Many people look forward to the holiday season and the start of a new year. It often provides an opportunity to spend quality time with family, take a few days off from work, or go on a winter vacation. But if the thought of holiday season gives you visions of stress and chaos, you are not alone. While the holiday season can be a fun and joyous time, it can also be very stressful. The combined effort of shopping, attending social events, and entertaining guests can quickly become too much to handle.
The body’s reaction to stress is meant to protect us. Our natural reactions to danger or challenge can be positive, but when we feel intense pressure or feel out of control these reactions become negative stress. The “fight or flight” response from the sympathetic nervous system occurs as we react to physical and mental changes in our equilibrium. In Chinese medicine, excessive emotional stimulation or suppression causes imbalance, thereby injuring the body and producing disease. And if you read last month’s newsletter, you know that stress is one of the things that will lower your immune system.
Here are several ways to minimize stress and anxiety so you can thoroughly enjoy this festive time of year and stay well at the same time.
Nix the Sugar
Some call this the “sugar season” which officially begins the day after Halloween and goes through New Years with many occasions to indulge in desserts, festive beverages and the like. If you want to reduce stress, sugar is one of the first things to cut out of your diet. When you’re stressed, your body releases more cortisol, a hormone responsible for helping us manage both stress and blood sugar levels. That’s because when you eat sugary foods, blood sugar levels spike, and the body must release more cortisol to balance blood sugar. The problem is that increased cortisol can also cause sleep issues, decreased immune response, headaches, and unhealthy food cravings. Additionally, rapidly fluctuating blood sugar levels cause feelings that are similar to stress, including anxiousness and fear. By eliminating foods with added sugars—like pastries, flavored yogurt, and soda—and eating more whole foods, you’ll keep your blood sugar stable, boost your immune system and will have fewer mood swings, reduced stress, and a happier body Continue reading
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June is Men’s Health Month and with Father’s Day coming up, now is a great time to stress the importance of men’s health. Let’s face it, men smoke more, drink more alcohol, make riskier choices and put off seeking healthcare. Some aren’t even aware of what their health risks are. When men are aware of health concerns important to them, they can do a better job of taking care of themselves.
Here’s why I think it’s important to discuss this topic.
- Men are 24% less likely than a woman to have visited a health care practitioner in the last year.
- Men who are overweight, obese, or physically inactive are at greater risk for high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes and other health problems.
- 40% of men are smokers compared to 9% of women. Smoking can not only cause cancer, but can cause erectile dysfunction and damage to the DNA in sperm which may lead to infertility.
- Men make up over 75% of suicide victims in the United States. Depression may be different for men. Emotional and physical tension are signs of stress and may put you at risk for anxiety, depression and other health problems.
- Over 50% of men in their 60s and as many as 90% in their 70s or older have symptoms of an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
- Men are more frequently diagnosed with serious digestive-related conditions because they are less likely to seek help for heartburn, acid reflux, and other digestive symptoms until they have become a real problem.
Making Healthier Choices
Making healthy choices includes consulting health professionals and becoming educated on the preventative measures that are important for your health. This includes diet, exercise and positive mental health. Here are a few things you can do to improve your health. Continue reading
Ancient advice for health during Winter says “Desires and mental activity should be kept quiet and subdued, as if keeping a happy secret. Stay warm, avoid the cold, and keep the skin covered.” With the cold weather, hibernation of animals, decrease in plant life, and few daylight hours, winter was the toughest season to maintain health in the ancient world.
Even though the #1 New Year Resolution is weight loss, the winter months really aren’t ideal to try and lose weight. Why? Because human health has long been considered to be closely tied to nature. As organic creatures, it stands to reason that we humans are affected, directly and indirectly, by the natural environment including weather, climate, or duration of daylight.
These factors, particularly less daylight and our natural instinct to hibernate, make losing weight more difficult and frustrating which leads us to give up on that goal altogether. Less sunlight means we aren’t getting as much vitamin D. It appears that lack of vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage—so calories you consume are stored in fat cells rather than being used for energy. A second factor is an increase in melatonin, the hormone that signals your body that it is time to sleep, and is triggered by darkness. Since winter means less hours of daylight, melatonin levels tend to increase and increased melatonin is associated with increased appetite. It can feel like a losing battle. Continue reading
Did you know that nearly 80% of New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned by February? December is the perfect time to reflect on the goals you set in 2018 and think about where you’d like to see yourself in 2019.
Whether you have some health condition that you want to resolve, or if you simply want to remain well, here are three healthy living resolutions to try in the new year to “take back your health”. The key is to set goals that are small enough to be doable, but big enough to still give you that feeling of satisfaction when you realize it’s March (or even November!) and you’re still going strong.
1. Weight Loss – This is probably the #1 New Year’s Resolution. Unless you have a critical health condition that demands you shed some pounds, a better idea may be to simply resolve to make healthier food choices. One of the key ways to do this is to surround yourself and your family with healthy options to expose them to nutritious foods. The more involved your family is in planning and cooking healthy meals, the more likely they are to eat them, so try planning a weekly family menu together. When shopping, stick to the outside aisles at the grocery store where you find fresh fruits and veggies, and stay out of the center aisles where all of the processed foods live. Try to resist the temptation to buy Johnny’s favorite cookies, or Dad’s diet soda and opt for healthier options instead. You can make these changes incrementally so that it doesn’t feel so much like an exercise in deprivation.
If your current health situation (or someone you care about) requires shedding some pounds in the new year, then check out my Weight Loss Gift Basket that you can give to someone or to yourself. Continue reading
I am so excited to announce the launch of a new program at Balanced Energy Wellness. This program is specifically designed to help patients suffering with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and Chronic Pain. It is an evidence-based program that targets eight separate, overlapping causes of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and Pain, and is designed to heal the body in stages for lasting results.
The Fibro-Fatigue program uses a combination of therapies such as Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Diet Therapy, Breathing Exercises and Qigong/Movement Therapy. In addition to treatments and education, I’ll provide one-on-one guidance with a focus on self-care to keep patients actively engaged in their healing process.
Results from the program can include:
- Improved sleep
- Less pain
- Better digestion
- Stabilized emotions
- More energy
- Improved quality of life
Whether it’s you or your best friend that is struggling to find lasting relief from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or chronic pain, this program offers a path towards improved health. I have been working with a team of other acupuncturists, doctors, and herbalists from around the world on this program, and I’m super excited to offer these treatments to our community.
For more information about this program, please go here . I am also happy to speak with you personally to answer any questions to might have.