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Mental Health and the Workplace

I was asked to write a blog post to explain PTSD and the effects it can have on someone. A spa is a great way to help you practice self-care, take care of your body physically, and it’s fun! Even if you can’t make it a regular thing, it’s a great way to spoil yourself and love yourself. Going to the spa doesn’t have to be stressful. Keep reading as I explain PTSD and then how you can advocate for yourself in the situations life presents itself with.

At our last staff meeting, we talked about our clients with mental health issues, more specifically PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and ways we can help those clients as therapists. Seeing how May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I think it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about PTSD and how we as therapists are willing to come alongside you in your journey of recovery.

What do you think of when you hear PTSD? Is it a soldier? If that’s where your mind went to, that’s okay. Soldiers can have very severe PTSD from the things they might have seen while overseas. But did you know that anyone can have PTSD? It’s not limited to just soldiers. If someone has been abused, assaulted, in a car crash, bullied, had a medical emergency, or even watching a loved one go through a serious physical or mental illness… these are all examples of people who might be traumatized and experience PTSD.

As someone who has personal experience of what it’s like to live with PTSD, I can attest to the fact that there are times (both sometimes or all the time) when you don’t want to be touched. Being touched can trigger various reactions, and for different reasons. Say there is someone who was in a car accident. A massage can be very healing for the body, but not always for the mind. The client’s seat belt might have cut off their windpipe, making it difficult to breathe. That can be a scary and very traumatizing thing, to be unable to breathe in a very alarming situation. While massages and/ or facials usually include neck and shoulder work, this can trigger the client and that can result in a myriad of things.

What it a trigger, and why does it matter? Dictionary.com defines a trigger as anything, as an act or event, that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions. Okay, lots of fancy words. What does that mean? Let’s go back to the client that was in an accident. Touching their neck can remind their brain of the time when they were strangled. This can cause a series of reactions that are, but not limited to: a flashback, in which hallucinations occur of the traumatic event, often convincing the person that they are actually reliving that moment; an emotional response similar to the one the person had at the time of the traumatic event; fight or flight mode; an intense and “irrational” fear of the person who triggered them; and many more similar reactions.

At Kneaded Relief, the therapists (whether it be for a massage, facial, body treatment, etc) take the time before the treatment starts to check in with the client. Update on any changes of health history, talk about areas that need some attention… this is a great time to let your therapist know if there are areas you want them to avoid so you aren’t triggered. You don’t have to be afraid of judgment. Our staff had a wonderful conversation at our meeting, and I can speak from personal experience, having PTSD and other mental health issues myself, the staff takes a non-judgmental stance when it comes to opening up about mental health issues.

No matter who you are, or where you are, this concept can be put into practice. I think it’s wonderful to talk about mental illness in the workplace. I’m glad my employers are helping lead the way to education and the end of this stigma.

Dry vs. Wet Heat

Heat can be a therapy option when looking to improve body aches and pains.  When heat is applied to the skin, it actually reduces the sensation of pain.  Thermo-receptors which block your body’s pain transmitters from sending pain signals to your brain are stimulated by heat.  An old fashion version of heat therapy was utilizing a heating pad.  You would plug it in and apply it to the area of pain.  This type of heat therapy is known as a dry heat.  When the heating pad is placed on the body it is removing moisture by drying out the skin.   It is a better option than not doing anything, but I am here to explain a better alternative to dry heat therapy and that is wet heat.

So why wet heat?

Water transfers heat more quickly than air, and it improves the expansion of the blood capillaries (vessels) to allow more blood flow.  The primary objective of heat therapy is to expand the blood capillaries so that blood flow is increased and the area of pain can heal quicker.  Moist heat is more effective than dry heat in providing deeper penetration of the tissue at the same temperatures.

Wet heat options

When looking for a superficial heating unit, look for one that says something like “moist heat”.  Kneaded Relief does provide a “moist heat” option.  Our Sonoma Lavender Wraps pictured here can be heated up in the microwave and then placed on the body.  These wraps create sweat which then transfers the heat quicker.  They are also equipped with Lavender which is an essential oil that provides a calming presence.

Sonoma Lavender Wet Heat Wrap
Sonoma Lavender Wet Heat Wrap

Stress Relief for the Full Timer

Stress unfortunately can be part of my day-to-day life.  I can stress over a number of different things before 8:00am rolls around (daughter woke up with a boogie nose – is she sick?, son climbed in bed with me last night – is he getting enough sleep?, did I remember to feed the dog?, traffic is a nightmare – probably will be late for work, etc. etc. etc.).  I look to resources on how to de-stress and realistically I just can’t partake in a number of these items because I am a working mom.  As much as I would love a bubble bath, or time to color in a coloring book or peace and quiet for that matter, I just don’t get that, and that is ok because I have found 5 other things that I can do that can happen all while in my car, with my kids in the back, or at my desk at work.

Quick Fix for Stress…

    1. Taking a deep breath – Just 1 time per hour take a deep breath.  6 seconds breathing in thru your nose and 6 seconds out thru your mouth.  If you are really ambitious, take 3 deep breaths per hour.

      Take a deep breath
      Take a deep breath
    2. Saying to yourself, “It is ok.” – Sometimes all I need to do is remind myself that, it is ok.  It is ok that I had to pick up dinner tonight instead of make it.  It is ok that I bought Valentines instead of hand making them for my son’s school.  It is ok that I wear leggings as pants (my shirt is always covering up everything).  It is ok that I am still not sure if leggings are suppose to be considered as pants.  Letting yourself off the hook is sometimes exactly what you need to let go of the stress that comes with trying to do it all.  PS. You are doing it all.
    3. Using a drive thru – I am very lucky that we have a drive-thru liquor store in my town, yes you read that right…a drive-thru liquor store.  Now not everyone is that lucky, but how great is it when you don’t have to get out of your car (and your kids out of your car), and you get your lunch, coffee, dinner or bottle of wine handed to you.  In my opinion you should take advantage of drive-thru’s on the regular.
    4. Music, Music, Music – Turn up the music.  Music lifts the spirit and allows you to detach from your other stressful thoughts for awhile.  Music is known to relax you, energize you, make you sing even when you know you can’t carry a tune.
    5. Shake, Wiggle, and Move – Move your body.  Shake your legs, wiggle your hips, do jazz hands, I don’t care, just move.  Your body is not meant to be sedentary.  Getting the blood flowing increases your endorphin’s and makes you feel better.  Perfect for when you are feeling stressed.

Relieving stress doesn’t always have to take a ton of time.  It just needs a few quality focused minutes and you will feel like a new person.  And if you are like me, you will totally embarrass your children with your rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off” as you pull away from school on your way to grab your bottle of wine, and that alone is worth the small amount of effort.

Dana Neal – Spa Manager, Group Fitness Instructor and not as stressed Mama

Let Plan B be your Plan A

This quote, “Let Plan B be your Plan A”, came across my ears this morning on the radio and it struck me!  What an interesting concept.  The person on the radio was talking about how often you plan and create your “A” strategy and then how often something happens and throws off Plan A.  You are then automatically put on to track B.  Well there are two things you can then do with Plan B.  You can complain, be upset, and dig your heels in because this was not your original plan, or you can let Plan B be your Plan A.

What a great way to live life…

Planning 2.10.17
Family Planning Day

I started to think to myself how much negative time and energy would be removed if I just let Plan A go and seamlessly allowed Plan B to take over.  Being very Type A (pun intended), I can schedule things to a fault.  My intention actually for 2017 was to be more adventurous because I realized I had gotten to a point in my life where if things weren’t planned I would break out in metaphorical hives, itching to have a plan and being incredibly frustrated if I didn’t have one.  Needless to say, I almost always have a Plan A.  The rarity though in which Plan A goes off without a hitch is high.  Now with small children it is almost a guarantee that something will put me into Plan B.  Children just don’t operate on parents’ schedules, they operate on THEIR schedules.  So what does that all boil down to?  Well it brings me back to why this quote hit a positive chord with me this morning.  I can have my Plan A (which I love), but if I end up with a Plan B I am going to have just as much enthusiasm and passion for it as I would for Plan A.

Plan C-hildren:

Lastly, I am going to realize that Plan A and Plan B still might turn in to Plan C-hildren, and that can work for me to.

Dana Neal – Spa Manager, Group Fitness Instructor, Open to Plan A,B or C.

 

Bach Rescue Remedy – My Personal Story

My bottle of Bach Rescue Remedy
My bottle of Bach Rescue Remedy

It has been over 9 years now since I was introduced to Bach Rescue Remedy.  Honestly when I was first made aware of this product I really thought, “this is a bunch of bologna and it is clearly if anything a placebo effect.”.  Well that was at least my thought until this past fall.

What is Bach?

Bach Flower Remedies Limited utilizes flower essences to create products to help with a number of different emotional states.  Bach Rescue Remedy is a natural stress relief spray.  It provides a gentle, non habit forming stress relief by simply being sprayed in the mouth.  The product is homeopathic, vegan and gluten free.

Well as I was saying, I was introduced to Bach over 9 years ago and I purposefully had not used it.  I recommended it to guests and to my friends and family because I wanted to believe it would work, but I felt honestly that there was no way a spray was going to do anything for my mental health.

It was September of this past year when I was heading back to work after my maternity leave with my daughter and my son, who had just turned 2, was now going to go to daycare full time vs. part time.  I had convinced myself that he would be fine.  He would not be upset that he didn’t get to spend part of his week with his grandparents and he would totally understand why his mom had to go to work…you probably all know where this story is going.  Instead of having a well adjusted 2 year old I had a sobbing, clinging, frazzled, massively emotional 2 year old who I literally had to yank off my leg when I left him at school.  It was horrible.  Day after day he sobbed and I sobbed in the car on the ride to work because I felt like the worst human being alive.  I had no idea what to do.  He was 2 and emotional and I was a breastfeeding, mother-of-two, hormonal roller coaster myself.  There was no magic pill for this situation, but then as I was sitting at my desk I looked over to our retail shelves and saw Bach Rescue Remedy.  It was then I thought, “I have nothing to lose.”

Now on the bottle it did say that if you are pregnant or breastfeeding to consult a doctor and it also said that it should be not directed at children under 12, so I went to my doctor and told her what I knew and what this was.  Her personal advice was that it would be fine for me and for my kiddo to use (please advise your own physician when considering taking Bach).  So the next day I purchased some, and the day after that I tried the spray on my son.  His immediate reaction was, “that is spicy mama”, and he wanted nothing to do with it.  I went to Pam our Massage Department Manager and asked if there was any other way to apply it.  She suggested spraying some into my hand and then rubbing it on the back of his neck, so that was what I tried next.  It had been just over a week of using Bach and then it happened.  I asked my son when he got to school if he wanted “his spray”, he said yes and I applied it to the back of his neck.  He then took my hand, walked calmly into the classroom, gave me a hug and a kiss goodbye and said, “bye mom”.  I LEFT STUNNED!

Once in the car with my jaw picked off my chest, I realized that this spray might have done the trick.  Driving to work that day was incredible.  I was happy and my stomach didn’t feel in knots.  Ever since I have been using Bach Rescue Remedy and telling everyone about it.  Not only that but I started to use it too.  I don’t use it everyday but I use it when I start to get stressed or I worry.  Having kids, a full time job and a busy husband there are a number of things that cause stress, so each time I feel that feeling coming on I just spray some Bach Rescue Remedy and I instantly start to calm down.  I became more rational, clear-headed and I worry A LOT LESS.

I was a non believer and I became a believer.  If this is just a placebo effect, well I don’t care.  It gives me a homeopathic option to help my kids not cry, and for me to worry less.  I will take that option any day. http://www.bachflower.com/

Dana Neal – Spa Manager, Group Fitness Instructor and Mom of two

Shellac Manicure for Winter

Shellac Manicures Available
Shellac Manicures Available

Shellac Manicures combat Winter Gloves

It is a balmy 2 degrees outside today in Fitchburg, WI.  Typical weather for this time of year.  It is also typical of me to question why I chose to live in Wisconsin every year at this time.  With a polar vortex in full swing, you can imagine that no one leaves their home without full body coverage (hats, scarves, jackets, gloves, long sleeves, long pants, thick socks and boots).  So when a guest comes in to receive a manicure, I slightly cringe because there is a specific dance that has to happen in order for the guest to put back on all of their layers, especially gloves after a fresh coat of nail polish has been applied.  Well that cringing is all in the past now due to a product called Shellac.

Shellac is a nail polish designed by Creative Nail to have zero dry time.  It is a 14 day high shine, high performance wear product that has fast removal and by the end of your service is completely DRY.  Let me say that again because I feel like this is so amazing.  At the end of your service your nails are completely dry.  No worries about grabbing your credit card out of your wallet, no worries about how you are going to put your jacket on, no worries about bumping a nail anywhere and no worries about wearing warm gloves in the middle of a polar vortex.

Shellac is a professional product and should only be applied and removed by a professional; otherwise, damage to the nails is possible.  At Kneaded Relief we offer a Shellac manicure and removal.  There are a variety of colors to choose from and the service only takes about 45 minutes.  To learn more about the Shellac product check out CND’s website https://cnd.com/.  There are F.A.Q.’s that you can read about or you can see a video on the process.

Just because it is freezing here (and that might be an understatement), does not mean that you shouldn’t be able to enjoy a manicure and have beautiful nails.  I promise you that once you try it you will be hooked.

Annual Prepare and Plan Day

Taking a day to prepare and plan for 2017

As 2016 draws to a close, I wanted to share with you an organizational strategy to help 2017 be a knockout year.  The advice is, take a day either by yourself or with your significant other, and prepare/plan out your 2017.  Take a weekday off of work, grab your calendars, planners, mobile devices, and laptops and head out of the house.  If you have kids make sure they are not with you.  Put them in day care, have a babysitter come over, or take the time they are in school to give yourself and your partner some time to really get down to business with minimal distractions.  Then, go to a place where you can get a meal, caffeine, free Wifi and some alone time.

“What then do you plan for?”, you ask.  Well here is a list to get you started.  It includes questions to ask yourself along with events and lifestyle trinkets to take into consideration.

Questions to ask:

  1. What in 2016 did I find to be stressful?  How could I remedy this in 2017?
  2. What was my favorite thing I did in 2016? For myself? and With my family?
  3. If I could have done anything different in 2016 what would it have been?
  4. What is my intention for 2017? (to be more adventurous, to consider wellness in my everyday life, to live more “experiences”, etc.)

Once you have these questions answered, plan out any dates, events, etc. that will need to blocked in order for you to do the things you laid out.

Events/Appointments to Plan for:

  1. Travel – Are there vacations you want to take (Vegas with your girlfriends)?  Are there trips you need to take (out to Connecticut for Christmas with family)?  Find the dates, start to plan your transportation, inform those involved.
  2. Birthday party dates for your children
  3. Dentist Appointments
  4. Wellness Appointments – Massage, Facials, Nails, Chiropractic
  5. Volunteer events
  6. Kid’s Dr. Appointments

Life Trinkets:

  1. Meal Planning
  2. Exercise Plan – how many times per week, who watches the kids, who will hold you accountable?
  3. Bills/Money Allocation – Retirement accounts, savings funds, large upcoming purchases, maternity leave

Once your prep/plan session is completed you will have a focused direction for 2017.  You will be ahead of the game, and well beyond most of your peers.  You will feel less stressed and more centered because you will minimize a lot of the last minute crazy.  Instead of setting a resolution for yourself that will only get broken within the first 6 weeks (this is on average how long a person holds true to a resolution), give yourself and your family a game plan.

Does Waxing Hurt?

OUCH that Hurts!

The simple answer to the question, “does waxing hurt?” is YES.

Waxing is an amazing service.  In a few swift pulls the entire hair is removed leaving the area smooth as a baby’s butt, and the likelihood of hair coming back becomes less and less if you stick with a consistent waxing routine.  The uncomfortable feeling though associated with hair being removed can make the experience not that enjoyable and so here is some information on how to reduce the pain or to at least help you understand why you might experience more pain then someone else.

Let us start first about talking about why you might be experiencing pain.

    1. Someone besides a professional is waxing you.  A professional should be the only person you trust providing you with a waxing treatment.  A professional looks at a variety of different things that perhaps your sister might not.  An Esthetician takes in to consideration, the direction the hair grows, the length of hair, where hair has already been removed, the heat of the wax and of course the type of wax that is used.
    2. The type of Wax being used.  At Kneaded Relief we use Nufree which is a safe organic liquid hair removal that completely uproots the bulb and entire hair shaft.  It never dries and will not stick to the skin, therefore there is less pain and no tearing of the skin.

      wax
      Nufree Liquid Hair Removal System
    3. Coarse hair or hair that grows in multiple directions.  If you have very coarse hair or hair that grows in multiple directions, it is possible you will experience more pain than someone with very fine hair that grows in one direction.
    4. Ingrowns (hair that is trapped under the skin and causing irriation).
    5. Length of hair.  Trying to wax hair shorter than 1/4″ or longer than 1/2″ makes waxing more difficult and that can hurt more.
    6. A topical product. Clients who are using Retin-A, Renova or other AHA’s need to discontinue use for at least 48 hours prior to receiving waxing treatments because they make the skin additionally sensitive and can cause the skin to tear.
    7. Taking Accutane.  If you take Accutane you cannot at Kneaded Relief receive a waxing service because Accutane thins the skin and again can cause tearing.
    8. Sensitivity.  Some people are just more sensitive then others, or perhaps the area you are waxing is more sensitive than another area.

Now let us discuss things you can do to help the pain.

    1. Don’t apply any lotion or deodorant prior to waxing.  Though the therapist will wipe the area before waxing, lotion or deodorant will still be on the skin and make it difficult to grab the hair.
    2. Shower with a mild scrub daily starting a few days prior to the treatment.  By using a mild scrub you are opening up the pores allowing for an easier pull.
    3. If you have ingrowns, use a product to help rid the skin of these uncomfortable bumps.  This is the same as using a mild scrub.  The more open the pores are the easier and less painful it is to receive a wax.  We recommend Tend Skin to use between waxes.
    4. 1/4″-1/2″ hair (length of a grain of rice).  If hair is in the “sweet spot” of length the therapist has the easiest time pulling it.  Either wait until hair is this grown out or trim it back before your service.
    5. A pain reliever can’t hurt.  Taking Ibuprofen 45 minutes before the service can help lessen the pain overall.  Also taking Tums 20 minutes prior to the service can decrease the level of acid in the body and this too is said to help with the pain.
    6. Use a cold pack following the service.  Waxing can heat up the skin, so using a cold pack on the area takes down the heat and the pain.  Kneaded Relief can apply cold packs following your service.  We also use a product called Finipil (it is also available for retail) that has a cooling agent in it.  This cooling agent calms the skin the same way a cold pack would.

I hope that I was able to shine a little light on how to make your next waxing experience an even more positive one. Though the saying goes, “Beauty is Pain”, at Kneaded Relief we don’t think it needs to be.

Dana Neal – Spa Manager, Group Fitness Instructor and Hoping to make waxing not hurt.

Why Can’t I get in for an Appointment?

No Appointment Available

It is Monday morning and you realize that you have that huge presentation on Thursday that has been sucking the life out of you, or you remembered your wife’s birthday is this weekend and you still don’t have a gift for her.  You think to yourself, “I should call Kneaded Relief and make an appointment for this week.”  You meant to book an appointment weeks earlier but then life got in the way and you totally forgot.
At Kneaded Relief we understand all too well how frustrating it can be when you call for an appointment the same week and can’t get in. Heck, sometimes it’s several days, weeks, or months depending on your therapist and service needs. “Can they really be this booked?  Can’t they just squeeze me in?” you wonder. We know you don’t necessarily see what goes on behind the scenes, so we thought we’d give you a peek “behind the curtain”!
Our team arrives to work 30 minutes before their first scheduled appointment. Ten minutes before our appointments begin we have a mini-meeting called a “huddle”. The purpose of our huddle is to allow our team members to review daily goals, communicate strategies and promotions and develop their plan of action for the day in general. Then it’s time for the fun to begin.
Believe it or not, it takes a lot to orchestrate a typical day in the spa. Our guest services team is busy answering phones, booking appointments and taking care of you and their therapist team while our therapists are making you feel wonderful.  On average per day we have 12 therapists working.  We are open 7 days a week and most days from 9:00am-8:00pm or 9:00pm with an average service being 60 minutes of time.  If you think about it, that’s a lot of clients!  About 50% of our clients pre-book their appointments, which means they book their next appointment before they leave the spa.  If you can believe it, we have clients who are booked out for the rest of 2017!

prebook your appointment
Prebook Your Appointment

As you can see, that leaves us with very limited availability. In order to accommodate as many clients as possible, we “book tight” leaving little to no room between appointments. Most gaps are only 15 minutes.  It might also help you understand why we ask our clients if they need to cancel for 48 hours notice.  We can sometimes have a line of clients on our pending list and those openings are few and far between.  The more notice we have the better off we are at getting someone else in.  This is also the reasoning behind why we have to charge you for an appointment when you do no-show or late cancel.
So while our Guest Service Representatives are highly skilled at moving and manipulating books, the truth is there’s no benefit for both you and your beloved therapist to try to squeeze you in last minute.  For the investment you’re making, you owe it to yourself to have a time scheduled that is most conducive to your schedule.  Our front desk and therapists will do everything imaginable to get you in. They might suggest other services that could benefit you that you might have not thought about.  Or they might suggest a hydrotherapy service that has more flexibility to it since there is no service provider.
In the end though, the best option if you don’t have a schedule that’s as flexible as you’d like is to set up your next appointment with our Guest Service team during your visit to the spa.  This guarantees you have your pick of time and day. We would rather be at the mercy of your schedule, instead of the other way around.  We want to keep you relaxed and happy, and if you do have a time that arises that just couldn’t be planned for and we don’t have something available, we do have gift certificates available instantly online or sent to you in a gold box with ribbon if ordered over the phone.
We hope this provides you with a little insight into the Kneaded Relief workings, and provides you with some solutions to getting in for an appointment within the time frames you have available.

Dana Neal – Spa Manager and Group Fitness Instructor

Sandals All Year Round

It probably makes a lot of sense that in the midst of a snowy day or the few days after that when coming to Kneaded Relief we would have you change into a pair of provided sandals.  Clearly most everyone can understand that tracking water through the spa could be a pain for those to clean up or a potential hazard to their fellow guests.  And it probably goes without mentioning the potential of squeaky shoes that the winter brings, however at Kneaded Relief regardless of the time of year, we offer all of our guests (except those getting a pedicure and bringing their own sandals) to change into a pair of ours.

Part of the ambiance of Kneaded Relief is the attribute of “pure quiet”.  Voices are lowered to max a whisper, phones are turned off and put away (even the sound of clicking keys can be heard), and doors are so ever carefully shut.  To also help achieve that whisper of a sound atmosphere, we ask that you change your shoes to our sandals.  Squeaks are eliminated, high heels clicking across the floor are gone and heavy footed walkers lose a bit of the “clomp” as they come down the hall.   We know for some it is a pain to change your shoes and maybe even potentially an uncomfortable situation because our sandals might be a little too small or too big or maybe you find yourself with a pair that has the massagers on them and they hurt your feet.  In these cases, we ask you to bring a pair of your own sandals to put on.

In the end, though the quiet is restored due to the changing of the shoes, what we are really hoping for is that our guests find additional relaxation and serenity from stepping out of the outside world and into ours.  So next time you head to Kneaded Relief and a Guest Service team member asks for your shoe size let them know what size shoe you wear, slip off your shoes and cares, and slide into the Kneaded Relief relaxation foot apparel.  You will be providing yourself and those around you that extra little bit of “spa…ahhh”.

Dana Neal – Spa Manager, Group Fitness Instructor and Sandal Wearer