Month: February 2017

The Dangerous Effects of Stress

Stress seems to have a way of making it into everyday life. Whether it is that long commute home, looming deadlines at work or fighting with family members over dinner plans or whose turn it is to wash the dishes, it is certainly a way of life for many people. The effects of prolonged stress, however, may be more damaging than many may think.

Stress can affect one’s mental and emotional well-being and stability. Prolonged amounts can make this problem drastically worse. Whether suffering from stress due to work, financial, home or other relationships seeking the help of a counsellor can be beneficial to someone struggling to cope with the effects that it can have.

The human body perceives stress as a threat and prolonged exposure to this threat has a way of manifesting itself in physical ways in addition to the mental and emotional implications that many often think of.Stress can lead to sudden weight gain or weight loss. It can cause hormones to spiral out of control causing the body to confuse what danger is real and what is perceived.

The fight or flight hormone, adrenaline, may be in full force during times of distress causing the body to be constantly hyper aware of what is going on around it and unable to relax. This can have catastrophic effects on the heart, digestive system, and nervous system, including the brain. It can lead to increased blood pressure, increased anxiety levels as well assleeping issues.

Stress also causes increased levels cortisol in the body. Sometimes call the stress hormone, cortisol is released and stored in the body during times of distress which in turn can cause weight gain and other serious health implications if the hormone is not used for what the body actually intended it for. Cortisol inhibits or slows the reaction of nonessential functions in the body to increase the availability of glucose to places where it would be more needed during a threat, such as the digestive and immune systems. It also increases the amount of tissue needed to repair cells in case of injury (from the perceived threat). Then in the likely event that every time it is released one is not being attacked and therefore the hormone is not getting used, the body will store a large amount of it fat.

Stress can have a large impact on psychological and emotional issues as well. It can lead to trouble concentrating, depression, anxiety, mood swings, eating disorders and a wide variety of other emotional issues. It can have lasting effects on homes, lives, relationships and finances if allowed to keep happening.

Handling stress is not always easy. Often the contributing factors cannot always be eliminated but one can learn ways of relaxing their minds and bodies to ensure when the stressors do come around they will be better equipped to handle them. Exercise, yoga, meditation and even counselling are all proven effective forms in dealing with stress and its effects. As they say, laughter is the best medicine, so finding joy and laughter out of the simple things in life has also proven to be an effective means of handling one’s problems.

Often times finding the underlying causes of stress can help get a handle on controlling it. Sessions with a counsellor can help sort out whether stress is work related, a problem at home or if it is a mixture of things. No matter what is causing stress finding the means to control or eliminate it will ensure it does not have any more lasting, long term negative effects on one’s health or way of life.

5 Ways to Stay Motivated During Physical Therapy

After an injury or surgery, it is quite common to find your ability to move is limited, or that you have less functional strength and mobility than you had prior to the event. Often in these cases, your general medicine doctor will prescribe physical therapy to help you re-learn proper movement patterns as well as regain your strength, flexibility, range of motion, endurance, and general physical independence.

When faced with your first physical or occupational therapy session you may experience nervous or excited emotions due to the fact that this will be a new experience for you. However, you will soon learn that therapy sessions typically consist of a lot of strenuous, physical work. The procedures, treatments, and exercises you undergo while in therapy may be strenuous, and at times even mildly painful. Here are five tips for staying motivated to get through your therapy sessions.

Understand Motivation

Motivation is a complex subject, but in short, everyone is motivated differently based on their genetic, social and cultural backgrounds. While something may motivate you, it may not necessarily motivate other people as well. The important thing is to understand specifically why you want to undergo therapy. Do you want to restore your mobility and regain your independence? Do you want to rehab that knee and get back to your favorite sport? Focus on what you hope to get out of therapy and set that image as an end goal.

Finding the Right Therapist

One of the biggest factors of your success will be your relationship with your physical therapist. While it is important to know they have the proper education, licensing, and qualifications, you should also get a feel for their bedside manner. Will they encourage and motivate you? Do you feel a positive connection with this person? If someone does not seem to be a fit with you, feel free to continue interviewing other physical therapists.

Monitor and Track Your Data

Your first session with a physical therapist will likely include an initial evaluation where they study your condition and take several measurements regarding your strength and mobility with the affected area. Your therapist should explain to you what these measurements detail about your condition, and what your goals should be for each measurement. Ask your therapist to keep you involved with tracking your progress, by giving you a copy of your results after each session. This alone will do wonders for your motivation.

Find a Partner

Typically when you are undergoing therapy, you will meet other people with conditions or therapy programs similar to your own. When this happens, it may be helpful to strike up a conversation and build a relationship with this person. Even if you simply shoot each other an email or text every day to see how things are going and offer motivation, will keep you both accountable to your therapy routine, and keep you inspired to work hard.

Motivate Yourself with Music

Anyone who has ever worked out knows that listening to music can help you maintain motivation and work through the pain when the exercise gets tough. Feel free to discuss bringing your own music and headphones to your sessions with your therapist.

Yoga Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Starting any new fitness programs requires attention and dedication. This is especially true of yoga. It is often thought of as easy as and less intense than aerobic exercise. Yoga benefits are quite the same with other exercise types; but just like any other exercise, it is crucial to start slowly… Think of “Baby Steps”.

Deciding to make yoga as your daily exercise is already your first step. Like anything physical, yoga does carry the risk of injury if it’s not done properly. Following yoga tips address how to protect your body while nurturing it at the same time. You have nothing to lose, research the history and the essence of Yoga, and its huge benefits to our everyday lives. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of yoga:

-Be Peaceful: Yoga’s primary goal is peace of mind, fit body, increased flexibility and improved health.
-Be Inclusive:Yoga is a user-friendly activity. It is not only for adults. Children can also use yoga as their daily exercise.
-Be Aware:Yoga requires self-awareness and attention to your well-being.
-Be Silly: Being overly self-conscious and critical is counterproductive in yoga and in life. Have fun! I’ve tried it, it’s effective.
-Be Sensitive: Give your full concentration on how you feel in a pose rather than how you should look.
-Be Childlike: Be willing to make mistakes. The more mistakes you make the better. That simply means you are learning. Children -are most often the fastest learners and, without a doubt, they make the most mistakes. And that’s a fact!
-Be Jolly: Smile at your teacher and fellow students; they could probably use a boost of good energy.
-Be Helpful: Yoga is not a competition with you or with others. Helping yourself will also develop your self-confidence.
-Be Consistent: Practicing yoga religiously will make it easier for you to cope with advanced classes.
-Be Adventurous: Try out different yoga styles. So you will be able to pick what’s your best pose.
-Be Lighter: Condition yourself into a good mood to give you a lighter spirit.
-Be Patient: Learning yoga poses takes time, as well as balancing your body while holding poses. As what they say, “Patience is a Virtue.”
-Be Mindful: Pay attention as you inhale and exhale. Being aware of the breath is a very helpful and significant in yoga practice.
-Be Intelligent: Taking yoga needs work-discipline.
-Be You: Aim towards genuinely rather than perfection.

It is far better to do something at a time of the day that you are in a good mood, rather than to miss out by being too rigid or idealistic. Always remember, yoga is a balanced recipe which maintains: satisfaction with a presence of mind. To get the best from your yoga practice, you should mix and match the various elements of practice to improve your spiritual growth and awareness.

3 Tips to Help Improve Home Health Exercise Compliance In Physical Therapy


One of the biggest challenges that a physical therapist will confront in home health is educating the patient on the importance of being compliant with the exercise program that is prescribed.

Patients and the caregivers first have to understand the importance of why you have been assigned as a rehabilitation professional, to help in improving their independence and quality of life.

There are several tips that a physical therapist can use to help improve exercise compliance in the home.

Make Sure The Patient And Caregivers Have Input Into Their Rehabilitation Goals.

Most physical therapists will tell you that this is a given and that it should be done on every evaluation. However, that may not always be the case as I have seen in my 19 years of working in the field. To help anyone become more involved in their physical well-being, it is recommended that patient has a say in what they want to achieve and not so much in what we in physical therapy think they should achieve.

If someone is actively involved in their healthcare and quality of life, there is a better chance they may be more proactive in accomplishing the exercise program to begin with.

Keep The Exercises Short And Concise and Provide Copies Of The Exercises.

Many of the patients we see in the home health sector do not have a strong exercise background to begin with. Over loading someone with a dozen exercises on your first visit will do nothing but increase non-compliance.

Providing a copy of the exercise routine and starting the initial home visit with three or four exercises to be completed twice a day, can help with the gradual progression of exercises as the patient begins to improve both in strength, endurance, and pain relief if pain is a problem to begin with.

By having a picture copy of the home exercise program and a grid where each session can be marked off and recorded, will provide some accountability on the patients behalf to see that everyone is working together to get sufficient results.

Involve The Patient And Caregiver In Discussion After Each Treatment To Be Sure Goals Are Being Met.

After each treatment it is important to be sure some time is taken to sit down and discuss the progress or, lack of with both the patient and caregiver if available,to be sure that progress is on track with the time frame you have established. And if not, what can be done to help speed up the process or, is there a possibility that the goals were too aggressive to begin with?

Exercise compliance in the differing degrees will be determined in a large part by the commitment and discipline of the patient and family support. It will start with the patients attitude and their resolve to overcome what their disability may be and, if they are internally motivated to succeed.

Richard is a Physical Therapist Assistant and Certified Personal Trainer with the American Council on Exercise. He has been a PTA since 1995 working extensively in home health with orthopedic patients and deconditioned older adults.

Discover How a Commitment to Yoga Can Change Your Life Forever

While it’s true that you’ll get out of your practice only as much as you’re willing or able to put into it, a committed approach to your practice can help you in ways that you’ve never expected. Indeed practicing yoga could be the platform and motivation you need to completely transform your life.

The basic benefits of yoga are widely documented and have been extensively researched. Research into the more controversial benefits of yoga continue – at the time of writing, (a Service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of health) listed more than 900 research papers investigating the benefits of yoga. A search on the internet typically reveals benefits which include:

  • Increased fitness
  • Increased strength
  • Fat reduction and weight loss
  • Relief of back pain
  • Better relaxation

Individually these benefits sound like compelling reasons to practice yoga and may be exactly what you are looking for. But yoga is an all encompassing approach to health and well-being – the word itself literally means union, and when we look at the impact practicing yoga can have on our lives, we should also take an all encompassing approach. While yoga alone cannot work miracles, it may be the foundation, along with some self belief, to help you:-

Earn more money – Practicing yoga increases your ability to relax and cope with your daily stresses. It also helps to develop a meditative ability allowing you to slow or clear your mind of constantly racing thoughts. After a hard days work, these are exactly the techniques you need so you can unwind, and recharge through longer and deeper sleep. If you can achieve that then you’ll feel more refreshed, energised and motivated each day, improving your focus and concentration. You can channel this in what ever direction you want including working towards a promotion, searching for your ideal job or starting your own business.

Write a book, learn to dance – As outlined above, regular yoga practice can help you increase your energy, motivation and focus as well as improving your concentration – all of which can be used to develop your personal hobbies and interests, whatever they may be, mental activities or physical ones.

Spend more time with your friends and family – Promotion and money aren’t your motivators? How about using your increased energy levels to bring greater balance between your work and personal lives, allowing you to spend more time with the people that matter.

A shot of self confidence – performing regular exercise, combined with the positive effects yoga has on metabolism and appetite, can help with weight (fat) loss. Combine that slimming with the toning effect yoga has on your muscles and you can start to develop the body you want in no time – and be feeling better about yourself just as quick. What better boost is there to your self confidence?

Depression relief? – Yoga postures are designed to stretch, compress and massage your internal organs and glands. This stimulation is thought to help balance hormone levels in the body, which can help to achieve a more balanced emotional state.

Quit smoking – As well as strengthening your resolve to quit through the increased motivation, energy and focus, yoga breathing techniques (pranayama) are ideal to help you pass the cravings that at the biggest hurdle to quitting smoking.

As you can see, the benefits of yoga go far beyond simply improving your wellbeing – the benefits can be channeled to help you to make fundamental improvements to your whole life. When the rewards are so great, it’s not difficult to understand why people become so enthusiastic about yoga.