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Massage Therapy For Stress & Headaches

Did you know that massage therapy is about so much more than relaxing muscles?

How Massage Therapy Works

Massage activates arterial and venous blood flow in the lymphatic system and in the connective tissue and muscles.

It also increases circulation and helps to correct postural stress from long periods of sitting. This can be especially important and beneficial for those who have sedentary desk jobs. 

A registered massage therapist works on these systems and the nervous system, to relieve sore and tight muscles from over-stimulated nerve pathways between muscle fibres and the brain.

We all intuitively know that human touch is therapeutic, here is a little research to support this:

Massage Therapy Decreases Stress

Research published in the International Journal of Neuroscience shows that massage therapy leads to decreased cortisol and increased serotonin & dopamine levels.

Basically, massage therapy leads to the biochemical signature for decreased stress and increased relaxation in the body.

Massage Therapy For Headaches.

The American Journal of Public Health published a study suggesting that muscle-specific massage therapy techniques significantly reduced headache frequency while the duration of headaches tended to decrease during the massage treatment period as well. 

Massage therapy is a functional, non-pharmacological intervention for reducing the incidence of chronic tension headache.

Contact us to find out more about how we can support you with massage therapy and/or to book an appointment with our wonderful registered massage therapist!

References:

Image: @lindbloomfloral

Mindfulness For Thought Wormholes

” We have more possibilities in each moment than we realize.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

study suggests we have more than 6000 thoughts a day, many of which are ‘thought worms’ – moments focused on a specific idea. 

On my own fertility journey, my thoughts were dominated by anxiety & worry about how, when or IF I would ever have a child. I felt so stuck & helpless. 

These thoughts would spiral & pull me into all-consuming thought-wormholes. 

BUT I learned that although I couldn’t stop these intrusive thoughts (imo normal, valid & inevitable with infertility), I discovered that it’s possible to change my relationship with them, so they’re not so high-jacking.

Mindfulness helped me to cultivate space to step back from the autopilot habit of narrowly hyper-focusing on unrelenting compelling negative thoughts & to widen my awareness to see what more was available to me. I discovered that not only was I more than these (often untrue!) thoughts, but that there were so many more options to choose to pay attention to instead. 

For example, I practiced shifting focus from what I didn’t have, to the many conditions of happiness that I already had. Sometimes it was a direct sensation – the sound of a breeze rustling leaves, the fragrant smell of a flower, the warmth of my mug of tea in my palms – or sometimes it was an intentional shift to something I felt deeply grateful for.

It was all moment by moment. But it made the bridge of moments between now & the uncertain future more navigable for me, with more peace, ease & acceptance.

Mindful Practice For Thought Wormholes

Do you have intrusive thoughts on your fertility journey? Share one recurring thought in the comments.

Can this thought serve as a bell of mindfulness?

So that when you notice it coming up, it can be a reminder to stop & recognize the thought as 1 of 6000 recurring autopilot events passing through the mind.

Then take a moment to see what else is available to you in the moment.

Stop and see what else you can notice through your sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste.

What else in the miraculous landscape of experience can you choose to place your attention on?

Visit mindfulnessforfertility.com for upcoming Mindfulness For Fertility program information and registration.

The next program begins January 17th.

Register by sliding scale or scholarship – nobody will be turned away for financial reasons.

References

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17255-9

Image @fieldandsea

Thanks For Your Continued Support!

Many small businesses have had to pivot and respond to the changing landscape throughout the pandemic.

We have felt the negative impacts of the pandemic and we are grateful for your ongoing support.

Here are some ways you can continue showing your support:

1. Book in (& use up your benefits in the coming weeks before the end of the year)!

2. Consider purchasing a gift certificate as a holiday gift.

3. Leave a Google review and/or email us a testimonial to share.


 Thank you so much!! 

Stress-Free Clinic for Frontline Healthcare & Support Workers

As the holiday season unfolds, we want to take the opportunity to acknowledge, support & offer gratitude for the hard work & stress that frontline healthcare & support workers have had to endure throughout the pandemic.

On December 19th, Whole Family Health is honoured to be teaming up with the Mindfulness Institute to offer a Stress-Free Clinic Event to frontline workers.

The Mindfulness Institute, founded in 2010 by Dr. Catherine Phillips, Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the U of A, is an Edmonton-based international resource for the latest information on mindfulness, and a leader in teaching and integrating mindfulness into personal and professional settings.

See registration details below.

ABOUT THE EVENT:

WHO

All frontline healthcare and support workers who have experienced increased stress due to the pandemic are welcome. (Proof of occupation/ workplace will be required.)

WHAT

We will be offering free evidence-based stress reduction interventions to all Healthcare Workers who register:

1. Acupuncture

One relaxation acupuncture session from WFH
Studies have shown that acupuncture brings on the relaxation response and reduces physiological stress-markers associated with the fight, flight or freeze stress response.

2. Mindfulness

One mindfulness for healthcare workers webinar from the Mindfulness Institute (accessed via link)
Research shows that physicians who undertook an 8-week mindfulness training program showed less burnout, better mood and emotional stability, as well as improved physician empathy.

WHEN

Sunday, December 19th
945am – 1pm

WHERE

Whole Family Health Wellness Centre

COST

Free!
Although donations to our December Menstrual Product Drive are welcome.

REGISTRATION
Register online for your free acupuncture session HERE
We look forward to seeing you then and you will receive a link to view the mindfulness webinar on December 19th too.

WHY

Stats Canada research confirms that there has been a rise in anxiety and stress among Canadians in response to the pressures of dealing with the pandemic. Different populations have been affected in different ways, and it’s evident that healthcare and support workers along our frontlines are among the most negatively impacted.

Many Whole Family Health clients are hospital and frontline workers, so we have become acutely aware of the increased stress you have been enduring during the pandemic. We recognize the psychological & physical toll it has taken on you and your bodies, working within our strained healthcare system and putting yourselves at risk to help others.

We want to extend our support and gratitude in this small way in the hopes that you may access some evidence-based resources.

We want to treat you to some moments of reprieve!

Healthcare burnout facts

  • An epidemic of burnout and discontent was already well documented among physicians and frontline healthcare workers prior to the pandemic. Approximately 1 in 3 physicians is experiencing burnout at any given time.
  • A recent Canadian survey finds that both nurses and physicians have experienced significantly higher levels of burnout, stress, depression and anxiety than they remembered feeling before the pandemic. 
  • A recent survey’s most striking finding and barometer of distress is that amongst 119 respondents, 50% of nurses and 20% of physicians expressed intentions to quit their jobs.

We would love to treat you to a relaxation acupuncture session! Register HERE.

December Menstrual Product Drive: Taking a Stand Against Period Poverty

Whole Family Health is proud to support No Period Without, a local non-profit organization founded in 2017 that advocates to end period poverty in Edmonton.

We are partnering with No Period Without for the month of December, as their drop-off location for menstrual product donations.

Throughout the month of December, we are welcoming donations of the following unused and unopened products:

  • Tampons
  • Maxi Pads
  • Panty liners
  • Menstrual treatment products

Any kind, size or brand appreciated

Donations will be collected by No Period Without and distributed to other Edmonton charitable organizations in need.

** For every menstrual product donation, your name can be entered into a free draw for a Whole Family Health Gift Certificate redeemable for one acupuncture session.

What is Period Poverty

There is a negative stigma when having discussions surrounding periods.

Have you ever felt self-conscious of your period, or fear it leaking through? Have you grown up hearing that periods are gross? Have you felt embarrassed when you asked someone for supplies because it came up unexpectedly?

Throughout history, misinformation has spread regarding periods. While hygiene may be part of these concerns, stigma can cause people to feel ashamed for experiencing this natural bodily process.

Stigma and misinformation can also lead to serious threat, especially to financially or emotionally vulnerable individuals. Imagine not having access to a supply of menstrual products – this is period poverty.

Every day there are people who have no choice but to resort to using makeshift pads and tampons or prolonging their use of period products – all leading to risk of infection that can even be fatal.

According to a 2018 Plan Canada study, an alarming 63% of menstruating people felt the need to conceal their menstrual products in public. the same survey also revealed that over half of menstruators (55%) have missed work, school, or have declined social activities due to their period.

It’s time to break this stigma, half the population endures monthly periods, and we need to spread awareness to educate, ease anxieties, and take steps to end period poverty.

Menstrual products are a necessity

The price of menstrual products is high and unattainable for many. In 2019, United Way Period Promise estimated the annual cost per person for menstrual products is $70, the cost increasing with decreased accessibility.

I believe menstrual products are a necessity, not a consumer good and need to be equally accessible, regardless of income. No one should be in a position where they must compromise their health on a monthly basis.

Although Homeward Trust (a non-profit organization committed to ending homelessness in Edmonton), noted a steady decrease in homelessness since 2007, there has been a steep increase since the pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been an increase from the estimated ~1,500 homeless people in April of 2019 to ~2,800 in 2021 – that’s an increase of 86%.

Homeward Trust estimates that approximately 44% of this current homeless population potentially experiences menstruation. There are over a thousand impoverished menstruating people in our city that likely have unmet monthly sanitary needs.

As we move into the cold of winter, homeless shelters expect a busy season. A 2021 United Way Period Promise research study has shown that 95% of community organizations are asked if they provide free menstrual products.

The shelters need resources, and there is a particular need for an often-overlooked item: menstrual products. 

Progress in the community

Despite the increase in homelessness in our city, city administration has taken several steps over the years to reduce period poverty. Some of these actions include:

How can you support the Period Poverty movement?

Please stop by the clinic with your menstrual product donations, which will be collected by No Period Without and distributed to other Edmonton charitable organizations in need.

For every menstrual donation, your name will be entered into a free draw for a Whole Family Health Gift Certificate redeemable for one acupuncture session.

We are grateful for your support!

Acupuncture & Stress : How Does It Work?

If you’ve ever had acupuncture, you’re probably familiar with the commonly reported state of relaxation experienced after a treatment or the general feeling of calm with regular treatments.

On the other hand, if you’ve never experienced acupuncture before, you might wonder how it could possibly be relaxing to lie on a table with needles inserted all over your body. That does not sound relaxing at all!

In 1979, the WHO published an official report listing conditions & diseases shown to be treated effectively by Acupuncture. Chronic stress was among the listed conditions. While acupuncture is widely used to treat chronic stress, the mechanism of action has been mysterious.

Ongoing research points toward how acupuncture decreases physiological stress in the body:

HRV

Studies point toward a correlation between acupuncture and improved HRV. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a non-invasive autonomic measure that indicates the body’s capacity to deal with stress.

A healthy heart is not actually one that ticks perfectly evenly. On the contrary – a healthy heart beats with variation in the time interval between consecutive heartbeats. Because a healthy heart adjusts its rate in response to the environment. Its ability to do so corresponds with a higher HRV, which is associated with better overall health, including mental health.

Endorphins


Acupuncture also stimulates the release of endorphins,  which are hormones secreted by the brain & nervous system that play a role in pain regulation & the general feeling of well-being. For example, we release endorphins when we laugh or fall in love.

Neuropeptide Y (NPY)

NPY is a neuropeptide secreted by the sympathetic nervous system, that is associated with the fight, flight or freeze stress response.

A study published in the Journal of Endocrinology in 2013 was designed to monitor the effects of acupuncture on blood levels of neuropeptide Y (NPY), to help explain how acupuncture helps to reduce stress on a molecular level.

Researchers found that acupuncture significantly reduces NPY.

Because rats mount a measurable NPY stress response when exposed to cold temperatures, they were used in this research.

Electroacupuncture (EA) was also used in this study, to ensure that each animal was receiving the same treatment dose. EA was applied to acupuncture point ZuSanLi (St36), commonly used to alleviate stress among other conditions.

There were four groups of rats used:

  1. A Control group – that was not stressed and received no electroacupuncture.
  2. A Stress group – that was stressed and received no acupuncture.
  3. A Sham-EA group – that was stressed and received ‘sham’ electroacupuncture.
  4. An Experimental EA St36 group – that was stressed and received electroacupuncture.  

The Experimental EA St36 group of rats that was exposed to stress and received the electroacupuncture was measured to have similar NPY levels as the Control group.

A second experiment was conducted where the experimental group was continually stressed while acupuncture was discontinued and NPY continued to remain low, indicating a cumulative, long-term effect from the acupuncture.  

This is only a sampling of how we are beginning to unravel how acupuncture helps to reduce stress and the negative impacts on the body. Research is ongoing and as we begin to understand more and more from a Western scientific perspective how it works – the 2500+ year-old body of clinical evidence that acupuncture is an effective intervention for dealing with stress continues to grow.

Contact us to find out more about how we can support you & your body with stress.

Sign up for our newsletter to get updates about our upcoming Free Stress Clinic.

References

PMID: 33512256

PMID: 15135942

https://doi.org/10.1530/JOE-12-0404

WFH on Real Talk with Ryan Jespersen!

Dr. Alda Ngo had the pleasure of joining a roundtable on Real Talk With Ryan Jespersen, one of Canada’s most popular live talk show/ podcasts.

Dr. Alda was joined by 3 other people intimate with the infertility journey, Ryan Jespersen himself sharing about his own experience.

A wonderful and meaningful conversation on infertility from the inside, the thoughts, emotions, the logistics, finances and a little bit of science.

Here’s the write-up:

It’s Canadian Infertility Awareness Week, so we check in with Dr. Alda Ngo, Kristina Melia, and Linda Hoang. What new options exist for Canadians hoping to start a family, what are some of the most significant barriers they’ll face, and what proactive steps can people take to improve their chances?

Join us for our free virtual CIAW event: Infertility During A Pandemic. Sunday, April 25th 2-330pm MT as we team up with Dr. Caitlin Dunne from PCRM and 3 courageous fertility patients who share their stories. Contact us for more info and to register.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can support you on your fertility journey, book a Free 15-minute Phone Consultation with one of our fertility specialists.

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