In this time of distressing change, allow yourself to soften. Gift yourself with room to grieve, allowing your heart to feel all its tenderness. It helps.
As the shape of our lives changes and we social distance in the face of the pandemic, it brings up a lot of feelings. The root of these feelings is grief, and naming it can help us manage it.
Anxiety in teens is rising, and counseling that focuses on teens and their needs is effective treatment. According to the National Institutes of Health, almost 1 in 3 adolescents ages 13-18 will experience an anxiety disorder.
Restorative practices balance the effects of stress on the body. Stress serves an important role in keeping us alive through threatening circumstances, but it is also a complex biological response that is designed to be temporary and flushed out of the system when the threat has passed. Restorative practices are able to help with that after-stress reset.
Restorative practices use techniques that create space for deep rest in the body and mind. Often, the goal is to create conditions where tension can be released in layers, allowing the body to be held by gravity instead of internal force.
As physical tension releases, the heart rate begins to slow and the breath deepens. The nervous system begins to change modes away from stress and adrenaline responses. Digestion improves and the body sends more nourishment to tissues so that they can repair and heal. The more muscular tension releases, the more blood and oxygen is able to flow through the body.
Restorative practice also nourishes the mind. Deep rest resets the nervous system, which helps calm anxiety. Shifting the nervous system away from stress mode also decreases pain levels, as the nervous system is able to turn the volume down on the pain signals themselves.
Releasing stress and restoring the body and mind to a calm, nourishing state is a key to maintaining and creating health. Restorative practice can take many forms, including classes, bodywork, mindfulness, or other therapies. With enough restoration, we are able to prevent becoming locked into chronic stress patterns and the dysfunction they cause.
Hemp extract, or CBD, is cannabidiol, which is one of the many compounds that come from the cannabis plant. It is technically legal in all 50 states, but is unregulated, which means that you can’t trust all the labels on CBD products and it is important to check into the company that produced it. It is effective for sleep, pain, inflammation, and anxiety, as well as other health issues, and it does not make you feel high.
CBD and Hemp Extract are the same thing, but different companies choose different terms for labelling purposes. In order to be legal in all 50 states, it has to be sourced from industrial hemp, and contain no more than 0.4% THC. A Full Spectrum CBD product means that it contains the full legal limit of 0.4% THC, as well as other trace cannabinoids in addition to the cannabidiol (CBD).
Treating Pain: CBD reduces inflammation in the body. This helps reduce pain levels for both acute pain and chronic pain issues.
Regulating Sleep: CBD calms the nervous system, which helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. It can be used as a regular part of your bedtime routine, or to help you fall asleep when traveling or jet lagged.
Reducing Anxiety: CBD also reduces anxiety symptoms that come from PTSD, anxiety disorders, and OCD. It does so with very few side effects, unlike many of the medications often used to treat these conditions.
At Ha.Lé, we are pleased to carry high quality CBD/Hemp Extract products from companies that we trust. They can be taken internally or absorbed topically, depending on your needs. CBD is widely tolerated by adults across a wide dose range, and we find that it can be a safe way to increase the effectiveness of our treatments when integrated into care.
Walking is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. It activates deep biological processes for health, balance, and wellbeing, supporting both physical and mental health. Our bodies are designed to walk as our main mode of getting from one place to another, and many of our biological systems work best when we are in motion.
When we go for a walk, our circulation increases, which nourishes our whole body with blood and oxygen. This nourishment provides what our tissues need to repair themselves, often solving minor issues before we even notice them.
Walking also helps calm the mind and reduce the effects of stress. The rhythm of walking helps us enter a light meditative state, which then regulates breathing, lowers stress hormones, and can bring a sense of peace and calm.
The actual act of putting one foot in front of the other keeps our bodies and minds in conversation with each other. The motion of it involves complex interactions between muscles, bones, and connective tissues. Walking helps tune up those interactions, and increase coordination in general.
Going outside to walk increases all these benefits by adding fresh air and uneven ground. The fresh air, open space, and interactions with nature all help to boost the immune system and regulate sensory processing, and may offer a sense of peacefulness. Uneven ground keeps our coordination and stabilization systems active, reducing the likelihood of falling and helping improve joint health.
Going for a walk is one of the most fundamental self-care practices we can do. It directly supports comprehensive mental and physical health, which in turn increases our internal feelings of vitality and our overall sense of wellbeing.
Our immune systems are crucial to staying healthy and feeling good, and they can be especially challenged when the weather changes. Bouncing temperatures and frequent rain can make us more vulnerable to viruses. Here are ways to support our immune systems to keep us healthy.
When we feel high stress or chronic stress, it makes it hard to fend off viruses. Stress diverts resources away from immune function as the body decides that it needs to survive the immediate crisis that is causing stress first, and then it will worry about germs. Lowering cortisol and other stress hormone levels helps the immune system come back up to speed. Bodywork, acupuncture, and restorative classes are all great ways to reduce stress in the body.
Our lymph system moves pathogens and other waste out of our bodies, and helps spread white blood cells throughout the system. Bodywork is especially helpful for moving lymph through the body, bringing new nutrients into tissues and supporting immune function. Movement classes and going for walks also help lymph circulate for healthy immune function.
A lot of immune function is rooted in the gut and the digestive system. Using nutrients like vitamin C to boost the body in the moment can be helpful. It is also important to work on your digestive health overall, before you feel like your body is trying to fight something off. Acupuncture can help regulate digestive function, and nutrition counseling can help you address gut inflammation, dietary imbalances, and food issues.
When we support our immune systems so that they can function well, we are less likely to get sick from viruses. By managing our stress levels, keeping our lymph system flowing, and nourishing our digestive and other health, we can keep our immune system strong and balanced.
Our bodies are made to move! Deep biological processes in the organs, tissues, and nervous system are based on a foundation of physical movement and activity. This is why therapeutic movement can have such profound health and healing effects; the right kinds of movement can restore function and health at their root.
Therapeutic Movement classes like we offer at Ha.Lé are designed to work for a wide range of bodies, ages, and experience levels. They help create health, reduce stress, and improve your overall sense of wellbeing. On a physical level, they:
- Increase circulation
- Increase bone density
- Lower blood sugar
- Release tension
- Reduce pain
- Increase flexibility
- Improve balance
Movement classes also provide significant mental health support by increasing mental clarity, reducing anxiety, and stabilizing mood. We can then further strengthen the mind-body connection by adding mindfulness practices and body awareness in order to boost the stress and pain management benefits. Being in class also activates social wiring and mirror neurons in the brain, deepening your practice through being in community.
One of the most effective ways to support your health and feel better in your body and mind is to set aside time for therapeutic movement classes. It creates a space dedicated to caring for yourself, and activates deep natural processes of health.
Bodywork and massage are one of the most well known treatments for stress. When we are stressed out, our muscles tighten, our breathing gets shallow, we have trouble concentrating, and it can impact our sleep. We can feel this tension and dysregulation in our bodies.
Receiving bodywork helps reset these stress symptoms, but how does it work its magic? It all begins with the parasympathetic nervous system. Our bodies react to stress by activating the sympathetic nervous system, better known as fight or flight mode. The parasympathetic system turns off fight or flight and moves us to rest and digest mode. Bodywork is a very effective way to activate the parasympathetic system and turn off the alarms of stress.
Stress tightens muscles, getting them ready to fight off lions. Since there usually aren’t any real lions to fight, we can end up carrying around a tremendous amount muscle tension. Bodywork works directly with this tension to reset the state of the muscle. This helps cue the nervous system to reset as well, so that tension releases both from outside stimulation and internal cues.
Stress is also a biochemical event in the body, releasing cortisol, adrenaline, and other stress hormones. Bodywork is effective for lowering the stress hormone levels of the body. This in turn promotes more restful sleep, regulates digestion, and even helps regulate mood for a deeper sense of wellbeing.
Bodywork is an effective treatment for stress because it helps reset the nervous system and turn off the biochemical alarms. It helps activate the body’s own ability to recover and heal by improving blood and nutrient flow, reducing tension, and releasing endorphins. This in turn helps you sleep and feel better.
When we feel stress, it is a whole body event. Moving our bodies, dropping in to our breath, and being more fully present helps us shift the state of our nervous system. It supports our ability to move out of crisis mode and toward health and wellbeing.
Our stress hormones are designed to flood our bodies with the extra boost we need to escape lions, tigers, and bears. This is great when we need it, but modern stress does not involve a lot of literal running for our lives. Instead, we often end up stuck in a chronic stress state, where our body thinks that we are always in mortal danger and is constantly sounding alarms. This impairs our ability to repair, restore, and nourish our health.
Movement classes create a dedicated time and space to speak to our stress alarms and give them permission to quiet down. When we drop in to our bodies, it brings us to the present moment and helps turn our attention away from thoughts of the future and past. In this moment, we have breath. We have a heartbeat. There are parts of our bodies that ask for our attention, like sore knees, tight shoulders, or clenched jaws. We can greet them and allow them to move back toward balance.
Being in class also works with our natural neurobiology to reduce stress. It helps to rewire the reactions of our nervous systems away from crisis mode, increasing our ability to handle a stressful situation and recover. It also engages mirror neurons in the brain, amplifying the effect of our practice. When we practice self-care and therapeutic movement with others in a class setting, our brains see other people doing what we are doing, and it increases its effectiveness within our own systems.
Movement classes help manage stress by releasing muscle tension, resetting the nervous system, and increasing our resiliency in the face of difficult situations. Where stress is our body trying to help us survive, we can utilize movement and breath to help ourselves recover and thrive.