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Are You Doing Self-Care All Wrong?

By | General | No Comments

The topic of self-care is one that has been discussed openly and often over the past decade. But for many, the concept of self-care is one that is still a bit mysterious, if not downright confusing.

What Is Self-Care?

First, self-care is a practice and a commitment we make to ourselves. It is any activity we do deliberately to support our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Not only does the right kind of self-care improve our health and life, but it can also improve the relationships we have with others.

Some examples of self-care might be:

  • Creating better habits
  • Eating right
  • Getting plenty of quality sleep
  • Exercising
  • Meditation
  • Spending quality time with loved ones
  • Making time to enjoy a hobby
  • Learning something new

Self-care isn’t always fun or easy, but you do it anyway because you know that the activity is what is BEST for you. In this way, self-care is a bit like acting as your own parent, making sure you do the things you don’t necessarily feel like doing because it is what your mind, body, and spirit need.

What Self-Care Isn’t

Self-care isn’t necessarily about making yourself feel better.

Person A has had a very bad day. They practice proper self-care and, when they get home, they change clothes, go for a 3-mile run, then cook a healthy dinner that refuels their body.

Person B has also had a very bad day and practices phony self-care. On their way home, person B stops at the store and gets a 6-pack of beer and a gallon of ice cream, then spends the entire night on the sofa drinking and eating poorly in an attempt to make the bad day go away.

This phony style of self-care is very immature. It is not parental but something a child does. If the parent insists you eat your veggies because they are good for you, the child will eat only candy bars when the parent isn’t looking.

Self-care is about making decisions based on what is good for you, not what you FEEL like doing at the moment.

Self-care should also not be confused with pampering. While there is nothing wrong with getting massages and pedicures, these again tend to be quick fixes we give ourselves to make ourselves feel better in the moment.

At the end of the day, self-care is a commitment to yourself to live, grow, and evolve in healthy ways. It means making choices that will lead to your best self and greatest potential.

 

SOURCES:

Find Relief from What Ails You with Acupuncture

By | Chiropractic | No Comments

If you live with any type of pain, you know that it can negatively impact the quality of your life. To make matters worse, people often experience negative side effects on top of the pain when they take prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications.

It is for this reason that many people are now turning toward alternative and natural pain remedies. And this is when many discover the benefits of acupuncture.

What is Acupuncture Exactly?

Acupuncture has been used as a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice for thousands of years. The practice is based on a simple premise: all health issues stem from a blockage in a person’s life force energy or ‘qi’.

By inserting very thin needles strategically throughout the body, an acupuncturist can restore a person’s flow of qi and balance their system, thereby stimulating the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

While Western researchers still don’t fully understand how acupuncture works, there are many different theories to account for its many benefits. One ideology suggests that it’s so beneficial because it stimulates the release of endorphins; your body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals.

Another suggests that acupuncture works so well by balancing our autonomic nervous system (which controls our regular bodily functions) as well as releasing the chemicals that regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and calm the brain.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which is a United States government agency that explores complementary and alternative medicine, has found acupuncture to be an effective treatment for a variety of ailments and conditions such as:

  • lower back and neck pain
  • osteoarthritis
  • joint pain
  • headache and migraine

In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) put together the following list of conditions acupuncture has been proven effective for:

  • nausea/vomiting caused by chemotherapy
  • gastric conditions such as peptic ulcers
  • allergic rhinitis
  • painful periods, morning sickness, and even inducing labor
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • sprains/strains
  • body aches/pains, including sciatica
  • dental pain and facial soreness
  • hypertension and reducing stroke risk

Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture offers some impressive benefits. To start, if performed by a trained specialist, it is an extremely safe procedure with little side effects. It can easily be combined with other, more traditional forms of treatments. It has also been shown to control some forms of pain, which can be very beneficial to those for whom pain medications are not suitable.

If you or someone you know would like to explore acupuncture for an illness or health issue you are dealing with, please call or visit our office.

 

SOURCES:

Teaching Kids Mindfulness: The Benefits and Easiest Ways to Do It!

By | Adolescents/Teens, Children | No Comments

“Pay attention!”

It’s a phrase that is uttered dozens of times a week (if not more) in households where children between the ages of two and 18 reside. How is it that when they WANT to, oh say when they are playing video games or watching cartoons, kids can have a tremendous attention span. But at any other time, getting them to be present is harder than getting them to close the refrigerator door!

While getting kids to pay attention can seem frustrating, there is an answer to the madness: mindfulness.

Mindful Kids are Happier Kids

Several studies have shown that kids who participate in mindfulness programs are happier. And the sooner you get kids started with mindfulness, the easier it becomes for them to develop a capacity to become calm and centered when life throws them stressful situations.

What does this look like in real life?

Well, picture how a normal 7-year old responds to a situation that is scary, overwhelming, and generally unpleasant. Say they are getting ready to take a hard test or going to the dentist. Most will become so fearful and anxious that they have a hard time being calmed by a parent or other guardian.

The 7-year old who practices mindfulness meditation knows to stop, closed their eyes, and breathe deeply to get themselves calm and focused.

The two outcomes are vastly different. That’s because meditation and deep breathing exercises actually change the physiology of the brain, according to scientists. Instead of kids reacting emotionally to a charged situation (being controlled by their emotions), children can control their impulses and reactions to that situation.

OK, but how do you get kids to practice mindfulness when it’s difficult to get them to do pretty much anything, let alone meditate!  Here are some ways you can help your kids become more mindful:

1. Help them discover their inner experience.

Spend time helping kids understand what is happening to their bodies during stressful and calm situations. Ask them to explore their emotions. The more insight they have into their inner experience, the better able they will be to control their responses to external experiences.

2. Breathe with Them

Practice deep breathing with your child. You can do it while driving or before putting them to bed at night. Share with them how to relax, slowly breathe in deeply and exhale. Invite them to feel any tension melt away.

3. Be a Good Example

Your child will not even want to try and be mindful and in control when they see you out of control. Are you one to yell at other drivers? Do you get far too angry when your dog tracks mud in the house? Does a telemarketer at dinner send you through the roof? If so, it’s time to try deep breathing and meditation yourself. Be an example. If your child sees mommy or daddy handling stress in healthier ways, they will be far more likely to give it a go.

While it will take some effort to get your kid to commit to practicing mindfulness, the results that it will bring to their life are completely worth it.

 

SOURCES:

Coping with Working from Home During COVID-19

By | General | No Comments

How many mornings have you shut off that alarm, wishing you could just work from home in your PJs? Well now many of us are getting our wish thanks to COVID-19.

While in theory working from home may seem ideal, the reality for many of us is that it’s, well, kind of a pain. Particularly if you have young children home from school that you now have to teach while still keeping productive at work.

The fact is, this sudden and unexpected disruption to our daily lives has many of us feeling stressed!

Here are some ways you can cope with working from home for the unforeseeable future.

1. Get Your Space Right

If you don’t have a dedicated home office, you’ll want to figure something out ASAP. Having the right space at home will help you focus on the tasks at hand. It will also automatically set boundaries with family.

Do you have a spare room you can use? Is there an area in your finished basement that could work? If not, clear off the dining table and set up there.

2. Keep Your Regular Schedule

You may want to treat the next 2-3 weeks as a sort of family vacation, but it’s best if you and the kids stick to your regular routines. That means getting up and going to bed at the same time, showering, getting dressed and having breakfast as you normally would. Straying from routine will demotivate you to complete the work that needs to get done.

3. Take Advantage of the Flexibility

While it’s important to keep to your routines, that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of having more time on your hands. Instead of spending an hour plus on a commute each day, you could use that time to catch up on home projects that have been on your to-do list for a while. You can also use the added time to reconnect with your family.

4. Give Your Kids Structure

Kids need structure, so give them some each day. This could mean giving them three options of how they will spend the afternoon: playing with Legos in the living room, watching a movie or quiet reading in their bedrooms. Be sure to take a break from work every couple of hours to check in with your kids to answer any questions they may have. Lord knows they ALWAYS have some!

5. Get Some Virtual Babysitters

On those days when you have to conduct many meetings and get much done, consider reaching out to family and friends to arrange virtual playdates with the kids. Thanks to Skype and FaceTime, your virtual babysitters can read, play games and interact with your kids online while you get some important work done.

If you find you are getting a bit squirrelly, even after following these tips, you can always reach out to a mental healthcare provider who can give you some more ideas of how to manage the stress.

If you’d like to speak to someone, please reach out to me. At this time, I am able to conduct sessions via phone or Skype, so you don’t even have to leave your home if your state is on lockdown.


SOURCES:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/biofeedback-and-mindfulness-in-everyday-life/202003/77-strategies-working-home-during-covid-19

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/17/working-at-home-with-kids-during-covid-19-crisis-with-kids-underfoot.html

5 Foods to Keep Your Immune System Strong

By | Nutrition | No Comments

As the events of COVID-19 continue to unfold, many of us are focusing on how we can keep ourselves and our families as healthy as possible. While social distancing and increased hand washing can be very effective at stopping the spreading of the Corona virus, it is equally important to keep our immune systems strong.

With this in mind, here are some of the absolute best foods you can eat to help support your immune system:

1. Blueberries

Blueberries are loaded with powerful antioxidants. In fact, they contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can boost your immune system. A 2016 study found that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system. The researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get sick with respiratory tract infections and the common cold.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric is the aromatic spice that makes curry yellow. It is also often used in alternative medicine thanks to its active compound curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to improve a person’s immune response because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

3. Spinach

Popeye knew that spinach would help him be stronger. But I wonder if he knew how good it was for his immune system. Spinach contains vitamin C & E, as well as beneficial flavonoids and carotenoids. Not only are vitamin C & E great for the immune system, but research shows flavonoids may help prevent common colds in otherwise healthy people. So, it stands to reason it may help protect against other viruses as well.

4. Citrus Fruits

Most of us, when we feel an illness coming on, reach for more vitamin C-rich foods. But what is it about vitamin C specifically that makes it so good for our immune systems?

Vitamin C is believed to increase the production of white blood cells. These are the cells responsible for attacking foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses.

Some popular citrus fruits high in vitamin C include:

  • grapefruit
  • oranges
  • tangerines
  • lemons
  • limes
  • clementines

Unlike other animals whose bodies do produce vitamin C, humans must get their vitamin C from the foods they eat or through supplementation. So be sure to add more citrus fruits to your diet.

5. Red Bell Peppers

We can’t talk about vitamin C without mentioning that ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain even more vitamin C than most citrus fruits. So if you prefer veggies to fruits, then be sure to eat more red bell peppers.

While this is not an exhaustive list of immune-boosting foods, it will get you started eating right so you can stay healthy during this pandemic. It’s also important to stay hydrated and eliminate sugars and trans fats from your diet as well.


SOURCES:

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322412

How to Cope with the Stress and Anxiety Caused by COVID-19

By | Anxiety, General | No Comments

If you’re like most people, you are doing your best to stay calm during COVID-19 pandemic. But that can feel incredibly difficult at times. When not worrying about friends and loved one’s health, there’s also the conflicting information provided by the media and the economic ramifications of the virus that have people on edge.

Signs of Emotional Distress and 6 Ways to Cope

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but most will exhibit some of the following signs:

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

If you are experiencing significant stress right now, here are some ways you can cope:

1. Limit Media Consumption

Hearing the media constantly spread panic isn’t good for anyone. It’s important to stay rational and do your own research to uncover facts from fiction as well as stay positive.

2. Nurture Your Body and Spirit

Be sure to get outside for some fresh air and go for a walk. Eat right and make sure to stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep. Avoid consuming too much alcohol and try and find fun ways to reconnect with your family.

3. Tap into Your Sense of Fun

If you have kids, look to them for some good old-fashioned playtime. Play hide and seek in the house. Create an obstacle course in the back yard. Watch some of your favorite funny movies. Laughter really is the best medicine so get plenty of it!

4. Support Your Local Community

Many local businesses are hurting right now. If you’re still getting a paycheck, consider buying a gift card from a local restaurant, gym, hair salon, etc. to give them revenue now and you can use the card later. This will make you feel great at the same time.

5. Be a Role Model

Remember, your kids will ALWAYS look to you first to see how they should be thinking and feeling about something. So move about each day calmly and confidently and reassure your kids everything will be okay because it will be.

6. Use Your Time Constructively

For many of us, there is a silver lining in this situation in the form of extra time. What can you do with the extra time that isn’t being used to drive an hour or more each day in commuting? Focus on using this time wisely. Maybe you have an ever-growing list of home projects that you just never have time to tackle. Tackle them now, you’ll feel great about it later.

 

If you find yourself becoming too stressed or depressed during this time, I encourage you to connect with me. Speaking with a therapist can help you cope with the situation and navigate the days ahead. I am currently able to conduct sessions over the phone or via Skype, so you won’t even have to leave your home if your state is in lockdown.


SOURCES:

https://www.ucihealth.org/news/2020/03/covid-19-anxiety

https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/ep/behavioral/stress_covid19.pdf

How Focusing on Your Faith Can Help with Depression & Anxiety

By | Depression | No Comments

It has long been believed that having faith is key to getting through some of life’s greatest challenges. A spiritual practice can often give people the strength and confidence to push through obstacles and make positive changes.

But can faith have a positive effect on depression and anxiety? According to new research, it can.

Your Brain on Spirituality

According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, meditation or any other form of regular spiritual practice (such as prayer or religious contemplation) has been linked to a thickening of the brain cortex. The study, which was the first to investigate whether there is any physical evidence in the brain linked to the protective effects of faith against depression, looked at 103 adults at either high or low risk of depression, based on family history.

At the end of the study, magnetic resonance was used to view participants’ brains, and the images clearly showed thicker cortices in those participants who placed a high importance on religion or spirituality than those who did not.

But even more significant was the fact that the thicker cortex was found in exactly the same regions of the brain that had shown thinning in people with a high risk for depression.

3 Ways Faith Can Help You Fight Depression and Anxiety

Every individual requires unique treatment methods to combat their symptoms of depression. While cognitive behavioral therapy and prescription medications work well for many people, many others may be helped by embracing a spiritual practice.

If you are suffering with depression, here are three reasons why you may want to focus more on your faith:

1. Faith Offers Hope

A belief in a loving power greater than ourselves can help us feel hopeful, even in our darkest hours. Faith turns wishful thinking into great expectations. And when we start to expect goodness in our lives, we naturally feel hopeful for our future.

2. Your Behaviors Evolve

Whether it’s through praying, meditating, or attending some sort of spiritual service or gathering, faith-filled people tend to experience positive changes in their attitudes and behaviors. Where once you may have had a knee-jerk emotional reaction to a situation, you might now be able to center yourself instead and face situations with calmness and clarity.

3. Your Perception Changes

Faith has a way of helping us see ourselves and our lives differently. Problems turn into opportunities, enemies into friends, and impossibilities into possibilities.

 

While it may take some time before you feel relief from your depression or anxiety, by embracing faith, you will be better able to cope with the symptoms.

If you or a loved one are suffering from depression or anxiety and would also like to explore treatment options, please reach out. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

SOURCES

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-the-questions/201603/4-powerful-ways-spirituality-can-ease-anxiety-and-depression

https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/07/31/for-many-with-severe-mental-illness-spirituality-plays-role-in-well-being/137462.html

https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/01/19/how-spirituality-protects-the-brain-against-depression/64698.html

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/1792140

Finding the Sweet Spot: Is Your Child Over-Scheduled?

By | Adolescents/Teens, Children | No Comments

Families are busy these days. Between a parent’s busy home and work life, and kids in school with after school activities, it can be hard to figure out a balance. Certainly activities outside of school will enrich your child’s life, but at what point is it adding value, and when is it pushing your family over the edge?

 

Lack of Sleep

It’s important to make sure your child is getting enough sleep. After they’re done with school and their extracurricular activity, they should have enough time to do homework, eat dinner, and get at least eight hours of sleep. If you have trouble getting them out of bed in the morning, if they’re lethargic all day or sleeping in class, your child may be over-scheduled because they’re not getting enough sleep.

 

Lack of Down Time

Kids benefit from unstructured time. Unstructured time helps them relax and decompress. It’s important to note however that screen time is not unstructured time. Time spent using electronics doesn’t relax them or help them decompress from the day. It doesn’t add stress, but it doesn’t take it away, either.

 

Your Child Acts Out When They Get Home

One of the biggest signs that your child is over-scheduled is if they come home from school and have a meltdown. When kids are at school, there’s much that’s expected from them. They have to have self-control all day, and a lack of unstructured time over the week can make them feel like they can’t take it anymore.

 

Finding a Balance

It can be difficult to find that sweet spot between a healthy number of activities for your kids, without your family having to sacrifice in other areas. First, evaluate how much time you’re spending on an activity. Include time spent at the activity, the time preparing, time spent at practice and driving to and from. Research shows that eight hours a week works best for children. Five to seven activities over the course of a year is at the top end of the “sweet spot” before extra activities start to have a negative impact.

 

Make a conscious decision to have some down time over the course of a year. Maybe pick a season not to have any activities scheduled for your children, so you can all enjoy some structured family life. Things like doing chores, helping with dinner, etc. is a boon to both children and families. Everyone benefits from family engagement.

If you’re a parent and you’re struggling or just need some support, call my office today and let’s schedule a time to talk.