you reach your fitness goals and stay injury-free. However, many people neglect to stretch before or after exercise, primarily because it “takes up too much time” and is an under-emphasized component of exercise. Skipping over this step could cause someone to miss out on the benefits that it brings. Engaging in stretching before an exercise helps warm the muscles up and make motions feel looser and smoother. After exercise, it prevents muscles from tensing up and helps to prevent soreness. For those who have experienced cancer and treatment, stretching can be an important component of recovery after radiation and chemotherapy treatments. It can help to restore range of motion after surgery or a period of being sedentary, and increase circulation.

Carol J. Michaels, author of “Exercises for Cancer Survivors” put out an article highlighting 12 tips on how to stretch effectively. Some of these tips include holding the stretch until you feel tension, but not pain. Muscles in the body are wired to contract when they feel pain, which will prevent a good stretch. Also, stretching daily will help you see the most improvement. She notes that some of the benefits of stretching include improved posture, movement of lymph throughout the body, reduction of stress, and overall improvement of well-being. You can check out the article for more details and more posts by Carol Michaels here:

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Pillar Program

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer, you are unfortunately likely familiar with the concept of pain, depression, and fatigue during treatment and even after treatment. Options to help with these symptoms may become costly or time-consuming. That is where a new online program called “Reimagine” comes into play. Developed by researchers at Duke University, Reimagine is an online, free program that has been proven to reduce fatigue and depression in breast cancer survivors. The “Pillar Program,” as it is called on their website, focuses on teaching two major skillsets: solution-focused thinking and cognitive reframing. What that boils down to is using a step-wise program to teach patients or survivors to identify their needs and how they can control getting those needs met, as well as thinking about different ways to approach problems in life. This online program also features mind-body exercises including meditation and guided imagery. The women involved in the study on this program reported a greater reduction in depression and fatigue compared to the usual standard of care for these symptoms. A line from the website for Reimagine reads “Just as you can train your body to get physically stronger, you can train your mind to get mentally stronger and to respond to stressors in ways that allow you to feel calm, clear and in control — no matter what life throws at you.” While cancer is a physical condition, it often has psychological affects that can go unaddressed during treatment. This program fills that need in an affordable (free!), convenient (online!) and comprehensive fashion. Check out the program using the link below!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Prevent Injuries with Good Posture

For those of us who are knitters (and those of us who aren’t!) posture is an extremely important part of our daily routines and hobbies. As easy as it is to neglect, good posture can help prevent injuries and discomfort in our bodies. Having poor or slouched posture restricts the space that organs have to work in, namely the lungs and digestive organs. This can result in feelings of tiredness, achiness, or just feeling unwell in general. When knitting or stitching, sitting for an extended period of time can cause stiffness, tightness, and shortening of muscles. Improving posture takes a lot of practice and a lot of attentiveness, but over time having better posture will become second nature, and can help you feel a lot better about yourself! A good tip for those who typically sit for an extended period of time, whether you have a desk job, are an avid knitter, or lead a more sedentary lifestyle, is to try to get up and stretch your legs at periodic intervals. This break can be something as quick as taking a lap or two around your house or going on a longer walk outside. This helps to stretch your muscles, improve circulation, and get rid of tension that builds up over time. It also increases oxygen delivery to the brain to help you feel more alert and get through that afternoon slump!
This 2-page booklet from stitchlinks gives a great overview of this topic, including “Dos” and Don’ts” of posture. It also includes a series of posture tips for every position including sitting in a chair, sitting at a computer, standing, and lying down. 
Check out the link below!