When Life Gets Extra “Lifey”: A Plan for Stress Management

My husband Craig introduced me to this fabulous thing called leisure time.

Have you heard of it? It’s fantastic.

Once exposed, I happily welcomed it into my life and it has played a vital role in my overall life balance. Of course, life is dynamic and balance will sway from a little too leisurely to a little too much work; but  if I can help it, it’s usually not for too long. That was until this winter when all of a sudden I had a LOT of life going on all at once. Although my logical brain was telling me, “You can do this… this is not too much… this is totally manageable”, my body was sending out MAYDAY signals.

Hair falling out. Craig usually notices this first, quietly picking hair off the back of my shirt.

Tightness in my chest and stomach. Catching myself taking deep breaths to ease the pressure.

Lack of appetite. Did I even eat today? I can’t remember.

Disrupted sleep – and I LOVE sleep. Waking too frequently, waking too early, panicked dreams.

Tightness all around my shoulders blades wishing someone could just stick a knife in there to relieve it.

Mindlessness. Why am I pulling into Craig’s work parking lot when I meant to go to the bank?

Day after day, week after week, I kept waking up feeling the same way experiencing the same things. We call it anxiety from a diagnostic perspective, but I know it is my body’s wise intuition telling me – “MAKE SOME CHANGES LADY”. I quickly reverted back to my type A personality and went into FIX IT mode. Although I knew there was an end in sight, the plan was to get through this chunk of time as unscathed as possible.

The Plan

  1. Accept the things I cannot change. Take the work, sign the contract, get it done. My mantra becomes, “And this too shall pass”.
  2. Do everything I can change to minimize any additional stress to my body.
    1. Eat PERFECTLY. Bad food is an internal stressor to the body and an easy one for me to control. Vegetables, fruits and lean proteins it is.
    2. Drink PERFECTLY. Although a common tendency is to self-medicate with alcohol, caffeine, sugary beverages, I know this too is very stressful to the body so avoid it all. Well not my coffee in the morning. I had anxiety, not psychoses.
    3. Exercise daily. I knew the adrenaline and cortisol was surging through my body and exercising is a great way to “burn it out” so to say. I made it to the gym consistently and walked my dog daily. Sitting is the new smoking. I had to move my body.
    4. Meditate daily. I once read that if you’re stressed and pushed for time be sure to meditate at least once a day. If you’re REALLY stressed and pushed for time, meditate twice a day. For me, meditation means taking the time to quiet my monkey brain. This helps me to be more mindful during the day. I often ask for a light and energized body, an alert mind, an open and compassionate heart, and grace and flow to my day. I was able to fit in 20 minutes daily in the morning, and then read about it at night. I found the book Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan most helpful for implementing meditation as I’ve never been great at it.
  3. Nourish my adrenal glands. These are the 2 little glands that sit on top of your kidneys and secrete your stress hormones and catecholamines (cortisol, DHEA, epinephrine and nor-epinephrine). When chronically kept in stress mode, these glands can get burnt out resulting in chronic fatigue, chronic pain, immune disorders, cognitive dysfunction, muscle wasting, to name a few. Short term, it can show up as weight gain (especially belly fat), anxiety, depression, insomnia, and muscle soreness. Here’s what I took:
  • Adrenogen™ – an adrenal glandular made by Metagenics to nourish the adrenals glands. If you want healthy adrenals, eat adrenals. 2 twice a day.
  • Serenagen™ – a combination of traditional Chinese medicine herbs known as “adaptogens” that can help buffer the adrenal response. Essentially – the stress goes on, but it takes your body’s response to the stress down a notch. 2-4 during the day and 2 at night so I could get a better night sleep. Serenagen™ is what works best for me, but there are a plethora of adaptogen combinations that can be tried for best results.
  • Ultra Clear Renew™ – a medical food designed to help liver detoxification.
    • It works as a macronutrient balance meal (one less meal to make! – sometimes two)
    • It provides targeted nutrition for mitochondria function (cell energy) to help detoxify all of that cortisol.
  • Immune support. It is well documented that stress will lower your immune system and I had NO TIME to be sick with fitting in the meditation, exercise and all. I used a variety of things at different time … Vitamins A, C, E, D, homeopathics, omega 3 fish oils, multivitamins, and probiotics.

Eventually, in the spring, many things did wrap up and I was back to my life of balance, structure and routine where my body functions best. I am happy for the experience as it has brought a new sensitivity towards my patients who are also experiencing intuition.  If your body is telling you that it’s time to make some changes, it’s a good time to listen.

 

 

Keeping Your Kids Healthy When School Is In Session

You’ve double and triple checked the supply lists for the start of school.  

You’ve gotten their hair cut.  

You’ve bought new shoes.  

But have you checked your cupboard for wellness supplements to keep their immune systems in tip-top shape? 

One of the things that I love most about the summer is that my germaphobe self can relax a bit more knowing that my kids aren’t going to be exposed to every single bug under the sun that can lead to runny noses, sore throats, hacking coughs or the worst for this emetophobic – puking. Admittedly, I’ve gotten a lot better over the years but hearing the dreaded, “My stomach hurts,” used to turn in to instant anxiety for this mom.  

With school back in session, I’ll share some of my most tried and true tips for keeping my kiddos healthy.  (more…)

Happy Cells are Hydrated Cells

Water serves vital roles in maintaining our health. Our blood is comprised largely of water and serves as a transport system that delivers nutrients to our cells and organs while removing waste through urine, perspiration and breath. Many chemical reactions that occur within our bodies also depend on water. Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are broken down through hydrolysis reactions into smaller, more usable components such as amino acids and fatty acids.

Water is also vital in helping to maintain our body temperature. It enables the body to release heat when ambient temperature is higher than body temperature. The formation of sweat and the subsequent evaporation of water from the skin surface cools the body very efficiently.

But what if our water demands are exceeding the amount of water that we are taking in? When we lose just a mere 1 to 2 percent loss of body weight from water, we jeopardize our performance and ability to cool the body. This taxes our system as our hearts pumps harder, circulation slows and muscles fatigue more quickly. What if that loss creeps up to 3 to 4 percent? Now you’re in the danger zone for heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and cramping.

Staying ahead of dehydration is key. Here are some tips to make sure your water levels are optimized. (more…)

8 Things to Do to Help Minimize Your Seasonal Allergy Symptoms and Get to the Underlying Cause

Sneezing, itchy watery eyes, runny nose… clearly your immune system is not happy about something in the environmet.

But things like trees, grass, ragweed, dust or pet dander are not harmful to us. So what’s the fuss? If EVERYONE was experience the same symptoms, we could assume it was the environment causing the reaction. But since seasonal allergies don’t strike everyone, let’s look at why you may be reacting. (more…)

Detox State of Mind

For most people, the word “Detox” doesn’t exactly sound like a good time. But what if I told you that it can be? What if I told you that not only could you end up liking your detox but that it could change your life so much that you’d want to to do it again? Let me share with you what worked for me.

 Step One: Fix Your Focus 

Detoxing is all about letting go and getting rid of what’s not working.  But all too fast, our brains associate letting go with deprivation. What do you mean I can’t have _______ (fill in the blank for said-vice here)? Instead of thinking about what is being taken away from you, FOCUS on what you are bringing into your body and life through nourishing foods and behaviors. Your body is the one beautiful thing that is specific to you so own it with love.

 Step Two: Find Your Why

I love to dance (okay, that’s an understatement). Last year, I was honored to participate in a project featuring movement and restriction with four talented young women – half my age! And just like that, BAM! I had my powerful WHY. Declaring that I would like to feel less sluggish and blah could have been my goal, but it wasn’t inspiring. But this performance – my heart and head were all in. I wanted to feel a confidence in my body and an abundance of energy to take me through rehearsals and performances.

This year, my WHY will focus on reconnecting to my food intake and increasing my mind/body’s awareness of the benefits. I’m going for optimized health because I have no tolerance of any health symptoms with the super-noticeable differences I experienced when I reintroduced certain foods last year. An example…post nasal drip following eating wheat. Since last year, I have greatly reduced my intake of wheat, sugar and dairy, and have felt great! I can’t wait to see what else I learn this year.

So, find your WHY and let it lead your detox journey. Be definitive. Go beyond the basics of weight loss and increased energy. Once you connect to your WHY, let it be your guide and your motivator to keep you on track. Create visuals or written reminders of what you’re up to that you can place in frequently viewed areas like your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator door, or on your car dashboard. These gentle messages of inspiration will help to keep you connected to your WHY.

Step Three: Hydrate

Hydrating during your detox is key to minimizing some of the side-effects of the detox that can make you feel tired and run down. This can be different for everyone. I was more inclined to feeling hangry, experiencing brain fog and feeling more fatigued. I wanted to change this, so I drank more tea and infused water. This helped make me feel full and curbed my cravings for certain foods.

I like simple, so I made it simple. Hot water infused with lemon and ginger were a comfort beverage for me in the morning.  Adding spices such as cayenne, cinnamon or cloves to herbal tea had a calming, soothing effect for me.  This made for a great daily beverage or an evening after-supper libation. Room temperature water with a variety of lemon, lime, blueberries, raspberries, cucumber and mint were refreshing and revitalizing throughout the day.  I encourage you to experiment (this is the fun part!) with this. You are sure to find one that suits you.

Step Four: Pamper

Pamper and reward yourself. That’s right; detoxing can be hard – especially if you have not experienced one before! In some cases, it can be a complete lifestyle change. At the end of each week (heck, every two days if you want), treat yourself to a luxurious bath, spa or massage. Sounds expensive? It doesn’t have to be. Make your own body scrub or create your own detox bath with what you already have on hand in your kitchen. Use sugar or sea salt with a base oil (olive oil or coconut oil) and add a few drops of essential oils…WA-LAH! Instant body scrub!

Unfortunately, I do not own a bath tub…yet. I have grandiose ideas of turning our unused milk house into a sauna and the bulk milk tank into a hot tub, but we are just in the fantasy ideas stage right now. Instead, I have decided to do hot/cold shower therapy in lieu of a spa bath. I started hydrotherapy by making the water comfortably hot for a few minutes. Then I would adjust the flow of cold water until it was almost intolerably cold. I would then go back to hot water once more and finish with cold. When I first started this, I was thinking that it was insane. After doing it twice a week, I found I could tolerate going from as hot as I could stand it to as cold as I could stand it. My body adjusted and was no longer shocked at the fluctuations in temperature. It was invigorating, calming and energizing all at the same time.

If showers and scrubs are not your thing, pick a reward that works for you. Take an evening stroll in nature, go to a movie that you’ve wanted to see (with your own healthy snacks!), order that mouth-watering salad from your favorite restaurant or buy those luxurious wool socks you’ve been coveting. Whatever it is, let it be a supportive assist to your WHY and motivate you to keep going and stay the course.

Step Five:  Partner Up

Find someone to do the detox with you. Having a partner to share in the pains and gains as you go through a detox will provide you with accountability and the extra motivation/support you may need along the way.

Regardless, if you have someone to do it with or not, your detox will be a success if YOU make it so. Watch your front, because we got your back. We are just a phone call away should you want to discuss how you are feeling, have questions regarding food and drink intake, or just want to touch base.

FOCUS. FIND. HYDRATE. PAMPER. PARTNER.

Use these as tools to ensure a more successful detox. Good luck on your detox journey! If you are of the sharing sort, I would love to hear about your experience.

Take care, well wishes ~

Barbara