Category Archives: Stress

aRE yOU bALD?

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stress

Or just stressed and pulling your hair out?

A new study from UC San Francisco is the first to show that while the impact of life’s stressors accumulate overtime and accelerate cellular aging, these negative effects may be reduced by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping well.

“The study participants who exercised, slept well and ate well had less telomere (the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age) shortening than the ones who didn’t maintain healthy lifestyles, even when they had similar levels of stress,” said lead author Eli Puterman, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF. “It’s very important that we promote healthy living, especially under circumstances of typical experiences of life stressors like death, caregiving and job loss.”

Shorter telomeres have become associated with a broad range of aging-related diseases, including stroke, vascular dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis diabetes, and many forms of cancer.

“This is the first study that supports the idea, at least observationally, that stressful events can accelerate immune cell aging in adults, even in the short period of one year. Exciting, though, is that these results further suggest that keeping active, and eating and sleeping well during periods of high stress are particularly important to attenuate the accelerated aging of our immune cells,” said Puterman.

 

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Recreating Our Reality

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Over a week ago, my husband, kids, and I went “Off-grid”. We stopped going online, stopped answering our phones (unless it was a family call), and pretty much shut out the world.  Why? Because for a while now, I have been of the opinion that we could be healthier in many ways. In order to implement a healthier lifestyle that my whole family would buy into, I needed their complete attention.  Once we “unhooked” ourselves, we began a dialog about our overall health. IMAGINE having the full and complete attention of 3 teenagers, 1 young 20-something, and your spouse AND they actually hang on your every word. Doesn’t happen very often, I know.

You see… I was relatively healthy as far as food goes. But I was not too healthy in other areas. And neither was my family. So I convinced my family to take a week off, focus on my marriage and our family and together we made the following changes:

First … We rid the house of all preservatives; food and non-food items. That meant many of our over-the-counter medications. We didn’t stop there. We tossed out all the chemicals in our house; all our prescriptions, all our cleaning supplies, most of our cosmetics and personal hygiene items, many food items that our kids typically enjoy, and yes, even pet foods. They all went into the trash. Hard I know. For a while, it felt like I was throwing away money. BUT in reality, I was throwing away bad health.

If I could have dumped the chemicals we use in the garage, I would have, but some are necessary for our vehicles to run properly.  I guarantee you, I will be doing more research on that.  There has to be a way to clean, repair, build, and maintain equipment without harsh chemicals.

Now I know you are asking what the purpose of this DEEP CLEANSE was for.

As you may know, we have been dealing with a mystery illness with my daughter since last fall. Then just a few weeks ago, my father’s cancer returned and two young cousins came down with near fatal illnesses. It was a wake up call.

As an extended family, we began using essential oils to combat the illnesses of all 4 individuals and the results are amazing.  My daughter is almost completely healed and all her symptoms have disappeared. We are working on helping her regain the weight she lost. One cousin is seeing her inoperable brain tumor shrink and her symptoms are lessening. Another cousin has regained her sight and the pressure on her brain is reduced significantly. All her other symptoms are gone or are on their way out. My father is just beginning to apply the oils and we believe his health will greatly improve just as the others have.

Modern drugs and chemicals couldn’t help save these important people in my life. Natural plants and minerals are. Watching these dramatic health changes occur has led me to do some extensive research and I have found that as a society, we are poisoning our bodies. Our food has cancer causing chemicals, as do our medications, our cleaning products, and our personal care products, just to mention a few everyday items. Not only are we in danger of developing cancers, but other illnesses as well. Autism spectrum disorders are more prevalent, as are depressive disorders and many other mental health illnesses. Many of these are tied closely to compounds found in our store bought foods and non-perishable items.( DID  YOU KNOW… that we are born with cancer cells in our body but they don’t trigger until they come in contact with a certain compound or chemical? That’s right! We ALL have cancer cells. They are simply not active in most of us. But our current lifestyle is upping our chances of those cells activating.)

I, for one, no longer want to poison my family so we are choosing alternatives.

Here’s what the Watkins’ family is doing.

Our household has gone organic. We are eating organic/ low salt/ low carb/ non-GMO food stuffs.  We have eliminated foods that contain any sort of preservative or dye or added sugar.  That means a lot more meal prep for us but the pay off is better tasting foods, valuable skills, and healthier diets.

We are using essential oils to treat all our ills and as our first aid, even on the animals. We are also using essential oils for personal hygiene and for some of our cleaning products.Yes, I make my own toilet bowl cleaner and air freshener and it costs pennies and works 100x better than the chemical stuff…AND I could drink it and it wouldn’t hurt me.  Can you say that about store bought cleaners? OH, and did I mention it takes LESS time to prepare than it does to run to the store to purchase an item there?

For cosmetics, we are purchasing only those products that do NOT contain any chemicals. What good is it to change everything that we put into our bodies and then put chemical compounds on our skin? If the cosmetic is not organic AND toxin free, we don’t purchase it.

We have also gone chemical fee with all our cleaning items. We found a great company that makes all GREEN cleaners and what I can’t clean with oils, I clean with Shaklee™ products. I’m still researching an essential oils laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, and dish soap recipe so that I can cut down on the high cost of Shaklee™. ( Since I am saving money in other areas, Shaklee™ isn’t breaking our newly reduced budget, BUT I would love to save even more $$.)

In the week. that we have been doing this, the kids look healthier (there isn’t a single case of teen acne to be seen so you KNOW they are sold on our new lifestyle), the animals look healthier (nice shiny coats and no shedding to speak of AND that pet odor that they seem to get 2-3 days after a bath is gone too), the house smells fresher, our clothing, dishes, and appliances are cleaner, and we all feel more energetic and healthy.

It took some convincing to get the family to give up certain things and initially, the cost was high, but green and essential oils cleaners and products last 3-9x longer than store brands so I am saving money over all. We already knew that eating clean is less expensive than eating food with preservatives and chemicals, so that was an easy sell to the family. And lastly, essential oils are, by far, cheaper than prescriptions AND last longer AND work better than prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. Add in the savings of NOT having to go to the doctor or go into the hospital and I am saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars in the long run, AND I’m saving our lives. That does not mean that we are eschewing modern medicine. If I come up against something that essential oils can’t heal, I will definitely be back in my doctor’s office. It is an added bonus that our family physicians are both on board with us going NATURAL. I was surprised to learn that they and their families have made similar changes.

So that’s why we “unhooked” for a week. I had to get my heart, my head, and my goals all lined up and I had to be all in on this life change… PLUS my family had to be all in as well. I couldn’t be the only family member making such a drastic change and those of you with kids/teens know that if they don’t buy into anything not considered their NORM, then they can easily sabotage all your best laid plans. They had to be agreeable or this would not work for us.

This was not something we wanted to get into gradually, although we could have. AND if money is really tight, I recommend you make one or two changes at a time, not doing a full immersion as we have. For me, for our family, this had to be a total immersion. Our lives depend on it. And we are not regretting our choice.

It was worth it.  There is a lot of strength in being invested as a family unit in the family’s overall health.
BUT…

We didn’t stop there.

Second… We are improving our spiritual health as well.

We are recommitting to:

1. Daily personal and family scripture study and prayer. We can’t have healthy bodies without healthy spirits. For us that means strengthening our relationship with our Heavenly Father and improving our understanding of our Savior and what He desires for us.

2. We are also teaching our kids how to “meditate”; taking 10 minutes out of our day to turn inwards and focus on one thought or mantra, such as “I am loved”. It’s an effective means of eliminating daily stresses and it improves your self-esteem and sense of self. This is especially vital for our kids since society is constantly throwing messages at them telling them that they aren’t perfect if they don’t meet society’s idea of perfection. Anything that will help my child feel happy and secure in their own skin and raises their self-esteem in a healthy way is a PLUS in my book.

In just a week, I have seen a difference in how we all interact with each other. There has been a large reduction in arguing and tension in the home. I know. Hard to believe that a house full of teenagers could actually go several days without a “crisis”. We are actually 4 days and counting without a battle of wills or a fit of temper. Not even a temper tantrum or a slamming door. We all seem to be getting along better.

In my book, going Natural AND focusing on our spiritual health as well, is a win/win. We are making great strides in our physical, spiritual and even our financial health (Remember, I mentioned that our budget has decreased? Well, so have our waistlines in the last week… except for those who need to regain weight.)

This is why I went off the radar this past week or so AND this is what I am doing to improve my family’s overall health. AND I’m happy to report that I am already seeing some fantastic results.

I Believe this is going to be our greatest blessing yet.

Stay tuned for updates…

Stress and Weight

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Most of us understand that stress is a large factor in weight gain. Few of us understand why or even how to control the effects of stress on our waistlines.   Image

Your body responds to all stress—physical or psychological—in exactly the same way. So every time you have a stressful day, your brain acts as though you’re in physical danger and instructs your cells to release potent hormones. You get a burst of adrenaline, which taps stored energy so you can fight or flee. At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven’t used very many calories in your stressed-out state. This can make you hungry… very hungry. And your body keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues. 

Now, I know you’re thinking, there has to be a way to trick my body into turning off the cortisol.  You’re in luck.  Cortisol reacts to mood changes.  Lift your mood and the cortisol levels drop significantly.  So while you may not be able to reduce the stresses in your life, you can change your attitude and cut cortisol weight gain off at the pass.

Here’s 10 suggestions on how to “Stop” the stress release of Cortisol

1.  Drop and give me 10 – Exercise is an automatic mood enhancer.

2. Crank it up – Music will change your mood quickly…just be sure you choose music that makes you feel upbeat or happy and avoid angry or sad songs

3. Don’t gobble – Slow down your meal consumption.  Focusing on taste, texture, and when you begin to feel satisfied will help you eat less and gives you a chance to enjoy the meal.

4. Stop strict dieting – Avoid any dieting.  It is much better to eat healthy amounts, portions, and varieties of food to control weight than it is to resort to pills, powders, or other such “weight loss tricks”.

5. Curtail caffeine – Caffeine actually  encourages depression and hunger AND raises cortisol levels.

6. Power up breakfast – It really is the most important meal of the day and should include fiber, protein, healthy fats, and at least one serving of fruit and one serving of veggies. A healthy breakfast will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to elevate your mood all day.

7. Sleep it off – Lack of sufficient sleep just feeds stress levels.  Proper amounts of sleep elevate the mood and help your body control stress better.

8. Work it out – No one can stay upset during a great massage. The tissue manipulation helps increase happy endorphins, thus improving your mood.

9. Give in a little – It’s all about chocolate. A little bit of dark chocolate will significantly raise the hormones that dictate mood.

10. Go for pleasure – It’s true. Sexual intercourse elevates mood and makes us feel good, loved, and secure. Find your partner and let nature raise your mood.

 

 

 

 

Healthy Habits for Small Crisis

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It is easy to say you just could not help yourself when you go for that chocolate cake slice after struggling to survive this latest disaster. Life is full of ups and downs, it is unavoidable. Splurging on that indulgence may help to ease the burden when you are in meltdown mode, but that help is temporary and will not endure long enough to see you through the rest of the disaster. Since we all face the worst of times, it is necessary to learn to cope with the little bumps in the road to help you develop the healthy habits for stress relief that will keep you away from guilty food indulgences when you have reached your breaking point.  Here are my top ten that is repeated regularly to my clients to help them stay on track with their health goals.

1. Take a walk. No better way to relieve tension then to walk it out of your system.

2. Meditate. It is a practice that should be completed daily to help move your focus beyond your limitations and bring your dreams and hopes into reality. There is no rule that states you cannot meditate more often to find your center when life throws you more hardships than you think you can bear.

3. Go for a drive. Driving can be very relaxing for most people, especially when you are able to do so in pleasing scenary and avoid bad traffic.

4. Listen to music. Watch out for the hard core hits with beats that pound in your heart. I am talking about the calmer tones in any genre that make you feel calmer.

5. Sit outside and just listen. The world outside is full of sounds that can attract the senses. Close your eyes, or watch with eyes while your mind wanders.

6. Visualize your goals. Like mediatation, you want to remind yourself regularly why indulging just this once is really not worth it. Your goals are.

7. Call a friend. I cannot tell you how many times I have forgotten to eat because I was too busy gabbing.

8. Occupy your hands. Knit, sew, garden, paint, draw, sculpt. Activities such as these and working with wood or folding paper focuses your attention to your task and off your taste buds.

9. Drink water. Yup, water. It cannot be repeated enough that drinking water curbs your appetite; especially when you are aware your body can survive far longer without food than it can water. In most cases we mistake thirst for hunger. So, drink 32oz of water then wait 15 minutes and drink another 32oz. If still hungry after another 15 minutes then grab the celery sticks or bell pepper slices.

10. Window shop. Remember the ones about meditating and visualizing? If your imaginationshop just isn’t cutting it, then reality certainly will. It can be easier to dream of what you want when you can see what you want.

Stress to Impress? I Don’t Think So!

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Stress is just a normal part of every work day, family and life right? Wrong. You may encounter stress on a regular basis, but our minds and bodies are designed to cope with a much smaller amount then we seem willing to bear. Our children have to be at that game, then that concert, then that play group. My boss expects that project on his desk by the start of the next day, send out that email newsletter to all my coworker, or pack for the coming trip. There is the long commute from work or regular activities to deal with and all the energetic drivers that share the road with me. The book group that meets right after my last class, but I also have to write that paper and submit my work before midnight tonight. Don’t get me started on the exam tomorrow morning that I have yet to study for.

 

Breathe. That is the second step to relieving some of that stress and the first is just as simple… realizing your stressed. Of course, this is only the beginning, but it is also far from the end. Most of our stress is self induced. Our children do not need to play every sport or attend every school event. Our neighbors won’t think less of us it is takes us a month to get to know them. The bake sale may still make money if you offer up oreos, or better yet, milano cookies. You have a choice and you do not need to run yourself ragged trying to fit less important activities into your day.

 

Though you cannot put off your boss, reschedule your exams or turn in a late paper, and you certainly cannot change the traffic- don’t we all wish!- you can control the extras in your life that make it harder to control and have time for the necessities. For those that seem to be in a cycle of uncontrollable madness, it will not last forever. Now, I am sure you are wondering just what I think you could possibly do to lessen the stress and I am happy to answer your silent question. These are just ideas and once you get reading you may have an “Ah Ha” moment that brings out a suggestion that is more tailored to your needs and interests.

 

Read. Yup, that favorite friend sitting on the shelf or the stranger whose spine you have yet to crack has the ability to transport you away from your troubles and into a world where you are only an observer. Watch a sad movie. Let me tell you, there is nothing like a good cry to wipe away the pain, fear, and worry that stress just insists upon inviting to the party. Call up your closest friend. Many a time I have taken advantage of the friend that is happy to help me see beyond my problems into the wonderful world of the future. Just remember to be as available when they need the same. Take a bath. Showers can be helpful in a pinch, especially if you have a really good massaging shower head, but it can never measure up to a good bath with low lighting, silence or quiet music, or bath salts if your are so inclined.  Stroke a dog or cat. There are no end of studies proving that loving an animal is the fastest way to lower your heart rate and calm your nerves.

 

Surf the blogs. Though forgetting the world beyond these four walls is best for some, others find their happy place in dreaming of projects, places, clothes, or electronics. Crochet, knit, embroidery, hand quilting. For those who cannot conceive why adding another project could possibly make anyone feel better, keep in mind there are many of us that find comfort and clarity in the weaving or clicking of needles. Meditate. This should be a no-brainer. You would have to live under a rock to not hear of the benefits of clearing your mind and perfecting focus. Play a game. Sometimes you just need to allow yourself to let loose and become hopelessly lost in a silly game. Do not understimate the power in laughter. Work out. For those of us who suffer from lack of sleep when stressed or who find it easier to think through their situation when pushing their body to the limit, you must make time for exercise. Essential oils. Thankfully no longer considered quack medicine, oils are proven to help your body do everything from relaxing and finding clarity to sleeping and- would you believe it?- relieving stress!

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