Health

Medical Arts: Alternative, Complementary, Quackery? Part Two

 

Last week I wrote about a perceived disparity between mainstream healthcare and “alternative” remedies. I was troubled by an opinion piece posted on NBCnews.com that lumped every approach outside of conventional Western medicine into an ineffective and irrational “wellness industrial complex.” The conclusion was that celebrities who know more about marketing than medicine bash science to get gullible consumers to purchase overpriced approaches to wellness that don’t work, and a better strategy would be to put all our trust into conventional medicine because it is based on science.

I’m a firm believer in wellness care that includes things like massage therapy, reflexology, acupuncture, chiropractic, and meditation. I’m also a firm believer in going to the doctor for regular checkups and taking medicine when you need it. I believe that different strategies work better for different ailments, and that what works best for me might be different from what works best for you or someone else.

So, I propose that there is room for all kinds of approaches!

Would it surprise you to know that under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services there is a National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health? That’s right, even our own egg-headed GOVERNMENT scientists have figured out that there’s room in our health-and-wellness world for both mainstream doctors and practitioners like me.

Western-trained doctors are referred to as “conventional.” (NOT “traditional,” because some eastern healing traditions go back thousands and thousands of years!) Their website goes on to explain:
▪ If a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine, it’s considered “complementary.”
▪ If a non-mainstream practice is used in place of conventional medicine, it’s considered “alternative.”
“True alternative medicine is uncommon. Most people who use non-mainstream approaches use them along with conventional treatments.” (link provided below)

And that leads us to “INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE,” which is what maybe 90% of us subscribe to: bringing conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way.

The website explains, “The use of integrative approaches to health and wellness has grown within care settings across the United States. Researchers are currently exploring the potential benefits of integrative health in a variety of situations, including pain management for military personnel and veterans, relief of symptoms in cancer patients and survivors, and programs to promote healthy behaviors.”

There are so many wonderful options for us to employ to support our own health. If your appendix ruptures, you might want a skilled surgeon. If you’re in a car accident, you might seek out a chiropractor help you recover. When I injured my hip, I needed the expertise of a physical therapist. For ongoing health maintenance, you could see a massage therapist, and a reflexologist, and an acupuncturist, and a medical doctor—and none would take anything away from what the others had to offer!!

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/integrative-health

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy

Medical Arts: Alternative, Complementary, Quackery? Part One

Sometimes people ask me what I think about remedies like “rainbow therapy,” or suggest that I consider selling a pyramid marketing brand of essential oils.

I have to be very diplomatic when talking about specific approaches to health. Of course, I have my opinions about detox cleanses, or eating according to our blood type, or gemstone healing—but they are only my opinions. It’s important for each of us to do our own research and decide for ourselves.

In his somewhat cynical article “Wellness Brands Like Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP Wage War on Science,” Timothy Caulfield pits the wellness industry against mainstream medicine (link provided below). In case you read it, for whatever it’s worth, I would like to diplomatically share my humble opinion about a few points for your consideration.

Full disclosure: I don’t know anything about GOOP or other specific high-profile health brands. Somehow I was (happily) unaware that Gwyneth Paltrow was in the business of bashing science or that it had become popular to make fun of her for it. The first thing that bothered me about Caulfield’s article is that it takes an extreme all-or-nothing stance: you either completely buy into trendy wellness gimmicks (which in his estimation are ALWAYS hooey because they lack scientific foundations), or you are fully entrenched in a “science-informed approach to health.” I don’t know anyone who has jumped on the alternative bandwagon to the extent of completely turning away from science. Who among us is gullible enough to believe every far-fetched gimmick that comes along?

But secondly, and all kidding aside, not every “alternative” approach is new, and not every offering is phony. Caulfield makes reference to a “life force energy that runs through mysterious meridians,” but these meridians are not mysterious to physicians who have been practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. In fact, we can now explain a lot of these phenomena in western medical terms as we learn more about a connective tissue called fascia, and discover just how complex all the cells of the body really are in their communication to and cooperation with each other (via chemical and/or electromagnetic energy, for example—life force energies indeed!).

Western medicine is the young science. Are there snake oil salespersons out there? Most definitely. But just because we can’t explain something (yet), doesn’t mean it can’t work. Sometimes the proof is in the outcome.

Caulfield makes some very good points about how eating healthy these days sometimes feels like it has to include specific (expensive) components, and how an unintended consequence has been making “healthy” too confusing or so expensive that some people might avoid produce completely if they can’t afford just the right organic varieties.

Still, Caulfield concludes that the answer is ALWAYS looking to science and completely dismissing the trendy “new” alternatives. But I would contend that sometimes “science” gets it wrong. Sometimes conventional doctors really do just treat symptoms rather than taking a more holistic look at big picture/root causes. Sometimes alternative strategies may really be the better path to health and wellness.

Next week, I’ll look at how we don’t even have to choose between mainstream and alternative—these two seemingly different approaches really can play nicely together!

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/wellnes-brands-gwyneth-paltrow-s-goop-wage-war-science-ncna801436

Category : Blog &Health

Supporting a Healthy Back

 

 

Back pain is common, and while a certain amount of wear and tear is part of life, some mindful maintenance can go a long way in staving off strains and aches.

Everything we do every single day impacts our back health. It basically comes down to posture and body mechanics. It’s so easy to neglect! Here are some helpful reminders:

Sitting. Sitting in the same position for long periods stresses tissues and can diminish blood flow. It’s very important to get up and move around every 30-60 minutes. Set a timer on your phone if you must! When sitting at a desk, make sure both feet are on the floor and your weight is evenly distributed between your hips.

Standing. Think about your alignment: ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should be pretty well lined up and facing forward in a centered, neutral way. Do you put more weight on one side? Do you hold your head forward? Not good. Do you hold your shoulders too high toward your ears? Set an alarm to check yourself a few times a day. Take a deep breath, and deliberately drop your shoulders down and back as you exhale.

Lifting/Carrying. I set myself up for hip trouble by always carrying books, babies, etc. on one hip jutted out supporting all the weight. As much as possible, it’s far better to divide a load (groceries, laundry) into two totes and carry equal amounts on both sides. For things that can’t be divided (babies!), a backpack is best. When lifting, we need to bend at the knees, avoid twisting, and engage our abs to make sure our backs aren’t doing more than their fair share.

Phoning. Tilting our heads forward to see our phone screens places way more pressure on our necks than you might think. It’s far better to raise our arms and hold the phone up closer to eye level. Use voice commands to send texts when possible, and earphones for long conversations. If you’re reading a tablet or a good, old-fashioned book, see if you can prop it up on pillows to avoid looking down for prolonged periods.

What to do when your back does hurt? OF COURSE, I would recommend massage therapy and reflexology to relax tight tissues and improve blood and lymph flow! You can also try:

You can also try:

Ice, to reduce inflammation.

Heat, to relax muscle fibers.

Alternating between heat and ice (up to 20 minutes of one, enough time to let your tissues to get back to normal temperature, then up to 20 minutes of the other; always end with ice at the end of the day).

Gentle exercise. For an acute injury, a day of rest probably is advised. But then it’s important not to rest too much! Walking a little bit if you can comfortably do so keeps blood and lymph flowing, which is important for healing.

Ongoing supportive exercise, such as yoga or Tai Chi enhances balance, flexibility and good posture long term.

Other “alternative” approaches such as acupuncture and chiropractic can help maintain optimal functioning. Physical therapy can target problem areas, and PTs usually give specific exercises to develop strength so strains don’t reoccur.

Cope with stress. Chronic stress causes tension that causes pain. It’s important to do mindfulness “exercises” like deep breathing, meditation, walking outside in nature, and positive self-talk.

Mindfulness is always a good practice. Most injuries are from misuse or overuse. If we stay aware of how we sit, stand, walk, lift, etc., we can avoid a lot of problems. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!!

Source: “We’ve Got Your Back,” by Alyssa Shaffer, “Better Homes & Gardens” October 2017.

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

Five Ways to Thrive Each Day

 

 

More and more workplaces are emphasizing healthy habits for their employees. It makes sense, because workers are happier and also more productive.

While these tips originally were written with worker bees in mind, I think they’re great tips for all of us to employ wherever we are.

Take fun breaks. Google offers on-site kickboxing, swimming pools, and a slide to shortcut getting from one floor to another. Zappos has wellness coordinators who randomly pull people away from their desks to jump on a trampoline, play laser tag, or take a quick golf lesson. They even have Recess Tuesdays. What fun could you have in order to energize yourself once a day or once a week?
Stand up! Many doctors recommend adjustable desks and “standing stations” to take a break from sitting all day. Treadmill desks may be even better. Chick-fil-A has treadmill desk rooms where people sign up for time and go in with their laptops to walk while they work. We can take a cue and stand up and even walk during phone calls. What else could you do to mix up your position throughout the day?

Catch some Zzzzs. Bosses used to frown upon falling asleep at your desk, but studies are showing that people are actually MORE productive if they take a quick power nap (20 minutes is optimal). Some hipper companies including Capital One now offer sleep nooks, nap pods and relaxation/meditation rooms. Do you allow yourself some down time if you start to feel super sleepy during the day? Your body is trying to tell you what it needs!

Reduce sensory overload. Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute recommends improving the physical comfort of the workspace with regards to factors such as noise, air quality, lighting, and basic office ergonomics. When we are uncomfortable, it increases stress, weakens physical and mental health, and lowers our productivity. How is your work environment? Your home? Your car?

Go green. Indoor plants purify the air and can have a calming effect. Some easy-to-grow choices include spider plants and philodendrons.

Do you have other ideas for reducing stress, boosting energy or increasing productivity?

Source: “5 Ways to Thrive at Work,” by Nicola Bridges, PARADE Magazine, Sunday, November 5, 2017

 

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Category : Blog &Health

Gratitude Is Good for Us

 

We all know that saying “thank you” is good manners. But did you know that being truly grateful is actually good for your health?

Needing to give thanks and be thanked is as vital to us as needing to be respected and feeling connected to others. In fact, gratitude helps build community, experts believe, because when we appreciate the goodness we receive, we feel compelled to give back.

Establishing an actual gratitude ritual improves our outlook and even our physical health in numerous ways:

We feel happier. Robert Emmons is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and is a pioneer in the field of gratitude research. In one of his studies, subjects who wrote down one thing they were grateful for every day for just three weeks reported being 25% happier for six full months afterward. In another study, people who wrote thank-you letters to someone who had done something important for them (but were never properly thanked) reported significantly decreased symptoms of depression for as long as a month later.

We enjoy better health. A gratitude practice has been linked to improved kidney function, reduced blood pressure, a drop in stress hormone levels, and a stronger heart. This is likely because when we truly appreciate our health, we take better care of ourselves. Grateful people avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, exercise an average of 33% more, and sleep an extra 30 minutes per night.

We have more energy. In Emmons’s gratitude journal studies, participants who regularly wrote down things they felt thankful for consistently reported feeling increased vitality. (Control subjects who kept a general diary enjoyed no such increase.) No solid conclusion was reached as to why this is, but it may have to do with their increased physical health. When we feel better, we have more energy. I personally think our mental state has as much to do with it as physical health. It’s very common for people with depression to feel lethargic. On the other hand, being in a great mood is very energizing!

We’re more resilient. When we consistently appreciate kindness and the good things around us, we rewire our brains to seek out the positive in any situation, even dire ones. That makes us better at recovering from loss or trauma. “A grateful stance toward life is relatively immune to both fortune and misfortune,” Emmons says. We truly count our blessings instead of only seeing the negatives.
We are nicer. When someone expresses appreciation, the recipient experiences a surge of dopamine. When we feel good about doing good, it makes us want to do more good! So when we thank a loved one, a neighbor or a coworker, he or she feels grateful in return, and the back and forth continues. We almost can’t help but pay gratitude forward!

We improve relationships. Similarly, a large study showed that people in a partnership who felt appreciated were more likely to appreciate their partner in return, and enjoyed longer lasting relationships. If we are grateful for the things that are going well, we are calmer and less likely to fly into fight-or-flight mode when something challenging comes up. We can’t be thankful and resentful at the same time.

How to Journal

One of the best ways to experience the rewards of being grateful is to write a gratitude journal. Emmons says that recording our thoughts, whether by hand or electronically, helps us focus on them. That which we focus on grows. Here’s how to grow the goodness of gratitude:

Create a journal that’s specifically for reflecting on gratitude. Have a special notebook or a separate file/document on your computer.
Write consistently. It doesn’t have to be every day, but it does need to be at least once or twice a week.

Be a little deep. A simple list of nice thoughts is not very inspiring, and those types of journals are easy to abandon. Give some thought to what you truly appreciate, write a bit about it and really savor it.

Write freely. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. This is just for you to express your appreciation.

Think about others. This is an opportunity to think about nice things other people have done to support us. Emmons says, “It’s not all about us. This may be the most important lesson about trying to become more grateful.”

My challenge to you (and myself!) is this: in the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s start a gratitude journal. I intend to write a little each day between now and Thanksgiving (November 23) about people’s kindness and life’s gifts that I’m truly grateful for.

It doesn’t have to be much—just a sentence or two each day unless you feel particularly inspired on a day when you have more time. Are you up for it? I know it’s a busy time of year, but the benefits are many. And then we’ll have even more to be grateful for!

“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.” —Rita Schiano

Source: “What Gratitude Can Do for You,” by Louisa Kamps, in TIME Special Edition: “Mindfulness: The New Science of Health and Happiness”

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Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

On Being Spontaneous

 

Here in St. Augustine, autumn weather has finally arrived. Refreshing cooler, drier air gives us a much-needed break from the uncomfortable sticky heat of summer.

One day on Facebook, a friend remarked how absolutely gorgeous it was outside, and encouraged everyone to get out and enjoy. A friend of hers replied “I would, but no time. On my way to yoga!”

That same day, another friend posted a photo of her adorable cat curled up on her lap, and asked, “how can I possibly leave to go work out?”

I was struck with a “Seize the Day!” reaction. Maybe you don’t have to leave to workout right this minute, I thought. Maybe if a pet or a loved one is offering us a moment of perfect, genuine affection, we could just allow ourselves the time to take it in with appreciation.

Maybe instead of rushing to an indoor yoga class, on a particularly beautiful day we could go for a nice walk and do some gentle stretching afterward at home. Or do our own impromptu yoga routine outdoors!

I mean, I understand the importance of setting goals and being disciplined. If you’re committed to a yoga practice or workout routine, I’m not suggesting that you consistently blow it off to indulge in whimsical pursuits.

But don’t we all say life is short, and it’s the small, quality moments that count? Can we allow ourselves a little flexibility to be human BEings instead of human “doings”?

My Seize the Day attitude was put to the test about two days later. I was exercising on my garage elliptical, enjoying a pretty good workout thanks to the cooler temperatures. I spied a neighbor across the street who is only in town part of the time. I had a little thank you gift for him, and I hadn’t been able to connect to give it to him in an embarrassingly long time.

He was outside starting to put a piece of furniture together. Then his partner drove up. Now I had a chance to deliver the gift and say hi to both of them! But I didn’t want to interrupt my great workout. Besides, I had a full day planned, and I would have to “ruin” my perfectly ordered schedule if I interrupted myself to go across the street.

Could I be that spontaneous?

I decided yes. If I would advise others to enjoy the small moments that life presents to us, then I needed to be flexible enough to do the same. I paused the elliptical, ran inside and got the gift, and went over and enjoyed a wonderful, short visit with my neighbors. It was actually perfect timing, as they had questions about hurricane damage and roof repair options.

I was able to modify my schedule easily. I completed my workout with a happy heart and rearranged my day a little to accommodate the slightly later finish time.

This is just a small, somewhat silly example of creating time to experience joy. The point is, I always have a to-do list. I often feel anxiety about getting everything done to the best of my ability in the time I have available to me. I feel like I can’t relax and be happy until later, after a sufficient number of items is checked off my list. And that IS silly.

It’s a beautiful day. Whether you’re doing something on your list or modifying your list to allow for spontaneity—I hope you, and I will appreciate the beautiful moments we have in this day.

 

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Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

When “Healthy” Habits Aren’t

 

I applaud anyone who makes a commitment to improving their wellness with healthy lifestyle changes.

But what is “healthy”? It isn’t always as simple as it sounds! It’s certainly possible to overdo it with exercise, which leads to injury or to make dietary changes only to find out that today’s recommendation is tomorrow’s no-no.

The information is a growing, changing body of knowledge, and the best we can do is stay informed and be flexible (literally!). I also think it’s a fallacy to believe that one ideal will work equally well for everyone. For example, many people like eating small amounts of food several times a day rather than three bigger meals. But some folks really don’t care for that, or don’t find it practical, and that’s OK! Or, if everyone you know is into an exercise class that doesn’t appeal to you, do something that YOU enjoy instead!

And take everyone’s advice—even mine!—with a grain of salt. (Just not too much salt because, you know, watch your sodium intake.) Here’s a fun list from an article I read recently about habits that might seem supportive of good health, but really aren’t.

Brushing our teeth right after we eat. It might seem like it would be a good idea to brush immediately after eating, before the bacteria has a chance to multiply and do any damage. But the Academy of General Dentistry says if we eat or drink something that’s acidic like citrus, tomatoes, or soda, brushing within 30 minutes can actually “scratch” the acid right into the enamel of our teeth. This helps erode the enamel and leaves us susceptible to more harm. Better to rinse with water immediately after eating, and wait a half hour to brush.

Avoiding fat. For years “experts” told us if we wanted to lose unwanted pounds and maintain a healthy weight, we needed to eliminate fat from our diet. But selections low in fat are usually loaded with sugars and salt to make them palatable. And not eating enough fat causes other problems, from dry skin and constipation, to difficulty absorbing fat-soluble vitamins and even decreased brain function. See a nutritionist to get the latest science-based information on balancing healthy nutrients in your diet, which might include some fats like olive oil (and even butter!), certain nuts and seeds, and avocado.

Always putting our best face forward. While lashing out is never a welcome reaction, it’s not good to stuff down our feelings either. Sometimes feeling angry or irritated is appropriate, and holding it in can increase our chances of developing depression, high blood pressure, increased pain sensitivity and other ailments. When the time is right (usually not in the heat of the moment), there are healthy ways to engage in constructive dialog, such as “When you did X, it made me feel Y.” Let’s always try to offer solutions or alternatives.

Reusing grocery totes. OK, taking our own bags to the store is actually a great thing to do! But we need to wash them regularly!! And putting them in the dryer can help kill bacteria. If we don’t wash them, they get pretty gross.

Exercise—when we do our favorite workout ALL the time. If we do the same routine every time, we run the risk of injuring ourselves from stressing the same muscles over and over again. It’s far better to mix it up. We reduce the chance of overuse injury, and we really benefit from alternating cardio, weights/resistance, flexibility, and balance work.

Stretching before working out. Theories about stretching have really changed over the years. The most current research shows that stretching while muscles are cold could strain or tear them, and stretching before an athletic event can leave some joints more lax—which leads to injury. Better to warm up a bit slowly before more rigorous exercise, and stretch after our workouts while our muscles are still warm.

Source: “Healthy Habits that Can Haunt You,” by Stacey Colino, “Parade” Magazine, September 24, 2017

 

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

Do You Need a Tech Time Out?

 

 

We hear a lot about cleansing detox programs these days. Many see the value in eating clean, ridding our bodies of pollutants that cause inflammation, and flushing out toxins.

Have you ever considered how cleansing it might be to give our brains a break from technology and devices?

Checking emails, texts and social media gives us a shot of dopamine similar to other drugs and pleasurable behaviors. So it’s easy to get into the habit of overdoing it. And, as with other addictive habits, too much tech time is hard on our brains. It keeps us stimulated.

It might be wise to cut back and give our minds some rest—and time for different kinds of input and experiences. But how?

A book by Nancy Colier titled “Power of Off” outlines a tech detox plan that focuses on the psychology behind why we might have an unhealthy attachment to technology. Rather than trying simply to quit or cut back just because we think we ought to, Colier recommends peeling back layers of what’s really motivating us to overdo it.

By reflecting on our reasons, we can more easily make changes to our behavior. She suggests the next time you want to check your phone stop yourself and ask—am I doing this out of habit? Do I really NEED to check it right now? If your answers are yes and no respectively, redirect yourself to do something else. Because your habit is impulsive, almost more involuntary than meaningful.

The next step is to think about how you would feel if you didn’t check your phone. Would you feel bored? Would you be anxious? Are we distracting ourselves from something uncomfortable? For example, if you’re supposed to be studying or writing a blog, do you check emails, texts or social media just to give yourself a break from the work? But when you really reflect on it—is it a quick, pleasant break, or is it really interfering with your focus?

People who commit to giving up technology at least part of the time enjoy significant benefits. For example, if you really did need a break from working or studying, what if you went for a quick walk outside instead? You’d get fresh air and vitamin D, a little exercise and a chance to clear your head. If we check our phones every time we ride an elevator or wait in line, we miss opportunities to rest our brains so we have more mental energy available when we need it.

Right before bed is another time to put tech in time out. Devices keep our brains stimulated, and we need to wind down. If we listen to music, read an old-fashioned book, or talk to each other (if you live alone, call a friend rather than text her or him). All of these help us feel calmer and more connected to real people.

Here are two other ways to detox:

Make the first hour of each day after waking completely tech-free. Checking our email first thing in the morning puts us in a reactive state, which can make us more anxious throughout the day.
Try to enjoy the moment when you’re at an event. Put down your device. We get so caught up in recording our lives that we forget to enjoy them.

Source: “The Health Nut,” by Amy Brightfield, Better Homes & Gardens, August 2017

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth

How Organized Are Your Health Records?

 

Hurricane Irma was a reminder that it’s important to have “important documents” both safe and handy. But actually, this is really important all the time.

Recently I had my legal end-of-life documents rewritten, and my attorney gave me a binder to organize copies of every legal, financial and logistical thing that my designates would have to deal with if I became incapacitated.

We all hope this won’t ever happen. But then when natural disaster, accident or serious illness strikes, it can be sudden and unexpected! And the best thing we can do is be prepared by getting our stuff as organized as we can when life is calm.

When it comes to medical information, we need to be our own expert organized self-advocate. No one is more vested in keeping an accurate, up-to-date record of your health than you! Especially in today’s climate of specialists, no one doctor may have your complete picture.

Under the HIPAA law, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and laboratories are required to provide you with copies of your records within 30 days of you requesting them. You have to specify that you want everything: doctor exam notes, test results, discharge summaries if you’ve been hospitalized. Read everything and make sure it’s thorough and accurate.

Then create some kind of binder or organizer for your records. Make copies for anyone you designate to be your surrogate or at least make sure everyone knows how to access the information you compile. And consider creating some kind of abbreviated version of these records that you can give to any new health care provider you need to work with.

Consider having these records in virtual storage as well. There are many programs and apps that facilitate organization and allow controlled access to your medical files. A general program like Evernote allows you to scan documents and store them in a virtual “notebook” (evernote.com). Other apps that are medical record specific include healthspek.com, healthvault.com, freehealthtrack.com, mymedicalapp.com.

It’s also a good idea to carry some information with you at all times. You probably carry your insurance cards in your wallet. You can add another small card with important information for emergency personnel such as medications you take, allergies you have, medical conditions they need to be aware of, past surgeries, your blood type, your primary care physician’s contact information.

Most smart phones have emergency keys on them that allow you to store this information and permit emergency personnel to access that information even if your phone is locked. Here’s a link to how to set it up on an iPhone: http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/09/24/how-to-set-up-your-emergency-medical-id-with-ios-8s-new-health-app

We never know what life will throw at us. I hope you never need to have this information because you can’t speak for yourself. But it gives tremendous peace of mind to have records organized and available. And if anyone ever does need it, believe me, they will thank you for your foresight!

Source: “Organize Your Health Records,” Better Homes and Gardens, August 2017

Category : Blog &Health

Recovering from a Hurricane

I survived staying put through my second hurricane in eleven months and, like most Floridians, I am now regrouping and recovering from Irma.

For me, the damage was largely emotional. I lost power at home for just 3 days and found respite in my office with A/C and working outlets to recharge devices. My business sign blew down US 1 in tiny pieces. A total of 3 shingles were pulled off the roof of my house. Small branches broke and many of my plants looked like they had taken a beating. Because they had!

Although physical damage was minimal, I felt like I had taken a beating as well. I was already working through a couple of personal and financial crises when the storm approached. Even though I deliberately avoided sensationalized news outlets and checked in only periodically with data-based weather websites, tracking the storm’s changing forecasts was unnerving. Uncertainty is like that.

When the storm raged outside, I reminded myself that fretting doesn’t help. I focused on my breathing. I imagined that my guardian angel was hugging the outside of the house, literally wrapping her wings around the structure for protection. And I visualized the inside of the house being so completely filled to the brim with love, that there was no way the house could collapse. I would calm myself by self-talk like: instead of wondering “what if” something awful happens, imagine instead “what if” everything is perfectly fine?

I would start to feel pretty safe and optimistic. And then that small voice in my head would pipe up and ask, yea but what if a piece of the roof does fly off? Which part of the house do you run to? Do you just go and save yourself, or do you make sure the kids wake up and get to a safe area as well? Do you just go to the nearest closet, or do you make sure you grab the important documents and a gallon of water on the way?

Then I would repeat the process of breathing and meditation and visualization. I dozed off. Then my phone blasted me awake with the warning siren. It was a flash flood warning. I was thankful it wasn’t a tornado warning.

And that’s why I had trouble remaining calm—because the threat was real. I was in fight-or-flight mode. I did my best not to make it worse with unnecessary worry. But our nervous systems are hard-wired to keep us safe, and that means being alert when our nervous systems feel like it’s important for us to be alert.

After the threat has passed, we have to deal with the aftermath. There’s a chemical process that happens with re-balancing adrenaline and cortisol and all the stress hormones. If you’ve ever been in a car accident or had a bad fall, you might recall the feelings of shock and soreness afterward, sometimes days afterward. These processes happen after any kind of trauma.

Self-care is especially important at a time like this. I re-shared a post on Facebook yesterday addressing the possibility of adrenal fatigue—when our adrenal glands are too stressed to help us cope with stress. The author writes, “You could feel some of the following symptoms: more fatigued, then normal, more emotional, less ability to handle stress, have low back pain, hormonal imbalance, restless sleep, low sex drive, dizziness, and have less strength and stamina physically.”

Here are the tips she shared for dealing with adrenal fatigue:

Sleep. Get some rest. If we feel extra tired, we need to give our bodies what they require by going to bed earlier, sleeping in later, and/or taking naps.

Go easy on the exercise. You might be eager to get back to your workout routine, but this is not the time to push for new personal bests. Go a little slower, push a little less, allow more time for things like yoga or Tai Chi.

Release emotions. Cry, journal, meditate, have a massage or reflexology or acupuncture session. While we all want to “get back to normal,” it’s not “normal” to go through a night wondering—with good reason—whether our home/community/livelihood/way of life will be destroyed. We need time to heal.

Take supplements. There are supplements to help adrenal glands recover. While this is outside of my scope of practice, I think it’s worthwhile to ask your doctor or nutritionist about it. And certainly, eating healthy to give our bodies the nutrients we need to for strength and wellness is always a good idea.

The article concludes: “Ignoring symptoms and just pushing through will only make you more exhausted in the long run…. When you go through a stressful incident or experience trauma you need to let yourself heal and recover.”

I agree. If you need solitude, give yourself permission. If you need to laugh with a friend, reach out to someone. People are stressed right now. We need to be gentle and kind to each other—and to ourselves!

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth