Sunday, November 30, 2008

Decrease Holiday Stress with a Massage

Preventing disease has become a focus of Western health care. Eastern medicine has promoted disease prevention for centuries. Massage has many benefits that you can tap into to stay healthy and relaxed through the upcoming holidays. Preventing illness, especially during the holidays, can be a challenge.

Massage benefits the recipient as well as the person delivering the massage. Both people benefit from the energy. It does not take long how to learn to give each other a massage. A twenty-minute session can do wonders to decrease holiday stress and promote overall wellness.

Provide some holiday warmth by learning how to deliver a healthful massage. Some of the known benefits include stimulation of the lymphatic system, important for removing toxins from the body. Other massage benefits include stimulation of endorphins, naturally occurring substances that act much like opiates to provide pain relief and relaxation. Providing massage to a family member with health issues can alleviate the need for using pain medication that can disrupt social interaction, especially during the holidays when family time is cherished.

Learning ways to manage stress is essential for disease prevention. Stress contributes to heart disease, enhances depression, and influences every aspect of our lives. Stress management, through massage, translates into well-being for the holidays as well as year long. A short massage can alleviate fatigue, and provide more energy to accomplish needed tasks such as holiday shopping, decorating, house cleaning and baking goodies for your loved ones.

Anyone who suffers from arthritis will appreciate the benefits of massage. PMS always worsens when we are stressed – massage can help with fluid retention and lessen cramping. Massage can enhance recovery from surgery, and calm aggression in elders with Alzheimer’s disease.

You need to make sure you have massage oil or lotion. Warming oils are a favorite. Try some aromatherapy, such as lavender, to help promote a calming effect. Aromatherapy diffusers can be used anytime in the home, and are a welcome addition during a beneficial massage.

You do not have to be a massage therapist to learn how to provide a stress-relieving massage. Make certain you do not attempt to massage anyone who is under medical treatment, or recovering from a serious illness, without professional instruction.

Consider the benefits of massage, especially during the holiday season – it can be a real tension reliever. ◦

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sleep, Exercise Protects from Breast Cancer

Women who exercise regularly, and get at least seven hours of sleep each night, can significantly reduce their risk of breast cancer. The combination is important. Women, who exercise without needed slumber, put themselves at higher risk. The findings come from the American Association for Cancer Research, presented at the Seventh Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

According to James McClain, Ph.D., cancer prevention fellow at the National Cancer Institute and lead author of the study says, "Short duration sleep appears to have opposing effects of physical activity on several key hormonal and metabolic parameters...” Dr. McClain explains that exercise probably influences hormones and immune function, though the exact reason exercise protects from cancer is not completely understood. Lack of sleep seems to thwart the benefits of exercise when it comes to breast and other types of cancer prevention. Sleeping less than seven hours a day was found to increase overall risk of cancer.

The researchers studied 5,968 women, specifically looking at the link between a good night’s sleep and cancer risk. The participants initially responded through a survey in 1998. The women were then tracked through the Washington County Cancer Registry and Maryland State Cancer Registry. The results found a significant link between sleep, physical activity and cancer incidence. The scientists concluded, “Current findings suggest that sleep duration modifies the relationship between physical activity and all-site cancer risk among young and middle-aged women."

Unfortunately, getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy. Insomnia is common problem. We put off sleep to “get things done”. Estimates show that approximately 32million people in the US suffer from insomnia. (1)

Prescription medications have side effects. Some interfere with mental acuity. Finding ways to guarantee quality sleep is attainable. The health benefits should not be underestimated.

Consider the following if you suffer from insomnia, difficulty falling asleep or interrupted sleep patterns. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 182, 460 women will be diagnosed, and die from breast cancer this year.

Exercise regularly.

Avoid eating late at night

Find ways to reduce stress – take a Yoga class, practice deep breathing, or simply
listen to restful music before going to bed..

Avoid caffeine, chocolate and alcohol late at night.

Keep a regular schedule of sleep – go to bed at the same time each night.

Limit fluid intake after dinner.

Try some Chamomile tea.

Block out noise – turn off the TV.

Read a good book.

Learn to meditate.

Ask your doctor if natural sleep aids are safe for you. Melatonin, valerian, and kava are known to help.

Have a warm glass of milk, yogurt, or light protein snack before bed. It’s important to avoid fatty foods.

Stop trying to do everything. Get rid of unnecessary chores, and simply learn to slow down.

If depression contributes to insomnia, please see your doctor for help.

Try some aromatherapy –lavender oil, diffused in the bedroom, sprayed, as a bath salt, or body lotion can promote rest and relaxation.

Focus on getting adequate amounts of calcium and magnesium from food or supplements.

Ask your partner for a back massage, a wonderful way to drift off to sleep.

(1) Insomnia Statistics

Exercise and Rest Reduce Cancer Risk

Melatrol Sleep Aid
Freedom From Insomnia
Lavender Oil