Listen to your body: Dealing with the healing crisis

Hello Everyone.

It has been said that one does not always “see all that he looks at” or “listen to all that he hears”. As far as your body is concerned, the above statements are very appropriate. During the days, weeks, and months ahead, your system will be making many adjustments and changes. It is very important that you be aware of what can happen so you do not get caught by surprise.

Now the question comes, what are some of the things one might expect if they choose to follow the recommendations? We do not want to predispose you to experience things you might not ordinarily experience. Some people move on quite smoothly to increased vigour and health. Others find the road rockier. Some experience one thing and some experience another. A lot depends on the direct effects from one’s faith, their mental attitudes, determination, and their own individual physical make-up.

We will list a few things that some people have experienced so that, if any of these things might happen to you, you will know that it is not unexpected. As the body chemistry changes, it can affect your feelings.

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The body has adjusted itself gradually, over a period of years, to its much less than ideal chemistry. As it begins to change back toward the more ideal, some unusual things sometimes happen. Some people do not understand, so they become frightened by how they are momentarily feeling and will stop the program. This only delays the changes that are good and necessary.

When the body starts taking up calcium some people get hives or break out with pimples and even cold sores. They might feel “funny”, or a bit strange, particularly in the area where energy has been lost. Old injuries of many years ago may flair up – sprained ankles or wrists, old surgeries, fingers hurt in basketball, leg injuries, back injuries, etc. They may hurt just as badly as they did originally and then suddenly it’s gone. This is the body doing its house cleaning. The liver activity is coming up, and the toxins that have accumulated in the body for years begin to be stirred up and cleansed from the body.

A person might get headaches, run a fever for a few days, become nauseated, feel like lying down, run completely out of energy all of a sudden – these are all typical experiences. In many of these cases – especially headache and fever, etc., the eliminative organs have not been able to keep up with the cleansing that is going on and an enema or colonic is the best and quickest relief to be had. Walking in the fresh air, with deep breathing, is also helpful to many. When the change is more severe, it is best to take a lot of rest to conserve all the body energy available for the body to make the changes necessary.

When one chooses to go on a lemon water fast for three days, at the suggestion of their counsellor in order to speed up the chemistry changes, often they will go through a very deep change, in which the liver reverses itself causing vomiting (even of bile) and great discomfort. It lasts but a short time and then the body makes a quick, big change, and the person feels a great deal better than before. This type of thing is very likely to happen to someone who is quite a bit overweight. This is because the fat in the body has stored up so many toxins that when the body starts mobilizing the fat it also frees the toxins. Thus, the individual can become very ill.

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Despite any of these potential symptoms, one should stay right on the program. Don’t back away from it, go right through with it. You will only delay the process if you stop the program during the worst of the healing crises. You need not be frightened. Rather, you can know that healing is taking place and the crisis will pass.

When you sense that there is a critical change taking place – healing crises and you feel you need counsel, or just reassurance, get in touch with the persons you have been counselling with. Sometimes additional things need to be done to encourage the body in its chemistry changes. After a major chemistry change, it is usually necessary to adjust the program to the new chemistry pattern.

If that all sounds a bit gloomy, we certainly don’t want to frighten anyone. Be assured that many people feel better and better a majority of the time. However, everyone needs to understand that there will be down days along with the better ones, and they shouldn’t be bewildered by them.

Even when a healing crisis takes place long after the time it would be expected, don’t be surprised. Every day that you faithfully follow the program is a day closer to freedom from discomfort and difficulties. Every day you forget, or goof off, is a day lost – sometimes many days are lost, as it takes the body time to readjust again.

Some people forget how much better they are feeling until they go off the program for a few days. Suddenly, the old discomforts they had forgotten about come creeping back and take over once again. We suggest you not go off for a few days, just to see the difference. Going on and off the program can create a situation where the body may not respond later on. An on-again/off-again pattern can affect the body similarly to the way heat and cold temper metal. It hardens it. Likewise, a hardening or resisting effect can be produced in the body, so it may decide at a point in the future not to respond. Therefore, in order to gain the benefits you so desire, a real commitment needs to be made to stick with the program.

Face the future with confidence, with great anticipation, and don’t be disappointed when a little rain cloud muddies up your day.

Healthiest Regards,

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

 

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Food Labels in Australia: Understanding nutritional ‘claims’ and Ingredients

Hello everyone,

Food labels can be very confusing and tricky to understand for many consumers. Often we don’t have the time to spend in the supermarket trying to work out what they mean and how we can use them. However, a few quick tips can make shopping for healthy food a whole lot easier and quicker. Knowing what nutritional information to look for can help make the best choice and avoid unnecessary saturated fats, added salts/sugars/kilojoules. A Variety of useful websites online such as Eat for Health, Food Standards Australia and The National Centre for Biotechnology Information (refer to references section), have great information on how to read the nutrition information panel, ingredients list, nutrition content/health claims and percentage daily intake.

However, as a practitioner it is part of our job to teach our clients how to make the best informed decisions on their food products that best fit with their lifestyle and diet plan. So I decided to create this blog to help you gain a better understanding on food labels, and how to make the best choices when it comes to food products.

In Australia, the law requires all manufactured foods to carry labels containing safety and nutrition information. This information helps you to make decisions about the food you buy and eat so you can follow a healthy diet.

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What information is on the food label?

The label will tell you:

  • the name of the product
  • the brand name
  • what ingredients it contains (listed in order from largest to smallest by weight)
  • nutritional information
  • use by date
  • details of the manufacturer
  • how much it weighs
  • information for people with food allergies
  • a list of food additives
  • storage instructions
  • the country where the food was produced.

Understanding nutrition claims

Some labels tell you what percentage of the recommended daily intake is provided by one serve of the product. This helps you to work out how the food fits into a balanced diet. Read more about recommended daily intakes for adults and here.recommended daily intakes for children

The label may make a number of nutrition claims such as ‘gluten free’, ‘low GI’, ‘low fat’, ‘reduced salt’ or ‘high fibre’. These mean the product meets strict criteria set by the government. More about those below.

But just because a product can make a nutrition claim doesn’t mean it is healthy. For example, a product that is ‘low fat’ may have more kilojoules than another similar product. Check the Nutrition Information Panel to see how the product compares.

Various claims on Food Products

Food products may have various claims on the package providing information on the food products and source. Some claims you may see in the supermarket include Free-range, organic, gluten-free, Whole-grain, good source of calcium, low energy, lactose free, good source of protein.

Some food label claims are more specific to a particular nutrient such as:

Sugar: No Added Sugar, Real fruit/fruit juice, unsweetened, % Sugar free

Sodium/Salt: Low in Salt, No added salt, unsalted

Fat: Low fat, Fat-free, Reduced Fat, % Fat-Free, Saturated Fat-free, contains less cholesterol, trans-fatty acid free

light or lite: One of the most confusing food packaging labels. This can refer to any number of characteristics of a product including colour, textures, salt, fat, or sugar content. The label must specify in what way the product is considered ‘light/lite’. If the information claims a nutrient, energy or salt of the product has to be at least 25% less than the regular version. However, if the product is normally very high, the ‘light/lite’ version can still be high energy, salt or fat.

low cholesterol: The food contains no more cholesterol then 10mg per 100ml for liquid food and 20mg per 100g for solid food.

Cholesterol is found in meat, chicken, dairy products and eggs and is linked to a higher incidence of heart disease. Therefore, products containing little or no animal fats can claim to be low cholesterol or cholesterol free. This, however, does not mean the product is necessary low in other fats such as vegetable oils. While most plant based fats are healthier than saturated or trans fats they can still contribute to weight gain. In the same way that fat free is used to disguise high sugar products, low cholesterol or cholesterol free are often used on high vegetable fat products. Potato chips, for example, often use the label, even though many contain in excess of 30% fat.

High fibre: for a good source of dietary fibre a serving of the food must contain at least 4g of dietary fibre. An excellent source of dietary fibre would include at least 7g of dietary fibre per serve.

Reduced salt: The food must contain at least 25% less salt than the regular version.

Low sugar: The food contains no more sugars then 2.5grams per 100ml for liquid food and 5g per 100g for solid food.

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How to read the Nutrition Information Panel

The Nutrition Information Panel tells you the size of a standard serving of the product and which nutrients are contained in that serving. You can use the label to compare the product with what’s in similar packaged foods.

Energy: A kilojoule is a measure of energy. To lose weight, you need to eat and drink fewer kilojoules than you use. You should limit your intake of foods that have more than 600kJ per serve.

  • Fat: Fat is higher in kilojoules than other nutrients, so you should limit the total amount you eat.
  • Saturated fat: There are different types of fats. Saturated fats are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and high blood cholesterol, so it is especially important to choose foods low in saturated fat.
  • Carbohydrate: Carbohydrates are found in all fruit and vegetables, all breads and grain products, and sugar and sugary foods. You need carbohydrates for energy.
  • Sugar: Sugar is a type of carbohydrate. It is better to choose healthier carbohydrates and to limit foods that are high in added sugars.
  • Fibre: High fibre foods such as wholegrain bread and cereals improve digestion and help you to feel full.
  • Sodium: This tells you how much salt the product contains. Eating too much salt is linked to high blood pressure and can lead to heart disease, strokes and kidney disease.

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Ingredient lists

Ingredients must be listed in descending order (by ingoing weight). This means that when the food was manufactured, the first ingredient listed contributed the largest amount and the last ingredient listed contributed the least. For example, if sugar is listed near the start of the list the product contains a greater proportion of this ingredient.

If the product contains added water, it must be listed in the ingredient list according to its ingoing weight, with an allowance made for any water lost during processing, e.g. water lost as steam. The only exceptions are when the added water:

  • makes up less than 5% of the finished product, 

  • is part of a broth, brine or syrup that is listed in the ingredient list, or 

  • is used to reconstitute dehydrated ingredients.

Sometimes compound ingredients are used in a food. A compound ingredient is an ingredient made up of two or more ingredients e.g. canned spaghetti in tomato sauce, where the spaghetti is made up of flour, egg and water. All the ingredients which make up a compound ingredient must be declared in the ingredient list, except when the compound ingredient is used in amounts of less than 5% of the final food. An example of a compound ingredient that could be less than 5% of the final food is the tomato sauce (consisting of tomatoes, capsicum, onions, water and herbs) on a frozen pizza.

However, if an ingredient that makes up a compound ingredient is a known allergen it must be declared regardless of how much is used.

Percentage labelling

Most packaged foods have to carry labels which show the percentage of the key or characterizing ingredients or components in the food. This allows you to compare similar products.

The characterizing ingredient for strawberry yoghurt would be strawberries and the label would say, for example, 9% strawberries. An example of a component could be the cocoa solids in chocolate. Some foods, such as white bread or cheese, may have no characterizing ingredients or components.

For more information regarding food labelling laws, understanding claims, recommended dietary serves and serving sizes, please click the links below. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via the contact page

Healthiest Regards,

Tegan.

References:

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/cutting-down-on-sugars

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/how-much-do-we-need-each-day/recommended-number-serves-adults

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/how-much-do-we-need-each-day/recommended-number-serves-children-adolescents-and

http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

https://www.nutrition.gov/subject/shopping-cooking-meal-planning/food-labels

Lift your mood: 20 natural ways

Hello Everyone,

So many of us are waking up tired, moody and feeling low about life. Our lives are busier, more stress and sometimes very taxing. This can take a toll on your mental health – as well as your physical wellbeing!

Many health practitioners will tell you that mood disorders are the most prevalent condition in their practices, with a staggering number of clients suffering from depression, anxiety and other psychological stresses. I believe therapy can be incredibly helpful and recommend it to my community whenever they need. However, there are also a lot of natural mood boosters to try!

These are my favourite ways to improve your mood naturally…

However it is always important to be guided by a health practitioner to support your needs beyond this gentle advice.

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NUTRITION

  • Cut caffeine (coffee, sodas, energy drinks). The adrenaline from caffeine will effect your moods. If you’re stressed or feeling low, this can make things worse. Alternatively just stick to one coffee a day before 12pm- The Nutrition Nourishment Rule!
  • Cut processed and packaged foods. They are inflammatory in the body, which will inevitably have a negative effect on your moods, not to mention some negative long-term health effects.
  • Cut artificial sweeteners. Evidence shows that aspartame is linked to mood disorders.
  • While you’re at it, cut refined sugar too! Sugar is a huge energy zapper. You get a short boost of energy after consuming, but then you’ll crash harder than before making you tired and grumpy.
  • Add a portion of protein, good fats, and complex carbohydrates to your plate. These macronutrients help to keep our blood sugar levels stable. When our blood sugar levels drop, so does our mood! Good fats and complex carbs also help to make hormones and neurotransmitters in the body that help make you feel good- serotonin!
  • Reduce alcohol intake. Alcohol is associated with mood disorders. Oh yes it is!
  • Cleanse. When our gut and liver are clogged from excess drinking, sugar, and an overall toxic load, our body struggles to make the feel-good hormones such as serotonin. Serotonin is actually made in the gut. So reduce your toxic load and give your body a break from the nasty chemicals with a seasonal cleanse.
  • Drink more water! Dehydration can cause fatigue and agitation.

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LIFESTYLE

  • Exercise is a natural mood lifter! Move your body in your favourite ways!
  • Schedule some downtime. When we’re stressed and overwhelmed, our moods tend to be low. Dedicate a few minutes a day to you and REST. This will really lift you up!
  • Sleep 8 hours. Sleep = repair. When we feel rested, we’re happier people.
  • Acupuncture has been used to treat mood disorder. This may help!
  • Forgive. It’s not for the other person, forgiveness will benefit YOU!
  • Gratitude. Write down 5 things you’re grateful for everyday. When we remember what we DO have rather than what we don’t have, we instantly feel better.
  • Laugh more! Yes there is science behind this. Laughing is the easiest way to feel good.

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SUPPLEMENTS

 (under the guidance of a health practitioner)

  • Go for the B! Research shows these Vitamin Bs—folate, B6, and B12—can assist with mood.
  • Vitamin D. Low vitamin D is correlated with depression. Most of the population is deficient in this essential micronutrient. All you need is 15-20 minutes a day of sunshine or supplement with Vitamin D (200 IU).
  • Fish oil. Opt for 2 to 3g a day
  • Get your daily probiotic. This will ensure healthy gut flora which assists with serotonin production.
  • Go the herbal route! Seek assistance from your naturopath – herbs can have mood elevating effects.

Healthiest Regards,

Tegan-Nutrition Nourishment

FODMAPS Diet: Green Smoothies to Incorporate into your Fructan Diet

Hello Everyone,

The low-FODMAP diet is a treatment and management protocol for people suffering from irritable bowl syndrome or IBS. The acronym stands for:

Fermentable,
Oligosaccharides (Fructans and Galactans),
Disaccharides (Lactose),
Monosaccharides (Fructose) and
Polyols (Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Xylitol and Isomalt)

In susceptible individuals (usually those with IBS), these “FODMAP” carbohydrate molecules are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. When they reach the large intestine, they feed bacteria and the fiber absorbs water resulting in bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, pain and other symptoms associated with IBS.

Are Green Smoothies Appropriate For People On The FODMAPS Diet (Or With IBS)?

Everybody is different. Ultimately, you should work directly with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to establish an appropriate dietary regimen to treat and manage your IBS. There are some variation in recommendations for people on a FODMAP-restricted diet. Certain “safe” foods might cause problems for you, so there is a bit of experimentation that you’ll need to do to find out what your ideal balance is.

When it comes to green smoothies, the primary offender is fructose, a natural sugar found in all fruit. However, this doesn’t mean that a low-FODMAP diet is a fruit-avoidance diet. There are certain fruits that are considered “low-FODMAP” and safe to use while other fruits and vegetables are “high-FODMAP” and should be avoided or restricted.

The key is portion size. If you have IBS and you are following a low-FODMAP diet plan, then you probably shouldn’t consume large smoothies with a bunch of different fruits in it. Keep your smoothie portions small – like 16 ounces or less and use fruits which are considered to be in the “low-FODMAP” category.

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Which High-FODMAP Green Smoothie Foods Should I Avoid?

If you have IBS, avoid putting these ingredients in your green smoothies.

Fruits To Avoid:

– Apples
– Apricots
– Avocados
– Blackberries
– Cherries
– Mango
– Nectarines
– Peaches
– Pears
– Persimmons
– Plums and prunes
– Rambutan/Lychee
– Watermelon
– Never use canned or dried fruits in smoothies. Avoid using fruit juice as well due to excess fructose.

Green Smoothie Vegetables To Avoid:

Beet Greens
Broccoli
Cabbage
Dandelion Greens
Peas
Radiccio Lettuce
Sugar Snap and Snow Peas

Avoid Sweeteners: I don’t recommend ever adding sweeteners to green smoothies, but this becomes even more important if you have IBS and follow a low-FODMAPS diet. Avoid honey, agave and any other sweetener.

What Green Smoothie Foods Are Low-FODMAP?

Using these ingredients in moderation in green smoothies would fit within a low-FODMAP diet plan.

Low-FODMAP Fruits:

– Bananas
– Berries (Blueberries, Cranberries, Raspberries, Strawberries
– Citrus (Oranges, Grapefruits, Tangelos, Lemons, Limes)
– Durian
– Grapes
– Kiwi
– Melons (Cantaloupe, Honeydew)
– Passion Fruit
– Pineapple
– Star Fruit

Low-FODMAP Vegetables:

Leafy Greens (Bok choy, Lettuce*, Endive, Parsley, Silverbeet, Spinach)

– Alfalfa
– Broccoli*
– Carrots
– Celery
– Cucumber
– Ginger
– Pumpkin
– Tomato
– Zucchini*

* Foods marked with an asterisk might be problematic for some people with IBS, despite being in the low-FODMAPS category.

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Low FODMAP Smoothie Recipes

If you would like to incorporate green smoothies into a FODMAP diet plan, then keep portions small (no giant meal-replacement smoothies) and use fruits and vegetables from the low-FODMAP category. Avoid using high-FODMAP fruits and vegetables.

Keep your smoothies simple. Use no more than two fruits and one vegetable or leafy green. Do not add protein powder, flax, chia, spirulina or any other additive. Avoid using dairy (due to the lactose) and avoid using store-bought non-dairy milks, especially if sugars have been added. Just use plain water.

Experiment with small smoothies using various foods from the “safe” category and see how your body reacts. Some of the safe foods might actually exacerbate your symptoms while some of the “unsafe” foods are tolerated well. Listen to your own body.

None of the recipes on this page (or on our website) are guaranteed to cause no problem for people with IBS. Use your own judgement. When in doubt, take a small amount of smoothie (rather than drinking the entire recipe) and wait to see how your body responds.

For all of the smoothies below, add the water to your blender first, then the fruit. Hit the “Pulse” button to mix up the fruit, then add the greens and blend on high for about 30-40 seconds, or until smooth.

Banana-Berry Smoothie

– 1 banana, peeled
– 1/2 cup strawberries or blueberries
– 2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach
– 4 ounces (about 120 milliliters) of water


Banana-Kiwi with Bok Choy

– 1 banana, peeled
– 1-2 kiwifruit (start with one, use two if you feel it’s appropriate for your body)
– 1-2 heads of baby bok choy (or two cups chopped bok choy leaves
– 4 ounces (about 120 milliliters) of water


Citrus Bok Choy Smoothie

– 2 oranges
– 1 head baby bok choy (or one cup chopped bok choy leaves)
– 1 stalk of celery
– Splash of water if needed

Alternate: Swap out one of the oranges for a grapefruit, tangelo or tangerine.


Blueberry Melon Smoothie

– 1 cup cantaloupe or honeydew melon
– 1/2 to 1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen wild blueberries)
– 4 ounces (about 120 milliliters) of water
– Splash of lemon or lime (optional)


Pineapple-Ginger Smoothie

– 1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into cubes
– 1 large stalk of celery
– 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger (use only if ginger does not exacerbate your symptoms)
– 1/2 banana
– 4 ounces (about 120 milliliters) of water


Now that you know which fruits and vegetables are safe or unsafe to use on a low-FODMAP diet, feel free to get creative with your smoothie recipes!!

Healthiest Regards,

Tegan- Nutrition Nourishment

The Buddhist Philosophy: The Ultimate Mindset to Achieving Your Goals.

Hello everyone.

How often have you set new goals to actually end up not achieving them? If you’re like most people, it’s not even worth thinking about.

What usually happens is that we create our grand plans, get excited about them and make a few of the changes in our lives. And then sometime later we realize we’ve slipped back into old habits and routines.

Luckily, we can turn to the teachings of Buddhism to learn more about setting goals and achieving them.

Buddhism has become more popular in the West in recent decades as it helps take a focus away from goals to live more mindfully in the present. You would think Buddhism doesn’t have much to say about achieving goals.

That’s why we’ve written this article, to share a different perspective. When you consider the teachings of Buddhism, it’s possible to bring together a focus on living the moment with making progress in achieving your goals.

With the new year having arrived, now’s the time to embrace this perspective so you can achieve your goals while living mindfully in the present.
The Problem with Goals

What usually happens is that we set clearly defined goals with deadlines, defining the actions we need to take to achieve them. We end up focusing on the goals, shifting our focus to the future.

This is what brings forth anxiety, as we constantly are reminded of how far away we are from reaching our goals. We end up losing motivation and the whole process of moving towards our goals invariably falls apart.

We end up coming up with new goals and new action plans, and the whole thing just repeats itself over and over.

It’s crazy – and as Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Be Clear on Your Core Values

Before setting goals, you need to understand what your core values are. What do you stand for? What are the most important things in your life?

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Values are things like love, security, adventure, passion and success. Once you’re clear on your values, you’re able to make decisions about what to do with your life.

It’s important to understand that other people can’t decide your values for you. We’re all different, and that’s why it’s difficult to just read online about what to do. It’s about self-inquiry and figuring this out on your own.

As Mahatma Ghandhi once said: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Shift From a Goal Mindset to a Value Mindset

One you have your values established, think about the goals you’ve had and ask yourself why you want to achieve them. What is the result of the goals that is aligned with your values?

How do you want to feel when you’ve achieved your goals?

What this does is help you focus on the feeling that comes in the future, rather than the specific goals themselves.

Then you are able to visualize yourself having already achieved that goal. It brings the outcome into the present, and you start aligning your current mental state with the reality of having already achieved the goal.

You can visualize in more areas of your life. What would your average day look like? What kinds of decisions are you making?

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See and Feel Your Vision Every Day

Go really deep and even incorporate this into your meditation practice. Every day make sure you’re spending time to visualize the future you’re creating, and then incorporate this into your daily practices.

When you’re in the show, imagine yourself in a state of living our your values. Think about what your day would look like.

Be mindful in the present moment about which parts of your day are matched with the value based future that you’re creating.

Over time, you’ll start to see that the difference between the future you want to create and the present is getting smaller. Before you know it, they will be one and the same.

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How This Relates to Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about slowing down to notice what is happening in the present moment without judgement.

When we set goals, we end up being aggressive with ourselves, getting frustrated with the gap between the achieving of the goal and we’re we are today.

A Goal focus on what we don’t have, whereas visualizing the future puts us in a state of already being there.

Mindfulness helps us to be in the present moment, notice what’s right in our lives and be grateful for those things and feel good.

Using an approach based on mindfulness, you feel and visualize your inner self each day and make choices based on “who you are” instead of the actions that should be taken to achieve a result.

Four Steps to Make Your Dreams Happen

With all of this in mind, I’ve put together four steps to follow to free yourself from the destructive nature of goals and actually make your dreams happen.

  1. Determine what your core values are.
  2. Write a vividly detailed description of your new average day.
  3. Each day, set an intention for how you want to feel and who you want to be.
  4. Continue to monitor and review

Using this approach, you’ll continue to make progress in achieving your goals, while feeling a whole lot better and making your dreams a reality.

Healthiest Regards,

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment.

 

Further Reading…

https://thebuddhistcentre.com/buddhism

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_90.htm

https://www.artofliving.org/au-en/meditation

https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/

 

Silly Season: 6 Tips to Staying Healthy during the Christmas Season

Hello Everyone,

With the year coming to an end and the Christmas party season upon us, our health and fitness goals may start to fall by the wayside. Our healthy diets and lifestyle can easily be thrown out the window as we start to overindulge in richer food, drink more alcohol and have less time to spare to dedicate to exercise.

According to Nutrition Australia, on average Australians can gain between 0.8-1.5kg over the Christmas period. While 1-2kgs might not sound like much, studies show that weight gained during the holiday period is rarely lost in the new year. In today’s blog, Nutrition Nourishment will share 6 Tips to help keep you happy and healthy all throughout the holidays.

6 tips to staying happy and healthy during the Christmas season. 

Tip 1: Include more antioxidant foods in your diet.

These are the foods that are often brightly coloured red, orange and yellow. Antioxidants have the ability to neutralise free radicals that otherwise do damage to our cells and accelerate aging. Free radicals are unstable atoms or molecules within the body that have been created by oxidation through such things as pollution, preservatives and additives, radiation, smoking, and unprotected sun exposure. Enhancing the diet with antioxidant supplements such as vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, lycopene, and  lutein can also be an option. These five have the added benefit of also being photo protective. This means that they may increase the skins ability to protect against UV rays and reduces the chances of sunburn and skin damage.

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Tip 2: Drink more water

Dehydration is a common skin condition and can quickly become a problem in the summer heat. Increasing water intake is important throughout this season, however some people still become dehydrated. This loss of water has been shown to adversely affect skin making it feel papery and thin whilst also decreasing mood and energy levels. In times like these people often turn to sports drinks to rehydrate; I recommend using sports drinks only when performing strenuous exercise for > 90 minute intervals.  Otherwise adequate water consumption will provide your body with the necessary hydration it needs without the need for sports drinks.

Another option is coconut water which has less sugar content and will be absorbed faster. It also has fewer kilocalories, less sodium and more potassium than most sports drinks, which may be a better option for some individuals. Daily consumption in moderation.

Tip 3: Get your Daily Dose of Vitamin D

Most people associate vitamin D with healthy bones. What some might not know about this vitamin is that it also plays a vital role in regulation of sex hormones and mood. The main way to get vitamin D is to expose bare skin to sunlight however the use of sunscreen, working indoors, air pollution, location, and some dress codes may limit our exposure to the sun. Supplementing with a vitamin D product is one way to ensure that our vitamin D levels remain optimal and can help to protect us against depression or waning libido.

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Tip 4: Eat more dark chocolate

The flavonoids in dark chocolate may protect against skin damage and UV rays. The consumption of flavonoid-rich chocolate also increases skin circulation giving the skin that special glow whilst also leading to improved skin hydration. Make sure you get > 70% dark as this will have less sugar and a higher flavonoid content or better yet buy raw cacao powder and add it to your smoothies and desserts. Dark chocolate is also known to be a mood and memory booster and a good source of magnesium.

Tip 5: Homemade Juices to aid in Detoxification

Juices that contain natural diuretic foods such as celery, cucumber, lemon, ginger, beetroot, and pineapple help the body to increase its urine output. This in turn helps to eliminate toxins, reduce fluid retention and can ultimately result in feeling less bloated and looking slimmer. Fresh juices are also a great way to get your daily recommended serving of veggies.

Tip 6: B Vitamins for Energy and Wellbeing  

Next time you are feeling drained of energy consider B vitamins in your diet; include foods such a green leafy vegetables, lean quality proteins, eggs, and whole grains. B vitamins are water-soluble and get flushed quickly from the body. Increased alcohol consumption at Christmas time can deplete our bodies of important vitamins such as B1, B2 and B6. If you feel your diet is lacking these vitamins, it may be worthwhile finding a good complex B vitamin product to provide all eight B vitamins that are essential for peak health and energy production.

pace-yourself2

One step at a time

The most important thing to remember is if you find yourself overindulging this Christmas is to not beat yourself up about it. Tomorrow’s another day to make smarter and healthier choices!

Further reading….

http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines

Healthiest Regards,

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

The Mindfulness Series: Chapter Four. Exercises for Stress Management.

Hello everyone,

Welcome to the Mindfulness Series. In this fourth and final chapter we cover details on beneficial exercises and practices that may help decrease levels of stress and increase happiness and well-being. We have detailed a few relaxation and meditation exercises that be may used in stressful situations.  At the end of this chapter there is a list of websites you may want to visit.

Here are some guidelines for using relaxation exercises:

1. Try to practice whichever exercise you prefer at least once or twice a day. Expect your ability to relax to improve as you continue practicing, and expect to practice two or three weeks before you become genuinely proficient. Once you learn how to do one of the exercises, you may no longer require the recorded instructions, and you can tailor the exercise to your own liking.

2. Avoid practicing within an hour before or after a meal (either hunger or feeling full may distract you). Also avoid practicing immediately after engaging in vigorous exercise.

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3. Sit quietly and in a comfortable position, with your legs uncrossed and your arms resting at your sides. Or, if required lie down on your back, with your arms beside you. This is especially important when you are first learning the exercise.

4. Adopt a calm, accepting attitude towards your practice. Don’t worry about how well you’re doing or about possible interruptions. Instead, know that with repetition your ability to relax will grow.

5. When you are ready, close your eyes, begin listening to the recording, and follow the directions. As you complete the exercise, you can expect your mind to wander a bit—when this happens you can simply re-direct your focus back to the recording.

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6. Once you’ve finished, stretch, look around and remain still for another minute or two.

7. As you become skilled with your chosen exercise, try applying it to specific situations that might otherwise be anxiety provoking, such as tests, oral presentations, difficult social situations, job interviews, insomnia, and so forth.

Exercise Tips:

1. Initially, until you become familiar with the exercise, it may be best to have someone read the exercise to you while you close your eyes and sit in a comfortable chair. Alternatively, if you would like to do it alone, you can record the exercise and play it back to yourself.

2. When you tense your muscles, you should hold that tension (as comfortably as you can) for around 5 to 10 seconds. Then, stay in the relaxed state for at least 10 seconds.

3. A very important piece of this exercise is bringing awareness to the feelings of tension and relaxation. Therefore, throughout the exercise, make sure you are paying attention to these feelings and noticing how different your muscles feel when you move from tension to relaxation.

Practice mindfulness in 15 minutes (1)

4. Practice regularly. The more you practice, the more it will become a habit, and the quicker you will be able to bring about relaxation when you are tense.

5. Make sure you do at least two cycles of tension-relaxation for each muscle group.

Progressive body relaxation exercise using tension/relaxation

Relaxation exercises can be a very effective way of reducing your stress and anxiety. One relaxation exercise called progressive muscle relaxation focuses on a person alternating between tensing and relaxing different muscle groups throughout the body. In this way, relaxation is viewed like a pendulum. More complete relaxation of your muscles can be obtained by first going to the other extreme (that is, by tensing your muscles). In addition, by tensing your muscles (a common symptom of anxiety) and immediately relaxing them, the symptom of muscle tension may become a signal to relax over time.

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Difficulty: Easy;

Time Required: At least 30 minutes

1. Sit in a comfortable chair and bring your attention to your left hand. Clench your left hand to make a fist. Pay attention to these feelings of tension. Then, let go of your fist, letting your hand rest against your side or the arm of the chair. Be aware of how different your hand feels in a state of relaxation as compared to tension. Then, make a fist with your left hand again, then relax it, continuing to pay attention to how your hand feels in states of tension and relaxation. Repeat this procedure with your right hand.

2. After you have finished tensing and relaxing your hands, bend both hands back at the wrists in order to tense the muscles in the back of your hand and in your forearms. As before, pay attention to what this muscle tension feels like. After you have tensed these muscles, relax them, also paying attention to what this state of relaxation feels like. Repeat.

3. Make a tight fist with both hands, and pull your hands toward your shoulders. This will bring tension to your biceps. Be aware of this tension and then relax, allowing your arms to drop loosely to your sides. Pay attention to how your arms now feel. Repeat.

4. Shrug your shoulders as high as you can. Pay attention to the tension as you do this. Hold it, then relax your shoulders. Let your shoulders drop. Notice how different this state of relaxation feels compared to when your shoulders were tense. Repeat.

5. Now, bring attention to your face. Wrinkle your forehead. Tense those muscles and hold this state. Notice the feelings of tension. Then, relax those muscles completely, being aware of these feelings of relaxation. Repeat.

6. Close your eyes as tightly as you can. You should feel tension all around your eyes. After holding this state, relax. Recognize differences in how relaxation feels as compared to tension. Repeat. Clench your jaw, biting your teeth together. Hold this tension and then relax. Repeat. To finish relaxing the muscles of your face, press your lips together as tightly as you can. You should feel tension all around your mouth. Examine how this tension feels. Now relax your lips, and in doing so, let go of that tension. Be aware of how this feels. Repeat.

7. Move your awareness down from your face to your neck. Put your head back and press the back of your head against the back of the chair you are sitting in. Feel the tension in your neck and then bring your head back to relax it. Repeat. Now bring your head forward. Push your chin against the top of your chest. Feel the tension in the back of your neck. Hold it, then relax. Notice how different tension and relaxation feel. Repeat.

8. Direct your attention to your upper back. Arch your back, sticking out your chest and stomach. Notice the tension in your back. Recognize what that tension feels like. Then, let go of that tension, bringing about deep relaxation. Allow those muscles to become loose. Be aware of what that relaxation feels like. Repeat. Take a deep breath. Breath in as much as you can. Fill your chest with air until you can feel tension throughout your chest. Hold it and then release. Repeat. Notice your muscles in your chest getting more and more relaxed.

9. Then, tense your stomach muscles. Notice how that tension feels and then relax those muscles, again paying attention to that state of relaxation and how different it feels from tension. Repeat.

10. Now move your awareness to your legs. Lift your legs up and stretch them out. Feel how tense the muscles in your thighs are. Then, let your legs drop, relaxing your thigh muscles. Pay attention to the different sensations of relaxation and tension. Repeat. Tense both of your calf muscles. You can do this by pointing your toes upward. You should feel the pull of your calf muscles as they tense. Notice that feeling. Then, let them relax. Let your feet fall, bringing about relaxation in your calf muscles. Notice that feeling, too. Repeat.

11. You are now done tensing and relaxing all muscles in your body. Scan the different muscles groups covered, and bring attention to any lingering muscle tension. If you find any, bring relaxation to those muscle groups, continuing to notice how different your body feels in a state of relaxation.

pace-yourself2

One step at a time

Walking meditation when experiencing strong feelings. Often when we walk we do this to get somewhere, it is a means to an end. In a walking meditation the aim is not to reach a goal, but to draw awareness to the walking itself; it is an end in itself. This means walking slowly and with awareness of every step you take. It is a great way to calm down or simply take your mind of things that are bothering you. This walking meditation is adapted from Thich Nhat Hanh (1991), who is a Vietnamese monk working in France. He called the book in which this is explained Peace is Every Step. Making peace through walking can be used when you have strong feelings that are bothering you; whether it is anger or sadness. Walking with awareness, especially in nature will help you to come to terms with those feelings. Recite to yourself whilst walking: Breathing in, I know that anger is here Breathing out, I salute the anger Breathing in, I know that anger is unpleasant Breathing out, I know this feeling too will pass Breathing in, I draw strength from nature Breathing out, I focus on the walking

Note that anger is there, it doesn’t say you are angry, in other words, you don’t interpret your anger, identify with it or otherwise let it dominate you: anger is there, that is all. From this perspective there is a distance between you and the anger and it becomes just another emotion that is sometimes there, and sometimes will not be there.

Nutrition Nourishment hopes you’ve enjoyed the Mindfulness Series and found useful information on managing stress levels and self-care techniques. It’s important to take time out of your day, even 15 mins to recharge and nourish your soul. Whether it’s going for a short walk, making a cup of herbal tea and sitting outside, meeting with a friend or taking a long bath. Self-care will reduce the likelihood of burnout and lead to a happier and more productive life.

If you haven’t already don’t forget to check out the Other Chapters in this series. Links Below.

Chapter One: Burn-out. More than a Stress Response.

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/09/19/the-mindfulness-series-burn-out-more-than-a-stress-response/

Chapter Two: Self Care and Building Resilience against Stress

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/the-mindfulness-series-chapter-two-self-care-and-building-resilience-against-stress/

The Mindfulness Series: Chapter Three. How Meditation and Mindfulness Beat Stress

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/11/02/the-mindfulness-series-chapter-three-meditation-and-mindfulness-to-beat-stress/

Healthiest Regards,

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

The Mindfulness Series: Chapter Three. Meditation and Mindfulness to Beat Stress

Hello everyone,

Welcome to the Mindfulness Series. In this chapter we will discuss how meditation and mindfulness can help to manage stress levels.

Emotions, meditation and mindfulness It is easier to deal with the stress and hassles of life when you’re also aware of what is right in your life (Carlson, 2007) Although most of us try to avoid stress and suffering, we all have times in our life where we have to engage with stressful situations and suffering. It is how we engage with suffering and how we feel about what is happening to us that plays the central role. Some people are blown this way and that, according to the strength of their emotions. But we all know others who seem to be more resilient even in the face of outwardly similar experiences. How can this happen? It is true that some people have a ‘naturally’ calm and peaceful disposition and others are less resilient, more volatile and reactive. Medical research has confirmed the age old knowledge that meditation and relaxation practices increase our resilience and coping skills, enhance our sense of well-being and happiness in spite of life’s tribulations.

Kabat-Zinn (2005: 320) agrees that how well we deal with stress and suffering depends on our ability to be aware. In fact, he says that ‘awareness is the defining characteristic of our species’. It is important to understand that suffering cannot be taken out of life: e.g. sickness, death and loneliness cannot necessarily be made ‘better’. However, with mindfulness we can learn to take the reactivity out of our relationship to such experiences – whether they be positive, negative and neutral.

Mindfulness is a ‘deceptively simple way of relating to experience’ (Germer, 2005: 3) or, in other words, it can support ‘a special relationship to suffering’.

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What is it to be mindfulness?

Mindfulness implies conscious awareness, but more than awareness, it also suggests care, memory and intelligence (Kearny, 2008: 1-2). He distinguishes three aspects of mindfulness:

1. The present experience must be clearly registered, as it is… without judging it

2. The present experience must be held within the context of the whole, including past experiences

3. The present experience must be seen in the light of unfolding, continuing engagement as it changes over time

The mind has been dubbed ‘monkey-mind’. It has been depicted as a horse in full gallop with the rider (the ‘I’) having no control. And the Buddha likened the mind to a wild elephant, which needed to be trained by tying it to a strong post. The nature of the mind is to move, to follow clues and so wanders into the past and the future and often is not at home in the present. By doing that the mind is taking a holiday and we are mindless. So, why would we want to steady the wandering mind and not just enjoy the ride, the holiday? To gain some clarity, let’s have a look at mindlessness.

What does it mean to be mindless?

• Rushing through life/activities without being attentive to what is happening right now

• Day dreaming, killing time and escaping in fantasies

• Treating people or things carelessly, without attention, because the mind is somewhere else

• Failing to notice (subtle) sensations in the body, such as physical tensions or discomfort

• Being out of touch with one’s (subtle) emotional states and affects

• Forgetting people’s names as soon as we hear them

• Snacking or drinking without being aware of tastes and textures

• Having accidents (small and large) due to inattentiveness

• Having superficial relationships with oneself as well as with others

• Craving and addictive behaviour

• Disassociation and boredom with life’s experiences

This list doesn’t describe a healthy sense of self, nor of a rewarding relationship to the world. It rather describes a dull, unimaginative life, where there may be a constant chase for more experience, craving, disappointment and eventually dissatisfaction. It is not hard to see that this may be the foundation of much of the unhappiness and stress in our world today.

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In being present to each moment we create a new list that now looks like:

• Being attentive- to life and to what is happening right now

• Treating people and things with care and attention, because the mind is present

• Noticing (subtle) sensations in the body, such as physical tensions or discomfort – so we can take appropriate actions

• Being in touch with one’s (subtle) emotional states and affects – so we can take appropriate actions

• Knowing people’s names as soon as we hear them

• Snacking and drinking with awareness of tastes or textures

• Having fewer accidents because there is attentiveness

• Having more meaningful relationships with yourself as well as with others

• Less craving and addictive behaviour, because it can be seen into

• Engagement with life’s experiences

Mindfulness creates an experience of ‘aliveness’, which is a major source of much of human happiness and well-being. Whatever the external circumstances, being in the present moment changes our relationship to those circumstances.

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Meditation

We can become more mindful and present in many ways, but the common denominator is the intentional practice of focusing the spotlight of our attention (mind) gently on what we intend to observe. Although it doesn’t really matter how we train the mind, the Buddha wisely focused on the breath as ‘the post to tie the elephant to’ (the elephant being the restless mind). Meditation is steadying the mind and practicing being present by quietly following the breath.

Mindfulness can also be learned by ‘walking meditation’, participating in any attentive relaxation practice, such as: scanning the body; focusing on an object (eg candle); observing our thoughts; writing mindfully about our thoughts; dancing or painting with awareness. It is in the nature of mind to go over and over things and to wander aimlessly around the same few thoughts. It is the job of the practitioner to notice this and to say to oneself: ‘the mind is wandering again’. At this point the practitioner goes back to the breath. Be aware not to let mind training the mind become another source of suffering or comparison. You do not need to measure yourself up against others, to ask ‘am I doing this right?’ or ‘she seems to be doing it better than me’ or ‘I have failed because I haven’t achieved a calm mind’. Remember, it is the sitting that matters – not how well you sit. As you practice, it will become easier to sit quietly and steady the mind. It is also nonsense to say ‘that was a bad meditation’, meaning the mind was all over the place. Simply noticing the distraction is useful in itself. If one thought persists or a pain is in the foreground, abandon following the breath and make the exploration of that thought or discomfort the object of your meditation. Explore all aspects and levels of this event mindfully, again training the mind to pay attention rather than to wander. Acceptance needs to come before change can happen. Only then can we respond to life, rather than to react. And the change will be a greater sense of well-being and ease. Meditation helps us to be at peace and to accept life as it is.

We hope you are enjoying the Mindfulness Series. If you haven’t already don’t forget to check out the Other Chapters in this series. Links Below.

Chapter One: Burn-out. More than a Stress Response.

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/09/19/the-mindfulness-series-burn-out-more-than-a-stress-response/

Chapter Two: Self Care and Building Resilience against Stress

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/the-mindfulness-series-chapter-two-self-care-and-building-resilience-against-stress/

Healthiest Regards,

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

Carlson, R. (2007) Don’t sweat the small stuff: 2007, Day to Say Calender, Andrew McMeel Publishing, Kansas City

Germer, C. (2005), ‘Mindfulness: What Is It? What Does It Matter?’ in Germer, C. Siegel, R. and Fulton, P. Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, The Guilford Press, New York

Kabat-Zinn, J. 2005, Coming to our Senses, Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness, Piatkus, New York

The Mindfulness Series: Chapter Two. Self Care and Building Resilience against Stress

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the Second Chapter of the Mindfulness Series. In this chapter we will discuss self-care and how to build resilience against stress.

Self-care Relaxed people can still be super-achievers, and, in fact, relaxation and creativity go hand in hand (Carlson, 2007). There are many ways to prevent burn-out and to restore a lifestyle balance that produces ease rather than stress. Self-care involves paying attention to the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects of your life. The following lists include many suggestions which are adapted from a website dedicated to stress release and relaxation that is worth visiting as it has some excellent resources (http://www.nvoad.org/articles/ESCCchapterB.pdf).

Not all of these suggestions need to be applied, but one area of self-care may come more naturally to you than others. That way it will be more pleasurable to do which increases the likelihood of you doing it. Becoming less stressed involves being kind to yourself, so it is important to choose activities that do not add to a list of demands you cannot fulfill (and thus bring additional stress). Looking after yourself can be fun if you choose pleasurable and easy suggestions which may involve the body (a long, hot bath), the mind (listening to lovely music) or giving yourself the time to sing or paint. Most of these self-care activities involve some sense of personal growth, expansion and validation of your personal needs. Like any development, it needs practice. Sometimes it helps to document the journey of self-care, as a way to count blessings, to review deep beliefs and to affirm one’s own strengths and needs. It means a conscious engaging with some of the ideas mentioned above.

Some of the ‘side effects’ of the activities mentioned above will be that you are more able to:

• Set realistic goals

• Be assertive and maintain your boundaries

• Change negative thought processes into positive ones

• Avoid ‘toxic’ situations

• Engage in positive conflict resolution

• Maintain a sense of humour and good health

• Practice forgiving, also of self

• Develop positive relationships

• Improve your communication skills

Petrea King suggests that looking after yourself must be your highest priority. Do you think that it is selfish to put yourself first? It certainly sounds like that and especially women are taught to look after everyone else before taking a rest themselves. As a result, women (and men too) often from suffer stress related illnesses or feel depressed and unhappy. How productive can you be if you are not at peace, not relaxed and happy? Looking after yourself means that you can give from an overflowing well of energy, love and care. It also means giving everyone else permission to care for themselves well.

Physical Self-Care

• Eat regularly (eg breakfast, lunch, dinner)

• Eat healthy, fresh food with plenty of fruit and vegetables

• Find a pleasurable exercise routine

• Get regular medical care for prevention and health

• Take time off when sick

• Have a massages, acupuncture or beauty treatment

• Dance, swim, walk, run, play sports, sing, or do some other physical activity that is fun

• Take time to be sensual and sexual–with yourself, with a partner

• Get enough sleep

• Wear clothes you like

• Take vacations, day trips or mini-vacations

• Make time away from telephones

Psychological Self-Care

• Notice your inner experiences — listen to your thoughts, judgments, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings without judgment

• Let go of perfectionism: do something silly or be simply imperfect

• Talk with friends and have a buddy support system

• Practice receiving from others

• Write in a journal: Be curious about life

• Do relaxation exercises, get a relaxation CD that you like

• Have your own personal psychotherapy or counselling

• Read literature that is unrelated to work and uplifting

• Do something at which you are not expert or in charge

• Decrease stress in your life by removing the clutter

• Make to do lists and prioritise them giving yourself plenty of time

• Let others know different aspects of you

• Say NO to extra responsibilities 8

Emotional Self-Care

• Be kind to yourself, engage in self-nurturing, self-mothering

• Spend time with others whose company you enjoy

• Stay in contact with important people in your life

• Give yourself affirmations, praise and love

• Find ways to increase your sense of self-esteem

• Acknowledging strength, positive points

• Boundaries: learn to feel OK about saying NO and putting yourself first

• Change thought processes that are not self-affirming

• Avoid negative people or negative communication

• Re-read favourite books, review favorite movies

• Identify comforting activities, objects, people, relationships and places

• Allow yourself to cry

• Find things to make you laugh

• Express your outrage in social action, letters, donations, marches, protests

• Contribute to causes in which you believe

• Play with children, animals or grown-ups Spiritual Self-Care

• Make time for self-reflection

• Practice acceptance and kindness for self and others

• Spend time with and in nature

• Find a spiritual connection or community

• Be open to inspiration from teachers and people you admire

• Read inspirational literature (talks, music, etc.)

• Cherish your optimism and hope

• Be aware of nonmaterial aspects of life

• Practice forgiveness for self and others

• Identify what is meaningful to you and notice its place in your life

• Meditate, sing or pray

• Be open to Not Knowing and experiences of awe (http://www.nvoad.org/articles/ESCCchapterB.pdf)

A side effect of learning to look after yourself is that you learn new skills that can be used in your personal as well as in your family and professional life. For example the ability to turn adversity into an opportunity becomes a change for personal development. It also means that you are developing life skills that contribute to greater happiness and well-being of all people around you. Paradoxically, looking after yourself means becoming more able to be of service for others!

Nutrition Nourishment Hopes you’re enjoying the Mindfulness Series and taking what information is important and beneficial for you at this time in your life. It’s  never too late to begin to understand yourself better and to find happiness for your soul

If you haven’t already don’t forget to check out Chapter One in this series. Links Below.

Chapter One: Burn-out. More than a Stress Response.

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/09/19/the-mindfulness-series-burn-out-more-than-a-stress-response/

Healthiest regards

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

The Mindfulness Series: Burn-out. More than a Stress Response.

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the Mindfulness Series. A holistic guide to self-care and stress management. There are five chapters in this series. The first chapter explains what burn-out is and the signs to look for. The second chapter look at how to build up resilience against stress and how to better look after oneself. The third chapter explains how meditation and mindfulness can decrease stress levels. The fourth chapter details some exercises and practices that may be useful to decrease levels of stress and increase happiness and well-being. The last chapter points to web-sites that contain relaxation exercises, audiovisuals and other interesting information.

Stress is endemic to the human condition, whether it is inflicted upon us or self imposed. Even if we take good care of ourselves, there may be times in our life where it is all too much. In fact, many contemporary issues such as information overload; news programs about war and suffering, global warming and economic down-turn all add to our stress levels. Old age, sickness, death and pain all involve suffering related to the physical body. Stress can also arise because of mental activity (our thoughts about things) and involves our needs for security, safety and relationship not being met. Although we all share these needs, the impact upon us is depends on many inter-related factors: genetic; conditional; societal.

Burn-out is the result of being exposed to undue stress or not being able to cope with the demands of work and life stress. According to (Tagar, 1999) there is a simple stress equation. The ratio between ‘demand’ and ‘stamina’ determines the stress levels. Simply put, the stress levels equate to the gap between what you can do and what is expected of you (or what you expect of yourself). However, it is more complicated because stress, a serious problem for health care workers, is not equally experienced and some people are more prone to burnout.

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Some of the risk factors are, according to Espeland (2006):

Internal factors:

  • Personality type, eg high achievers with a need for control and over commitment
  • Loss of control being with the outside world (victim) rather than with the self (capable)
  • Coping styles, eg passive or defensive rather than assertive
  • Attitudes, eg having high expectations and being negative rather than realistic and positive
  • Negative self image
  • Feeling low
  • Level of self development and self-efficacy
  • Level of leisure taken

External factors:

  • Unsupportive work or home environment
  • Stress and difficulties at work or home
  • Underpaid and overworked
  • Demands exceed possibility to fulfill them
  • Lack of intimacy with others

How we spend our days is, of course, How we spend our lives (Annie Dillard)

Some signs of burn-out and stress may include a loss of appetite or excessive eating,  Sleep disorders, Chronic feelings of ill health,  Irritation and psychological disturbances- negative emotions , Manic activity and procrastination, loss of purpose and meaning.

We know that in order to stay healthy, the body needs adequate rest, food and exercise. The body suffers under too much stress, because muscles tense, blood pressure rises, food is not well digested and sleep is disturbed. High levels of stress hormones are being released continuously. If not released, enduring stress can become ‘toxic’ with major consequences for health and happiness (Tagar, 1999). As a result our resilience, both physical and emotional goes down and we become less effective in the work we do, and more prone to accidents and eventually disease.

This all seems quite logical but, in reality, we often are not looking after ourselves well when stress mounts. On the contrary, we often become less able to do the ‘right’ thing for ourselves. We start eating more junk food, watch more TV and may even self-medicate with excessive drinking. We may sleep less, or more and can’t get motivated to exercise or do relaxations. In short, we don’t look after ourselves!

When to Seek Help

Stress is prevalent in modern life, especially in health care. This is ironic, as health care workers are trained to look after others, but often not themselves. It is recommended that you seek assistance from a counsellor, your medical doctor or from a mental-health professional who is skilled in the treatment of stress if:

  • You are experiencing high levels of distress
  • You are experiencing significant changes in relationships
  • You are not functioning well at work for longer periods
  • You are self-medicating with alcohol, too much sleep or drugs
  • You are unable to find relief with self-help strategies
  • You are experiencing physical problems

Barriers to Seeking Help/ Helping loved ones dealing with stress include the following:

  • Some people may feel that they are better off than those more affected and that they, therefore, should not be so upset or seek help
  • Some may not seek help because of pride or because they think that distress indicates weakness of some sort
  • Some individuals may not be open to support, if the intervention was not requested (eg a lecture, sermon or rituals)
  • Many individuals are more apt to seek informal support from family and friends, which may not be sufficient to prevent long-term distress for some

This can be an isolating condition and it’s important to know you don’t have to do this alone. Remember to speak up and seek help.

Healthiest Regards

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

References

Espeland, K. (2006) ‘Overcoming Burnout: How to Revitalize Your Career’, Continuing Nursing Education, Vol. 37, Issue 4, pp 178-185.

Tagar, Y. (1999). Stress. Medicine of the Mind. I. Gawler. Melbourne, The Gawler Foundation.