By: Dr. James Rouse, Naturopathic Physician and Human Touch Wellness Council Member
You most likely have heard this ad slogan encouraging us to keep what happens in “Sin City” to ourselves, but I am of the belief that we need to shout what happens out loud, in relationship to our Vagus Nerve and its truly awesome benefits.
The Vagus Nerve is often called the wandering nerve, as it winds from the base of our brainstem to the abdomen by way of multiple organs, including the lungs and heart. The Vagus Nerve runs the show in your inner nerve center - specifically the parasympathetic nervous system which I love to refer to the house of Peace, Power and Positivity. Ahhhh, just that? let wash over you!
Do you long for Peace, Power and Positivity? You are not alone. This is most likely due to the fact that most everyone is suffering from being stuck on the sympathetic side of our nervous system where we feel wired and tired, a hair trigger away from the stress response of “flight or fight,” and all too ready to overly react to the small stuff. All this “stuff” left unchecked can lead to a whole host of challenges from depression, anxiety, sleep issues, immune dysfunction, heart challenges and possibly even shorter life expectancy…YIKES!
So what can we do? GO TO VAGUS!
When you actively engage with your Vagus Nerve you are on the road to recovery, and here’s how you can do it:
1) Create and sustain positive, loving, safe relationships
3) Finish your shower with ice cold water
6) Breathe from your belly
8) Get a massage
We got this…right? I work on incorporating each of these daily, including massage. Any of the Human Touch massage chairs to the Massage Anywhere will do the trick. For me, I always finish my working day by engaging with my Novo XT. I use the “manual” program and click on “breathe”. It serves my mind, body and soul as I release my human doing and claim my human being…staying in Vagus as long as I can.
Image by: Nick Duell
Are you ever feeling like you are too tired to keep running…but you are also too scared to stop?
You are not alone, and research suggests that literally anyone who has a job is experiencing a rise in stress-related challenges and the not-too-subtle decline in performance, personal peace and overall quality of life. In my own life as a dad, husband, doctor, entrepreneur and over-committed sprinter in the daily decathlon of life, I needed to find a solution to proactively reclaiming my energy and my life.
So as I always do, I looked to science to find a proactive strategy that we can implement to shift from stressed to blessed!
One answer lies in the new wave of human potential, personal performance and enlightened energy management - the rise of ULTRADIAN RHYTHMS. You are most likely very familiar with circadian rhythms, which is basically the 24-hour clock that our bodies run to align our sleep-wake cycles. Ultradian Rhythms are more of an interval-based way of approaching each day, to optimize every aspect of performance by honoring the natural way our mind and bodies function in 90 minute cycles of work and 20 minutes of rest/recovery.
What we are learning is that we do not perform optimally well after 90 minutes of work. In fact, we experience a sharp decline as we try and push thru and keep going. But, if we are courageous enough to STOP…fully “dismount” from our Human Doing and allow our Human Being to step in - we will be met with an awesome upgrade in productivity, happiness, creativity, strength, focus and just about every “upgrade” we could ask for ourselves.
What should you do for 20 minutes? Here’s what you should not do: do not surf the internet, do not get on your phone, or check social media feeds....I know…hard
Here’s what you can do: nap, get outside, have a great snack, do a series of planks, or get a massage. Yup, that is what I do 2 x per day. I grab my iJOY Massage Anywhere by Human Touch, and give myself an instant mind-body-self love and care intervention. Massage gives me a beautifully unfair advantage when I come back to work, it increases key neurotransmitters associated with creativity and focus along with a re-set with stress hormones and allows me to feel more peace and balance…the ability to reclaim the rhythm of the good life!
Learn more about how to use massage to align your body with the new time changes in Dr. Rouse's newest video post:
iJOY® Massage Anywhere™ is the perfect solution for those searching for a portable massage chair.
The current nature of Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) doesn’t give way to much familiarity. Most try to liken it to cryotherapy or sensory deprivation float tanks. Though they bare similarities, HBOT is completely different. HBOT is a non-invasive medical treatment of delivering a large amount of oxygen under pressure. That influx of oxygen supports rapid healing in the body during the session and in days after. But it’s not common place and our treatment chambers can look a bit intimidating, so we have made every effort to practice HBOT in an environment that is peaceful and relaxing. Our Human Touch® Perfect Chairs® really make the experience. Immediately, our patients are transported out of the grind of their lives and on a mini va-ca, into a spa where every need was thought of and met before the patient had to ask. The Perfect Chair is their first introduction to our place. We recline them, take vital signs, and walk them through the treatment. Our regulars stake claim to their favorite chair, colonizing them with their personal items, customizing the settings and regaling the newbies about their first time. This chatter helps; new patients tend to sink into their chair more at ease and all you see after a while are two pairs of feet in the air from a deep recline, like two white flags surrendering to the process, ready for treatment.
Once settled inside, the pure oxygen lulls most everyone to sleep. For good reason, your body wants to utilize the surge of oxygen. When the body is put under pressure, oxygen is able to be dissolved in to your blood at a much higher rate (Henry's Law). Oxygen is needed to make ATP which is cellular energy or cellular cash and just like every good capitalist society, cash is king, and your body goes right to work spending it. While the patient sleeps, cellular contractors are putting in bids and molecular architects are submitting plans. Every project is approved in this oxygen rich environment and the work begins without delay! Teams begin repairing soft tissue, building new blood vessels, stimulating the growth of stem cells, reducing inflammation/swelling, enhancing immune functioning, improving neurocognitive functions, fortifying bone tissue and more. All the patient has to do is breathe.
After 90 minutes, the patient is brought out of the chamber and welcomed back into our tranquil place. With all the changes their body undergoes, they experience disorientation and the feeling of being high. We guide them to take refuge back in a Perfect Chair. There is no better way to transition them back to real life. We preheat the chair with the jade infrared heat and have a tray with warm moist towels ready for them. The infrared heat improves lymphatic flow and increases circulation of blood deep in the tissues, helping to clear out any leftover waste from all the projects. Once they are nestled in, we recline them and let them re-acclimate slowly. This pause is paramount. The body needs to rest and readjust back to the oxygen poor environment. Once the patient feels like they are back down to earth, they are given vitamins and sent on their way. Routinely, patients will call us just to tell us about how great they feel even days later.
Our goal is to transport people away from the hustle of real life to a tranquil escape. We are reintroducing what healthcare is supposed to look like. It is our belief when people are placed in an environment rooted in patient first care, they actually heal. And that reintroduction starts and ends with the Perfect Chair. From the moment they sit down, they know we have invested in their comfort. The Perfect chair is not just a design choice, it is the treatment. The perfect bookends to a restorative hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment.
By: Dr. James Rouse, Naturopathic Physician and
Human Touch Wellness Council Member
Full disclosure and absolute vulnerability here…have you ever been too tired to keep running but at the same time you felt too scared to stop? I know in my heart that you and I most always have the most powerful and sincerest of intentions to allow for the space of grace to envelope us on demand. Yup, every day we assemble our “to do” list and maybe, just maybe, we courageously insert our self-care towards the end of that long list as an “honorable mention” in the hopes that we may just make it happen.
Then life happens.
No doubt, we are living under the influence of “not enough-ness”. Not enough time, energy, mindfulness and presence. At the end of our daily decathlon we often times find ourselves feeling like we may let ourselves down… again. From there, we can go to the familiar place of finding all the reasons why we missed ourselves… again. Or, we can courageously choose to begin again, right here and now with a self-love, self-care intervention: wellness at the speed of life.
“Oh my, this sounds a bit self-indulgent… a little too self-absorbed…” I get it. How dare you place your SELF at the top of your “to do” list?
How dare you not?
Your ability to rise up each day and create a life you love - one that is awake, present, balanced and fully open to the highest expression of you is fully dependent on your ability to - openly and with enthusiasm - love yourself well-all day long.
Here’s some fun food for thought:
Massage Anywhere: planes, trains and automobiles. Make your commute a moving massage meditation. You will arrive more peaceful, balanced and ready to rock your success. Got lunch? Feed your mind and body the blessing of moving from stressed to blessed… the courageous move from being the human doing to re-claim the human being is done with your Human Touch iJoy Massage Anywhere. Make room for your afternoon delight. As stress hormones love to rise up with each and every email, voicemail and social media engagement, you can lower the drama and raise the positivity while you marinate in massage from your desk, meeting, soccer-mom-dad bleacher seat. All good. Always.
If you’re on the fence as to whether or not you can make the move to the greener pastures of peace, positivity and all out contagion, let me leave you with this: as you make your way into each day living under the influence of your self-care love affair the world will be watching. “They” will follow your lead, you will be a change agent, you will be the leader of the revolution- and you thought this was all about you. Rise and shine wellness warrior!
By Laura Gaskill, Houzz
Photo By: Gabriel Holland Interior Design, original photo on Houzz
So often we look forward to the weekend, but once it arrives, it gets swallowed up by errands and chores — and before we know it, it’s over. That hardly seems fair! If you’re ready to reclaim your weekend, begin by shifting your thinking and consider your weekend a “mini retreat” — a well-deserved opportunity to rest and recharge. And while not every weekend lends itself to this relaxed approach, even when life throws you a super-packed weekend, pulling even a few ideas from the list that follows can help slow things down enough that you can catch your breath and savor the abundance around you.
Gabriel Holland Interior Design, original photo on Houzz
Start your weekend off right by savoring your first cup of coffee (take it outdoors if the weather is agreeable) and using this moment to simply breathe and relax, without feeling the need to check your phone or fire up the laptop. Instead, pick up an old school pencil and paper and make a list of things you would love to do and (equally important) things you don’t want to do over the weekend. Really dreading the weekly cleanup session? Consider calling in a cleaning service, even if these chores are something you usually do yourself. If you must clean, plan to set a timer and get it out of the way as quickly as possible.
Scoop up armfuls of blooms. What could be more cheerful than flowers all around the house? If spring is blossoming where you live, all you may need to do is walk out to your garden and start snipping away. If it’s still cold (or you don’t have a garden) stop by a market, farmstead or flower shop and treat yourself to some beautiful blooms. Once you get home, trim the stems a bit (a fresh cut makes it easier for the flowers to drink water) and place them in vases of fresh water immediately. But don’t stop there — even if you bought just one bouquet, you can get more out of it by pulling out a few blooms to fill bud vases. Place a bud vase beside your bed, on the bathroom sink and in the kitchen to spread good cheer throughout your home.
Take a neighborhood stroll or bike ride. How much have you really explored your neighborhood? Take a walk (bundle up if you need to) or bike ride if it’s a lovely day, and set out to discover something new. Your eventual destination could be your local farmer’s market or a favorite neighborhood cafe or shop, or you could simply wander and explore, taking inspiration from the houses and gardens you pass.
Dafne Vijande, original photo on Houzz
Set up your own spa-like accoutrements. When you come in from your walk or bike ride, refresh yourself by making a pitcher of fancy water with slices of lemon, orange or cucumber and sprigs of a fresh herb like mint. Pour yourself a tall glass and sip it while paging through your favorite coffee table book.
Refresh your living space. If decorating is your cup of tea, put on some music and spend some time restyling your living room. There’s no need to buy a thing — just challenge yourself to be creative and work with what you have. Sometimes moving things from room to room, putting up some new art (you can always pull from your stack of family photos) or pulling a few textiles out of hiding are all that’s needed to give a space a fresh look. Of course, if shopping is on your agenda, it’s your weekend to do what you like — but consider checking out a small, local shop or flea market instead of hitting the big stores, as you never know what treasures you’ll come across (and it’s surprisingly satisfying to stay close to home).
Invite friends over for tea. When was the last time you got together with a few friends just to chat and catch up? Having tea together is a lovely, low-pressure way to host a gathering, since all you really need is a selection of tea and enough cups to go around! Teatime treats are always nice, but they can be simple — good cookies from a box along with a bowl of berries is totally fine. No need to bake scones from scratch (unless you want to).
Sand Design, original photo on Houzz
Think of the transition from morning to afternoon as a natural time to pause and “reset” your day. If something came up in the morning — soccer practice, errands — make this your chance to reboot your weekend and intentionally choose to relax and enjoy the rest of the day.
Picnic in the backyard. Whether you stopped by the farmer’s market on your morning stroll or are using what you have on hand, keep lunch simple and fresh. Think crostini with tapenade, crunchy veggies sprinkled with a bit of flaky salt, a prepared whole grain salad and a bowl of berries for dessert. If the weather is good, why not pack up your lunch and head out to the backyard? Everything tastes better in the fresh air! And if it’s rainy or cold, simply relocate your picnic to the dining table, and warm up with the addition of hot soup and mugs of tea.
Sneak away for an afternoon soak. Taking a leisurely bath in the afternoon feels luxurious, improves the spirits and helps release any lingering tension from a long week. If you have fragrant essential oils or fancy bath products you’ve been saving, now’s your chance to use them.
B Jane Gardens, original photo on Houzz
Read, journal and daydream. Whether it’s a sunny window or a backyard hammock, choose the best seat in the house for getting lost in a good book. Take along a journal and pens in case you get inspired to write down your thoughts — and if you’re not sure what to journal about, making a “things I’m grateful for” list is always a winner.
Kindle an old flame. Did you always love photography, art or poetry? Whatever your passion, take a little time-out to explore what sparked your interest in the first place. Pull out your old sketchbook and draw for 10 minutes; take a neighborhood walk with your camera; write a poem on the first scrap of paper you find — it doesn’t have to take up much time to feed your old flame, and it’s worth every second.
Kristy Noble Photography, original photo on Houzz
Unlike on a weeknight — when you’re probably already tired from your workday — after a day of rest, relaxation and creativity you should be feeling renewed and ready to have some fun. Make an official start to your evening hours by putting away the to-do list and setting aside your devices.
Put on your favorite music. Music, more than just about anything else, has the power to quickly shift our mood — so put on an album that lifts your spirits. If you have records, play DJ and curate a stack of albums to play throughout the evening. If you’d rather let someone else do the curating for you, try one of the many new online music streaming services … or invite a friend with great taste in music to come over!
Shabby Chic Style Dining Room, original photo on Houzz
Plan a vacation-inspired dinner. Whether it’s impeccably fresh fish in the Caribbean, tender Maryland crab cakes, a lobster roll within view of the beach in Maine or a warm and comforting meal in a tiny Italian trattoria, on vacation, dinner is often an event — something to really look forward to and savor. Whether you decide to cook or order in, choose something for dinner that captures the excitement of being away. Set the mood with music, candles and good friends or family to share the experience with.
Serve aperitifs or digestifs outdoors. So often it’s the little things that elevate everyday life into something special. One way to do that around the nightly meal is to change the venue before or after dinner (or both). Serve aperitifs (before-dinner drinks) and small nibbles in the garden before the meal, or head out onto the patio after dinner for a digestif surrounded by candles and strands of lights.
When you hear the word “retreat,” what comes to mind — writing in a cabin by a lonesome lake, engaging in spiritual study or practicing yoga on the beach? How about doing a retreat in your own home? It may at first seem like an improbable idea (although that yoga-on-the-beach thing sounds pretty good), but there are some surprising positives to crafting your own retreat at home. For one thing, it’s free. For another, you can decide exactly the sort of activities you want to focus on, including things that may not be combined in most retreats (novel writing and cupcake baking, anyone?). Check out these 10 steps to designing your own retreat in the comfort of your home.
1. Decide on a focus. Are you craving a spiritual retreat? Time to work on your craft, write, do yoga or meditate? Make a short list of the things you want to incorporate into your retreat so you can start planning.
2. Get your household onboard. If you live with others, and especially if you have children, going on a retreat at home can be a challenge. Try to plan the retreat for a time when your family or housemates will be away, particularly during the day. At the very least, try to get everyone to agree to respect what you are doing. This includes not speaking to you too much if you decide to maintain silence (see No. 8) during your retreat. If you have children, it can be worthwhile to do a shorter (even a one-day) retreat when you know the kids will be out of the house.
3. Set an intention. An intention is different from a goal. A goal might be, “I will meditate two hours each day,” whereas an intention could be, “I will be mindful and appreciate each moment.”
To set an intention for your retreat, answer these two questions:
○ What do you hope to gain from your retreat?
○ What do you hope your experience will be?
Setting intentions before your retreat can help keep you focused on the experience you want to have.
4. Shop for groceries and plan meals. Retreats you travel to, no matter what the focus, tend to offer fresh, healthful food — so try to offer yourself the same. Get the main work out of the way before your retreat begins, so you can focus on the good stuff.
5. Gather other materials. Depending on what sort of activities you will be focusing on, you may want to pick up books, instructional videos, craft supplies, notebooks and pens, a yoga mat or meditation cushions.
6. Create a schedule. Any proper retreat has a schedule mapped out in advance, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same. Decide what time you would like to rise, eat, work on your project, read, have downtime and go to sleep each day. Of course, the beauty of having an at-home retreat is that you are free to leave your schedule as open or as structured as you like.
7. Prepare your space. There’s no need to go overboard cleaning and scrubbing, but beginning your retreat in a neat, clean home will help set a positive tone. Plan to spend a few hours getting rid of clutter and cleaning up before you begin your retreat.
Pay special attention to clearing away clutter and electronic devices in the bedroom so you can sleep restfully. And elsewhere in the house, put away anything that reminds you of work or things you may be feeling stressed about.
8. Try silence. Consider going without speaking during some or all of your retreat — you may be surprised how refreshing it can feel to get a break from constant chatter.
Of course, the more people in your household, the more difficult it will be. Perhaps someone else would like to participate in silence with you, or you can enjoy a silent break during the times you have the house to yourself. And, of course, talk if you really need to!
9. Unplug. If there is one thing that seems to be a given at a retreat, it’s that you disconnect your devices. No going online and no checking your phone or tablet. If you are used to being on your devices frequently, it can be a hard habit to break, but it’s worth trying!
10. Consider your media consumption. In addition to what you might be used to seeing online, consider taking a break from the magazines, newspapers and books you usually read. Be intentional about the material you choose to read or watch during your retreat. If you want to read a book or watch a film, pick one that meshes with the intention you set for the retreat.
More from Houzz:
Looking for a way to enjoy daily full-body massage on your retreat? Try the Human Touch Novo XT massage chair:
By increasing oxygen-rich blood to tired, sore muscles, Novo XT helps to restore your natural well being. You can also bet that the sleek, innovative design will serve as a conversation piece that captivates attention like that of your favorite sports car.
Once you’ve rejuvenated both your body and mind, you’ll experience a heightened sense of confidence, motivation, and clarity—all the tools you need be your best and keep your edge over the rest of the pack.
By: Dr. James Rouse
What if I told you that you could stop negative thoughts in their tracks? Or that the solution to finding your happiest self, and becoming a more loving partner and engaging friend, is up to you??
We sometimes forget that our thoughts are actually up to us, and that we have the power to minimize negative thinking. Everybody has pessimistic thoughts sometimes, but it’s important to know that those thoughts are totally normal.
The answer to negative thinking is not to pretend that we don’t feel upset or down from time to time. The answer is to own those negative thoughts by acknowledging them, accepting them as a part of life, and then CHOOSING to turn our attention to a place of optimism.
Since it can be difficult to be optimistic when life gets tough, it’s important to actively look for things that you can be grateful for. You can see it as enduring a gloomy day and thinking “today is rainy, but the past week has been beautiful!” You might even start to appreciate the rain as it helps you to recognize your fortune during the sunny days.
Gratitude has been shown to benefit our lives in a variety of ways, including overall optimism, more energy, improved sleep, an overall feeling of peace, and a stronger immune system. It allows us to shake our minds free of cluttered and gloomy thinking, and create space for clarity, peace, and a solid foundation from which to support ourselves and our loved ones.
Some ways to turn your focus to a place of gratitude include:
Send a Thank You Note
This is truly a Win-Win, since it helps us to feel connected each other and lifts up both people’s spirits. Thank You Notes can be done a variety of ways, including through email, but a hand written and “snail mailed” version really goes the extra mile to demonstrate the gravity of the impact the other person’s actions had on you.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Gratitude journals are a place to keep track of the blessings in our lives. They encourage us to notice all of the little things that bring us joy, rather than only noticing the big/obvious things that make us happy.
These written accounts also allow us to peek back on our journaling history in order to reflect on all of the gifts we’ve been given, so that we can feel hopeful during challenging times. Gratitude Journals can be an actual diary, recorded memos on your phone, or created using one of the dozens of Gratitude Journal apps available.
Give a Gift of Gratitude
Offering our time to others allows us to show people that we are grateful for their friendship. Not only does this improve the other person’s life, but knowing that we have the capacity to brighten someone else’s day reminds us that we have the power to turn our own attitudes toward happiness. Ideas for sharing your time might include baking cookies for a friend, helping a neighbor to mow their lawn, or showing a colleague how to use the latest version of your company’s content management system.
Seek Out Beauty in the World
One way to zero in on happiness is to stop running our lives on Auto-Pilot, and observe the simple beauty that might go unnoticed but exist right in front of us. Watching a bird glide gracefully through the sky, or noticing the shape of your city’s skyline, are just a few of the things that can help us to disconnect from monotonous daily tasks and enjoy our lives with newfound gratitude and appreciation.
Meditation can sometimes be misunderstood by people who feel that it seems inactive or boring. Other people are so used to the daily buzz that they don’t think it’s possible for them to sit silently for a period of time. Others still feel like they’re just TOO busy to meditate, even for a few minutes.
However, there are a multitude of ways to meditate, with options that can fit just about any lifestyle. Here are a few forms of meditation for practitioners of any concentration level, schedule, and interest in meditative spirituality.
This is the simple practice of directing well-wishes toward other people. To practice, sit comfortably with your eyes closed, and imagine what you want for your life. Start by directing phrases at yourself, such as “I wish to feel more peace.” After this, you extend well-wishes toward other people, and determine what positive hopes you have for them. These visualizations go beyond just friends or even people you feel neutral about, and reach out to people whom you don’t generally care for, in order to spread happiness to your surrounding world. This type of meditation has been shown to increase positivity, empathy, and kindness.
Best for: Those struggling with low self-esteem; those looking to become more empathetic to people around them.
There are several forms of moving meditation that can help people who like to multitask, or those who struggle sit still. Exercises such as Yoga or Tai Chi encourage people to move their bodies at a deliberate pace, all while focusing their attention inward in order to really connect their minds and bodies as one. Even walking can be a means of meditation if you simply focus your attention on your mind and body. During any form of moving meditation, it’s important to keep the body in continual motion, in order to maintain the mind-body connection.
Best for: Busy people; athletes.
This style of meditation is centered on the idea that we are made of seven different “energy centers,” each of which is located in a different part of the body. These energy centers, or chakras, are associated with a different color, sound and purpose. Mediation involving one’s chakras often uses sound, touch, and visualization to hone in on a specific area of the body, and heal any issues or heavy emotions that dwell there. Many people who practice yoga believe in chakra meditation, and use it as a supplement to their yoga practice.
Best for: Spiritual individuals; yoga practitioners.
Also called “Insight Meditation,” Vipassana Insight Meditation is the practice of paying close attention to sensation. It emphasizes awareness of breath, and teaches you to focus your attention on the thoughts that arise while you breathe in and out through the nose. No matter your thoughts, it asks you to allow them to flow through you without taking them too seriously, and then gently return your awareness back to your breath. This is the most common type of meditation that is offered at silent meditation retreats.
Best for: Beginners; those looking to attend a silent retreat.
Open Monitoring Meditation
Experienced practitioners see this as an actual purpose to meditation, and not a form of meditation itself. Open Monitoring Meditation encourages turning their focus on their awareness itself, rather than focus on one’s breath or their thoughts. One way to accomplish this might be to sit or lay down, and simply listen to the goings-on in the world around you. You might notice the weight of your body as it distributes onto your chair or the ground, or you can listen to the sounds outside of your window that were only background noise until now. Your state of awareness is heightened as you really start to pay attention to each passing car, gust of wind, or cool breeze. This type of meditation really enhances your connection to the world around you, and helps to calm your mind as you own racing thoughts become more still.
Best for: Busy thinkers; those who struggle to sit still.