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Blissful Body Blog

By Stephanie Bish

The Lymphatic System and Your Health

Though many people are unfamiliar with the lymphatic system, it is an essential part of your health and well-being.  The Lymphatic system is part of your circulatory system, working to move the clear fluid called ‘lymph’ through a network of lymph vessels toward the heart, carrying toxins as it goes.  It also plays an important role in your immune system, protecting you from illness-causing viruses and bacteria.


Eliminating Toxins

Each cell in your body operates as an independent ‘being’.  Each cell eats, digests, and eliminates toxins.  These toxins mostly reside in clear fluid between the cells, called ‘interstitial fluid’.  This fluid holds the toxins eliminated from your cells, and carries it away through the lymph vessels to the heart. There it enters the blood stream and is processed through the liver and kidneys.  The liver and kidneys filter out the toxins, which are then released through urine and feces. 

When you experience edema, or swelling in your tissues, it is often caused by a back-up in the lymphatic system.  This back-up can make you feel heavy, toxic, and achy.  Headaches and chronic pain are often related to the lymphatic system being sluggish.  

Many things can cause edema, including surgery, food sensitivities, eating too much salt in your diet, stress, and emotions.  The lymphatic system is part of your circulatory system, but it does not have a pump of its own like the heart which moves blood.  Instead it relies on gravity and the effects of exercise to move the fluid. 

This is one reason why exercise is proven to be helpful in so many research studies for such a variety of symptoms.  Exercise helps moves the lymph fluid and toxins out of your body.  When you have edema in a limb, elevate it above your heart, so that gravity can help move the lymph toward your heart.


Protecting You from Infections

Lymphatic organs, such as lymph nodes and tonsils, are found throughout the body.  Structures dedicated to the circulation and production of lymphocytes, which work to fight off infections, include the spleen, thymus, bone marrow and lymph tissue within the digestive system. 

When your body is attacked by a virus or bacteria, the lymphatic system is like a SWAT team, moving quickly and efficiently.  It deploys lymphocytes which attack and destroy the offenders.  Any toxic remains are cleaned up in the lymph nodes and the waste is carried on with the rest of the lymph to the heart and into the blood to be cleaned. 

Any strain on your lymph system, like overeating (especially salty foods), lack of exercise or a sedentary lifestyle, certain drugs, stress or negative emotions can weaken your immune system, making you vulnerable to illness.


Prevention and Self-care

  •  The very most helpful thing you can do to maintain a healthy lymphatic system is to move.  Exercise is the best way to keep the lymph moving, resulting in a cleaner, healthier body.  Make exercise part of your daily routine.  As little as 20 minutes of walking a day can make a real difference.  Little things add up: walk instead of using the car when possible; choose to park at the far end of the parking lot; meet a friend every day for a chat and walk; take a dog for a spin around the block; play with a child. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids, mainly clean water.
  •  Eat spring greens, natural cleansers.
  • Refrain from overeating, especially salty foods and foods that you are sensitive to (dairy and gluten are two common culprits).
  • Reduce stress in your life. 
  • Find a healthy outlet for your emotions.
  • Belly laugh frequently, the movement supports strong lymphatic system movement.
  • Lymph Drainage Massage works to move as much as 20 times the normal lymph, helping edema clear and relieving the symptoms of a sluggish lymphatic system. Light, rhythmic, and deeply relaxing, Lymph Drainage Massage is helpful in recovering from post-surgery edema, recovering from illness or depression, or as part of a seasonal cleansing.

Spring is an especially important time to pay attention to your lymphatic system.  Much like our Mother Earth, we are a bit sluggish and need a good cleansing after the long winter.  Getting the lymph moving and the toxins cleared helps all your organs function at a higher level, leading to better over-all health.  As always, prevention is much more effective than treatment, so take action today to create a healthy lymphatic system, and a healthier you.

About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie’ in Ely, MN; also serving the Arrowhead Region.   Stephanie offers many types of massage and bodywork, including posture alignment, energy balancing, and Lymphatic Drainage Massage.  You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment.

If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

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What will you feel like in 20 years?

Are you facing some aches and pains, injuries, or illness that has you pondering the above question?  Do you look back on past years and fear you will not feel that well again?  Have you run the gamut of doctors and found yourself with pain or limitations?

Life can deal us some hard hands to take.  There are more and more 'dis-eases' defined now than ever.  It seems everywhere you look, people are dealing with illness and injury.  

A person can get down looking ahead and thinking-'if I feel like this now, how will I feel in 20 years?'  The truth is, if you get to work on it, it is very likely that you will feel better than you do now, in 20 years from now.

Of course, if you were reading this before your troubles began, you would have the advantage of possibly preventing some of the issues you have now.  OK, we can't go back in time.  We can't undo the poor decisions we made back when.  But, you know what, we can start today to create the health we will have 20 years from now.

Really, the basics of good health will support you, help you avoid most illnesses, and turn your health around.  It will take time.  It will take effort.  It will be an investment.  It will not fit the current lifestyle of the average American.  But you do have the power in your own mind to make choices on a daily basis that will lead you to better health.

And guess what, being sick, injured, limited, and tired, etc... takes time.  It takes effort.  It is expensive.  That 20 years will go by whether you are taking care of yourself or not.  And believe me, you will reap the rewards of what you spend your time, effort, and money on in those 20 years, whichever way you go.

Decide today to make great choices for yourself.  You know what they are!  

  • Eat a balanced and nutritious diet.  When you load your plate for a meal, make half the plate veggies, 1/4 healthy meat, and 1/4 healthy carbs.  I won't go into detail on what makes a healthy meal- there are wonderful books and websites out there to teach you that.  Read a few, choose one that you like, and get started.  If you have a smart phone, you can even track your progress with an app.
  • Move!  Activity has been found to help heal and prevent nearly all illnesses!!  That's amazing!  Getting fit will change your life.  Look for something that will be fun.  You probably need a list of options, so you don't get bored.  Find a buddy, it's easier to get moving if you know you have to be accountable.
  • Sleep soundly.  Take a look at your routine, and arrange your life so you get a good night's sleep.
  • Play!
  • Develop your passions.  Whether at work, play, or hobbies, have something in your life that really gets you excited.  Don't know what that is?  Observe what you love to do, what you would do without pay, what you can't stop talking about.  Ask friends and family what lights up your eyes, a dead give-away.
  • Set up a plan for self-care.  Everyone needs preventive care.  Get regular massage, take supplements, see your health practitioner on a regular basis.  Massage on a regular basis has so many benefits!  Take a look around my website to read up on some.
  • Be conscious!  Think about your situation, be honest, and be willing to be responsible for your own health and well-being.  No one else will!
I'd love to be part of your wellness team.  Give me a call, and let's form a preventive plan for you.  Now is a perfect time to start.  

About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

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Athletic Performance: How Massage and Bodywork can Help

Massage and bodywork is a great way to increase your athletic performance.  Along with stretching, it can work to open the muscle and connective tissue so that you move more freely and have better range of motion.  It creates more body awareness so that you know where your weaknesses are and learn to listen to your body.  And massage and bodywork can help your body recover more quickly after an event or injury.

Massage works in the muscle and fascia to release tension, and break up scar tissue and knots. Regular massage especially becomes valuable, as the everyday wear and tear of working out is dealt with as it comes up, before it becomes lodged in your tissue.  

Regular massage also creates a more intimate relationship with your own body.  You may not think of having a relationship with your body, but your body is trying to communicate with you, and you will benefit from learning to listen to it.   If you can find out about a possible weak area in your body and change your workout to support a healing period, you may avoid a serious injury and setback in your performance.

As I massage your body, you will feel areas that are more sensitive.  Those areas are often not noticeable on a daily basis, until they become inflamed and possibly cause a slow-down in your workout or event plans.  If caught early, you can adjust your workout, your body mechanics, or your stretching to head off the problem before it becomes unmanageable. 

Ideally, connective tissue is shiny and smooth, making it easy for two surfaces to slide effortlessly against each other as you move.  However, your body is constantly creating extra fibers which can create a 'sticky' surface that doesn't slide smoothly.  Massage and bodywork, along with stretching, break that extra film up and keeps you moving freely.  

Massage and bodywork creates more blood-flow, which brings oxygen-rich blood to the area, and aids in recovery.  Other benefits, such as mental and emotional, are common for athletes receiving regular massage.  There is value in quieting the mind and relaxing.

Bodywork such as Connective Tissue Massage and Structural Integration can help athletes achieve better body alignment so that they can perform more efficiently.  As the body is aligned, and strain is taken out, the joints will operate properly, with less twist.  This will avoid short and long term wear and tear on the joints, reducing injuries and leading to better performance and more longevity in your chosen sport.

Let me know if you would like to discuss adding massage or bodywork to your athletic self-care program.  We can work together to form a treatment protocol to fit your needs.

About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

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Burnout Syndrome

Burnout is a common problem in our hectic world.  It can leave you feeling tired, depressed, and like you don't remember your purpose.  Once in a deep burnout, it can be hard to reverse the trend.  

As with most conditions, it is much easier to avoid burnout than to reverse the trend.  Paying close attention to your self-care regime is paramount to staying out of burnout.  Burnout results from not taking the time to care for yourself, often while taking care of others.  

Self-care that helps prevent burnout includes:

  • Take some time to get clear about what has meaning to you in your life.  Then arrange your life around those priorities.
  • Make sure you are getting enough rest, moderate exercise, and a healthy diet.
  • Take time every week for recreation (that's 'fun' in case it has been so long that you don't remember!!)
  • Are you spread too thin?  Can you let something go?  Can you cut back on something?  Can you ask others to pitch in?
  • Take a really honest look at the stresses in your life.  Where is the pressure coming from?  Which of these sources can you let go of, rearrange, or delegate?
  • How long has it been since you've had a real vacation?  
  • Schedule occasional little retreats for yourself.  Do you feel rejuvenated by a hike in the woods, a day to read a good book, dinner at a fine restaurant, a night in a bed and breakfast, a massage?
Once you are feeling burned-out, you may appreciate a Reiki treatment.  Reiki is a very relaxing Japanese technique.  You lay on a comfortable table, with your clothes on, with a blanket and soothing music playing.  The Reiki practitioner lays hands on areas of your body, like the head, eyes, ears and chest, or holds them near your body.  
You may feel yourself drifting off to 'lala land', or theta waves, which is a condition of complete relaxation, without falling asleep.   Stress slips away.  You feel loved, safe, clear, and well.
A recent study showed that Reiki had a positive effect on heart rate and body temperature, demonstrating an effect on the parasympathetic nervous system.  Simply put, it reduces stress and sets up an environment for healing.
A very successful way to receive Reiki is to get three sessions in three days.  This frequency creates a real shift, allowing you move into new patterns of thought, letting old habits go, and embracing healthy activities and ideas.  It puts you more in touch with that part of yourself that knows and is at ease.
We really do need to take as good care of ourselves as our loved ones, our work responsibilities, and our many other obligations.  In fact, if we aren't taking care of ourselves, we are not going to be healthy enough to take care of others.  Make the commitment to take care of yourself and avoid burnout.  If you are already in burnout, schedule a Reiki session today, and see how it benefits you.
 

About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

 

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Numbness and Tingling in the Arms and Hands

In my massage and bodywork practice, I see a lot of people who have some numbness and/or tingling in their hands and arms.  Sometimes it has been an issue for some time, and can cause problems both during the day, and at night when trying to sleep.

Carpenters, dog sledders, desk jockeys, musical instrument players, bicyclists, and gardeners can have this problem, to name a few. Generally, the problem is worse in people who rely on the use of their hands and arms for their living.   

Though the term 'carpal tunnel' is commonly used for this kind of issue, the real culprit can be more complex.  Carpal tunnel is a condition where tendons that pass through the retinaculum of the wrist become inflamed and painful.  The inflammation causes the nerves to be pinched within the retinaculum, leading to numbness and tingling in the hands.

Though this can be the cause of the problem, it can also be caused either completely or in combination with other areas of nerve impingement along the path from the spinal cord at the neck, through the arm, to the hand.  

The first area is where the nerve leaves the cervical, or neck vertebrae.  Next is an area at the base of the neck where muscles that are strained and knotted can impinge the nerve.  Third is an area near the elbow.  Fourth is the carpal tunnel area of the wrist.

From a massage and bodywork perspective, the goal is to relieve tension and knots in the tissue that is involved in the impingement.  Sometimes relief is found in one session, but often it takes a series of sessions to create lasting change.  

In fact, the structural integration 10-series is a great way to address tension like this.  By systematically working to relieve tension and create balance in the whole body, many symptoms can be relieved, including numbness or tingling in the arms or hands.  

Along with relieving the tension in the neck, arms, and hands, it is helpful to take a thoughtful look at the person's body mechanics and work habits.   Also, certain exercises can help to keep the tissue open.  

If you have numbness or tingling of the hands or arms, I would be happy to work with you to help relieve the tension in your neck, arms, and hands.  You can call to set up a preliminary session to see if you like working with me, and if you like the results of the work I do.  I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

 

About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TMJ - Temperomandibular Joint

TMJ can  really limit the amount of joy in eating.  Pain, clicking, a feeling of being mis-aligned, and tightness are common symptoms.  Going to the dentist is difficult, and may cause an increase in pain because of having the jaw open for cleaning or other work.  

People are often surprised at how tender their face and jaw are when massaged.  This tenderness is an indication that there are trigger points that need massage.  Many of the trigger points that help with better jaw function are easily accessed around the cheeks and outer jaw. Also part of the trigger point pattern are areas in the neck and inside the mouth.

Trigger points are tiny points of excruciating pain in the muscle tissue.  They are there because of a lack of oxygen in the tissue.  One of the tricky things about trigger points is that they 'refer' pain to areas away from where the actual trigger point is.  For instance, trigger points in the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) in the neck can contribute to clenching and grinding the teeth, which contributes to TMJ.

Massage flushes the muscle tissue with oxygen-rich blood, and acts to relieve the pain of the trigger point.  With frequent, light massage, the trigger point can actually be cleared.  Once a person is familiar with where they are, they can self-massage those points at home, which is very helpful.  

Another approach to TMJ is to see it as part of the whole body.  The Structural Integration (SI) 10-series is designed to align the body in gravity.  In other words, it is a series of 10 sessions that address tightness and misalignment in the whole body, so a person can stand, sit, and walk with more ease in everyday life.  

Though the SI goal is to create better alignment, not to 'chase the pain' of symptoms, the whole body alignment often clears chronic pain.  By relieving strain in the connective tissue, the whole body has more ease in movement, allowing smooth movements of joints, including TMJ.   

I personally had TMJ.  Three years of orthodontics, dental surgeries, along with neck, spine, and head injuries from horse-riding accidents set me up to have tight, clicking jaws that were very uncomfortable.  I found some relief from working trigger points, and was thrilled to learn how to work on them myself. 

Once I received the SI 10-series, my jaw really changed.  The alignment in my whole body was affecting the tightness in my jaw.  While receiving the 10-series, I often felt connections between distant parts of my body and the pain in my jaw.  For instance, I felt a sensation of relief coming into my jaw while my forearms were being worked on during the 10-series.  

If you are wanting to address the acute pain and discomfort of TMJ, trigger point work is a place to look.  If you are wanting to address whole body balance and alignment, and allow your body to find new ease in all movements, including TMJ, then the Structural Integration 10-series is a great choice for you.

About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

 

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Shoulder Relief: a success story.

Recently a client came in with a frozen shoulder;  it had very limited range of motion and was painful and stiff.  After working on a few trigger points, this client had much freer movement and could in fact raise her arm above her head, which she could not do before treatment.  

I taught her how to self-treat the trigger points so that she can continue treatment at home. Frequency of treatment is more important than how long each treatment lasts, when trying to heal trigger points.  She will continue to receive massage in my office, so that she is aware of where the problems are, and how to best treat them.  It is a big part of her self-care plan.

I see a lot of sore, stiff shoulders.  Skiing, raking leaves, running a chain saw, being a carpenter, painting, and many other activities are very stressful to the shoulder.  None of us are going to give up the activities we love, or the ones we need to make a living.  So finding a way to stay active in spite of the inevitable aches and pains is important.  Regular massage and self-treating trigger points are extremely helpful. 

About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

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Surviving Overwhelm

This summer was a great summer.  Not only did I have a full business calendar, seeing clients and all the other functions of running a business, but also one of our children had a wedding.

Did I mention it was my daughter?  I have two sons who have gotten married.  Being mother of the groom is busy, and exciting, and wonderful.  I fully enjoyed their weddings.   But being mother of the bride is in a completely different universe!  The mother of the bride is intimately more involved in every detail of the whole event.

Did I mention the wedding was in Ely?  My sons got married in the area that was both their hometown area and mine, in Iowa, about 9 hours drive from Ely, MN my current home.  So I was by default less involved.  Planning a wedding at YMCA Camp DuNord was fantastic- but it was very busy.  Everyone was coming from afar, so it was important to do extra planning for the wedding weekend.  

And of course, being who I am - I had to do a few projects around home in the weeks and months preceding the wedding!  I really did try to keep myself from getting too crazy with 'getting things done before the wedding', and mostly succeeded.  But that also created more 'hectic' to my summer.

When we have big events, busy schedules, or crises in our lives, it is essential to have a plan for keeping ourselves healthy and functioning at as high a level as possible.  

Things I did to maintain my health and sanity that may help you in your next overwhelm:

  • Be realistic about what you can actually handle.  Reduce, re-envision, and delegate the rest.  Be brutally honest.  Less is often more.
  • Form a plan for eating well and exercising through the overwhelm.  It may be unrealistic to continue your usual routine, but come up with a plan you know you can execute.  I made a point of doing a minimum of 15 minutes of stretching in the morning and 10 before bed.   I did more on days I could.
  • If you are investing in your health on a regular basis, you can weather the overwhelm when it comes.   Book regular appointments with your massage therapist, chiropractor, nutritionist, and other care practitioners to keep yourself healthy, relaxed and ready to perform at your best. 
  • Rest before you need it.  Schedule rest ahead of an event so you are not running on empty when it arrives.
  • Do as much as you can as early as you can.  Make a plan determining when things can be done, and who will do them.
  • Let go and have fun!
Book regular massage so that you are your healthiest, most vibrant self.   Then if you have an event, crises, or overwhelm you are able to handle it.   Prevention is always the best cure.  I would be honored to help you attain and maintain a higher state of health.  

About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

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Aging with Grace

As we age, we naturally move along a continuum from birth to death.  The newborn infant has energy and vitality.  By age twenty, humans are physically at their prime.  But as the decades wear on, we move from that prime condition to dealing with a body that is not as vibrant.  And in our elder years, aging can have a strong effect on our ability to do the things we love.

Aging has the effect of closing the body, reducing range of motion, and curling up gradually.  Mental sluggishness, energy depletion, and muscle degeneration are commonly associated with aging. Chronic pain and sleep deprivation or poor quality sleep can affect people of all ages, but especially elders.  Skin becomes more fragile and less elastic.  Lymph and blood circulation become sluggish.  The immune system can be weakened.  

That does not mean we need to sit back and passively accept the trend of losing our strength and flexibility, balance, and ability to stay active.  By becoming proactive in our middle years, and addressing issues as they come up in our later years, we can greatly affect the quality of our lives.

  • One of the best gifts you can give yourself is to be active.  Movement is the natural state of humans.  We are not meant to be sedate.  It leads to the 'tin man syndrome', we become tighter and feel unable to move if we don't keep moving.  
  • Eating healthy is just as important as exercise.  By healthy, I mean stressing fresh, whole foods.  Nature provides the nutrients we need to be strong, vital, and healthy.  Be sure to include healthy fats, they are so key to a healthy mind and body.
  • Seek joy in all facets of your life.  Choose joyful relationships.  Choose work that fulfills you and gives you purpose.  Plan regular play-time, vacations, and fun activities in daily life.  Laugh.
  • Stay in touch with your spirit.  That may mean meditation or prayer, time in nature, or an activity that makes your very soul sing.
  • Get to know some healthy aging people who can serve as role models for you.  Our elders have a lifetime of wisdom and knowledge to share.  Seek out the friendship of those who have earned the title 'elder', and benefit from their example.
  • Develop a relationship with a team of health providers to keep you at your best.  Look for a physician who emulates your values.  See your dentist regularly, see a nutrition specialist to stay on track with your nutrition, and find a massage therapist that will work with you to keep you in top form.

Regular massage can address the many issues of aging, and provide relief.  Massage enhances tissue elasticity and joint flexibility, improves blood and lymph circulation, promotes healthy vibrant skin, improves immune system functioning, and relieves muscle aches and stiffness.  Regular massage therapy may increase mental awareness, increase muscle strength and coordination, boost energy and improve quality of rest.

The earlier these steps are incorporated, the better the effects.  Don't wait until the signs of aging have a strong grip on you.  Begin to be proactive in your efforts to have a life that is just as high in quality as quantity.  

If I can be of help to you, I would be honored.  Give me a call if you are interested in being proactive in creating a longer, healthier, happier life.


About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

 

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Balance for Health

Balance is critical for our being able to function.  Physical balance so we can walk and be active is a skill that can deteriorate with age and/or inactivity.  

A mechanism in your inner ear, the vestibular system,  helps you keep your balance.  It helps your body determine when it is wobbling and gives indicators on how to create and maintain balance.  Balance is determined by our center of gravity being directly over where we touch the earth.  Our alignment is key to balance.

If you are balanced, you will feel secure and will not wobble.  To test your balance, stand with your feet fairly close together, and just wait to see how wobbly you get.   If you have noticed some balance issues on a daily basis here are some simple things you can do to improve your balance:

  • Daily stand on one foot for 30 seconds to begin, increasing gradually.  If you are unsteady, you can bend your knee a little to gain more balance.  Or start out by hanging on to the bedpost or the back of a chair to build your confidence.  Be sure to work with both sides equally.
  • Yoga is a wonderful way to build balance.  The positions will gradually build strength and flexibility also.
  • Consciously being aware of your body and your balance will make a big difference.  Consciousness naturally directs our attention, and we become more focused on seeing the situation as it is, and creating solutions.
  • Stay active- our current culture is very sedate.  Collectively we spend many hours a day at a desk, in front of the computer, watching TV, and driving.  Make an effort to spend some time every day engaged in fun activities.
  • Take action to improve your posture.  If you have posture that keeps your center of gravity off center, you will feel out of balance.  

The Structural Integration 10-series was developed to specifically address posture issues that might keep you unbalanced.  It works systematically throughout the whole body creating better posture and balance.  When we have good balance, we naturally are more active and can do the things we love.

Maintaining balance is one of the keys to feeling young and vibrant.  It is an early signal that we need to pay attention and reverse the trend that can lead to further issues.  Let me know if you would like me to be part of your plan for better balance, and healthier living.


About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

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Live More Fully by Being Present

Remember roll call in grade school; your name was called and you answered 'present'.  Well, there is more to being present than filling a chair!  I'm sure you have had times when you are present physically, but not emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.  

To be fully present is to be engaged in life with all these aspects of yourself.  If you are ruminating on the past or worrying about the future, you are not present.  Being present is the only way to be happy.  If you are in the past or future, you are not in the here and now.  The only reality we have is here and now.  Each moment of 'now' is all we have.  So if you are not 'here', you cannot be happy and live your life fully.

Some ways you can be present:

  • meditation takes you to a place of peace and trains your mind to be still
  • nature has a magical calming effect, quieting the mind 
  • holding or watching a sleeping infant or small child
  • eating mindfully, savoring each taste and smell
  • a slow, hot bath where you leave the world outside the door, light a candle, play your favorite music, and come fully into your body as you wash and soak

Massage is a great way to bring yourself into the present!  When you receive massage, you step out of your usual space, which is full of triggers for worry and anxiety. You step into an environment that supports relaxation, stillness and serenity.  In this space, you can remind your body what it feels like to really relax.  You can empty your mind of everything except the feel of the massage on your head, neck, back, feet.  You gradually allow the tension to fall away.  You feel yourself being in the now.  You are reminded  that this is the natural state of being.  And you carry that feeling with you out the door and into your life.

Let me know if I can help you become more present.  Give me a call and we can set up a massage for you.  You will especially benefit from regular massage.


About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

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Happy Feet- Relieve your painful feet

If you suffer from painful feet, you are not alone.  75% of Americans will have foot pain some time in their lives.  The pain can be annoying, or sometimes debilitating.  Since our whole body depends on our feet as our foundation, pain can travel to all parts of your body after starting in the feet.

Common causes of foot pain are:

  • Overuse, such as standing for long hours at a job
  • Poor fitting shoes ('cute' is not a good reason to wear shoes that damage our feet)
  • Injury
  • Medical conditions, such as Diabetes
  • Structural defects
As in all health related subjects, prevention is your best cure.  Pay attention to your feet. When they hurt, make some common sense changes in your life.  Wear shoes that have no, or little heel, and plenty of room for your toes.  You want your shoes to provide an environment as close to nature as possible, and in nature, the foot is on the ground with plenty of wiggle room.  Also, it is wise to allow the foot articulate (move freely) as you walk and run.  This keeps the many joints of the foot mobile and that is good.  That means binding the foot up tightly is not usually the best prevention.  Also, in nature our feet would have uneven surfaces to navigate, our world is full of paved surfaces.  Try getting off the path occasionally.
If you haven't done it before, Google 'bones of the foot' images and take a look at the amazing bones of your feet.  Now imagine your weight on those bones.  There are plenty of opportunities for injury there, with the small bones, and many joints.  As we move, our weight comes down on those joints and causes stress- every time you step.
Some easy things to do for sore feet at home:
  • Soak them in Epsom salts
  • Trade foot massages with a family member
  • Roll your feet over a golf ball to relieve stress
  • Keep the callouses filed down 
  • Soften skin by using lotions- overnight under socks if they are really dry
I have studied Foot Reflexology extensively.  It is a method of massaging the feet in such a way that balance and healing is 'reflected' to the whole body.  It is especially great for balancing the endocrine system, which regulates all the metabolic functions of our body, like thyroid and hormones.  
Besides the good Reflexology does the rest of your body, it really helps your feet feel better and relieves pain.  The 30-45 minutes of very precise and thorough massage, especially if done on a weekly basis, addresses serious issues, relieves tension, and relaxes muscles.  The foot is able to move properly and function healthily.  Foot reflexology can be a stand alone service, or can be incorporated into massage or bodywork.
Give me a call and set up a session of Foot Reflexology- you will be glad you did- and your feet will be very happy! 

About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

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Stress- Learn to Live in the 'Eye of the Storm'

Today's pace of life is fast.  There are higher demands on your energy, time, and money than ever.  You feel the pressure from work, family, financial obligations, cultural expectations, and nagging little inconveniences of life.  

Even in Ely, MN, the end of the road, location of the most beautiful wilderness scenery in the world (I might be a little biased...) there can be stress and the negative effects it brings.  We are expected to be on top of the latest locally and globally, to be tuned in and available 24/7.   

Stress does a number on our health.  In small doses, it is actually healthy to experience stress! But most people today live in a storm of anxiety and stress.  That stress, if left unmanaged, can lead to many problems:

  • The Immune System can be weakened, making you more susceptible to illness
  • The Heart - high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat, blood clots,  hardening of the arteries, heart attack and heart failure are all increased with stress 
  • Your Muscles can be tense, leading to headaches, neck, shoulder, and back pain.
  • Your Stomach and Digestion can be affected - many stomach and digestion problems, like ulcers, are made worse by stress
  • The Reproductive System can be affected by stress, leading to infertility, impotence, pregnancy difficulties, and menstrual issues
  • Your Lungs can be affected by stress by increasing asthma.
  • Your Skin - stress can cause eczema and psoriasis to flare.
  • Your Emotions and Mood can be affected by stress, causing strain in relationships.
Everyone experiences stress, but stress is highly subjective, in other words, each person has a unique stress profile.  What might be extremely stressful to one person may not affect another.  
In order to reduce the effects of stress, it is helpful to reduce or eliminate stressful events and situations when possible.  For stressors that cannot be eliminated, it is helpful to change your attitude about it.  For instance; a rainy day that ruins your plans could cause you stress, or you could decide to find a silver lining in that cloud, and choose to use the day for a special book you have wanted to read.  
Establishing a stress reduction routine , as well as taking time every day to 'disconnect', can help.  We won't be able to eliminate stress, but can learn to live in the 'eye of the storm'. When a storm is raging, it often has a calm, quiet center.  You can learn to live there.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Slow down and be still- 5 or 10 minutes of unplugging your mind and body from the busy-ness around you can really reduce stress.
  • Cut back on technology - experiment with less computer, TV, and phone.  You might really like it.  If you can't do it every day, choose a day a week that is your tech-fast day.
  • Receive massage and bodywork.  Regular massage and bodywork are proven to reduce stress and its effects.  
Life isn't a sprint, it is a marathon.  In order to be in it for the long haul, you need to address the issues that most affect your health and well-being.  Learn to live in the 'eye of the storm' and you will create a better life.  I'd love to be part of that plan.  Give me a call today and start your stress reduction routine.

About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

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My story of pain and relief

Pain can consume you.  If you have pain, you know it's true.  I personally have a lot of experience with pain, and have found some things that really help.

I was born with an upside down kidney, which means it did not drain properly.  That led to infections, and lots of pain.  As a small child, I assumed everyone had pain, because it was an everyday occurrence for me.  So I didn't say much about it.  I also had repeating ear infections, resulting in one ear drum rupturing.  

My family raised and trained horses, which I started assisting with at age 8.  Though we were using a training system that was gentle and gradual, accidents still happened.  One of those accidents at age 10 landed me in the hospital for a week with a concussion, and neck and spine compression.  The good thing is that while there, the doctors found the upside down kidney and scheduled corrective surgery.

This was 1966- a long time ago in surgery years!  Today, smaller scars are left because of the high-tech tools in use.  But then, it was cutting edge to do  plastic surgery on the kidney and save it rather than remove it.  I have a large spiral scar that goes from my left groin around my side to my right spine.  

Scar tissue tends to twist and shorten, leading to structural alignment issues and posture problems.  Those misalignments cause more problems.  It's kind of like the front-end alignment on your car.  If it is out of alignment, pretty soon you have a little uneven wear on the tires.  Then, the car might develop a shimmy or shake at certain speeds.  If you continue to drive the car without correcting the problem, the vibration will increase, possible affecting connections and bearings far from the original issue of a mis-aligned front end.

And like your car, your body will last longer and cause you less pain if you catch those mis-alignments at an early stage and do something about it.  But many of us just don't know that. Or we don't know what we could do about it.

After many years of pain, I am happy to say that I found relief.  I no longer have daily pain.  I don't think about pain all day any more.  I don't have to pop pain pills.

Massage and bodywork has really helped me.  Especially when I discovered Structural Integration.  The purpose of Structural Integration is to align the body.  It works systematically over the course of 10 sessions to address all parts of the body, remove tension, and create balance.  It balances front to back, left to right, top to bottom, and inside to outside.

This balance reduces strain, relieves pain, and creates freedom of movement!  I'm so grateful to have found it!  Now I offer this fantastic work in my own practice!  It is truly life changing.

If you are suffering from pain, consider Structural Integration.  Take a little time to read the information on my site.  If you have questions, email or call- I'd love to talk with you about it!


About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

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Schedule your maintenance.

One of the first things you learn when you own a car is how to maintain it.  You change the oil, check the fluids, check the tires, etcetera, or you hire someone to do it for you.  It doesn't take long into car ownership to find that out!  What would happen if you didn't heed this advice?  Maybe an engine needing repair, an accident caused by bad tires, or even having to buy a new vehicle.  Hopefully this lesson would not come at the cost of your health.

When your home was brand new, the foundation was sturdy, the walls straight, the windows and doors worked well, and the roof was worry-free.  But only 10 years into the life of a home and the maintenance cycle is in full swing.   The furnace needs to be checked, the hot water heater must be replaced every so often, and the exterior needs repairs and updates to keep the weather out.  If we ignore the needed maintenance, we pay.  

The thing is, we pay now or later.  We pay for the maintenance or we pay for the repair.   And it is invariably more inconvenient and expensive to wait until we are forced to do a repair or replacement, than keeping up with the maintenance.  

You need maintenance, too!  And just like your car and your home, if you wait until there is a big problem, it will take a big solution.  Here is a basic maintenance list for your body:

  • Stress management
  • Being present
  • Breathing
  • Finding your unique rhythm
  • Preventing injury
  • Nutrition and hydration
  • Movement and exercise
  • Sleep and rest
  • Play and laughter
  • Social connection and support
You only get one body, and only you decide how it will be maintained.   If you don't have your health, you will not have anything.  It really is easy to get lulled into thinking that something, well, everything is more important right now than maintaining your health.  But the daily small acts of maintenance will give you many rewards for many years.  Start today; do something, any one thing, to get the maintenance cycle started for your body. 
In the next blogs we'll be looking at some of these 10 ways to maintain your body.  If you have a moment, email me with your favorite ways to maintain your body.  

About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

 

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How is your relationship with your body?

It’s easy in this day of machines, optimized productivity, and over-scheduling to start thinking of your body as a tool to get things done.  Let’s just imagine for a minute that your body is a friend.   What kind of relationship do you have with your body?  Do you listen to what it has to say?   Is your relationship about you getting what you want, at the expense of your friend?  How long would this relationship last if it were another person, say your spouse or best friend?

Your body is trying to tell you really important things all the time.  The information it has for you will help you stay healthy, productive, and happy.  If you don’t listen to its whispers, it will speak louder and louder until it gets your attention.  (As in disease or injury)  Your skill at listening and heeding the whispers coming from your body will determine your quality of life, as well as quantity of life.

Does this mean your body will rule your life?  No more than a good friend would.  A good relationship is about meeting in the middle, honoring, sharing dreams and goals, and having fun.  A good relationship is healthy for both friends.  Here are some ways to enhance your relationship with your body:

  • Spend some time every day tuning in through some practice that takes you to your inner calm.   That may be meditation, tea on the porch, time in nature, journaling, or some other practice.  The important thing is that you create time and space to listen.
  • Take a good look at your life and the load on your schedule.  Rate the importance of activities according to how important they really are to you.  Then look honestly at how much time they take compared to how important they are to you.  If there are any discrepancies that stand out, make some changes!
  • Live consciously in your body.  Be mindful of being in your body, honor it, and developing more connection with it.
  • Notice how your body feels as you think about certain things- those emotions are telling you whether you are on track or not.  Emotions are a tool to guide us, if we notice.
  • Treat your body to small gifts now and then- a hot sauna or soak in Epsom salts, extra comfy sheets, a short walk outdoors in the middle of a stressful day.  Let your imagination go as you think of how to gift your friend.
  • Receive regular massage and bodywork to heighten your body awareness.  This is one of the most important benefits of massage and bodywork. 

If you shift the perception of your relationship with your body from one of it being a tool you use to get what you want to one of a good friendship, I guarantee you will be rewarded beyond measure!

About the author: Stephanie Bish owns 'Blissful Body by Stephanie' in Ely, MN; also serving Babbitt, Virginia, Tower, and the Arrowhead Region.   As a Massage Therapist,  Structural Integrator, and Reiki Master Teacher, she enjoys guiding people on their path to well-being.

 You can check out her website at www.elymassage.com.  Call 218-235-1732, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to set an appointment. 

 If you would like to use this article in your publication, you may if you use it in its entirety, including the author information.

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