Category: Stress Management

What’s All This Talk About Inflammation?

We talk a lot around here about inflammation, and some of you have raised good questions (and answers) regarding what we’re really getting at. A continuing thanks for your comments and thoughtful responses.

So, what do we mean by inflammation when we harp on the evils of sugars, grains, trans fats and other nutritional fiends? Ah, the many sides of swelling: abscesses, bulges, distensions, engorgements, boils, blisters, bunions, oh my! Do swollen ankles and puffy black shiners really have anything to do with the inflammation of arterial walls? Can flossing possibly help prevent heart disease? Let’s explore.

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Why Do I Get a Gluten Reaction from American Wheat but not Overseas?

Seems like every international traveler who normally follows a Primal way of eating has had the experience of splurging on pasta in Italy or baguettes in France or pita in Greece without any of the negative effects they normally experience back home. There are even people with confirmed gluten sensitivities who can get away with eating wheat overseas. Whenever I’m in Europe, I enjoy the local cuisine without worrying too much, even though I definitely get a reaction back in the US. I may not be eating entire baguettes or plates of pasta, but I don’t shy away from smearing raw brie over crusty bread—and yet back home, I avoid wheat as a general rule.

What’s going on here? Why do some people get gluten reactions from American wheat but not European wheat?

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How to Cope with Feeling Overwhelmed

“Some days you will feel like the ocean. Some days you will feel like you are drowning in it.”

—Lora Mathis

Ain’t that the truth. Life comes at you fast. You get laid off and don’t have enough money in savings, a family member gets sick, your car gets totaled. All of a sudden, you’re totally underwater.

Often, though, it’s not one catastrophic event that gets you; it’s the sum total of all the small-to-medium-sized stressors in your life. Death by papercuts, if you will. Overwhelm results from having too much or not enough — too much to do, too many responsibilities, not enough money or time.

Overwhelm quickly becomes a vicious cycle, as it requires energy and resources (neither of which you have in abundance) to dig yourself out. A classic sign of overwhelm is feeling like you’ve lost control over your circumstances, like things are happening to you instead of for you or because you chose them.

You can’t govern all the sources of stress in your life, but you may have more control than you realize. At the very least, there are probably ways to manipulate your schedule and environment so your stress triggers aren’t so triggering.

Start by asking yourself, “What would need to change in order for me to feel less overwhelmed?” If just that step feels overwhelming, don’t worry. You’re about to start taking action, and action is empowering.

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Overworked and Under Rested: The Real Reason You’re So Tired

Feeling tired all the time? You’re not alone. Turns out 60% of folks say they’re more exhausted now than they were in their pre-pandemic days. And sleep is only part of the equation. We live in a high-achieving, chronically fatigued culture. One of the reasons being that we’re constantly bombarded by the message that productivity is the ultimate goal in life. We’re socially rewarded for crushing it whenever and wherever possible: More reps at the gym… More calories torched… More emails sent… More to-dos to do… You get the picture. The Downside of Keeping Up Even if you love what you do, the pressures to keep up with the modern world can leave you feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically drained. As a health coach, I see this all the time. My clients come to me foggy and fatigued, falling asleep in front of the TV, snapping at their kids, and chronically over caffeinating. And the conventional recommendation to “get more sleep” just hasn’t cut it. Signs you might be running on empty: Lack of concentration Being easily agitated Confusion Cravings Coping with food or alcohol Anxiety or depression Overwhelm According to physician, researcher, and author, Saundra Dalton-Smith, there’s a big difference between sleep and rest. She says, “If you’re waking up and still exhausted, the issue probably isn’t sleep.” And there are seven areas of rest we’re collectively not getting enough of: Physical rest. This isn’t about getting to bed earlier; it’s about resting your body in a way that’s rejuvenating. Think yoga, stretching, deep breathing exercises, even napping. Mental rest. Your mind needs a break too, especially if you tend to chew on past conversations, plan for future what-ifs, or have trouble turning your brain off at night. Sensory rest. Computers, phones, group texts, notifications, notifications, alarms. It’s no surprise our senses (and our central nervous systems) are overtaxed. Creative rest. If you struggle during brainstorm sessions or couldn’t come up with a new idea to save your life, you’re probably overdue for a creative time out. Emotional rest. Keeping things bottled up, people-pleasing, or not being real about how you’re feeling can lead to emotional overload. Social rest. Some friends lift you up and some drag you down. Be aware of which relationships are fulfilling and which are exhausting. Spiritual rest. Feeling disconnected, lonely, or lacking purpose? Spiritual rest or connection might be what you’re lacking.   The True Power of Rest As a society, we have a real problem with not being in “go mode” all the time. And I don’t just mean taking more days off work, although studies show that Americans have an average of nine unused vacation days per year. And on the days they do take off, workers admit to obsessively checking and responding to emails. As a high achiever myself, I know how hard it is to shut things down . I am physically uncomfortable in the presence of low productivity or what I perceived in myself as laziness. But researchers agree … Continue reading “Overworked and Under Rested: The Real Reason You’re So Tired”

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Why Mindfulness Isn’t for Everyone

I’d argue that mindfulness is one of the biggest health trends of our time. It promises less stress, more inner peace, and a solid dose of self-awareness. It’s also a multi-billion-dollar industry, from apps that dole out guided meditations to full-on retreats in tropical locales.

But before you download the paid version of Headspace or investigate roundtrip fares to Bali, ask yourself this important question: Am I ready to stop operating on autopilot, repeating the same less-than-healthy patterns over and over again?

I’ll let you ponder one that for a minute.
What Is Mindfulness, Anyway?
Mindfulness is a 2,500-year-old practice. It’s the ability to be fully present, where you’re totally tuned into what’s happening, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it — in the moment and without judgement.

A lot of my health coaching clients are convinced they’re being mindful when it comes to their eating habits, yet somehow, manage to polish off a bottle of wine or wheel of cheese without realizing it. Now, I’m all for hedonistic behaviour, but if your choices leave you full of regret, shame, and guilt, it’s probably worthwhile to pursue a different strategy.

Mindfulness isn’t for the faint of heart. It also isn’t great for perfectionists (if you’re determined to “get it right”), those with limited patience, or anyone looking for a temporary fix. Or if you don’t believe change is possible.

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The Benefits of the Blue Lotus

Growing up, I was always fascinated by the part in the Odyssey where Odysseus and his men land on an island populated by the “Lotus eaters,” a group of humans who live entirely by eating the fruit of the lotus flower. In the story, some of Odysseus’ men explore the island and encounter the lotus eaters, who offer the sailors some to try. They accept and become addicted to the lotus, wanting nothing but to lie around and nibble on the flowers. When Odysseus comes to retrieve his men, they refuse and weep and try to remain, and he’s forced to remove them from the island and shackle them to the ship until the madness has passed. This part always made me wonder. What was so beguiling about the lotus?

I had no idea about drugs or addiction or anything of that sort. I was too young. So I assumed it was that the lotus just tasted really, really good.

Turns out that it may have been based on a real lotus flower with psychotropic effects—the blue lotus.

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