In my field of work, I see several clients struggling with chronic stress and anxiety. These individuals often find themselves pulled into habitual and problematic thinking patterns, which usually include (in cognitive behavioural therapy terms) catastrophic thinking, worrying and over-planning, should-ing, rumination, black and white thinking, and mind reading. Because thinking in this way has become quite automatic to the stressed or anxious individual, it can happen outside of their conscious awareness. Before realizing it,
Sarah Knight has recently brought an internationally-known therapeutic practice to the clinic, that focuses on healing uncomfortable family dynamics, including inherited patterns and traumas that go back generations. Some people and old-world medicines refer to this as resolving energy patterns carried forward from our ancestors. Science calls it epi-genetics.
I stepped in to the centre of the circle of people and my posture changed immediately. I slouched, my toes turned inward, and my gaze shifted fearfully towards the floor as I stood several paces away from both my “husband” and my “daughter”. My body became very much aware of a need to get her as close to me as possible, while steering well clear of his strong presence.
I was not actually married to this man, I’d only just met him earlier that day, but we had both been asked by the young woman to step in to the roles of her parents, in a process known broadly as “Family Constellations”. We were given no information, but such is the experience of a participant who is willing to just follow the lead of their own body in a Family Constellations workshop. As it turned out, we were embodying her parents pretty accurately, and through the careful lead of the facilitator this young woman gained some great insights, and likely took a bit of a leap in her own healing journey, as the constellation revealed clues as to how her family imprint holds her back.
We often search for answers to life’s big questions: “Why did this happen to me?”… “Why didn’t that?”… “What’s the point of it all?”…
We feel like we need to have the answers in order to relax, let go, carry on with life, and feel happy. This is the nature of the human brain. We think, theorize, and analyze for the sake of accomplishing practical tasks, which can be helpful and exciting in many ways. However, emotionally speaking, the thinking brain has the potential to do a lot of harm.
The gut microbiota are microorganisms or bacteria that reside in our intestinal tract. Everyone has approximately 100 trillion microorganisms within their digestive system! Each person has a unique collection and assortment of these bacteria which are unique as our fingerprints. These gut bacteria play a fundamental role in shaping our metabolism, neuronal, and hormonal (endocrine) systems.
Microorganisms also impact our immune function and if dysfunctional, can contribute to problems such as obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease or depression. There are many research articles that show that the administration of certain strains of gut bacteria to rodents, results in decreased anxiety and depression.
Stress is a growing problem across the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2017) ranks stress-induced disorders, such as depression, as a leading cause of disability worldwide. In response to the growing number of individuals suffering from stress-related mental disorders, researchers in Scandinavia have designed a nature-based therapy model for those on stress-leave. In 2001, The Healing Garden in Alnarp was established at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and soon after, in 2010, Nacadia Healing Forest Garden was constructed at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
This emerging model of green care is based on findings that individuals suffering from stress experience limited cognitive, emotional, and social resources, which often makes it difficult to think, learn or otherwise problem-solve in ways that might be required, for example, in talk therapy (Stigsdotter & Grahn, 2002; 2003).
Chronic pain is a widespread, disabling condition than affects an estimated 20% of people in the world. Pain is usually regarded as chronic if it lasts or reoccurs for periods of 3 to 6 months, which is beyond the normal amount of time for healing. Chronic pain can contribute to anxiety, depression, disability, sleep disturbances, poor quality of life and certainly impacts healthcare costs.
An article published in February, 2018 studied the connection between chronic pain and negative emotion.
With Valentine’s Day soon approaching, love is in the air, but instead of focusing merely on romantic love, it’s important to consider the love that we have for ourselves (self-love!).
Have you heard about the love hormone? It’s called oxytocin, and research correlates high levels with being in-love, mother-infant bonding, trust, and empathy. Most research focuses on your brain as the production site of this hormone, but your heart actually produces and stores a significant amount of it. Your heart also produces other critical hormones, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and Atrial Naturietic Peptide. The old idea that the heart is just a “pump”, has not served us well in medicine.
The heart has a direct connection to the brain via the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which some people refer to as the “Rest and Digest” state of the body. In fact, there are more nerves carrying heart signals to the brain than vice versa. What kinds of signals do you think it’s sending, and how much are these affecting your health? Your behavior? Your thoughts?
Here’s the online community you’ve been searching for to support and encourage you to be the best you can be. Annual membership includes weekly coaching videos (intuitive eating, movement, motivation, strength training that makes sense), all designed to help women feel stronger, happier, and healthier. Their tool kit includes dozens of perks and offers from local businesses with mandates that align with these ideals. Limitless Living has only recently launched in Kingston and we’re so happy to be a part of this passionate, inspiring, and genuine community. Please check out their website or Facebook page.
I don’t like to sound like a downer, but only about a quarter of Canadians who set new year’s resolutions will actually keep them in the long-run, according to a recent Ipsos poll. That means that if you’re one of 77% of people who make a resolution come the new year, then statistically, you’re more likely than not to keep it.
I’m personally not a fan of new year’s resolutions.
In a few weeks I’ll be speaking at the South Eastern region Hospice Palliative Care conference about the value of integrative medicine for people who are dying. To help me prepare, I’ve been reading Die Wise by Stephen Jenkins, a philosophical and critical exploration of the phobia our culture has about death. This manifesto (as he calls it), would seem the least likely place for inspiration for New Year’s resolutions! In fact, of all the happiness and change-your-life books I’ve come across, this one offered me the deepest motivation and inspiration for making meaningful change in my life.
For many, forgiveness is viewed as a way of giving in, making allowances or excuses, letting another person “win,” or showing weakness.
For the unforgiving, grudges are held, intense emotions are clung onto with a sense of desperation, for the purpose of fighting back, trying to obtain justice, or somehow attempting to prove a point or change what was done in the past.
However, resisting forgiveness in this way is exhausting, defeating, and ultimately, a way of letting the other person take control over you.
Change is stressful, especially when it’s unexpected change. But even planned, positive change can put you on your toes!
People have a general tendency to fear the unknown. Oftentimes, we’d rather stick with what we know because it’s familiar and, well, let’s face it, the familiar is comfortable. When we look into a future of unknowns it tends to feel largely out of our control, and this lack of control is what tends to make us feel stressed. So, when we think about starting something new, we might hesitate, make excuses, or save the change for “one day when…”
How is it, then, that you can stop procrastinating and actually make change happen?
How It Changed My Life, and How It Can Change Yours, Too
No matter where I go or what I’m faced with in this life, one consistency that I find myself with is my ability to turn inward – not in a self-destructive way (although, admittedly, this does happen from time to time), but in a way that allows me to befriend, get to know, and take care of myself like I would my own best friend, a loved one, or my very own child.
(3.5 min read) We all get lost from time to time. That’s part of being human.
Sometimes life throws you unexpected curve balls, but sometimes you make a series of conscious decisions that, without you even realizing it at the time, end up throwing you so far off course that you wake up with the sudden realization, one day, that you hardly even recognize yourself anymore.
(3.5 min read)
Patience is a virtue.
That’s how the saying goes.
And a virtue, according to Oxford Living Dictionaries, is a quality considered morally good or desirable in a person.
Did you know that, according to Statistics Canada, nearly a quarter of all Canadian adults rate their daily stress levels as moderate to high? And, did you know that stress accounts for lower quality of life and can have significant negative impacts on your physical and mental health?
If ongoing stress is playing a role in your life, or if you would otherwise like to practice slowing down the fast pace of your busy world, then this is the course for you!
Join Lindsay Dupuis, Mental Health Counsellor, for this 4-week course in which you will learn how to take control of your mind and gain energy back through a series of educational lessons and guided meditations…
(4 min read) Everyone has a morning routine as unique as the house they live in.
Some are long and complex. Others are quick and to the point. I’d be willing to bet, though, that just about everyone’s morning routine involves making themselves look more presentable. Showers wash away flat morning hair, toothpaste strips away bad breath, make-up covers flaws, and clothing camouflages bodily imperfections. For a society that values physical appearances, many of us make this a priority in order to put our best faces forward.
Before the year 2000, most medical approaches assumed that the adult brain continuously lost brain cells and was incapable of regeneration. We now know that the brain is incredibly plastic, meaning that it can adapt, grow, and heal. Up until 2 years ago, we believed that the brain was anatomically entirely separate from our immune system. However, the very recent discovery of lymphatic vessels that directly connect the brain to our immune system have incredible implications for our broader understanding of brain health. Add to this a growing body of compelling research linking aberrant immune function to mood disorders, and we finally have some serious tools to investigate alternatives to the traditional serotonin-promoting antidepressant pharmaceuticals that fail for so many people with depression.