Posts Tagged ‘Wellness’

Whether you love it, or hate it, Valentine’s Day is here. If you’ve waited a little too long and need a little something for that special someone, click here to save the day with a gift certificate for a massage! Feeling a little down because you’ve not yet found that special someone? Why not give yourself the gift of relaxation?

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



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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.


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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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SymphCellsHarvest Moon Massage Therapy & Reflexology in Decatur, AL invites you to join us for a demonstration of the doTerra Symphony of the Cells technique.

We will have Norma Willock and Anna Rickabaugh from the Auburn/Opelika area here to share with us about integrating essential oils into your wellness journey.

If you are interested in learning more about essentials oils, their uses and application techniques please plan on attending this talk.

When: March 25th @ 4pm
Where: 1900 Flint Road, Decatur, AL 35601
Cost: Free – Please RSVP here, space is limited

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s newest Certified AromaTouch Therapist!

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Regarding the Hyperthyroid

Thyroid and massageJanuary is Thyroid Awareness Month and everywhere I look I see lots and lots of information about hypothyroidism and very little on hyperthyroidism. So I thought I would share a little bit about my recent experience with a whacked out, overactive, hyperthyroid.

While you need a blood test to diagnose hyperthyroidism here are a few things to look out for that might lead you to your doctor for a test

  • Significant, unexplained weight loss paired with increased appetite
  • Anxiety and/or nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations, pounding and/or racing heart
  • Higher rates of hair and nail growth
  • Muscle weakness
  • Increased frequency of bowel output
  • Menstrual changes

Unfortunately, I experienced all of the above listed symptoms and it was absolutely no fun whatsoever. The onset of symptoms came on gradually over a period of a few weeks until I was a vibrating mess of emotional turmoil that led to a weepy doctor’s office visit where blood was drawn. Apparently these are classic symptoms and the doctors knew pretty quickly what we were dealing with.

Ironically, I had been on meds for hypothyroid for several years. So those were stopped in the hopes the symptoms would resolve on their own. They did not. The medical course of treatment to date has been a wait and see with a monthly blood draw to test the levels of thyroid hormones in my bloodstream.

Being the more proactive type, I did some research. The medical options for treating hyperthyroidism are pretty bleak. They include meds that might reduce the thyroid hormone, taking radioactive iodine to destroy all or part of the thyroid thus ensuring a lifelong hypothyroid condition, or complete removal of the thyroid gland (also effecting a lifelong hypothyroid condition).

All of these medical interventions sounded a little scary to me so I looked in a more holistic direction and added an herbal tincture of bugleweed, lemon balm, and motherwort. Each of these herbs combat different symptoms I was experiencing. I also cleaned up my diet, focusing on reducing inflammation in my body and giving my gut flora the nutritional building blocks it needed to repopulate. I realized that over the 6 weeks preceding the hyperthyroid symptom onset I had allowed some less than healthy eating habits to drift into my diet. I also drank a lot of nervine tea, diffused essential oils, and received massage to combat the constant and overwhelming anxiety I experienced.

What Causes Hyperthyroidism?

There are several known causes of thyroid disease, but from the research I have done it seems that it’s not well understood overall. More information on the known causes of hyperthyroidism can be found here.

I believe my hyperthyroidism was caused by inflammation from poor dietary choices. And while I haven’t had a blood test in a while to see, I think I’m leveling off. Though I certainly don’t think my thyroid journey is over.

As always, if you suspect your thyroid is not functioning properly, please see a doctor. This article is informational only and not to be used as medical advice.

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

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SleepCurveWith Spring Forward recently behind us and the ensuing Monday morning pain of getting up an hour earlier while pretending I’m really not, I got to thinking about being robbed of one more hour of sleep.

According to the CDC insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. I Googled “American sleep deficit” and got 30,300,000 hits. That’s millions of articles about Americans and their sleepiness and that doesn’t even cover all of them. So a bunch of studies tell us that as Americans, we are chronically sleep deprived. Do I really need to convince you that we’re not getting enough sleep to begin with? You’re probably tired right now and I’ll bet you didn’t get 8 solid hours last night. I know I sure didn’t.

Lack of sleep is implicated in weight gain, stress, depression, and time change in particular is implicated in a rise of heart attacks. Scary stuff…

So with all this bad news, what can we do to log more pillow time?

  • Avoid caffeine and other chemical stimulants after 3pm to give your body time to process and eliminate it
  • Avoid large meals too close to your bedtime. Digestion is different for everyone so I can’t tell you when to stop eating, but uncomfortably large meals will affect your ability to settle into sleep and stay asleep. We’ve all had it happen.
  • Set a bedtime – Sounds like a no-brainer, but do you have a bedtime? If it sounds like this, “Well, I usually go to bed after…,” then the answer is no. If it sounds like, “I go to bed at 10:30 unless my kid is sick,” then the answer is yes.
  • Cultivate a routine – Start a bedtime routine and stick to it. Set your alarm clock to remind you when it’s time to start your bedtime routine. I do this and I hate it, but I find it necessary or I continue to watch tv, work a puzzle, play on Facebook, etc.
  • Log off – Make the first part of your bedtime routine to shut down all the screens in your area. Studies are continually released proving that the light from all our screen time is messing with our melatonin levels and ability to go to sleep. I still struggle with this as I tend to surf Facebook and Pinterest as a relaxation aid.
  • Relax – After logging off, put on your jammies, wash your face, take your medicine and get all your other prep activities finished. Now do something to relax. Drink a cup of herbal tea, read a book, meditate, pray, snuggle up, whatever it is that relaxes your body and mind.
  • Turn out the lights – Where you sleep needs to be dark. Really dark, like ‘can’t see your hand in front of your face’ dark. No street lights shining in the window, no night lights, no TV’s, no blinking battery chargers, no digital clocks or DVRs beaming the time at you all night long. Dark, dark, dark so your melatonin can do its job.
  • Give yourself permission to rest – I know it sounds all hippy dippy, but we have really let this culture of busy-ness take over. It’s okay to take a break from the break-neck speed that is our world.

I think of the whole life rhythm as a bell curve or sine wave. Before you start your bedtime routine you’re sitting somewhere near the top of the bell. The bedtime routine is designed to get you to the bottom of the curve which is sleep. A ramping down of the excitement of the day into the relaxation and bliss that is sleep.

And while most of my tips above deal with the actual bedtime routine and getting to sleep, reducing stress and promoting relaxation during any part of the day can be helpful in getting to sleep. Here’s a good news article on how recent research is proving how massage helps sleep. #SleepWeek

I hope you find something interesting and helpful in this article/rant about sleep. And if you are as outraged and upset about the continuing insanity of changing the time, disrupting our health, and raising our risk of accidents and heart attacks twice a year you can join me in using #LeaveTheClockAlone and #AbolishTimeChange. Or you can sign one of the dozens of petitions that get started this time of year to try to get rid of time change.

Be well and give yourself permission to sleep and to rest.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage is Decatur, Alabama’s Only Ashi-Thai Therapist!

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