All posts filed under: Emotional Health

Time, Aging and Sheep

As we rejoice in a new spring of green and flowers after a VERY long winter, I am forced to see the evolution of time passing resulting in changes around me I don’t want, or like. Changes one cannot ignore. In the last year my husband and I have felt loss a bit more personally than in other years.  Our last parent lost her battle with dementia, leaving us truly the “oldest generation”,  we lost one of our groomsmen from our wedding in a plane crash, another friend my exact age passed away without warning in her sleep; a friend who baked cookies for our family every holiday passed away, leaving a void of both a friend and a cherished tradition, and two friends lost their fifty-something husbands very suddenly the same week a year apart.  And that doesn’t count the friends battling chronic illness, sudden health incidents and/or facing their own mortality. For everyone, time marches on, even when you’re desperately trying to anchor it to not move. The immortality of being 20 or …

Wisconsin aims to be first trauma-informed state; seven state agencies lead the way

Some of you know that I live in Wisconsin, and I don’t always agree with my governor, but here is a story that shows what can be done when people work together setting partisan politics aside and focusing on wellness and health for children who come from adverse childhood experiences. That’s what ACEs stands for. It is my fervent belief that unless we address this, many of the problems with kids we see have will continue to spiral like a snowball down a hill, culminating in major adult problems that run the gamut from sexual abuse to violence. What Governor Walker’s wife Tonette is doing is nothing short of a miracle. And I applaud her for it. And everyone that works within this incredible system. Every state needs to look to Wisconsin and try and duplicate what they are doing.

Illness and Childhood Trauma

Make sure you tell your physician if you’ve had childhood trauma. Ongoing adversity in childhood leads to a chronic state of “fight, flight or freeze.” Researchers at Yale recently demonstrated that when inflammatory stress hormones flood a child’s body and brain, they alter the genes that oversee our stress reactivity, re-setting the stress response to “high” for life. This increases the risk of inflammation, which manifests later in cancer, heart disease, and other autoimmune diseases, and often death decades earlier than our non-traumatized counterparts. Donna Jackson Nakazawa has studied autoimmune illness and chronic illness extensively, partly because of her own history.  She also wrote the book “The Auto-Immune Epidemic” which helped me understand my mercury toxicity much better. This new study on traumatic childhood experiences is groundbreaking and every doctor should add the questions about childhood trauma to their initial intake/history. This blog post I’m linking to below shows the power of functional medicine and intelligent questioning.  Instead of writing more of a post, I am choosing to share it in it’s entirety.  Please take …

Cravings Rewired

Psychiatrist Judson Brewer poses some fascinating thoughts on how we can turn TO our cravings to eventually lessen them.   Try using this mindfulness and see what you learn!  How often do we smoke, eat, drink without REALLY thinking about what we are doing?  Probably more often than we want to admit.  Getting curious breaks that cycle.  It works on any intrusive addictive pattern you might have. Rewire your brain and lessen the hold that food, smoking or any other obsessive behavior has on you. Try this for a few weeks, I’d be curious to know if it helps.

We compare our insides to other people’s Facebooks…

One of my favorite quotes is attributed to many. I think this wisdom is timeless. “We compare our insides to other people’s outsides”.   Spot on. And that is never more true in the era of social media, where sometimes the most unhappy people can convince themselves and others that they are happy, successful and without a care in the world.  We’ve all seen it.  Just look on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Vine, Instagram… take your pick! …here’s the thing to remember.  They are only showing you what THEY want you to see. So don’t view their posts as their life. They aren’t going to write “came home, had three drinks, drove carpool, stopped at Dairy Queen for a blizzard before dinner, and slapped my husband when he came home late because I know he’s seeing someone”. STOP COMPARING. Because it’s like comparing apples to a screwdriver — not even remotely related! You are comparing your inner thoughts, often full of self doubt, questions, and insecurity (read = NORMAL) to someone else’s made up and carefully crafted …

The Anatomy of Trust

Brené Brown, who is a researcher and best selling author whom I greatly admire, recently offered a free course called “The Anatomy of Trust”.  I decided to “take” it (it is online, link at bottom).  I found out some things about myself, and realized I have areas to work on, and areas to pat myself on the back.  But she breaks trust down using this definition, which I find really helpful: “Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.”  (Charles Feltman) This is important, as we should give our complete trust to people who we feel can honor our vulnerability.  I only have a few friends and a husband who I can say fit all these criteria. And that is true of most people as you look at the acronym and think about who in your life you trust.  Do they meet these criteria? Here is how she breaks it down, using the acronym of BRAVING to define the components of when to trust someone and also …

2016 – The year to NOT…

It’s January 1st, and for many of us the new year heralds the all too familiar “this year I’m going to (insert self critical phrase here — eg; get thinner, work out harder, ramp up my career or be a better parent)…”  STOP. Just STOP. And make this year different. Make 2016 the year you become kind to yourself.  That doesn’t mean you can’t improve your life, or strive to be a better version of your present self. Go for it! But don’t base your changes on self-criticism– because that is a guarantee of failure. Over 90% of NY resolutions fail. The math is not on your side! Besides cutting yourself some slack, make your goals realistic.  It’s fairly simple if you use the concept of “baby steps”. Pick one goal related to your desired change — I want to lose weight so I will stop drinking soda of all kinds and replace it with water this week. Next week I’ll take another small step. I want to be a better parent, so instead of …

Can 36 Questions Help You Fall in Love?

I watched an amazing TED talk the other day and was totally intrigued by her story and an article she’d stumbled on in her research that posed 36 questions.  The questions were meant to help university students bond with each other, and was written in ’97 by faculty at various universities (see original link below). What she found, is that some of the couples/pairings from the study not only became closer, they actually fell in love, one couple even getting married.  Then she did it with a close friend, and guess what?  They fell in love.  So she wrote about it and it went viral.  And her TED talk is the aftermath of what she learned. Her story is much better told by listening to her TED talk, which I’ve placed here.  You can scroll down immediately for the link to the “36 questions”, but I encourage you to watch her talk.  If you don’t have a partner/spouse, consider doing it with your best friend, roommate, or anyone you’d like to feel closer to.  You …

Fat Shaming Never Works

In fact, as you read this excellent article from Kris Gunners, who authors the website Authority Nutrition, you will see that shaming never works —  it does the exact opposite. If you know someone who is frustrated with a family member or a friend’s weight and you see them shaming that person or dictating what they should eat, show them this article and ask them to really think about what it is they’re doing to that person emotionally. I would like to thank Kris for letting me re-post this here. I have given a lot of links to his website in the past, and I would encourage you to routinely check it out. Science Confirms: “Fat Shaming” Just Makes Things Worse By Kris Gunnars, BSc | September, 2015 | There has been a lot of talk about “fat shaming” on the internet in the past few weeks. This was sparked by a couple of viral videos, one serious and the other a (bad) joke, that harshly criticized overweight people. Some believe that making overweight people feel …

We filter things through a fun house mirror.

Updated 10.2015 Women in America have an incredible hurdle to overcome when it comes to being at peace with “how they look”.  Why is this?  Due to media, we live in what one author called a “crazy funhouse mirror”, where what we think is normal is NOT NORMAL.  Let’s look at what has historically happened to play games with our minds, and maybe knowledge is the first step to self acceptance. Only 20% of American Women are satisfied with their appearance. The average American woman is 5’4″ and weighs 166 lbs. (2015 CDC statistics) Compare that with the average model, who is 5’11 and weighs 115 lbs.  Twenty years ago, the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today, she weighs 30% less! Over 50% of American women wear size 14 or larger.  Yet most clothing in stores is 14 and smaller. Plus-size models have shrunk, too. A decade ago, plus-size models averaged between size 12 and size 18. Today, the majority of plus-size models an agency boards are between size 6 …

How to talk to your daughter about her body

This was originally a blog post, and then ran in Huffington as an op ed. This is so important, I’m re-posting it. If you have ANY girls in your life, READ THIS AND REMEMBER ALL of it! Actually, this goes for boys too! How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works. Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight. If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead: “You look so healthy!” is a great one. Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.” “I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.” Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body. Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one. Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself. Don’t you dare …

Vitamin D is NOT a vitamin. But it’s critical to staying well.

Everyone should take a Vitamin D supplement.  Yes I said EVERYONE.  Especially if you’re a woman, and especially if you are over 40.  Why?  There are multiple reasons.  Optimizing your vitamin D levels should be at the top of the list for virtually everyone, regardless of your age, sex, color, or health status, as vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an astonishingly diverse array of common chronic diseases.  Let’s explore what happens in our bodies, and why I think it is CRUCIAL to check your levels with your physician and make sure your body has enough available Vitamin D3. Vitamin D is actually a group of fat-soluble secosteroids responsible for intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate.  Basically it is a neuroregulatory steroidal hormone that influences THOUSANDS of gene interactions in your body.  One example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections, as well as chronic inflammation. It produces over 200 antimicrobial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic. This is one …