Well, as usual, the new year brings feeling of guilt over the bad habits we may have slumped into during the holidays. Most of us feel compelled to set resolutions, goals or at least adopt some better habits. My thoughts lean towards small changes. It’s too daunting to set huge lofty goals – we often set ourselves up for failure. How about some small goals, or even just incorporating some good habits into your life? Here are some ideas that stem from things that I already do and have committed to this year.

Drink more water  – Upon waking, consume a large glass of room temperature or warm water with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Cold water can stagnate digestion, so try skipping the ice. Lemon can be very cleansing. Read why here. Add another large glass of water at the end of the day – maybe upon arriving home from work. By adding these habits, you can increase your daily intake of water.

Commit to some kind of exercise 3-4 days/week - It’s best to make it a habit and commit to sticking to it.  Once you start making excuses, you will keep slacking off. Force yourself to get out of bed early, or head right to the gym on your way home from work. Mark it on your calender, and make it a firm habit. Getting a friend to join you will keep you honest and on track. If you don’t have time to do much during the day, how about some jumping jacks, squats or pushups during tv commercials?

Eat a vegetable and/or fruit at every meal – Adding more produce can cut calories and infuse your body with vitamins and minerals. I eat sauteed veggies with my eggs and add fruit to my oatmeal or yogurt. Try vegetable soups for lunch and plan your supper around a vegetable, not just a protein and starch. For that matter, you can cut out the starch all together, or make it a very small portion of your plate.

Get to bed - What’s preventing you from going to bed at a decent time?  Are you up doing laundry, surfing on the internet, or just getting sucked into mindless tv?  If you love staying up late, plan on it a few nights a week. But if it’s causing you to drag during the day, commit to hitting the hay at a decent time (early enough for you to get the amount of sleep that nourishes you) on the other evenings. Put a reminder in your phone so that it beeps…indicating it’s time to start getting ready for bed.

Learn something new everyday - Keep your neurons firing and your brain young by learning new things. Do you like conversation?  Get together with your smart friends more often for stimulating dialogue. Read books, listen to the radio, watch a documentary. Maybe set aside a few minutes in the morning or the evening to learn a new word.

The bottom line on creating healthy change or altering your habits – don’t do anything that’s making you miserable. If you hate the “new” habits, ditch them and start over with better ones. Create some new ones that are more fun and make yourself happy.  If you committed to no longer eating sweets and you were a big dessert lover, you will be miserable. Try just cutting back, or allowing yourself a few nibbles daily.

For some more “self-improvement” tips and a chuckle read my friend Rob’s blog article and this 13 Healthy Habits article.

Here’s to a fantastic year filled with much happiness. I look forward to seeing you for your next massage therapy session.

Take care, Amy

It dawned on me today how powerful essential oils can be if used for their emotional and mental properties, in addition to their physical ones.  I use 100% pure essential oils distilled or extracted from plants, flowers and roots.  When mixed into the massage oil, or applied directly to skin the oils are administered transdermally, that is, they enter the body and are distributed systemically. The aroma of the oils can have a profound effect on memory and emotions.
Many of my clients request lavendar due to it’s pleasing scent and relaxing properties. Here’s a list of common essential oils that I use during my massage treatments and some suggestions for home use.

Bergamot – depression, nervousness, indigestion, uplifting, skin irritation. Mix a drop or 2 into your face lotion, or add to a bath.
Chamomile – calming, sleep, skin irritation, anger, menstraul/menopause.  Use in child’s bath at bedtime.
Lavendar – headaches, stress, grounding.  Rub onto your temples and neck for a tension headache.
Eucalyptus – sinus congestion, immune boosting, bronchitis, flu, muscle pain. A perfect oil to have going into the cold season. I sometimes use it on the headrest to keep nasal passages open while the client is face down. At home, drop into the shower and let the steam vaporize.
Geranium – menstrual discomfort, menopause, mood swings. Mix into your lotion for a soothing abdominal massage.
Lemon - hypertension, uplifting, refreshing, clearing. Use at home as a natural deodorizing agent in the kitchen.
Marjoram – anxiety, balancing, comforting.  A great oil to put on the soles of the feet.
Orange – happiness, optimism, relaxing. Use in room diffuser or bottle of distilled water to scent your home.
Peppermint – concentration, energizing, digestive issues, muscle pain. Massage into abdomen for tummy aches, use to combat jet-lag.
Rose – grief, menstrual, depression, skin irritation. Make a facial mist by adding to distilled water.
Ylang-Ylang – depression, frigidity, hypertension. Create a spray for your bed linens. One of my favorite aromas.

I also carry several blends such as Narayan oil (clove, peppermint, & eucalyptus in sesame oil), and Olba’s oil (wintergreen, juniper, clove, peppermint, eucalyptus, & cajeput) that are really effective on sore/achy muscles.

My massage treatments include the use of essential oils. Since the oils are highly concentrated, they should be used with care. I always ask before using the oils in case of sensitivites or aversion to certain aromas. Let me know if I can custom blend something for your next session. Some of the pure oils are available for purchase at the Center, as well as room sprays and candles. If you are looking for something special, I can order it for you.

Take Care,

Amy