Holistic Treatment for PTSD

By Abbie Burgess

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? An estimated 8 percent of Americans have the condition —that’s the size of the population of Texas! According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, the demand for treatment continues to grow. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect survivors not only of combat experience, but also other traumatic events such as natural disasters or assault. It has been recognized as a psychobiological mental disorder since 1980, though symptoms often go untreated or undetected. Some sufferers are now finding help through complementary medicine. Holistic practitioners experienced in working with PTSD abound in Eau Claire—and with treatments including massage, therapy animals, and yoga, their methods might pleasantly surprise you.

Treating PTSD with Bodywork Therapy Chris Hayden of Driftless Bodywork in Eau Claire and Menomonie treats patients with therapeutic massage, acupressure, Rolfing Structural Integration, AMMA Therapy, and Tai Chi. “Body therapists have long been aware that emotions play out in the body as well as the mind,” Hayden explains. “This is never more obvious than in the case of trauma, which can create such overwhelm that one’s body becomes locked into a pattern of tension and guarding…it is as if part of the person was frozen in time at the moment of trauma, unable to process the experience and move on.”  By engaging the body’s tissues in a mindful way, Hayden says bodywork can help these patterns to release, allowing the body and mind to be whole in the present moment.

Equine Assisted Therapy They may be too big to fit in a lap, but horses make ideal therapy animals. According to Trinity Equestrian Center, horses have an innate ability to read a person’s body language. The Eau Claire organization offers free veteran horse therapy to qualified military individuals and their families, no prior riding experience required. The program helps veterans struggling with PTSD identify their triggers and create tools to manage reactions, behavior, and choices. “Through experiential work with horses, we help veterans rediscover their identity and re-establish their purpose,” says Trinity Equestrian Center Therapist Sylvia Piekarz. “It is a meaningful experience that will change their heart and therefore, change their life. Working with our horses creates a connection of their hearts that is indescribable and so very effective.”

Healing Emotional Trauma with Yoga Yoga is becoming increasingly recognized as an effective  treatment for reducing symptoms of PTSD. It can also help with prevention—a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy found that sensory-enhanced hatha yoga shows potential to effectively address symptoms of combat stress before they develop into full-blown PTSD. Sandra Helpsmeet, a registered yoga instructor and psychotherapist at Vantage Point Clinic, teaches Yoga for Anxiety and PTSD class and Yoga for Pain and Depression. Both classes are offered in partnership with her clinic, specialized to address the needs of patients within an environment where they can be comfortable going at their own pace. Helpsmeet says yoga is a beneficial auxiliary treatment to therapy and believes the two complement each other well. “People think yoga is yoga. They don’t realize the broad spectrum of applications it has.” Its emphasis on breathing makes it ideally suited for treating trauma conditions. “Yoga is inherently calming and grounding,” she explains. Helpsmeet says any yoga class could be potentially beneficial, especially if the instructor has a high level of certification, but an instructor with experience working with veterans is ideal. This is just a sampling of what holistic practitioners can offer to help patients cope with PTSD. Whether you or someone you love is interested in holistic therapies, the important thing is there are options available. The best way to find out if a method is effective for an individual is to give it a try.

Preparing Your Pet for the New Baby

By Melinda Gardner, APPLE Pregnancy Care Center 
At the APPLE Pregnancy Care Center, one of the services we provide is an “Earn While You Learn”
program for our pregnant women and new parents. We have a great curriculum that includes all kinds of important topics. Our parents learn, are encouraged and mentored, and they receive “points” to buy diapers, baby clothing, formula, and many other wonderful items they need. One
of the things we’ve had people ask us to teach them is about bringing a baby home when you have a dog.
We love it when our clients are asking these kinds of important questions. It means they are very
aware that there can be problems. It means they want to take care of their pet as they introduce their new baby to the dog. It means that they are paying attention to the safety of their child as they are aware that there could be problems.
There are so many great websites out there to help with this particular issue. If you’re in this situation, check out some of them. And we’ll give you some easy things you can do here as
you prepare for these special times. It’s really important to begin to prepare your dog long before the day you bring baby home. You can do this by beginning to introduce smells like baby lotion into your home.
And when the baby arrives, bring a blanket or hat home from the hospital for the dog to smell before you bring baby home. Some suggest you even have a doll that you hold for your pet to see
before the actual child is introduced. And you can play recordings of baby noises to get them used to that as well. Setting boundaries is very important. Will the dog be allowed to be in the baby’s room? It is suggested that you never leave the baby alone with the pet. Even if you trust your
pet, they can be unpredictable.
Supervise all interactions. Be calm. And before you bring baby home, have someone walk the dog to make sure it has been exercised and is calm. Your dog will still need your time and love, but there won’t be as much time, so make sure someone is giving that attention to your pet.
When our daughter had our grandson, they lived in California and we went to stay with them to
help. Katelyn was extremely tired and really had no time or energy to take care of their little dog “Motley.” Every time Motley needed to go outside, he would come up to me and make it very clear that he needed to go for a walk! It was really fun to see him “ask” for attention—and I was happy to get outside and get some exercise too. He did really well accepting the new member of the
family, and they are still great friends six years later.
We hope you will have a great experience as you bring baby home and that your pet and your child will become wonderful friends as they both grow.

First Step: BREATHE through Guided Imagery

By Sue Peck PhD, GNP-BC, APNP

Research shows that 75 to 90 percent of the visits clients make to their doctors are stress related. Stress comes in both good and bad forms. An upcoming prom or graduation for a teen: something they’ve dreamed of for weeks! The wedding of a close family member to someone we believe is their perfect match. The death of someone dear to us. A long-term illness of ourselves or a family member. A poor work situation.  And then there’s the day where the alarm didn’t go off, you got a speeding ticket or a flat tire on the way to work, steppe in an ankle-deep puddle running into the work site, and the person next to you was. These are examples of stress we’ve all experienced.  When stress keeps building and we are unable to get away from it, our body works harder to maintain an even keel.

During stress, the adrenal gland, which sits just above the kidneys at the bottom of the ribs on our body, kicks out adrenaline. That adrenaline is a prod that keeps poking the organs and reminding them that they aren’t doing enough! We can tolerate short-term bursts of the prodding, but if it goes on for a long time, our body runs out of steam. If we drive a team of horses and keep whipping them to go faster, they will, until they become too tired. The horses will slow and may even become injured if we keep urging them to perform. Our body works the same way when we’re under constant stress. No matter how much we sleep or slow down, it’s not enough. When our body becomes worn out, we get sick; we get colds, flu, or other illnesses; we have flare ups; and cancer cells mit grow.

The opposite of the stress response is the resting and repair (R&R) state. Our body does its healing work, nutrition goes out to the cells and tissues of the body, and repairs are made. The R&R happens mostly during sleep. But when we are very stressed, sleep is affected, too! We wake up at 2:00 a.m. worrying about what we have forgotten, have to do, how we will do it, and where to go next…and then it’s 6:00 a.m., and we have to get up, and we feel exhausted. Then we have to move into another day of stress when we have not even recovered from yesterday!

So what do we do about it? It’s not our fault the electricity went off last night! It’s not our fault our co-worker has some issues! And even for that prom or wedding, we need to fitthe planning in alongside of how the rest of life just goes on! First step: BREATHE.  That’s right. BREATHE. Take a huge deep breath and let it out. As you see the breath come into your lungs, it brings clean, healthy air. And as you let it out, it releases the tension. More cleansing occurs with the next breath in, the problem releasing more as you exhale.

Breath work is a first step to stress relief. Its one of the treatments we can use to help control the stress in our lives. When we become focused on moving the breath within us, relaxation can occur. Relaxation helps initiate R&R and can help our sleep.We can build on that breath work by changing the images in our mind’s eye. A treatment clients find great success with is guided imagery.

We work together at visits to develop images of the way we wish things were and of how we act and react. We’ll explore images using our six senses: What do you see in the situation? What do you smell? What do you hear? What do you taste? What do you feel: both physically with your body and in your gut or your heart?

There are many examples of situations where clients use guided imagery successfully.  One is in preparation for labor and delivery; the mom is very relaxed and the labor and delivery goes very smoothly. In some cases, the nurses or midwife are waking the mom up with each contraction to push as she is so relaxed. Flying in an airplane, going to the dentist, or getting a shot can be smoothed with guided imagery. A child that has bedwetting can learn guided imagery using a faucet. When I worked at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, we used guided imagery to relieve pain in patients who had extensive burns; the patients didn’t need ANY narcotic medications with their dressing changes. A young man with massive injuries after a motorcycle accident needed NO pain medication during dressing changes while he drove his race car around the track in his mind’s eye from his hospital bed.

Make an appointment with me, and we’ll work on guiding the images you need to relieve stress and create healing for you. Call 715-832-1953.

 

Ease Holiday Stress with Essential Oils

Is the issue lack of information, lack of motivation, or just not sure where to start? We know education is power. Not just in flexing yourbrain but also in the knowledge of the basics to care for yourself and your family. How do we deal with the emotions of the holidays? Too many health issues that were reserved for the “older” citizens are now trickling down to our children and grandchildren. Arthritis, diabetes, obesity, increases in allergies to everyday foods like peanut butter, nuts, breads, and so much more. What were once considered rare diseases are now becoming common place like autism, ADD/ADHD, or even juvenile auto-immune diseases. There is so much information available, but you have a difficulttime in deciphering what is true and what is in error, what is pertinent and what is hype. Does anyone have any reasonable answers? All you would like is to feel better and take care of your family. Not too much to ask…right? What if I told you that there are answers, and you can take back your control and responsibility for you and your family’s health in a logical, science-based manner without breaking the bank and without needing  a doctorate?

Please join us on Tuesday evenings at Unity Christ Center for FREE educational classes. Please  contact me if you would like further information. Drlynnthompson1@gmail.com

Snap into Fitness

By Thomas Beranek, Snap Fitness

Everyone understands the holidays can be an easy time to eat more and gain the extra winter insulation that follows. While diet and exercise are important year-round, it’s important to acknowledge the middle of the holiday season is not the ideal time to start a new health regimen; stress is just as much an enemy of a waistline as a sedentary lifestyle.

Exercise is a proven stress reliever.  The central nervous system responds favorably to physical exercise, and regularly exercising to elevate the heart rate for at least 30 minutes three times a week has been shown to significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Yoga is a physical activity ideal for coping with the added stress of the holiday season.  In fact, yoga emphasizes stress reduction through self-reflection and breath control even with the most physically demanding tasks.  You are calmer, more centered, and more able to handle the day’s stressors after a session of yoga.

Don’t worry if you aren’t flexible or particularly coordinated. Yoga is not what is portrayed in the popular media.  Yoga is for everyone.  From the most petite to the burliest, yoga allows you to work up a healthy sweat for your physical fitness and an even healthier opportunity to quiet the stress in your life.

But it’s equally important to build a stress-relieving regimen before the holidays are knocking at the door and it’s suddenly impossible to imagine the time to step away and de-stress.  Taking the opportunity now to participate in a class and start a regular habit is the best way to manage the stress throughout the entire season.  Yoga offers a host of stress reducing-techniques in the classroom and beyond.

At Snap Fitness of Eau Claire, we offer a variety of yoga classes for every age, ability level, and physical goals: Gentle Yoga, Relax Yoga, and Power Yoga.  We avidly believe the benefits of yoga will help you reach your fitness goals while managing your stress.  Please stop by our new location at 1903 Keith Street, just down the road from Memorial High School, and attend a complimentary yoga class.  We can’t wait to help you through this stressful holiday season.