Archive for the ‘Self-Care’ Category

It’s no secret that sounds and music can have profound effects on mood. I think we’ve all experienced sentimentality while attending a wedding, the elation and hyperactivity after a rock concert, and irritation at an alarm that just will not stop. I’ve always been especially tuned in to noise and music which probably explains why I spent so much time in band and orchestra as a younger person. Thus I found it very interesting when I started seeing articles a few years ago about a new kind of music.

This “new” music was called binaural beats music. And essentially it is a type of music written such that each ear hears a different frequency or note. Sounds weird, right? Just weird enough that I had to try it!

So after a bit of research and reading I found some samples of binaural beats music. I have to admit I was skeptical. It flew in the face of all my musical education. And not wanting to spend a lot of money on something that I thought was perhaps just another gimmick, I settled down with the samples to listen and I was stunned at my body’s reaction.

After my first binaural beats music listen, I was drunk. Not the tipsy, let’s party kind of drunk; I was drowsy, time to go to bed drunk. And I went to bed and slept hard. Obviously more research was in order because one can’t just go around being drunk all day. Well, I guess one can, but it might really impact one’s ability to function productively in society.

So upon even more reading I discovered that binaural beats music has an interesting effect on the brain. Used mindfully, it can take one from a state of high functioning brain activity to a more relaxed state of brain activity. In lay terms, it can turn the monkey brain off and promote a more relaxed state of mind.

What would you do with a more relaxed state of mind?

Even more interesting, binaural beats music can be customized to take the brain into a state suitable for sleep (which is what I listened to that first time) or to an alert state great for getting all the things done or to enter that meditative state that is so healing and relaxing. If you’re still reading I know you’re now wondering how that works. Well, it’s got to do with sound frequency and how the brain responds to different frequencies and all of a sudden things get very sciency. If you’re really, really interested in the science behind it I recommend starting here to read about what’s happening in the brain when listening to this kind of music.

If you don’t really care about the science, that’s okay and you don’t have to know it to use binaural beats music. And even better the creators of binaural beats music (even some of the free stuff) label each “song” according to its purpose. So it’s really easy to find something that suits the kind of relaxing you need to do whether it be getting to sleep or getting into a creative groove.

So let’s get down to some details about how you listen to binaural beats music to get this relaxation effect. First you need to find some binaural beats music. Here is a website that let’s you download sample binaural beats music for free. You’ll need a set of earbuds or headphones and they need to be able to handle stereo sound. Get comfortable, take inventory and see how you feel, put on your headphones, and start the music. Plan to spend at least 15 minutes listening. When you’re finished take inventory again and see how you feel.

It might take a few tries to find something you like. Big surprise I’m sure, but I’m partial to nature sounds. It may also take a couple of tries to really start feeling the relaxation effect. It’s sort of like meditation or other relaxation methods in that you have to give your brain and body a chance to figure out what you’re trying to accomplish. Also, you must use earbuds or headphones. The technology simply doesn’t work without them. And some of this music you can’t hear at all without earbuds or headphones.

I hope this gives you one more self-care, stress-relieving technique in your arsenal. If you try it I’d love to hear about your experience. Happy Listening!

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Exclusive Provider of Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage!
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Harvest Moon Massage Therapy & Reflexology will be hosting a class in Traditional Herbal Flu Fighters. Get a jump on flu season this year by learning traditional herbal remedies and methods that local Native Americans and Appalachian settlers used.

Learn to identify, process and use sweet gum, elderberry and herbal teas.

Class includes: Herb walk, make and take a sweet gum tincture, taste elderberry syrup and herbal teas.

$10 per person + class materials (list will be emailed upon registration)

Class size is limited so register today!

Class will be led by Alice Evans. Alice is a second year student with Phyllis Light of the Appalachian Center for Natural Health and is pursuing her Community Herbalist certificate.

REGISTER HERE!

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This week has been jam packed with back pain in my office and so many have been asking what they can do for self-care at home between appointments so I decided to put a few more videos together that I find helpful.

I find myself recommending these two mobility exercises over and over again for upper back and neck pain. I actually use them myself when I get a stiff neck or that spot of pain further down between the shoulders that just makes my day miserable. The reason I think they work is that they both target increasing mobility in the upper back. A sticky or stuck upper back is many times a major player in neck (as well as shoulder) pain.

This first video I’ve been using for quite a while and find it very effective for loosening the upper back and getting the neck and back working together to reduce pain.

This next video also does a great job of getting the upper back moving so the neck can stop working so hard. It also shows you how to test to see how much progress you’re making with the stretches.

 

***Updated stuff I added***

So I was in the shower this morning thinking about why I only had two videos in this roundup and wondering if I’d forgotten something when I realized that I had indeed forgotten about this next video. Now, it’s a little different than most of the things I find, but when I tried the first part of the exercise worked so well I forgot to do the last two parts. If the video is any indication, I need to be doing this one every day!

And while I was looking around I found this Baby Rolling video that goes into explicit detail about how to improve your posture in just a few minutes.

After watching and trying these exercises, it’s a good idea to head on over and read a little more about head forward posture and how it contributes to upper back and neck pain. And then go learn how to strengthen the upper back with a simple move you can do anywhere. You won’t regret spending a few extra minutes with these articles.

As always, be gentle with yourself. Go slow, take care of yourself and if anything feels wrong, stop. If these exercises seem to help, but don’t quite take care of the issue give me a call and let’s see if we can get to the root of the problem.

***Micro mini fine print: I’m not a doctor and this article is not intended to replace medical advice. Please listen to your body and seek medical attention when necessary.***

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Only Master Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapist!

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Dry brushing is an ancient skin care technique that has been used throughout the centuries by countless civilizations. History also tells us it has been used for many different purposes. Stimulation of the lymphatic system and skin exfoliation being the primary purposes. On the internet you will find claims that have not and cannot be verified promising everything from cellulite reduction to religious experiences. It’s out there and that’s why I decided to write about it. I wanted to try to clear up the fact from the fiction.

Exactly What is Dry Brushing?

Dry brushing is the process of brushing dry skin with a natural bristle brush. The brush strokes are short, quick, and stimulating. Most sources say to start at the feet and brush your way up the fronts, backs, and sides of the legs, up the front, back, and sides of the body, and up the fronts, backs, and sides of the arms toward the arm pits. The neck and chest can be brushed in downward strokes toward the arm pits.

When you first begin dry brushing it may feel scratchy, but you should quickly adjust to the sensation. If you don’t, lighten the stroke. It should feel good, almost like something you didn’t know your skin needed. As you work your way up and around the body you will notice a warm feeling where you have already brushed. Perhaps your skin is a little pinker or darker than it was, this is from the blood flowing into the epidermis. A word of warning to ladies of a certain age, dry brushing can instigate a hot flash.

Why Should I Care About Dry Brushing?

There are numerous reasons you might be interested in trying dry brushing. Stimulating the lymphatic system is a common reason many try this self-care technique. For clients who are suffering from chronic swelling that is not complicated by skin infection and when it is appropriate, I sometimes recommend dry brushing as an adjunct to manual lymphatic drainage. It is a simple, self-care technique that is effective for many and empowers those who sometimes feel helpless in the struggle against lymphedema.

Another common reason you might be interested in dry brushing is to exfoliate dry, flaky skin. The strokes during dry brushing literally brush dead skin cells away. This is known as manual exfoliation and provides the common benefits of skin exfoliation. Manually dry brushing skin gently smooths and stimulates the skin leaving a tingling, fresh feeling and decreasing the chance of clogged pores. It is not advised to dry brush the face, other sensitive areas, or broken or infected skin.

Increasing blood circulation to the skin is another great reason to investigate dry brushing. As a by-product of the manual stimulation and exfoliation of the skin is blood flow. Increased blood flow affects the color and texture of skin by circulating needed oxygen and nutrients, mobilizing cellular debris in the lymphatic system and reducing puffiness. Regular dry skin brushing is said to improve the look of skin. Of course this is subjective and each person will experience different results.

It may take a week or two to really begin seeing results from regular dry brushing. It takes time for the skin to adjust to the increased stimulation. If symptoms such as localized swelling, skin reactions, or rashes occur stop dry brushing. Dry brushing isn’t a panacea for everyone and you can’t know if it is or isn’t for you until you try.

When Is the Best Time to Dry Brush?

The Ayurvedic system recommends dry brushing before you shower each morning. This recommendation permeates the internet and other sources I’ve found and I can understand why. It gives you the opportunity to wash off any dry skin flakes that might still be hanging around after the brushing. And it gives your body time to process the stimulation from brushing. But in my personal experience, it’s ok to dry brush any time during the day or night. I brush when I think to do it. I try to brush every day, but sometimes I miss it if my schedule is crazy. Sometimes I brush twice a day if I’m itchy or unsettled in my skin.

Can You Dry Brush Too Often?

Dry brushing is a mechanical exfoliation of the skin. That means the bristles strip off dead skin cells. If you continue to brush, even lightly, after all the dead skin cells have been brushed away you’ll eventually wear through the outer dermis layer of skin into the epidermis and develop a blister or start bleeding. It would take quite a while to achieve that kind of damage though, but yes, you can dry brush too often. No more than twice a day is a good guideline.

Is Dry Brushing For Everyone?

As with almost everything, there are certain issues you may have that would make dry brushing ill-advised or inappropriate. Broken skin, open wounds, bacterial or fungal skin infections, contact dermatitis, and systemic infection are just a few of the reasons you may want to avoid dry brushing. Most of what I’ve listed here are temporary conditions that will heal and dry brushing can begin or resume. Some conditions such as extremely thin or sensitive skin or lymphedema due to organ failure would make dry brushing a contraindication.

If you would like to learn more about dry brushing, find out if dry brushing is appropriate for you, or get a coaching session on how to effectively dry brush, give me a call! I can even hook you up with a brush if you need one.

Sharon Bryant Sharon at Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is a Certified Holistic Manual Lymph Drainage Therapist!

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Coughing, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, post-nasal drip that just won’t quit, sore throat, sinus infection? Welcome to the Valley of Bad Air!

For it to be so lush and beautiful here, it sure does give a lot of us terrible allergy problems when it’s growing on. Here are a few tip and tricks if you’re suffering with allergy symptoms:

  • Get to know your Neti pot – Studies show washing your sinuses out with a saline solution improves most people’s congestion and sinus issues
  • Know your pollen forecast – If you know you’re allergic to say, cedars, use this handy website to find out if there’s a lot of cedar pollen floating around (there’s even an app for that!) and then make plans to avoid the outdoors during that timeframe
  • Nettle tea or freeze-dried stinging nettle supplements provide a short-term, natural alternative to OTC anti-inflammatories and allergy medications
  • Lemon, lavender and peppermint essential oils diffused regularly can reduce the allergen levels in your home and don’t pollute the air like the store bought air fresheners
  • Stay hydrated! Don’t give pollen and allergens the opportunity to catch onto you. Keep the fluids flowing in order to wash it away
  • Take a probiotic. It might sound weird but studies show the gut is the center of our immune system. Keeping your gut (and immune system) healthy helps you stay well when the allergens are swirling
If you’re suffering from the dreaded sinus headache, give me a buzz and let’s see if my sinus and headache protocols can give you some relief.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Expert Ashiatsu Provider!

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As a massage therapist, my clients ask me regularly what they should do to help manage pain between their regular massage appointments. Check out this little Facebook Live video I did addressing that question. In it you’ll learn a couple of different techniques for managing pain at home and how to make your own hot/cold pack.

Let me know what you think. Did I cover it all? What do you do that I didn’t think of here?

Make sure to Like my Facebook page if you haven’t already. There will be more little goodies like this as well as my weekly openings, specials, and other bits of interest.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Ashiatsu Massage Specialist!

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massage dry skinWith this wildly varying weather and the cold coming again this weekend, there’s a good chance your skin is as dry and itchy as mine.

If that’s the case, here are a few tips to minimize skin issues due to cold weather:

  1. Reduce the length and temperature of your baths and showers. Water and soap remove the natural oils your skin makes and needs to stay hydrated.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids. This seems like such a no-brainer, but warm drinks will not only help keep you hydrated, you get the additional benefit of the steam on your skin.
  3. Consider a humidifier in your space. Many heating systems sap the moisture from our environments and our skin.
  4. Moisturize your skin morning, noon and night and any other time you feel you need it. Pick something thick and nourishing for best results.
  5. Bundle up. Make sure your skin is covered as much as possible if you have to be out in the extremes.

And if you just can’t reach that itchy place in the middle of your back, give me a call and I’ll be happy to help!

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Barefoot Massage Specialist!

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