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Stress Management

I wish I had a chill-pill for all you stress monsters, especially in these crazy times.  I’d probably pop a few myself.  Alas, most of us could do with fewer vices and more good old fashioned relaxation. Remember, you are no good to anyone unless you’re good to yourself.

Allegro’s Most Popular Stress Relievers

1. Snappy Spa Snappy Spa – Oh boy, are you going to love this . . . your own portable spa.  Accommodates up to 4 adults comfortably.  Put it on your deck, patio or even inside your house, cabin or apartment.  Simply snap connectors together and plug it into a regular outlet.  You’ll have your own thermostatically controlled spa  (80 to 104 degrees F) at a fraction of the cost of a traditional hot tub.  Insulated for maximum heat retention.  Yippeee!!

2.     ergoBeads Hand Exerciser & Stress Ball – A stress ball for the stress ball.  Sometimes you just need something to hold onto, right?  In fact, doing something physical often gets your mind off your worries.  For $6 bucks its worth it to find out.  If nothing else, you’ll have a stronger hand.

3.   Body Back Buddy Body Back Buddy – No one to give you back rubbies?  Do it yourself with this crazy looking contraption.  Hey, with 11 therapy knobs, you’ll surely hit the spot.  Designed after years of feedback from massage therapists, chiropractors and physical therapists your Back Buddy may just end up to be your best buddy when it comes to relaxing.

4.    Hand Rollers – For Cutaneous Stimulation – Use the large roller for broad areas to help your body deal with stress, increased blood flow, stiff joints, sore muscles, back & neck pain and headaches.  The small one is for your face, ears, between the fingers & toes.  Stimulates the meridian or acupuncture points on the body.

5.    Dr. Riter’s Real-Ease Neck & Shoulder Relaxer – I haven’t tried this product yet, but it’s selling like crazy and getting great reviews.   It is a patented, scientifically contoured headrest designed to let you deeply relax.  Kick back and use it for 10 to 15 minutes a day.  Forced relaxation…  Sign me up!

6.      Eye Pillow with ergoBeads- Again with the ergoBeads.  Freeze it for headaches and sinus relief.  Or how about wearing it during your 10 minutes on Dr. Riter’s Neck & Shoulder Relaxer?  Huh? Huh? That’s what I call doubly relaxing.  Want silk?  Try Dr. Riter’s Silk Eye Pillow

7.      Spine Worx Back Support Alignment System - This is more of a back pain reliever than a total stress reliever, but if you’re like me, you carry your stress in your lower back and neck.  The Spine Worx definately works out the kinks.  It’s all about proper alignment.  I have one of these actually.  It feels weird and not very comfortable at first, but you get used to it quickly and it feels like heaven.  Another very popular product.

8.      Travel Wal-Pil-O – If you travel a lot, this 4-in-1 cervical pillow will make your trips a whole lot more comfortable.  Properly aligns and supports your neck whether you’re a side-sleeper or a back sleeper.  Read Bed Check for Better Sleep for more ideas.

9.    Fitball Stress Buster Ball - Be careful not to say it wrong…  Okay, so, if you move around on this knobby ball it gives you a massage!  You can improve circulation, reduce stress and relax muscles at the same time.  Just lean against the wall with the ball sandwiched in the middle and move around until you feel your muscles relax.  Outstanding! 

10.    Allegro Medical Lomi-Lomi Massager- Bring out the big guns baby and have yourself a REAL massage with Allegro’s own Lomi-Lomi.  Maintenance free and economical, this will keep the whole family in a state of bliss.

See All Stress Relievers in our Shop by Condition area.  If you’re looking for some other kinds of relief, check out our Sexual Well-Being area. 

We wish you the best in your quest for relaxation.  For the latest advice in stress relief therapy read Managing Stress: Practical Advice from a Pro.  Not sure if you’re stressed?  Take the Stress Test!

Thanks for being an Allegro customer.  Take care!  -v

You may have high blood pressure and not even know it.  After all, you can’t feel your blood pressure even when it is too high.  That’s why it is called the silent killer.  How do you know what your blood pressure is?  If you get regular check-ups you probably have an idea of your BP range but it can change quickly and without warning.  We recommend that everyone have access to an accurate home monitor to check for high blood pressure at home.  

Types of  Home Blood Pressure Monitors

Automatic Wrist Digital Blood Pressure Monitors - These wrist units are my preference.  Compact, easy-to-use home blood pressure monitors that fit around your wrist instead of your arm. Perfect for those who want a second unit for travel or for people who have trouble placing a cuff on their arm. 

Arm Cuff Blood Pressure Monitors – Automatic & Semi-Automatic – Inflate and deflate the arm cuff with the touch of a button, or manually inflate and automatically deflate – you choose the best one for you.  Digital readouts.

Manual Professional Aneroid Sphygmomanometers - If you can pronounce it, you are probably qualified to use it.   Most likely, you’ll see these manual inflation units in your doctor’s office.  Check out our great prices on Aneroid units!

Talking Blood Pressure Monitors - Let the monitor give you the readings out loud, in English or Spanish.  These talking blood pressure monitors are amazingly feature-rich.  

See all Blood Pressure Monitors

See all Diagnostic Products

See all Home Test Kits

What is Blood Pressure?  Simply put, arterial blood pressure is the force of blood exerted against the walls of your blood vessels.  High blood pressure, hypertension, is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder, plus it contributes to hardening of the arteries and the development of heart failure. 

There are two components to blood pressure – systolic and diastolic pressure.  Systolic, the higher pressure, occurs during contraction of the heart.  Diastolic, the lower pressure, occurs when the heart is at ‘rest’.

Your level of blood pressure is determined in the circulatory center of the brain and adjusts to a variety of situations through feedback from the nervous system. To adjust blood pressure, the strength and frequency of the heart (Pulse), as well as the width of circulatory blood vessels is altered.  Blood vessel width is effected by fine muscles in the blood vessel walls.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?  Several factors may play a role in the development of high blood pressure.  Factors such as smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, salt, stress, alcohol, age, genetics, kidney disease or adrenal and thyroid disorders.  In 90 to 95 percent of cases, the cause is unknown.  This is known as non-essential hypertension.  That’s what I was diagnosed with about 5 years ago.  After 4 years on medication, however, my blood pressure suddenly dropped after my chiropractor adjusted my C-1 vertebra, aka my Atlas bone.  It dropped to below normal and I was directed to stop taking my BP medication by my family physician.  It evened out in a couple days.  This was more than a year ago and my blood pressure remains in the normal range.  I take my blood pressure with my wrist monitor once a week just to be sure I’m still okay! I recommend regular chiropractic adjustments for all kinds of health reasons, but this was a complete surprise.

How high is too high?  The normal range is less than 120/80.  Your blood pressure is too high if, at rest, your diastolic pressure is above 90mmHg and/or the systolic blood pressure is over 160mmHg.  If your blood pressure is above the normal range you should consult your doctor about lowering it.  Even if your blood pressure is normal, a regular self-check with your BP monitor is recommended.  This way, you can detect possible changes early and react quickly to alert your physician.

If you are undergoing medical treatment to control your blood pressure, keep a record of your blood pressure by taking your measurements at several times of the day.  Show these to your doctor.  And remember, never use the results of your measurements to discontinue or independently alter the drug doses prescribed by your doctor.

Monitoring your blood pressure could save your life.  And we wish you a very, very long life.  Thanks for being an Allegro customer.

Looking for a quick fix for your headache?  Get in line.  It is no wonder headache cures and remedies are so sought after.  Headaches are rampant – some worse than others, caused by hundreds of reasons from bad posture to pollution to vitamin deficiencies. 

The good news is, headaches can usually be eliminated without drugs.

Instead of popping a pill when you get a headache, your best bet for getting rid of them for good is to determine the cause. As in life, if you fix the source of your problems then all your headaches go away, right?  :)

Headache Causes and Remedies

Teeth Grinding and Jaw Clenching

Super Calcium Magnesium – 250 tablets – Check with your doctor or dentist, but often times Calcium and Magnesium tablets, taken at bedtime, can eliminate your jaw clenching and headaches.   Have your calcium/magnesium levels checked however, because high calcium could actually be the cause of your migraine or cluster headaches.  If you need just Magnesium to stem your headaches, try Magnesium Oxide tablets.  If you have muscle cramps (night time leg cramps), menstrual cramps, fatigue, constipation, heart palpitations, insomnia and/or anxiety, you may have a magnesium deficiency.  Regulate the dosage if the magnesium causes diarrhea.

See all Vitamins

 

Tension Headaches

AcuBead Headache Beads – Acupressure Strips – Easily applied at home.

 

The Original Backnobber II- If you can’t remove your source of tension, at least give yourself a deep muscle massage with the Backnobber II.  Find your pressure points to relieve muscle tension and get the blood flowing again.  Bye-bye headache.

See all Pressure Positive Massagers

See more Tension Headache Relief Products

 

Skeletal Misalignment

 

Neckpro Cervical Traction Device- One of our most popular products, the Neckpro home cervical traction device is used to relieve, among other things, tension headaches associated with back, shoulder and neck pain, fibromyalgia and whiplash.

See more Home Traction Sets

 

Stress and Anxiety

Spa-N-A-Box Portable Spa - Nothing relieves a stress induced headache faster than a nice soak in the spa – in your own house!  This portable home spa with air-jets soothes and relaxes at a fraction of the cost of traditional hot tubs.  Super popular.

See all Stress Reduction Products

 

Bad Sleeping Habits

D-Core Pillow – Restores the natural curvature of your neck and upper spine.  The wrong pillow, or too many pillows, will put your neck in a bind and throw your alignment off.  That can cause a major headache.  Headaches are also caused by not getting a good night’s sleep due to sleep apnea and snoring.

See all Pillows

See all Snoring Products

 

Sinus Problems

Eye Pillow with ergoBeads – Conforms to your face and eyes, blocks the light and provides cool relief (when frozen) without the shock of ice or gel packs.  Sinus headaches melt away with this eye pillow.  Great for travel.

See all Sinus Headache Products

 

Menstrual Problems

Thermophore Automatic Moist Heat Pack – Stop the cramps and the headache follows suit.  Moist heat almost always helps.

See all Menstrual Pain Products

 

When I can’t pinpoint the exact cause of my headache I usually determine that I’m dehydrated.  Dehydration headaches are very common and a few glasses of water can often cure a nagging headache.  Try it!

When worse comes to worse, I pop a couple Headache Relief Tablets or other Over the Counter Pain Relievers, although for me this is a last resort. 

Shop our Headache Products “Shop by Condition” category for even more headache cures and pain management products.

A word about Migraines.  Migraine headaches may have different causes (usually chemical) than run-of-the-mill ones and we recommend you see a doctor if you believe you are experiencing migraines.  Symptoms are intense throbbing pain, usually on  one side of the head, sensitivity to light and nausea.   See our Shop By Condition page for Migraine Headache Products.

Here’s to a clear and pain free head!  Have a healthy day and as always, thanks for your business.

Cold weather, indoor activities, school kids, lack of exercise and the stresses of everyday life = increased susceptibility to colds and flu. 

If I stay ahead of colds and flu I find that I only get sick when foreign germs are forced on me – like in an airplane or by my thoroughly wonderful, germy nephews.    When you are constantly fighting something and you have to ‘chase’ good health, it is important to realize that you can’t win unless you strengthen your immune system. 

Create and follow a plan to bolster your immunity and you may just sail through cold and flu season sniffle-free.  Those with disabilities or chronic illnesses have an even tougher time avoiding colds and flu, but they are often times better prepared to prevent colds and flu because they know the dangers.

Going into the holiday season with a chink in your immunity armour is really asking for trouble.  Here are some ideas and products to help you prevent colds and flu this season by strengthening your ability to fight germs:

Reduce your Stress

Stress Eraser – We’ve all heard that stress kills and we’ve seen plenty of evidence to support it.  Perhaps this amazing stress relieving tool could save your life.  It is a portable biofeedback device that helps you learn how to activate your body’s natural relaxation response.  FDA regulated, non-invasive and drug-free.  Featured on The Rachael Ray Show and The View.  A great gift!  Those with high blood pressure might consider the RESPeRATE as well.

Manage your stress with other stress relievers, massagers and spa products in our Stress Products Category

Are You Too Stressed?  Take the Stress Test!

 

Do Moderate, Consistent Exercise

A recent study  shows that the risk both of catching a cold or the flu and of having a particularly severe form of the infection “drop if you exercise moderately”.  If you are sedentary, or if you exercise too intensely, the opposite is true.  As with most things, moderation wins.

 

Exercise Peddler - Work at your own pace peddling with your arms or your legs.  This exercise peddler is a favorite because it folds up and there is no assembly required.  Features adjustable resistance and an electronic display, all for under $50.  Makes a great gift.  I use mine while I watch t.v.  That’s not cheating, is it? See all Cycles/Pedlars

See all Exercise and Fitness Products

 

Take your Vitamins

Emercen-C Immune Defense - Includes all the necessary vitamins to boost your immune system.  Mix with water and enjoy hot or cold.  Emergen-C products are extremely popular and provide a wide range of targeted benefits. 

See all Vitamins

See all Dietary Supplements

 

Avoid Germs

Most of our germ avoiding products are in our Swine Flu Products section where you’ll find germ-fighting Gloves, Hand Sanitizers, Masks and Surface Disinfectants.

 

Hand Sanitizing Gel – Our most popular hand sanitizing gel.  It’s inexpensive and it works.  Buy in various sizes to have it handy in your car, purse, briefcase and home.

Educate your friends, family and community to make immunity boosting a TEAM approach!  Take vitamins, Exercise moderately, Avoid germs and Manage stress.  I promise you’ll be way ahead when it comes to fighting colds and flu this season.

If, by chance, you lose the fight, there are nearly 60 items in our Cold and Flu Season Products category to make you feel better. 

Wishing you a healthy holiday season.  -v

I recently heard on the news that anxiety related doctor visits are on the rise.  Specifially, symptoms like upset stomach, insomnia, panic attacks and muscle aches.  They said that worries about the economy and personal financial turmoil are making people physically sick.  Is the economy making you sick?  If so, how can you be healthy when all you want to do is ignore your problems, eat a Whopper and drink yourself into oblivion?

For me, worry manifests itself in racing thoughts or “mind chatter”.  It happens at night, mostly, when I’m trying to sleep or early morning when I’m having lucid dreams.  It drives me crazy when I’m having a totally irrational dream and I keep having it over and over again.  It usually means I need to face the problem and deal with it.  But what do you do when you just can’t stop thinking about your situation or problem?   Here are a few things that work for me:

1.  Stretch and Breathe.  I know it may sound hokey, but I’m telling you it’s changed my life.  Get yourself a DVD – I have several but the one I started with is AM/PM Yoga for Beginners.   You can get this used (1998 VHS)  for under $2 bucks on Amazon.  You’ll can also get more updated versions as well as DVDs for stretches for bad backs, weight loss, abs, etc.  Do it every day and you’ll start feeling calmer, among other things.  Your mind will be on the exercises and not on your problems.  Many workouts include at least a few minutes of meditation and breathing exercises.  The morning yoga tape only takes 15 minutes and it’s a great way to start your day.  Need some gear?  Get a Yoga Starter Kit (my favorite) or see all of Allegro Medical’s Yoga Equipment.  Need something more concrete?  See 10 Products to Help you Relax.

2.  Get into nature.  Go outside and walk around.  Plant something or dig around in the dirt.  Go to the park and sit in the grass or swing on the swingset.  Get out of the city if you can.  Reconnecting with the earth does wonders for your psyche.

3.  Focus on things you can control.  Most of our worry is wasted on things we can’t control, or things that never come to fruition.  Read Managing Stress: Practical Advice from a Pro.  This article will also help you become a constructive problem solver.   

4.  Find your safe harbor.  I use this type of visualization when I’m having trouble sleeping because of racing thoughts or recurring dreams.  It’s all about having a place to visit, in your mind, whenever you want to relax.  It might be a warm beach, a field of flowers (that’s mine but I’ll share) or a sidewalk cafe in Paris.  Whatever.  Whenever you need to escape you just close your eyes and visualize it. 

5.  Meditate.  Okay, this may actually happen for some people.  You sit down and just be quiet and have a matra or you do breathing exercises, etc.  But unless I have someone making me do it, I don’t.  If this is you, I suggest you go to a class or listen to a tape or something while you’re doing it.  I’m all for it, I just never can get myself to stick with it.  Let me know how it works for you.

6.  Be nice.  Turning your focus to others ALWAYS makes you feel better and stops the mind chatter.  Go a step further and help out with a local charity.  Just find one that you fancy and call them to see if they need any help!  A few hours of doing nice things for other people can completely change the way you look at your situation.  Even simple acts of kindness or random acts of kindness make you feel better.  Start by saying something nice to the next person you see. 

Bonus:  When I can’t get a song out of my head, I break the cycle by singing a foreign tune.  Freres Jacques is a popular one, but anything foreign will do.

Ahhhhh…. Ommmmm….  Hmmmmm….

Everybody is experiencing stress at the moment.  We are not just worried about our own situation, but tend to worry about our children, parents and friends as well. The economic insecurities manifest in increased anxiety, insomnia, irritability and feelings of depression and helplessness.

Most of us already implement stress reduction techniques- some helpful, and some harmful.  Examples of helpful stress management are exercising, meditation, prayer, massage and visiting friends, to name but a few. On the other hand, at the same time, we engage in gossip, develop a cover your own butt attitude, obsess, over-eat/drink/smoke/gamble – all not helpful stress management techniques.

How do we determine if our stress management techniques are helpful or harmful?  Someone in one of my seminars said a six-pack is helpful but a 12-pack is harmful.  Exactly!  I usually ask myself three questions to determine if it is a good way to deal with something or not.

1) Does it calm me down = increase a sense of peace?

2) Does it make me feel good about myself?

3) Does it lead to action?

If your stress management activities do any or all of these three things, it is probably helpful.  Let’s take the example of “talking to someone”.  It really depends.  Some people will just rile you up some more, while others have the ability to calm you down.  Some get you fretting about things you have no control over, while others motivate you to do something for someone else.  We also tend to keep doing the same thing over and over, not stopping to see if it is helpful or harmful. Try to check in with yourself and ask yourself if your actions are helping or hurting.

We all function within a big circle of concern (things that impact us) and a much smaller circle of control (things we impact).  If I spend my stress management time in the big circle of concern (things that I have no control over), I tend to obsess, worry and see doom and gloom. Think of it as an anti clockwise energy drain – it spins around its own axel. On the other hand, no matter how small the action that I take, if I function in the circle of control, I will feel better about myself. If you can not drum up enough energy to do something for yourself, do something for somebody else. It will allow you to feel good about yourself and, once again, it is action.

What can you do if your symptoms of stress increase? Identify the three most helpful techniques for yourself. Think about times when you have felt very calm, or very good about yourself or very much in control. What lead you to that? Try to increase those activities. Standard prescriptions for stress management usually include some kind of physical activity – walking, biking, swimming, playing with the dog etc. Any activity that gets you moving will help your body settle down. The second part of it is some kind of activity to get you in a peaceful, “in the moment” place. This can be meditation, prayer, deep breathing or a massage. At the same time, try to lessen the harmful things that you are doing that keeps you in a state of worrying.

However, if things are getting out of control, contact someone for help. Help can be practical, action oriented help such as budget creating, or peace oriented help such as speaking to a counselor. There are many free resources at the moment to help you deal with your stress. Make use of it! It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of activity which is, in itself, stress reducing. And, if all else fails… remember the old adage… “this too shall pass.”

- Marita Klein

About the Author:  Marita is an organizational development consultant who has helped many private and organizational clients live the lives they want through her forthright, no nonsense approach to management and life. She has a Ph.D. in organizational psychology and has worked effectively as executive coach and consultant in South Africa, Canada and the US. She can be contacted at:  maritaklein (at) cox (dot) net.

I wish I could say exactly how it happened but after four years on Diovan – which had been keeping my blood pressure at right around 120/80 – my BP dropped so low my doc took me completely off of it.   This morning, after not taking the medication for nearly two weeks, my BP was 117/72.  PERFECT!!  Last night before I went to bed it was 118/73.  I test it with the Omron Portable Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor, which has been checked by my doctor to be accurate when compared with the one in her office.

A couple weeks ago I had just popped the pill when it struck me that I hadn’t checked my BP in a while.  I took it and it was 91/59.  Woah!  Yikes!  I called my doc and got an appointment for a couple days later, and in the meantime I was told to monitor it and not take the medication if it was too low.  It was mostly normal-to-low the next day.  The night before my appointment it was running really, really low – like 87/54.  Freaked me out a little. 

At the doctor’s office, they took my blood pressure while I was lying down, standing up, sitting up – about 3 times and confirmed it was running normal-to-low.  I showed them the readings from my home wrist monitor which keeps results in its memory.  They were amazed at the readings and said I was officially off the Diovan but I needed to keep an eye on it and see them in a month.   I was totally excited (don’t get too excited, Valerie), but danged if I know what caused the change. 

Four years ago, my blood pressure was consistently in the 160s, 170s and over 90s and 100s.  It was kindof a fluke that we discovered this so I suggest that if you don’t have yours checked regularly, no matter how old you are, you at least get an inexpensive home unit.  I was 42 years old and in good shape.  No family history.  No signs of a problem.  As is my nature, I fought against traditional BP medication and my doc tried salt pills and beta blockers instead – but they weren’t working.  Then, I had to go into the hospital for an unrelated outpatient surgery and my BP clocked in at 207/107 so they had to admit me.  They put me in the telemetry wing to monitor my heart and after a bunch of tests they couldn’t find any reason for such high blood pressure.  So they brought it down with strong drugs, did my surgery and released me with an Rx for Diovan. 

My doctor said it’s called essential or primary hypertension when the they are unable to find a specific cause.  She said it was probably stress and reminded me of my “extreme lifestyle”.  

I pulled out the big guns and resolved to lower my stress.  To see what I did, read 15 Stress Tips that Could Save Your Life.

The only other thing that might be helping are my spinal adjustments.  In fact, my chiropractor, Dr. Mike, is taking full credit for lowering my blood pressure.  At first I just laughed, thinking he wasn’t serious, but he was dead serious.  

I started seeing him to help ease occasional spasms in my back.  No more than 8 treatments later, I’m off my blood pressure meds.  Coincidence?  Maybe, but honestly it is the only really significant change I’ve made in my life recently.  His name is Dr. Mike Henriksen, Spinal Correctionn Center, tel. 480-460-1177. 

He said that lower blood pressure due to his treatments are not uncommon. It has to do with my atlas bone (1st cervical vertabrae) coming into alignment.  In fact, he’s helped people get off all kinds of medications.  I’m sure if you called his office he, or his assistant Kathy, would be happy to explain.  He uses his patented Turbo Drop Table to make the adjustments and doesn’t “crack” your back or neck (he says crack kills).  Dr. Mike is world-renowned and trains chiropractors all over the world so maybe one of his trainees is near you.  Plus, he’s a really nice guy.

But I digress.

All I know is that I must be doing something right.  Whether it’s the yoga, the hiking, the multi-vitamins, the spinal adjustments or the happy, healthy life I’m leading, I can’t say.   Perhaps it is the alien visit I had last month . . . kidding . . .

I’ll be writing a series of stress-relief blogs over the next week, so if you want to take control of your stress – stay tuned!  Don’t know if you’re stressed?  Take the Stress Test.

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