Written by Inspired Life on August 14th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog, Newsletters

By Clara Yan, D.O.M.P., D.Sc.O

Hey Soon-To-Be-Moms!

Do you experience back pain? Do you feel the pelvis gets locked up from time to time? Do you feel increased pressure in your pelvis? Does it feel like your organs are being squished- like it’s becoming increasingly difficult to breathe deeply?

Let me explain to you how Osteopathy can help you out. The body functions as one unit. As one area of the body changes, the rest of the body will learn to adapt. Dr. Andrew Taylor Still believed that “our body systems depend upon one another to function, and that maintenance of the body in its proper alignment improves the body’s function and its ability to maintain health” (Tasker, 1916). This philosophy does not change when a woman becomes pregnant. In fact, this philosophy becomes more apparent at that time.

During pregnancy, the surrounding organs and structures will need to make room for the growing fetus. As the baby grows over the next 9 months, mum releases different hormones in order to accommodate for it. These hormones then change the structure of the lower back and pelvis potentially causing discomfort and pain down the legs or even in the lower back. Along with structural pain, digestive issues may also occur. The organs such as your liver, stomach, and intestines are pushed aside as the uterus continues to grow. Pre-natal treatment is essential. Some of these pains are difficult to ignore and difficult to live with.

An Osteopathic Manual Practitioner can help with all aspects along the way. As soon as a woman has pain, adaptations within the body occur. Once the adaptations occur, there will be different pulls and pressures put on or through areas that should not be carrying any weight. Seeking out an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner to help alleviate pain in the lumbar and pelvic region, on the spine or even the organs to help alleviate these pains and to decrease labour time (Hart, 1918). After all, this should be one of the most magical times of your life. Don’t let the pain hinder that. Come on in for an Osteopathic treatment today!

Tasker DL. Principles of Osteopathy. Los Angeles, CA: Bireley & Elson; 1916:25.
Hart LM. Obstetrical practice. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1918:609-614.

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Written by Inspired Life on August 7th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

By Mylinh Nguyen R.TCMP, R.Ac

Did you know that sunshine is vital for your overall health? Not only does getting enough sun exposure have a positive effect on your body, but it is also very impactful on your mood.

Below is a list of the major health benefits of sunshine and how adequate exposure can affect your physical and emotional state.

1. Boost vitamin D levels
Sunlight has the ability to boost the supply of vitamin D in your body. This vitamin gets synthesized in the skin through a photosynthetic reaction. Vitamin D helps the intestines absorb calcium from the food you eat.  Enough production of vitamin D from sunlight on the skin can help reduce the risks of fractures, osteoporosis and other bone disorders.

2. Combat stress and feelings of depression
Exposure to sunshine enhances the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, sleep and memory. Because of this, it is believed that sun exposure can help reduce the risk of stress and feelings of depression. High serotonin levels lead to a greater feeling of calm and can help improve focus and concentration.

3. Strengthen immunity
Ongoing sunlight exposure has been shown to help boost your body’s immune system. High amounts of vitamin D, as a result of enough exposure, help modulate the body’s adaptive and innate immune responses. A strong immune system helps your body fight infections and may reduce the risk of some autoimmune diseases.

4. Promote healthy skin
Getting adequate amounts of sunlight can enhance the skin’s appearance and provide a radiant glow.  Sunshine helps the skin produce melanin. With more melanin and regular exposure to sunlight, your skin can achieve greater protection against the harmful aspects of sun’s rays. Sunshine has also been shown to help eliminate or minimize skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and boils.

5. Enhance sleep
With enough sunlight exposure, your body can produce adequate levels of serotonin during the daytime and achieve proper production levels of melatonin at night. Increased production of melatonin at night leads to a normal circadian rhythm and enhanced sleep quality.

So, how much sunlight should you aim to get each day in order to take advantage of all of these health benefits?  Research has shown that the optimal time to be in the sun, specifically for Vitamin D production, is between 10am and 2pm.  Gaining adequate sunlight exposure depends on multiple factors such as skin colour, weather conditions, season and altitude.  These variables should be considered when determining how much exposure is best for you and speaking with a qualified health care practitioner can help you with this decision.

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Written by Inspired Life on July 31st, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

By Angie Holstein, MSW, RSW – Registered Social Worker/Psychotherapist

We are all struggling to understand and make sense of the Danforth shooting. We are grieving, shocked, angry, confused, scared, bewildered and more emotions than could ever be listed. Within this bewilderment, hope and strength inevitably rises up as we have seen from the vigils, flower memorials, and #danforthstrong initiatives.

Although most individuals, families and communities bounce back after difficult times, events such as this one naturally interrupt our sense of order and safety. We grieve along with the victims and their families. The impact is felt by those in the community, as well as those living far outside the area; people who have no personal connection to the event.

It is not uncommon for people of all ages to experience stress reactions when exposed to mass violence. This includes live video images. How someone responds is personal. Stress reactions are often exacerbated when we struggle to understand why the violence occurred without adequate satisfactory answers to these questions.

Common stress reactions people experience: changes in eating and sleeping routines, decreased energy, lowered mood, anxiousness, decreased concentration on typical tasks, regressive behaviours in children (clingy, intense emotional reactions) and a strong need for retribution in adults.

These reactions are common and typically pass over time. It may feel like the world is a more dangerous place and it will take time, as well as coping strategies to recover and/or develop a new sense of equilibrium.

A few tips to consider::

    • Monitor your emotional health; it will be normal to have a wider range of emotions during this time and know others are likely experiencing the same. Validate your feelings with compassionate self talk. “I’m scared right now and the world feels unsafe.” “I know that it is normal to feel angry right now and that I can use my resilience to take care of myself.” Validation of feelings and compassionate self talk are known to soothe the nervous system that can be on high alert following traumatic events. Remind yourself that time, patience and self compassion are part of the healing process.
    • Manage your trauma input: Turn it off and take a break.  While it is important to stay informed, media portrayals of shootings and mass deaths have been shown to cause acute stress and even posttraumatic stress symptoms.
    • Stay connected: Maintain contact with friends and family. These individuals can provide you with emotional support to help deal with difficult times. Try engaging in pleasurable activities with those you care for or care for you to distract yourself and lift your spirits.
    • Take care of yourself with the basics: Try to engage in healthy behaviours to manage your stress reactions and emotional turmoil. These include eating regular healthy meals, exercising, getting outdoors and practicing good sleep habits. If you are having difficulty sleeping try a guided meditation, a breathing exercise, write out your thoughts 45 – 60 minutes before bedtime and/or engage in a relaxing activity such as a warm bath. Avoid substances such as alcohol and drugs as they suppress emotions that need to be processed during this time.
    • Focus on your strengths. Maintain practices that you have found to provide emotional relief during difficult times in your life. Remind yourself of people and events which are meaningful and comforting.
    • Talk about it. Talking with people who care about you and who are willing to listen is essential. Especially those who are experiencing the same thing, such as your friends, neighbours, colleagues and family. Research has shown us that talking about worries throughout the day can increase feelings of anxiety, so yes do talk about it, but not to excess. Use additional strategies noted here or from your personal resources to create balance.  
    • Recognize the ups and downs, including survivor guilt (feelings of guilt and shame that you survived when others did not). If you have lost a friend or family member to this violent event or others, it is important to remind yourself that grief is a long process. It is not a linear process, meaning always getting better. It is an up and down process that requires time and support to experience your feelings and recover.
    • Strive for balance and find something productive to channel the negative emotions such as anger that typically come up following incidences of violence. Remind yourself of people and events that are meaningful and comforting in order to gain a healthier perspective. You may consider participating in a vigil, helping others, locating a resource in your community, attending a Danforth Strong service, lighting a candle or placing a flower/letter at a memorial site. The point is to consider things to do that can channel the anger, grief and shock into an action; no matter how big or small that action may be.
    • Soothe yourself; both mind and body. Consider meditation and self compassion. Schedule and practice a pause everyday. Sometimes the thought of this can be overwhelming so start by building in even one mindful moment in a week and see what happens with your momentum. Celebrate your efforts. Consider apps such as donothingfor2minutes.com or stopbreathethink.org.

Using your own personal resilience and some of the tips mentioned above may be sufficient to get through the aftermath of this crisis. For some individuals, their emotions can get stuck and they struggle to manage intense reactions. If the stress reactions noted above are persisting, interfering in your activities of daily life and/or worsening, a licensed mental health professional can support you or someone you know with moving forward. Struggling with the aftermath is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength to recognize when to get help. Speak with your medical practitioner or see resources below for options.

Moving forward can seem difficult to imagine. Trust in your ability to get through the coming days and persevere with strength. Danforth Strong.

“Strength grows in the moments when you think you can’t go on but keep going anyway.”

For additional resources:

Psychotherapy services: search online on sites such as Psychology Today or asking for referrals from your medical practitioner.

Public Health 416-338-7600 Monday – Friday 830 am to 430 pm.

Distress Centres: Feeling in crisis or needing emotional support: 416-408-4357(HELP) for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Written by Inspired Life on June 19th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

By Nanette Basic, B.A., Hom

In Part 1 we discussed several homeopathic remedies for common issues that may arise with travel, such as motion sickness, jet lag, food poisoning and traveller’s diarrhea. Here are a few more remedies listed that you may find useful on your weekend or holiday away this summer.

Let’s recap how Homeopathy works. The fundamental principle of Homeopathy is “Like cures Like”.  This means one can treat individuals with medicines that are capable of producing in a healthy person similar symptoms to those experienced in a sick person.  For example, drinking coffee can CAUSE insomnia but used in the homeopathic form, coffea is often used to TREAT insomnia.  Therefore, look at the remedies that closest match your symptoms.

Bone, Bruises, and Wound Injuries

Outdoor activities and sports is a summer staple but no matter how careful we are we can sometimes end up with some bumps and bruises.  Whether it be bruises, broken bones, nosebleeds or black eyes, the remedies below will help speed up the healing process.

Arnica Montana 30C

This is the most popular treatment for new injuries, especially bruises and sprains. Given immediately after the injury occurs, it can help reduce pain, inflammation, and bruising.  It is helpful with head injuries and concussions as well. 

Phosphorus 30C  

This is the most popular treatment for nosebleeds. It helps with small wounds that bleed easily; excessive bleeding; and scars which break open and bleed.

Ledum palustre 30C

This is the most popular treatment for a black eye caused by any blunt object.  It helps with puncture wounds such as stepping on nails; open wounds; wounds with infection; coldness of injured parts and pain relieved by cold applications.

Calendula 30C  

Helps with open wounds with marked capillary bleeding; lacerated wounds; early stages of infection with whitish pus draining from a closed wound; and wounds that don’t heal.  

Indication:  Take 3 pellets every 2 to 4 hours, reassess after 3 doses; wait for symptoms to worsen before repeating.  Repeat up to 3 days.  Stop once symptoms have improved. 

Insect Bites and Stings

The summer likes to bring about those pesky insects and it is inevitable to get a bite or two but if the symptoms are unbearable try the following.

Apis mellifica 30C

This is the most popular treatment for insect bites and stings.  Helps with swollen, itching, burning skin, relieved by cold applications.

Ledum palustre 30C

Helps with swelling and itching of mosquito bites; from larger insects and wasps; with nerve pain around the bite/sting.

Urtica urens 30C

Helps with reddish blotches; burning; intense itching.  It is also a useful remedy for hives that sting and itch.  

Indication:  Take 3 pellets every 2 to 4 hours, reassess after 3 doses; wait for symptoms to worsen before repeating.  Repeat up to 3 days.  Stop once symptoms have improved. 

Sun Burns

Typically, a sunburn includes redness, pain, swelling and warmth of the affected skin, blisters and general fatigue. Itching, peeling or rash may also occur as the ailment progresses.

Urticaria Urens 30C

Helps with stinging, burning pain; violent itching; worse from cold applications.

Cantharis 30C

Helps with serious, painful burns; second and third degree burns; raw sensation; blisters; better from cold applications which cannot be removed for a second without the pain returning.

Causticum 30C

Helps with serious and deep burns that blister and ooze; burns that are not healing well; cold air aggravates; physical weakness.

Indication:  Take 3 pellets every 2 hours until pain is reduced, then as needed. Repeat up to 3 days.  Stop once symptoms have improved. 

Sunstroke/Heatstroke

A sunstroke/heatstroke is due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures where the body is unable to return to its normal temperature.  A sunstroke/heatstroke is a medical emergency and children and the elderly are most susceptible.  Symptoms include body temperature of 40 degrees celsius or higher, feeling very hot, a fast pulse rate, extreme thirst, headache, confusion, feeling irritated or anxious, rapid, shallow breathing and possible convulsions.  Rehydrate with electrolytes and seek immediate medical attention.

Aconite 30C

This is the most popular treatment for sunstroke/heatstroke.  Helps with sudden rise in temperature; face becomes red; intense thirst for cold water; one who becomes anxious, fearful and restless.

Belladonna 30C

Helps with throbbing and shooting headache with flushed face; fever; hot, dry skin; hot flushed face but the body is cold especially the hands and feet; blood shot eyes; visible throbbing of the carotids; nausea and vomiting.   

Natrum Carbonicum 30C

Helps with severe headache; debility and exhaustion; confusion; with vertigo.

Indication:  Give every 15 minutes until medical help can be obtained. 

Written by Inspired Life on June 12th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

By Nanette Basic, B.A., Hom

With less than a month left of school many of us are planning our summer getaways.  Whether it be the cottage, camping or flying to a destination, sometimes we can run into problems like motion sickness, jet lag, food poisoning, bumps and bruises, those pesky insect bites, sunburns and sunstroke.

The fundamental principle of Homeopathy is “Like cures Like”.  This means one can treat individuals with medicines that are capable of producing in a healthy person similar symptoms to those experienced in a sick person.  For example, drinking coffee can CAUSE insomnia but used in the homeopathic form, coffea is often used to TREAT insomnia.  Therefore, look at the remedies that closest match your symptoms.

The following homeopathic remedies will help you resolve any travel challenges!

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness can affect you with any mode of transportation be it a car, plane, boat or train.

Cocculus 30C

Is the first remedy we think of for motion sickness.  It helps with nausea, vomiting, dizziness; a need to lie down; if there is vertigo.  Take 3 pellets 1 hour before departure, then every 4 hours.  Stop once symptoms have improved.

Tabacum 30C

Helps with severe nausea and vomiting with cold sweats and dizziness; worse with smallest movement and better with fresh air.  Take 3 pellets every 3 hours up to 3 times per day then only as needed up to 3 days.

Nux Vomica 30C

Helps with severe nausea; a desire to vomit but can’t; chills; headache; worse from the smell of food, tobacco, coffee.  Take 3 pellets every 3 hours up to 3 times per day then only as needed up to 3 days. 

Jet Lag

Jet lag is a temporary sleep disturbance due to long distance travel.  It affects your biological clock causing dehydration, excessive fatigue, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, your appetite and bowel movements.  Make sure to always drink plenty of water, eat lightly and avoid alcohol.

Cocculus 30C

Helps with nausea; dizziness; insomnia despite fatigue; disorientation.  

Arnica Montana 30C

Helps with physical tiredness and muscle pain especially if they feel bruised; feeling foggy, in shock.  

Nux Vomica 30C

Helps with constipation and gastrointestinal issue, irritability, chills, nausea, headaches.

Indication:  Take 3 pellets every 4 – 6 hours as needed up to 3 days.  Stop once symptoms have improved.

Food Poisoning and Traveller’s Diarrhea

Traveller’s diarrhea can strike at any time.  Besides diarrhea one can experience fever, nausea, bloating and cramping.  When travelling eat well cooked food and fruit you can peel.  When tap water is not drinkable, avoid ice in drinks and drink bottled water.

Arsenicum Album 30C

Helps with food poisoning; simultaneous diarrhea and vomiting; burning pains; exhaustion; restlessness; and anxiety.  

Podophyllum 30C

Helps with watery diarrhea, smelly, explosive stools with lots of gurgling; abdominal cramping; faintness and weakness.  

Veratrum Album 30C

Helps with profuse, watery diarrhea; cold sweat, especially on the forehead; cravings for ice cold drinks but feel cold; possible simultaneous vomiting; muscle cramps.  

Indication:  Take 3 pellets every 2 to 4 hours, reassess after 3 doses; wait for symptoms to worsen before repeating.  Repeat up to 3 days.  Stop once symptoms have improved. 

Written by Inspired Life on May 9th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

Andrew Chan, R.H.N., DOMP, B.S.c., DO(Euro)
Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Osteopathic Manual Practitioner

Here are the Top 5 common Bone Degeneration Factors:

  1. Aging
  2. Genetic Factors
  3. Wear and Tear (high impact)
  4. Insufficient Intake of Nutrients such as Calcium  
  5. Imbalance of Absorption and Resorption

Let’s talk about Calcium! What is it?

  • A strong and hard mineral
  • Strengthens your bones and teeth
  • Very important mineral in human metabolism
  • Found in products such as Chalk (primarily contains calcium carbonate)

What does it do?

Aside from making our bones strong, Calcium helps to control our muscles and nerve function, such as regulating heart rate and muscle contraction. When purchasing supplements, Calcium often comes in various forms, such as Carbonate, Citrate, Citrate-Malate, Ascorbate, Phosphate, and Lactate. The Calcium that’s right for you will depend on your overall body and medical conditions.

Calcium Carbonate

This form works like an antacid by lowering the amount of “acid” in your stomach. You can find this in any supplement store. It’s great if you have symptoms that are caused by too much stomach acid, such as an upset stomach or heartburn. The bioavailability, which is the amount that can be absorbed by your digestive system, depends on how the tablet was made (ranges from 15-40% absorption).

Calcium Citrate

Calcium is best absorbed in an acidic environment and “Citrate” is exactly just that, an organic acid. To make this very simple, this form works best if you have low/normal stomach acid. If you have upset stomach, heartburn, or symptoms of high stomach acid, this form of Calcium may not be ideal for you as it may aggravate your overall symptoms. Being easy to absorb, you can find this everywhere and its bioavailability ranges from 20-40% absorption.

Calcium Citrate-Malate

Citrate-Malate dissolves very well in water. Once it is dissolved, the calcium is absorbed directly into the intestinal cells and passes between the intercellular (picture a bridge) space “between” cells. It has a higher bioavailability of over 35%, although more research is needed on that matter. Like Calcium Citrate, if you have low to normal stomach acid then this is friendly for you, but if you have high stomach acid then it is best to avoid this form.

Calcium Ascorbate

This formula contains Calcium and Vitamin C. By adding Vitamin C (Calcium form), it lowers the “acid” in this formula making it less irritating to those with high stomach acid symptoms.

Calcium Phosphate

This formula I would only recommend if my client has phosphorus deficiency. In my 8 years of practicing, I have only encountered one person with that condition. If you consume a lot of phosphorus foods like packaged and processed meats and soda, this may not be ideal for you. Phosphorus is like a two-edged sword. We need it to make our bones strong and maintain cells to function, however, over consumption can be harmful for the kidneys especially to those that have chronic kidney problems or failure.

Calcium Lactate

You can make this formula by mixing Calcium Carbonate and Lactic acid (found in cheese, kefir etc.). Just like Calcium Carbonate, it works as an antacid. Its bioavailability is the same if not close to Calcium Carbonate- or you can just drink a glass of milk.

How much Calcium should we take?

Adults aged 19-50 need 1000 mg of calcium each day or 2 servings of milk or alternatives. Adults age 51 and older should aim for an intake of 1200 mg of calcium every day, or 3 servings of milk and alternatives.

Now that we have finished talking about the different types of Calcium, let’s move on! Remember, that just because you are taking Calcium, it doesn’t mean you will 100% utilize it without the help of Vitamin D3 and K2!

Calcium absorption begins in the digestive tract with the help of Vitamin D. Vitamin K2 directs Calcium into our structural system”

I previously stated in the Top 5 Common Bone Degeneration Factors, “Imbalance of absorption and resorption”. What does it mean?

Osteoblast (bone cell) = Absorption = Building new bones

            *picture them as builders or renovation contractor

Osteoclast (bone cell) = Resorption = Break down of bones for calcium

            *picture them as the demolition machines

Bone Degeneration is caused by an increase of Resorption (breakdown) and a decrease of Absorption (building new).

How do we build new bones?

Believe it or not, exercise. Light to moderate low-impact exercise stimulates bone absorption. It can be as simple as doing 30 jumping jacks daily, walking up the stairs, 30-45 minutes of walking, etc. For an individualized analysis, we will look at your age, fitness and medical conditions to provide you corrective measures. Aside from exercise, corrective mechanics (posture) also helps. Poor mechanics affect the way we walk, thus using more energy and creating more wear and tear on our joints.

Nutritional and Mechanical Assessment is the key to finding out the best course of action. I will develop a plan that is designed specifically for you!

Written by Inspired Life on May 5th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

Angie Holstein, MSW, RSW
Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Happy Mental Health Week 2018!  

The Canadian Mental Health Association tells us that mental health is about more than mental illness. It is more than being happy all the time. It’s about feeling good about who you are, having balance in your life and managing life’s highs and lows. Everyone deserves to feel well and have a support system to lean on. In honour of this week, let’s talk about Anxiety, it’s impact on our mental health and ways to manage it.

All people have experienced anxiety; a feeling of intense fear. That is a normal human experience. However, anxiety can become problematic if it is experienced frequently, with increasing intensity and/or in situations that should not be as stressful as they are felt. Two of the most common anxiety conditions are free floating or generalized anxiety and panic attacks. Regardless of what they are called, these feelings of fear and dread can become so extreme that it interferes with people’s overall mental health, their ability to go to school, socialize, sleep, etc.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (2014) report indicated that 5% of the population were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, proportions being higher among young women and in Aboriginal populations.

It is important to remember that anxiety itself serves a purpose. Our goal isn’t to dismiss it completely, but to learn healthy strategies to manage it within our lives. That goes for all of us, even if you don’t suffer from an anxiety disorder. If you reflect for a moment, you can likely think of ways you have naturally been dealing and coping with it in the best ways you know how. The key is becoming more skilled in noticing, identifying and soothing it in the same way as stress, sadness or other difficult emotions.

In one of my earlier articles, we discussed the body’s stress response which is the system within the body and mind that the feeling of anxiety is part of. The body’s fight, flight or freeze response is triggered by the perception of danger within your environment, including thoughts anticipating shame or embarrassment. Your system is flooded with norepinephrine and cortisol. This is the body’s alarm system going off (imagine a train whistle going off), which within its design, gives you a boost to your perception, reflexes and speed when the alarm is triggered. Three things happen: increased heart rate, increase rate of breathing and blood pressure goes up as the blood gets pumped to your large muscle group, preparing them to run or fight. Ideally, once the danger passes, your body goes back to a normal resting state. Unfortunately, we know that more and more people are living in this more chronic state of stress and anxiety triggered by social media, work, family demands, traffic, etc. This is problematic.

Life can be full of anxiety provoking events and circumstances. Researchers have demonstrated that some individuals are more prone to anxiety as a result of genetics and the environment that they grew up in. For whatever the reasons, thankfully, there is hope. Harvard Medical School researchers have shown through brain scans and data that deep-rooted tendencies toward anxiety could be physiologically and even anatomically altered through anxiety management techniques such as relaxation practices.

Here are some of my favorite tools for managing anxiety.

  • Start to Notice: Pay attention and learn about your signs that your alarm system is going off. Where are you? What do you feel in your body? Is your stomach churning, muscle tensing, bladder relaxing, dry mouth etc.? Identify where those changes are occurring. What does your mind feel like? Are you having thoughts that are racing, difficulty focusing, dizzy? What are you thinking? What emotions are you feeling? Simply the act of noticing is known to sooth the alarm system to a less heightened state.
  • Breathe: Notice your breathing patterns throughout the day and intentionally practice deep slow breathing when stressed. When anxious and stressed we tend to breath more shallow. Anxiousness and worry feels much worse when we are not well oxygenated and can lead to muscle tension.
  • I find great results with the “4-6-8” breath technique. Simply breathe in cool air through your nose for 4 counts, hold it deeply in your lungs for 6 while allowing yourself to feel the tension and pressure and finally breathing out through your mouth for 8. Allow yourself to feel the tension and loosening in your body as you relax. Research tells us that 3 effective breaths can reroute the neural pathways wired for stress to a more relaxed pathway.
  • Learn ways to induce your body’s natural Relaxation Response to counter the Stress Response (alarm system). Learn and practice regularly. Harvard researcher Dr. Herbert Benson coined these terms in the mid 1970’s. Through a relaxation exercise or a mini relaxation exercise (less than 5 minutes) you can induce the psychological response that will decrease muscle tension, heart rate, blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. There are an abundance of relaxation ideas online and through self-help books. Some examples being “4-6-8” breathing, www.donothingfor2minutes.com, www.stopbreaththink.com, nature sounds combined with breath etc. Be creative and keep trying until you find what works for you. Don’t give up!
  • Manage Worry: If you are finding yourself obsessing or becoming distracted by a problem or a few, designate a focused time for it. Without focused time on specific problems, these intrusive thoughts can become a vicious cycle.
  • Pick a time in the evening to practice your Worry Time. Make sure you have time in between Worry Time and bedtime so not to interfere with your sleep. Find a quiet place where you are likely not to be disturbed. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Let yourself know this is the time you are allowed to worry for. You don’t want to make the time too long so that you cross over from worry to ruminating to worsening anxiety. Sit down with a pen and paper or computer and start the timer. Begin writing down all your worries. No worry is too big or too small for this exercise. When the timer goes off – STOP! Turn the paper over or turn off the screen even if you are in the middle of a sentence. Get up and try to immerse yourself in a different activity to soothe your mind away from the trail of worried and anxious thoughts. Throughout the day, when worries come, gently and compassionately take note. Tell yourself “ok I noticed, and this is something I will need to worry about tonight in my Worry Time”. Feel free to write the thought and feeling down so you can come back to it later.
  • Reduce Caffeine: If you are feeling anxious, stressed and having sleep difficulties it is an important first step to review your caffeine intake.
  • Take Care of Your Sleep: If you are sleeping less than 6 hours per night you are likely looking at one of the primary causes of your anxiety. Sleep is one of the key pillars for overall wellness. Poor sleep patterns make it difficult for us to regulate our emotions during the day.  Anxiety also makes it hard for us to sleep but if you can try sleep techniques to get you to 7-8 hours per night, you will see an immediate difference in your mood.
  • Get Help: Don’t white knuckle anxiety on your own. See your health care provider (Physician, Naturopath, Homeopath, etc.) to assess causes. If determined to be primarily psychological, you can talk about options such as medication, remedies, acupuncture, lifestyle and psychotherapy.  

These are a few techniques to get you started. There are many techniques to support you to build your skills and confidence to manage anxiety.

“You can’t always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside” – Wayne Dyer.

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Written by Inspired Life on April 9th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

By Jennifer Drummond, ND

playtimeLast week I wrote about my experience about going almost completely screen-free for 7 days. If you are up for just reducing your screen time, I’ve summarized a few points I’ve personally found to be helpful.

Tips to Keep Screen Time to a Minimum in Your Life:

  1. Consciously and with purpose use your screen. Try to avoid using your screen as a habit of something to just pass the time. If you need to pass the time, look outside, go for a walk, read a book, draw, paint, close your eyes… the list is endless.
  2. Set some boundaries for time. If you just want to watch something for a laugh, set a timer for a specific time. Again, you are adding more of a conscious decision to this.
  3. Set boundaries for your subject. If you need to research something, write down on a sticky note the point of your research and stick it somewhere on your computer. This little reminder may help you avoid the rabbit hole.
  4. Set a time limit with social media. Social media can be a great tool for sharing amazing articles and insights and keeping in touch with loves ones, but it can also be a breeding ground for jealously and low self-esteem. I would get the same feeling from a People magazine. I would only allow myself the time to read it while waiting in the grocery line. Once I reached the front, I put it back. If I ever bought it and read the whole thing, I generally felt worse about myself. I use social media for the bare minimum and then get out of it quickly.
  5. Keep stock of your emotions before you respond/tweet. Words are very powerful. And these words last, well pretty much forever out there. Even if you delete it, somewhere they are still there to be seen.
  6. Try to project into the future 10 years if you’d like this photo to be put on social media. A picture is worth a thousand words. And will last and last and last… Employers and College/University admissions look at these social media profiles in selecting their applicants.
  7. If you are a parent, be mindful of your own screen time. Kids notice everything. They hear and see everything. If you want them to have minimal screen time, then you have to do it yourself as well. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends children under 2 should have no exposure to screens at all as this interferes with brain development (they need face-to-face interaction most of all!). Kids between 2-6 years should only have 1 hour and kids over 6 years should have no more than 2 hours per day.
  8. Have a good discussion about the dangers of social media as well. Bulling, sexting, online predators are all important points to cover.
  9. Have screen-free times set in your daily routine. For example, no screens at the dinner table. No screens at bedtime. On the weekend, if the weeknights are too hectic, have time together to explore the beach, the park, a board game, paint or draw together, read a good book together, etc.
  10. If you have to use a screen at night, use the night shift mode. The light automatically shifts the colours of your display to the warmer end of the colour spectrum rather than the cooler, blue light that the computer regularly emits. This blue light can disrupt hormonal patterns as well as your sleep cycle and melatonin production (which regulates your sleep/awake cycle). If you don’t have this as an option on your screen, then aim to shut down your screens at least one hour before bedtime. There are also glasses you can wear that block blue light.

Written by Inspired Life on April 8th, 2018. Posted in Articles, Blog

By Jennifer Drummond, ND

tabletThis is the challenge of the decade. Spend an entire week with absolutely no screen in front of your face. Feeling I already kept my screen time to a minimum, I was up to the task.

In order to prepare for writing an article for “Screen Free Week”, I decided to go screen free myself in advance and do it hard-core. No screens for 7 days. That meant no phone with a screen, no computer and no television. With the average person spending about 9 – 10 hours a day in front of a screen, could I really do it?

The television screen was easy to give up as I haven’t really watched much television for about 20 years. It was a decision I made in my late teens as I wanted my free time to be “living and interactive”. I decided I needed that time for myself to experience new things rather than sit in front of a box. And yes, I know I have missed out on a lot of great shows and it does make for a boring conversation with me when the topic is about “Game of Thrones”, but I manage.

The phone and computer were a bit harder. I had intentions to give up my cellphone completely for the week, as I thought I could make do with our landline, but it was a bit hard when I had to be “on call” for things related to my kids and their social activities. I fumbled a bit on this one with responding to a few phone calls and saying “yes” or “no” via text.

So, I gave myself a bit of a break with the rule that my cellphone would operate only as a phone. No music, no photos, no surfing the net, no checking emails/weather/time.

That meant a few changes for me.

Since my old watch was still broken, I was back to checking the time on the street parking machines, as well as asking people around me for the time. It was nice to be more outgoing and led to a good amount of pleasant interactions. If I felt the need to text someone who lived close by, I just knocked on their door.

Music was a big one for me as well, so this experiment was well timed. For a while now, I had been missing the good old radio. I hadn’t owned one for years since the phone stocked many of my beloved CDs. I’ve never been good at updating and changing the songs on my phone and the same CDs for years in a row was getting tiresome. I know it is possible to listen to radio on the internet, but it so much easier for me to actually turn on the radio instead. I joke to my friends that I am really an 80-year-old woman inside when it comes to these “techie things”, but then I am put to shame by my 94-year-old great aunt who has a smart tv and a skype account.

So, in honour of my “Screen Free Week”, I bought myself a second-hand radio/CD player for $6.99. I loved this part of my challenge. I felt like a teenager again, although instead of moshing to Pearl Jam, I was now cooking to Pearl Jam and inspiring interviews on the news.

The computer was the hardest of all. In order to prepare for this week without a screen, I had to make sure I had all of my work done ahead of time. It made me be on the computer way later at night than I would have liked to admit to my patients and my “no screens an hour before bed” rule went out the window for a few nights that week.

I admit that I still needed the computer a bit for work during “Screen Free Week”, but with the added pressure of being screen-free, each time I used it I had complete awareness of doing so. I kept to only work-related emails, research and documents; anything fun or entertaining was out of the question. This also kept me from going down the enticing “wormhole” of information and facts that is always tempting.

What did I learn from this experience? Overall, I noticed I had more time. I read more of two books I’ve been meaning to get through, got a good chunk of the spring cleaning done and played a lot more with my kids.

I also became aware of the “nag” of wanting to check my phone just to check it or look at something on it. This usually happened in quiet moments like if I was waiting to meet someone or after putting the kids to bed. It was incredible to realize how trained I was to want to check my phone, even when I had no dings from incoming messages. That “nag” became less and less throughout the week and I either just took in the scene around me, read a book or on one beautiful sunny morning, I simply closed my eyes and sat under a tree.

And being strict with my screen time also made me appreciate the technology we have around us. Usually I am more on the “no screen” side and can easily point out the negative effects screens have on us, but actually going through the process gave me a new appreciation of these tools we have at our disposal.

What I found most helpful was the awareness I developed with each time I was called to use a screen. I had to make a conscious choice to use it or decline. I was very aware of each minute I spent and conscious of each click I made. As soon as I was done my task, the screen was down and off. I found that awareness to be key to maintaining a balance with my use of screens. If you are aware of your choice, you will be aware of the time you are spending.

Overall, I thought it was a great process to go through and hope others will be encouraged to try!

Written by Inspired Life on February 21st, 2018. Posted in Articles

By Angie Holstein, MSW ,RSW (Individual, Adolescent and Family Therapist)

There is a strong connection between our mental health, food and weight loss. A 2004 study called the Canadian Community Health Survey found 20% of Canadians 18 and older were obese and 41% more were overweight. In children and adolescents, 8% were obese and 18% overweight. It is well understood that mood and eating habits are deeply connected. Having a substantial amount of negative thoughts, distressing emotions and unhealthy behaviours contribute to poor mental health. Gaining a strong understanding of this is key to supporting the psychological part of your health and wellness goal.

Eating healthy, losing excess weight and increasing physical exercise are important life goals to consider.

Know that making a lifestyle change is often uncomfortable and distressing at first. Anticipate that change can actually make you feel worse at first before you start to feel better. The point is not to give up. Having a plan and dealing effectively with setbacks with emotional eating will be the key between making this change to a life style change versus a diet. Learn to manage your emotions and negative thoughts about yourself to support your goal. Take an approach to this goal by dealing with the problem of overeating from the inside out.

Quick Tips to Manage Emotional Eating:

Keep a Food Diary: What, When, Where, How much, Feelings and Thoughts. Over time you will start to investigate and examine the patterns revealing your connection between your moods, thoughts and food habits. Knowledge and awareness is power.

Manage Stress and Get a Good Nights Sleep: Sleeplessness and chronic stress are the underlying contributors for a lot of clients in my practice for not only weight gain but depression, anxiety and overall poor mental health. Poor sleep and feeling tired typically increases stress and negative emotions. It’s hard to make good decisions and have balanced thinking when we are tired. Research tells us that chronic stress not only prevents you from losing weight, but also adds on pounds. When we are stressed, our bodies release stress hormones (the fight or flight hormones) that have been correlated with belly fat. Try yoga, meditation, being silly and being social to deal with this. Research tips to manage stress and keep trying to integrate these methods into your life. They can be simple things. (Dear Stress: Let’s Break-Up!)

Learn to Interrupt Your Habits and Patterns: This can be done by doing a hunger reality check. Am I really hungry? What is happening emotionally right now that is making me feel hungry?  Am I tired, bored, anxious, sad, lonely? Think about behavior options to replace your typical pattern of mindless eating.

There are some interesting suggestions available online called 100 Replacement Behaviours for mindless eating, such as take a pause with a breathing exercise, drinking really cold water which gives our nervous system a little bump, watch a funny video on you tube, play with your pet, anything to distract yourself. We know that we have a quarter of a second to interrupt our typical patterns so having a plan ready will support this interruption and be compassionate to yourself with setbacks.

Dealing with Family and Friends: Family and friends are part of our patterns of behavior. Have you effectively communicated to those in your life about the goal you are embarking on? Have you asked them for what you may need? When you make a change it affects those around you – people in your life may unknowingly try to get you back to what is familiar. This can show up in forms of teasing, put downs and pressure to stray from your plan at gatherings and visits. Eating is such a social act. Your changes can also trigger self doubt and guilt in others who may not be at the stage you are to make changes. It’s important to identify and talk about these experiences and persevere with your plan.

Buddy system: You can be a leader to others by asking them to join you as a buddy in creating a healthier lifestyle. Social support is an important part of overall wellness.

Learn From Setbacks and Let Go of Being Perfect: Change and transformation is a journey and you can learn a lot when you take a mindset of learning. Be good enough in your goal instead of striving for perfection. When you have a moment or day of emotional eating, forgive yourself, say the words outs loud and start fresh the next meal or day. This should be part of your goal; a solid section on self compassion, forgiveness, and ways to get back to your wellness goals. Every day try to focus on the positive changes your making and try the technique of self-praise. This will interrupt those typical patterns that take you down the road of self-doubt and thinking poorly about yourself. We know that is a trigger for most people towards more emotional eating.

Don’t get caught in thinking traps: This is all or nothing thinking. Most of us have had those times when we stray from our daily plan and then say to ourselves “well I’m off track now, I failed again” and decide to let the whole plan go. Get in touch with these thoughts and don’t use it as an excuse to go off your eating and fitness plan. Remind yourself that you can get back on track and follow your plan for setbacks to minimize the number of them. Being aware of negative emotions and thoughts will help you take charge of them instead of automatically responding to them.

Mindfulness: Research has proven over and over again that infusing our minds with relaxation and calm has a direct link with overall physical and mental health. This is an important tool to manage emotional eating, anxiety, depression, chronic stress, chronic health challenges and sleeplessness. Mindfulness has proven to reduce the release of stress hormones (the fight or flight hormones) that have been correlated with belly fat. There are many ways to be mindful.

Mindful Meditation and Breathing: The ingredients for mindful moments are engaging in an action with intention (on purpose instead of automatically), a mental focusing tool (a guided meditation/breathing work) and a non-judgmental stance; meaning a moment of being kind to yourself.

Visualization: Can you visualize yourself accomplishing your daily goal, imagine your healthier, lighter, happier self? When you catch yourself thinking negatively, remind yourself of other situations when you have made positive changes. Tell yourself you can do this.

Mindful Eating Practices: Avoid eating in front of the TV, computer or while driving. Pay attention to the experience of eating, tastes, texture, feeling of full and gratitude. Explore this topic and apps like “www.donothingfor2minutes.com”, “www.Stop BreathThink.com”.

Start connecting: You’re likely to give in to emotional eating if you lack a good support network. Talk with friends and family, join a support group or start attending “meet-ups” to get connected with others who share your interests. Being lonely and isolated increases negative emotions and decreases our self worth. Seek support from your network or a therapist to develop an action plan to get more connected.

Set Yourself Up For Success: Scan your environment. Don’t keep too many comfort foods readily available in your home. Have healthy snacks prepared. Don’t grocery shop when you are feeling negative emotions. It’s better to postpone and engage in an activity that you have learned soothes your emotions.

Seek Professional Help: We all need help at times in our life. Overeating and being over weight are often symptoms of mental health problems or poor self worth. Seek support from a therapist, nutritional counsellor, personal trainer and physician as well as holistic health options such as acupuncture, Naturopathy etc.