Notice, nurture, nourish: Simple tips for a healthier mind and body – Part 1

Notice, nurture, nourish: Simple tips for a healthier mind and body – Part 1

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Instagram will have us believe that the path to an excellent life involves green smoothies and yoga poses on the beach. While that may work for some, for most people, building a strong and healthy body and mind involves a much greater investment of time and energy. 

Although this sounds daunting, don’t be put off, because the rewards are huge.

According to Gallup research, people who invest time into building a healthy mind and body are kinder, happier and more forgiving.

They have more energy, find it easier to maintain a positive attitude, learn new and more difficult things, can concentrate longer and are generally better problem solvers. 

And importantly, they deal better with stress, trauma and depression.

In this three-part series, we give you some easy, practical tips on how to feel more refreshed and energised so you can focus on creating your excellent life.

Part 1: Notice

By doing things that we excel in on a regular basis, we can maximise our sense of achievement, satisfaction, confidence and contribution. This can make us feel like contributing even more, further enhancing our productivity.

How to tackle those annoying tasks

We all have those tasks that we need to complete, but don’t particularly enjoy doing. Household chores, work emails, exercise… I could go on!

A practical tip to help you tackle those unavoidable tasks is to notice what time of day you feel most awake, strong and capable.

If you feel best first thing in the morning, great! Get those less inspiring tasks done and out of the way early so that you can enjoy the rest of the day. If it’s later in the day, make sure you set aside time then to get those items ticked off the list.

The next thing to take note of are your priorities. This will help you focus on the important items rather than what’s urgent. This can help you work smarter rather than harder and feel more in control. We can’t manage time, but we can manage our priorities.

You may have seen the idea of prioritising important tasks illustrated with a container being filled with large rocks then topped up with smaller rocks, then pebbles, then sand is added to fill in the tiniest gaps. And just when you thought nothing else could fit, a cup full of water is tipped in, to trickle into all the crevices. The point being, if you begin with the Big Rocks, your highest priorities, you can fit everything else in. But if you start with the pebbles and the sand, you’ll never get to the Big Rocks.

To illustrate this, here is a personal story about my husband and I, and our garden. Our garden had been neglected for a few months and was a complete mess. Feeling overwhelmed, my husband was stressed out and paralysed as he couldn’t see where to start.

To help remedy the situation, we created a list of all the things he could see that needed attending to. To our amazement, once it was all down on paper, he got his head back. His sense of overwhelm started to clear and he could make sense of what he wanted to achieve. We prioritised the list, by looking for just a couple of things that would make the biggest difference and that was enough to get us started.  He was also able to delegate jobs to me and clearly communicate what he wanted done in a way that I could understand.

Breaking tasks up

Another way to trick ourselves into success is to create 20 minute sessions. This allows us to work through larger projects that might look daunting. Once we’ve reached the end of the 20 minutes, we can choose to do another session, but we don’t get stuck there.

Breaking tasks up can be invaluable. Each component of the job, in its smallest possible piece forms a list. Completing these smaller tasks seems doable, almost a no brainer. They can often fit into these 20 minute bites and ticking them off can get addictive.

These 20 minute sessions can be interspersed with breaks to clear your head and re-energise. A few ways you can utilise these spaces include:

  • Meditation or visualisation. You can do this on the train or bus, a walking mediation while you’re walking through the park or by the water. Or just by sitting quietly and focusing on a positive, uplifting statement.
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  • Books, podcasts or music. Reading or listening to something uplifting can be a great way to keep your mind focused and positive. For example, reading about successful people who’ve already crossed those tricky minefields ahead of us can help us gain ideas, perspective and confidence.
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  • Incorporating daily movement. Going for a walk or even doing stretches at your desk are quick and easy techniques that allow our unconscious mind time to process, assimilate and file the previous experience and help us mentally put it away, rather than dwell on it.

Einstein said “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” In other words, no one is good at everything, so it’s important not to judge everyone by the same standards.

Let’s start by taking a moment to notice what we’re good at – our own personal strengths. Think for a brief moment about a time when you felt you were operating at your best.

Are you more likely to be:

  • Dealing with big picture challenges, or does getting into the small details light you up?
  • Energised by starting a new project, or by doing and completing an existing one?
  • Focusing mainly on tasks, or do you come alive when you are dealing with people?
  • Buzzed by doing the researching, analysing or refining of concepts or when you are sharing, presenting or selling these concepts?

Now that you are aware of some of your strengths, notice where and how you already use them, whether you’re at home, at work, in your local community or engrossed in a hobby?

How might you be able to utilise them even more?

When do you notice that you’re operating at your best? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 3: 7 tips to nip that pain in the butt

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 3: 7 tips to nip that pain in the butt

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 3: 7 tips to nip that pain in the butt

In part 1 and part 2, we discussed the symptoms and causes of chronic pain and the basics of an effective treatment and management plan. Let’s discuss what you can do NOW to help improve your situation.

Many structures are in the pelvis, underneath the bladder, bowel and uterus. All these structures can irritate each other if inflamed, enlarged, irritable or tight. Gaining improvement can be as simple as reducing irritability to just 1 of these structures, or it may require addressing all of them.

While effective treatment and management requires a multi-faceted approach, there are a number of lifestyle modifications that can be easily implemented to start reducing triggers, allowing the nerves more mobility and reducing the nervous system tension in order to directly impact the negative cycle and start increasing comfort now.

Tip # 1:

Minimise activities that tend to trigger and aggravate pudendal and perineal nerve irritation such as:

  • riding a bicycle (especially for long periods)
  • horse riding
  • jumping (for example, on a trampoline)
  • intense exercise
  • lifting weights (anything over 5 kg is too much)
  • anything that causes intense pain (if 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain imaginable, do not go over a pain scale of 7/10).

Tip # 2:

For any activity where you know pain comes on after a certain period of time (for example sitting for more than 5 minutes):

  • Ensure that you set an alarm and only sit for 4 minutes at any one time.
  • When the alarm goes off – get up!
    • go to the toilet or get a drink or stretch before continuing to sit
    • when sitting again, ensure the alarm is set for another 4 minutes.

Tip # 3:

Ensure you have good posture in any activities you perform for a prolonged time (more than a few minutes). Get ergonomic advice if required.

For sitting:

  • ensure that your knees sit at the same level or slightly lower than your hip joints.
  • allow your pelvis to rotate forward slightly, keeping a slight extension in your lower back – this happens naturally when your knees are lower than your hips, helping to keep the natural spinal curves.

This ensures your back is “straight” with your head sitting directly over your pelvis.

It also helps your shoulders to sit in a good position, not rounded forward or held up high towards your ears.

  • Make sure that you don’t lean on your elbows or put too much pressure on your wrists (or you will get elbow or wrist strain injuries) (it also pushes your shoulders up and tends to make you lean to one side).
  • ensure that your feet are flat on the floor (use a floor stool if required for comfort)
  • ensure the seat is cushioned a little (especially if you have pudendal nerve pain) – you can use a doughnut ring if pain is more severe.

Tip # 4:

Lie with your legs up the wall for 5-10 minutes in the evenings

  • lie on your back, on the floor with your shoulders relaxed and rotated backwards
  • get your bottom as close to the wall as possible. Adding a cushion underneath your bottom to raise the angle of your pelvis.
  • place your legs up the wall and relax (you could use a meditation or relaxation app at the same time)
  • only stay for 5 minutes initially, but if it gets painful, stop. Aim to get to 10 minutes per night.

This exercise

  • allows pain relief in the pelvic area – for vaginal issues, haemorrhoids, pudendal nerve pain, period pain and also assists with reducing pressure associated with incontinence issues
  • increases blood return to heart, therefore helps with venous return in general and varicose veins/haemorrhoids etc
  • allows the spine to relax and lengthen after a day of compression forces from standing and sitting.

Tip # 5:

Avoid straining on the toilet

  • To avoid constipation, it’s important to keep hydrated, eat healthy fruit and vegetable fibre, exercise regularly and use a natural laxative if necessary (avoid stimulant laxatives).
  • Don’t sit for extended periods as this stretches the ligaments and increases the pressure in the wrong spots increasing likelihood of pain around the buttock (inferior cluneal nerve) or haemorrhoids. If it’s not coming, stop and go for a little walk and come back when you feel more ready.
  • Aim to sit correctly on the toilet (not squat over it) as this tends to constrict rather than relax the area, increasing downward pressure and reducing ease of toileting.

Tip # 6:

Perform a relaxation and strengthening program for the pelvic floor muscles daily.

  1. Start by massaging the perineum to help relax the pelvic floor muscles, relax the nervous system and improve circulation in the area
  2. In the bathroom or a private area, use a small amount of unscented, natural oil (coconut, olive or jojoba are best)
  3. Locate the area right in the middle – between your anus and your vagina in women or base of the penis in men
  4. Use 2 fingers with the oil and gently rub that central area in a clockwise motion for 20 rotations
  5. Then gently rub in a counter clockwise motion for another 20 rotations.

Use a simplified Kegel-reverse Kegel pelvic floor exercise to help your pelvic floor re-learn to strengthen its contraction as well as relax when contraction is not needed (many issues are due to an over-tense pelvic floor).

  1. Sit or stand with good posture, feeling your head being pulled up in the centre, your shoulders relaxed and back a little, your chest “out”, your natural back curves present and not accentuated and equal pressure either through both sit bones or through the front and back of both feet.
  2. As you breathe in, allow your pelvic floor to relax – feeling that centre point (located in the previous exercise) drop, and breath in for a count of 4-5.
  3. As you breathe out, allow your pelvic floor to gently contract and pull together – feeling that centre point gently squeeze together and up towards your pelvic organs and breathe out holding that squeeze for a count of 6-7.

Tip # 7:

Alter sexual activities. Some people find that sex is painful or that afterwards, symptoms seem to worsen.

  • Always use a gentle lubricant (that works for you – jojoba oil is great)
  • Using a relaxation technique may be of benefit
  • Play around with positions to find what is most comfortable for you.

If you would like to chat about your situation, drop us an email, call, or book an appointment with Alexis.


 [JH1]Link to previous articles on website

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 3: 7 tips to nip that pain in the butt

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 2: The basis of management and treatment

Pelvic pain and dysfunction part 2: The basis of management and treatment

In part 1, we shared some of the causes and symptoms of pelvic dysfunction. In part 2, we discuss chronic pain (as compared to an acute condition) and why chronic pain can be so complicated to deal with effectively. It’s important to understand what’s going on in your body first, so that you can work out the steps you need to take in order to help heal yourself. It also helps you feel more confident in your approach and in the fact that improvement CAN happen, as well as give you motivation to keep going (healing has good and bad days and times when it feels like nothing is changing, then suddenly, but only after consistent action, things improve and you suddenly realise, the pain you “always” had is no longer there).

Pelvic dysfunction is a complicated subject, because:

  1. There are so many variations of pelvic dysfunctions and symptoms.
  2. There are multiple possible causes and a large number of associated factors and triggers.
  3. It’s a taboo subject so most people don’t want to talk about it.
  4. People don’t generally ask their GP or health practitioner for help for the above reason and don’t realise that there is anything that can be done to help.
  5. People don’t talk to their physical/manual therapists (such as their Osteopath, Chiropractor or Physiotherapist) as they don’t expect that lifestyle factors and muscle imbalances can be an easily treated part of the solution.

Because of these above issues, it often becomes a chronic pain condition. But what exactly is a chronic pain condition?

The definition of chronic pain is any pain that extends beyond the expected healing time for an injury. Generally, it’s accepted that most tissues have healed by 12 weeks. So, any pain that has continued for longer than 3 months is chronic pain. Conversely, acute pain is any pain condition that has resulted from a direct injury and is still within its expected tissue healing time (thus any pain less than 3 months old).

The brain is a pain modulating unit. That means that any pain stimulus, via nerves, alerts the brain to a potential issue and the brain then uses all the information it can gather before deciding if there is a problem or a potential problem and how dangerous it is. The intensity of the pain we feel is based on the brain’s interpretation of the level of injury or danger at hand. The information the brain uses to decide is vast and includes things like past experience, imminent danger in our surroundings (such as a car coming straight for you) and our fear levels.

Because of this, the brain is able to turn up or down the volume of pain you feel based on its need to keep you safe. Generally, the more threat there is to further harm, the louder the pain signals one feels. Yet, because the brain’s job is to keep us safe, it can turn down the level of pain to allow necessary action, hence the “apparent paradox” in stories you may have heard when for example a person has badly broken their leg, yet managed to walk many kilometres to get to help or run from an explosion etc.

However, when pain continues for extended periods, the wiring in the brain for that location begins to change. Just as a dirt path used over and over again gets deeper, so does the neural pathway. This means that the brain becomes hyper aware of that area of the body and is over sensitive to any nerve input that comes from that location, alerting us to potential injury, via pain, even if there is no risk.

Can you remember a time when you got a cut on your finger and it became inflamed? That area may have begun to feel painful even at the slightest touch such as the gentle swiping of fabric across it? In fact, even the adjacent finger sometimes feels painful, for no apparent reason. This is an example of sensitisation.

This is further intensified by our interpretation of the situation, such as how bad the injury is, our belief that any movement that causes pain is in fact worsening the injury and slowing or preventing healing, the level to which our injury has been affecting our daily life and functioning, and our fear that this situation will never end and might only get worse.

As you can see, the brain collects information from many places and can be influenced by many factors including our individual interpretation of what is happening to us. Thus, we feel increased pain when

  • our general levels of stress are high
  • we avoid all activities that hurt (including ones that help heal) because we believe they are damaging us
  • we fear having pain in general – because
    • it’s not nice
    • we believe that there is something wrong and we are making it worse
    • we don’t understand the biology of our situation
    • we fear that we’ll never improve and we catastrophise the worst about what that might mean for our future
    • we’re afraid that there is something seriously wrong with us.

These factors make treating chronic pain more difficult because in fact the tissues, while they may not be functioning correctly are not “damaged” anymore, so one cannot just deal with the “damaged” tissues nor just the musculoskeletal imbalances that are perpetuating the functional symptoms (such as reduced strength or movement).

Indeed effective management and treatment must therefore deal with as many of the above-mentioned types of psychological aspects as well as the physical factors. This requires education (about pain and the specific process happening in one’s own body), lifestyle modification, minimising triggers, reducing stress, increasing neural relaxation, education and techniques for learning to deal with always having pain (in some cases), rehabilitation exercises and more. Further, all of these components are unique to the individual, so body awareness, support and guidance, and some trial and error are required to build the correct plan of action. Given this complicated and individual nature of chronic pain, I hope the importance of a multi-factorial approach, starting with education and body awareness, is clear.

Once we understand the injury we have, the biology of pain and what is happening inside us, and which activities, if any, to avoid, our fear is reduced. We can also be confident in a stretching and strengthening program and doing activities that cause pain as we understand the difference between hurt and harm. This gives us control, piece of mind and discipline to continue the healing activities required to balance the tissues in the area and re-wire the brain to reduce its pain alert system. Further, we can understand the reason behind any lifestyle, habitual activity and postural modifications as well as stress reduction techniques required, making compliance easier.

Ok, so it’s complicated, where do I go for help?

 A practitioner who has some specific knowledge about pelvic pain and dysfunction is important (potentially an Osteopath, Chiropractor, Physiotherapist or even Acupuncturist – but you need to ask). A good practitioner can:

  • help you deal with the musculoskeletal imbalances and give you exercises
  • discuss and explain chronic pain with you and how you can use techniques and exercises to help re-wire your brain
  • assist with neuro-feedback, to ensure that you are using your pelvic floor correctly and give you both pelvic floor strengthening AND relaxation exercises
  • give advice on correct toileting techniques and support and training for lifestyle interventions to treat different types of incontinence issues (urge and stress)
  • assist with medicated creams, medications and referral to surgical (laser etc) interventions IF and only if necessary (generally a GP or gynaecologist – but you need to ask specifically, and I would recommend seeing a specialist gynaecologist for this type of thing as with a practitioner at Sydney’s WHRIA clinic who are researchers and leaders in this field and have minimal invasive and best results-based interventions).

If you would like to chat about your situation, drop us an email, call, or book an appointment with Alexis.

Stay tuned for part 3 where we share 7 simple tips to improve your situation NOW.


Read Part 1 now

Julien @ Fontayne Selections

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At the helm of Fontayne Selections is director Julien Craeye. A native of Troyes, the historic Capital of Champagne, Julien’s young life was spent immersed in the rich wine heritage of the region. Raised just a few cobblestoned streets from the famous vineyards and original manors of the Champagne Counts, Julien has experienced the very best of the province. “Champagne Laurenti is one of the champagne I have been the most exposed to”, “knowing that the quality of their wine is one of the very best and personally knowing the producer just made a lot of sense to me to start with Champagne Laurenti”.
More about Julien, Fontayne Selections and Champagne Laurenti click here
For Pamper Packs featuring Champagne Laurenti click here
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Simple Steps to be Happier and Healthier – Book Recommendation for Switch on Your Brain by Caroline Leaf

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Book recommendation
Switch on your brain by Dr Caroline Leaf
Sarah: This book was recommended to me and I found it to be inspiring and thought-provoking. It explores our ability to switch on our brain to be happier and healthier.
According to Dr Leaf, through conscious effort you can gain control of your thoughts and feelings, and in doing so, you can change the programming and chemistry of your brain.
This book contained some really amazing information. It explores the world of neuroscience, so it’s quite technical, but she writes in a way that’s generally easy to understand.
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