What’s My Secret Weapon For a Good Night’s Sleep?

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Posted by Judy Moon

Magnesium oil. That’s right, magnesium oil.

First of all, I feel that sleep is underrated. I think we don’t really put enough emphasis on getting enough sleep, and the health benefits of good, quality, restful, restorative sleep. Webmd explains nine reasons to sleep more.

I personally don’t have a problem falling asleep, it’s staying asleep that was my problem. There are lots of reasons why this can happen for people.

So I have made going to bed a real ritual.

Herbal tea, no electronic screens after nine, my bedroom is a sleep sanctuary – no TV etc.,  I do my best to go to bed at the same time every night, I turn the lights in my home down in the evening and start sending the message to my brain – “hey, we’re going to sleep soon”, I use some lavender essential oil on my feet and at the suggestion of a health coach, I started using magnesium oil on my feet at night.

Pure magic! I now sleep like a rock.

Dr. Mark Hyman, refers to magnesium as the “relaxation mineral”, and here is a GREAT post about all of it’s benefits.

Ancient Minerals was the brand recommended to me. A drop of DoTerra lavender essential oil rubbed in to the bottom of my feet, 3 sprays of Magnesium Oil on each foot, socks, Bon Nuit!

I will warn you that the Magnesium oil is a little drying, so I make sure I am also treating my feet by exfoliating daily with a pumice and lathering them up with a rich moisturizer. I’d choose something with some rich Shea butter.

Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite!

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Don’t Just Stand There. Let’s Get To It. Strike A Pose. There’s Nothing To It.

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Posted by Judy Moon

Queue the sexy male dancers with their open white shirts flapping in the breeze. I’m not sure if I’ve ever quoted Madonna before, but I love Vogue and couldn’t help myself.

I’ve been on a roll lately having lots of fun with words. Specifically the energy behind words and the effects that the energy of the words has.

As if all of that hasn’t been enough fun, a client recently gave me an article she thought I would like. I have the best clients who love to share things with me, from homemade Vidalia onion jam, foie gras from Paris, to this cool article Power To The People by Jennifer Altmann. The article is about Power Posing and how our bodies can make us feel more powerful, Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist has done research on how “our bodies change our mind, our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” The article discusses “high power poses” – those that convey strength – think standing like wonder woman with your hands on your hips vs.” low power poses” – closed positions, hunched over, limbs tucked together.

The research shows that standing or sitting a certain way has measurable effects. In as little as just two minutes – holding a Power Pose can increase testosterone levels and decrease cortisol, the stress hormone level. Not only does the body language affect how others perceive you, it affects how you perceive yourself.

Everything is energy, so it just makes sense that not only do words have vibrations that can affect us, but so do the postures and gestures of the body.

So I am totally stoked now to add a Power Pose to my morning ritual. The article and research talks a lot about using the poses in stressful situations, like right before you have to give a talk, or right before a job interview, but I think it would be a super-duper self care ritual to just start your day with some Mirror Work and then, strike a pose… Madonna music optional. Who doesn’t want to reduce their cortisol level? I’m in!

Here’s a link to Amy’s TED talk.

Break out your super hero cape and let’s get our strength and power on!

Word Up

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Posted by Judy Moon

I wanted to follow up on my Mirror Work. I have to be honest and say that I did not do it EVERY single day. However I did it ALMOST every day.

The weekends just throw me off. I am such a creature of habit, and I have my rituals and my routines and for some reason Saturday comes, my husband and I are both home at the same time and some of my rituals fly out the window. It’s okay, I don’t like rigidity. So not being perfect makes me happy on some level.

Back to business – I have been doing my mirror work and saying “I love you Judy” nine times while looking myself right in the eyes. Sometimes I do it several times a day (almost) everyday.

What have I noticed?
It got easier the more I did it.
I believed it the more I did it.
I smiled at myself the more I did it.
I felt kind of… bad… the days I missed it.

The biggest observation that I’ve made is that it is shutting down the negative self-talk, criticism and chatter.

Danielle Laport, who is way cool, had a recent blog post – Words can make you sick. Or healed.  I loved it! She and her son did an experiment with an apple that they slice in half and put in clear containers next to each other on a windowsill. One apple they say nice things to and the other one they trash talk. I did a similar experiment with seeds and wrote about it in Do You Believe in Magic? and I had a similar experience to theirs. The apple they praised barely browned. The other apple became rotten and moldy. The seeds that I gave loving words to sprouted. The ones that I ignored (I felt guilty saying bad things to them, so I just ignored them, however, I have no clue what my husband Joe was saying !) never came up.

That left such an imprint in my mind. When I am saying the words I love you to myself, I imagine the energy and vibration that causes seeds to grow and thrive and apples to preserve and not decay. If I have a negative or critical thought now, because let’s face it, they pop in now and then, I imagine that rotting moldy apple and I think , “don’t do that to yourself!”

The Mirror Work has made me more mindful of the words I am using especially about or around myself not only when I am looking in the mirror, but also as I go through my day. Words are powerful and have an energetic charge that we often ignore, forget or take for granted. Be mindful of them. Treat them as sacred.

So the moral of the story is “don’t become a rotten apple”

I love you!

Jennifer Harrison and Big Blue Prenatal Massage!

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We’re excited that we have a new therapist on board – Jennifer Harrison who has brought in the Big Blue cushion system to bring on the pregnancy relief!

Big Blue is a cushion system designed specifically for supporting the dynamic needs of our clients during pregnancy.  Developed by Oakworks Inc, manufactures of high quality tables and massage specific equipment since 1977. Jennifer nicknamed JMA’s second set of prenatal cushions Big Blue, based on her deep ocean hue and expansive range of support.

These cushions allow Mom to relax in a side lying position that supports a growing baby, allows for full extension of the side body, encourages neutral orientation of the hip and shoulders, relieves downward pressure at the hip and shoulder joints and cradles the head and neck for optimal comfort.

Since Jennifer Harrison’s arrival at JMA availability of prenatal services has expanded and we can now offer prenatal massage in both our treatment rooms simultaniously! Imagine you and your BFF experiencing prenatal massage during the same appointment time.

Saved by the Fermented Veg!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Well, it seems winter is leaving us and as much as I love it… I’m really ready for spring! I do my best to keep up with my fresh veggie consumption in the winter, making yummy salads with shredded kale and cabbage, but sometimes I really crave that brightness that new spring veggies provides. So in those last two very long months of February and March, before the

new spinach, radish and pea shoots, I made a few batches of fermented veg.

Super easy and yummy, fermented veggies are crisp, bright and a bit tart, all the right things to perk up a meal and my taste buds. They are also a great source of the good gut bacteria that we could all use a bit more of.

I made them regularly many years ago but fell out of the practice. Plus we have a nice selection of fermented veg makers in the city so the convenience of grabbing a jar off the shelf may have had a little something to do with it (a favorite is Cobblestone Krautery).

But I decided to get back to it myself. There are many websites and books out there to get you started. I went to Cultures for Health, just to refresh my memory.

There are a dizzying array of fabulous products on the site, but also a TON of great recipes to get you started and a good bit of information about cultured veggies and other products and the process of fermentation itself. I started with a variation on this Carrot Kraut recipe and I added red cabbage and leeks just for fun.

Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years and are used in every culture. Fermenting prolongs “shelf” life of foods and also bumps up the good bacteria that are already present in many foods by creating an environment for them to grow and flourish. These good bacteria feed our guts, improve digestion and enhance our overall health.

You can ferment lots of stuff! My husband has been making kombucha, his own red wine and pear cider vinegars as well as a lovely raspberry shrub! Oh and a bit of beer and sourdough bread too… maybe he should be writing this post! Oh yeah, maybe he was part of my fermented veg inspiration too.

A book he loves, and may be the fermentation “bible” for some is, The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Talk about fermenting anything! This guy does it all and has written a very thorough and interesting book. Inspiring ferments from all over the world. Have fun!

“Pickled pea shoots” anyone?

Cheers!

Lovely Lavender

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

We had a sneak preview of spring weather on Tuesday, with warm sun and cool breezes. I stopped by the garden between clients to get a boost from the crocus and mini iris that have been blooming steadily for a few weeks now. I walked around the garden, catching glimpses of little goodies slowly but surely poking out of the earth. So good for the spirit to see that!

And I really only intended to observe… but suddenly I found the clippers in my hand, my jacket thrown aside and there I was, pruning away the winter!

I cleared the old, withered leaves from the lambs ear, cut the dried stems from the chrysanthemums and straightened the wire frame that will soon be entwined with a lovely, low growing pink clematis. Then I noticed the lavender plant toppling out into the aisle. “ Oh my, do you need a haircut!” I made sure some new growths were beginning to show and then began to trim away last years ramblings.

And I’m so glad I did! In a rush, that sweet, dusty, herbal fragrance was all around me. I’ve trimmed this variety of lavender many times but don’t remember it ever smelling so sweet. I was already in a chill state of mind puttering around with my plant friends but this just enhanced it ten fold. As I continued to trim, the intensity of the fragrance grew and so did the smile on my face!

I, like many people, love lavender. The plants are beautiful, in all shades of greeny/grey, with flat, needle like or feathery leaves and all different variations in scent. Used for centuries to brighten the spirits and calm the nerves, as well as an antiseptic and addition to foods. Nothing like lavender shortbread cookies! Yum!

It is our most requested aromatherapy oil at the massage studio, helping our clients (and us!) settle their minds and bodies and get back in tune.

Here are my favorite ways to use lavender:

  • Last year for my birthday Judy gave me a bottle of Hauschka’s Moor Lavender Calming Bath Essence. WOW! It is so incredible. I use it, as she suggested, around my temples or just a light touch around my eyes, along my nose and cheeks and then down the jaw line, before I go to bed some nights. It is so soothing, I can’t help but relax (Thank you Judy!)!
  • I put 10-15 drops of lavender essential oil in an Epsom salt bath and then soak away the day. Or just a drop or two on my finger tips and then run them through my hair before I get into bed and ease into sleep.
  • Another favorite is lavender honey. A local lavender farm in Tabernacle, New Jersey, owned and operated by Toni and Steve Price, sells their honey along with sachets and bath salts at some of our farmer’s markets in the city. Lovely stuff! They also offer “cut your own ”lavender days so check out their website if you are interested. Very cool folks!

Happy Lavender-ing!

Get Your Zzzz’s, Please!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

I just watched a new documentary about sleep (and you should too!) created by the National Institutes of Health and National Geographic.

Or should I say our insane LACK of sleep here in the United States! Wow! The numbers of folks getting 6 hours of sleep or less each night is staggering and frightening if we consider how many of them drive on our highways daily.

There are tons of facts to absorb in this documentary and I already know how important sleep is to our general health, but this was a real wake up call (oh, sorry for that pun…) to the negative health consequences that come from chronic lack of sleep.

According to the NIH, chronic sleep deprivation is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, unhealthy weight gain, heart conditions, cancer, hormone imbalances (especially those associated with blood sugar) and emotional and mental health instabilities. There is also ongoing research about the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and sleep’s restorative role in brain and overall health. Very interesting!

To paraphrase one of the documentaries many experts, a man associated with highway and traffic safety agencies; “Every aspect of human behavior is impaired and degraded by lack of sleep. Situational awareness, memory, communication, decision making and reaction time have all been shown to drop by 20-50%.” Chronic sleep loss also creates a 40% deficit in the capacity of the brain to make and hold on to new memories.

Again, wow.

I’m not trying to scare you but watching this documentary scared me a little bit. In a good way actually. I’ve started to take my sleep much more seriously. Now I’m not chronically sleep deprived in anyway, but I don’t sleep well on a regular basis. Most of that comes from having a very active and often anxious brain. Or from having a cup of caffeine at 4 in the afternoon, or that extra glass of wine with dinner. Or from staring at my computer screen right before I go to bed. All things I am aware of but have chosen not to take so seriously. Until now!

So I’ve begun to change some of these little things that will make a big difference in my sleep habits:

  • No computer 30 minutes or more before bed
  • No caffeine after noon
  • Less alcohol or none with dinner during the work week
  • Chamomile or other calming herbal tea 30 minutes before bed
  • Light, humorous reading or breathing & meditation in bed before lights out

I’ve noticed a difference! I am getting deeper and almost uninterrupted sleep. Getting more exercise during the week will help as well. One suggestion in the documentary that I haven’t tried yet is waking up at the same time every day regardless of when you go to sleep. This technique is often used for folks with insomnia but can be helpful for all of us to get us back in tune with our natural rhythms. Here’s to a good nights sleep!

Cheers! (with herbal tea!)