• October 27, 2021 11:24 AM | Pat Miller (Administrator)

    The air is cooler, the leaves are turning beautiful shades of gold and red, and pumpkins are everywhere. But as we notice these changes around us, we may also notice some uncomfortable feelings tugging at us from within, preventing us from being fully present. Sometimes with a change in seasons, we can have a real shift in our emotions and become more aware of feelings of loss that were previously just below the surface. During the last 19 months, some of us have unfortunately experienced the loss of someone dear to us. Have we really addressed these losses and tended to our grief?  When we avoid our grief, it finds its way into our lives in unpredictable ways. Getting stuck in pain, guilt, and anxiety related to loss causes suffering. However, when we find a way to HONOR our loss, we open the door to the healing process, begin to let go of suffering, and increase joy and meaning in our present day lives. We begin to move THROUGH our grief. 


    Grief is an extremely personal and unique process that should never be held to a timeline. Yet, it's all too common to pressure ourselves or others may pressure us to “get over” loss or “move on.” Grief, however, is not something to “get over,” but something to MOVE THROUGH. When you are ready, in your own time, finding ways to honor your loved one, can help you move through the healing process, with less suffering, and strengthen your heart connection to your loved one.  Sometimes, we unknowingly hang onto pain, guilt, or anxiety to stay connected to these special people. Exploring ways to uniquely HONOR them can begin to connect us in a new way with deep compassion and tenderness. HONORING them can be a public or private activity. When we intentionally choose to HONOR our loved one, we are engaging in our own unique healing journey, tending to our grief, and letting go of suffering.


    • Begin a unique daily ritual that says “I Love You” to this person, especially if you didn’t get a chance to before they died. Get creative here! Blow a kiss each morning getting out of bed.

    • Change something about your lives for the better, something that connects you to them. Example:  Dad loved his daily walk, so incorporate one in your day to connect with him and honor him.

    • Continue or start a new tradition in someone’s honor. Example: Gather family for a special activity on Mom’s birthday to honor her.

    • Dedicate yourself to a cause that connects you to your loved one. Example: Volunteer to walk a shelter dog once a week to honor that friend who loved her furry companions.

    • Organize a celebration of life or memorial gathering, virtual or in person. Each step in the planning process will connect you to your loved one.

    • Make a video or photo album or playlist documenting you loved one's life.

    • Explore a loved one's family tree with online tools.

    • Write a letter, poem, or song for your loved one.  Find a special place to keep it and re-read it, sing it, or share it as needed! 

    • Plant a tree that will grow with each passing year or dedicate a park bench in their honor. Make a marker or sign and place nearby. Visit often!

    • Enjoy a favorite food or recipe that your loved one enjoyed. Perhaps make it a regular occurrence and invite people to share in the experience.


    These are just some examples of ways we can HONOR loved ones. The possibilities are endless! Consider getting family involved, including the kids. Spending time engaging, planning and thinking about these activities connects us to our loved ones who have died. This enables us to remember them with more love and more joy. Our deep love and our desire to connect to those we have lost continues for our lifetime and beyond. By HONORING them, we help ourselves move THROUGH our feelings of grief, sadness, and loss and can begin to let go of our suffering. 

    Healthy Minds Therapy thrives on evidence-based psychotherapy interventions to promote the success of clients. We specialize in psychotherapy with individuals (children, adolescents, adults) and couples with presenting issues – including those with depression, anxiety, behavioral concerns and/or difficulties relating to challenging life events.  Learn more at healthyminds-therapy.com 

  • October 20, 2021 8:13 AM | Pat Miller (Administrator)

    As I prepared to hike the Grand Canyon from rim to rim -- an exciting but strenuous undertaking of 25 miles -- I remember our guide emphasizing the importance of minimizing the weight of our backpack. He said every “ounce” matters when you are rapidly ascending 6,000 feet because extra weight increases physical and emotional strain and leads to a less enjoyable experience.

    As I review the contents of my already full backpack, my questions are: “What do I want to let go of? How can I make my journey easier and more enjoyable?”

    The same questions apply to our life experiences. What are you are carrying around each day that's making your journey more difficult than it needs to be? As a mind-body therapist my primary goal is to help people live with more ease. We often walk through life holding onto emotions, beliefs or behaviors that don't serve our highest good or prevent us from reaching optimal levels of well-being. We are often unaware of these "items” we are carrying in our "backpack" or how the weight of the pack is impacting our physical, emotional and spiritual health. Or we might be aware of those "items" and choose to carry them (i.e. holding a grudge) or we are aware and want to release them but don't know how.

    The first step in the process of letting go is practicing mindfulness to become aware of what you are feeling, thinking and sensing in your body. Your body is an intuitive feedback system. Am I feeling ease, lightness, openness, expansion or calm in my body? Or am I feeling restricted, tight, closed in or apprehensive in my body? Typically, when an emotion is stuck in your body from a past experience you'll sense that somewhere in your body and may still be thinking things like, “I can’t believe this person would do that to me!" or "I have the right to stay angry" or "I'll will never get over this.”

    After identifying an “item” to remove from your "backpack" or one you don't want to put in your backpack in the first place (real time emotion), follow these steps of letting go through action or journaling:

    • Notice what you want to release. Example:I feel anger (emotion) and tightness in my stomach (sensation) when I think about my ex-boyfriend cheating on me (fact). He made me look like a fool (belief) and he made me feel I was not good enough (belief) .

    • Acknowledge and feel the emotion fully. Release the attachments and stories and name the emotion directly. Example: I feel angry, I feel hurt, I feel sad that he cheated on me.

    • Soothe the emotion and breathe through it, softening and opening. Consider placing a hand over an area of your body where you feel the emotion or over your heart in a warm and compassionate way. Do this for several minutes until you feel the emotion begin to subside.

    • Choose your path forward. Say out loud or write, “I am choosing to release this anger because ….”

    • Reflect with gratitude. Take a moment to be proud of yourself for honoring your emotions and taking care of yourself and for the life experience which is allowing you to grow and deepen your relationship with yourself.

    The reality is that uncomfortable or painful experiences do happen in our lives, some of which are not our fault or and over which we do not have control. However, our power lies in the way in which we respond to such experiences. One of the best possible things you can do for your mental health is to learn how to tolerate and move through difficult emotions without attachments and stories. Attachments and stories are like "items" you don't need in your backpack and your backpack can't get too heavy if you are not shoving things into it. Become aware of your attachments and stories to avoid carrying them unnecessarily.

    At this time emotional health is more critical than ever. It's to our benefit to let go of small daily annoyances and to release longer standing emotion. Freeing yourself from attachment and stories will positively impact your overall health and leave more room for joy, growth and love.

    As you move forward with practicing self-care, keep these questions in mind: “What do I choose to let go of?" or “What do I want to let go of?” Your spirit will appreciate your attention to these matters. The more you practice and experience the rewards, the more skilled you will become at letting go.

    *Please note: emotions tied to traumatic incidents may be difficult to release and/or require specific training in distress tolerance to assist you with processing them safely. A trauma informed mental health therapist can help you with this process.

     Del Ray Psych & Wellness is comprised of a vibrant and energetic group of clinical psychologists, therapists, and wellness professionals that are passionate about guiding adults on their personal journeys of growth and transformation. They believe that each individual has the capacity to reach personal fulfillment, authenticity, and optimal well-being, and that a holistic approach of addressing the mind, body, and spirit is essential for growth, healing, and transformation.  Learn more at delraypsych.com.

  • October 13, 2021 10:03 AM | Pat Miller (Administrator)

    Although you may take it for granted, your skin is your largest organ. Your skin is the first line of defense and serves as a protective shield from the sun, germs, pollution and more. Get serious about treating it with some respect.

    • Keep your skin clean. Your skin will absorb a percentage of what comes in contact with it such as gasoline, paint, makeup or other items. The absorption process takes a few seconds and within five minutes your blood will deliver that substance to every organ in your body. It’s important to wash and clean your skin. Always avoid contact with harmful materials.

    • Use products that contain safe ingredients. Just because an item is sold in a store doesn’t mean it won’t cause you harm. Some of the chemicals in beauty products are linked to cancer. If you don’t know what the ingredients are, do research, look them up and learn more about what you are placing on your skin.

    • Drink water. Your body is 60% water. Your skin needs water to stay healthy.

    • Eat better. You can improve the foods you consume. Increase fruits and veggies and lower or remove processed foods as much as you can. You are what you eat.

    • Increase your exercise. Remember you were made to move. With modern conveniences, your body may not be challenged as much as it needs. Find ways to get moving and increase your circulation and heart rate.

    Your skin can change with your environment and you play a role

    People living in cold climates during the winter are usually low in Vitamin D. People in sunny, warmer climates tend to have more sun damage. People in large urban areas are inhaling and absorbing more toxins from air pollution.

    • Find out from your doctor if you are deficient in any vitamins/minerals and what you need to add to your diet to improve your overall health.

    • Evaluate where you live and take steps to improve your environment locally. Each person can make a difference because there are over 7.9 billion humans on the planet. Keep that in mind when you leave your car idling, waste food or purchase things you don’t need. You can contribute to the planet’s health.

    • Learn to be more eco-conscious with green groups

    • You have the power to stop buying plastic, harmful chemicals, wasteful cars or oversized homes.

    Your health and the health of the planet can be overwhelming and it’s never too late to start acting. Each day is an opportunity to walk away from bad habits and wastefulness and to make wiser choices. Embrace simplicity and remember what truly matters in life.

    Ideas and information

    • Green Tips - “One thing you can do today” on the Truly-Life social media feeds:
      Instagram @trulylife2008
      Facebook @TrulyLife.EcoGifts
      Twitter @trulylife
    • Healthy Skin Care: Truly-Life.com

     Truly-Life is the ultimate urban garden with loofahs, herbs, and flowers grown in Del Ray and used in eco-friendly skin care products.  Learn more and shop online at truly-life.com.

  • October 06, 2021 8:10 AM | Pat Miller (Administrator)

    If you’re anything like me, fall feels like a magical time of reflection and turning inward.  We cozy up in our sweaters like a security blanket while breathing in the crisp cool air and feel a bit more….still.  We watch the cycle of letting go play out in front of our eyes as the trees begin to change and shed their leaves. Those trees make it look so easy to just let it all fall away while slowly being more exposed.  If only it were that easy for us humans!  

    Letting go and releasing what is no longer serving you is a powerful act.  It can also be really hard and scary. When we let things go it can feel as though we are being exposed much like those fall trees, because in letting go we are able to step more fully into our true selves.  This discomfort is something many therapists have assisted with and it is not something you have to do alone.  

    What are you holding on to that needs to be released?  Is it the clothes that no longer fit thanks to #COVID20?  Is it the job you once loved and now feel bored doing?  Is it a friendship or romantic relationship that is no longer serving you?  Is it a feeling of anger or failure about something that has been lingering for too long?  

    So where do you begin?  The first step in letting go is to change your mindset.  You’re holding on for a reason, so try making a list of the reasons letting go will benefit you.  This sounds simple, but it requires accepting the truth which can be challenging.  Go with what comes up in your writing and see what shifts. 

    An essential part of stepping into our true selves is releasing what no longer serves us.  Much like those autumn trees, after we let go, life can appear a bit bleak before it gets better.  In the end it is worth it to find our truest self.  While a dark winter may come after the release of fall, there is hope and beauty in spring as we bloom into something still familiar, yet wholly new.  

     Alice is a Supervisee in Social Work with Healthy Minds Therapy where she helps clients of all ages navigate the stressors and transitions that are inevitable in everyday life. She recognizes the most important factor to positive therapy outcomes is the therapeutic relationship, and strives to provide a safe, warm and even fun environment where her clients feel heard and understood.  Learn more at healthyminds-therapy.com

  • September 29, 2021 3:11 AM | Pat Miller (Administrator)

    Speaking from experience, letting go and releasing can feel like quitting. However, if it's done with intentionality and from a place of deep reflection there is so much growth and expansion that takes place. Last year around this time, Ease Yoga was running classes on the lawn under a tent in front of the studio at Commonwealth and Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray. Our membership was dwindling. Classes were smaller than usual. We could no longer afford our two studio managers. The pandemic was showing no signs of lightening up. Our landlord expected full rent. The colder weather was coming. I was burnt out.

    Driving our son home from school one day, I lost my temper with him and came home crying uncontrollably. I'd hit rock bottom. There was the stress of converting a living, breathing studio to a two-dimensional, screen-based virtual studio the minute after the pandemic hit. Holding classes through rain, wind, street construction and the hot sun had taken its toll. Many of our teachers had moved into the virtual world and created their own small businesses. No amount of deep breathing, yoga, meditation or walks in the park could bring me back.

    I began to ask myself: What if I let go? What if Ease didn’t exist? Ease was my fourth child, birthed from a dream and grown into a flourishing young business. So many people in the community thanked me for creating such a loving, healing and welcoming space. But now, I was hurting. It was no longer the crowded reception room on Saturday and Sunday mornings where yoga students young and old brushed by one another on their way to amazing classes and where teachers and students connected, moved, breathed and healed together.

    It took deep inner strength to release Ease. Over time, my life as a yoga teacher who was not in charge of all the planning, organizing, marketing, bill-paying, broken toilet-fixing and lightbulb changing started to feel good. To picture myself as a student who could attend many yoga classes to take care of myself and teach when and where I wanted to, and when my cup was full, also felt invigorating. To sign up to learn more about mindfulness and meditation and earn a teaching certificate felt like a goal I could never attain while being in charge of the studio.

    So I did it. I let go of Ease. There was a lightness in my body and soul when I made the final decision. I found a great therapist with whom I could talk through it all. I signed up for a two year Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher Certification Program with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. Letting the many members of the Ease community know about the closing was difficult and led to many more tears. But do I regret letting go? Not at all.

    Do I miss Ease and the community we created? Absolutely. However, I still run into many of our clients at classes with former Ease teachers. At the same time, our monthly Women’s Wisdom Circle continues the first Wednesday of every month. Embracing UnEase - Racial Discussion Through the Lens of Yoga also continues. I have a few private clients that I enjoy working with. Becky Sutton and I have sold out our annual retreat to Nosara, Costa Rica for this coming February. I am volunteering my time with Sara Vandervoot to create this blog and a holiday gift guide for the wellness community in Del Ray. I am seven months into the deep wisdom of my mindfulness and meditation course and looking forward to sharing all of my learnings with each and everyone of you very soon. I am happier, healthier, a better mom, wife, sister and friend for creating Ease and for letting it go. I am looking forward to what the future holds.

    I share my experience with you in the hope that if there is something you are holding onto that needs to be released my story will give you the strength to see the opportunities, growth, and expansion that are possible in the letting go. Not all letting go is quitting, but rather the clearing of a field for the sowing of new seeds.

    And to those businesses who continue to endure this pandemic, I'm sending each of you a high ten. You are all amazing. I can’t imagine how difficult it has been. Wishing you all well. Thank you for all you give to our community.

    You can message me at tara@easeyogacafe.com. Sending blessings and love to the entire community of Del Ray and Alexandria.

    Tara Casagrande yoga & mindfulness provides yoga, mindfulness and meditation classes as well as a Women's Wisdom Circle and Embracing UnEase, racial discussions through the lens of yoga. Learn more at easeyogacafe.com.

  • September 22, 2021 8:43 AM | Pat Miller (Administrator)

    It's said the cobblers'children have no shoes. That can happen to healthcare workers also, especially now. But not for this newly transferred military spouse who took a break from being a registered nurse to focus on raising her 5 1/2 year-old son. As she’s done with many previous moves, she wasted no time searching for her support system in the DC area. Fate happened to bring her to my doorstep and she came in with what she called an “angry neck”. As people that have seen me know, I check everything I can including areas that may not initially seem connected to the primary complaint. So when she mentioned having 85% hearing loss in her right ear, I got very excited, knowing I had good results in another patient with the same condition three years earlier. Her doctors told her it was because of the fusion of the three bones that are meant to vibrate in the ear. After some tissue work, and a bilateral down and back tug on her earlobes, I was able to get the movement back, and her hearing returned.

    On a separate appointment, she brought in her son, who months earlier fell down and cut open his forehead on a curb.  She told me he hasn't been the same since.  Just looking at him, I could tell his C1 in the cervicals was translated to the left/posterior.  His symptoms: diminished speech and a shoulder/wrist issue from the fall, which were being treated by a speech therapist and an occupational therapist.  After putting the bones back in place, he immediately started talking non-stop.  On her next visit, she reported that he is now an extrovert.  The nurse comes in more often than she needs to, sometimes bringing her little assistant with her.  The best part for me is... we feel like family. 

    Dr. Paul Caffrey’s method focuses on a whole body chiropractic approach, utilizing advanced chiropractic techniques and massage.  Learn more at  delraychiropractic.com

  • September 15, 2021 6:24 AM | Pat Miller (Administrator)

    I love summer.  It’s my favorite season! And, there is something special about fall.  As we return from our travels, our Pilates practice beckons us.  Studio Body Logic welcomes our community to re-establish their Pilates routine with us.  We are family. Whether you have been exercising with us for the last twenty five years or just walked through our doors, you are welcome.

    Our Pilates routine grounds us to engage the foundational essentials – to fully breathe, stabilize and balance.  The fluidity of Pilates frees us to move in a pain free manner as we build strength and improve our flexibility.

    Presently, due to temporary local restrictions, we are offering Pilates apparatus clients in-studio sessions and Pilates mat classes on Zoom.  The intimacy of our small class sizes works well in both formats.  It allows our instructors to observe everyone and make appropriate corrections.

    Please join us at our new location – 2312 Mount Vernon Avenue.  Our goal is to help you feel better and gain full body strength through Pilates. Apparatus (our equipment) sessions are available for privates and small groups (2-4 students) as well as our Zoom mat (6-10 students).  Each offering is leveled for safe and challenging workouts.  We look forward to continued and new collaborations with you on your Pilates journey. 

    See you at the studio!

     Studio Body Logic is Northern Virginia's first Authentic Pilates studio, with locations in Alexandria and Arlington. SBL offers Pilates mat and apparatus, Barre Body℠, and stretch classes.  Learn more at studiobodylogic.com.

  • September 15, 2021 6:14 AM | Pat Miller (Administrator)
    For some families, summertime often means new routines (or lack thereof), hours at the pool, new adventures or vacations, and a later bedtime, all of which are so fun! They can also lead to quite a rude awakening when daycare or school start back up again at the end of the summer. 

    As a former elementary teacher and now sleep consultant I know parents of school-aged children often struggle to re-establish routines as the school year begins, as do parents sending their babies or toddlers back to or to daycare for the first time.  

    A large part of re-establishing those routines is connected to sleep. So let’s walk through three tips for getting your little one not only back into routine at the beginning of the school year, but also ensuring those routines will support their sleep.

    1. Set an Age-Appropriate Bedtime.  Determining your baby or child’s bedtime once daycare or school starts can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! 

    To determine an age-appropriate bedtime for your child first figure out what time your child has to be out the door each morning and what time they have to wake up in order to make that happen.

    Once you’ve figured out what time your child has to be awake it’s time to think about how much nighttime sleep your child needs. Checkout this article from the National Sleep Foundation to see how much nighttime sleep your baby or child needs based on their age. 

    Now take what time they need to be awake each morning and backtrack the hours of sleep they should ideally get each night - there's bedtime! For example, most school-aged kiddos need around 9-11 hours of nighttime sleep. If a second grader needs to be up every day at 6:30 am, 8:30 pm is the latest that child should be going to bed. Likewise, a nine month old should be getting 11-12 hours of sleep each night, so if he/she has to be awake by 7 am each morning, bedtime should be around 7 or 7:30 pm!

    If you’re having a tough time figuring out how to structure your baby or toddler’s day around naps and bedtime, go snag this free Ultimate Guide to Sleep Schedules!

    We want our kiddos to wake up refreshed and ready for the day.  The goal is that your baby or child will wake naturally most mornings rather than you having to wake them up. This often starts with having an appropriate bedtime.

    2. Establish a Consistent Bedtime Routine.  Not only is ensuring your baby or child has an appropriate bedtime important, but also having a consistent bedtime routine is helpful in preparing kids’ bodies and minds for sleep. 

    If your family's bedtime routines were inconsistent this summer, or you’ve never really established a bedtime routine for your child, checkout this blog post for examples of bedtime routines for babies, toddlers, and school-aged children. 

    It’s important to turn screens off at least one hour before your child’s bedtime (two hours is ideal) to ensure their natural sleepy hormone, melatonin, can release on time and in turn help them get to sleep. A good rule of thumb is to turn screens off once it’s time for dinner and keep them off the rest of the night.

    3. Establish a Morning Routine. We don’t usually think about morning routines as helpful when it comes to sleep, but they are. 

    What is an ideal morning routine for babies and kids before school or daycare? First, let's start with what's NOT an ideal way to start the day. Within the first 10-15 minutes of your child waking up, try to avoid:
    • Pulling your little one into bed with you for some extra cuddles. 
    • Feeding them milk or breakfast right away. 
    • Giving your child screen time.
    I call the above activities "unintentional rewards." Doing any of those things within the first 10-15 minutes of waking up can cause kids to regularly start their day extra early because they're excited for the "reward" that awaits them. No one loves an unnecessarily early morning, am I right?

    So here's an example of what your child’s morning routine could look like:
    • Wake up
    • Change diaper or go to the bathroom
    • Brush teeth and hair
    • Get dressed
    • Milk or breakfast
    • Clean up, play time, reading time, or screen time
    Having a morning routine will be helpful for both you and your little one to start your day off on the right foot!

    Back to school season does not have to mean frantic evenings and rushed mornings.  There can be predictability and consistency. If you’re struggling to find sleep patterns and habits that work well for your baby, toddler, or school-aged child, know that you don’t have to navigate this alone. Don’t hesitate to set up a free discovery call with me to share more about what sleep currently looks like in your house and what your goals are.  I would love to share more about how I can help. 

     Lauren Engler is a certified pediatric sleep consultant who works one-on-one with families to help them teach their little ones independent sleep skills. Whether babies, toddlers, or school-aged kids, it is absolutely possible to teach your child to fall asleep with confidence and for the whole family to rest well. Learn more at viagraces.com.

  • September 08, 2021 3:53 AM | Pat Miller (Administrator)

    With the summer coming to an end, getting back into the swing of things can be hard.  As a mom and a therapist, I know that our house will be in complete flux attempting to transition back to a daily routine. Here are five tips to getting back into a routine for a successful fall:

    1.   REFLECTION ~ Reflect on your summer and discuss what went well and what didn’t.  This may include making a list of things to make sure to do next summer.  The list can include the first few weekends of the school year with activities you still wish to do.  Have your kids decide what they liked most/least and why.  Reflection is important for kids

    2.  CHORES ~ Decide what chores your kids are going to do this year and start NOW!  Age appropriate chores are important for positive family dynamics, easing the burden on parents and helping with a kid's self-confidence.  What can your child learn to do consistently?  Folding their laundry, cleaning up their room, setting the table?  Studies show that successful college students learn to do self-sufficient activities in middle school (making food for meals, laundry, cleaning up, small "fix it" activities).

    3.  LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION ~ Organize your home so everyone knows where things “live.”  In our house, socks “live” by the front door next to the shoes.  Each child has their own sock bin and they are responsible for keeping socks in pairs.  No one asks me where their socks are!  Take a few minutes and organize a location for book bags, library books, lunch supplies, school projects and extra school supplies

    4.  FAMILY CALENDAR ~ Utilize a color-coded calendar for yourself, your spouse, and your children.  Each person gets their own color (we also have colors for our dogs)!  Input appointments as soon as you receive them, including sports or music practices, back-to-school nights, birthday parties, etc.  In our house I record the doctor’s appointments and school events and my husband records all the sporting events.  The calendar is shared so we can both see everything

    5.  SELF-CARE ~ Remember to take care of yourself.  September is always the hardest month for me personally.  SO.MUCH.CHANGING.  As parents we need to put on our OWN oxygen mask first.  Teach your kids how to make spaghetti and take the night off from cooking.  Go on a much needed date night.  Make plans with friends. Take a long walk.  Treat yourself to a lavender cookie from Dairy Godmother or a milkshake from Holy Cow!  Do 20 minutes of yoga or Pilates to clear your head and strengthen your body.

    It's hard to remember that soon these kiddos will be grown up and our hectic days will wind down.  My mom’s favorite reminder to me was “long days, short years.”  Take a few deep breaths, reflect on summertime, set yourself up for success this fall, and take care of yourself.  If things with your children seem a little off, check in with a local therapist to see if your kids could benefit from some support.  The Del Ray Wellness District is chock full of wonderful therapists who would love to help your family.  I host two groups on a consistent basis; confidence for girls ages 8-12 and worried kids ages 7-9.  More information can be found here: www.wonderologie.com/groups 

     wonderologie offers child and family counseling services in Del Ray and virtually. Their mission is to serve children of all ages who struggle with emotional regulation, anger, anxiety, depression, chronic health challenges and/or extended hospitalizations. They also offer robust group therapy programs for children and adults.  Learn more at www.wonderologie.com 

  • September 08, 2021 3:33 AM | Pat Miller (Administrator)

    What if I told you that exercise is actually stressful? What if I told you that understanding this is one of the most productive ways to make your exercise routine stick? 

    ‘Eustress’ is a very useful word to know in this context. It is defined as ‘beneficial stress, a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance and emotional well-being.” 

    We can’t always avoid stress, and I believe that we shouldn’t need to avoid it. If we change our mindset about the challenges we face, it can change our outlook and our strength; inside and out. My knees have been injured several times and I was sad because I thought I would never run again. Some information out there regarding healing teaches us to coddle our joints, while other information emphasizes putting unneeded pressure on joints and acting like an injury wasn’t there in the first place. Our philosophy is different. We take the road less traveled. I am now fulfilled in my body’s strength and taking on challenges regularly. I've integrated the positive benefits of stress that exercise brings me and it has been an effective, long-lasting way to heal and transform my health.  

    At Impact Your Fitness we teach our clients to embrace a revolutionary mindset for strengthening weakened and painful joints. Our speciality is neuromuscular therapy and sports performance. We completely understand that chronic injury, tightness and reoccurring injury take a toll on your energy and overall enjoyment of exercise, and we work smarter and harder at making that a reality of the past for you. Part of the process to a full recovery and having more freedom with movement is increasing your body’s tolerance to stress with graded exposure to it. The key to balancing this equation is making the stress an acute event. The second key is knowing that keeping hope and putting energy into your betterment are virtues. With exercise these virtues can be cultivated over time and according to psychological research* they are vital for living a happy, healthy life.

    When we exercise there are at least 9,815 molecules being affected (New York Times, 2020). This is the amount that has been identified thus far though the authors of a 2020 paper in the journal Cell suspect that there are even more to measure.  Exercise has also been implicated by the Royal Academy of Medicine as being 30% more effective at treating chronic disease than most pharmaceuticals. One of the things I continually tell my clients is that we can see through the neurobiology of how exercise supports mental well-being and physical health. We are born to move and exercise is a portal for our best self. The fine line of making exercise beneficial or harmful lies within fine-tuning our body’s ability to recover and adapt to acute stress by recognizing that stress can enhance us when used with this approach. 

    This new mindset is an integral part of our innovative neuromuscular treatments, however you don’t need to have these treatments to benefit from it. We use the mindset of Resilience and understanding Hormetic Stress is the future of fitness, Lifestyle Medicine and sports medicine because it supports the human body's capacity to regenerate and govern our body with love.

    Resilience as a concept was made popular by authors like Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth. Personally, my favorite author in this space is Kelly McGonigal. She advocates that stress is something we can work with and in fact has taken this idea into scientific rigor in her research at Stanford. Her books advocate that the way we view stress determines its biological effect in our body. This innovative idea, that stress is enhancing us instead of harming us, comes down to mindset and the logical application that we are demanding a lot of the ‘flight or fight’ system.

    The truth of the matter is that we need a new attitude about our stress. It’s never going away and in our modern society it begs for a fresh new look. A heavy load is left on our system if we are stuck in the hustle and bustle. A majority of our society is under-healthy and under a perpetual state of stress as a result of this conditioning. We cannot stress a system that is already under a high load and we cannot learn to bounce back without the knowledge that our body is capable of regenerating itself. Being able to exercise and actually reap the benefits means we have to start with a tuned-up engine before revving it up with the stress of exercise.  

    By participating in a resilient fitness mindset you are being asked to find deeper levels of trust and acceptance within yourself. With this as your power new levels of strength will arise. YOUR body has a preference for acute stress because it provides a biological stimulus for living life. This reset is the greatest portal you'll ever find to the lasting health benefits of exercise. It seems to me, after years of working with the nervous system in injured populations, that if we change our state of being, our nervous system changes, and our thoughts and biology change. 

    Here are some ways you can empower your body and mind with stress:

    • Strength training that emphasizes good technique, skill and rest
    • If you are just getting started or returning to exercise, we recommend using the World Health Organization’s guidelines of 75 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week plus 150 minutes of light to moderate intensity exercise per week. We also recommend that this include activity that's fun and motivating.
    • Using breathing exercises that emphasize increasing lung capacity like Wim Hoff technique and deep diaphragm breathing exercises
    • Sauna and cold thermogenesis are great ways to get some benefits of exercise and build resilience without moving that much! This is also a proven way to help with depression, anxiety and chronic pain which are all huge detrimental factors in physical inactivity
    • Isometric-based exercise improves neuromuscular communication and coordination. It is our go-to exercise prescription for those recovering from sports injury and chronic injury 
    • Engage in community-building exercise groups or classes

    By coming back to your body in this way, taking full advantage of your biology to reset through stress and exercise has the potential for tremendous psychological and physiological benefits. 

     A group of Stanford students were in a 90’s study observed their value system in relation to health during one of their breaks. One group was asked to track good or interesting things happening in their day. Another group was asked to track their values and to evaluate them day to day. The group that journaled about their values had been relating their stress to meaning in their life and were found to be healthier and more motivated for the upcoming semester. They were framing stress in a productive way and I’m asking you to do the same if you want a consistent exercise routine rooted in self-love and trust rather than shame and guilt. 

    Resilience is built from partnering with your body. With using your body’s natural intuition response, tracking your activity or with technology we can see the internal state of your body that are responsible for responding to stress.  

    Resilience is not simply being a bulldog and "toughening up." It has nothing to do with aggression and the "do-more" culture of high intensity exercise or sports. Resilience is about accepting what is within our control. We must tune the body back into itself and understand that the human body actually loves acute stressors. 

    For more resources on this topic:

    NOTE: This is NOT medical advice. If you are experiencing pain and have chronic disease please consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program.

     Impact Your Fitness provides strategic consultation services to individuals recovering from chronic injuries, sports injury prevention, and programming for specific athletic/life events.  Schwartz is the only Master level Muscle Activation Technique specialist in Alexandria.  Learn more at impactyourfitness.net.

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