Man holding his head in his hand due to overwhelming stress. Cannonball lit and ready to explode in a Stress Explosion.

Stress Explosion

Stress Explosion

 

Stress Explosion

 

We’re just about a month in to being quarantined.  The news is driving us mad.  Working from home is more stressful than you could ever imagine, especially if you have students suddenly learning online and you have no idea what they are learning to be any help.  Maybe you’ve lost your hours at work.  Maybe you’re wondering if that cough is pollen or plague.  Whatever it is, there will eventually be a stress explosion.  If it hasn’t happened already, it will.

I know I’m guilty of it.  I’ve yelled at my daughters, my husband, the dogs, the cats, the t.v. and even myself.  It’s all ENERGY and that energy needs to get OUT.

We call emotions energy in motion.  When we can’t release that energy or that emotion in an efficient manner, it becomes stuck in our body.  The muscles and organs hold various emotions.  Often during massage or chiropractic, I can touch a tense muscle and when the energy is right, healing and safe, the emotion comes up to be released.  Sometimes it’s released as crying, coughing, laughing, talking, moaning… I could go on.  Just know that it leaves the body in some way, shape or form.

You’ve got to be able to acknowledge that dark and scary stuff.  Some may call this your Shadow Self or your Trials and Tribulation.  It’s all those negative emotions that most people don’t want to deal with.  There’s a saying in the healing world: That which you resist, persists.  You don’t have to name it or blame it.  Just FEEL it.

Journaling Set aside about 20 minutes with just you, a pen and some paper.  Start writing.  Start writing whatever comes to mind.  Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or penmanship.  Write down all those pent up feelings, no matter who dark and grim they may be.  Just GET IT OUT.  When you’re done, you can either re-read it, tear it up and toss it, burn it, save it, share it.  It doesn’t matter.  Just do it.  With the darker or negative emotions, you have to allow yourself to acknowledge them, but not dwell on them.  Do this writing experience 3 times per week, until you feel you can manage those emotions better.  You can still journal the other days of the week, but the shadow work needs to be limited to 3 times per week.

Car Tunes  Have you realized yet just how therapeutic driving used to be?  For me, that’s when I crank up the tunes and sing, loudly (and usually very off key).  So if you have nowhere to go during this quarantine time, just go out in your car, turn up the music and sing.  Singing activates the Vagus Nerve, which is the main nerve of the Parasympathetic (rest and digest) Nervous System.  The louder you sing forces you to really contract your core muscles and gives your diaphragm a work out.  All things that help you relieve stress.

Ground yourself  Now is the perfect time to go outside and just BE.  Doing yardwork can be highly therapeutic because you’re moving your body and you’re outside.  Walk barefoot in the grass.  Better yet, lay down or sit in the grass.  Just connect with the earth beneath you.  There’s a reason so many people are flocking to the parks – just PLEASE keep your distance from the other people, or better yet, go for a walk around your neighborhood.  Amusingly, because my husband and I have been doing a lot of yardwork in the backyard, we’ve established ‘over the fence conversations’ with our neighbors.

Reach out  If you’re feeling so overwhelmed that you cannot manage your own emotions, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.  Telehealth with your therapist.  I’ve been told co-payment have been waived during this time when you use Telehealth.  Reach out to me if you need someone to just talk to.  I can direct you to the appropriate resources if needed.

Be Patient  Be patient with yourself and others.  You might notice some people pushing your buttons just to have an argument.  That’s their way of trying to release pent up frustration and you just happen to be the pawn.  You might be picking on someone just to engage in an argument.  These are all those signs that you need to release your feelings.  Do your best not to engage in an argument.  Or find someone who will allow you to rant and not take things personally.

 

Fusion Chiropractic remains open during these challenging times.  Chiropractic is not just about the physical body, but also the mind and the spirit.  Patients are seen by appointment only and scheduled so that there is enough time between people to maintain safety, social distancing and time to disinfect according to CDC guidelines.  Stay Safe.  Stay Healthy.  Get Adjusted.

October is Dysautonomia Awareness Month

Dysautonomia is an umbrella term that is used to describe several different medical conditions that relate to the Autonomic Nervous System. The Autonomic Nervous System is the “automatic” regulation of things we don’t consciously think about in order to function, such as: pupil dilation, blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature control, digestion and many more.

Dysautonomia is not a rare disease, but it is not well known either. Approximately 70 million people worldwide have some form of dysautonomia. This topic is near and dear to my heart because I have not just one family member with it, but two.

Our journey started when my youngest daughter started passing out at school. She has a history of concussions, so our biggest concern was her hitting her head and getting another concussion. The second time she passed out at school, she was taken to the nearest hospital. After many tests were run, one of the doctors mentioned POTS – Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It sounded familiar to me, but I wasn’t quite sure. I knew about Orthostatic Hypotension when someone stands up and their blood pressure dropped. This would explain the dizziness, but not much more. It wasn’t until an ENT doctor tested her and confirmed POTS. With POTS, it’s not just the blood pressure, but you have to closely watch the heart rate. When there is a difference of 30 beats per minute, or over 120 beats per minute upon sitting up or standing up (within 10 minutes), this is what we call Postural (going from laying down to sitting up, or sitting up to standing up) Orthostatic (blood pressure) Tachycardia (heart beats faster) Syndrome (because it’s more than just one symptom).

POTS Syndrome means there are multiple symptoms in the same disorder
POTS – Syndrome means there are multiple symptoms in the same disorder

No one is sure what exactly causes POTS or Dysautonomia. There are many thoughts as to what may cause this, but no definitive answers. All that can be done is treat the symptoms as they arise. For most POTS patients – who are typically between the ages of 15 – 50 with a mild prevalence to females – this means medical management such as beta-blocker medicine to control heart rate and blood pressure. Most POTS patients have dizziness and fainting, which can also be considered as Neurocardiogenic Syncope. According to Dr. Michael McConnel, the POTS specialist in Georgia, the dizziness is the last effort of the body to get blood and oxygen up to the brain. He also reminds us that when treating POTS and Dysautonomia, to remember that “this is marathon, not a sprint”. This was tremendously helpful to hear but difficult to accept. Unfortunately, Dr. McConnell has since retired.

Along with POTS are several other symptoms or dysfunctions. As the picture above shows, many symptoms of Autonomic Dysfunction include exercise intolerance, gastro-intestinal problems (gastroparesis, nausea, vomiting), brain fog, headaches such as migraines. Pain seems to be the most difficult to conquer and this is mostly due to the body’s inability to shift between the two branches of the Autonomic Nervous System: Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems.

Most patients are stuck in Sympathetic Nervous System Overload or Sympathetic Dominance. When the Sympathetic Nervous System can’t settle down, their bodies are stuck in the Fight, Flight or Freeze phase. The opposite of this is the Parasympathetic Nervous System known as the Rest and Digest phase, where relaxation lives. Many POTS people live in that hyper-adrenaline state and are unable to calm down. Think about when you see a scary movie: you get scared for a moment and scream, then settle back down for the next scene. With POTS, there is no coming down from that first scary scene. This person stays in that ultra excitable state for hours, or even days.

There are many home remedies to help with POTS. Many people end up wearing compression socks or stockings to help with the blood pooling down to their feet. Sometimes it’s necessary to do a lot of squeeze-release technique where you squeeze the muscles in your lower body, then release that tension. This helps to pump the blood back towards the body and up to the brain. It also helps with getting the muscles to relax. Salt tablets or increasing salt intake is another home remedy that works wonders with POTS to increase the volume of blood and raise the blood pressure so they don’t faint. It is estimated to increase salt up to 3 – 5 grams per day. This is completely opposite of what we tell everybody else, but this is a completely different syndrome. When feeling dizzy, the person with POTS is supposed to lay down and elevate their feet above their head to get the blood flowing back up to the body and the brain. People with POTS are also encouraged to engage in recumbent exercise such as a recumbent bike or floor exercises like yoga or Pilates. This helps to recondition the body and the cardiovascular system while keeping blood flow in the body more horizontal, rather than vertical.

I have asked many people, parents of children who have POTS and people who live with POTS, about chiropractic care. Most people with POTS have done very well with chiropractic care, especially the functional neurology branch of chiropractic care. POTS people also do much better with the more gentle types of chiropractic care where special caution is taken to balance the autonomic dysfunction. I have found that using Thompson technique and mostly SOT Sacro-Occipital Technic helps to shift people in to the parasympathetic state of rest and relaxation. The other most effective modality has been deep tissue, therapeutic massage, not just for the prolonged parasympathetic state, but also for pain relief.

If you live in the metro-Atlanta area and would like a consultation to see if you may have POTS or how chiropractic and massage can help your POTS symptoms, please feel free to contact me.

~Dr. Cynthia