HOw Natural Therapies Help Anxiety

What is Anxiety? Anxiety can be defined as a sense of unease, worry, fearfulness and/or nervousness. 

Anxiety may arise from a multitude of factors. It may result from ongoing work or home stress, grief, change in life direction, dietary or lifestyle factors. Some people have a natural genetic tendency to experience anxiety, it may run in the family.  In other cases it may be triggered by a worrying about something or be part of other conditions such as insomnia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It's important to remember that people’s individual experience of anxiety can be quite varied and may coexists with other issues or symptoms.

Anxiety can be greatly helped with homeopathic and herbal medicine as the approach taken is to understand how you personally experience anxiety, what else it is associated with and what factors predisposed you to it.

I'd like to share two stories with you to show how homeopathic and herbal medicine helped with Anxiety.

Worry was the trigger to her Anxiety 

I worked with a lady in her mid forties who had just been diagnosed with cancerous changes to tissue in her left breast after experiencing menopausal changes over the previous year. 

From this diagnosis she began to experience intense panic attacks from her fear of the surgery.  She was prescribed an anxiolytic antidepressant to subdue her anxiety which did not prove effective. On my first consultation she described to me that her anxiety would turn to panic very suddenly. Her heart would race and she would be overcome by a real and overwhelming feeling that she was going to die at that very moment, that her life was over. I prescribed her the homeopathic medicine Aconite, which significantly subdued her acute and intense feelings of fear and panic.

On her follow up visit she was able to provide me with a more complete understanding of her state. She had actually been of a nervous disposition her whole life and had always had anxious dreams. She was quite fastidious by nature and was sensitive to cleanliness and a sense of order in her environment and could become quite irritable. She was also very sensitive to cold and had a history of digestive upsets. I prescribed her homeopathic Arsenicum album to be taken daily and she reported that her nervousness began to improve. She was also able to go through her medical tests and procedures coping much better than she could have expected. She was still anxious about her medical condition however she was no longer having panic attacks and her racing heart symptoms had stopped. She was feeling much better and able to cope after only a relatively short period of time. Looking to continue working to understand the Anxiety in her history and to gently further disables the controlling effect anxiety has had over her life. Homeopathy can work harmoniously alongside orthodox medical interventions to improve people’s overall health outcomes and support them through life's unexpected challenges and health issues.

Alice's mother explained she had always had anxiety and mood swings

According to her mother 8 year old Alice had always been an anxious and moody child. As she had aged her toddler tantrums gradually turned into intense episodes of screaming abuse and tears. She needed constant attention and the intensity of her behaviour had taken a tole on the family and there was a constant underlying sadness about Alice. Occasionally the happy, bright Alice that her parents knew would emerge, only again to be overtaken by this intense state. Underlying her emotional outbursts and sadness was a constant, background anxiety.

Alice’s mother experienced unusual anger during the pregnancy and intense fear during her labour. From a young age Alice had recurring scary dreams of fire, witches and/or of being neglected and abandoned. Clearly, her state was inherited. Other ongoing or recurring symptoms included difficulty getting to sleep, sore tummies, darkness under her eyes, itchy bottom, fear of spiders and storms. 

This was a complex case but a successful homeopathic medicine (Crotalus cascavella) was found. From the first dose a noticeable change came over Alice. She became brighter and happier, as if a dark cloud had been lifted. Whenever she slipped back, the medicine would be repeated which progressed her improvement. Over time Alice emerged from this anxious, dark state that had engulfed her for so long and wreaked havoc on her family. The homeopathic medicine works with the body-mind as an integrated unit. Hence the whole person benefits at all levels at once, both physically and psychologically.

One of the joys of working with children is that when given the right stimulus, they usually have the innate vitality to move on quickly, freed up to grow and develop normally. 

Gerry

Gerry Dendrinos is Live Well's Herbalist and Homeopath 

 Read more about Gerry.

Understanding Anxiety

You’re not just stressed

Anxiety is different to just feeling stressed. It’s the frequent or sustained experience of discomfort in the form of hot and cold flushes, a racing heart, nausea, dizziness, the shakes, panic, spiralling negative thoughts or compulsive behaviour. 

Anxiety is a symptom

Anxiety can take many different forms and have many different triggers, however regardless of the symptoms or the pattern of your anxiety one thing is true: anxiety like any other symptom is a clear sign that your mind-body system is out of balance. 

Your nervous system is the problem

What leaves you vulnerable to developing anxiety is a nervous system that is overwhelmed and exhausted. The path that leads to that state of nervous system exhaustion is different for everyone, sometimes it’s a particular traumatic event, sometimes is the incremental build up of stress that builds to become overwhelm and then becomes anxiety. 

Restoring balance is the key

Natural therapies help with anxiety, not by masking the symptoms but by addressing the imbalance that is causing the symptoms. Remarkably, sometimes very simple changes, such as making sure you're accessing the right nutrients in your diet, or learning to breathe correctly can go a long way towards resolving symptoms of anxiety. Some people will need intensive support to feel better at least initially, however it’s important to know that if you have anxiety you’re not broken, you’re just out of balance and that imbalance can be addressed.

The good news is, if given the right support and the right tools, your body is exceptionally good at finding its balance again and once that happens, symptoms of anxiety drop away.  

We’d love to help

So if you’d like help overcoming anxiety and you’d like an approach that doesn’t just mask the symptoms but can help you truly restore your ease and enjoyment of life then we wold love to help. 

How’s your “New Year Zen”?

How will you be “Managing the Madness” in 2015?

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Like many people, my 2015 resolutions largely revolved around reducing stress, resetting boundaries for better work/life balance and making time for things that energise, nurture and sustain me. 

It’s only February, but I’d be fibbing if I didn’t admit to some regressions here and there; falling back into habits of doing too much, compromising on my wellbeing plans a little too quickly, feeling stretched and wondering “Uh-oh…how is this happening?...here I go again!”. 

You too?

It’s times like this, when we catch ourselves wobbling off track, we should take a moment and congratulate ourselves. That’s right. In fact, give yourself a big pat on the back and say “Well done!” or even a big woop and “High five, way to go!”

What for…? 

For being aware and noticing the start of familiar patterns returning. Because by observing ourselves falling back to old ways, we are no longer on “automatic pilot” believing we don’t have the time, energy or opportunity to be different. Instead, we are at conscious crossroads. We are awake to ourselves – our habits, thoughts, behaviours, feelings and choices. We can taste the sweet, positive flow that comes from creating change for ourselves yet we feel ourselves being drawn back into our “same old same old”. Congratulations! High Five! 

At this point, engaging in mindfulness can help us to consciously reflect, reset and reconnect with our motivations and desire for change and with our knowledge and beliefs of what’s possible when given our full focus and attention.

If you’ve started to juggle new intentions with old comfy ways, the Three C’s of Mindfulness are good to keep in mind - Concentration, Curiosity and Compassion.

Concentrate: Reflect again on the reasons you set yourself a new goal and bring it back into full focus when you are planning your activities and week, or making decisions throughout your day. Are you keeping your resolution and goals front of mind? Choose how you wish to concentrate your time, energy, thoughts and behaviours. Break down large, long term goals into smaller, achievable actions so you can concentrate on each one individually – one at a time. 

Curiosity – what’s been working well for you? And what’s getting in the way? Do you need to reassess how you’re approaching things and put more/less support or structure into play? Are you unconsciously sabotaging your own success to avoid vulnerability or the uncertainty of secondary opportunities that may flow? Consider a wider perspective of your situation with child-like curiosity and apply your creative problem solving ability to map your path forward.

Compassion – a wise mentor once told me, “you catch more bees with honey, Kat” and it’s true! Rather than giving yourself a hard time for “falling off the wagon”, be supportive and encouraging to yourself just as you’d be to a friend, young child or puppy learning something new. We know change is uncomfortable and can be challenging at first. It requires us to step out of our comfort zones and draw on our reserves of patience, persistence and grit. So reframe any negative self talk creeping in and be kind to yourself. “You’re making progress and doing well. Keep going, believe in yourself and you’ll do it”. 

Change is a process, not an event. So enjoy the journey and remember the Three C’s along the way.

If you’d like to learn about more mindfulness and how to integrate it into your daily life, Live Well’s next intake of “Managing the Madness” will be commencing on Wednesday 3rd March, 2015. 

It’s a 6 week group program, facilitated by Katrina Howard, qualified counsellor, coach and mindfulness teacher, and is for anyone wanting to learn mindfulness and meditation practices to manage anxiety and stress, build resilience and enjoy life with a greater sense of clarity and calm.

More information on the course, fees and dates, click here.

Understanding Homeopathy

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a specialised branch of complementary medicine with roots that go back over two hundred years (to Germany, also the birthplace of naturopathy). Few may realise that homeopathy is currently the second-most used system of medicine in the world, used by over 500 million people in primary healthcare (according to World Health Organisation estimates). In modern times it has been integrated into the healthcare systems of many developed and developing world countries, where it is practised both by doctors and complementary healthcare practitioners. A strong and growing evidence base underpins its clinical effectiveness. It is applied to a wide array of physical as well as mental and emotional conditions.

How does it work?

Homeopathy, like most complementary medicine systems, works with the body’s innate self-healing potential. To do this, homeopathy employs diluted and “potentised” medicines that are made from a wide variety of natural substances. Whatever a person’s suffering (physiological and/or psychological), there is something in the natural world that matches it – this wisdom is a very ancient one, first documented by Hippocrates. 

The way in which people suffer is as varied as people themselves, hence homeopaths do not define people by their medical diagnosis. A homeopath gives utmost attention to a person’s unique pattern of symptoms and on this basis devises a highly individualised treatment.
People are often amazed at the wide range of conditions and situations that homeopathy can help with. How it works is best demonstrated by its real-life use, and the following case is a typical example of how it is applied in practice.

Case example

Sarah (name changed), in her teens, was going through a turbulent time at a new school and was experiencing “bladder problems”. She was wetting the bed each night, as well as waking to urinate most nights after midnight. A blood test revealed a low grade infection, yet which several courses of antibiotics had failed to clear up. Her mother said that overall, there were “many little things that aren’t right”, such as tiredness, dizzy spells, headaches, tendency to colds and coughs, recurring fearful dreams as well as general confidence issues (with constant apologising and a feeling she was “always doing something wrong”). She was very sensitive by nature, “too easily influenced by others peoples’ energies”.  Despite all this, academically she was a top student and very conscientious. Sarah had a history of not sleeping well, recurring nightmares and had suffered a severe bladder/ kidney infection shortly after birth (ie. there was a pre-exisiting weakness). 

In all cases, a homeopath views physiological and psychological symptoms as facets of a single underlying imbalance. For example, if your liver is underfunctioning, you will also feel tired upon waking in the morning and generally feel more irritable than you’d like. In Sarah’s case, the gestalt of her physical and psychological symptoms indicated she needed a particular plant medicine from the Asteracea family. She took this medicine daily for several weeks with good all-round improvement. The potency of the medicine was then increased as further improvement had plateaued. Within several months her urinary symptoms had cleared up for good and she was sleeping through the night without having to get up to urinate. Her mother also reported that she had found a new level of confidence, her energy had lifted and those ‘other little things’ had also receded. She was growing into a normal, resilient teenager “just doing what teenagers do”. 

What Sarah’s case illustrates is that when you are out of balance your body will give you little distress signals, these are the “many little things that aren’t right’. A homeopath is trained to see the pattern in your symptoms, which to the untrained eye may look completely unconnected and prescribe the remedy that will restore your body and mind back into balance. 

If you know your body is telling you something is out of balance you don’t have to keep putting up with it, homeopathy can help.

Gerry Dendrinos is an experienced Classical Homeopath and Western Herbalist. 

Gerry helps clients of all ages deal with a wide variety of chronic and acute health problems, including challenging chronic health problems that fall outside orthodox medicine's ability to be effective. His motivation is in achieving measurable clinical results. His approach is collaborative and holistic. Read more about Gerry.

Post-natal Anxiety and Depression: How to Shift Your Suffering

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“Enough!” she cried as she fell to her knees exhausted with the effort it took to persist with the act. Each day on the outside she smiled, tightly. On the inside she screamed, painfully.

Those around her thought she was managing well. She usually did; that’s what they expected from her. When asked, she parroted words she thought were those you should say in these situations. It seemed to make everyone happy to hear “I’m great. It’s amazing”. But it wasn’t. She was a failure. Most of all, she was ashamed about how she felt and the thoughts that muddled and darkened her experience of what everyone called ‘new motherhood’.

Now, four years later, I can confidently tell you that to say “I’m not OK” or “I’m not coping” or “I don’t think I can do this” is not shameful. You’re simply saying “I am human”. I decided that it was more painful to keep battling internally than it was to speak up and say “I’m not coping”.

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One day I would like to try and paint the internal landscape of post-natal anxiety and depression as perhaps others would truly connect with imagery rather than attempted vocabulary.

It was easy to be ashamed; women have been mothering since, well, the beginning of time! It’s a natural physiological process, including the release of hormones to help with nurturance and attachment. Women across cultures have long, traumatic labours – it’s nothing new. I could go on as it’s easy for me to tap into the justification for why I ‘should’ be ashamed.

Apart from actually managing to make it through that first year of parenting, the best thing I ever did was to speak up and essentially admit that I was human. I did not have super powers of perfection and total adaptability in each and every moment. This is what I was expecting of myself. This is what I saw in every other mother. Yes, they were sleep deprived and sometimes confused as to why their child was crying, but I applied the double standard approach – it was OK for them, but not for me. But it was more than that. I was in pain.

Once I spoke up something happened within me and consequently, around me.

I accepted my experience and therefore accepted myself. I gave myself permission to grieve. I allowed myself an immense amount of room for mistakes which I now consider as lessons. And I let those around me in. Imagine if every time you made a mistake someone whispered in your ear “It’s OK”. Imagine if every time you tripped and fell, someone helped you up and said “It’s OK”. Imagine if every time you felt despair, someone told you “It’s OK”. This is what happens when you speak up and let people in. Eventually, the person to whisper in your ear becomes yourself. This can be applied not only to post-natal anxiety and depression, but to any experience in life where you feel defeated, battling or alone.

Alone. Isolated. Internal or external isolation – either way it can be painful. It’s easy to feel that you’re just a small fraction of the Universe and therefore devalue your own importance. Yet, within you is the Universe exploring consciousness and life. The human experience is multi-dimensional. We’re made up of interconnecting layers of complex vibration from the physical plane of the body and structure to the etheric layers of the aura and the higher vibration of spiritual dimensions. You are spinning particles of light which cross and connect to all around you. You are literally never alone. Your pain is my pain. My joy is your joy. It’s the magnificence of connection.

The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.
— Carl Saga, Cosmos

Know that when you despair within the confusion of motherhood, there are many despairing with you. When you meet another parent and they smile at you, give them the gift of understanding and appreciate that they are also multi-dimensional and experience much within their internal landscape too. Be lifted by the knowledge that those who share joy, happiness and laughter will touch you in your time of need.

So, go ahead – be a life change artist. Start by being honest with yourself. Be open. Have compassion for yourself and your valued, unique experience. This in turn intensifies your compassion for others and expands compassion in our Universe. It is the greatest of gifts you can give.

Whether it’s a vibration, a wave or a ripple; admit that you’re human. It will change your life.


Simple and natural techniques to help relieve anxiety and depression

  • Lime essential oil is a beautiful oil which brings about a sense of calm. It’s excellent for agitation and is often used to help children sleep. Put a few drops in an oil burner or in the bath. If you use it on the skin, be sure to mix a drop with about five mls of carrier oil such as almond or coconut oil.
  • Massaging the palms of your hands is a technique used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In the centre of your palm is an acupoint which treats anxiety and calms the mind. Again, you can also give your children a lovely hand massage.
  • Remember that a gentle walk or swim can help clear your mind, get you outside and relieve feelings of depression, frustration or constriction. There has been a lot of research into the benefits of exercise for depression. Vitamin D from the sun is a great way to lift your spirits!

Resources for post-natal anxiety and depression    

If you need support or information about any mental health challenge, contact a counsellor, psychologist, complementary medicine practitioner or general practitioner

  • Find your local post natal anxiety and depression support group – ask for help if you have trouble finding your nearest organisation
  • Visit PANDA, the Australian organisation for information and resources
  • Read

Author: Kate Pamphilon is Live Well's resident Kinesiology practitioner, and the creator of Holistic by Nature.

This blog first appeared at Reflections From a Redhead

Under Pressure

What is the most common reason Canberrans visit the doctor? If you guessed high blood pressure you are right! Remarkably one in three adults have high blood pressure and up to one in ten are on high blood pressure medication.

High blood pressure or hypertension describes a condition where there is extra strain on your circulatory system including the heart, blood vessels and kidneys which can lead to calamitous health crises like stroke, heart disease and kidney failure. 

What causes hypertension?

If you are overweight, have high cholesterol, are a smoker or have a family history of hypertension then you’re more likely to develop high blood pressure, however 95% of people are said to have ‘essential’ hypertension meaning there is no known cause or the cause is vaguely described as lifestyle factors. 

Thankfully, if you’d prefer to treat hypertension without resorting to medication, it typically responds very well to natural medicine. Whilst there are many factors that cause high blood pressure, the overwhelming theme of clients who we see with high blood pressure have a lifestyle with high levels of stress and an inability to unwind and switch off which means their nervous systems, just like their circulatory systems are always under the pump.

 

How to heal hypertension

Herbal medicine is remarkably effective at treating hypertension. Herbs are selected to improve liver function, balance the nervous system and support the heart and blood vessel to build resilience. 

Acupuncture is exceptionally good at tackling stress and restoring optimal organ function and with stress under control hypertension is history. 

Naturopathy tackles hypertension from a number of angles via nutrition, lifestyle changes as well as herbs.

Kinesiology helps you break through old patterns of thinking and responding to life so you can treat the causes of your stress. 

Meditation restores your ability to switch off and unwind and is deeply restorative to your nervous system.  

If you suffer from hypertension and would like some support we are always here to explain how natural therapies can help and guide you through the process of treating hypertension naturally.

Are the foods you’re eating making you sick?

Have you ever noticed you feel bloated, heavy, tired or irritable after eating? If you have then there is a very good chance your body is reacting badly to some of the foods you are eating. 

Whilst it might seem obvious that if you suffer from digestive complaints like irritable bowel syndrome, re-flux, constipation or diarrhoea that food allergy or intolerance may be involved, these symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg.

Food intolerances are also often responsible for:
•    headaches;
•    tiredness;
•    skin rashes;
•    aches and pains;
•    stiff joints;
•    insomnia;
•    poor memory and concentration;
•    anxiety; and
•    depression, just to name a few.

If you have suspicions that food intolerance is contributing to less than optimal health then it’s a good idea to get them checked out. 

To help solve the mystery of whether you have food intolerances and which foods are the culprits, our kinesiology practitioner is offering 15 minute food intolerance consultations for just $30. Kinesiology works by getting feedback direct from the source: your body and it is the fastest, most accurate way I know to test for food intolerance.

 

Allergy or intolerance?

Allergies are typically more sudden and severe, think of the anaphylactic response many children have to peanuts. Intolerances on the other hand are slower to appear and can be more difficult to pin point.

Allergies and intolerances are caused by the immune system flagging something you ingest as threatening to the body’s equilibrium. It’s important to understand that the immune system has to make thousands of decisions a day and it is not always at the top of it’s game, with stress being the main reason it will falter.  

Of course it’s not always the immune system’s fault. Too often the foods we eat are highly processed which means the immune system is being asked more complex questions compared to if we were to eat food in its more unrefined and natural state. So much of the benefit of eating whole food based diet is that your body and in particular your immune system and digestion find so much easier to process real food.

The most common allergies we come across at Live Well are to wheat (and other sources of gluten) and to dairy products. The way to treat allergies is to remove the offending foods for a period of 1 to 3 months and at the same time tackle the underlying drivers of intolerance, usually stress. 

Given time, digestive organs that have been irritated and inflamed by the continual presence of a food that you have been intolerant to can recover and regain their resilience. 

After a period of abstinence there many be some foods that you can reintroduce without any side effects and there may be others that even a small amount of will trigger symptoms. You body will soon tell you just as long as you’re listening.

So don’t suffer any longer, book a 15 minute food intolerance consultations for just $30. These session will fill up fast so don’t miss out!

The Magic Of Balance

When I write about natural therapies it’s impossible to avoid talking about balance and that is because it is at the heart of what natural therapies do and why they work.

 

How do you stay in balance?

In theory, staying in balance is easy. You follow an active busy day with a restful nights sleep, you follow strenuous physical exercise or mental concentration with times of relaxation and fun, you counter hot spicy foods with a cooing drink, after experiencing anger you need to let go and relax.   

The reality is that staying in balance can be challenging. When you find yourself out of balanced for a sustained period you can expect to develop unwanted symptoms. Too many stressful days without rest and you might develop tension headaches or insomnia or anxiety, it’s your body’s way of letting you know you've slipped out of balance.

 

How Natural Therapies work

If you accept that symptoms are the body’s way of letting you know that something is out of balance then the next step is to uncover where the problem lies. The art of natural therapies is in reading the body to uncover its truth. For example, a symptom like tension headaches may tell us that your nervous system and liver function are under stress. If however, you support these body systems to return to balance using herbs or acupuncture for example, your unwanted symptoms will cease. 

 

Don’t ignore the warnings

If a warning light comes on in your car you don’t ignore it because you know it’s telling you something needs to be fixed and if you don’t pay attention to it you’d expect your car to eventually break down. What can start as an easily fixed and inexpensive issue can quickly become a big problem but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Fortunately, your body has an amazing ability to heal itself, especially when given the right support to get you back in balance and your health back on track.

Resolution Revolution

Why do we make New Years resolutions? It boils down to an acknowledgement that we want to feel different. For example ‘I’m going to give up eating junk food’ or ‘I’m going to start running/walking 3 times a week’, probably translates as ‘I don’t want to feel tired, overweight and slightly depressed anymore’.

 

Be Positive

Take a closer look at what you want to change. Instead of focusing on how you don’t want to feel, shift your focus on to the feelings you really want in your life. So if you were contemplating giving up junk food or starting regular exercise it’s quite possible you want to feel more energised and happier.

 

Boost Your Motivation

Positive feeling goals like wanting to feel more energised and happier are much more motivating than giving up something that you like such as junk food or lying on the couch! The thought of not being able to do the thing you like sets up an association of pain with your new goal and is likely to make you stop. On the other hand when your goal is focused on the positive feeling it sets up an association of pleasure and gives you much more chance of staying on track.

 

Get Creative

The other great thing about positive, feeling based goals is that you can unleash your creativity. If you focus is on being energised and happier you can probably think of lots of ways you can support your goal other than the original junk food/exercise intention. What else makes you feel energised? What places, books, art, people make you come alive?  Also consider what saps your energy and joy? What creative ways can you lessen these activities or build resilience? If you stay focused on the feelings you want and find lots of ways to support them you are much more likely to succeed.

So take some time to reflect on how you’d like to feel this year, make these feelings your ‘theme of the year’ and watch them sprout, grow and blossom as you nurture them with your loving intention for change.

Rest Up!

To my regular clients I must sound like a broken record, banging on about the need to access quality rest and relaxation, but there’s a good reason. So many people I see are tired and just managing to drag themselves through the day by sheer force of will. Whilst this stoicism is admirable in one sense it’s also a path of diminishing returns. Let me explain. 

 

The Tiredness Myth

If you’re tired all the time then your body is simply telling you that you’re not getting enough quality rest. Hello, Captain Obvious speaking! However you’d be surprised at how often this basic message from the body gets misinterpreted or overlooked. In our culture we laud those that push through and keep going, not those that are good at taking a well-judged nap!

 

Are You Wired but Tired?

The more tired you are, the more you have to wind yourself up through will power and stimulants such as caffeinated drinks or sugary snacks. When you’ve spent the whole day over-riding your body’s signal to rest, it’s no wonder that when your head hits the pillow that night you’re not going to instantly fall into a deep and peaceful sleep. Instead, you’ll take a long time to wind down or when you do finally get to sleep you toss and turn. Either way, when you alarm goes off you wake up tired. Then the cycle starts again, you override your body’s pleading for more rest and you start to wind your nervous system up again. Meanwhile you are digging yourself a bigger hole of weariness from which it gets harder to climb out. Sound familiar?

 

Stop! I Want to Get Off!

What’s the solution? Well let me first say there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a dynamic and hectic life that is full of stimulation and busyness, just as long as you become very skilled at switching off and relaxing and you put time aside each day to unwind. If you’re chronically tired, I guarantee that you are really good at winding up and terrible at winding down. The solution is to learn how to relax again.

Free gift – Guided Relaxation Practice Click here to download – Just like training wheels on a bike a guided relaxation practice re-trains your mind and body to relax. Do it every day for one month and you’ll feel noticeably different.

Top 3 Merry Stress Busters to get you Centred and Acting Authentically this Silly Season

December is my favourite month of the year but getting caught up in the silly season can be a fast track to crazy-making if you let your monkey-mind take over and forget what's at the essence, not only of the celebrations at this time of year, but within yourself.  So to give you a little Yogic helping hand to staying merrily stress-free here’s my top 3 stress busters to help you stay centred and acting authentically this silly season:

 

1. Remember to BREATHE! 

Three (3) deep breaths can change your life! They definitely change your ability to stay present, rather than reactive in the face of stress or pressure. Deep, controlled, steady breathing actually changes your body and brain chemistry. This gets you out of the 'fight or flight' response and back into 'Yes and Bless' (also known as 'rest and digest'! Fight or flight can be thought of as the Blame and Shame system when it comes to our emotions!). The physical chain reaction that 3 deep breaths give you acts like a circuit breaker - rather than react primarily to a trigger, you gain a little space and can then CHOOSE your actions mindfully.

So when you're driving around on Xmas eve looking for last minute gifts because work has been mental and someone cuts you off in the car park, instead of flipping the bird, STOP, breathe in to your belly and fill your lungs as deeply as you can. Exhale for at least the count of six, ten is even better. Do this three times, then smile, say YES, you're welcome to have the right of way, send them your blessings for a safe and happy Xmas and go merrily and less stressfully along your way. 

Same applies if your Aunt tells you that 'you're looking bigger this year darling' or if you accidentally burn the Xmas tofurkey (yep, it's an actual thing, not a typo) -Breathe, smile, send your blessings and let it go... Often a little circuit breaker like 3 deep breaths lets you let go of the drama, or your 'story' about how things 'should' be and gives you the chance to see the humour in the situation or find some compassion for the other person.

 

2.Remember the answer is always LOVE

It might sound corny but asking yourself the question "What would love do?" when someone or something is pushing your buttons can help you gain a little perspective, and again a little space, before you react to a trigger. It works REALLY well when coupled with #1! 

This applies equally to your interactions with others as to your relationship with yourself. Often we find ourselves the hardest person to love, accept and treat with respect and this sees us making decisions that don't honour our best selves. This includes our actions such as food choices, the company we keep, and the way we interact with others and our thoughts such as negative self talk, guilt and shame. The perfect seasonal example is drinking too much at the work Xmas Party, taking actions you wouldn't be proud of if you were sober and then guilting on yourself about it all afterwards - sound familiar? 

The trick to preventing this chain of avoidable events is taking the time to consider your options (remember that 3 breath thing above at #1?!) and then asking "What would love do?" and listening in for the answer. If you really, truly loved yourself, what would your honest answer be? There's a trick to listening for the answer to this question too - it won't come from your head, so if you're thinking about it, you won't get an honest answer. 

The real answer will come from your heart, as a feeling, or a sense of knowing and it probably won't be easy to recognise at first, but intuition is like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. Another hot tip is: it probably won't be the easy/popular/people pleasing choice. It might involve saying no in the face of peer pressure, or missing out on something. Yup, FOMO usually keeps you stuck in your same-old behaviour patterns, where it's safe and easy but probably not really what serves your highest good.

 

3. Remember to practice Yoga DAILY

Yoga is not always about physical asana or learning how to control your breath. Yoga is a myriad of personal and interpersonal practices that you can use to learn to love and manage yourself, and to harmonise your interactions with others. 

Your daily yoga practice may take many forms; physical movement, meditative stillness, intentional breath, devoting time to truly listen to another person or a random act of kindness. It may look like something else entirely. That's the beauty of Yoga - it is personal to you. 

You can practice Yoga anytime you want, wherever you happen to be. Like on the golden sand of your favourite beach or in the seat of your car as you drive cross-country. You could practice in your place in the queue for photos with Santa. Where ever it is, the point is that you have the opportunity to give yourself the gift of presence - being mindful of where you are, who you're with and how you choose to direct your thoughts and energy (remember #2: What would love do?) towards them and yourself. 

Each time you practice it's like a deposit in your spiritual bank account, your energy grows and enables you to invest a little more each time you come back to practice again.

So when you're cruising the shopping centre car park after your yoga class on Xmas eve and cut off that person you could clearly see was waiting before you, maybe if you just took 3 deep breaths and asked yourself 'What would love do?', you might find it within yourself to practice a bit of Yoga right now too? Like the butterfly effect, you'd be surprised how far reaching your simple practice of breath, mindfulness and love  - your yoga in action - can be. 

The Wellbeing Capital

Canberra is in danger of loosing its best-kept secret status after the OECD scored it as the top ranking region world wide for wellbeing based on criteria such as security, environment, health and education. This follows hot on the heels of being talked up by the New York Times who lauded Canberra’s big-sky beauty, breezy civic pride and…decidedly hipster underbelly.” Canberra you are so hot right now!

I like to think I know a bit about wellbeing myself, I find the idea of living in the #1 region for wellbeing rather charming. It got me thinking about what constitutes the wellbeing of a city. I work with enough Canberrans to know that despite our #1 status we’re not all in a state of perpetual blissed out conviviality.

What makes us well? To me, it is the luxury of pursuing elements of life that create joy, purpose and contentment. 

What the OECD report points out is that us Canberrans have our basic needs for safety and security are being pretty well met. Compared to other places on the planet, we are able to put a meal on the table and a roof over our heads. If we get sick we can be attended to, if we want to learn we can access quality resources.

Just as health is more than the absence of disease, wellbeing is more than having our basic needs met, although that is a pretty good foundation on which to build.

If we accept that (compared to many others) we have it pretty good we then have the luxury and challenge asking ourselves a bigger question. What does it take for you to be really content, what brings you joy? Do you feel like you are connected to and living your life’s purpose? For me having just recently become a dad, contentment, joy and purpose just got all rolled into one thing: being able to spend time with my family. I also love my work and being able to help others feel healthier and happier gives me a kick.

What about you? To quote Mary Oliver, “What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Men's Health: Helping to Save & Improve the Lives of Men

This year I’ve joined the ranks of the bros with the mos and have been doing my bit to support the wonderful work that Movember does in helping to save and improve the lives of men affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.

We know mental health issues in this country are significant, close to one in eight Australian men will suffer from depression, one in five anxiety and sadly suicide is the leading cause of death for men aged 15 to 44.

Whilst there is some great work being done in breaking down the stigma that has too long been associated with mental health issues we can and need to do better.

I think boys still grow up with the idea that to be a man is to be tough and stoic but perhaps we can create more room for men to also be real and honest about their emotions. It’s up to all of us to check in with our brothers, fathers, husbands and boyfriends and mates.

Not everyone is a talker, although some people may surprise you when you make the effort and show a heartfelt interest. Many years ago I consciously made an effort to build a better connection with my Dad. To my delight it was much easier than I thought, it turns out he’s actually quite chatty, and both our lives are the richer for it.

Some bros just need your hugs. Some men don’t want to talk or be hugged but will still delight in your presence, silently sharing a task, a hobby or an adventure.

Bros and sistas also have the task of encouraging your men to see their doctor and allied health professionals when there’s something wrong. Some men will need to be nagged into regular health checks. Stoicism can mean attempting to put up with lingering pain, persistent cough, or a strange lump or bump for too long with sometimes devastating consequences.

Perhaps someone will pop into your mind as you read this today, someone that might need your support - it’s time to give them a call.

The Secret to To Giving Your Face a Fresh and Luminous Glow

Ok I’ll come right out with it- cleansing! You know cleansing your face is an important task and that makeup and dirt left on your skin can clog your pores and dull your skin’s natural radiance. Yet despite your best intentions sometimes you let you daily cleansing routine slide.

Never fear you are not alone and I’m here to help get your daily cleansing routine back on track and restore your skin’s natural glow.

 

Not sure what you should actually be doing?

Well read on for a run down on general cleansing info, useful tips and product recommendations that you can easily put into your daily skin routine.

 

Your Cleanser Could be the problem

Before we begin, what type of cleanser are you using at the moment? Do you look for that squeaky clean feel from your cleanser?? This feeling is typically achieved through use of foaming style cleansers. Foaming cleansers require a type of surfactant for the ‘foaming’ effect. These strip away your precious skin preserving oils. Removing these oils, will trigger your skin to produce an unhealthy production of oils.

Essentially the moisture is evaporated from your skin. Lack of water in the skin can cause an increased accumulation of dead and dying skin cells. When the over production of oil occurs the skin will try and expel it to the surface through the opening of the skins pore. However, the added skin cell build up will obstruct this oil flow, resulting in blockages and congestion.

Regular soap and shower gel should also be avoided on the face. Such products are too strong and will destroy the skin’s protective hydrolipic barrier, causing excessive dryness.

Makeup removal: Eye Makeup removal can be done separately to the whole face as it is a fragile area and can be prone to damage and requires special care. For a conditioning Eye make-up remover I use Skin Juice’s SMUDGE BUDGE. Unlike other eye make-up removers no solvents are used in this product. It is created with organic plant butters to melt and erase even the most stubborn makeup without irritating, stressing or drying the skin. To use this product I warm in fingertips before massaging around the around the eyes and gently remove.
Cleansing: Cleansing your face removes excess build-up that can occur throughout the day like environmental pollutants, oils, makeup and debris. Stuck on how to cleanse your face?

Here are some tips and tricks:

  • If you have a habit of forgetting to cleanse, pop your cleansing products somewhere in your bathroom that catches your eye i.e. right next to your toothbrush.
  • Use lukewarm water to open pores, water that is too hot or too cold may irritate the skin.
  • Use a separate towel for your face from your everyday bath towel/hand towel. You don’t want to risk transferring bacteria onto your fresh clean face.
  • Try dedicating the proper time to your morning or night cleanse, taking the time to massage the cleanser in well, using circular motions. Don’t forget the hairline and to bring the cleanser down the neck where make up is also blended to.
  • Make sure to rinse the cleanser completely from your skin. Giving one extra rinse will help to further remove any remaining debris. After cleansing pat, don’t rub your skin dry. Patting is gentler to your delicate facial skin.

If you find face washers too abrasive or just need a helping hand in the cleansing process let me introduce you to the legendary SPUD SPONGE! Spudy is a beautiful soft gelatinous cleansing sponge made out of 100% Konjac fibre, yes he is part of the potato family! The Sponge is naturally alkaline in nature which assists in the removal of make-up and skin debris.

It can be used on its own but works amazingly alongside a cleanser!

Skin Juice have a beautiful nourishing cleanser called DRENCH Dermal Repair Cleansing Oil. This is for any skin type. Now I know that all you people with oily skin are probably throwing your hands up in despair, but Drench actually helps balance the skins natural oil flow. The pure plant oils deeply cleanse, adhering to impurities and makeup without drying or stripping precious moisture. This is a hard working cleanser when it comes to makeup removal I definitely recommend it!

Exfoliate: Your body is producing new skins cells all day, every day. And while your body naturally sheds dead skin cells, some of them do not shed as completely as they should, which can lead to skin irritation and clogged pores. Generally speaking, exfoliating once or twice per week should leave your skin feeling softer and healthier. However, if you find that your skin is irritated by exfoliation, consider decreasing frequency. I would recommend Skin Juice’s REVIVAL Face Scrub. It gives a boost to rough dull skin. It contains a combo of fruit acids, jojoba, vanilla and bamboo beads which gently exfoliate and help renew your skin’s natural radiance.

Happy cleansing everybody!
Tegan Napoli

Tegan is Live Well's resident beauty and skin care expert. She is available by appointment on Saturday's for consultations to help with your skin care concerns. Or pop into Live Well for further advice or skin care recommendations.

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Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine

It has long been a tenet in natural medicine that you can prevent and cure disease by changing your diet. What’s fascinating is that modern medical research is belatedly arriving at the same conclusion.

It’s the emerging scientific understanding of the crucial role that bacteria plays in our digestion which is set to revolutionise the way we treat disease and promote wellbeing.

To cut a long story short; if you eat well you cultivate healthy gut bacteria. If you eat a poor diet with lots of refined foods then the impact on your gut bacteria is calamitous and that has big consequences that can take years off your life and leave you vulnerable to a host of conditions ranging from heart disease, to cancer, asthma, allergies, arthritis, autism, depression, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

The crux of this story comes down to link between the bacteria in your gut and the functioning of your immune system. Basically it is in your gut where your immune system gets schooled on what is benign and what needs to be attacked. If you’re lucky enough to be born vaginally then this education starts at birth where, as you pass through your mother’s birth canal, you are populated with lots of healthy bacteria that caesarian babies miss out on. Similarly if you’re breastfed, you ingest the perfect nutrients to support development of healthy bacteria.

Of course the other common factor in the decimation of healthy gut bacteria is the exposure to antibiotics. Clearly each medical intervention has its place but they also all have their consequences.

Even having the best possible start doesn’t count for much if you feed your gut bacteria the wrong kinds of foods. Prolonged exposure to a typical modern Western diet, which is overly reliant on processed foods and significantly lacking in fiber is enough to send your healthy bacteria packing and importantly, develops a tendency towards systemic inflammation. Now inflammation may not sound too scary but it is code for a malfunctioning immune system and is the same mechanism that drives autoimmune disease and a whole lot of nasty disease processes, so take heed!

Oh and the other evidence emerging from the latest research is that vinegar can help restore the healthy gut bacteria. That’s what naturopaths have been saying for centuries. It’s good to be getting everyone on the same page at last, Hippocrates would surely be smiling in his grave.

 

Ka Huna Now at Live Well!

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If you're yet to pamper yourself with a Ka Huna massage, then you're missing out! Ka Huna bodywork originated in the South Pacific and was used during Rites of Passage as a transformational massage and healing system. It is also known as Hawaiian Temple Style Massage and Lomi Lomi.

This beautiful form of bodywork provides a holistic approach to healing by balancing the body-mind in its physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions.

Ka Huna bodywork is unique in a number of respects. I use my hands, forearms and elbows, and move around the table (using flowing Hula and Tai Chi style movements). I work with energy to apply soft and deep tissue massage. Music is played and I attune the flow of the massage to harmonise the various rhythms within the your body, mind and soul. If you have some music that you would like to listen to, please feel to bring it in on your phone!

Every time you have a Ka Huna you will experience something different. Sometimes it's physical healing and relaxation, sometimes you unlock stuck emotions such as crying, laughing or smiling. Another time you might see colours, experience energy shifts, release past memories, connect to your soul more or receive spiritual healing.

Ka Huna body work:

  • Instills a calming sense of peace and deep relaxation;
  • Releases deep-seated neuromuscular tension and allows energy to flow more freely;
  • Treats the lymphatic, immune, circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems to promote improved health and fitness;
  • Physically re-energising and rejuvenating;
  • Improves flexibility;
  • Helps to release fear, anger, grief and guilt as well as negative beliefs, self-criticism and traumatic memories;
  • Brings clarity and confidence, joy, open heartedness and trust;
  • Offers opportunity for self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-love;
  • Generates an over-all sense of well-being, vitality and empowerment;
  • Healing of injuries faster and more completely;
  • More love in life;
  • More happiness;
  • More balance; and
  • More peace.

Sounds good, right? For those who come to me for Kinesiology, this is a wonderful addition to the work we are doing together as it really helps shift things. There's an element of breath work involved and I tie in some aspects of Kinesiology – it's very unique. Call the Live Well Spa & Wellness Centre on (02) 6295 0400 to book in or treat someone you care about with a gift voucher.

Thai Yoga Massage

Is a blissfully relaxing treatment that combines massage techniques and Yoga movements to leave your body and mind feeling balanced, calm and deeply relaxed.

If you have never experienced the magic of Thai Yoga massage, November is the best time to try it as Live Well’s resident Yoga teacher and resident Thai Yoga massage guru Ramone Bisset is are offering 90 minute treatments for the 60 minute price (Wednesday mornings only).

During a Thai Yoga Massage treatment, Ramone will move you through a sequence of gentle yoga stretches whilst using her hand and body pressure along your meridians and pressure points. This unique combination of movement, stretching and massage really opens up the body and allows for a deep release of tension and stress.

Thai Yoga massage’s development began thousands of years ago in the Buddhist temples of Thailand. It is an ancient form of therapeutic healing that has roots in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. It thrived as a means for spiritual people to share the benefits of meditation and compassion in a physical form. It is a respected form of healing practiced today in hospitals and temples throughout Thailand.


The benefits of this massage are numerous and include:

Physical Benefits

  • Leaves you feeling relaxed, balanced and free of tension
  • Detoxes your body and boosts your immune system
  • Increases your blood circulation and can lower your blood pressure
  • Releases muscle tension and pain
  • Increases flexibility in your muscles
  • Improves breathing
  • Improves posture, balance, corrects body alignments and dissolves energy blockages
  • Improves athletic performance
  • Helps arthritis and back pain,
  • Helps tone the body, strengthen joints
  • Slows the aging process
     

Mental Benefits

  • Improve your outlook towards life;
  • Help with concentration and creativity
  • Clear and calm your mind
     

Psychological effects of Thai Massage

  • Boosts your mood and your resilience
  • Reduces and relieve stress and anxiety
  • Builds your confidence
  • Boosts your inner vitality

Thai Yoga Massage is performed on a mat on the floor, with both the practitioner and client wearing comfortable clothing that allows ease of movement and flexibility.

Here at Live Well we are lucky enough to have our own Thai Yoga Massage expert, Ramone Bisset. Ramone is an experienced and gifted therapist. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge of the body's movement patterns from years spent teaching outdoor education and participating in adventure sports. Combining this with her understanding of the body's energetics from her work as an experienced Yoga teacher and Reiki practitioner makes Ramone exceptionally aware of, and in-tune with, the human body.

Living with Hayfever

With "the fluff" otherwise known as the prolific flowers of the Populous alba tree flying though Canberra’s air, students minds might turn to university exams and hay fever sufferers minds turn to sneezing, watering eyes and fatigue.
 

Why Do You Get Hayfever?

If your hay fever is seasonal, then it is caused by your immune systems over-enthusiastic response to what are normally benign substances like pollens, grasses and flowers. In spring, prolific quantities of these minute particles float though the air and into the delicate mucous membranes of your sinuses where they meet the defenses of your immune system.
One of the basic defenses of your immune system is to flush out offending substances with tears and mucous, the bigger the immune reaction, the more copious the streaming eyes and mucous discharge.

 

Why Doesn’t Everyone React The Same Way?

If you don’t get hay fever then it just means your immune system is not over-reacting to environmental triggers…lucky you!

 

How Do You Switch Off The Hayfever Response?

Many people choose to mask the symptoms of hay fever with drugs which work by suppressing the immune systems response, drying up secretions and masking pain signals.

 

However, for a more holistic solution that doesn’t just mask the symptoms you need to do two simple things:

De-stress

Stress is the difference between your immune system reacting calmly or over-reacting to triggers in the environment. Hay fever is usually a good indicator that your stress levels are too high and need some attention.

Try leaving work on-time, go to a regular Yoga or gym class, learn to meditate or take up a hobby. If you know your stress levels are really high then seek professional support.

 

Detox

The other area of your body calling out for support when you have hay fever is your liver. Hay fever essentially alerts you that your liver is over-burdened.

Simple ways to support your liver include to cutting out alcohol and processed foods. Try eating a more whole food based diet including lots of veges, whole grains and legumes and reduce meat and dairy.

If you address hay fever in a holistic way, the chances are you’ll beat the symptoms and feel more energized, sleep better and enjoy life more.

A Fertile Life Part I: Why Mind-Body Medicine is Essential for Fertility

In this two part series, I will be exploring how mind-body medicine supports women in creating the family and life they've always wanted. Mind-body medicine treats the whole person: your mind, body, spirit and energy system. This is essential, as the answer to fertility difficulties sometimes  lies beyond the physical body.

Part I Why Mind-Body Medicine is Essential for Fertility discusses the role emotions, thoughts and hormones play in fertility. Part II will explore the broader concept of a fertile life and how in turn this promotes fertility.

Imagine yourself as an intricate pattern of connecting lines, such as a web. Each silk thread is a different aspect – your thoughts, emotions, hormones, nutrients, neurons, organs, glands – the list goes on. Your energy system flows though each of these threads. Energy flows where intention goes so if there is stress or dis-harmony in one connection, then it affects the whole system. The web becomes weak. It is crucial then, to look at the whole person and not just the physical body!

Does it sometimes feel like you've tried everything to get pregnant? Or are you at the beginning of your fertility journey and wondering if all is in place for a healthy pregnancy? Perhaps you're pregnant and wanting to prepare for the birth and life after your baby arrives?
When planning for a baby, most women take into consideration key factors in their lifestyle such as: what they're eating, how much they're exercising and if they need to quit smoking or reduce their alcohol consumption. These areas are widely recognised as crucial to a healthy pregnancy and baby. However, the role of emotional and mental health in promoting fertility is often overlooked. Below are some examples of other aspects affecting fertility for your consideration:

Stress hormones are your fertility enemy. In 2009, researchers at the University of California discovered several damaging interactions between stress hormones and fertility hormones. When you are stressed, anxious or depressed, hormones are released into your body that disturb your ovulation, sperm count and desire for sex.

The yogic-Chakra system penetrates through your endocrine (hormonal) system. By checking in with each of the chakras you are able to gain insight into what areas of your life you need to pay attention to.

The Crown Chakra penetrates through your hypothalamus which is at the top of the chain of messages within the brain down to your endocrine glands. It is the spiritual aspect of your life and whether you and on your unique path.

Second in line is the pituitary gland which amongst others secretes oxytocin (intimacy and childbirth) and prolactin (breastfeeding) and penetrates through the Brow Chakra. What is your perception of your inner and outer worlds?

Within your energy system, a balanced Sacral Chakra is key to the successful making of a baby. The Sacral Chakra penetrates through the ovaries and gonads. Surprise, surprise – the Sacral Chakra is all about your emotional self. Questions to ask yourself and your partner are: Am I expressing my emotions? Am I accepting my emotions? Am I a victim to my emotions? Do I need to let go?

And remember, it takes two to make a baby, so successful fertility is both the responsibility of the female and the male!

Returning to the web metaphor; imagine being able to create well-being through healing your energy system. Your meridians and chakras hold the keys to your fertility. Mind-body medicine teaches you a lot about yourself and gives you the power to heal and create the life that's waiting for you.

Book in with Kate Pamphilon, our resident Kinesiologist, for help with any aspect of fertility, pregnancy, labour and birth.

Nourish Yourself to a Stress-Free Life

The number one cause of all problems, whether they be physical, mental or emotional is stress. Recent research has increasingly confirmed the important role of stress in cardiovascular disease, cancer, gastrointestinal issues, skin problems, emotional disorders and lowered immune systems. In fact 75-90% of all visits to your doctor are for stress related complaints. I don’t know about you but that is a massive statistic and one that can be reversed with the proper support and guidance.

Nourishing ourselves is not only beneficial for our wellbeing, but also crucial if we are to live our lives optimally and fully. When most of us talk about nourishing ourselves, we think diet. However, I believe it is important to view nourishment in a more holistic sense. If we just focus on our physical bodies through diet and exercise, we could possibly neglect our mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing as well. So, for me nourishment refers to what nourishes our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical bodies with a holistic and complete focus.  This article is divided into four sections addressing how to sustain and nurture all four of our body systems in order to live a stress-free life.

 

Physical Nourishment

Physical nourishment begins with what you put into your body. All of us have probably heard the saying “you are what you eat.” Yes, it may be a cliché it is also true. I for one can vouch for the benefits of changing to a clean diet. Growing up I used to eat lots of junk food; chocolate, chips, processed and refined biscuits, pastries and bread. I had low energy levels and my digestive system was struggling. Five years ago I started cleaning up my diet; I became a vegetarian, reduced and eliminated dairy, processed and refined sugar and gluten. I’m not saying eliminating meat, dairy and gluten are best for everyone. However, reducing at the very least processed and refined foods such as sugar and white flour will set you on the path to greater health. Incorporating and increasing vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds and ethically sourced meat (if you’re a meat eater) are the cornerstone of what experts deem as a healthy diet. Focusing on when we are hungry and full - instead of emotional eating, eating until our plates are empty or boredom - will ensure that you are eating for all the right reasons. 

Exercise is equally as important not only to your physical body, but the other three bodies as well. It has been reported that exercise not only makes you physically fit, but can also reduce anxiety, depression and stress. There is no right or wrong way to exercise, what works for one person might not work for another. For example I don’t like running. However, I love walking, swimming and yoga. Different people resonate with different types of exercise more than others. The most important thing is to do something you LOVE. Exercising at least three times a week, for about 30-60 minutes is the agreed upon average by professionals. For me personally, I practice yoga for 30 minutes as soon as I wake up every morning, and I go for a 30-minute walk with my toddler every day. I can tell you right now I didn’t used to exercise this much before having a baby and I can definitely feel the positive effects it has on all aspects of my life. I have more energy so I can chase my little man around all day; I am living in the present and have more clarity of mind to focus on my studies. 

 

Mental Nourishment

Nourishing our mental bodies is probably the least likely talked about. However, it is fun, challenging and gratifying. Just like our physical body we also need to tone and workout our mind.

Many people, me included have what the Tao terms “the monkey mind.” Our minds are running rampant, controlling our lives, and playing scenarios in our heads about possible futures or regretful pasts and torturing our actions. How many of you lie awake at night thinking about your grocery list, the things you need to do tomorrow or what you should have said to your co-worker when they mocked you today at lunch? This used to be my mind all the time, and can still be some of the time when I am not focused on the present moment.

Research has shown that we have between 45,000 and 51,000 thoughts a day. That’s about 150 to 300 thoughts a minute. Research has also shown that for most people 80% of those thoughts are negative. All of these repetitive thoughts are poured into creating your reality. When you start making conscious positive thoughts, you actually become more aware of the negative thoughts that are always threatening to take over.

So how can we wrangle our little monkeys so they are tame and living in the present; not the past or future? The first is meditation. Like exercise there is no right or wrong way to meditate. I know when I first started (and even still occasionally now) my mind wonders. When this happens just gently and lovingly bring your attention back to your breathing. Your breathing is always in the present so it will always bring you back and away from persistent thoughts and worries. There are many different types of meditation and the fastest way to discover them is with Google. However, for now the easiest form of meditation is focusing on your breathing. The cool air coming into your nostrils, and the warm air exiting as you exhale; the feel of your stomach rising and falling with each breath in and out.

Other activities you can practice to work out your mind is reading, learning a new skill, studying, being aware of your internal mind chatter and bringing yourself back to the present, resting your mind, having positive outlooks and goals, reflecting and having a healthy self-esteem. This list is by no means an extensive list of what your mental body can accomplish but it is a starting point.

Much Gratitude,
Steph

Steph Fleeton is Live Well’s Wellbeing Coach and Holistic Therapist. She specialises in successfully treating Stress, Depression & Anxiety, as well as Parenting & Children. Through these coaching sessions you will be able to release the emotional charge fueling your problems such as Stress, and be empowered and inspired to take control of your life, to be happy