The mother-child bond and it’s importance in health.

download.jpeg

Today is mother’s day.  Typically a day of celebration with hugs and cards to all those important mother figures in our lives.  This mother’s day is a bit different.  Many are separated from their kids, viewing their kids or grandkids though glass or utilizing technology to share a special moment.  More difficult must be the new mother’s dealing with isolation while trying to cope with the exponential self learning that occurs with caring for a new born.  As the saying go it takes a village to raise a child – now that village has become virtual.

The above picture is the quintessential image I see when envisioning the bond between a mother and child.  That first contact when a child discovers the physical person that has been caring for them for 9 months.  Grasping the hand of your loved one is the first physical touch coming into this world and the last human contact we express when we leave this world.  It is the symbol for the power of the bond between mother and child.  And that bond is unbreakable.  It can be stretched, it can be strained, but it is a nylon tether that needs pruning shears to cut through it.  Even if there has been geographical separation or metaphysical separation, where mother or child is no longer on this earth, the bond still exists.  That bond is a contract entered into by both mom and child and cannot be broken.  It’s almost like the umbilical becomes invisible and converts to this metaphysical string connecting both parties.  Think about it – mom’s have this amazing intuition where they can tell how their kids are feeling or what they are thinking – there must be some metaphysical quantum connection that exists and allows transfer of information.

This bond begins before utero – it starts once the person, or the couple, decides they want to conceive.  As a Naturopath I’ve seen this many times with patients, once they decide they want a child they’ll conceive shortly after.  Now as a Naturopath that focuses on family health and fertility I know this may not always be the case.  A woman may be focused on having a child and is ready for one but has difficulty conceiving, whether it be a physical reason or mental-emotional block (such as needing to heal the bond with their own mom).  When there are issues with fertility it’s important to address those blocks and heal them to repair the previous bonds and help create new ones.

As bonds are created preutero so is a child’s health.  Prenatal health truly begins before conception.  Genetic dispositions can be transferred via the maternal line through mitochondrial DNA so a child’s health really begins with bonds seen in the family tree.  Once conception occurs that connection is created and the baby experiences what their mom does.  Learning of health habits begin before the baby even sees the world through the information interpreted by eyes of their mom.  Once the baby is born they continue to look to their mom for guidance, whether it be verbal or nonverbal.  They feel what their mom feels and sees what their mom sees, strengthening that bond.  This is why communication with children is important, they feel but they don’t understand.  They need to know how to react.  Biologically children do not have a HPA axis developed until the age of five, hence any stress experienced before that age is not understood and they look to their mom how to react.  That bond determines their resilience and predicts the risk of  chronic disorders in their future.

So in summation, the mother-child bond is a living, breathing, beautiful, unbreakable connection. It starts when the mom-to-be decides to be, and continues through out the life of the child.  The bond is instrumental in the overall health of the child, and that health begins within the themes seen in the familial line.  If you are thinking of your children or they are thinking of you then that bond is there and always will be.  Mother’s day may be a material recognition of that bond, however everyday is mother-child bond day (doesn’t really roll of the tongue so I guess hallmark went with the shortened mother’s day instead).  Happy mother’s day 🙂

Posted in Theme of the month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quality not Quarantine

2150b391-0341-4b3c-9129-177dd1f6df4b

It’s been about 6 weeks now since staying at home has become a hashtag and a world way of life. When quarantine first happened, we all were in a state of denial. Then as the weeks progressed, we proceeded going through the other stages of grief such as anger, bargaining and depression. Around last week we should have started entering the acceptance phase which many are currently in right now (yes I know not everyone is in this phase, evident by the protesting… those people are stuck in a state of denial). Now that we are out of the denial phase we should be shifting our focus from distraction (a common technique used in denial) to reflection and action (an appropriate response to accepting our current environment).

As I’ve discussed before we live in a very accomplishment-based fast-paced stimulus driven world. Having to pause and reflect has been a huge lesson to learn….and many are still trying to cope with their delay in living. However, this period of time is not a delay or deterrent in our lives. It’s kind of a gift (which may be easier to see once we’ve progressed from the acceptance phase to gratitude). I am not discounting the difficulties and hardships encountered during this time. It has been a torrential period for many across the world and probably will be the subject of many history books yet to come. In spite of the pain and the hurt and the loss we are feeling (whether it be physical loss or loss of our liberties) we need to accept the conditions we are in and use the pause in time productively. It’s like when you are watching a movie and someone asks a question – you pause the movie, discuss it and continue the movie with greater understanding. Rather than deflect and distract, reflect and respond. We are out of distractions (sadly I’m pretty sure people have already gone through all of Netflix and you-tube) so let’s embrace it and use our time wisely. It’s quality, not quantity, time.

Home is where the heart is, and it’s time to find the love again for our homes and families. In this time what have you found out about your family relationships? Which boundaries have been crossed or weakened? Did you learn anything about yourself? About what do you truly miss in life and miss in yourself. Funny enough I’ve heard from many introverts that they arent fond of the social isolation and even though they can only take people in small quantities they miss them when they are completely gone. They’ve realized the importance and need of socialization and perhaps will be more balanced and social when re-entering normalcy. And extroverts whom thought that they couldn’t survive without people began to appreciate the necessity of “down time”.

How is your relationship with your partner? Once you take away the frivolous, the titles, the distractions, do you harmonize with your partner? I’ve heard divorce is on the rise during quarantine and I don’t think it’s due to the stress of social isolation. It’s more that once distractions were removed couples were faced with the harsh reality that their relationship was based more on convenience than quality. On the other end of the spectrum relationships may have deepened, providing assurance that the relationship is harmonious and any fear about it was due to the fear of commitment.

How do you feel about your job? Do you miss it or miss working? Is it the right job for you? If not, create the plans now to set yourself on the right career path that you can activate when the job market starts up.

How is your mood? How did you deal originally with your new environment? Once distractions were removed I think more people discovered they may have had a subclinical level of anxiety or depression which they previously ignored, then was intensified during lockdown and brought to the surface. Also those with pre-exisiting mood disorders may have learned they were more resilient than they thought.

Use the rest of your time to ask yourself these difficult questions and accept the answers you receive. Then use this honest information to plan how you are going to better yourself and improve your health. If you learned that you stress eat, aim to work on incorporating a healthier diet. If you learned that you are addicted to the blue screen, unplug. If you learned you have communication issues, have an honest conversation and ask what they need from you to feel heard. If you learned you haven’t properly saved for the future, create a financial plan to address these issues. In times of stress and absence of distractions it becomes clear what we are lacking and what we need to do…. we just need to enact the solution and also ask for help if we need it (you can’t be everything to everyone…. because then you are nothing to yourself).

So your task going into this next week of quarantine – in what aspect of your life do your weaknesses lie and how will you strengthen them? And if you need help, there are many people out there to assist you (if it’s health related, an ND or MD; financial a financial planner; mental-emotional a psychologist or psychotherapist; exercise a physiotherapist or trainer; and so on and so on).

Wishing you all a quality week in quarantine. Remember…..We are all in this together.

Posted in Theme of the month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s so good about this Friday?

570-Prayer-and-the-motives-for-prayer-ingress

“What’s so good about this Friday?”

A quote I heard yesterday that is still stinging. Perhaps due to the truth of it, or the anger and sadness behind it, or the absence of hope in it’s monotone. What is so good about this Friday?

It’s been a trying time for us all. There is fear of the unknown, of what’s going to happen, and whether if it will normalize ever again. All of our experiences are personalized and individualized, yet our overall feeling is the same. What’s also congruent is that we are all experiencing the same isolation and yearning for social connection and community while “social distancing”.

This weekend is a time where we get together with our families and celebrate our faith, hence our social isolation is felt more intensely during this time. During such a time of advertisity and unknown it’s hard to have faith and hope for the future. Yet, it’s during times of uncertainty that practicing faith is most important, especially for our own positive mental-emotional health.

As an eternal optimist the most common comment I get is – how can you be optimistic? Perhaps it’s because I’ve found my self surrounded by pessimists (or “realists” as they call themselves). To some being optimistic is being blindly unrealistic, or ignorant to the harshness of life. Optimists are optimistic in light of what they perceive in the world. Faith is having hope that things will get better purely because you believe in universal truth and balance. We live in a world where we need tangible proof in order to believe …….  and even then we disbelieve in good in order to protect ourselves in case something bad happens (honestly I think it’s people prefer to be negative so they can always be right – “See! I told you this would happen. Everything is horrible and I was right!”….. well if you believe everything is negative probability states you’ll be right eventually…. but so will be optimists 50% of the time with the same logic). We don’t need tangible physical evidence to have faith. Faith is a belief system that connects us to the world, others, and ourselves. Humanity strives on connection and survives though faith and hope in the world and in ourselves.

What’s the point of faith? Why believe in good during a time like this? It’s times like these we need to believe in good (I just realized you take out the “o” in good and you get God….. interesting… well it is a blog about faith!). We need to believe in hope. In humanity. In times that are difficult we can come together through our faith and hope and support eachother. And if you need proof that faith works then feel free to pubmed all the studies statistically showing the positive relationship prayer and connection to community has in improving healing time and immunity. In a time where a lot of things are out of control we can still try to control our outlook and our actions. By being kind to others and practicing positivity we raise our universal vibration (quantum physics) which can be felt worldwide. We are not optimistic blindly oblivious to what is going on, we are optimistic due to our ability to persevere through the goings on. It’s through faith in humanity and hope for the world that we can universally connect with eachother

So what’s so good about this Friday? It depends on your beliefs. And that’s up to you. We have freedom of faith and freedom of belief. Obviously I advocate optimism and positivity, but you always have the choice of what belief system you practice (which is respected as a human right). The purpose of this blog is just a note to ponder on the positive effects of practicing positivity. I’ll leave you with a quote I read years ago on a church poster board that resonates with me still, especially during trying times – “there is someone praying for the things you have”. We are blessed in our own ways, and that’s something we can all believe in.

Posted in Theme of the month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The new normal – how to stay healthy during social distancing

glass-ball-winter-snow-mirroring-thumb

We are now in a new state of “normal” or as I call it a “virtual world of connecting and communication”. Will this stay forever? No. But right it’s our “for right now”.
The most important thing is to keep our immunity up and our anxiety down. Easier said than done right? Here are some tips to help and if any questions feel free to message me (I’m still taking appointments virtually and am happy to answer any questions).

1. Improving your immunity.
I’m not going to go in to specifics about the virus as after the past weeks the media has been saturating us with more facts than I learned in immunology class, hence we are all viral and microbiological experts right now. I would say a word of caution in limiting your screen and news time – yes we use knowledge and education consistently to reduce anxiety but too much news can be too stimulating to our nervous and endocrine systems.
First way to improve immunity is work on the basics – sleep, food, water and sun. Make sure to get your hours of sleep, consistent meals, water (from tap is fine) and outdoor time (alone and away from others). We need to start with a solid backbone before addressing any additives. If you are a smoker, have high blood pressure or autoimmune diseases then you immune system is susceptible and those issues need to be addressed. As for supplementation yes you can use the typical immune boosting herbs such as echinacea, quercetin, vitamin c/d, elderberry, NAC and medical mushrooms. Please speak to a health care practitioner before utilizing such supplements to make sure you are taking the proper doses and they don’t interaction with any medications or preexisting conditions.

2. Keep your boundaries.
Yes this includes social distancing (which I’m certain is going to be oxford dictionary’s word of the year), but also includes healthy boundaries between you and those that you are contained in the house with. Implement alone time and find a safe space that you can recharge in. Keep good hygiene for your health and also for your sanity (if you are use to dressing for work or feel more empowered in your leopard print, do it, I call it “makeover mentality”).

3. Reduce stress by implementing a routine.
I’ve heard remarks that people don’t know what day it is anymore because they are off their routine. Routine is a great way to reduce stress and implement some control in your life. Continue to write in and follow your calendar, keep similar work hours, and keep similar school/lunch hours for kids to follow. Work out in the morning (they are many free workout videos online, amazing resources), take your lunch hour or coffee break outside, have virtual coffee dates or activity nights with friends. Stay connected to keep from spiralling into chaos. If you don’t know what the day of the week it is I get it….. however if you don’t know if it’s daylight or not outside then we are concerned.

Worldwide we are all going through this and we are all here for you. I’ll be doing my part of posting frequently on how to improve immunity, how to reduce stress and improve your adrenal glands, how to get the most out of your pantry, and some fun tips for conscious crafting. I am really impressed with how the online community has come together in positivity, sharing support and resources to help us all through this – it’s a indicator of our resiliency during times of adversity.

Remember – this is not Forever – this is just For Now. We will get through this together.

Posted in Theme of the month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to deal with Coronavirus cancel culture

It’s Friday the 13th, it’s windy, the streets are deserted, and people are self quarantining or ransacking grocery stores due to fear of an unknown mystery illness. Sounds like the start of scary movie eh?

As a health practitioner, and rational human, I completely understand the purpose of self quarantine and social distancing. The same precautions should be taken with the general flu (don’t work when you are sick, wash your hands, keep a good distance from people, etc). However we’ve become a bit hysterical and the pandemic panic is palpable. I’ve seen fear and anxiety on the rise due to the constant media messaging of impeding doom and stress socializing in social media. If you bombard people with loud noise and bright flashy glaring graphics, no wonder we are reacting purely with our limbic brains and heightened anxiety.

I also understand some may read this and infer that I’m not taking things seriously but I am. I am concerned about how this mass hysteria is affecting our society, or children, and the health of everyone. Stress is the number one determinant detrimentally affecting health. If you are stress, cortisol rises, sugar rises, adrenalin rises (leading to anxiety), cortisol steals nutrients from your immune system, and your immune system becomes weakened. We are social beings – quarantine makes rational sense, however, social isolation is a risk factor for perpetuating mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. Anxiety will be heightened due to lack of control, fear of unknown, and sensitivity to sensationalized media. Also the pandemic panic feeds into the hypochondriac mindset – our fears become heightened and suddenly rational thought becomes thrown out the window as we first fight our neighbors for toilet paper.

Yes everything being cancelled is concerning. In a time of fear we turn to the things that brings us together (like events, church, sports, school, work, etc). When those things are suspended, our fear heightens as we’ve lost the stabilizing things we depend on. And yes, I completely understand the precautions we are taking to decrease the spread of this virus. We need to decrease the social spread of our fear and panic as well, as it will be more detrimental to us as a society. We can approach this cancel culture with pose and calm, with clarity and control, with kindness and community. It is not necessary to ransack a grocery store and feed into global fear. Open your pantry right now – I’m positive you have enough food to sustain you for months. Grocers and store will remain open – by sequestering their shelves you worsen things by putting more pressure on the manufacturers and workers. There is enough food for us if we share appropriately and don’t hoard. As well we are fortune enough to have free flowing water from our taps. This virus does not contaminate our water supply (think of it – does the general cold and flu come from drinking tap water?).

Pandemic panic is a real disorder in response to the current coronavirus cancel culture. However, we are in control of how we react and act. Let’s set the example to our kids that in the face of adversity we remain calm. That we work together as a society to support each other. That we respond appropriately to a threat by taking the proper precautions. With the loss of seeing their media heros (with cancelling of sports and postponing of movies) they are going to look up to us as what to do. What message would you like to them to have?
Be the hero of this movie we are currently in.

Note – so what do we do?  How do we stress less?  Go outside and ground, do art and write, interact with your kids, read and tell stories, stay off of social media or limit exposure to media, deep breathing, start growing foods or eat veggies to improve immune system, laugh, listen to meditative music or rock out to Beyonce.  Take this time as a gifted opportunity for you to organize and plan how to spend the rest of your year, and take the gift of time to do the things you’ve put off due to “no time”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Into the unknown – a “Frozen” lesson about taking risks and listening to your inner voice.

5dd97f5379d7576f060dc2e5.jpeg

First let me start off with happy international women’s day. Second let me state that although I am a huge disney fan (like I idolized the little mermaid as a kid…. maybe not the healthiest thing but to me she was just an amazing singer that got to swim and hang out with a crab and I thought that was the best life ever). However, I never was in to Frozen. I know, I know, it was this amazing cartoon empithany that took the world by storm. But I was just not a fan (even though my nephew loved it – he cried 30min straight when Cinderella was at a function instead of Elisa…. I had to tell him Elisa emailed me and was stuck in Arendale due to “business”). So when frozen 2 came out and my nephew wanted to watch it I had no choice but to partake on the viewing festivities.

No lie the two of us watched the movie with wide eyes, gaped mouths, and a general sense of wonderness. I will not spoil the movie, but I will just divulge that I misty-eyed during the end. It’s a decent movie don’t get me wrong, but I believe the emotional response was due to being hit with the right message at the right time, not a disney-induced euphoria.

Has a movie or show or story ever come to you at the exact right time, helping you address how you were feeling or a problem you were facing? Almost like intuitively you had materialized the solution via media form and it helped you process a predicament? I called it intuitive media. When you see or read something that perfectly mirrors how you’ve been feeling and helps you through it. Now the argument could be made that you are looking for an answer and that’s why the media coincides so well (the “you see what you need” hypothesis) – your perception of the media is what answers your problem (so really your subconscious brain is teaching your conscious brain). I prefer the disney magic version that what you need will find you in some way.

Anywho back to my frozen thoughts. The whole premise was that everything in Elsa’s life was stable and that she should be happy, but she couldn’t shake the notion that there was something more out there for her. Once again she was trying to conform to society’s norms and the little voice in her head was going “No! Follow me and live your true self”. She tried to ignore it and settle into the status quo but the voice got louder where she could ignore it no more (and then of course there was lots and lots of singing… which I usually recommend people have conversations with themselves so I can see how a song soliloquy could be beneficial). It wasn’t like the last movie where she was running away from everyone to be herself, it was she was finally running towards and embracing her true self.
Finally in the end she was able to be her and still connect with those she loved – the ultimate balance of both her independence and societal duty.

I find this is a common theme women adopt in life. We wear so many hats and although they look good on us they don’t truly fit. We try to be everything to everyone as it’s our duty for everyone else to be happy at the sacrifice of our own (and yes, ignoring your emotions and “settling” for the subpar is sacrificing your happiness). Are we living our true selves? Have we muffled that little voice inside us or is it so loud it screams at us during the silent moments (my Naturopathic opinion of why people are constantly distracting themselves and silencing silence…. they don’t want to hear that little voice inside their head that tells them to live authentically). If I don’t hear it… it doesn’t exist! Yeah, it doesnt work that way.  It’ll just find a different way of communicating with you so you’ll listen. It’s similar to suppressing symptoms – if you ignore one symptom the body will keep trying until they find the one that you’ll listen too.

A common occurrence I’ve been seeing lately is women leaving their jobs or following their true passion once near or past menopause. Physiologically their job or identity of being a mother has paused and they can finally live their true live. Menopause is seen as a rebirth of the female identity, finally embarking on the journeys we dreamed of, usually in our teenage heads written in glitter pen in our journals.

We all have a inner voice, a song meant to be sung, a dream meant to be actualized. What is your inner voice telling you. Who are you? Is there something missing in your life? And if so, how are you going to find it? Now I’m not saying follow a random Icelandic singing song voice into an enchanted forest and tame a fire spirit lizard. I believe that’s just the disney metaphor of take risks, follow your heart and live you life to fullest. If you live your truth your loved ones will embrace it with you and will still stand with you. You can live your true self and still be there for your loved ones. Balance exists – you don’t have to choose between yourself and the ones you love. That balance just may look different than what you expected. It’s like when someone stands up in a canoe to move – the boat initially rocks more but eventually it’s balances out and you were able to move. Don’t be afraid to move because you’ll rock the book. It’ll balance, it’ll settle. Balance is an interplay of dynamic forces – it’s not stasis. “Settling” is not the same as waiting for things to settle. Constantly move and let things settle, then move and let it settle more. If you aren’t moving you aren’t living.

And with that, I’m going to go pick up my paint brush. Or I’ll start breaking into song.

Posted in Theme of the month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s your I.D.?

84516650

Let’s start off with that I’m grateful we were graced with an extra day in February as it’s been an extra day to reflect on the month.  February has always been a challenging month for me (as winter seems never ending).  Last year I marked it as the month of self care (which I still celebrate), however, I’m taking the last day to reflect on the ruminations of February.   Honestly things derailed a bit this week – I had some patients cancel and numerous misgivenings at work which I’m just going to chalk up to “mercury retrograde”.   This week caught me in my feelings, ala Drake, and I was determined to investigate why.  Why did these work mishaps affect me?  I identify with my work, I love my work and live through my work.  My work is my purpose.  Anything that affects my ability to work targets my identity- hence the emotion (this is true amongst most – that which triggers you is linked to your self worth or identity).

So after experiencing a lower mood this week I did a self care check.  Is this my emotion or one I picked up (a “claim it and name it” exercise)? If it is mine – what’s behind it? Usually my head answers why.   This time the little voice inside me gave a gift of advice “they can take away what you have but not who you are” (they is the universal “they”).  We are constantly defining ourselves by what we do and what we have.  Once we lose a part of it we lose our selves and feel sad or mad (or glad).  Living in a physical world we attach to physical things.  Yet we are metaphysical beings and our inner self (or soul or personality or inner light, whatever vernacular you use) works in the metaphysical realm.  We are constantly battling this duality of physical (things) and metaphysical (being).

What about when you lose a person or relationship that defines you? What then happens to your identity?
If you lose a person you don’t lose you, and you don’t lose who you were to that person, you are always that.  If you lose a spouse, you still are connected to that person.  You still have memories and bonds to that part of your life, being active in a partnership.  If you lose a child (which to me is the hardest thing a human would ever go through), you don’t stop being a mother or father.  You always have a bond to that child and they remain a part of you.  Trying to block it from your mind will not change the pain of loss.  When people try to block the loss they lose a part of themselves because part of their identity is tied to that person.  To block the loss is to block that part of your identity, which leads to eternal guilt and sadness.   We don’t forget the person by forgetting ourselves.  We remember the person by accepting the bond we had with them and living our true identity.

Identity also is a core theme around the issues associated with bullying.  If we identify with the negative comments we hurt more (ie if at the core we don’t feel beautiful a comment against our physical appearance harms us more).  Insults don’t define us, they define the bully’s fears and shame.   Bullies hurt because they are hurt.  And many times they attack those that display the identity which they wish they could be, and if they can’t express it then they harm those that do.

Ironically identity (ID) relates to and has the same symbol as the Freudian term “id”.  The id, the primitive cousin to the ego and superego, is the basis of human need and animalistic behaviour.  The core of who we are in the simplest terms (if ego is Nintendo and superego is super Nintendo, id is Colecovision (ie prepixels and tv)).  Shake it and we are shaken – responding with automatic animalistic limbic instincts of fight and flight.  We are constantly changing and fine tuning our identity, thinking it’s this grandiose expression of our cortical evolution yet it’s rooted in primitive archetypical basics.  Challenge those basics and our whole being begins to crumple, leaving us lost in translation, perplexed and pondering our purpose.

I leave you with the words of the intelligent voice of my head that has comforted this whole month – you are who are, not what you have.  If you are you, and you are whole, no matter how much is taken is from you you remain unchanged.  Because you are whole. Defined by your personality and memories and love.  Which can never be taken from you. You can’t lose your ID as it’s permanently attached to your being, like a soul microchip.  You are you because you are you, and that’s enough.

Posted in Theme of the month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Valentines – The Original Affirmation

Earlier this week I found myself in front of an entire wall of Valentines.  Brightly decorated cards with adorable “punny” phrases and comical characters.  As a child, ok more a teen, I found giving out valentines incredibly tedious (as a kid I loved making hearts and throwing glitter on them, like most kids do).  As a preteen figuring themselves out in the world nothing seemed more embarrassing then gifting someone a glittery card of loving encouragement.  Now fast forward a couple of decades my visceral reaction has much decreased and I’m able to see valentines through fresh nonjudgmental eyes.  And this is what I’ve realized – the kid friendly valentines are just affirmation cards in sparkly disguise!  For those who don’t know what affirmations are they are empowering statements (such as I am enough or I am amazing) that are repeated, similar to positive self talk, to be implemented into a person’s subconscious resulting in improved mood and self esteem.  A common practice is to write these empowering statements on a card and look at them daily, repeating them until they become true.

C51EE179-52B3-4CDE-994E-9BD924531DA8

If we are to look at the simplistic and adorable children’s valentine, they are similar to an affirmation card.  They are meant to lift up the receiver with an empowering message to boost their mood and self esteem.  They also employ the powerful technique of humour and pictures to make the message more memorable (something that affirmation cards do not use but should).  When you activate the amygdala through emotion (such as humour) and pictures you cement the memory more permanently in to the conscious mind.  Hence valentines card are actually an effective tool in promoting affirmations and positivity!  If only I know that more as a kid……  Perhaps as an adult I’ll be gifting people valentine “affirmation” cards instead of chocolates!  Hmmm… Or affirmative statements written on chocolate… now there’s a Hallmark idea!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Things that make me happy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heart break and joint ache

See the source image

February in the medical world and media is denoted as “heart month” (probably because we get bombarded by hearts due to Valentine’s day so it’s at the fore front of our prefrontal cortex).  I could happily go into the physical necessities for harmonious heart health like proper diet, full fiber, fish oils and coQ10 (the heart basics), but I’d rather discuss the mind-body connection between emotional heart break and physical body aches (ie. the mind body medicine behind how stress and emotional pain triggers inflammation pathways resulting in physical pain).

Previously thought to be an “old wife’s tale”, research studies are coming out confirming heart break syndrome where bereaved after losing a significant other could suffer heart issues, such as heart attacks, shortly after their loss.  This is an example of the mind-body connection – grief and sadness presenting as physical pain and chronic issues.  The exact mechanism behind this is unknown, however the link been uncovered.  The heart does have the ability to survey it’s environment with receptors (such as osmoreceptors, stretch receptors and chemoreceptors to aid blood pressure changes), perhaps it also detects the emotional environment?  Or it’s the link between loneliness and health?  To feel connected and part of a community is an important determinant of health.  If we feel isolated, disconnected, alone or unheard it actually increases inflammatory cytokines leading to chronic pain and depressed mood.  The same link occurs with physical and emotional pain.  With the way the body and brain was created it cannot distinguish the difference between physical and emotional pain – it’s processed by the same cortical areas (as shown via fMRI studies).  This is why you see chronic conditions (such as fibromyalgia, lupus, hypothyroidism, diabetes, etc.) that have linking physical and emotional symptoms (which may be due to a combination of inflammation, low serotonin, previous trauma, nutritional deficiency, toxic accumulation, etc.).

Pain is also isolating, which further affects health in a negative way via a feed-forward mechanism (pain creates isolation because you can’t participated in daily activities, which causes sadness and loss of purpose, which intensifies feelings of pain).  I had an acute experience of this last month.  I was sick, bed bound for the week, not wanting to do anything or talk to anyone.  Then I started to feel sad and isolated, disconnected from the world.  It made me empathize with those that suffer from chronic pain.  If I had those feelings of isolation and sadness from just being sick for a week I couldn’t imagine how it must feel emotionally for someone suffering from constant pain and how debilitating that would be.  It must be a constant struggle for those living with chronic pain, wanting to do things but being limited by pain and that inability to act further affecting their mood.  To help improve their physical pain they need to boost their emotional health, whether it be socializing or hobbies that they enjoy, but that feat is easier said then done.

In summation, the main point of this blog post is to outline the all important link between mental-emotional health and physical health (the basis of mind-body medicine). Like us, they do not exist in isolation.  As a society we’ve advanced in talking about the importance of mental health which is a great first step in addressing it.  Next is accepting that mental health may present as different symptoms than just mood (like headaches, fatigue, joint pain, digestive issues, etc), and in order to truly heal ourselves we need to address both our physical and emotional being.  Heart break can lead to physical ache so we need to listen to our heart and heads.  For this heart month let’s focus on our heart by treating it right and listening to want it needs.  And right now it’s needs to be listen to, as do you.

Posted in Theme of the month | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ghosts of Christmas

See the source image

As Christmas, or the holiday season, approaches and the decade end is looming in the distance, I’ve been thinking a lot about what lessons I’ve learned in the past and what I’d like to accomplish in the future (ie. soon-to-be written upcoming blog posts).  Also, it’s Friday the 13th so in festive spooky season style I’d like to purpose a simple exercise to try, encompassing the holidays and mindfulness.  I call it the “Christmas Carol Challenge”.  We all know the popular and well spoofed Dicken’s story the Christmas Carol (if not, it’s good reading if you can get through Ye Ol’ English vernacular).  The premise of the tale is that a lonely individual hardened by trauma is forced to look within themselves via the help of the supernatural to understand how their hardened exterior has hurt others and themselves in the process, all steaming from the fear of being alone and inevitable death (or the ultimate fear of failure).  They are visited by 3 ghosts, each representing a different tense, showing them what affected them (past), how they are affecting others (present), and what will come from this behaviour (future).  In essence it’s very Newtonian – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and the world of literature is based in cause and effect (our world is a bit more multifactorial, but let’s adopt a literal mindset for the sake of the exercise).

If you were to meet these 3 ghosts what would they show you?  What would they want to show you?  What would you want to see?  Be afraid to see?  What are you missing out on?  Or avoiding?

For each ghost write (or visualize) what they represent to you:

Christmas past – What event changed you in your past?  Does it affect you still?  What do you need to LET GO off?

Christmas present – Do you see what is going on around you?  Are you aware?  Does your behaviour affect others around you?  What do you NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE?

Christmas future – Are you fearful of the future?  Of what you’ve done? Haven’t done?  Missed out of?  What are you AVOIDING? And HOW WILL YOU CHANGE?

I truly don’t hope I’m not setting myself up for a Christmas ghost-filled dream after writing this post, but if so, so be it.  I always enjoyed the Muppet version of a Christmas Carol anyway (the ghost of Christmas present was my favourite… apparently I was already practicing mindfulness as a child!).

Happy ghosting 😉 everyone!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment