Digital Use Implications

As you may or may not know, I have an interest in helping people who are dealing with digital injuries; physical, emotional or both. More than that, I hope to help people to manage their digital use in a safer way and help to prevent injuries. I spent a great deal of time studying the implications (both positive and negative) of technology on our society during my graduate studies at U of A; you can see my graduate project here. I am also someone who was impacted by a digital injury; this is how I first came to know reflexology and managing my own use is an ongoing process. As part of my rehabilitation regime, I bike and forest bathe for 2 hours at a time, 2-3 times a week to rehabilitate from sedimentary habits and detox from digital use. This is my way of intervening my own behaviour. I also periodically cleanse of digital accounts (deleting or deactivating) in order to help reset my behaviours. When I experience any kind of imbalance, I turn to reflexology and forest bathing.

These notes were taken at Royal Roads University’s free talk on digital distractions given by Paul Mohapel, PhD (Psych.) in September of 2019. I transcribed the presentation into a bullet list for easiest reading. There was much more information presented but this is what I jotted down. I highly recommend attending his next seminar if you can access it.

I will be using this information to better steer my own digital usage and content creation. In the end, it comes down to balance but really, there are some major steps to mitigating the damage that digital screens is doing to our brains. I’ve also activated the new screen time feature on my iPhone. We need to become digital use stewards and act as examples.

Implications of Digital Distractions & Multitasking

  • We have attention span issues
  • Multitasking = problems in brain due to distraction and addiction
  • People spend ⅓ less face-to-face time due to social media; this is causing major behaviour issues
  • Focus times have decreased from 12 min to 3 min attention span; we’re losing our ability to focus
  • Every psychological disease up 20% including emotional disturbances
  • People get less done due to digital distraction and multitasking
  • People spend 50% more time online than they thought
  • 30-40% check phone first upon waking up in bed; looking at screen 1 hour before sleep inhibits melatonin production, replace smartphone alarm for traditional alarm clock instead
  • ADT (Attention Deficit Trait) on rise in adults
  • High level multitasking is bad for the brain, but demanded of us everywhere
  • Multitasking = wasting time, creates a blindspot impairment
  • Distraction is the biggest threat to productivity
  • Canada has the highest screen time usage, average of 36.7 hours / week (not including work)
  • Canada has the most internet usage per capita in the world
  • Kids are using screens 2.5h / day global average
  • Breastfeeding babies receive less attention from mother who is looking at digital device
  • There is a correlation between obesity and screen time usage
  • People eat in front of screens (even the fit ones)
  • Screens are diminishing social relationships
  • Screens impair our thinking
  • Screen impact severity ranges from TV being the least to smartphone the most severe
  • Reading on paper = recall more information whereas reading on screens = diminished retention
  • Hand-eye coordinative activities help heal brain
  • We participate in superficial screening and scrolling, meaning the longer the scroll is or digital text is, the more fatigued we become. Paper reading gives our brains the break we need, digital scrolling does not.
  • Online activities are rewiring our brains, is severe and profound
  • Our brains can’t multitask
  • Goal direction is impaired
  • Excessive online gaming = results temporary lobotomy of part of the brain
  • Multitasking maybe physically shrinking our brains
  • Gaming and internet addiction showing similar brain impacts
  • Multitasking releases stress hormones of cortisol (I experienced this first hand in 2016 and after that shut my digital practice down to figure out what happened to me), prolonged impact can cause harm to frontal cortex, hippocampus
  • Addiction / multitasking consist of three traits: 1. Compulsion 2. Loss of control 3. Negative emotions
  • Distracted driving is the #1 cause of death in car accidents
  • 1 min use of social media spikes positive sensations, after 5 mins falls down to negative
  • Conditions for addictions, check if you experience the following: stimulated multisensory cues, immediate gratification, social reinforcement
  • Phones are extremely addictive
  • Canadians check phones 150 times a day but only 4 times a day is safe
  • Average person checks phone every 15 mins
  • 73% feel panic when phone is misplaced
  • Online addiction sources in the following order: email, social media, porn, gambling, shopping
  • Internet addicts and gamers have thinner brains (muscle loss) and are less functional
  • Hands on skill activity increases brain health
  • Too much information is a bad thing; Technology drives more information
  • Social media is all about more = quantity not quality, in other words social media cares for quantity not values
  • We are not having a deep experience through social media
  • Focus of attention = more intelligent – risk of loss
  • Prefrontal Cortex is at risk
  • Doctors in Canada are at 50% burnout due to multitasking
  • We don’t know the fullest fallout extent yet
  • Seniors are the fasted growing user group
  • We are spending less time in our optimal zone and more time in under and over stimulation zone, affects our productivity
  • Corporations exploit our addictions to feed us more information technology for $

Mitigating These Impacts

  1. Containment Strategies
    • Set boundaries and limitations – turn off notifications. Use less apps and applications less often.
    • Focus – on one thing at a time ‘mono’ task to completion. Limit multiple tasks.
    • Technology breaks – check social media / digital device no more than 4 times a day and no longer than 5 mins sessions. Abstain from screens for at least 4 consecutive hours a day – doesn’t include work or sleep. More than that puts us at risk of addiction patterns = brain impairment / shrinkage.
  2. Sustainment Strategies
    • Exercise – 30 mins a day at the min, 20 min nap = full night sleep brain restore.
    • Substitutions – books, physical board games, writing, reflection, meditation.
    • Mindfulness practice – meditation goes in reverse of distraction, stay present, in the moment, non judgemental, open emotionally, sustained attention. Meditation reverses effects of brain thinness to thickness.

Ex-employees of Silicon Valley started up the Humane Technology Society to help steward digital use impacts. Visit Net Addiction for self-help.

Case Studies & Ear Reflexology

I have finally surpassed my required 50 treatments and am now hovering around 60, Yay! Sometime in October, I will be assessed and will then receive my foot reflexology therapy certificate! Now, I am spending more time with memorization and making sure I have the sequences down right.

I have also started learning ear reflexology, another yay! Like the foot and hand, the ear maps to the body and reflex points can be manipulated for healing purposes. Ear reflexology has been used for thousands of years and is well known across the globe. I have wanted to add a second modality to the foot and this showed up at the right time. Most importantly, I started consulting ear reflexology to help reinforce healing measures for my husband.

I started a small online course based out of New Zealand with reflexologist Karen Middleton. I choose her course based on the self-paced learning style, the affordability factor and the fact that the course requires a case study to get the certificate. I certainly want to gain the confidence and structure and also enjoy the case study process. I also picked up an ear model and some ear charts from the Pacific Institute of Reflexology in Vancouver and had the privilege of meeting founder Chris Shirley.

I have already started on the readings, and am practicing massage and ear seeding on my husbands ears where there is tenderness. In the photos above, we placed ear seeds on the stomach for digestive issues (left) and lung (right) reflexes for respiratory and skin disorders. Since writing this blog, I have added another seed to the Shen Men point on each ear which is a supporting point for other seeded points.

Ear reflexology is standardized through the World Health Organization and includes the following systems:

  1. Western Medicine
  2. Auricular Landmarks
  3. Traditional Chinese Medicine
  4. Master Points
  5. Zones and Points

Benefits of ear reflexology include:

  1. Release tension in the body
  2. Improve circulation of blood, lymph and Qi
  3. Help the body to normalize its function

Ear reflexology is safe and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Reflexology & Pineal

Markus received a reflexology treatment this past Saturday as he is now back on his outdoor mail route and is putting on the kilometers again bringing fatigue to his body, especially his feet and lower legs. To make matters worse, fire smoke from the US has blanketed southern British Columbia making the air quality hazardous. It’s so bad that the mail delivery has been disrupted.

After doing a foot reflexology session, Markus did facial massage on his own while using the Dien Chan tools. His skin cancer scar has healed very well but is still reddish in colour and will need irrigation for some time still. He has started using rosehip oil on his skin as it’s come highly recommended by European facial therapists. Over the past month, I completed an online facial therapy course and will start to introduce some of those methods to his face over time. We still have a journey ahead of us.

Unfortunately a spot has re-emerged where the cancer was before, on the new part of the cheek that replaced the old, that was removed. We will be going to Vancouver to see the surgeon next Monday and Markus will get an examination of his healing progress and an examination of the red spot that has emerged, along with another that emerged on the other side of his face and was treated a few months back. In the meantime, we do our best not to stress about it and know that he is in the best hands now. We recently learned that Markus inherited Basal carcinoma and he is also at risk of melanoma among other kinds of cancer. We really hope the new spot is not another skin cancer emerging. If it is, then hopefully it is early enough to do something not too invasive as he just went through that. But it’s hard to believe we are mentally bracing for this again.

The cards used in this session are the Racoon from Wild Unknown Oracle (representing artistry and creativity) and the Pineal Water Crystal card, which is a gland situated in our brain that regulates our sleep/wake cycle. In reflexology, we compress a reflex point on the big toe that is related to this gland. Due to poor sleep quality the night before, it seemed a little uncanny that he randomly chose this card. I made sure to give the reflex a good rub’n!

Something interesting has happened. The area on his face where the new spot is emerging overlaps the reflex of the lung, in the realm of facial multi-reflexology. While the medical experts do their thing, we may as well try ours. I am unable to interact with this part of his face other than rehabilitating massage so I decided to locate the lung reflex on the ear, which is located on the back side (dorsal) of the ear. Coincidentally, Markus found that particular spot on his right ear to be very painful. Strange! So I placed ear seeds (a small magnetic ball on a bandaid) on this point on the backside of the ears, where the reflex point can be pressed and activated often. Markus revealed to me that his area has been tender for sometime, but I didn’t know.

The seeds stay in place for up to 5 days and then are removed and replaced again as needed. What is interesting is that after 5 days, when the seed was taken off, the pain was gone. Wow!

And with that I have enrolled in an online ear reflexology course to better understand the mystery. Ear reflexology is recognized and standardized by WHO, making it a widely accessible modality. Many people swear by it for a variety of issues. My journey with reflexology also started with the ear, when I was treated last year in Denmark for rotary cuff tendonitis. After half a year of failed rehabilitation and constant pain, it was reflexology that solved the pain so that I could rehabilitate my shoulder, arm and hand. Although not 100%, I recovered to about 98% and when I run into a flare, I turn to ear seeds and place them on my hands and ears where tender.

I am excited to see what happens once I begin to combine ear with foot reflexology.

Disclaimer: Reflexology does not diagnose, prescribe or treat for specific conditions. Always seek proper medical attention should you suspect you have a medical problemReflexology is not a replacement for medical treatment.

From Feet to Face

Now that the surgery has passed, there is much therapeutic work to be done, at least 18 months worth. At the end of June, I will be taking an introductory crash course in facial massage therapy and reflexology through a Danish school in order to help with rehabilitating my husbands face since having skin cancer surgery on June 9. Our sessions with the feet will continue however I will be focusing more of my attention on his face and you will get to see how that process unfolds over time through the blog.

Starting July 1, we will begin massage techniques as prescribed by the surgeon and later I will be integrating multi reflexology tools into the routines. These tools and routines are specialized in helping to restore the face while addressing facial imbalances, dampen scars and discolouration. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed to say the least however I am receiving guidance from experienced reflexologists in approaching this task and am also seeing this traumatic experience as an opportunity to learn to help someone else. Because the scar is large and irregularly shaped, I will need to work with a variety of approaches over time. For instance, the stitching near the eye intercepts softer more delicate skin than lower down on the face and will require different tools and techniques. In addition to the scar, there is also face rejuvenation occurring where part of the cheek was removed. Currently, there is no feeling in this area however it is supposed to return within weeks or months.

I am not currently working on Markus’s feet as I don’t want to move energy around the body while he is in the earlier recovery stages. However I am working with his hands, arms and legs by tapping the skin with a small reflexology hammer. This feels good and helps to bring some circulation into the body while not over energizing. This is important because too much movement and exercise can disrupt the scar healing process and so he has remained mostly indoors and very low activity. It is the first time in a long time where his body has received an abundance of rest. On his job as a postie, he can walk up to 30 km a day, is very physically active and during the pandemic, the work load skyrocketed causing high stress and burn out. We suspect this contributed to the cancers growth. Once back to work, we are hoping that he will work indoors to shelter from the summer sun. He is not to be exposed to UV rays for a year and this is especially critical during the first three months. When the season changes in the fall, there will be less UV rays to worry about but until then, he must gaiter up when outdoors.

Overall, Markus is said to be healing remarkably well according to the surgeon who has seen recent photos. We attribute this to his lifestyle and diet change that he started at the beginning of May where inflammatory foods were removed from his digestion. None the less, he will forever bare a large scar on his face, always reminding him and everyone else around him of the tough lesson he’s come to face. This time cancer spared his life and so we work to ensure his health and safety to the fullest degree as he is now predisposed to getting cancer again. While he rests, I study and prepare to work on his face.

Due to the expansion of this work, a new domain has been added to this website: feet2face.com as I will be focusing on both ends of the body.

I’ve selected two cards for inspiration; one being the DaVinci Strength card (symbolically a woman working on a face) and the other being the Masaru Emoto Water Crystal card of Hope.

Reflexology Presurgery

This weekend, I carried out a reflexology case study session for my husband, Markus, this one being the last before his Mohs (skin cancer) surgery on Tuesday. A miracle happened two days ago; he got the call on Friday to go in for Tuesday as there was a cancellation. His original surgery was scheduled for the end of October and we have been putting pressure on the medical system to see if there was a way to get him in sooner, but we were loosing hope. We are quite relieved and very grateful as the wait has been a long one (a year now). We leave to Vancouver on Monday and return home on Wednesday.

Markus is tired from his job (letter carrier) during the pandemic and since we didn’t do a session last weekend, it was overdue. He has noticed however an increase in energy on the job due to his new (gluten free) diet. I noticed something interesting during today’s session; the large bunion on his left foot is significantly smaller! His feet have been surprising us lately! There have been many changes over the past weeks and months from new shoes to diet changes so I am guessing the combination of footwear correction and inflammation reduction have helped the bunion to shrink. The lifestyle and diet changes implemented in May continue to make significant changes in Markus’s well-being and have given us hope. I have started to adopt some of these changes into my own life as well. We are now both gluten-free.

After a full foot reflexology routine, I accentuated the stress-relief reflexes (solar plexus and pituitary) on the foot with the tuning fork. Then, we spent time working on facial reflexology. I have introduced myself to Dien Chan, a unique facial reflexology system founded in Vietnam by acupuncturist and professor Bùi Quôc Châu and further adopted and developed in Spain and Italy. These techniques are used to release tension in the face, for beauty and also health benefits. Oh and it also feels good! I have acquired a few additional tools and have been exploring some new techniques. Since I have been experimenting on my own face, I have noticed a change in my skin and a few of the deeper character lines have receded a bit. Today Markus explored using some of the tools on his own face. After his surgery and once he is healed, he will also be engaging in Dien Chan regularly. Dien Chan is also said to be helpful for healing surgical scars. It will be interesting to see how his face responds since having dealt with skin cancer. In the future, I hope to get certified and offer this modality along side of the foot reflexology. But in the meantime, we will experiment as we are the perfect guinea pigs. Stay tuned for those updates.

Markus appeared very sleepy during the session and expressed some excitement and nervousness around the surgery, but an hour later felt energized. He commented as usual about how amazing his feet felt after the session. Reflexology is effective for reducing the stress of surgery. I will approach carefully afterwards. You can find peer reviewed articles on Google Scholar about this.

Although his (Basal Carcinoma) cancer isn’t fatal (at this stage or that we know of), once we saw it starting to spread back in April – we knew we were in trouble as we realized this wasn’t an isolated incident. Thankfully with the abrupt diet and lifestyle changes, things have helped to calm some inflammation. None the less it has been incredibly scary as we felt so out of control – this in combination with the pandemic have made it a very trying time. I do feel optimistic that we are now in the home stretch.

Markus picked the Wolf (reminds me of the wolf who visited our village in the mountains of Italy last year) card and I added in the Healing Archetype card from the Wild Unknown card series (Kim Krans). Finally we used the Healing card from the Water Crystal (Masaru Emoto) deck for intentionally inspiring his cup of water. This is a special session, so I decided to combine an additional card (Healing) for guidance and good luck.

Markus selected the Italian Dolomite mountain footage for his ambience.

I will close with this new music video from Depeche Mode : Fragile Tension

Disclaimer: Reflexology does not diagnose, prescribe or treat for specific conditions. Always seek proper medical attention should you suspect you have a medical problemReflexology is not a replacement for medical treatment.

Reflexology & Diet

This past Saturday was our reflexology day where Markus is put into a state of homeostasis (parasympathetic mode) aka rest and relaxation. I focused on a full foot reflexology routine, followed by accentuating nervous system and endocrine system key reflexes (solar plexus, pituitary, pineal) with the tuning fork. Markus says he can feel the vibration through the foot and into his body. During our session, Markus didn’t experience any discomfort with his feet since changing up his shoes a month ago; this has corrected issues with tenderness on the feet and knee strain. I always finish with gentle face reflexology and am excited to begin working with some new Dien Chan tools in the near future. Markus choose the dramatic Dolomite mountain range as ambience. After the session Markus felt very relaxed and later became more energized. He always comments on how amazing his feet and lower legs feel over the following two days. This is coming from someone who walks approximately 30k a day on the job, so he really feels the benefits from reflexology therapies.

For this session I choose to work with two cards reflecting on respect and turmeric. The card of respect from the Water Crystal oracle deck was chosen to acknowledge the work he does and highlight respect for frontline workers who are over burdened during the pandemic. The turmeric card coincides with my learning about the herbal formulas for healing digestive inflammation. It seems pretty clear to me now after completing the course on inflammation, that this played a role in his skin cancer. We have since done major diet and lifestyle changes that are making positive impacts in a short period of time. For instance, as mentioned last week, due to the oil change in his body; his feet, hands and parts of his face are softening and more plush.

Markus went gluten free 1.5 weeks ago, and so we have started to bake our own gluten free bread at home. Gluten is a major cause of digestive inflammation and chronic inflammation leads to disease. The next stage will be to remove dairy as dairy proteins mimics gluten and gluten can mimic and bind to connective tissues causing harm aka inflammation. Markus noted that the burning and itching sensations (experienced on a daily basis) with the cancer have slowed down since his diet change 3 weeks ago and completely stopped since becoming gluten-free.

My next stage will be to source and combine up to 5 herbs at one time and make a daily quart; mint, chamomile, fennel, liquorice, plantain, marshmallow – a therapeutic mixture to assist during this diet change. For now we begin with teas with 2+ herbs (turmeric & ginger) as they are more effective combined than on their own. We also use green tea orally and topically to help fight the cancer. For now we work with the following teas on a daily basis. As usual, I continue to create powerful cancer fighting smoothies and meals that are safe for digestion as per recommended by skincancer.org. I am really new to all of this; it’s been a crash course for us both. It isn’t until you find yourself up against such a challenge that you realize you have no choice but to jump right in and do your best. To summarize, the month of May has felt like this.

Since implementing all the changes together (holistic and diet therapies), Markus says he has more energy on his job, experiences less bloating and gas and generally over all feels much better. So everything is working and that means our stress is starting to reduce. On June 1, Markus will be having a teleconference with the specialist in regards to a plan for earlier intervention for the right side of his face as it’s too far gone. My regret is not having woken up to this earlier. Over winter his cancer retreated, confusing us, but now we understand more about the role of UV rays over winter versus summer and diet caused inflammation and its role in disease thanks to the course I just completed. It has made a world of difference. These changes are for life and I am just one step behind him in making all these changes for myself.

Cards: Turmeric of Herbal Tarot and Respect of Water Crystal

Note: I am not a nutritional expert. I am coming at this from a learning perspective to help my husband through a critical time.

Disclaimer: Reflexology does not diagnose, prescribe or treat for specific conditions. Always seek proper medical attention should you suspect you have a medical problemReflexology is not a replacement for medical treatment.

Case Studies

My name is Maria and I am a reflexology practitioner student, studying under the Reflexology Association of Canada. I am conducting 50+ treatments in order to receive my certification.

Reflexology puts the body into homeostasis (parasympathetic mode), allowing for distressing and healing.

What people are saying;

  • My feet felt amazing
  • I felt lighter on my feet
  • I had an amazing sleep
  • I haven’t felt this relaxed in years
  • It’s like getting a full body massage
  • I felt more energized at work the following day
  • I felt less anxious driving in traffic and at work
  • The swelling around my ankles has reduced
  • My toes used to curl under, now they’re flat

What is reflexology?
Reflexology is the study of reflexes. Reflexology therapies are natural therapeutic methods derived from this study based on the principle that there are reflexes in the body that map to other parts, glands and organs of the body. Through the application of pressure to these reflexes, reflexology can: 1) relieve tension 2) improve circulation 3) support the body’s efforts to function optimally. 

Reflexology does not: 1) diagnose 2) prescribe 3) treat for specific conditions. Reflexology is not a replacement for medical treatment.

Case Studies are now closed

Case Studies are private with the exception of my husband, Markus who is featured on this website, as this work is dedicated to him.