Pain Relief from Kindness and Laughter

Kindness & (1)-78834

 

Have you ever suffered from searing pain that…

  • drained the blood from your body and almost made you pass out?
  • kept you up all night?
  • made you feel depressed, hopeless, and scared that it will never get better?

It was exactly this time of the year last year that I was living in this nightmare. A year ago, I couldn’t walk without being in excruciating pain. Simple activities such as sitting, standing, and sleeping made me anxious and worried from the unexpected shooting pain. Both unfortunately and fortunately this painful episode lasted for about one month. While it was unfortunate that I experienced intense pain, it was fortunate that I saw a glimpse of what life was like for people living with chronic pain and importantly able to see firsthand the healing power of two unlikely techniques— an act of kindness and an act of laughter.

Dismal with Disability

What led to my temporary disability is still unknown to me.  I was in great shape last year! I had a personal trainer and worked hard at keeping my weight within a reasonable range. I felt good about myself, I had great energy, and I enjoyed seeing my favorite clothes falling nicely in areas that they were supposed to. To this day, I cannot pinpoint the very moment when it started. Over and over I asked myself.

Was it working out too hard and not stretching long enough?

Was it the way I slept?

Was it my new high heels I wore to match my holiday dress?

 Who knows? All I know was I was in pain and I felt miserable!

The Pain

I always took pride in having a high tolerance for pain but this one was nothing like I’ve ever experienced. I thought I knew what pain was. I’ve had plantar fasciitis on both feet as I worked 12 hour shifts as a nurse. I’ve had shooting sciatica pain from my pregnancies that would have me gripping the furniture or walls around me so I didn’t fall down. Lastly, I endured natural deliveries twice because my childbirth labor always came fast. But this holiday pain felt like a perfect storm of angry sciatica pain, tight hamstring muscles and back pain. The jolt of spasm would catch me so unexpectedly that I would gasp with pain and feel cold, sweaty, and pale from a head rush of blood, making me feel as though I was going to pass out.

Natural Cures

Although I am a nurse, I always went for natural cures before going to the doctors. Years of learning over a dozen proven Complementary Alternative Medicine techniques and Positive Psychology provided me with an array of modalities and techniques to try. I tried everything I had in my natural tool-box such as: Reiki, hot and cold compresses, muscle rubs, homeopathy, and magnets. I went for weekly chiropractic adjustments and deep tissue massages. Little by little I started to feel better but my recovery didn’t start to sky rocket until I did something different. That something different was doing something for someone else. I found that doing something good for someone else help me stop ruminating on my self-pity and suffering. It helped me think of someone else who I cared about and this made me feel better and better.

Doing Good to Feel Good

One day during my one of my more painful afternoons, I decided to do something to get my mind off my pain. I decided to contact an old friend, who had been going through a divorce. Because we had not been in contact for awhile I wasn’t sure how he was doing. When I did reach him, I told him that I was going to give him a special present that I called “7 Days of Cheer.” I explained to him that I was going to send him one pun per day for a week. Knowing that he was very busy, sending him daily puns was a great way for him to know I was thinking him and wishing him well. He agreed to play along and I started. Every day, I looked for puns that I loved; ones that made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t wait but send to him. The puns were silly but hilarious.

Happy Inside and Out

I loved reading the puns during the day because they made me feel happy inside and out. This new found idea was exciting and made me feel good. Each day I looked forward to finding just the perfect pun to send him. The more I sent him, the more I noticed I felt better and better. I noticed something profound that I had been teaching all along in my stress management and wellness workshops for busy professionals.  I noticed that doing kind deeds for someone else does boost your own happiness, decrease feelings of depression, and reduces pain levels.  Further, I noticed the very same thing with laughter as well. As a laughter yoga teacher for professionals, seniors, and cancer survivors, I knew that laughter also provides the same positive benefits. I was amazed at how laughing and doing kind deeds helped reduce my pain.

HotDog


Positivity for Pain Relief

Acts of kindness and laughter, although a very unlikely pairing, provide powerful doses of positivity that are sure to help with pain relief. Our natural pain killer hormones called endorphins are secreted within our brain and nervous system when acts of kindness  are done and with deep hearty laughter. Endorphins, our bodies’ natural pain killers, are similar to morphine that is prescribed by doctors for severe pain. What seemed like a great idea to distract me from pain while cheering up a good friend, quickly became a main source of pain relief. It was as if my inner physician knew what I needed to help me feel better, and I am grateful that I listened to her. It was no surprised that his 7-day gift became a 14-day gift. Not only did my friend enjoy my gift, I was able to experience the pain relief that both kindness and laughter had to offer. It was a holiday that I will always remember.

More on Kindness and Laughter

Both acts of kindness and laughter have much in common. They are known to:

  • decrease pain
  • boost levels of happiness
  • decrease levels of anxiety
  • lead to faster healing

Gifting the “7 Days of Cheer”

Are you or someone you know suffering from any sort of physical, mental, or emotional pain?

Would you like to try something that doesn’t cost anything except your time and energy to feel better?

Are you interested in applying simple techniques that can make you feel better whether or not you are suffering from pain?

I invite you to try the “7 Days of Cheer” with anyone of your family or friends. It’s a fun and unique way to feel good as you do something good for someone. It’s truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Here’s how you can start.

  1. Pick a family member or friend that you want to give a special gift to.
  2. Contact that person and let him or her know about what you want to do.
  3. Decide on the length of time you want to do it.
  4. Use the internet for funny images, quotes, or video clips.
  5. Begin.
  6. Notice how you feel.
  7. Repeat as necessary.
  8. Have fun.

Next time you feel miserable from physical, mental, or emotional pain try taking care of it by doing something positive for someone else. It will help you to put a stop to focusing on what feels bad and instead direct you towards what feels good. Remember that your body has the capacity to help you feel better by releasing natural feel-good hormones.

Got other natural and proven ways to reduce pain? Please comment below and share it with us.

7 Lessons Learned on How to Thrive in the Cancer Journey

Do you have someone in your life that models strength and optimism?

Do you know anyone that has risen above adversity and came out smiling and laughing?

Do you know someone diagnosed with cancer three times who still does not define their life around cancer?

My mother Amelia is that person to me. She was diagnosed with three cancers in a little over 5 years. In those years, I witnessed the grace and grit that helped her to cope, connect with her family deeply, and feel in control during uncertain times. She is a three-time cancer survivor. She is the healthiest and happiest person I know – even though she had cancer.

The Healthiest and Happiest Person I know

My mother always valued health and happiness and made living a healthy and happy life, a personal mission. It was a hobby of hers to seek ways to maintain and sustain health and wellness in her family. She was always on her feet moving about and laughing at herself doing something silly or laughing at my father’s funny jokes and stories. She took the subway to work and was on her feet all day long working in a pharmacy until she retired at the age of 75. My parents’ basement resembled a YMCA gym with weights, stationary bikes, treadmills, and the latest Total Gym. I remember growing up hearing her take exaggerated deep breaths as she stretched and marched back and forth in front of the television in our living room while watching Richard Simmons or some other exercise gurus.

FB6C6E94-211A-4169-B1D7-318303999535

 

New Medical Diagnosis: Cancer(s)

My mother who always made healthy choices and did not have a family history of cancer was diagnosed with 3 different cancers (breast, endometrial, and lung) over the course of 7 years. She did not define her life with cancer. She defined her life with friends and with family.

In 2008 at the young age of 70, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. This loaded diagnosis was the very first time my family and I had to deal with cancer directly. As a nurse at Tufts Medical Center in Boston for over 25 years, I’ve taken care of many patients after having lumpectomies, mastectomy, and breast reconstructive surgeries. It was a part of my job. However, being a nurse and knowing all of this didn’t help me when my own mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The tables had turned and all of sudden I’m on the other side of the hospital bed comforting and supporting my mother—the healthiest and happiest person I know!

One of the things that amazed me during that time was how quickly she accepted her diagnosis. She thanked God for its early detection. She trusted her whole medical team and decided right away to do what needed to be done to take care of her cancer. While she waited for her surgical date, she went to work every day,  prayed, and went to church. She would talk with me and my sisters about her will and proxy. She would read books and articles about what she had and natural cures that she could take along with her medical regiment. She’d spend time with my father by going shopping or going to the movies. By the time her surgery came around, she was ready and prepared. Her breast cancer was taken care of with a lumpectomy and hormonal medication. She only took a few weeks off from work and then went back work at the pharmacy. What I witnessed in her during this whole episode was how she kept a positive outlook through prayer and being proactive with her health, both of which, she was able to control. This made her feel so much better.

In 2013, after she turned 75 years old, we had a double celebration. We celebrated her birthday and being breast cancer free for 5 years! This short lived joyous occasion came to a halt when two unrelated cancers (endometrial and lung) were found during a somewhat routine medical appointment. My mother revealed to her primary doctor that she had been having bleeding and didn’t understand why. After many examinations and testing, our worst suspicion was confirmed. She had cancer again! Needless to say that whole summer was busy with tests, biopsies, and surgeries. My mother, the healthiest and happiest person I know, had two major surgeries that summer. Little did we all know that what was ahead would be the toughest part of her cancer journey.

Fall of 2013

The fall of 2013, although it was part of her endometrial and lung cancer journey, deserved its own chapter in this story. This was a time that truly tested what she was made of. My mother, the healthiest and happiest person I know, was weak from her chemotherapy, her medications, and a lack of sleep due to excruciating bone pain resulting from the effects of her chemotherapy.

Regardless of her suffering when I would ask her how she was doing, I would hear her say, “Dun’t worree dahling. I will be okay.”

My mother, a woman with great poise and pride, had to rely on my father to help her move back and forth to the bathroom, to give her massages in the middle of the night to sooth her itching and her bone pain. Further, it was during this time that she could no longer hide her cancer from the rest of the world as her hair was falling out. She was so convinced that her thick and coarse hair was not going to fall out during her treatments that when it did start to, her faith in God and her trust in her ability to heal would be tested to the max. It frustrated her when she would lay down and clumps from her beautifully thick hair would be left on her pillow case, when she would shower, handfuls would rinse off with the water, and when she would eat, she would notice it falling off onto the plate right in front of her eyes. Although my mother was the one dealing with the cancer and the all the “pain” that came along with it, I still looked to her for strength.

“Hair” it Goes!

I started to get nervous and scared when I saw her looking so weak and tired. I had never seen her so frail and solemn. I recall the phone call when she asked me to come over to her house to shave her head.  She had finally accepted losing her hair.  She wanted to do on her own terms. In the car, outside my parents’ house I had to take five minutes to compose myself. I knew how difficult this was for her. I was so scared but I couldn’t show it! I had to be strong for both my parents. When I got into my parents house, my mother was all prepared. She laid out newspapers on the floor and placed a chair right in the center. There was little conversation, we had a job to do and it needed to be done. She chose an area in her upstairs hallway for me to shave her hair off. It reminded me of when I used help her color her hair but this time, it was different. Surprising, shaving her head was not as difficult as I thought. When I finally got into the rhythm of it, I started to see little scars on her head here and there.

“Mom, what are these scars from?” I asked

“Oh, I was accident prone when I was a little girl and I kept bumping into things.” She said with a smile and a little giggle.

As if each scar was a timeline button, she would press one and tell me when and how she got it. We laughed and laughed after each recollection. The images of my mother getting into mischief and hurting herself while playing with other children made for such a comedy relief. It made this heavy situation lighter.

Life Goes On

I’m happy to say my mother’s hair has fully grown back and she’s enjoyed over a dozen different hair styles and colors since. More recently, she just recovered from a knee replacement surgery. The knee was causing her a lot of pain and it was slowing her down when she would walk along the beach, clean the house or work in her yard. Her doctors, nurses, and physical therapist are all amazed at how well she has done.

debbie and mom easterPicture taken Easter Holiday, 2014

Positive Psychology

Positive psychologists would describe my mother as someone who used her faith, relationships, bravery, love, and innate strengths to become more resilient and to thrive during adversity.

What does Positive Psychology, the science of happiness, have to do with Cancer? I say, “Everything!” The more we can learn from people who have risen above adversities, the more we can cultivate similar practice to make us even better, stronger, and happier.

Positive Psychology helped me understand my mother’s way of being and coping during life’s ups and downs. What is Positive Psychology? Positive Psychology in a nutshell is the “Science of Happiness.” It’s a new field of psychology that, according to its founder Martin Seligman, Ph. D, “looks to nurture the gifted and talented, to learn from the gifted and talented, and to make normal life more fulfilling.”

Some might say it’s coincidental, but I like to think of it as divine timing that Positive Psychology came into my life and when I needed it most. I completed my certification in Positive Psychology with Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph. D through the Wholebeing Institute and, soon after, received my training and certification as a Positive Psychology coach after studying with another leading expert in the field, Robert Biswas-Diener, Ph. D. Positive Psychology gave me the knowledge and perspective for looking at the glass as “half-full”. I put the principles of this science to the test personally as I needed a way of cope with my mother’s disease. I found that it kept me from ruminating, spiraling-downward mentality and feeling like a victim.

7 Lessons Learned to Thrive in the Cancer Journey

I learned so much about my mother and myself during the last few years. While some lessons where easier than others, I am certainly a much healthier and happier person because of them. Here are 7 lessons that I learned from my mother, the healthiest and happiest person I know, who defeated three cancers.

They are:

  1. Accept the diagnosis – The sooner you can accept it, the sooner you’ll be ready to face and handle the treatment plans that are in store for you.
  2. Remember is it YOUR body – Make decisions after you have talked with your health care team and your family. Make peace with your body and give it thanks.
  3. Go to your appointments with a friend or family member – Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as possible until you feel confident and comfortable enough to make decisions.
  4. Use coping skills that have been successful for you – This is a great way to gain control during this overwhelming situation. Recall what worked best for you in the past to make yourself feel better and start doing it consistently until it becomes a habit.
  5. Surround yourself with healing and positive images and people – Watch funny movies. Laughter boosts your immune system and helps release endorphins which will decrease your discomfort.
  6. Connect and confide with those you love A big predictor of peoples’ level of positivity is their relationships with others. Let people know what you need and when you need it.
  7. Give yourself permission to be human – Allow yourself to do what you need to do to feel better. Sleep when you’re tired. Cry when you’re sad. Eat what you want.

Trust that applying any of these lessons will help you during your cancer journey. Here’s to your health and happiness.

Boost Happiness and Burn Calories within Minutes

This past weekend was full of laughter!

Last Saturday I started my 4 week Laughter Yoga™ class at a nearby yoga studio, and last Sunday was World Laughter Day. As a Laughter Yoga™ teacher I still get so amazed at the power of laughter and how it instantly transforms people. I love it when new participants come into my Laughter Yoga™ class with a perplexed, “I don’t really know what I am in for” kind of look. When I explain to them about what laughter is and how it can bring us to a place of oneness, they immediately see the genius in it. The reason why I wanted to learn this form of yoga is that it’s easy, playful, and non-intimidating. If you can laugh and take deep breaths then you can do it!


No Yoga Experience Necessary

It can be done literally anywhere. Further, it’s a wonderful way to get people, who are intimidated with the concept of yoga, to get the feeling of blissful mind-body-spirit connection that yoga delivers. Laughter Yoga™ can be done sitting or standing and with no yoga experience. I’ve had the honor of doing this yoga for stroke patients in rehabilitation centers, for seniors, for low income housing residents, cancer survivors, care givers, health care professionals, and even Harvard researchers!

As a nurse and a Laughter Yoga™ teacher I get invited to speak at corporate retreats, cancer survivor events, and hospitals. I really enjoy sharing practical information with people so that they can be inspired and reminded to add more laughter to their day. This exercise is perfect for those who can “use more laughter” in their lives.

Laughter Yoga word cloud with site-59210
Experts Seriously Studying Laughter

The science of laughter, Gelotology, is a field that has been getting attention from researchers since 1964. Researchers like Dr. Edith Trager and Dr. William Fry are the pioneers in this field.  In the 1970’s Norman Cousins, writer and magazine editor for the Saturday Review, was diagnosed with a painful and debilitating autoimmune disease. When his own doctors could not help him cure or manage his pain, he discharged himself from the hospital and checked into a hotel where he used high doses of Vitamin C and laughter to cure his disease. He found that 10 minutes of deep belly laughter gave him 2 hours of pain-free sleep.


7 Fun-Facts

Here are some fun and interesting facts about laughter:

  1. 1 minute of deep hearty laughter is equivalent to 10 minutes of rowing a boat or jogging!
  2.  Deep hearty laughter is an aerobic exercise.
  3. We can “Fake it til’ we make it.” Our mind doesn’t know the difference between fake and real laughter. We feel good either way.
  4. Kids laugh 300-400 times a day. Adult laughs approximate 50 times a day.
  5. It’s a social contagion. It’s catchy and people who hear it also benefit from the sound of laughter increasing the positivity in the environment.
  6. Deep hearty laughter reduces tension and boosts energy.
  7. Deep hearty laughter can boost the immune system.


LOL

Next time you find that you’ve run out of time to work out or if you are feeling low, why not try laughing? Start with a “fake” laughter and just keep going until you start feeling better. You don’t have to wait for someone to make you laugh out loud (LOL.) You can get started anytime. Remember, whether it’s fake or real laughter your body will respond to it and you will begin to release your stress and tension and pretty soon you will start to burn calories. Yes, with laughter you can boost your happiness and burn calories within minutes.

Interested in more ways to sustain a high level of positivity in your life, contact us at info@ultimatehealingjourney.com to find out. We can work together in helping you reach your dream of living a happy and healthy life.

Homeopathy

Have you ever heard of the word “homeopathy”? Well, what may seem like a new buzz word in the health and wellness department of the grocery store, it really isn’t.

In fact, many famous people both past and present use it for health and healing. Please read below to get more information about this wonderful healing system that has been around for over 200 years.

As the Health & Happiness Specialist™ and one who has studied Classical Homeopathy, it is my intention to bring awareness of this healing modality to help you gain a basic understanding of its power to heal.

homeopathy

*Please note: this newsletter is solely informative in nature and not meant to replace your current medical regiment.

Did you know that Homeopathy is considered to be the fastest growing system of medicine in the world?

In this day and age where natural healing modalities are becoming widely accepted, I am hearing more and more people asking about homeopathy and what it is. Homeopathy seems to be becoming a “fad” word in the health and wellness world and I believe it deserves some attention to educate the public.

As a graduate student of the Teleosis School of Homeopathy in Cambridge, MA., I have come to respect the power of this medicine from 4 years of studying various case studies of people overcoming mental-emotional and even physical disabilities and ailment from the use of the right homeopathic remedy. Homeopathy has become such an important part of my life that I never leave home without it. I am a firm believer in its effectiveness to help people feel better.

As mentioned in my newsletter a few years ago when my oldest son went away to college, I gave him his very own homeopathic first aid kit. I rejoiced when he would call and tell me that he is recovering from a cold or flu after taking the remedies I instructed him to take in his kit. I have given homeopathy to my husband after he slammed the garage door on one of his fingers one summer right before leaving for our family vacation. Minutes after taking the remedy, we were on our way to our family vacation without so much as an inkling of pain from him. I have given a remedy to my one of the painters that was working on my house (with his permission of course) who was suffering from food poisoning that resulted in his co-worker in being hospitalized from dehydration and discomfort, within minutes of taking the remedy, my painter was whistling Dixie from feeling better. I have taken remedies for days when I feel so exhausted that I can’t think straight. There are so many uses for the right homeopathic remedy that the possibilities are endless. Of course, one must understand that only a trained practitioner will know what the right remedy is and that is why people are encouraged to see treatment from a professional homeopath in order to gain the healing and relief that they seek.

What is homeopathy?

Here is a definition of homeopathy according to Merriam Webster Dictionary.

ho·me·op·a·thy

: a system for treating illnesses that uses very small amounts of the substances that would, in larger amounts, produce symptoms of the illnesses in healthy people

Homeopathy was discovered by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in the late 1700’s. He based this form of natural and vibrational medicine on treating “like with like.” This theory is based on an idea that a condition can be cured by a substance that produces the same signs and symptoms in a healthy person. Further, from his studies and experiments, he found that a highly diluted form of a natural substance can become more potent and effective.  The dilution process is repeated so many times that one will no longer be able to detect the chemical properties of the original substance under a microscope. In fact what is left is the energetic property of that substance. Homeopathy treats according to the presenting symptoms and not the name of the disease or ailments.

Don’t call it alternative medicine in Europe!

Homeopathy is so widely accepted and used in Europe that for it to be called an Alternative Medicine can be insulting to some Europeans. This form of medicine is an integral part of European mainstream medicine. There are homeopathy clinics that sells homeopathy to the public and the practicing physicians. The British Royal Family has used and supported homeopathy since 1830s and has a longstanding presence in Britain’s national health care system. In the past there were 22 homeopathic medical schools in the US, including Boston University, University of Michigan, New York Medical College just to name a few.

It’s been proven to work.

There is research data that supports the efficacy of this medicine. It’s been proven to be effective in treating infections, wound healing, hay fever, rheumatoid discomfort, mental or psychological disorder, and digestive system ailments. More information can be read from The British Medical Journal. **

Many famous people use it.

Here is the list of famous people who benefited from homeopathy they are:

Louisa May Alcott, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry David Thoreau, and Harriett Beecher Stowe, Gandhi, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Pamela Anderson, Paul McCartney, Tina Turner, Cher, Cindy Crawford, etc.

Who can use it?

Under the treatment of a trained practitioner, Homeopathy is said to be very safe and effective for anyone. Infants, elderly people, people with ailments, pregnant women, etc. have benefited from homeopathy.

What does it look like?

Homeopathic remedies come in lactose white round pellets or pastille from manufacturers. It can also be prepared by the homeopath or the clinic in a liquid form. Regardless of how it is provided always read the direction, do your research, and consult with a professional before taking it.

Next time you walk down the organic section of your local grocery take a look at the health and wellness section and see just how many homeopathy remedies or medicines that are being sold. If you have any questions about the remedy seek the help of your local homeopath to gain the best guidance and treatment.

*Disclaimer: This newsletter is not meant to replace medical treatment or a prescription for you to start using homeopathy. You are always encouraged to seek professional advice and care before using any of these homeopathic remedies.

** J. Kleijnen, P. Knipschild, G. ter Riet, “Clinical Trials of Homoeopathy,” British Medical Journal, February 9, 1991, 302:316-323.