A musing about work and love – Why I do what I do

Therapy with heartWe humans live for connection. What is a life, if it is lived alone? Touch and belonging are two of the deepest needs we have. Without these things, babies and children wither and die. As adults, certainly, our need for connection to others is undeniable. Recently, an experience with a co-worker reminded me of how lucky I am to be in a place where we enjoy and care for the other humans we work alongside.

This one evening, I experienced something beautiful.

I was chatting with a co-worker in our clinic after all our clients had left. She was rubbing her jaw as we spoke and I could tell she was in pain.

Being a bodyworker, I sat her in a chair as we spoke and put my hands on her shoulders. I gently started to feel the knots she carried. I leaned into her as I let my fingers sink into her shoulders and press at her pain. We stopped talking.

I felt her soften. She started to cry. Quietly she sobbed, and her tears fell.

I know this woman. We see each other a couple of times a week and, in passing, I have heard of her difficulties. She is open about her life challenges, but she is strong and gracious, holding them closely to herself, never wishing to burden anyone else with her pain. Tonight, though, she let me hold it with her, just for a moment.

I have come away from this exchange with a beautiful feeling of sentimentality for the humanness of us all. We work hard, most of us, 30-something hours each week on average. Sometimes we are lucky enough to do this with a group of people whom we enjoy. Some of us are not so lucky. Often we do it surrounded by people we tolerate. Or with a sprinkling of people we dislike. Or alone.

 

In my workplace, we are fortunate. We are a small group of healers working together at the business of getting people well. In order to do this work, most of us have traversed our own path of healing and this has left us with a taste of what it is to be challenged in life, and a sensitivity to the pain of others. A quiet moment of care between myself and my co-worker is not an unusual thing in our practice. I am saddened, though, to know it is not the norm in the workplaces of my friends, my family, my clients.

As a bodyworker, I know first-hand the way trauma, anxiety and stress are stored in the body. Physical, emotional, behavioral… our challenges influence our bodies and our minds and they are manifest in how we act toward ourselves and one other.

 

What if we found ways to be kind, generous and loving toward the people we interact with at work? What if we crossed professional ‘boundaries’ (what the heck is with that, anyway?) to show those around us that we are human, and with that, we welcome their humanness too?

Here are just a few ways we do this in our practice:

Sharing songs on a Spotify playlist with one another and telling the others why we love these songs, sometimes we find there’s fun or touching memories that are evoked by the songs we each play. Sometimes it helps us share snippets of who we are outside our work persona.
Coming in a few minutes early to make a delicious breakfast for everyone who is at work early (usually just a bit of porridge and coconut yoghurt, yum! Even those who aren’t hungry get their bellies filled with love!
Molly, our practice dog, comes every day to grace our floor with her presence (and her hair), and she’s always kind to everyone
Sharing our gifts… Bringing a piece of artwork we are working on (or photos of it), practicing a song we are learning to sing or play, chatting about an event we are involved in planning in our community… And we are constantly finding that the celebration of talents in one of us inspires others to dig deeper into theirs…
If you are fortunate enough to have co-workers that satisfy your need for connection, treasure them. I invite you to gently poke into the corners of those connections, and find what more you can offer in the relationships that already exist in your workplace. Perhaps your days will become more meaningful and your soul will be a little bit (or a lot) happier for it.

If your days at work are lonely, or difficult because you’re not experiencing connection, this can be frustrating and isolating.

Don’t lose heart – there are things you can do to begin to find more humanness in your workplace. You could try injecting a little of it yourself by showing more of ‘the real you’ to your co-workers, and asking for the same in return. Or, you could open a frank discussion with your colleagues and managers about how wonderful it would be if you were able to connect in a meaningful way at work – you’re likely to find that they’re receptive to building stronger connections. After all connection fills our happiness bucket and builds productivity.

 

But, if your workplace really is a lost cause (we know there are some like this, sadly), it’s worth considering moving on. Your sense of yourself is deeply rooted in connection with others (and the other way around, too).

It’s an important part of life to feel cared for. If this is not what’s happening for you most of the time in your workplace, find a new workplace! Good humans are out there!

 

As for us, my colleague and I left for the evening with a long hug, a couple of “I Love You’s” as we worked out the door and a better understanding of one another. It’s 3am and I’m awake writing this, I can’t sleep for thinking how fortunate we are, that even time spent at work is a blessing in my life and the lives of those around me. I wish it for you, too. x

 

 

 

 

A musing about work and love – Why I do what I do

Therapy with heart

Therapy with heart

Written by Dr. Tracy Kopp, Chiropractor

We humans live for connection. What is a life, if it is lived alone? Touch and belonging are two of the deepest needs we have. Without them, we wither and die.

Recently, an experience with a co-worker reminded me of how lucky I am to be in a place where we enjoy and care for the other humans we work alongside.  This one evening, I experienced something beautiful.

I was chatting with a co-worker in our clinic after all our clients had left. She was rubbing her jaw and I could tell she was in pain.  Being a bodyworker, I sat her in a chair and as we spoke, I put my hands on her shoulders. I gently started to feel the knots she carried. I leaned into her and let my fingers sink into her shoulders and press at her pain. We stopped talking.  I felt her soften. She started to cry. Quietly she sobbed, and her tears fell.

I know this woman. We see each other a couple of times a week and, in passing, I have heard of her difficulties. She is open about her life challenges, but she is strong and gracious, holding them closely to herself, never wishing to burden anyone else with her pain. Tonight, though, she let me hold it with her, just for a moment.

I have come away from this exchange with a beautiful feeling of sentimentality for the humanness of us all. We work hard, most of us, 30-something hours each week on average. Sometimes we are lucky enough to do this with a group of people whom we enjoy. Some of us are not so lucky. Often we do it surrounded by people we tolerate with a sprinkling of people we dislike. Or alone.

At The Urban Alchemist, we are fortunate. A small group of healers working together at the business of getting people well. In order to do this work, most of us have traversed our own path of healing and this has left us with a taste of what it is to be challenged in life, and a sensitivity to the pain of others. A quiet moment of care between myself and my co-worker is not an unusual thing in our practice. I am saddened, though, to know it is not the norm in the workplaces of my friends, my family, my clients.

As a bodyworker, I know first-hand the way trauma, anxiety and stress are stored in the body. Physical, emotional, behavioral… Our challenges influence our bodies and our minds and they manifest in how we act toward ourselves and one other.

What if we found ways to be kind, generous and loving toward the people we interact with at work? What if we crossed professional ‘boundaries’  to show those around us that we are human and we welcome their humanness too?

Here are just a few ways we do this in our practice:

  • Sharing songs on a Spotify playlist with one another and telling the others why we love these songs, sometimes we find there’s fun or touching memories that are evoked by the songs we each play. Sometimes it helps us share snippets of who we are outside our work persona.
  • Coming in a few minutes early to make a delicious breakfast for everyone who is at work early (usually just a bit of porridge and coconut yoghurt, yum! Even those who aren’t hungry get their bellies filled with love!
  • Molly, our practice dog, comes every day to grace our floor with her presence (and her hair), and she’s always kind to everyone
  • Sharing our gifts… Bringing a piece of artwork we are working on (or photos of it), practicing a song we are learning to sing or play, chatting about an event we are involved in planning in our community… And we are constantly finding that the celebration of talents in one of us inspires others to dig deeper into theirs…

If you are fortunate enough to have co-workers that satisfy your need for connection, treasure them. I invite you to gently poke into the corners of those connections, and find what more you can offer in the relationships that already exist in your workplace. Perhaps your days will become more meaningful and your soul will be a little bit (or a lot) happier for it.

Don’t lose heart

If your days at work are lonely, or difficult because you’re not experiencing connection, this can be frustrating and isolating. Don’t lose heart – there are things you can do to begin to find more humanness in your workplace.

You could try injecting a little of it yourself by showing more of ‘the real you’ to your co-workers, and asking for the same in return. Or, you could open a frank discussion with your colleagues and managers about how wonderful it would be if you were able to connect in a meaningful way at work – you’re likely to find that they’re receptive to building stronger connections. After all, connection fills our happiness bucket and builds productivity.

But, if your workplace really is a lost cause (we know there are some like this, sadly), it’s worth considering moving on. Your sense of yourself is deeply rooted in connection with others (and the other way around, too).

It’s important to feel cared for. If this is not how you feel most of the time in your workplace, find a new workplace! Good humans are out there…

As for us, my colleague and I left for the evening with a long hug, a couple of “I Love You’s” as we worked out the door and a better understanding of one another. It’s 3am and I’m awake writing this, I can’t sleep for thinking how fortunate we are, that even time spent at work is a blessing in my life and the lives of those around me. I wish it for you, too.

Love, Tracy

Foot and Ankle Pain

Foot and ankle pain treatment

Foot and ankle pain treatmentOften overlooked, your feet are very hard workers! They’re designed to bear the weight of your entire body with every movement, and act as shock absorbers between you and the earth.

When your feet are functioning properly, you move with ease and comfort, as the impact of each step is distributed evenly up through the joints of the body – ankles, hips and lower back. When the tissues of your feet or ankles stop functioning well, this ease is challenged and you may experience pain in one or both feet, or in other connected areas, such as your hips or knees.

There are 33 joints in each foot and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments that support and move them. All of these structures need to be working and moving well together to allow for proper biomechanical function. If just one joint or one muscle isn’t moving properly, tiny adjustments will be made without your conscious brain’s knowledge, and over time this can affect your gait (walking pattern) and overall posture, leading to pain in other areas.

Common causes of foot and ankle pain

  • Traumatic injury, such as a strain or sprain to ankle ligaments
  • Ill-fitting shoes, or shoes that stress the bones, muscles and tendons of your foot, such as high-heels
  • Osteoarthritis, which is caused by poor foot and ankle biomechanics over long periods of time
  • Irritation or inflammation of the plantar fascia, the strong band of connective tissue that runs between the heel and the ball of your foot
  • Reduced mobility in any of the many joints of the foot or ankle which can lead to bunions and arthritis if untreated
  • Gout, which is treated with diet and medication where needed

Methods for treating foot and ankle pain

For foot or ankle pain, we recommend you start with a Chiropractic appointment. Once you’ve scheduled an appointment, your practitioner will perform a consultation, examination and if necessary, refer you out for diagnostic imaging such as an x-ray.

Based on your diagnosis, your practitioner will determine an effective strategy to treat your condition. It may be as simple as gentle mobilization and manipulation to get your feet moving better – or you might be referred to another bodywork modality, such as Remedial Massage or Myotherapy.  All of these are great ways to manage and relieve pain and biomechanical dysfunction in your feet and ankles. Each aims to diagnose and address the underlying cause of your pain rather than just the symptoms.  If we determine that orthotics or further treatment would be of benefit, we will refer you to a Podiatrist.

As a holistic practice, our aim is for safe, non-invasive and effective treatment for our clients. Where possible, we will avoid recommending medications, which merely mask pain and can slow recovery time. Through physical treatment, we restore your movement and comfort to gain long-lasting improvements, including:

  • Reduced pain and discomfort
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Improved range of motion
  • Improved flexibility
  • Increased muscle tone and strength

6 Tips for Getting a Great Massage

  1. Get a recommendation from someone you trust.  Finding a therapist from the phone book (good luck finding a phone book!), or from Google may end in disaster. There are loads of shonky ‘massage’ therapists out there. At best, you’ll waste your money. At worst, you’ll be offered a handjob. Or maybe that’s a good outcome, who are we to judge?
  2. Book with a remedial massage therapist or myotherapist if you’re looking for treatment of a musculoskeletal condition (think back or neck pain, shoulder tension, sports injuries, knee pain). Both of these types of therapists have some serious qualifications in anatomy and physiology and by the time they set out in practice have spent hundreds of hours kneading and soothing the life back into human bodies.
  3. Check when booking that your treatment will be covered by your health insurance policy, if you have one. Remedial massage and myotherapy are covered under most ‘extras’ policies. If the clinic you are visiting has HICAPS, you can claim your rebate on the spot and just pay the difference. Yeehah!
  4. Communicate with your massage therapist. If you’d like to relax without any chit-chat, say so before you jump on the table. If you’d prefer to be distracted by a bit of jibber-jabber, let them know. Tell them what hurts and which areas you’d like massaged. Be open to having them work on areas outside of where you think the problem is coming from. The human body is a sophisticated and complex instrument, and these guys are familiar with all its crazy connections. If you’re unsure as to why the therapist is working on your hip when you have a knee problem, ask! They’ll usually love an opportunity to explain these things to you – it’s their passion.
  5. Let your therapist know when their pressure is too hard, too soft or just right. They’re not mind-readers… though they are well-versed at reading the squirms of your body as you try to wriggle away from them if they go too deep. If they miss a cue like this, do speak up. No one likes to come away from a massage session looking like they’ve gone ten rounds with Mike.
  6. Wear nice undies, seriously. Thank me later. It’s hard to relax when you’re wondering if anything important is poking through your embarrassing old-underpant-crotch-hole.

6 Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Massage

  1. Get a recommendation for your massage from someone you trust.  Finding a therapist from the phone book (good luck finding a phone book!), or from Google may end in disaster. There are loads of shonky ‘massage’ therapists out there. At best, you’ll waste your money. At worst, you’ll be offered a handjob. Or maybe that’s a good outcome, who are we to judge?
  2. Book with a remedial massage therapist or myotherapist if you’re looking for treatment of a musculoskeletal condition (think back or neck pain, shoulder tension, sports injuries, knee pain). Both of these types of therapists have some serious qualifications in anatomy and physiology and by the time they set out in practice have spent hundreds of hours kneading and soothing the life back into human bodies.
  3. Check when booking that your treatment will be covered by your health insurance policy, if you have one. Remedial massage and myotherapy are covered under most ‘extras’ policies. If the clinic you are visiting has HICAPS, you can claim your rebate on the spot and just pay the difference. Yeehah!
  4. Communicate with your massage therapist. If you’d like to relax without any chit-chat, say so before you jump on the table. If you’d prefer to be distracted by a bit of jibber-jabber, let them know. Tell them what hurts and which areas you’d like massaged. Be open to having them work on areas outside of where you think the problem is coming from. The human body is a sophisticated and complex instrument, and these guys are familiar with all its crazy connections. If you’re unsure as to why the therapist is working on your hip when you have a knee problem, ask! They’ll usually love an opportunity to explain these things to you – it’s their passion.
  5. Let your therapist know when their pressure is too hard, too soft or just right. They’re not mind-readers… though they are well-versed at reading the squirms of your body as you try to wriggle away from them if they go too deep. If they miss a cue like this, do speak up. No one likes to come away from a massage session looking like they’ve gone ten rounds with Mike.
  6. Wear nice undies, seriously. Thank me later. It’s hard to relax when you’re wondering if anything important is poking through your embarrassing old-underpant-crotch-hole.

We have some wonderful massage therapists here at The Urban Alchemist. Call us on 93479247 or book online. Remedial massage and Myotherapy are covered by most health insurance policies, so you’ll save money, too!

Your body will thank you.

 

 

5 Ways to Kick the Winter Blues

urban alchemist winterblues

 

Winter… are you over it? For many, finding the right work-life balance that supports our physical and mental wellbeing can be tricky. If your reserves were already low by the time Winter set in, it can feel impossible by now!

During Winter we are generally less active, less motivated and more likely to reach for comfort foods. Bread and cheese anyone? While there are many variables at play, science thinks we are most likely susceptible to ‘the blues’ in Winter due to altered serotonin regulation, as a result of less exposure to sunlight.

So, what can you do?

First, take stock of how you feel. Nourish yourself by making simple changes to your life – earlier bedtime, drinking more water, eating warming and healthy foods. Or you may wish to go further to find out what you need as an individual, to achieve optimal wellness. This may involve a consultation with a Naturopath, including a thorough health assessment to address any underlying health issues and/or nutrient deficiencies, and considering your diet and lifestyle. There are many tools in a naturopath’s toolkit to help get you on track, starting with an empathetic detective’s ear, perhaps pathology testing and of course herbal medicine, nutritional supplements, dietary modifications and/or lifestyle advice. Here’s a small sample of what could be added to a prescription to combat the winter blues:

  1. Probiotics
    Research into the gut-brain connection has finally reached mainstream news, so its not surprising that a very common question I’m being asked at the moment is, “Which probiotic can I take for my mood?”. Our gut bacteria play a significant role in regulating our “feel-good” hormones GABA and serotonin, as well as our “flight or fight” hormone cortisol. The research into probiotics’ effect on mood is still very new, but so far the results are promising. A recent meta-analysis showed Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG has significant anti-anxiety activity. Other players include lactobacillus helveticus and bifidobacterium longum. There are many strains of the same species in probiotic supplements and they work differently (that’s a whole other article!) so it’s worth seeking guidance to find the right probiotics for you.
  2. Crocus Sativus
    Crocus Sativus, also known as Saffron, in its concentrated herbal extract form, is often referred to as “liquid sunshine” due to its uplifting effects. Multiple studies have shown that Saffron is comparable therapeutically to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) in depression and anxiety. (Note: Please don’t ditch your SSRI medication without advice from your Doctor.) Saffron is also a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
  3. Vitamin D
    Getting your vitamin D levels tested should be part of your annual check-up, particularly if you live somewhere grey like Melbourne! Vitamin D has many important functions within the human body, one of them being the maintenance of serotonin concentrations  in the brain. Vitamin D also plays a role in calcium absorption, hormone regulation and immunity. Studies show that roughly a third of Australians are vitamin D deficient. If you are in Melbourne, experts suggest at least 10-20 minutes per day of sun during peak UV exposure (between 10am and 3pm) from April to September. For those of us who work 9-5, you may need a vitamin D supplement, with the dosage based on blood test results.
  4. Rhodiola Rosea
    Rhodiola Rosea in another herbal medicine that can be used to enhance energy and improve the way our body adapts to stress. Studies have shown it increases stamina in athletes. It has been shown to increase physical and mental performance, as well as reduce susceptibility to infection including influenza. Rhodiola is available in liquid herbal extract or capsule.
  5. Meditation
    Meditation is thought to increase serotonin via its effect on vagus nerve activity. It has the ability to improve our sense of wellbeing. Seek guidance to find a technique that works for you. Downloading an app like Headspace or Calm is a great way to start. Try just five minutes a day to begin with. It’s important not to beat yourself up if you feel you aren’t ‘getting it’… all the great sages started somewhere, right?

So, don’t let the Winter blues get the better of you! Take Epsom salt baths, cook nourishing food, improve your mindset with motivational podcasts, de-clutter your home, have fun with friends and be kind to yourself!

If you would like some assistance to lift you out of the Winter blues, book in for a naturopathic consultation with me at The Urban Alchemist.

Stay warm,

Sureya x

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6034676/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5605633/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010276/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5787996/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5747362/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5967372/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30008960

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25837277

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4521101/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0968089609008001?via%3Dihub

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5721815/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5859128/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4471247/