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5 Reasons Hibernating During Winter Is Good for You

mental health, Uncategorized, wellness

The winter blahs can certainly get you feeling sleepy, lethargic, and downright uninspired. It’s cold and dark, and people tend to get worn down from the holiday festivities. Rather than fighting the feeling that tells you to hibernate, why not listen to your body?

According to Ayurvedic doctor Virender Sodhi, “Your body is nature’s pharmacy, it has everything you need to be healthy.” This refers to the process of listening to the signals that your body gives you and then acting on them. So, what does your body actually need when it’s saying, “Binge eat!”, “Stay indoors!”, or “Crawl under a pile of blankets and watch rom coms!”?

 

 Rest More

If you follow nature’s cues, days are shorter and nights are longer. This could indicate that a longer sleep time is necessary. When you feel tired and yet it’s only 8:30 p.m., that’s not time to muscle through and keep working, it’s time to feel your body and recognize ‘If I feel like it’s a lot later than 8:30, what can I do about this? Maybe I should go to bed?’

Getting a full night’s rest isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s a smart way to feel better and be healthier. A sure sign you need more sleep is if you are waking up already tired. Aim to get to bed early enough that you can wake up on your own without an alarm clock.

Wrap Up

Crawling under layers of blankets can be a sign that your body is just not at its peak temperature. For some people, a warm snuggly blanket feels like a hug from a friend. If you check in with why you want that blanket on, maybe you’re trying to soothe yourself or maybe you are actually cold. When you have that desire to start snuggling under blankets, check to see what the temperature of your fingers and toes is. Then check your ears and nose. If these extremities are actually physically cold, it’s no wonder you want a blanket!

But what if you’re not cold? What if everything feels warm and you still have this desire? Maybe you need the emotional support a hug or the physical touch of a snuggle. A massage might be in order.

 Eat Well

Humans seem to be slaves to their food cravings in these wintry months. This is a time to listen to your body. Be a detective. Think about what is it asking you to eat and then find a natural healthy alternative. If you’re craving potato chips, you could try plantain chips instead. If you’re craving chocolate, you could try carob mint bites. Your body is trying to tell you something; however, if your pattern in the past has been a quick hit of sugar, starch, or salt to fix this craving, you need to pay close attention to retrain those patterns. Winter is a time for warm, hearty, and healthy foods like stews and curries.

Go Outside

The days are shorter and sometimes this means your morning run or your evening dog walk are missed. Instead of removing these moments where you get fresh air, natural light, and exercise from your day, try to make time to get outside regularly during your lunch break or in the late afternoon. Schedule it! It is easier to accomplish something when it is on your calendar. The time outside will help you to feel less sloth-like.

 Spend Some Time Alone

The last thing you might consider when you are wanting to hibernate is that it may be a sign that you need some alone time. The holidays are filled with parties, dinners, shopping malls, and airports packed with people. After this overstimulation it’s okay for you to want some time alone. Just because you love your family or enjoy your colleagues, it doesn’t mean you want to be with them all day, every day. If you’re feeling the need for space, give it to yourself. Alone and lonely are not the same. Spending some time alone can feel luxurious.

Cocooning in the winter means you can be freshly reborn in spring. Be gentle with yourself when you feel lazy. It doesn’t help at all to berate yourself for your lack of energy or inspiration. Stay cozy, fuel yourself with good food, and give yourself big bear hug. When you are ready, you can emerge revitalized and ready for great things.

 

Why losing weight is so hard and gaining weight is so easy.

health, nutrition, self care, therapy, Uncategorized, weight, wellness

You just enjoyed the holidays and come to find out that you gained 5 pounds. In your disbelief, you quickly curse the Weight Gods for being so cruel. Sound familiar? This was me the last couple of months. A little cookie baking, eating the holiday yummies, packed it on quick. This inspired me to discuss the seemingly unbalanced equation of weight gain vs. weight loss, the facts that surround the issue and how losing the 5 pounds feels so much harder than gaining them:

FACT 1 – It is Simple Math: To maintain your ideal weight, you need to eat as many calories as you burn in one day. The balanced equation looks like this:

Calories Eaten = Basal Metabolic Rate + Physical Activity

If what you eat equals more than what your body uses, you will gain weight. In the situation of a holiday, it is likely that you eat more unhealthy food than normal and possibly get less exercise, resulting in an imbalanced equation, with a higher number of calories on the eaten side than on the burned side. That imbalance over the course of a few days can easily represent a few pounds.

FACT 2 – A Pound is a Pound is a Pound: One pound of body mass represents 3,500 calories. Regardless, if you are trying to lose a pound or gain a pound, the pound will always represent 3,500 calories. So, if you eat 3,500 calories more than your body requires, you will gain 1 pound. Similarly, if you eat 3,500 calories less than your body requires, you will lose 1 pound.

FACT 3 – Exercise is Weight Discriminating: Whether you are 120 pounds or 175 pounds, you will gain one pound from eating 3,500 calories more than you need. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold true for burning calories. How much you weigh actually dictates how many calories you burn per hour. The more you weigh, the more you burn, and as a result, the easier it is to lose the pound…sound crazy? It is true.

FACT 4 – Aging Contributes to Weight Gain: As if aging doesn’t contribute enough to unfavorable things, it also contributes to weight gain. As we get older, our metabolism slows down, requiring us to need less food and calories. If you don’t modify your caloric intake as you get older to reflect this change in metabolism, you will start to see weight gain.

The Bad News: Unfortunately, eating an extra couple of unhealthy snacks or drinking a few extra glasses of wine can happen in a blink of an eye. However, the time and energy required to burn off those calories takes a lot more effort. We have provided a chart on what 1,000 calories looks like on both sides in the chart below (remember, it is 3,500 calories that make up a pound).

The Good News: Whether it is rapid or slow weight gain that you have experienced, losing the extra weight can be tackled through two avenues (and should be): calorie reduction and exercise. Choosing to lose weight through both calorie reduction and exercise will accelerate the process. If for seven days you burn 200 extra calories through exercise and reduce your food intake by 300 calories each day, you will lose that extra pound. Further, it is a lot easier than trying to either reduce your caloric intake by 3,500 calories (which is physically impossible) or burning an extra 3,500 calories during exercise (which takes a ridiculous amount of time and energy).

What you Can Do: Assess whether your weight gain was a rapid gain due to atypical behavior (E.g., vacationing) or a longer-term gain. If it was a rapid gain, there is a good chance you will lose the weight by returning to your normal habits. You might have to be a little strict for a day or two, but you shouldn’t feel like a major overhaul is in order. If, however, you have gained the weight over a period of time, assess your habits and think about what has changed in your life. Have you stopped exercising? Have you let your eating habits go? Have you hit a milestone birthday? Once you can assess the reality of your situation, remember the equation: to maintain balance, burn the calories you eat.

 

ELM Mental Wellness Nutrition Counseling is in depth and lifelong. It begins with multiple assessments including family history of eating patterns and health risk, habits-routines-rituals, emotional connection with food. Changing our dietary patterns is grueling. I help clients with meal planning and shopping, self monitoring, goal setting, stimulus control, problem solving, cognitive restructuring, and relapse prevention to move toward a state of lifetime optimal health.

 

Secrets for a Wellness Inspired Holiday Season

Exercise, health, holiday, mental health, positive thinking, self care, stress, Uncategorized, weight, wellness

‘Tis the season to spend time with friends, family, and loved ones – and to celebrate, indulge, and be merry.

But, the holiday cheer can also invite quite a setback in your mind-body health goals and wellness routine.  To avoid the stress and weight gain of the season – and remain light in your mind and body – follow my guide to indulge, without losing your healthy edge.

Let me show you how to:

  • EAT healthy and in moderation.
  • MOVE your body, stretch, and get your heart rate up.
  • DE-STRESS and balance your emotions during the busy chaos of the holidays.

How do you enjoy the holiday season without falling into the trap of weight gain, sugar crashes, and poor choices?  Sticking to a healthy plan is important.  However, depriving yourself of certain foods can have negative results.  Restrictive eating can lead to binge eating as well as disliking healthy foods by associating them with something you ‘have’ to do.  When it’s time to pile food on your plate, eat what you know you love, guilt free, but keep this advice in mind:

  • If smaller plates are an option, use them. You’ll fill larger plates just because room is available.  Second trips are better than overeating on the first round.
  • If you’re trying something new, only take a bite-size portion.
  • Eat a snack before you arrive so you aren’t at the onset of the feast.
  • You fall in love with your Aunt’s new dessert and even though you’re too full to enjoy it, you’re tempted to have a second portion. Instead of grabbing the last bite in fear of not eating it again until next year, ask her to email the recipe out to the whole family for those who can’t wait another year.

 

Maintain an Exercise Plan

Holiday gatherings often consist of sitting, eating, talking, drinking, and more eating.  We often find ourselves sitting for longer periods of time because we enjoy the conversation.  Your legs want to move, the food is on the counter, and off you go for food you’re not even hungry for.

This year, try some of these actions with the family to reduce the march to the kitchen:

  • Go for a 5-10 minute walk after each meal to aid digestion. Increase that walk to 15 minutes after every meal to help lower blood sugar levels, especially after eating holiday sweets.  You may be surprised at those who will join you for your walk!
  • Run/walk the stairs in your home.
  • Organize a family yoga session, check out YouTube sessions’.
  • Go for a family hike.
  • Bring a board game to the family feast. Although you’re still sitting, this can provide some excitement and victory movement.  Plus, it’ better than just eating.
  • Shovel snow
  • Ice skate
  • Make snow angels
  • Dance to Christmas music
  • Walk the neighborhood or mall to see the holiday decorations.

 

Stress and fatigue are often unwelcome guests during the holiday season.  Stress might join you while cooking a holiday meal, decorating your house in preparation for a party, or shopping at a crowded mall.  It can manifest as aches and pains, prevent you from sleeping through the night, and dampen your spirits during the holidays.  You can beat back stress, and the inevitable fatigue it causes on your body.

Focus on the Positive – bring your attention to the experiences you most enjoy about the holidays.  Try going into each holiday gathering or interaction with a positive and loving intention.  It’s easier to maintain a positive attitude when you arrive in that mental state.

Spend Time Outdoors in Nature – spending time outdoors in nature can help enhance mental clarity, energize your mind and body, and connect you to your loved ones as well as the environment.

Let Go of the Past – pretend you are a newcomer to your own family.  Approach them with curiosity and excitement.  Forget past transgressions, arguments, tears.  You are not condoning past wrongs by letting them go; you are just saying they cannot hurt you anymore.

Take Time for Yourself – the holidays can be a time when we put everyone else’s needs first.  It’s easy to lose yourself in the chaos of the season.  Take some time to reflect on what practices you do to keep you balanced and peaceful throughout the year and make sure to adhere to them when things get crazy.

Stay in the Present – what is the best gift you could give to yourself and others at your holiday gathering?  Being present.  Cultivate appreciation for your friends and family in your life at the moment.

Hold realistic Expectations – if you become frustrated that the holidays aren’t going according to plan, remember there is no such thing as a perfect family or perfect holiday.  What can you learn and how can you grow from your family?

Maintain Your Routine – as much as possible, maintain your typical sleeping, eating, and exercise schedules.  Your vitality can be weakened by changes in routine, which can lead to feelings of anxiety or irritation.

Make Clear Requests – your friends and family won’t know what’s important to you unless you voice it.  Clearly stating your needs can help to reduce holiday stress and develop closer family ties.

Practice Gratitude – gratitude is a powerful force that you can use to expand your happiness, improve your health, and – you guessed it – help you cope with stress.  Organize a time when your family sits down to share what they love about the holidays, or about individual members of the family.

Say Cheese – no one can deny the mind-body connection.  So, it you’re looking for a way out of stress, you’ll need to smile more.  Organize a family photo shoot or make sure to have your camera on-hand when everyone first arrives to the holiday meal, gathering, or party.  Capture those first hugs, ask for the best grins, and snap all those treasured moments.  You can revisit them mid-year to remember how great the holidays can actually be.

Make Restful Sleep a Priority – good quality rest is one of the pillars of healthy living.  In rhythm with the sun going down and birds flocking to their nests, we should also go to sleep early, ideally before 10pm.  If you are a late riser, try shifting your bedtime closer to 10pm by 15 minutes per night.  This will give you the time to enjoy nature’s early morning calm, ever-more important during the stressful holiday season.

The Secret to making your holiday inspiring is actually quite simple.  Be inspiring yourself.  As with any change, you must be the change you want to see in others.

All of us at ELM Mental Wellness wish you and your family a Safe, Happy, Inspiring Holiday Season!

 

 

 

How to Nourish your body so you can eliminate anxiety.

emotion, health, mental health, nutrition, stress, Uncategorized, wellness

There are many possible causes of anxiety, from trauma to medication side effects.  Many medical conditions also mimic symptoms of anxiety: thyroid disorders, and other hormonal imbalances, diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, and heart conditions.  “Much of our increasing emotional distress stems from easily correctable malfunctions in our brain and body chemistry-malfunctions that are primarily the result of critical, unmet nutritional needs,” The Mood Cure, Julia Ross (2004,3).

Improved nutrition, lifestyle changes, exercise, stress reduction techniques, supplements, and mind-body practices are all part of a natural approach to anxiety and other mood problems.  James Lake, integrative psychiatrist and author of Textbook of Integrative Mental Health (2007), supports these methods for mild to moderate mental health symptoms, as do many other holistic practitioners and researchers.

Why use a natural approach? Perhaps you already feel strongly about taking a natural approach to health whenever possible and want to learn more.  Or maybe your anxiety was so severe and you were so desperate that you turned to medications, but now they aren’t working as well or as expected, or perhaps they do help but you don’t like some of the side effects.  Perhaps you know deep down that addressing the root cause is the way to go.  Whatever the reason, if you’re looking for natural options for combating anxiety, you’ve come to the right place.

Using natural approaches in the form of foods and nutrients can address the root cause of your anxiety, alleviate symptoms, and keep them from returning.  For example, if your anxiety is due to a vitamin B6 deficiency, it makes the most sense to boost your levels of vitamin B6.  This will also help raise your levels of serotonin, which could improve your mood, sleep, cravings, and, for women, PMS symptoms.  It would also be important to look at why your vitamin B6 is low to start with.  Maybe you aren’t getting enough in your diet, aren’t digesting well, are under a great deal of stress, or have depleted levels from taking birth control pills.  This is just one example of a nutrient deficiency that can contribute to anxiety.

Good-quality food is the number one priority.  Taking supplemental nutrients to correct imbalances is ideally a short-term approach.  The exceptions would be if you have an inherited tendency to low levels of some nutrients, or you can’t or won’t take steps to ease high levels of stress.

It’s also important to remember that we are all unique, with individual biochemistry, imbalances, and life circumstances.  There isn’t a one-size-fits-all magic solution, even among natural approaches. By eating better, reducing stress, and addressing any nutritional imbalances, you’ll also see an overall improvement in your general health and well-being.

Eating real, whole, good quality food is the foundation of my work, and any program to prevent and alleviate mental health issues such as anxiety, obsessive tendencies, worry, panic attacks, and depression, as well as maintain optimal mental health. This approach, combined with eating according to your own unique needs, will help calm your anxious mind.

How Opposite Day will improve your Health.

creativity, health, learning, mental health, problem solving, self care, stress, therapy, Uncategorized, wellness

Ever feel stuck in a rut–doing the same thing day in and day out? Then, take advice from Seinfeld’s George Costanza and do the opposite of what you normally do. It can be as simple as taking a different route to work or seeing a movie you normally wouldn’t be interested in. Often, we can be too judgmental or too set in our ways to give something new a try. If you tend to jam-pack your schedule with events and activities, try scheduling in some quiet time at home. If you are more of a homebody, try something more adventurous that you normally wouldn’t do. You never know what you might discover if you start making yourself get out of your comfort zone. Intellectual Wellness is achieved through self-directed behavior focused on learning. Any activity that inspires and stimulates your willingness, desire and intent to learn, explore and expand your mind intellectually in any way supports healthy Intellectual Wellness. It also means being free intellectually to learn something new.

Intellectual Wellness is also about your willingness and curiosity to acquire new information, while continuously seeking out new challenges to expand and improve your knowledge and skills. This often develops a sense of awareness and satisfaction. Some people find it gratifying to share their skills and knowledge with others.

Research studies show that maintaining a healthy level of Intellectual Wellness helps keep the brain-mind cognition healthy.

Few Questions to check your intellectual wellness:

  • I am interested in learning new things.
  • I enjoy attending lectures, plays, musical performances, museums, galleries, and/or libraries.
  • I enjoy creative and stimulating mental activities/games.
  • I make an effort to improve my verbal and written skills.
  • I am able to analyze, synthesize, and see more than one side of an issue.

 

Methods to grow your intellectual wellness:

  • Continuously exercise your mind while remaining clam and tranquil.
  • Create development by continuously acquiring, applying, and expressing positive and constructive critical thinking.
  • Keep an active mind through mental activity stimulation.
  • Open to new ideas.
  • Be motivated to master new skills and seeking out new challenges.
  • Develop and maintain a continuous sense of humor, creativity, and curiosity.
  • Reach your own correct decision, make up your own mind, in your own interest when there is a choice or a problem.
  • Reading is one of the great ways to learn.
  • Start a new hobby.

We don’t have to spend hours on our Intellectual Wellness each and every day to reap significant benefits. Just a few minutes a day, several days a week will get the job done. Intellectual Wellness is the wellness aspect that adds extra spark to our lives, and if we take on these projects with a sense of adventure, we’ll notice an amazing difference in no time!

It is better to stretch and challenge our minds with intellectual and creative pursuits than to become self-satisfied and unproductive.  It is better to identify potential problems and choose appropriate courses of action based on available information than to wait, worry, and contend with major concerns later. national wellness institute

Basically, if you’re learning something new, you’re focusing on your Intellectual Wellness!

Traveling the ELM Mental Wellness path, we’ll explore issues related to problem solving, creativity, and learning. As you develop your intellectual curiosity, you’ll actively strive to expand and challenge your mind by learning to value vision, wonder, and lifelong learning.

Spiritual Wellness is a personal matter.

health, mental health, positive thinking, relationships, self care, spirituality, stress, therapy, Uncategorized, wellness

The spiritual dimension recognizes our search for meaning and purpose in human existence. It includes the development of a deep appreciation for the depth and expanse of life and natural forces that exist in the universe. Your search will be characterized by a peaceful harmony between internal personal feelings and emotions and the rough and rugged stretches of your path. While traveling the path, you may experience many feelings of doubt, despair, fear, disappointment and dislocation, as well as feelings of pleasure, joy, happiness and discovery. These are all important experiences and components to your search and will be displayed in the value system you will adapt to bring meaning to your existence. You’ll know you’re becoming spiritually well when your actions become more consistent with your beliefs and values, resulting in a “world view.”

 

Evaluate your own spiritual wellness with this brief quiz.

  • Do I make time for relaxation in my day?
  • Do I make time for meditation and/or prayer?
  • Do my values guide my decisions and actions?
  • Am I accepting of the views of others?

 

9 Ways To Improve Your Spiritual Wellness:

  • Explore you spirituality – When you are examining the core set of your beliefs and principles, you should put forward questions like: Do I know myself? What do I have to realize in my life? If you are persistent you will find the puzzles of your life and realize your innermost goal.
  • Pray – All you need to do is find a neat and comfortable place to send your prayers.
  • Clear out the mind garbage – Consider writing down, at the end of the day, your thoughts; the things you wanted to say but didn’t have the chance or simply write down how your day passed. Sharing will give you a sense of relievement and calmness will take you from there.
  • Yoga – It will relief the physical and emotional tension. All the things like bad emotions and feelings that interrupt your wellbeing will leave permanently.
  • Finding the purpose – There is saying: The most precious lessons in life aren’t learned in school. And it’s true. In every failure, there is a hidden lesson we must learn. This is how we evolve spiritually. We shouldn’t run away from obstacles and evade them as they will ruin us. They have come to pass.
  • Think positively – People complain all the time. What they do is stuffing their mind with limiting thoughts that ruin their life eventually. Being concentrated on the positive side of life, you will be a step closer to happiness. It will flourish your growth and make you forget the worries.
  • Go incognito – When you are incognito, it’s that special time when you can analyze the situation. You can practice it whenever you feel like it. When you are incognito, you can meditate, practice yoga or apply other useful activities.
  • Travel – Visiting other places is beneficial for your mind. Being all by yourself in a quiet and peaceful surrounding helps you increase the connection with your inner self. Try one of your local parks!

These activities will make sure you are on the right track in improving your spiritual wellness.

ELM Mental Wellness can help guide your spiritual wellness through exploration of readiness, identifying resources, your strengths and solutions. We will explore your willingness and ability to transcend yourself in order to question the meaning and purpose in your life and the lives of others.