The warmer months of the year mean lots of beach time, outdoor sports and fun. And before the busy fall season kicks in, summer can be a time to focus on self care too. From forest bathing to the importance of breast health checkups, here are six unique and beneficial ways to soothe and maintain your mind and body.
Explore nature’s restorative ways
Known in Japan as shinrin yoku, forest bathing is the practice of immersing yourself in nature in a mindful way. The Forest Craniosacral treatment at The WELL at the Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resorts Collection in Washington, CT takes this experience to the next level. “Forest craniosacral balances the energy of the brain, sacrum [at the base of the spine], and cerebral spinal fluid,” explains Mary Donohue, director of spa and wellness. The treatment can be as long as two hours and is offered primarily in the warmer months. “This hands-on technique uses a light touch to relieve tension and restrictions in the central nervous system, which promotes a feeling of wellbeing,” she explains. The procedure eliminates pain, boosts immunity, and aids in relieving migraines, anxiety, depression and stress.
Keep breast health top of mind
“Focusing on breast health is an important form of self-care that can help detect cancer at an early stage when treatment can be more successful,” advises Heather Studwell, survivorship coordinator at the Breast Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center in Greenwich, CT, which offers services ranging from mammograms and ultrasounds to biopsies, with a team of board-certified breast surgeons. “Breast health begins with knowing what’s normal for your breasts. With practice, women discover how their breasts vary in sensitivity and texture at different times during your menstrual cycle or when something doesn’t feel normal. Following menopause, breast self-exam becomes even more reliable, absent the hormonal fluctuations. Because breast cancer risk increases with age, self-exam remains important.” She also recommends women know the various screening and diagnostic tests available:
A clinical breast exam, for instance, is a manual exam done by your doctor or provider, while a mammogram is an imaging test that looks for abnormalities, like a tumor or lump, she says. And a breast ultrasound is, “a painless procedure that uses sound waves to make images of the inside of the breast. This technique can detect the presence of an abnormality in the breast,” she explains.
Use tech to tone
EmsculptNEO is a new tool to help look your best. “The Neo component of Emsculpt is the newest technology that exists on the market to tone, strengthen and tighten the body, and gently smooth the appearance of the skin,” explains Amanda Pucci, clinical director and aesthetic nurse practitioner at Greenwich Medical Spa, which has locations in Greenwich, Westport and Ridgefield, CT and Scarsdale, NY. The non-invasive treatment can be used on the arms, abdomen, buttocks, thighs and calves, and “combines high intensity focus electromagnetic energy to stimulate supramaximal muscle contractions for stronger and more toned muscles, and radiofrequency heat to destroy fat tissue permanently,” says Pucci. Six consecutive weekly sessions are recommended, with results starting as early as three weeks and lasting upwards of six months.
A different approach to menopause
“All women deserve to feel their best at any age. Unfortunately, most women have been taught to normalize suffering, and we want to upend that thinking,” says Sharon Malone, MD, chief medical officer at Alloy, the female-founded telehealth company that helps educate women about menopause and offers access to doctors, hormone treatments and more. “We want to change expectations for women entering menopause and beyond. The bottom line is that for healthy women, estrogen therapy (HRT) is not only safe, but also the most effective treatment for the symptoms of menopause.” Along with other healthy-aging practices, like eating well and exercising, Malone says using these types of treatments can change the game for women in menopause, which can last upwards of a decade for some.
Consider acupuncture for fertility
For those having looking to conceive a child, acupuncture can be helpful. “It has been studied a lot in medical research,” says Aimee Raupp, an acupuncturist, author and fertility expert who leads the acupuncture team at Rejuvenating Fertility Center in Westport, CT, with locations in New Rochelle, NY, and NYC. “Acupuncture can help with balancing hormones, calming the nervous system and improving circulation and blood flow to the reproductive areas.” And even if you’re not looking to acupuncture for fertility issues, it can help with hormones, restoring homeostasis, calming the nervous system and helping the body heal, says Raupp.
Focus on a fitness-meditation combo
We know the value of a sweat session and a regular meditation practice. Why not put them together? That’s exactly what Chris Stockel,
founder and CEO of Mind Body Project, did when he opened the new NYC fitness studio last spring. “I have faced challenges with my own mental health, mainly in the anxiety department,” he says. “I was persistently seeking solutions to provide some relief, and I ultimately found that meditation and a HIIT-style workout were each massively helpful. Both challenged me to stay present in very different ways.” The studio’s signature class features a five-minute meditation to start, then a 40-minute HIIT class, ending with another five-minute meditation.“I think a fitness class like ours can be the catalyst for anyone to improve their physical and mental health simultaneously,” he says.