Help Yourself Deal With Neck, Shoulder & Arm Discomfort

Neck and Shoulders

I have a massage client that cleans carpets for a living. His main complaint is upper body pain.  When working, I have felt the tension in my shoulders and neck on many occasions so I feel quite confident offering my  client tips on what I have used to try to relieve that tension on my own using my hands to massage, and it usually felt good. However, I later found out that it was not good to do self neck massage, as it leads to creating more tension on your body. This is known as the third leading cause of pain for most people. One of the most common ways today that people have this pain is from texting, to do so you lean slightly over your phone causing a strain in your neck. Instead of self assage, here is the best way to handle your pain in the neck and shoulders:

  • Take a tennis ball and place it between a wall and your shoulder.
  • Lift your arm above your head and move your head from side to side.
  • Move the ball around to different locations on your neck and shoulders to find the best place to help alleviate your pain.

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Simple Tips for Self-Soothing Pain

We all have pains that occur in our body from time to time. We may not all go spend our cash on professional help for our pains, like chiropractors and massage therapists, though. So for those of you that don’t spend that extra cash, or just don’t have the cash to spend, here are a few tips to alleviate some of your pain. These are simple tips that can be done with just your hands, or with a foam roller or tennis ball. The best part is that you can do all of these by yourself, and they are really simple.

Lower Back Pain

I am going to start with lower back pain as this is a common problem that a lot of people suffer from. In fact, there is a statistic that 80% of Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Another statistic states that the most common cause of people on disability is a form of back pain. Spine Universe’s website even states there are a large variety of at risk jobs. Some examples include, warehouse workers, healthcare workers, office workers and workers that use heavy hand held equipment such as arborists and other workers that engage in tree service.  These are just a few of the occupations that could benefit from self-relaxation techniques. Continue reading

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Relax With Food – How about Fruit

I am sure that with as hectic as your daily life can get, you need an extra boost that will  help you relax and not get to a point you are stressed out so quickly. Did you know that there is a natural way to help your body relax? I’m not talking about taking supplements here, nor am I referring to tasks to do, like taking a dip in the cool water of a pool, relaxing under a tree, or getting tangled up doing yoga. I am talking about foods that will help your body relax and clear your mind, giving you a small break from the stress of everyday life for a little while. The focus   of my next few posts is  going to be on a variety of foods that help you relax, so that even if you don’t care for, or are allergic to one type of food, there will be at least one thing on this list that you can eat. We often think of food as, well, food. Just eat when we are hungry.  It’s also not a secret that foods affect our moods, eat a lot of sugary foods and you will start off hyper, happy and energetic, but later you will feel that crash. So, I hope to enlighten you on a few foods that can help you relax as well!

I might as well start with fun foods.  I don’t know too many people that do not like fruit. Fruit is a healthy sweet and can be eaten alone or as part of a healthy salad.  Fruit is a healthy dessert food.  This is not a small category, and I am going to break down the benefits for you as it has so many varieties.

  • Bananas

Bananas are rich in potassium, which is one of the reasons why they are great for your mood. Bananas also contain the vitamins and minerals that are needed to maintain your body effectively. An alternative to bananas would be avocados because they provide identical benefits. Continue reading

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Relax With Foods – I Saved the Best for Last

This is the last of our installments on foods that help us relax, and I have saved some of your favorites – well, some of my favorites for last.  Some of these foods may be a little more tempting that those previously discussed, so just remember everything in moderation.  It won’t be very relaxing if you over do it and start to pack on the pounds.

Think Like Winnie The Pooh, Eat Honey 

Honey never really gets enough recognition on what it is good for. A lot of people eat honey, use it, but never really think about what benefits it has. Honey is excellent for helping you relax as it contains high levels of tryptophan, and we all know now that this is a supplement that helps lower anxiety and relax your nerves. Honey also contains high levels of potassium that has a soothing effect on the body and brain. It is known to help fight stress hormones and acids in your body to bring a relaxed feeling to your nerves.

Sunflower Seeds

I mentioned these as an alternative to chocolate, but they really deserve much more than that. So I am going to talk about them a little more. These contain a high level of folate, which is helpful when your body is trying to produce dopamine. This chemical is one that makes you feel better, and controls your emotional responses. So go grab some sunflower seeds, sit out by your pool or somewhere you can relax and enjoy! When looking for an alternative for these, you can look at the alternates for chocolate, but they will not all have the same benefit as these seeds. Continue reading

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More Foods to Help You Relax

I am going to be continuing our last article here by giving you more foods that will help your body relax. There are so many varieties of foods that are good to help your body relax, I had to continue this topic a little longer.

We all know that emotions can create a mess of problems with our bodies and so let’s get started and help you find a few more foods that can help you relax after a stressful day, or week. Stress can show itself in a variety of ways like gas, constipation, bloating, and many other ways.We often turn to our “comfort foods” in this time and we make the situation worse generally. So instead of ice cream and pizza, let me give you some foods to lower your stress. 

Eat More Herbs! 

First of all, herbs are one of the most natural ways to relax yourself  through foods. They come from the ground just like the trees and you can grow them in your own backyard. Herbs are a great way to help you relax, especially basil. Basil is high in magnesium, as you read in my last article and that is an excellent source in relaxation. Basil also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial abilities that have been known to help bowels and rheumatoid arthritis. Basil also boosts flavor for food and adds iron, potassium, vitamin C, and calcium. Unless you want to lose the flavor, then wait until the end of cooking to add this herb. If you’re not a fan of basil, try chamomile, and lemon balm they are also great helpers in lowering your stress levels.  You can even manage to add herbs to a drink and take it along with you to work!

Speaking Of Brown Things, Rice.

Rich, specifically brown rice is used to help release insulin that is an amino acid that helps to induce sleep. It helps your brain relax and to produce hormones that lower stress, such as melatonin and serotonin that also relax your nervous system. When you take a supplement with brown rice, or eat it, you will notice a slight drowsy feeling that is caused by the variety of hormones that it creates. It is a great healthy food to try if you haven’t had it before. You can try pearled barley or basmati rice if brown rice just doesn’t sit well with you. Continue reading

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Relax with Foods –Eat your vegetables

You knew this was coming after we spoke about fruits, your veggies are another great way to help you relax. We’re going to focus on two vegetables to boost your mood and list their alternatives. So get ready to eat your vegetables!

  • Broccoli florets

When your potassium gets low, you tend to feel fatigued, anxious, muscle sores, and irritable. Broccoli happens to be a great source for natural potassium as well as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and Vitamin E. These will all boost your immune system and help to prevent you from any disease. It’s a good idea to have some broccoli servings each week. Alternatives include: winter squash, cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, avocado, banana, eggplant and tomatoes.

  • Dine like Popeye with Spinach

Spinach is a powerhouse for magnesium. Magnesium helps our nerves to relax, as well as our muscles. By doing this, they prevent them from becoming too excited and becoming cramped, fatigued, and tense. Spinach is also full of vitamins A and C, folate, and iron. Try and have a cup of fresh or cooked spinach daily, organic if possible, as it often is treated with pesticides when non-organic. Alternatives: halibut, pumpkin seeds and peppermint. Go nuts, for nuts. Nuts contain mineral called selenium. Lacking this mineral has shown an increase depression, fatigue and anxiety in people. The best part is you don’t need a lot of nuts to receive enough selenium. You can eat a handful of mixed nuts, or eat simply two Brazil nuts, which are high in selenium, each day. This will be plenty to keep crankiness at bay. Walnuts are another great nut to consume daily. Walnuts have shown the ability to keep anxiety levels down as well as prevent your blood pressure from rising. All you need is an ounce of walnuts every day, which equals out to around 7 whole walnuts or 14 halves. Suitable substitutes for nuts are: Tuna, Salmon, Cod and Shiitake mushrooms, although they do not contain as much of selenium as nuts do.

Speaking of Seafood

I personally dislike most seafood, but this is a great food to help relax nerves due to its release of a calming hormone in your brain. Seafood has zinc, selenium, and magnesium inside that has been known to raise the mood of your brain, as well as having omega­3. Omega 3 is a fatty acid that assists in creating calming hormones for your brain. Shrimps are an excellent source for mood lifting. They contain selenium, as well as tryptophan. They are also great sources of omega­3, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D. The cholesterol in shrimps has also proved to be helpful in some cases for those worried about cholesterol. So I guess all seafood isn’t bad. Alternatives to shrimp are lobsters as they are similar in content.


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Drinks That Help You Relax

Now that we have covered foods that help you relax in pretty extensive detail, it’s time to cover drinks! It is just as important to have a drink that will lower your stress level as it is to have food that helps. When you’re at work, or even at home you don’t always have time to prepare a meal, but you often have enough time to make a drink. So let’s take some time to talk about drinks that can help lighten your stress levels.

Start The Day Off With A Glass Of Tea

Tea leaves are chock full of goodies for our bodies. Tea has been a drink used for relaxation for many, many years. There are many herbal teas that can help your relaxation and anxiety. Be sure that the tea you choose to drink doesn’t contain caffeine. Teas have an amino acid, L-theanine, that is mostly only found in them. This amino acid helps to relax and enhance your mood by stimulating your production of your alpha brain waves. When you first wake up, your brain is typically associated first with beta waves, and alpha waves are those that promote relaxation, which explains a grumpy mood when you first wake up. Here are a few teas to try.

  • Green tea has very high levels of L-theanine, and a ton of other things that make it a super drink. It can help lower your chances of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, helps with weight loss, lowers blood pressure, all on it’s own!
  • Kava is another excellent choice for anxiety and stress. The effects that this tea have are compared to a common anxiety drug, without the addictive quality. Note that you cannot buy the strength of this tea needed in a regular grocery store, you would need to visit a tea shop that sells 300 or more kava lactones in the tea. This is a strong tea and tastes best with a mix of something such as butter or coconut milk. As I said, this tea is strong, so please talk to your doctor and insure it will not interact with any medications you are taking.
  • Passionflower tea has the same effects as kava, but is not as strong, nor does it have any of kava’s side effects.
  • Valerian Root Tea is an calming tea that helps to aid those with trouble sleeping.If you’re not a fan of Green Tea or my others listed, try black tea, or oolong as they are close in their content of this super amino acid.

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Easy Methods for Reducing Stress

We all have moments in our life where we need to relax. The daily routine for most people is very stressful, work, driving, and so much more can cause you to lose it. Thankfully there are a lot of ways to relax, and most of which don’t take much time or effort.

Remember to breathe

Don’t forget to take time out of your day to take a breather. 5­-10 minutes of stopping  what you are doing, and just focus your breathing. This really helps to calm you down, and lets your body relax. Take a minute, now if you like, to close your eyes. Take slow breaths in, and out. Don’t think about the stress of the day, just focus on breathing. The best way to do this is to sit straight, and place a hand on your belly, with your eyes closed. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. This next part may seem silly to some, but imagine your breath as you take it in, letting it travel through your abdomen, then making its way back to your head. This helps to fight off stress and will also lower your blood pressure.

Don’t Rush

Stop trying to do more than you can in a day. We all do it, we overload ourselves and we rush through everyday trying to do more than necessary. Take a moment and just look around you. Look at the trees, the waters, and all of the beauty of the world. How often do you give yourself a chance to really look at it? I’m sure you can admit to forgetting to take some time to look at your scenery. Take a few extra minutes to eat that meal, so you can really enjoy its texture and taste.  Doing this can help you feel less tense as you are “loosening up”. 

Listen to Your Body

When you start to feel stressed, stop and think about how that actually feels to your body. Pay attention to the effects it causes as you stress. Then move around, paying attention to how each movement affected your body as you moved. Then try this again when you feel relaxed. The tightness or loose feeling you are feeling in either situation, it helps you get to know your body better and know it’s sensations. Practice your breathing that we talked about earlier, while paying attention to how your body is feeling while doing so. Continue reading

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Welcome to Massage by Betty

In the coming weeks, I hope to enlighten you with relaxation techniques and healthy products to soothe you mind and body. I also hope to share some of the positive experiences that friends, family and clients have enjoyed by implementing some of the things that I will discuss here at Massage by Betty.  So, check back with me soon.  –Betty

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