The mind and body absorb stress like a sponge. The good news is that stress management can be learned. It may feel unnatural at first to take a moment to relax when feeling stressed. Having a variety of stress management strategies to implement, based on your available energy level can be a helpful skill set - daily (breathing or stretching), weekly (scheduled exercise), or monthly (mini day vacation). No need to wait until you are stressed-out to take care of yourself. Managing your stress levels actively versus reactively can foster increased resilience. Countering the vicious stress loop is worth the effort and the payoff is usually immediate.
Blissful Bedrooms is a one-of-a-kind nonprofit organization seeking to transform the bedrooms of young individuals with significant disabilities into spaces where they can experience peace, comfort, and joy. The idea was born from a special bond between Martha Gold- Dvoryadkin, physical therapist/yoga instructor at New York's PS 118 and a former student,Tamisha.
"My partner Alex and I brainstormed one day on how we could bring more happiness into her life. We decided to paint and decorate her bedroom. We were amazed at the impact on her and us," said Gold-Dvoryadkin.
[I had the privilege of speaking with Judy Goldberg back in 2011. Passionate with an advocacy spirit in every sense, Judy cared deeply about empowering young women. Judy passed away on November 5, 2013. It was an honor to know her and this post is in memoriam to her work and to the continuing work of IWD...]
The Initiative for Women with Disabilities (IWD), Elly and Steve Hammerman Health and Wellness Center, located at the NYU Hospital for Join Diseases, is a comprehensive health care facility designed to empower women and adolescent girls with disability. IWD is fully equipped with an accessible GYN table, and scale, and it offers a variety of wellness education resources, “We teach the wellness aspects of disability - how to sustain a healthy life style with nutrition, acupuncture, stress management – not only to help to minimize hospitalizations, but also to bounce back easier after relapse,” says Judith Goldberg, director of the center. The wellness movement is a growing one; health care centers around the U.S. are each defining how this approach would translate for their patients.
At the White House childhood obesity summit held last April, First Lady Michele Obama launched the Let's Move campaign to inspire healthier environments in schools and communities and to teach kids the vital skills of wellness - exercise and healthy eating. I recently spoke with Gregory Chertock, sports psychologist, fitness trainer, and baseball coach specializing in elementary and middle school youth, on how exercise/sports impact the development of children."Exercise training can teach kids powerful life skills that go beyond excelling in a sport," says Chertok.
Yoga has gained significant popularity, with classes held in small towns and big cities throughout the U.S. What may not be as widely known is the practice of adaptive yoga; yoga that is gentler, less rigorous in its poses, and modified by utilizing a chair or assistance from another person. A year ago, I interviewed Matthew Sanford of Mind-Body Solutions Center. Sanford is a pioneer in teaching yoga to persons with disabilities and believes that yoga can be adapted to many levels of limitation. In Matthew's own life, yoga was a means to establishing a mind-body connection.
If you've never tried yoga, find an instructor who has experience with restorative/adaptive yoga methods. Start with one or two restorative poses that you can count on a few times a week for stress relief, and then build on that. Here is one example of a restorative pose, taught by Rodney Yee.
Claudia Glaser-Mussen, the sassy singer-accordionist of the Grammy- nominated children's rock band, Brady Rymer and The Little Band That Could, has a lot to say about her muse, “I can feel my mother's presence on stage, when I perform; she inspires me and I'm able to convey that energy to the audience.” A thread of music runs through Glaser-Mussen’s life, "I grew up in a home where music was a part of our experience,” she says. Music never became more important for Glaser-Mussen than it did in the final stages of her mother’s life, when she was coping with Alzheimer’s disease. In this telling, WNYC radio interview, Opera Mom, Glaser-Mussen and her brother, violinist Matt Glaser, reflected on the role that music had in the care of their mother, Jeanette Glaser-Taubin, a professional opera singer.
Fitness Resolutions will be on the minds of many Americans as they ring in the New Year. News media venues will be inundated with feature stories on exercise, healthy eating, and the latest tech gadgets to battle the bulge.
The advice is limitless, with tips for the semi-pro athlete to the low budget exerciser. But why is it—with the influx of health education—that some people are able to establish the exercise habit and not others? “It’s not about the number on the scale, it’s about your connection to yourself,” says Robin Ox Goodpasture, a certified personal trainer, and body image consultant.
On May 21-23, the Abilities Expo - New York Metro division - will be showcasing an impressive range of options in disability technology, expanding the scope of accessibility for persons with disabilities. Thirty-one years ago, the Abilities Expo began with the humble efforts of Dick and Pat Wooten. Dick, a polio survivor and wheelchair user since his teens, wanted to establish a forum to share the resources that enabled him live a better life. Today, the Abilities Expo has grown exponentially, providing direct learning to attendees on the latest in assistive devices, home furnishings, and daily living aids across disabilities.
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