Replenish Your Capacity to Give

Being generous brings joy and improves our overall health. However, our capacity to give can become depleted by stress, high expectations, and reduced feelings of empathy. In other words, we can feel so distressed that it becomes more difficult to connect with the joy of giving.

Being generous is a proven benefit to our health. It activates positive feedback loops in the brain that in turn can increase longevity, improve heart health, and release oxytocin, the happy trust hormone. However, it is not the size of the gift that brings these benefits, but our ability to connect with the people we are giving to, and to feel for ourselves the joy or support that gift brings them.

Our ability to feel that sense of connection and empathy is reduced by stress. Compassion fatigue, which happens when we care about others to the point that our ability to care becomes depleted, often contributes to a loss of empathy. Other causes include personal trauma, high anxiety or depression, and physical pain.

Reducing stress levels through self-care and pain management is an effective way to restore empathy and open-heartedness. Bodywork and acupuncture both help reset the nervous system away from fight or flight stress responses, even as they treat specific dysfunctions or imbalances. Therapeutic movement classes like HaLé Yoga and MELT help release stress that has become stuck in the body, rebalancing and resetting the nervous system. Psychotherapy and counseling help integrate body and mind, creating space for health.

Treating stress through self-care replenishes the body’s resources for connection with others. This allows us to more fully empathize with others, restoring our capacity to give and to experience the joys of generosity. At HaLé we encourage you to both take time for your own self-care, and to give that gift to others who also need a little replenishing.

Acupuncture for Depression & Anxiety

Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for stress, anxiety, and depression because it works like physical therapy for the nervous system. It trains the brain and nervous system to behave in ways that stabilize mood, decrease anxiety triggers, and bring a sense of happiness and ease.  

When we feel threatened, our body sounds the alarms and turns on the sympathetic nervous system to deal with the danger. However, most threats we face in daily life are mental and emotional stressors that can leave us feeling threatened all the time, which creates chronic stress. Emotional symptoms of chronic stress include anxiety, frustration, moodiness, overwhelm, inability to relax, and depression.

The key to treating chronic stress and its emotional symptoms lies in the central nervous system. Acupuncture is a safe and effective way to create positive changes in central nervous function, which helps to turn off the alarms of stress and bring the nervous system back into rest-and-digest mode. This more fully activates the Central Autonomic Network, which is the part of the brain that lives in the present and handles working memory and sensory input.

Scientific meta-analysis of studies done on the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments has also  shown that the “dosage” is important. In order to retrain the nervous system away from chronic stress, depression, and anxiety, patients need to receive more than 3 points per treatment, and sessions should not be spaced too far apart. Treatments at least once a week get the best results.

Acupuncture is effective for creating nervous system health and treating anxiety, depression, and stress. It can help us feel more focused, make better decisions, and be happier overall. When our nervous systems are in balance, we thrive.

Deep Harmony through Being Present

Being present allows the stress of what has happened (past) and what has not yet happened (future) to fall away from the mind. Instead we turn our attention to the present, which is where the body lives. Common, simple techniques focus on the breath or the rhythm of our heartbeat. By shifting our awareness to our physical sensations, we can begin to relax the alarm systems of stress and allow our bodies to turn on the internal systems of nourishment and healing.

There are many ways to cue the body and mind to come into the present, and one of our favorite techniques at HaLé is a gentle, supportive bodywork called Breema. Based on Nine Principles of Harmony, Breema teaches that we best support ourselves and one another by being present in the moment.

Breema combines different nurturing touches to support whole-bodied relaxation and health. This includes stretches to relieve tension along with compression and gentle touch. It also incorporates rhythmic movements and stillness as a way to keep your mind in your body and so in the present moment. Sessions are able to assist with physical flexibility, emotional balance, and mental clarity.

Breema and other forms of mindfulness practice that are based on awareness of the body help support an overall sense of vitality. Being in the present opens us to a sense of joy, connection, and gratitude. This in turn expands our understanding of self and helps us live a more meaningful life.

Open Heartedness and Compassion Fatigue

Compassion Fatigue can happen when our ability to empathize and stay open hearted takes on too much stress and trauma. Caring for and about others can deplete our mental, emotional, and physical resources, and compassion fatigue is what happens when those resources begin to bottom out. Self-care is an effective way to prevent compassion fatigue and to help come back into a place of open heartedness.

The first step to preventing compassion fatigue is an awareness of the signs and symptoms. These include deep exhaustion and reduced feelings of sympathy or empathy, as well as feeling guilty about not wanting to take care of others. Other signs are feeling irritable or anxious, headaches, trouble sleeping, and feeling less fulfilled or satisfied.

It can be useful to think about compassion fatigue on a scale of 0 – 10, especially during times when you are doing more caring work or offering yourself more generously. Checking in with yourself and how you are feeling helps you to recognize signs of emotional exhaustion before you are overly depleted.

You can prevent and treat compassion fatigue through self-care. Bodywork and massage, acupuncture, therapeutic movement classes like yoga, and psychotherapy all help you become less vulnerable to stress. By purposefully shifting your nervous system out of emergency mode and into rest and restore mode, you rebuild your capacity to care for others with generosity and compassion.

Compassion Fatigue can happen to anyone, and it can be easy to forget to care for yourself when you are focused on caring for others. Taking the time to bring awareness to how you are feeling and dedicating time to a practice of self-care can bring ease to the process of keeping an open heart.

Community Support for Self-Care

At HaLé, we encourage everyone to come to class. Our classes are designed to work for a wide variety of bodies, ages, and experience levels. They are all therapeutic and mindfulness-based, which means they help create health, reduce stress, and improve your overall sense of wellbeing. They can also provide a powerful sense of community connection and support.

There is tremendous benefit in having a community with you as you practice. The human nervous system is wired for social interaction. When we watch another person do something, mirror neurons in our brains fire as if we are doing it ourselves. This not only helps us improve our own practice, but it boosts the effectiveness, as our minds amplify the benefits.

Learning and practicing self-care with others creates a positive interdependence. This builds trust, boosts motivation, and facilitates learning. It also reduces anxiety and stress levels because you are caring for yourself in a safe, welcoming group. Coming to class then becomes a way to support mental and emotional health and self-esteem.

Practicing in community is also a way to deepen and extend your self-care to get the most benefit. Because self-care happens at the intersection of expert tools and dedicated time, it is often marketed as a product you can buy and do at home. However, spending the time is more important than buying the tool. For best results, come to class and spend an hour taking care of yourself, with whichever set of tools and class description works for you.

When we practice in community, it uses the social wiring of our nervous system to deepen our benefits, dedicate more time, and care for ourselves more deeply. Come to class, any class, as often as possible. The community support boosts the benefit of the practice itself, creating a sense of deep health and wellbeing.

The Emotional Benefits of Bodywork

Bodywork and massage are great treatments for emotional health as well as pain and tension. Regular sessions have been shown to improve mood after as little as 15 min, and can help treat stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma.

The emotional benefits of massage and bodywork begin with relaxation, a sense of peace, and self-awareness. From the first moments you lay on the therapy table, your body begins to cue your nervous system that you are now warm and safe and can begin to relax. Your heartbeat slows, your breathing deepens, and your stress hormone levels begin to drop. Your treatment continues to deepen this relaxation response and bring your awareness inward to your body.

Receiving regular bodywork and massage allows the treatments to build on each other, so that sometimes just walking into the treatment room can begin the cascade of positive emotions and biological responses. Regular treatments are especially effective for depression and anxiety, as they release endorphins like serotonin and dopamine and reduce stress hormone levels, which helps to improve and regulate mood.

Bodywork can also help release emotional trauma that has been stored in the body as tension or dysfunction. It becomes a great complement to other therapies, supporting the work of psychotherapy, mindfulness, and other treatments that work to heal emotional trauma and support an overall sense of well-being.

Our bodies and minds are inherently connected to each other, which allows bodywork and massage to provide effective support for emotional health. The healing power of touch combines with the safety and warmth of a quality therapist to create space for emotional release, mood regulation, and an improved sense of wellness.  

Emotional Support for the Holiday Season

November and December can be some of the most wonderful and most stressful months of the year. Family closeness, preparing for celebrations, and colder, darker days can all bring depression and anxiety as well as comfort and joy. HaLé has expanded our psychotherapy offerings in time to support you through this potentially difficult time of year.

Susan Dendtler, MA, believes that we are all born with a great capacity for love, creativity, joy, and kindness. She has taught Restorative Yoga classes at HaLé for the last year, and is now seeing psychotherapy clients as well. She specializes in restorative practice and integrating yoga with mental health, and is able to meet each person where they are.

Susie embraces those of different cultures, genders, ages, and sexual orientations, and she is committed to creating a welcoming environment for everyone. She sees individuals and couples to process emotions, heal, and overcome any internal or external barriers to reaching their full expression of self. She has extensive experience working with children, teens and parents who have experienced trauma, grief, and loss, and is certified in Trust Based Relational Interventions and Trauma Informed Care.

Whether you need a little extra support through seasonal anxiety or depression, or have deeper emotions ready for healing, Psychotherapy at HaLé can help provide the emotional nourishment you need for your own health and wellbeing.

Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a complete medical protocol focused on correcting imbalances in the body. It has traditionally been used to prevent and treat disease, as well as promote overall health.

What it treats: Acupuncture is well known to help treat and reduce pain. This includes low back and neck pain, arthritis pain, headaches, and other common complaints. It also includes dental pain, sciatica, menstrual pain, and fibromyalgia and other pain syndromes. If the body is hurting, acupuncture has been shown to help reduce that pain.

Acupuncture has also been proven effective for correcting imbalances in order to treat high blood pressure, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, allergies, and the risk of stroke. It helps regulate mood, sleep, and digestion and so can also be effective for depression, anxiety, insomnia, and a variety of digestive complaints.

Risks: Acupuncture is a very safe therapy. The main risks are minor bleeding, bruising, or soreness at an insertion site. All needles are single use, sterile, and non-toxic.

But, needles?: Acupuncture needles are hair-thin and nothing like the needles we encounter at the doctor or dentist. It does not feel anything like getting a shot, and instead is designed to be the gentlest form of needling possible. Some people prefer to call them pins, though even pins are much thicker than acupuncture needles.

Comprehensive Care: Acupuncture treatments are not just about needling. They also incorporate herbs, cupping therapy, gua sha, moxibustion, and ear seeds as indicated, in order to best correct imbalances and bring the systems of the body into a state of improved harmony.

Acupuncture is a generally safe and effective way to help regulate the systems of the body, bringing them back toward balance. This reduces pain, eases symptoms, and prevents disease. It is a gentle and low risk therapy that creates health and boosts your overall sense of wellbeing.

Treatments for Neuropathy

Neuropathy is a painful and sometimes severe condition where nerve damage causes pain, tingling, and numbness from affected sensory nerves, and lack of coordination or control in motor nerves. It can be caused by cancer treatment medications, high blood sugar levels, and other conditions, and is most common in the feet and legs. Effective treatment calms the nerves and restores blood and oxygen flow so that the damage can heal.

Acupuncture is one of the most effective treatments for neuropathy, with an over 75% success rate after a course of 4 or 5 weekly treatments. Most people maintain their improvements unless the condition is caused by medication they are still taking. The treatments work to improve nerve conduction and reduce the stagnation of energy in the limbs, restoring balance to the flow of the body.

Bodywork and massage treat neuropathy by focusing on restoring blood circulation to the small vessels that provide oxygen to the nerves in the feet and hands. Without enough oxygen, the nerves malfunction and send signals of pain, tingling, burning, and numbness. Treatments need to be at least 60 min once/week and focus on working as deeply as is comfortable, with the goal of eventually flushing all the stagnant blood out of the tissue. It is also important to do at least 15 min a day of self-massage and range of motion exercises at home to support the detailed work of the treatments and continue to make progress.

Therapeutic movement classes, like yoga and tai chi, strengthen the communication between nerves and brain and also help treat neuropathy. Opening up the front of the body increases oxygenation and improves blood circulation, helping to nourish the affected nerves. Classes also are generally calming to the nervous system, which helps ease the pain symptoms. Regular classes, especially when taken along with other treatments, help keep the pain from getting worse and support the healing process.

Neuropathy is an often painful condition that can be treated, and acupuncture, bodywork and massage, and movement classes like yoga and tai chi all help reduce pain, increase circulation, and support healing for damaged nerves. Because nerve pain is often due to a lack of oxygen, increasing blood flow can go a long way toward easing symptoms and creating health.

How to Think More Clearly

Mental clarity and general brain function can be affected by depression, disease, dysfunction, and general aging. Symptoms can include brain fog, frequent inability to think of the right word, forgetfulness, insomnia, and chronic restlessness. There are many ways to boost clarity of thought and brain health at HaLé, including treatment through acupuncture, bodywork, and classes.

Acupuncture approaches mental clarity by improving flow to the brain, which then helps to regulate information processing and response to stimuli. By significantly improving cerebral glucose metabolism of the brain, acupuncture can improve memory, concentration, and cognitive function. Thus far, all studies that have looked at how acupuncture affects mental performance, ranging from studies on dementia to college exam performance, have produced positive results.

Bodywork and massage also help with mental clarity, especially since tight neck and shoulder muscles can limit circulation to the brain. Sessions help to activate the left side of the brain, which boosts motivation, and they alleviate the mental block of stress, which frees up energy for creative thinking and completing tasks. Bodywork has also been shown to have a cumulative effect on improving memory, increasing awareness, and heightening alertness.

Therapeutic movement classes like yoga, tai chi, and MELT Method are also helpful for improving clarity of thought because of their blend of physical activity and mindfulness practice. Movement classes are shown to increase the levels of various biochemicals in the muscles and brain that are associated with improved brain health. Because they also incorporate mindfulness, they have been shown to be more effective than aerobic exercise alone for helping the brain focus, process information, and remember details. They provide positive stimulation of the brain, which supports optimal brain function and helps you stay alert and sharp.

Mental clarity and brain function is an aspect of health that can be supported and addressed, just like any other health issue. Whether your concerns are due to aging, medication, or other causes, it is possible to create and maintain brain health for improved function and clearer thinking.

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