Spring Cleaning: Getting Rid of the Mother-Clutter!

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”  – William Morris

Spring is traditionally the season to tidy up.  We speak of “spring cleaning,” of ridding our homes of the piles that have somehow accumulated over the short, dark days of winter.  In early motherhood, there may not be much time for physical cleaning.  Beyond the onesie-washing and brushing out the milk bottles, tackling the tangible mess may have to wait a season or two, or more.

However, there is always time to “clean out” the chaos in our minds; the “mother-clutter.”  Caring for a baby, for all its privilege, can create a build up of emotional residue. This month, “Mother Matters” offers 3 concrete, evidence-based exercises for cleansing your mama-mind, (and your mama-body too, because as the research shows the health of one directly impacts the health of the other.) 

In this season, or any season, you can use these tools to help remove the cobwebs and claim a clearer, brighter view.

Pay it forward (to another mother):  In the throes of sleep deprivation, toddler temper tantrums and wondering what to make for dinner—again, it’s very easy (and very normal) to lose ourselves in our own woes.  And the woes are real.  The fatigue can be debilitating, the tantrums exacerbating, and the meal-planning monotonous.  One way to break out of the bubble of our own “stuff” is to focus our attention on someone else.  A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology[i] tested the pop-culture concept of “paying it forward,” to see if the idea would hold up under scientific scrutiny.  A group of undergraduate students were recruited to perform brief, one-time-only acts of random kindness.  These were simple actions—holding open a door for someone, extending a compliment, paying a parking-meter or offering someone a snack.  The study demonstrated a positive emotional impact on both the givers and receivers of the action, with women showing even greater benefit than men. 

Next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your own emotional mother-moment, make a choice to “pay-it-forward” to another mother in your neighborhood or “mommy and me” class.  Chances are, you will both feel better.

Walk Your Way to A Clearer Mind:  The Buddha did it, and he seemed to have a few things figured out when it came to making life more manageable.  What mother wouldn’t welcome a few tips in that department?  Walking meditation has been found in studies[ii] to offer tangible health benefits including reducing feelings of depression, and increasing functional fitness.  It also happens to be a wonderful way to connect with yourself, and quite literally, become more firmly grounded.  As opposed to adopting the act of walking for the purpose of getting from point A to point B, as is most commonly done, walking as a meditative action has a different objective.  Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, M.D., founder of mindfulness-based-stress-reduction (MBSR) describes it beautifully; to “bring our attention to our feet and feel the contact of the foot with the floor or ground with every step, as if we were kissing the earth and the earth were kissing right back.”[iii] You can begin to practice a walking meditation nearly anywhere at anytime.  You could even have your baby strapped to you in a carrier, or in the stroller.  Take a breath.  Lift one foot off the ground, feeling the weight shifting from one side of the body to another.  Notice the heel come down, the ball of the foot, then the toes last.  Then lift the back foot, moving it forward.  Be aware of how each step is unique.  While there are similarities in the mechanics, each one is different than the next.  When you become distracted, bring yourself back to the beauty of your feet, and welcome a kiss from the Earth.          

Wipe Away the Blur; See What’s Right in Front of You:  So much of our time, mothering and otherwise, is spent going through the motions.  We engage in the day-to-day routine, but are we really “awake” as we do so?  The American writer Henry Miller wrote “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”[iv]  Imagine how you might feel differently if you became more attentive, more focused, more welcoming of each aspect of the daily “grind.”  This is a wonderful exercise to try with your baby:  Practice observing an object the way he or she does, as if for the first time.  It doesn’t matter what the object is—a toy, a piece of food, anything.  Really see it.  See the colors, feel the texture.  Take it in in a deeper way than you are accustomed.  Look for the beauty—every thing has at least a hint of it.  Try this a couple of times during the day.  Seeing things, or people too for that matter, as if for the first time, can reduce the “mother-clutter” and help you gain greater clarity.

[i] Pressman, S.D. (1), M.P. (1) Cross, and T.L. (2) Kraft. “It’s good to do good and receive good: The impact of a ‘pay it forward’ style kindness intervention on giver and receiver well-being.” Journal Of Positive Psychology 10, no. 4 (July 4, 2015): 293-302. Scopus®, EBSCOhost (accessed April 8, 2017).

[ii] Prakhinkit, S. et al., “Effects of Buddhism walking meditation on depression, functional fitness, and endothelium-dependent vasodilation in depressed elderly.”J Altern Complement Med. 2014 May;20(5):411-6. doi: 10.1089/acm.2013.0205. Epub 2013 Dec 28.

[iii] Kabat-Zinn, J. Mindfulness (2017) 8: 249. doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0638-1, p. 249.

[iv] Henry Miller, American author, 1891-1980.

Marching On…Managing Motherhood Through Seasons of Change

March is a time of transition, coming “in like a lion and out like a lamb.”  It is tumultuous, with dramatic changes in temperature highs and lows.  It is unpredictable, especially in the current climate—environmental, political, and otherwise.  It is, in essence, an apt metaphor for becoming a mother. 

 

Drawing on March as inspiration, this month’s Mother Matters centers on being centered; on having practical ways to come back to your mother-self when your surroundings feel out-of-control, as they often do in the early days of motherhood.

 

While it may not always feel like it, you are your own best resource for maternal wisdom.  Books and blogs (even this one) may offer information, education, but they are limited.  Ultimately, mining your self-knowledge is likely to be the most valuable of resource a mother has at her disposal.  Here, then, are three researched-based exercises intended to help you get better in touch with your best source of support—yourself.    

 

The “Planted Seed.”  Chances are you’ve heard (and heard and heard) about “mindfulness.”  The term itself has become over-used, but the practice remains as remarkable and powerful as ever—especially when harnessed during this time a woman’s life.  A new study[i] in the journal BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth looked at a group of new mothers who participated in a multiple-week long mindfulness-based parenting program.  While it may come as no surprise that the participants reported enhanced psychological wellbeing as a result of their participation, there was one particularly interesting finding; The perception of mindfulness as a “shelter.”  When asked about her experience practicing mindfulness, one mom offered “Mindfulness is like a seed: once it has been planted, it’s for life, nobody can take it out of yourself (p.7)” This is the first report of mindfulness as source of “sustained support”(p.7) and as being a “trustworthy ally,”(p. 7) among new mothers.  Imagine the sense of empowerment in knowing that you have an inner resource at your disposal that can provide shelter in moments of fear or anxiety.  It also happens to be free. 

 

Short on time like most mamas?  You can “plant a seed” 1 minute or less, courtesy of Psychotherapist Leonie Stewart-Weeks who offers 9 mindfulness exercises in 60 seconds or less.  Give one a try here.

 

“Come to Your Senses!”  We use the phrase as a directive to help someone “snap out of it,” perhaps even ourselves.  Have you ever stopped to consider the implications of the literal meaning?  The act of coming to one’s senses has a very practical, useful result; it brings us into the present moment.  Purposefully taking time to tune in to your senses can redirect your attention to the here and now, which in turn can help you connect with your maternal instinct.  The next time you find yourself in a moment of frustration with your child (as we all do,) see if you can catch yourself.  Stop.  Make sure your child is in a safe place.  Then step into another room and close your eyes.  Pick a sense of your choosing and try to focus exclusively on that sense for a moment or too.  Listen to the sounds around you, without preference or aversion.  Or, take a few deep breaths through your nose and notice any smells.  Or, simply feel the flow of air on your face.  Prefer to have your eyes open?  Observe light, color, shape and shadow.  Give yourself a moment to rest in the awareness of being in the moment you are in, without judgment.  Just being present is enough.[ii]

 

“A Dose of ‘Real’…”   Pour a cup of tea and take ten minutes (okay, maybe twenty) with Jennifer Senior.  In her Ted talk, the author and researcher of the 2015 book All Joy and No Fun, offers researched-based insight into why mothering (and fathering, too) feels so overwhelming in our current climate.  Though her focus is on parenting slightly older children, there are important lessons to be learned here as you move into motherhood; namely, if you are feeling anxious, you are in good company.  Senior’s description of the parenting section in the bookstore, "a giant, candy-colored monument to our collective panic," reflects the bombardment of well-meaning advice heaped on parents today.   It also serves as a reminder that sometimes the better choice is to close the book, the website, or the blog post (yep, even this one) and tune in to your own maternal instinct. 

 

 

[i] Malis, F. R., Meyer, T., Gross, M. M., & Roy Malis, F. (2017). Effects of an antenatal mindfulness-based childbirth and parenting programme on the postpartum experiences of mothers: a qualitative interview study. BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 171-11. doi:10.1186/s12884-017-1240-9

[ii] Adapted from The Wisdom Within. (2017, January 9). Lecture presented at Philosophy Works: Introductory Course in The School of Practical Philosophy, New York, NY.

Mother, Love Thyself: A Valentine's Day Worth Celebrating!

Whether you believe Valentine’s Day to be the ultimate symbol of romance, or merely an opportunity for Hallmark to cash in, it is hard to ignore the bombardment of rose bouquets and over-stuffed teddy bears that infiltrate stores this time of year. 

Rather than (or in addition to?) investing in either token, how about using them as a reminder to turn some of your love inward.  In the throes of early childcare, we seldom remember to maintain the mothercare.  And if we do, we may then wonder how to secure the time or muster the stamina to tend to ourselves.  This month then, Mother Matters presents 3 heart-warming, researched-based tips that require very little time or effort, but will leave you feeling the (self) love! 

The Smart-Heart

“Philosophy” is, literally, the marriage of “love” and “wisdom,” from the Greek roots “philo” meaning "love" and “sophos,” meaning "wisdom."  Mothering is rife with questions from the more mundane, “Which onesie should she wear,” or “Should I feed him peaches or pears,” to the more profound, “Should we consider sleep-training” or “When do we leave him with a sitter for the first time?”  We face more decisions in a day than we can count, sometimes struggling to find the “right” choice. 

In a moment of indecisiveness, what if you gave yourself the gift of asking this question: “What would a wise person do now?”[i] And then, as you took a few deep breaths and patiently waited, a reassuring response emerged from within you.  Indeed, the answer is always there.  The trick is giving yourself a mindful moment to hear it.  Plato, student of Socrates and founder of the first institution of higher learning in the Western world, teaches that all wisdom is innate—that we are all born with it.  Next time you find yourself in a midst of maternal uncertainty, use your inherent wisdom to guide you. 

The Sweet-Heart

Tempted by the Russell Stover chocolate boxes in the drug store aisle?  This may be a good time to indulge, if you choose wisely.  An analysis published in the journal Nutrition Reviews,[ii] pointed to a handful of studies demonstrating the mood-boosting effects of this delectable dessert.  Incidentally, a number of these studies also suggest that chocolate improves cognitive functioning.  Chocolate can have a positive effect on serotonin (the “happy juice”) in the brain and has been shown to enhance endorphin production, like exercise does.  When looking for the sweet treat, opt for a high quality dark chocolate with simple, non-artificial ingredients.  Some bars will indicate the percentage of cacao on the front of the label—that’s a good sign.  Since chocolate is not exactly low-calorie (if only,) try and limit the serving size to the recommendation on the package if losing weight is on the agenda.  One serving is often less than one whole bar.  New moms who want to watch their weight should get into the habit of checking the serving size on labels.  Consider using a serving of cocoa powder as an ingredient in smoothies or as an addition to a warm drink.

The Strong-Heart

The American Heart Association cites cardiovascular disease (which includes heart disease and stroke) as the number one killer of women around the world.[iii] A 2015 study in BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth[iv] reported that a group of postnatal women engaged in an exercise program demonstrated improvements in haemodynamic function (the flow of blood) and a reduction in blood pressure, both of which can reduce the risk of heart disease. A little bit can go a long way. Bundle up baby in the stroller or the Bjorn and head outside.  A brisk 30-minute walk most days of the week can make a difference. 

 

 

[i]The Wisdom Within. (2017, January 9). Lecture presented at Philosophy Works: Introductory Course in The School of Practical Philosophy, New York, NY.

 

[ii]Scholey, A., & Owen, L. (2013). Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. Nutrition Reviews, 71(10), 665-681.

 

[iii]See the American Heart Association’s “Facts About Heart Disease in Women” at https://www.goredforwomen.org/home/about-heart-disease-in-women/facts-about-heart-disease/

 

[iv]Carpenter, R.E., Emery, S.J., Uzun, O., D’Silva L.A., Lewis, M.J. (2015).  Influence of antenatal physical exercise on haemodynamics in pregnant women: a flexible randomisation approach.  BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 15(1), 1-15.  doi: 10.1186/s12884-015-0620-2

 

3 Sanity-Saving Tips for the New-Mother Mind

Mom, feel like you’re losing your mind? Apparently, you are!

The New York Times (1) last month reported on a revolutionary study affirming for the first time, that pregnancy actually changes the physical structure of the brain and that these changes last well into the postpartum period. The study revealed that portions of the brain, gray matter, actually reduce during pregnancy. This research corroborates what most new moms already know from experience. Becoming a mother is wholly transformative, yielding not only the birth of a new life, but also the emergence of a new maternal soul. Of course the brain is dramatically changed! This month, Mother Matters highlights 3 researched-based tips for helping to preserve the mama-mind when motherhood feels chaotic, or when a moment’s peace is needed.

Take Time to Write a Line:

The “one-line journal” can provide a quick outlet for releasing strong emotion when there is neither the time nor the energy for more. Even a brief moment to express oneself quickly can be therapeutic by releasing emotion out of the body and on to the page(2), according to social worker and expressive arts therapist Kaeli Macdonald who provides support to pre and postnatal clients in Canada. Reserve a legal pad exclusively for this purpose, or simply take a piece or notebook paper or whatever is on hand and convenient. Grab a marker or a crayon and fill up a line (or two.) Scribble, draw an image, letters, words, a pattern—anything that comes out. This should be a quick burst of creativity, rather than one that is carefully executed.

Take a Moment to be Mindful:

In the early days of mothering, the 24 hour routine of feeding, diaper-changing and sleeping can become so monotonous that time can begin to blur. Taking time to actually be present in a moment, any moment, can present a much-needed opportunity for self-reflection and restoration. One way to do this is through meditation. Cassandra Vieten, PhD has researched and written extensively on the subjects of motherhood and mindfulness-based meditation. Her book, Mindful Motherhood includes a variety of exercises for new and expectant moms. Dr. Vieten offers wonderful meditations including the following, which can be accessed for free here. This exercise (which may be performed with or without baby) is a reminder that breathing is always happening in the present and that learning to place focus on the breath is a way of bringing the whole of oneself into the moment(3). Doing so can be both soothing and empowering.

Make a Call; Make a Few:

Thinking of making a playdate for baby? How about making one for yourself. Take the time to call or Skype a good friend, close family member or both. Increased social support is not only a significant mitigating factor for postpartum depression, but according to a study in the journal Social Science Research, the variety of supportive people in a new mom’s social network is also important(4). Different people offer different kinds of help—concrete or “hands-on,” emotional, etc. New moms deserve as much as they can get, from as many people as possible.

Sources:

1. Pam Belluck, “Pregnancy Changes the Brain in Ways That May Help Mothering,” The New York Times, December 19, 2016 available at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/health/pregnancy-brain-change.html

2. Kaeli Macdonald, Skype interview with the author, February 15, 2016.

3. Vieten, C. Mindful Awareness of Breathing Meditation [Audio Recording]. Retrieved from https://s3.amazonaws.com/ions-assets/library/audio/MindfulAwarenessOfBreathingMeditation.mp3

4. Reid, K. M., & Taylor, M. G. (2015). Social support, stress, and maternal postpartum depression: A comparison of supportive relationships. Social Science Research, 54246-262. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2015.08.009

Surviving Sleep Deprivation: How to Manage the "Mama-Haze."

"The new sleep mandate is compelling, but making it happen can be a nightmare."

In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a recommendation stating that babies should sleep in their parents' rooms for the first 6 months of life.  The guideline came as a result of research demonstrating that doing so can reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.) While this sleep-mandate may be compelling, making it happen can be a nightmare for mamas.  This month's post offers 3 tried and tested tips that can help moms (and dads) to catch a few extra winks.  

Sleep More= Sweat More.

A study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine 1 revealed that a home-based, individual aerobic exercise program can reduce fatigue, both physical and mental, in women with postpartum depression.  A second study revealed that a group of postnatal women who practiced in-home Pilates, a method of exercise designed to enhance strength, flexibility, posture and awareness, were found to have lower levels of physical and mental fatigue than their non-practicing peers.2  Ready to try a gentle in-home Pilates routine?  Check out this one from Fitness Blender .

Wanna Sleep?  Apply the Pressure

Licensed acupuncturist and owner of Four Flower Wellness in Chicago, Ashley Flores speaks to the restorative potential of acupressure for new mothers.   This centuries-old technique works similarly to acupuncture, but instead of using needles, the treatment is administered with the fingers.  Flores suggests that applying acupressure to the Pericardium 5,6 and 7 points can be especially useful before going to sleep, as a means of moving away from wakefulness and toward rest.3  
         How to do it:  The Pericardium 5, 6, and 7 points are found on the inside of the wrist.  Look at the inside of the wrist and locate the 2 tendons in the center.  (If they are not visible at first, flex the wrist back and forth until they are either seen or felt with the index finger.)  Take the thumb of the opposite hand and place it 2 thumb widths up from the wrist crease towards the elbow.  Place the thumb parallel to the wrist and begin to massage in a circular motion.  Gentle pressure should be applied; enough to feel a bit of an ache on the spot but not pain.  It does not matter which wrist is chosen first but do massage both sides for about 30 seconds to a minute, each. 

Eat Your Way to a Good Sleep

The foods a new mom opts for can make a difference in helping cope with a chronic case of  depleted " Zzzzs."  Nutritional Consultant Patricia Daly, BA, DipHE, NT states that one of the best ways to stave off physical and emotional fatigue nutritionally is to keep blood sugar levels even throughout the day.4  Complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice are preferable to their white counterparts, which can lead to a rapid spike and drop in pressure.   A tall glass of water along with those carbs is also a good idea.  Water can keep the bodily systems running smoothly and reduce the risk of constipation—a common culprit of fatigue.  

Sources:

1 Dritsa, M., Da Costa, D., Dupuis, G., Lowensteyn, I., Khalifé, S. (2008).  Effects of a home-based exercise intervention on fatigue in postpartum depressed women: results of a randomized controlled trial.  Annals Of Behavioral Medicine: A Publication Of The Society Of Behavioral Medicine, 35(2), 179-87.  doi: 10.1007/s12160-008-9020-4
 
2 Ashrafinia, F., Mirmohammadali, M., Rajabi, H., Kazemnejad, A., Haghighi, K.S., Amelvalizadeh, M. (2015).  Effect of Pilates exercises on postpartum maternal fatigue.  Singapore Medical Journal, 56(3), 169-73.  doi: 10.11622/smedj.2015042


3 Ashley Flores, LAc.  Skype interview, February 11, 2016.

4 Patricia Daly BA, DipHE, NT  Email interviews June 9-September 27, 2016.


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The "Birth" of a New President: Food for Thought for Mamas

As the nation prepares for a new president in office many remain anxious and uncertain. Some are hopeful. Others feel despair. These feelings are characteristic of a period of profound transition; something with which mothers have a great deal of experience. So often I hear clients say “I was just getting the hang of it,” in reference to a child’s particular behavior or way of being, “and now I’m lost again.”

Early motherhood presents a rich opportunity to practice transition-management. One of the best ways to manage the stressors inherent in this life-change is to learn to be purposeful in nourishing oneself, figuratively and literally. Here, we focus on literal nourishment—food. Becoming a mother is a unique time to reflect not only on what mom eats, but also on how she eats.

The way a mom eats can be a healing force. This is scientific fact, not fantasy. A 2014 article in the International Journal of Childbirth Education reported on a study of pregnant women who had experienced gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies. Mindful eating, a specific approach toward food, in combination with yoga, was found to lower blood glucose levels in the current pregnancies of those women in the study.

Since the default setting for so many women is distress or disappointment when looking into a mirror, here is some uplifting science to chew on: The American Journal of Health Promotion published a study in which a mindfulness based eating program was implemented in a work-place setting. At the conclusion of a ten-week series on mindful-eating skills, the women who participated in the program were shown to have significant improvements in body appreciation over peers who did not take part.

So what is mindfulness exactly? More specifically, what is a mindfulness based approach to eating? Though not a religious practice, the idea of mindfulness draws on traditional Buddhist meditation practices dating back more than 2000 years. Mindfulness places focus on awareness and keeping attention in the present moment. When it comes to eating, a mindfulness based approach offers that the act should be multi-sensory and purposeful. In the hectic day-to-day life of a new mother eating is seldom an act unto itself. More often, eating is conducted in conjunction with other activities—checking a Twitter feed, SnapChat account, or even while traveling from one place to the next. Mindful eating is meant to be its own act, performed thoughtfully and singularly.

How might mindful eating look in practice? Imagine this: A simple bowl of penne pasta with marinara sauce sits on a table. Whereas the impulse might be to dive headfirst into the mound of tubular goodness, instead one chooses to pause for a moment. External distractions are limited. A cell phone is silenced, the lap-top is closed, and baby is placed in the bouncer. Then, the chunks of juicy tomato shimmering in the sauce are observed. One indulges in a deep breath in through the nose, inhaling the garlic and oregano-infused steam. Salivating yet? The experience could even be verbalized and shared with baby. “This pasta smells soooo yummy! The steam feels like a little kiss on the nose.” Gracefully, the hollow noodle is slipped onto the spear of the fork, as the sauce clings to its edges. Slowly, the fork meets the mouth as the warm and tender pasta slides onto the tongue and the parmesean flakes melt and disintegrate. This, in a very-simplified nutshell, is mindful eating. In limiting other distractions one is free to draw attention more fully to the food she is about to enjoy. Utilizing all the senses expands the experience of eating, making it more of a pleasurable activity not simply a necessity.

Eating in a mindful way offers the added advantage of slowing down the act of eating itself. This can have real implications for weight loss and weight management. When people eat quickly, they deprive the digestive and nervous systems of the chance to communicate with one another. According to dietitian Joanne V. Lichten, Ph.D., it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach is feeling full. Eating quickly increases the likelihood of over eating. No one should be expected to be able to sit down on a daily basis for a leisurely two hour lunch (at least, no one who has any idea what early child-care entails) but the principle of pace-setting in a realistic way can be modified to work for moms. Even by placing baby in his bassinette or swing for ten minutes—five even—and employing all the maternal senses to focus solely on the meal at hand, the dining experience can be transformed. The result may be a more relaxing experience and perhaps one that requires less food to feel full. Ready to give more mindful-eating a try? Share your experience in the comments.

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Sources:

Stadtlander, L. (2014). Mindful eating and pregnancy. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 29(3), 16-19.

Bush, H. E., Rossy, L., Mintz, L. B., & Schopp, L. (2014). Eat for Life: A work site feasibility study of a novel mindfulness-based intuitive eating intervention. American Journal of Health Promotion, 28(6), 380-388.

Roizman, T. (2016, February 22). “How Does Your Stomach Tell Your Brain That You’re Full? Livestrong.com Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/480254-how-long-does-it-take-your-brain-to-register-that-the-stomach-is-full/

"Motherhood," as Marathon

This past Sunday, I had the pleasure and the privilege of running the Chicago Marathon. Somewhere between miles 18-20, I hit the proverbial wall—a moment when the physiological impact of the preceding miles makes those remaining feel insurmountable. And then it struck me. Motherhood is also an endurance test, a long-lasting exercise in which “hitting the wall” happens over and over again. Like marathoners, mothers need tools to fuel them along the way, to bolster them in those instances when the road ahead feels long, and the legs feel weary. So, this month’s Mother Matters post is dedicated to all the mother-marathoners, runners or not, who could use a quick and easy energy infusion for our well-deserving legs. After all, they carry us through motherhood, from one day to the next.

 

Developed 5000 years ago in China, acupressure is essentially a form of massage that works similarly to acupuncture. Instead of using specialized needles however, the practitioner uses fingers to apply pressure to particular points on the body. This makes acupressure an easy and effective tool for self-treatment.

 

 

Licensed acupuncturist Ashley Flores of Four Flowers Wellness in Chicago (http://fourflowerswellness.com) explains that treating the “Inner Yin” points on the body can enable healthy circulation, bringing blood from the legs back to the rest of the body, and can ease swelling in the lower extremities. These points are also treated in cases of lower abdominal pain and discomfort in the pubic and groin areas.

 

 

How to do it: Sit on the floor butterfly style, with the soles of the feet facing each other. Between the knee and the crease by the pubic area, right in the middle of the inner thigh, sit the Inner Yin points. Using the right elbow, begin by gently pressing down on the inside of the right thigh, above (but NOT on) the knee. Continue this application of pressure while working up toward the pubic area. Take about 30 seconds to complete one pass and then repeat four or five times, being sure to do both legs, one at at time. Those who prefer not to use an elbow may use a foam roller, or even a rolling pin from the kitchen. Treatment may be repeated twice a day, in the morning and the evening, for maximum effect.