Sunday, November 3, 2013

Avoiding Holiday Burnout

The demands of an over-scheduled life, especially during the busy the holiday season, can leave you feeling overwhelmed and drained. The loss of energy and commitment, coupled with exhaustion and frustration, can be the first sign that burnout is settling in.

However, some research is starting to show that regular exercise can help prevent burnout. According to a recent study by researchers at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel, people who exercise at least 150 minutes per week were significantly less likely to experience job burnout than their underactive counterparts, and those who exercised closer to 240 minutes a week showed little to no signs of job burnout.

This should come as no surprise, considering we’ve known for years that exercise can help relieve symptoms of stress. Feel like 150 minutes is time you don’t have? Consider setting aside smaller daily goals. In addition to massage therapy, try squeezing in these mood-boosting activities.
Get Out and Recharge

  • Take a brisk walk: After a long meeting or period of sitting still, go stretch your legs. A quick walk or jog around the block can do wonders. Keeping a quick pace will raise your heart rate and help you clear your head. 

With busy work schedules, getting outside every day might not be possible for you. However, there are many things you can do at your desk. Consider integrating a few of these exercises into your routine and see how your endorphins soar.

Lower Body Exercises

  • Jump squats (10 reps): Only perform this exercise if you have a good amount of space. Bend your knees into a half-squat with your arms behind you, then jump up, swinging your arms overhead, and back to start.
  • Side lunge (10 per side): Step out to one side, point toes forward and bend one knee while keeping other leg straight. Push back up.
  • Knee lift (20 reps): Bend arms at the elbow. Raise one knee while simultaneously straightening your arms so that your arms are down when your foot is up.
  • Hamstring curl (20 reps): Similar to the knee lifts, start with your arms bent, then bend one leg behind you while letting your hands fall to your side.
  • Leg extension (16 per side): Sit straight up with your abs pulled in. Extend the right leg until it’s level with hip. Hold for 2 seconds, lower and repeat.
  • Inner thigh (16 reps): Place a rolled towel, water bottle or an empty cup between the knees as you sit straight up with the abs tucked in. Squeeze the bottle or cup, release halfway and squeeze again.

Chair Exercises
  • Chair squat (16 reps): While sitting, lift yourself up until your hips are just hovering over the chair, use your arms for balance. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, stand all the way up and repeat.
  • Dips (16 reps): Use a stable chair (without wheels) and place your hands next to your hips. Move your hips forward so that they are in front of the chair. Bend your elbows, lowering your body until they are at 90 degrees. Push back up to start and repeat.

Upper Body Exercises

  • Bicep curl (12 per side): Hold water bottle in right hand and, with abs pulled in and a straight back, curl bottle toward shoulder, repeat.
  • Desk push-up (15–20 reps): Place hands on edge of desk, shoulder width apart, legs out behind you. Keeping your body flat, lower your chest toward your desk and push back up to start.

Ab Exercises

  • Side bends (10 reps): Hold a water bottle in both hands and stretch it up overhead keeping your arms straight. Gently bend toward the left as far as you can, contracting the abs. Come back to center and repeat to the right (bending to the right and left is one rep).
  • Ab twists (10 reps): Hold a water bottle at chest level and, keeping the knees and hips pushed forward, gently twist to the left as far as you can, contracting the abs. Twist back to center and then to the right (twisting to the right and left is one rep).
  • Forearm plank: Lie on your stomach on the floor, and spread your legs hip-width apart. Flex your feet and tuck your toes under, pressing the balls of your feet into the floor as if you’re going into push-up position. Position yourself on your forearms with your hands balled into fists or clasped together. Pull in your abdominals and keep your black flat. Hold as long as you can.
  • Don't let shorter days and over-scheduled weekends keep you from being active this winter. Schedule exercise when and where you can, and be sure you are integrating massage therapy into your regular health routine. Stave off burnout before it has the chance to affect your motivation and commitment to a well-balanced life.

Source: This article was excerpted from mtj® (Massage Therapy Journal®) Winter 2012. Subscribe to read the entire article.

Please share this with your friends and family.  Help them de-stress this holiday season.

The Gift of Massage for the Holidays!
Show your friends and family you have a stake in their health and wellness by giving them the gift of massage. There's no better time of year to treat those on your nice list to a massage, a proven stress reliever.

Pre-paid gift cards are available for massage with Jill Johnson, LMT

in the amounts of $10, $60, and $90

Stop and Smell the Roses

By Jess Albright, LGPC

With all of the new and fancy technology we have these days there is instantaneous access to limitless information.  With the same technology we also make ourselves accessible 24/7 to the latest and greatest news as well as to the world.  Everything is constantly go, go, go.  But what about all the small joys in life that we have become too busy to enjoy?  What about all the little things we simply overlook anymore?  

I’m here to propose that you stop and take the time to see, feel, hear, taste, and smell all of the beautiful things around you.  Free yourself from the constant bombardment of updates.  Take some time to enjoy the simple joys that life holds.  It’s really quite liberating!  But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Here is a list of 30 fun and simple things to do (one for each day of the month) that you can try for yourself.  Kids, parents, adults alike – don’t hold back.  Everyone can gain from stopping to smell the roses! 

  • Dance/play in the rain (Don’t forget to splash in the puddles too!)
  • Go for a walk outside and take in all the surrounding sights, smells, and sounds (Yes, that’s right, leave your iPod at home)
  • Rake up a big pile of leaves and jump into it (Remember how much fun that was as a kid?)
  • Walk in the grass with your bare feet and let the blades tickle your toes (Unless of course you are allergic to grass…)
  • Write a letter to your best friend (You know the kind that you put in an envelope and requires a stamp.)
  • Lay on a blanket at night and star gaze (Can you find the Big Dipper?  Where’s Orion’s belt?)
  • Volunteer to return an elderly person’s cart at the grocery store (A smile on his/her face can put one on yours as well)
  • Wear a really silly pair of underwear (Nobody knows except you!)
  • Find a clear spot and watch the sunset (I’d say sunrise, but who wants to get up that early!)
  • Go to the nearest playground and swing on the swings (If you close your eyes, it feels like you’re flying!)
  • Build a fort in your living room (Cardboard boxes, sheets – whatever it takes!)
  • Eat your favorite cereal from when you were a kid (Yum…Lucky Charms are so delicious!)
  • Play your favorite board game from when you were a kid (Hungry, Hungry, Hippos anyone?)
  • Bake and eat homemade cookies (And don’t forget the glass of milk!)
  • Go to the nearest body of water and skip rocks (I got 3 skips.  Can you beat that?)
  • Put a puzzle together (I always say that life is like a giant puzzle…)
  • Have a paper airplane distance competition (Remember the old trick of adding a paperclip to the nose?)
  • Climb a tree, take in your surroundings, and be one with your thoughts (Don’t go too high!)
  • Give people unexpected compliments and watch them smile (Smiles are contagious, so be ready for one to appear on your face too!)
  • Have a pillow fight (Body pillows really get the job done!)
  • Listen to your favorite rock music and jam out on the air guitar (Dude, you rock!)
  • Draw on the driveway/sidewalk with chalk (Hopscotch anyone?)
  • Speak with an accent for the day (Good day, mate!)
  • Go outside and blow bubbles (Can you catch one in your hand?  Can you catch it on the end of the wand?)
  • Finger paint (Don’t have paint?  Try using chocolate pudding—it’s fun and delicious!)
  • Buy some bubble gum and have a bubble blowing contest (Gum stuck in your hair?  Don’t forget the old peanut butter trick!)
  • Buy a package of Jelly Belly jellybeans, blindly pop them in your mouth, and try to identify the flavor (Watch out for the jalapeno flavored ones!  Yuck!)
  • Make pancakes.  Better yet, make them into shapes (Snowmen and Mickey Mouse are always crowd pleasers!)
  • Color in a coloring book (Who says you have to stay in the lines?)
  • Make up your own list of 30 fun things to do (Let your creativity soar!)

Updates to Meditation Programs offered by Pam McDonald at the Healing Circles Wellness Center

This fall Pam McDonald, LCSW-C, is expanding her meditation offerings to include weekly meditation groups at Healing Circles! 

Pam will continue to offer her 30-day meditation coaching program to assist beginners in getting started with a meditation practice. Pam will guide you to discover and experience meditations that fit your needs and lifestyle. The meditation coaching package includes:

  • Weekly, 50-minute meditation practice and coaching sessions at Healing Circles
  • 4 digitally recorded meditations to keep your practice going
  • Daily emails delivered Monday through Friday to inspire and strengthen your practice
  • Personalized coaching and instruction to fit your needs

Dates: NEW! This program is now offered on an ongoing basis. You may sign up at any time and begin when it fits your schedule.  

Meditation practice times: Meditation coaching participants will meet with Pam for her meditation practice sessions on Wednesdays from 6:00-6:50 p.m.

Location: Healing Circles Wellness Center, 10 N. Jefferson Street, Suite 203, Frederick, MD 21701

Cost: Receive 30 days of supportive meditation coaching for only $100.

In addition, Pam is now offering her open meditation group every Wednesday evening. These mid-week meditation gatherings are a great way to learn and experience the benefits of meditation through an informal format with a guided meditation.

Format: At each gathering, Pam shares a short inspirational reading followed by a guided meditation. Questions and comments are welcome after the meditation. 

Location: Healing Circles Wellness Center, 10 N. Jefferson Street, Suite 203, Frederick, MD 21701

Meditation schedule: Every Wednesday evening from 6-6:50 p.m. (Exceptions: No meetings on Wednesday, November 27 and Wednesday, December 25).

Cost: By donation (suggested donation: $10.00)                  

RSVP’s appreciated. For more information, please call Pam at 301-712-9015, x1022 or email at On the web: