The effects of stress – and how massage can help

By: Katherine Pugliese, RYT, RMT

Katherine is passionate about relieving stress through massage and through self-care, which for her includes writing and drawing


Anxiety and depression represent two of the leading health concerns in our society today (Kreitzer, M.J. (2016), “Anxiety and Depression”). Many of us face daily demands and what at times can seem to be overwhelming challenges that cause uncontrollable feelings of anxiety, fear and sadness.

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End-of-year openings

Once again, we’ve spent a year growing in leaps and bounds. We’ve welcomed new therapists, new clients, and a new office manager to the clinic, and opened a new location in Almonte, Ontario, and the result has been nothing short of amazing. We’ve had record increases in bookings for the past two months, and as usual, December promises to be our busiest month of the past twelve.

Additionally, we are one of three Ottawa massage therapy clinics nominated for a Top Choice Award as Top Massage Therapist 2016 in Ottawa. This is just thrilling! To vote for us before February 1, 2016, click here!

Some therapists are fully booked now until the end of 2015; others still have some availability. Please check our online booking tool for specific schedules at both our Ottawa and Almonte locations, or call the office at 613-222-0465 to inquire.

Holiday closing dates:

  • December 25 – closed
  • December 26 – 9-4 (two RMTs) at our downtown Ottawa location
  • January 1 – closed

Thank you for helping us make this our best year yet. We are happy to be part of your approach to health care, and we look forward to working with you in the months ahead. See you soon, and may you enjoy a restorative end of the year and start 2016 with a sense of excitement and optimism!

Essential Essential Oils

Have you ever walked into a room where an aroma sweeps you off your feet? It creates a warm fuzzy feeling inside, or a sense of calmness throughout. Maybe it reminds you of days past or of good things to come. It can trigger both positive and negative thoughts, and can have an effect on both our physiology and psychology.

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The Power of Relaxation

Ellen SymonsEllen Symons, RMT is an avid recipient of relaxation massage.

Relaxation is all about softness, right?

Well, kind of. Relaxation is a powerful technique. The repairing and rebuilding that your brain and body do when you’re relaxed are essential to your ability to live a strong and healthy life.

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Summer time Epsom salts

Ah, summer is upon us. Weekends by the lake, lunches on the patio, night time strolls under the stars. Summer is meant for fun!

Ottawa massage blog Epsom salt bag

But alas, summer can also bring us some not-so-fun things. Bug bites, sun burns, and sore muscles cause us woes during the hot months. So, Body Poets wants to help keep your body comfortable and healthy!

Book a massage on a Saturday or Sunday in July or August, and receive a free 3-cup bag of Epsom salts.

Epsom salts are, in fact, magnesium salts, that help hundreds of the body’s daily functions. Many of you already know about their usefulness for achy, sore muscles, but did you know they can be used for much more?

Bee stings: Epsom salts can help bring the stinger closer to the surface for removal, and help reduce the inflammatory process. Soak in a bath, or create a paste with a small bit of water and apply it locally.

Mosquito bites: Similar to the effect it has for bee stings, Epsom salts can decrease the swelling and inflammation caused by a mosquito bite. Create a paste and apply it straight to the bite.

Grimy skin: Remove grime from your skin and face with an Epsom salt exfoliating paste. Mix Epsom salt with baby oil, almond, or olive oil, and rub over the skin to remove dirt, grease, and grime built up during a hot summer day.

Poison Ivy: To soothe the pain, itchiness, and swelling that result from touching poison ivy, take a soak in an Epsom salt bath.

Sunburns: Cool down your sunburn and reduce redness by applying an Epsom salt paste to the burned area, or soak in a cool Epsom salt bath for larger areas.

Garden Epsom - Ottawa massage blogHelp out your garden: Epsom salts aren’t just good for the body; your plants love them too! Feed tomatoes, peppers, roses, and more with a few tablespoons of Epsom salts. Read all about it here: http://www.epsomsaltcouncil.org/garden/.

Get your free bag of Epsom salts on your next weekend visit to Body Poets! Book a massage on any weekend this summer and receive 3 cups free. Visit http://www.bodypoets.com to book online.

How I’ve failed at meditation

Ellen SymonsBy: Ellen Symons, RMT
Along with “failing” at meditation, Ellen enjoys using her free time to write poetry, play with her cats, and spend time outside. She has her own poetry blog at http://www.ellensymons.wordpress.com, where this essay first appeared.

I’ve been failing at meditation for a solid twenty years.

Alright. I suspect it isn’t possible to ‘fail’ at meditation, but I have walked away, frustrated, over and over again.

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Just breathe…

Crystal Veinot , RMT - Ottawa Massage BlogBy: Crystal Veinot, RMT
Crystal Veinot, a registered massage therapist and Thai massage practitioner, sees the results of proper breathing in her clients. With a teenage boy at home, she too finds the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing.

We don’t often put a lot of conscious thought into the act of breathing as we move throughout our busy day-to-day routine…it just sort of happens.

As life ramps up and feelings of stress or anxiety build, our body can have some not-so-subtle ways to signal us to slow down by way of muscle tension, headaches, fatigue, or stomach upset.

What you may not realize is that in times of stress, our breathing pattern also changes. Understanding how to utilize diaphragmatic breathing can help change our body’s response to stress, which in turn positively affects our emotions or mental state aiding in our ability to cope in a fast-paced society.

What does stress do to our breathing?

Physiologically, the body responds to stressors by activating the sympathetic nervous system; heart rate, respiration rate and body temperature all increase. The mechanics of our breath also change as accessory muscles in the neck and shoulders are suddenly employed to lift the ribs up and out in order to maximize oxygen intake during a stress response. This pattern of breathing, often referred to as apical breathing, is meant to be short-term during a “fight-or-flight” response to get us out of harm’s way. However, chronic stress can lock us in this habitual shallow breathing pattern, resulting in insufficient air/gas exchange, with accessory muscles that are tense and overworked, potentially leading to a distorted posture, and eventually cascading into any number of other impairments.

ottawa_massage_blog_nervous_system

What to do to prevent habitual shallow breathing?

We can help counter the negative effects of chronic stress by encouraging relaxation and taking our bodies into the “rest-and-digest” response of the parasympathetic nervous system. This will bring the body into homeostasis. Although we have no conscious control over the sympathetic response our body has to stress, we can manipulate our parasympathetic response in times of stress to help induce relaxation. The most effective method is to alter our breathing pattern from apical to diaphragmatic.

How does the diaphragm play a role in relaxation?

The diaphragm, which is a dome-shaped muscle, contracts and flattens out. As this happens the volume within the lungs increases, thus decreasing the pressure within, causing air to rush in. Conversely, as the diaphragm relaxes and returns to its dome-shaped position tucked up under the ribs, volume within the lungs decreases, resulting in an increased pressure, causing air to be pushed out or exhaled. On a physiological level, movement of the diaphragm created by engaging in a deep breath stimulates the vagus nerve; the cranial nerve responsible for supplying approximately 75% of the parasympathetic nerve fibers to the rest of the body.

The end result of this stimulation is a decrease in heart rate, a drop in blood pressure and cortisol levels and a boost in the immune system.

How to take a diaphragmatic breath:

Watch the video below to learn how to diaphragmatic breathe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcAaG_E-cM8&feature=youtu.be

Some Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve digestion
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve immune system
  • Helps to detoxify the body as carbon dioxide is expelled more easily
  • Decrease muscle tension through neck and shoulders (accessory muscles) leaving the diaphragm to do the majority of the work
  • Decrease stress by taking the body from a “fight or flight” response to “rest and digest” response
  • Encourage a better sense of well being

The breath is a self-empowering tool you have with you all the time. Implementing a daily practice of diaphragmatic breathing along with regular massage will aid in relieving stress and releasing muscle tension, thus facilitating a more natural and full breath and improving overall health.

So, whether you are waking in the morning, driving in heaving traffic, racing to your yoga class, late for a meeting, or heading to bed……just remember to breathe!