You've heard me say it a million times during treatment - "you must have a healing environment between visits for this to work!" It's true - no amount of manual therapy can counteract a lifestyle that consistently puts excessive stress on the body's physiology without properly supporting its healing capacity.
But what does a healing environment look like in practice? In truth, it may look different for everyone. Every body is different, but there are a few habits you can adopt that nearly universally will help to maximize your health and healing so that you are getting the most you can out of not only treatment, but your day to day life.
These suggestions may seem obvious at first, but it is often the most fundamental aspects of self care that fall by the wayside first when we stop paying close attention. Reflect honestly about whether you could stand to improve in any of these areas and then take action! Build up your foundation and the rest will fall into place in turn. Your body will thank you.
1) Hydrate More.
There's an old saying that goes "water is life" and nothing could me more true. Water is essential in almost every body function from regulating body temperature, to flushing toxins and waste from the system, to cushioning our joints and organs during impact. Staying hydrated helps curb appetite and prevent overeating - in fact many people mistake their thirst for hunger and eat when their body really craves hydration! From a vanity perspective, water is crucial to maintaining healthy and young-looking skin throughout our lives. Dehydrated bodies pull water from skin cells in order to maintain their key functions, resulting in a saggy papery complexion. Water is also calorie free!
Water is really the only beverage you need to be drinking, and yet so many of us will go whole days drinking dehydrating caffeinated beverages and sugar-laden energy drinks without realizing that the ultimate energy drink comes out of our tap!
The amount of water you need varies based on your size, environment and activity level. A good guideline is to drink between one half and one full ounce of water per pound you weigh. So an active woman weighing 130 pounds should be aiming toward the higher end - maybe 120 oz., but a sedentary woman of the same weight might only need 70 oz. a day to stay hydrated. If you struggle to stay properly hydrated try keeping a water bottle with you at all times so you have a constant supply on hand.
2) Eat Fiber More
When I say "fiber" you might think of a bran muffin or a glass of Metamucil, but fresh fiber, meaning fresh fruits and vegetables, is the best source of naturally occurring fiber out there. Fiber is a critical part of a healthy diet to keep digestion moving along properly so that waste products are removed from the system as soon as possible. These foods also contain lots of water, not to mention vitamins and minerals that support all of the body's systems. In order to get more fresh fruits and veggies into your diet, get creative! When cooking, double the amount of vegetables and halve the starches in a recipe. Invest in a steamer for fast-cooking vegetable side dishes. Consider joining a CSA or local farm share so that you always have a supply of seasonal, fresh produce. There are tons of great food blogs out there with freely available veggie and fruit-laden recipes you can try. Building up a small repertoire of dishes like Buddha bowls, stir fries and sheet pan dinners that you can adapt based on what is available and in season is a great way to keep your diet varied, healthy and delicious.
3) Sleep More Our bodies heal themselves while we sleep and require plenty of rest in order to stay healthy and energized. This is especially true while undergoing manual adhesion release therapy which releases pent-up toxins and oxidized matter back into the system. 8 hours is typically considered the gold standard for a night's rest, but during winter months, it is recommended that we get up to 9.5 hours of sleep in complete darkness per night. Did you ever notice that it is harder to get out of bed on a cold dark morning? It's not just because bed is so warm and comfy and the floor is chilly. As mammals, our bodies are meant to essentially hibernate during the short, cold days of winter. So the next time you are feeling guilty for sleeping in, just remind yourself that it is good for your health!
The quality of our sleep can be affected by many factors, but one of the best ways to help yourself sleep more soundly is to limit you exposure to blue light from electronics. Try unplugging from screens 60 minutes before bedtime and establishing a consistent evening routine to help you unwind. Reading a book, talking with family, and meditation are great ways to help you relax. When you do go to bed, try and make sure your room is as close to completely dark as possible. Light pollution from street lamps, alarm clocks, and your laptop screen that you fell asleep in front of while binge-watching Shameless can all affect the quality of your sleep and trick your body's circadian rhythms. Try hanging blackout curtains in your bedroom to block out street lights and covering artificial light sources. You shouldn't be able to see your hand in front of your face - that's how dark it should be. Also keep in mind, one hour of sleep before midnight is equal to two hours after midnight. Not what we New York night owls like to hear but it's the truth!
4) Exercise More (Not Harder) Studies have shown that most people do not get enough physical activity throughout the course of their day. The majority drive to work or sit on the subway, sit for 8 hours or more at their job, and then come home to watch TV. Our days can be exhausting, and most of us don’t feel like working out when we get home. This makes working out in the morning a great option. Morning exercise kick-starts your metabolism and helps the body ease into an active state and shake off some of the "fuzz" that builds up in our bodies while we sleep.
If you want to exercise in the morning, but are having trouble getting started, set your alarm for the time would like to start. The first few mornings you may not even get out of bed (which is okay), but this will start to prep your mindset for the activity. Once your body adjusts to waking up at that time, the next step is to get out of bed and simply put on your workout clothing (or sleep in it the night before!). Then try starting with some simple stretches or light yoga. Over time this will start to prepare your body for more activity. Gradually continue to add more until you are up to an amount that you feel is challenging but not exhausting. Aim for at least 30 minutes of continuous activity. It's crucial to remember that our bodies need to ease into new routines and going from doing nothing for exercise to doing Crossfit every day overnight is not a realistic expectation to have of our bodies. Most important is to find something you truly enjoy doing that will keep you motivated and looking forward to your morning workout. You deserve to enjoy what you're doing.
5) Chill More. We live in a stressful society and a chaotic city that is constantly bombarding our senses from every direction. Adult life is filled with stressors - from work, to money worries, to family strife and relationship problems. Some stress is unavoidable, but too much stress can have a serious negative effect on our health and well-being. Stress creates an inflammatory response in the body that causes us to retain excess weight, strains our cardiovascular system, and compromises digestion, the immune system, sleep and motivation (so pretty much all of the other factors discussed above). While we cannot completely avoid stress, there are ways of battling it. To a large extent, it is not stressful events themselves but rather our response to them that determine how stressed we feel.
Keeping your sleep, diet, hydration and exercise in harmony will go a long way toward helping your body cope with the physiological effects of stress, but we can also choose our perspective and attitude about stressful situations and empower ourselves with a better mindset. Lately the best way I have found at relieving my stress is to practice gratitude - especially difficult during tough times, I know, but it is absolutely necessary. Keeping a daily gratitude journal or reciting our blessings out loud are two great ways of doing this. That way we begin to focus on the positive things in our lives instead of the negative. Meditation is another fantastic practice that can help us put some mental padding around our response to stress and remember that all situations, no matter how stressful, are temporary. Just 5 minutes of meditation at the start of your day can totally change your mindset for the better. If you're not sure how or where to begin or struggle with silent meditation, download an app to your phone and schedule yourself a daily reminder. Just remember, life is good! The fact that you’re alive and reading this right now is plenty to be thankful for!
These five strategies will help put you on the path toward creating a healing environment, helping you reap the full benefits of treatment for your myofascial adhesions and bolstering your overall health and well-being. What other tools do you use to create a healing environment? Let us know in the comments or at your next visit! Call 347-841-6076 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book.