It’s no surprise that changing up and down through levels can bring with it low motivation, often we find it hard to realign or adapt and getting out of this rut can be challenging. It's an especially important message this week, but I've spoken to a massive amount of my clients over the last little while about how to naturally finding your way back to a better place. Motivation is key to remaining productive - being focused, achieving and accomplishing tasks in our daily lives.
How do you know if you are lacking in motivation?
Did you answer 'yes' to one or more to the above statements? Then let me introduce you to a key player - dopamine. Dopamine lives within our brain as a messenger (neurotransmitter) and it is also a 'happy hormone'.
When we have low levels of this hormone, we can feel fatigued, lack empathy, unfocused, forgetful, moody, you can’t concentrate, you can’t sleep, crave sugar and of course, become low in motivation. Sounds familiar?
The go-getters of life, look for ways to get that dopamine fix, which can bring a ton of unhealthy choices - smoking, caffeine, sugary and fatty foods. Eventually, these addictive behaviours make us even more deficient in our natural levels of dopamine - especially in the long term.
So, if you have identified with some of these symptoms or are a go-getter, what can you do to naturally boost your dopamine levels?
1. Eat foods rich in Tyrosine. In order to make dopamine, your body needs tyrosine which can be found in almonds, bananas, avocados, eggs, beans, fish, and chicken. If you don't eat these foods you can also seek out a supplement from your local pharmacy.
2. Exercise regularly. In general, physical exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain. It increases the production of new brain cells, slows down brain cell aging, can increase your levels of dopamine. Exercise has also been associated with improved mood and overall a better outlook on life.
3. Learn to meditate. The overall health benefits of meditation have been demonstrated through hundreds of research studies. Many of those have shown that meditation increases dopamine leading to improved focus and concentration. Even if you’re new to meditation, there are many helpful guided meditations for beginners to help you get started.
4. Get a massage. It has long been suggested that one way to keep dopamine levels high is to avoid stress, which is nearly impossible in this day and age. To counter the effects of stress, research has demonstrated that massage therapy increases dopamine levels by nearly 30% while decreasing cortisol (a stress hormone) levels.
5. Sleep. To ensure that your brain increases dopamine naturally, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. This includes setting aside time before bed away from the computer or TV screen. Sleep helps all the cells in the body repair and renew. It gives the brain a chance to wash away toxins that build up during the day and helps keep the nerve cell connections and pathways active and constantly self-renewing. Lack of sleep has been shown to reduce concentrations of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, and their receptors.
6. Listen to music. It is no surprise that listening to calming music can increase pleasurable feelings, improve mood, reduce stress, and help with focus and concentration. Research has demonstrated that much of this is achieved due to an increase in dopamine levels.
In the military, we learnt that teamwork is crucial to weathering the storm. That you're only as good as your team. And in this environment, I am privileged to lead our awesome team through these level changes. And by golly, I have learnt a lot.
Apple might have needed Steve Jobs to rejuvenate it and send it soaring as a company again, but he didn’t do it all himself. Winston Churchill encouraged England to hang-tough during the terrible experiences of World War II, but if people hadn’t rallied behind him, believed in him, his encouragement might not have been enough.
Top Notch is consistently being supported by you, our loyal clients who rally behind us when we are able to get back up and treating, this is not only a massive sigh of relief to our team but also provides confidence that we have your support. Together we are stronger.
In the early days of my military career, we were handed a large heavy log between five personnel who of which were newly formed. We were one of ten groups. We were told to hold the log up above our heads and then after sometime lower it down. Everyone was bloody miserable and we were struggling - we were all just working for ourselves; we were individuals trying to keep a log up and down. That was HARD. It was messy.
After probably 20 mins with this log (it actually felt like HOURS..), we could see (and hear) that as a group we were finding this all too much, we started falling behind the other teams. One by one we started to yell out to each other to keep going and to push through. We all dug deep and eventually realised that if we chanted out together when we would raise the log and lower the log it made the struggle that much easier. Our motivation to keep going was high and we got out in front - winning the task. That was my first dose of teamwork.
You could call that log - COVID.
I am absolutely proud that as a team, with the news delivered of a lockdown, we are still pulling together and providing each other support amongst our team. Because together we are stronger and we just could not fathom not doing this work. And I want to extend this support out to you.
HOW ARE YOU GOING?
If you are feeling a bit anxious, scared, worried or unsure - please know this is completely normal, really uncomfortable but normal. It is ok, not to be ok.
Something (Level 3) has happened that is out of our control and that's bound to give you a feeling of doubt, anger, upset and all the emotions in between.
It's tough. These lockdowns affect each and every one of us differently - we are all swimming in the same COVID ocean but just on different boats. Some are paddling hard against the wind and in the choppy seas and some have motors cruising towards the sunset.
If you are paddling hard, we have a few tips for you.
Breathing strategies are a really quick way to attempt to bring down these feelings.
Inhale through the nose for a count of four seconds then hold for two seconds and then exhale out for four seconds. Do this six times. Really focus on counting the breath to help distract your mind from your worries.
GET IT DOWN ON A PIECE OF PAPER
Write things down. It seems everyone is so “busy” nowadays and unfortunately, busy-ness leads to stress, anxiety, and even more serious health problems. In fact, according to the American Medical Association, stress is the basic cause of more than 60% of all human illness and disease. Fortunately, writing things down is one way to help significantly reduce all of that. Putting your emotions down to writing makes it easier to process your thoughts and feelings at a much deeper level than simply thinking about it. You can also write a list of jobs or things to do each day so you can see it in plain black and white. This helps clear the mind, even if you have not done anything yet!
CALL YOUR FAMILY / FRIENDS
Reaching out to family and friends - even like some of our team sharing how they are feeling about this lockdown on our chat. It's so beneficial just to talk, where someone will listen. It does help.
Reflect on what you could do within L3 rules. Please do get outside and talk a walk, ride your bike, get an online gym sesh in. Sweat! Get the heart rate up! Try something new - cook something you have never cooked. Play some tunes you can sing and dance too. Put on a comedy! Laughter is amazing for changing perspective. Get back to basics - SLEEP, EAT AND MOVE.
Speak to someone trained that you can talk to in confidence could help, with peer support, you can talk with someone who has been through distress themselves. There are also other resources you can find here.
WE CAN HELP YOU
We have access to our primary health professionals who can help you with your injury, accident or long term pain, we could also suggest or facilitate connecting you with further resources if you need them.
To see one of our team you can book online here.
Take it easy on yourself this lockdown and please reach out if you need.
Anj and the team x
You may have been wondering what Covid-19 means for our clinics now that the World Health Organisation has declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic.
The status update doesn't change what New Zealand is doing to respond to coronavirus.
The Ministry of Health has been working through its pandemic plan since January. You will also know the Government has already implemented a range of measures to minimise the impact on New Zealand. This includes border restrictions, a requirement to self-isolate on arrival in New Zealand from China, Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea and immediate and detailed contact tracing of any confirmed cases. It's essential to note those four countries account for more than 90% of cases globally, and China and the Republic of Korea have significantly declining numbers of new cases.
As at the time of writing this, there are 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand, and it is pleasing to know they are all doing well and are at home. While we expect more cases, the Ministry of Health says that with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak should stay low in New Zealand.
As you could expect from us at anytime, we continue to focus on good hygiene practices. Hand washing and good cough etiquette are important tools in preventing the spread of illness including colds, flu and COVID-19.
You can read more about our hygiene practices under our FAQ's.
We can all be vigilant about our own health and the health of our families and staff. I will be encouraging our therapists to stay away from work if they show signs of illness such as coughs and colds. I ask that you please do the same and reschedule bookings with our clinics if needed. By staying away, seeking medical attention and practising good hygiene, we can all keep any spread of illness to a minimum.
Everyone talks about strengthening your pelvic floor or doing your kegel exercises. But do you know what that means and how to do it?
Last year I had to get our clients some quality magnesium!
Many of our clients were taking a magnesium product, it was not working for them and many were experiencing gastrointestinal upset (constipation) due to taking a blended product with high oxide content.
So out of all the rubbish on the shelves I've finally found it!
Even better it was 100% natural and was provided by the main supplement provider of many athletes under High Performance Sports such as Lisa Carrington and Dame Valerie Adams. It had evidence behind it.
So far clients we have provided it too are loving it and one client after trying it for one night, had the best night sleep and bought six more!
I'm already taking a magnesium supplement?
Great! This magnesium offers the most effective solution to optimising both uptake and retention of a client’s magnesium levels, does yours?
It's not about how much mg it boosts, it's about how much mg your body absorbs! With this product you absorb 100%.
What flash about this one, how is it different?
It consists of a trio of citrate, bisglycinate and taurate, all in their ‘fully reacted’ forms (not ‘blended’ or ‘buffered’, this means your body will absorb 100%. Other supplements added magnesium oxide to artificially boost elemental label claims leaving some supplements only delivering 4% of mg to be absorbed by your body. This product has no side effects - Yes - NO constipation!!!!!
What can Mg help me with?
This is what this Triple Complex Magnesium can help you with!
You may not be getting enough - 75% of the population are not meeting a daily adequate intake of 300mg magnesium.
With this magnesium supplement you take 3 tablets per day, or you could take one in the morning and two at night.
Ha! I've tried Mg and it doesn't work
Whilst choosing this quality supplements is paramount for effectiveness, it is also important to acknowledge factors affecting an individual’s magnesium levels.
You may be taking common drugs that interfere with magnesium absorption such as:
Cimetidine. Ranitidine (Zantac™, Peptisoothe™), Famotidine (Pepzan™) that are H2 antihistamines.
Omeprazole, Lansoprazole and Pantoprazole that are proton pump inhibitors.
Laxatives that enhance excretion either via the GI tract (such as laxatives) or by renal loss (such as diuretics).
If you are taking drugs for pre-existing health conditions such as:
The medication can further compromise magnesium status as they interfere with magnesium absorption and retention.
If you want to try it - email Anj at email@example.com or ask your therapist today
There is nothing worse than knowing you have a headache coming on – especially ones that are caused by Tension-type headaches (TTH), which feel like a dull or heavy, non-pulsating band of pain; usually on both sides of the head. The name comes from an erroneous belief that overly tight muscles are the main reason for the headache.
Tension-type headaches can literally stop you in your tracks, and are the most common headache; even more common than migraines. This is where massage therapy can assist you, to reduce your tension headaches, and it has zero side effects in comparison to recommended medications.
Massage or Massage Therapy – What’s the difference?
Is there a difference within the massage profession of what type of massage you will get? Most definitely!
A fully trained therapist, approaches your massage with a completely different outlook, compared to say a mall or spa massage.
Massage has been typically defined as a movement which follows a pattern and manipulates your muscles, fascia and ligaments using fingers, hands, forearms, elbows and in some massage sessions knees and or feet. Massage uses oil, heat or cold and sometimes tools. All these factors create therapeutic change.
All our therapists at Top Notch perform ‘massage therapy’. This is where we take the above and combine it with discussing how we can help you to obtain better health. We also explain what is may be going on for you and together we will discuss any self-care such as stretches or activities.
So, you can see as your massage therapist, I’m taking a lot more into consideration than manipulation of soft tissues. Rather than walking in and plonking yourself down on a chair, we are considering your needs for massage therapy from:
Massage therapy, has a deliberate pattern, a purpose and therapeutic intention to manipulating your tissues. Essentially the ingredients that go into what we deliver as part of our massage therapy is both hands on and hands off.
Importance placed on health and wellness
In addition to your massage, our top priority is your health and wellness. After your session, we discuss ways in which to improve your own self-care outside of the massage session; this can range from postural awareness, breathing patterns, messages about mindfulness, and helpful stretches (if required). I think by not discussing this, it would not serve you well. Becoming an active part of your health is essential to getting better.
In contrast to a walk in ‘massage’, these aspects of your treatment are likely to be missed - you end up receiving a massage that doesn’t address the root cause of your symptoms. It will definitely make you feel better, but for how long?
Environment of Massage Therapy
In order for massage therapy treatment to be effective, the environment requires you to feel safe and relaxed in order to be in the right state of mind emotionally or psychologically, otherwise this limits your ability to receive the outcome you desire. The lighting, the sound and the temperature of the room all play a pivotal role with the therapeutic touch that you receive. Placing phones on silent really ensures you can get the full benefit, so you can switch the mind off from the outside world for the duration of your session.
Safety in Massage Therapy
Safety is a central component in massage therapy. Most harm is caused by therapists who are unqualified. This is because they lack the appropriate training and anatomy knowledge, so they are not aware of particular areas to avoid with deep pressure, for example. This can become extremely unsafe to you as the client. Professionally trained massage therapists have this knowledge and experience. You may not realise this, but every tertiary trained massage therapist are trained in personal safety where we are taught boundaries and adopt a high standard of ethics. At Top Notch we pride ourselves on the fact that all our therapists have tertiary qualifications in Massage Therapy - if you haven’t been to us before book an appointment to experience the difference!
How can relaxation massage help with anxiety and stress?
I’m sure we all know the flight or fight response – (technically it's a sympathetic nervous system that jumps into action). Your body provides a bit (or a lot) of adrenaline which gets your heart rate going a bit faster; sometimes we may sweat, and we become more alert and at the ready. This inbuilt protection mechanism is valid for reacting to dangerous situations such as getting out of the way of an oncoming bus quick smart. But we sometimes keep in this state - this dis-ease of being busy – is it becoming the 'norm’?
Continuous circles of stress to situations such as; I must have this in by this deadline; I have emails I have yet to respond to; whoops there goes the phone; arrghhh I am late for the school run/doctors/work; the baby keeps crying and I can’t do anything to help; or my mind can’t slow down and I am constantly onto the next thing. What if your doing too much training and your performance is beginning to decline?
I’m not 70, I’m 18 with 52 years of experience” – Anon
If you’re a person of this age, then you would have seen many things come and go through life, including changes within your body.
We have found our 18 year olds with 52 years’ experience to be our most endearing and well respected clients, and we always look forward to their interaction – especially the stories we are told.
You see touch and physical contact is still important to people, and it is something that can be lost quite quickly especially when living in isolation. We care about making sure you are doing OK and want to know what is going on for you and if we can assist with gentle massage.
It is well known that exercise can help with the management of chronic pain, but it is often met with uncertainty of what to do. Sometimes homework given in the form of physical activity just does not happen. So when the words, "you must do these exercises" come out of the mouth of health professionals, what goes through your mind?
Being prescribed exercises for your rehabilitation are given from Health professionals who have the best interests at heart - they want you to get better. But what happens if there is a mismatch?
As the weather gets warmer, so does the aim to get out and about and ENJOY the weather! If you have taken to hibernation this winter the best advice is ‘steady as she goes’ – gradually building your fitness up over time is the key to reducing injury. When you are starting out on an exercise regime it is a good idea to know how to appropriately load the body so that it can adapt to the increased forces you are now asking of it.
Load does not just mean the amount of weights you lift, it also can be the amount of activity you do a week, how long you do it for (duration), how fast or slow you do it (speed) and we also have to remember adequate rest – the most important part of load management where you make your biggest gains.
If you suffer from things such as cardiovascular issues or you are new to exercise? It is always a good idea to check in with the doctor and get a W.O.F before embarking on any exercise programme.
Our school children are now into full swing of term. As parents, caregivers and teachers we need to be cautious and continually monitoring our children's school bag. Primary school aged children are at risk the most and by carrying a heavy load it becomes detrimental to their health and their growing bodies.
Majority of school bags will contain a lunch box, water bottle, textbook/books, portable devices, maybe some sports gear it all starts to add up, so it comes as no surprise school bags can reach OVERLOAD quite quickly.
Why so important?
If the school bag is heavier than 20-30% of the child there is increased stress on growing muscles and spinal ligaments (which are not fully developed until 16 years old). If your child has to hunch over then this position reduces their lung volume - resulting in less air, shallow breathing and ultimately adoption of poor breathing mechanics.
What is ideal?
The “ideal load” is suggested within the range of 10-15% of child's body weight. For example a 20.1 kilograms (kg) child should carry no more than 2 kgs and a 42 kg child no more than 4.2kg.
What to look for?
Red shoulders from the shoulder straps
Complaints - 'my neck hurts', 'my back hurts'.
Walking hunched over, looking up placing strain on the neck. Headaches.
How to manage it?
Evaluate your child's pack
“You are you that is truer than true” - Dr Seuss.... which can be interpreted as staying true to your body and what fits you.
I recently visited an accountants firm in Palmerston North - mainly to check up on my younger brother and to see what a junior accountant’s desk set up might look like. It was so well received that the whole office got a ‘desk audit’.
Typically office furniture is the last thing to put costs too, but it is so important. As let’s face it potentially 99% of your daily business can be conducted in that very set up - all day, every day. Poorly designed workspaces can be especially stressful to your upper neck and shoulder regions caused by hunching, forward neck posture, strain on eyes and arms.
Massage can certainly relax you, but did you know massage therapy can do more than that.
Here are 3 good reasons why regular massage is good for the mind and body and why you should book an appointment...
1. Lessens Anxiety and Depression = Less Stress!
Stress is a fact of life but being stressed out is not. Regular massage into your working week helps you to keep stress levels in check – be it from work deadlines, extremely busy schedules, exams or personal circumstances.
Stress from sitting all day often manifests in the shoulders and neck. Be aware that long term postural stress can start appearing as low back pain and into your gluteal muscles. Massage can counteract all the sitting that you do as it works on your body’s nervous system by decreasing the feelings of bodily tension and tightness, at the same time increasing the feel-good hormones serotonin and oxytocin.
Clients often report a sense of clarity and perspective, and they are impressed by how massage not only improving their ability to move better but also gives them a restful sleep.
2. As part of your fitness routine
There is nothing quite like the feeling you get after a good deep tissue massage, and elite athletes would think of this as unmissable and crucial to their training programme. Whether you are training hard at Olympic level, are a regular gym goer or an office worker, everyone is likely to experience discomfort or tight muscular pain at some point. Massage keeps your muscles supple allowing you to move better. It is a great preventative for injury and can also prevent the onset of fatigue especially if you are undertaking a high volume of training with little rest. Add in the feel-good benefits and you have yourself a recipe for a successful performance.
3. Treating Pain
If you have headaches, discomfort through arthritis, or an injury, massage therapy can help. Massage is a drug free, non-invasive treatment. Massage can be very helpful in alleviating pain and discomfort by increasing blood flow and circulation to the area providing the tissues with much needed nutrition, aiding in your recovery. Massage has been shown to be just as successful as other treatments with lower back pain.
Massage can help relax and decrease stress, be incorporated into your fitness routine for better performance or used as drug free pain relief improving your well-being and ultimately that goal for better quality of life.