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The Enduring Power of Catharsis
Aristotle, Greek Tragedy, and Physical Therapy
empathy for them and get to share in their experience. If you’ve ever shed a tear during a movie, you’ve experienced a form of catharsis. In the 20th century, catharsis became of interest to psychoanalysts, including Sigmund Freud. He believed that if a patient could recall a tragic event in their lives, they could work to purge those emotions, limiting the effect they had on a patient. Indeed, this view was not too dissimilar from what Aristotle hoped art could achieve. The actions you see on the stage may not mirror your current circumstance, but the emotions of the characters express something all humans go through. By identifying with these emotions, a viewer or patient allows themselves the chance to expel them. Now, physical therapy obviously deals with bodily pain instead of psychological issues, but the result of physical therapy can offer a similar type of relief. Very often, a patient suffering from pain will also be dealing
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” –Aristotle If you head into Manhattan for a show, odds are you’ll catch a musical on Broadway. If you venture downtown, however, you’ll notice that nearly all throughout the year, at one theater or another, you’ll be able to view a performance of a classic Greek tragedy. Some of these plays are over 2,000 years old, and yet, they seem as relevant to our lives now as they must’ve seemed to ancient Greeks. Why, you might wonder, does the work of people like Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides continue to resonate? Well, in his classic “Poetics,” the great philosopher Aristotle proposed an answer. He believed that viewing tragedy onstage produced a feeling he named “catharsis.” Catharsis allows us to expel emotions like pity and fear without having to undergo trauma ourselves. When we watch a character experience tragedy, we feel
with emotional trouble. Maybe they can’t participate in the activities that give them the most joy, or maybe they can’t make it through the day without wincing in discomfort. This lack, naturally, causes quality of life to dip. Physical therapy can help by expelling that physical pain from the body. Over the course of treatment, what was once a stressful hindrance starts to feel conquerable. As you grow stronger, you realize that the life you once thought was lost can be regained. This overcoming of an issue can be a powerful emotional triumph in addition to a physical victory. Now, I would never claim to be a psychoanalyst, and I’m even less qualified to write a play. What I hope to do with my patients, though, is give them relief from the physical ailments that are keeping them from living their fullest lives. That sounds a little like catharsis to me.
1 www.AtlasPhysicalTherapyNJ.com • 973-325-7212 – Sam Dimitrakis
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Extracurricular Overload How To Demystify Your Kids’ Jampacked Schedules
a lighthouse on every page. Whichever system you choose, keep it updated. Its word is law. Form parent alliances. It’s vital that you and your partner coordinate availability and who’s driving when, but you should go further than that. Those soccer practices Jacob’s going to? There are other teammates there, and those teammates have parents shuttling them around, just like you are. Set up carpools to manage scheduling conflicts between your kids and drastically reduce the time you spend as a chauffeur. Maintain balance. This might come as a surprise, but you will have to say no to your child every now and then. Sure, simultaneous baseball, football, procrastinating, sleeping too much, and lashing out are all unhealthy ways to deal with stress. Instead, find healthy coping mechanisms. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control. No single method works for everyone, so experiment with the following healthy techniques. Avoid, Alter, Adapt, and Accept Some stressors are predictable. Learn how to predetermine your reaction to predictable stressors by choosing to avoid, alter, adapt, or accept. Avoid people or situations that stress you out — though this does not mean you should avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. Talk about your feelings instead of bottling them up, create a balanced schedule, reframe your problems, look at the big picture, and practice gratitude. It’s critical to look at the glass as half-full and be able to forgive.
As school starts up again, so do sports, and your kids’ extracurricular ambitions pile up like the falling autumn leaves. Managing their schedules can seem impossible, but don’t let yourself get burned out. Here are some tips to stay sane in the midst of the extracurricular whirlwind. Consolidate all your scheduling, jotting, and activity-tracking strategies into one system. You can’t afford to be scrawling “Abby piano lesson rescheduled 9/21” on the first scrap of paper you come across. That doesn’t mean you have to be hyper-organized, but it does mean that you need to keep your entire calendar in one place, whether that place is Google Calendar, a fridge whiteboard, or the old-fashioned standby: a calendar with It often feels like there is nothing you can do about stress, but you have a lot more control than you think. Stress management is about taking charge of your lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and the way you deal with problems. No matter how stressful life seems, there are steps you can take to regain control. Identify Sources While it’s easy to identify major sources of stress, such as moving or changing jobs, recognizing sources of chronic stress is more difficult. To identify sources, look closely at your habits and excuses. Do you explain away stress as temporary? Do you define stress as an integral part of your life? Do you blame your stress on others? If you don’t recognize your role in creating or maintaining stress, you will never be able to control it. Find Healthy Strategies Withdrawing from loved ones, bingeing on food or alcohol,
and soccer seasons might seem healthy and fun for your kid, but you need to consider your own needs, as well. Many parents give their children free rein over what to choose, but limit activities to one or two per season. Make sure you weigh each child’s needs equally, and keep the rules the same for each of them.
DealingWith Stress Healthy Coping Mechanisms That Put You in Control
Make Time for Relaxation Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. If you make ample time for self-care, you will be better positioned to handle life’s stressors. Develop a stress relief toolbox. Give yourself the option of going for a walk, spending time in nature, calling a good friend, journaling, getting a massage, or reading a book. Live a Healthy Lifestyle In addition to regular exercise, there are other healthy lifestyle choices that can increase your resistance to stress. Eat a healthy diet; reduce caffeine and sugar; avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs; and get enough sleep. Stress is unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to dictate your life. With stress management techniques, you can avoid chronic stress, reduce your stress levels, and live your life to the fullest.
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CommonQuestions Corner Over the past few months, we’ve
The Road to Recovery program may include exercises given by your therapist to perform at home. It’s important that you learn proper technique in the office before bringing an exercise home. Another mistake is overexerting yourself during out-of-office workouts. Stick to the program given by your therapist and alert them when you think your capacity has increased. Will my treatment change over time? Yes. As you feel better, your therapist will provide more challenging exercises designed to improve your strength, range of motion, and flexibility. One of the benefits of physical therapy is that it can be adapted as your capacity increases. Workouts that you couldn’t do on day one might be achievable in just a few short weeks.
function or that further therapy would not be beneficial. Consultation with your physician will also prove useful in determining when to stop therapy. When will I start feeling better? Some patients feel better after their very first session. Realistically, though, it may take a couple weeks to really feel a marked improvement. If you don’t feel improvement after a handful of sessions, speak up. Your therapist will reassess your diagnosis and treatment program to make sure you get the most out of your sessions. Will I need to do exercises at home? At Atlas PT, we specialize in manual therapy, which means direct contact from your therapist. Obviously, you should not try to replicate manual techniques at home. Your recovery
covered a lot of ground in our “Common Questions Corner.” We’ve talked about the history of physical therapy, common misconceptions about the practice, and what sets physical therapy apart from other treatment methods. One topic we haven’t looked at, however, is the road to recovery that every physical therapy patient travels down. This month, we wanted to explain the therapy process in more detail. How long will physical therapy take? Because physical therapy is tailored to individual needs, there isn’t a set course of treatment. You will need to attend physical therapy sessions until you and your therapist decide that you have reached your desired level of
Recipe adapted from MyGreekDish.com. Greek Quinoa Salad Ingredients
• 2 pickled cherry peppers, diced • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced • ½ English cucumber, diced • Feta, for sprinkling
• ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil • 1 cup quinoa • Kosher salt and pepper • 2 cups red and yellow grape tomatoes, halved • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
• 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano • 1 clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped to a paste • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper Instructions 1. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, garlic, and some salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until emulsified. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare the salad, in order to allow the flavors to meld. 2. Rinse quinoa in strainer until water runs clear. Combine quinoa, 2
peppers, red onions, cucumbers, and dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours before serving. The longer it sits, the better the flavor.
cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in small saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, for about 15 minutes. 3. Transfer to bowl, fluff with fork, and let sit for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Add tomatoes, olives, green onions, cherry
4. Just before serving, transfer to a platter and sprinkle feta on top. 3 www.AtlasPhysicalTherapyNJ.com • 973-325-7212
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Inside This Issue 1 2 The Enduring Power of Catharsis Extracurricular Overload Dealing With Stress
Common Questions Corner: The Road to Recovery Greek Quinoa Salad
From Greece to the World
From Greece to the World
Contemporary Greek Celebrities
his career has been on an upward trajectory ever since. He worked with Colin Farrell on “The Lobster,” and the two will reunite for the forthcoming “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” which co-star Nicole Kidman. Jeffrey Eugenides, Author He may not hail from Greece, but much of Jeffrey Eugenides’ work deals with his experience of growing up as a Greek- American in Detroit. His 2003 Pulitzer Prize- winning novel, “Middlesex,” explores the themes of assimilation and culture. A major literary figure, his novels have been translated into over 30 languages, including, of course, Greek.
a national hero. When the Greek national team qualified for Euro 2004, nobody expected much of them. Nevertheless, they prevailed, beating host nation Portugal 1-0 in the final. Zagorakis was captain of the squad and named player of the tournament, ensuring that he’ll never have to pay for dinner in his homeland ever again. Yorgos Lanthimos, Filmmaker It’s difficult for any film director to break into the world of cinema, let alone one who isn’t a native English speaker. But that’s exactly what Yorgos Lanthimos has done. His film “Dogtooth” won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, and
If you ask someone to name a famous Greek, odds are you’ll get a one-word name of somebody who died thousands of years ago: Homer, Socrates, Plato, etc. You might even hear the name of a god, like Zeus or Poseidon. While ancient Greek culture still influences us today, Greek history did not stop all those generations ago. There are a number of well-known Greeks in the modern era who have made a big impact on the world, including one Greek-American. Theo Zagorakis, Soccer Player You might not confuse Theodoros Zagorakis with Messi, but in Greece, he is regarded as
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