Sunday, March 27, 2016

Reduce Stress and Improve Well Being with Awe and Amazement

Should You Add Awe and Amazement to Your Mindfulness Practice?

by Kathleen Lisson

I hd the opportunity to go skydiving for the first time last weekend. I felt very scared two days prior to the jump. What was I thinking! I am running a half marathon with Team in Training San Diego, I am starting work as an onology massage therapist, why would I risk all that and potentially sprain my ankle landing wrong in a skydiving accident? It seemed like a good idea at the time when I bought the package as a Christmas present for a friend. 

It was a beautiful, clear day and we drove out to the facility, went through the check in process and were fitted for our harnesses. When I met my instructor I still didn't know what to expect. I was feeling a little nervous energy, which I let out by chattering and making funny jokes. When I felt the relaxed, confident energy of my instructor, I realized that I was going to be safe and taken care of. I could enjoy the experience instead of become overhwelmed by the adrenaline in my body. 

Maybe its because of the meditation and maybe its because of all my long distance running, but as I prepared to exit the plane, I didn't feel any fear, just curiousity. I remember crouching on the edge of the open door and looking at the Earth below and just knowing how beautiful and striking it was. As I fell, I was caught in a stream of a thousand dreams. I had felt awe on a grand scale. 

The other time I felt awe this week was while viewing the sunset at Solana Beach. I am so lucky to live in the Rancho Penasquitos neighborhood of San Diego, with the beaches at Del Mar and Solana Beach so near by. Watching the sun set over the ocean reminds me even the way we keep time can be beautiful and awe inspiring. 

In the Association for Psychological Science article 'All about Awe,' author Anna Milulak states that awe "may have surprisingly meaningful consequences for everyday behavior and even overall well-being." Her article provides a good overview of current research on awe.

Psychologist Rick Hanson has a insightful post on how amazement can replace stress in our lives. The post, titled 'Just One Thing: Be Amazed' includes the advice that amazement "lifted me above the tangled pressures and worries I was stuck to like a bug on flypaper. Amazement is instant stress relief ... Perhaps most deeply, being amazed brings you into the truth of things, into relationship with the inherent mysteries and overwhelming gifts of existence." 

Watch a presentation by GGSC Education Director Vicki Zakrzewski on awe and its applications in the classroom, given July 1, 2014, at the Greater Good Science Center Summer Institute for Educators. Zakrzewski focuses on our bodies physical responses to awe and the mental changes our mind makes as a result of an experience of awe. At the 18 minute mark, Zakrzewski shares the types of things that can inspire awe and at the 13 minute mark, she shares a simple exercise you can do with a friend to share stories of awe with one another. Watch the video midway in an article posted here:

Do you run an an awe-inspiring natural environment or learn about inspiring runners as a part of your running practice? 

Friday, March 25, 2016

How to Reduce Pain with Cancer Treatments?

Managing Cancer Pain: 

Oncology Massage can Reduce Pain 

by Kathleen Lisson

The 'Patient Resource' publication 'Managing Cancer Pain' states that "about 90 percent of all cancer-related pain can be successfully managed, yet only half of people with pain seek relief." The publication offers those with a cancer diagnosis tips for managing their cancer treatment symptoms and states that massage has "reduced pain in people with cancer when used as one part of a pain management plan."  

Find out more ways to control the painful effects of cancer treatment by reading the publication here:

Monday, March 21, 2016

Breast Cancer Education Class at Sharp in San Diego

Breast Cancer Education Class at Sharp in San Diego

by Kathleen Lisson

Dr. Casteel explains the process of treating breast cancer at Sharp in San Diego

I attended a free breast cancer education class at Sharp Outpatient Pavilion in San Diego this week. Surgeon Dr. Christina Casteel, medical oncologist Dr. Jennifer Fisher, radiation oncologist Dr. Geoffrey Weinstein and pathologist Dr. Christopher Wixom explained the treatment process for breast cancer, including diagnosis, chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and hormone therapy. I left the event with a better understanding of the terminology used in a medical record and the reasons for the order of treatments for breast cancer. I would recommend this class for anyone wanting to learn more about a diagnosis of breast cancer and the current treatment options. 

To view a list of Cancer classes and cancer support groups at Sharp in San Diego, visit here:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Tips on managing distress and fatigue from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

How to cope with distress and fatigue - 

for oncology patients with a cancer diagnosis

by Kathleen Lisson

After my morning run with Team in Training San Diego, I attended the recent Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Blood Cancer Conference in Anaheim. According to the LLS website, the Blood Cancer Conference was "a free educational event for blood cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, family members and healthcare professionals to learn more about treatment options, emerging therapies, management of survivorship issues and LLS resources."

I enjoyed listening to the wisdom of Oncology Nurse Gail Goodell Munzing, Oncology Social Worker Rose Marie Danieri and Center for Cancer Counseling co-founder Frances Wollman Baumgarten. Many of the experiences and perspectives they shared reminded me of what I saw growing up as a child whose mother was fighting metastatic breast cancer. Crying, fear and anxiety ARE normal. Feeling vulnerable, scared, unable to hide your cancer and experiencing a loss of control are also normal. I was happy to see that one of the patients quoted in the presentation listed oncology massage as one of the ways she reduced her cancer related distress. 

If you couldn't attend the Blood Cancer Conference, the next one will be held in Los Angeles in March 2017. I have listed two resources below, a copy of the slides used in the Managing Cancer Related Distress breakout session and a webcast from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on fatigue and other cancer treatment side effects.  

View the Managing Cancer Related Distress powerpoint presentation here:

Listen to a pre-recorded LLS webcast 'Getting the answers you need: fatigue and other cancer treatment side effects' here:

Friday, March 11, 2016

Passing on the Love of Running to the Next Generation

Why I am a Girls on the Run Coach in San Diego

Kathleen Lisson

I have been a running coach for Girls on the Run for two years and is has been a privilege to use my skills as a RRCA certified running coach to help develop my San Diego team's lifelong love of running. I shared three reasons why I love coaching with the Rancho Bernardo Toastmasters recently. Watch the video here:

Monday, March 7, 2016

How to Combat Negative Stress - advice from a running coach

How Runners Reduce Stress

by Kathleen Lisson

Meditation can relieve stress in endurance athletes

Running coach Jason Fitzgerald wrote an excellent article detailing the two kinds of stress that endurance athletes face - the "eustress" positive stress of a rigorous training schedule and the "distress" negative stress of tension, anger, conflict, illness, grief and anxiety we can experience in our daily lives.  I liked that Coach Fitzgerald mentioned that runners will often just look to reduce stress from running with sport-specific items like foam rollers and compression socks instead of taking a big picture look at reducing the overall stress level of their lives. Two activities he recommended for long distance runners looking to reduce their negative stress included meditation and volunteering.

I agree! Both meditation and volunteering for Girls on the Run San Diego have reduced the stress I feel in my body and helped me to keep to an endurance runner's training schedule.

How do you reduce the distress in your life?

Read Coach Fitzgerald's article here:

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