What is the thyroid gland, and why is it so important to us??

The thyroid gland, which sits in the front of your neck, is an endocrine gland, which means it produces hormones. It is with these vital hormones that the thyroid gland has effects all over the body. The thyroid gland regulates our metabolism (how we make and process energy from our food).

What are the common thyroid problems??

The most common issues are the overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism), or the underproduction (hypothyroidism).

  • Are you feeling revved up, hot, sweaty, anxious, or irritable??
  • Are you having difficulty sleeping (insomnia)?
  • Are you feeling like your heart is racing (tachycardia)?? 
  • Has your appetite changed?
  • Have you lost weight??
  • Do you have weak muscles??
  • Have you felt your body is trembling or shaking??

Above are some of the common symptoms of an overactive thyroid.

  • Are you feeling tired, more sensitive to the cold??
  • Have you developed constipation?
  • Is your skin dry, and is your face puffy or swollen??
  • Have you put on weight??
  • Have you sore or weak muscles??
  • Are you feeling very sluggish, is your memory not as good as it used to be?
  • Have you considered you could be depressed??

Above are the common symptoms of an under-active thyroid.

The good news is that the diagnosis of thyroid problems is usually straightforward once the possibility of the diagnosis has been raised.

Thyroid stimulating hormone can be measured (TSH). This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland, which is constantly monitoring how much thyroxine the thyroid gland is producing. If there is too much thyroxine being produced, TSH will usually decrease. If not enough thyroxine is being produced, TSH will usually increase. Our bodies are trying to keep the hormone levels in equilibrium, but sometimes, the body fails.

TSH is nearly always decreased in hyperthyroidism.

TSH is nearly always increased in hypothyroidism.

This is the basic thyroid test that is rebatable under Medicare.

A further blood test can be done and the thyroid hormones can be measured (T4 and T3 and occasionally reverse T3). These tests are only Medicare rebatable if the TSH reading is outside the normal range. There is some controversy regarding the ‘normal levels’ of TSH in the medical field.

However, the full thyroid test can always be done privately, regardless of these Medicare guidelines.

Dr Orla Teahan M.B. B.Ch. B.A.O. FRACGP qualified from Trinity College, Dublin in 1990.
In 1991 she moved to Australia with her Australian husband and son. After some travelling adventures and two more children she settled in Sydney where she completed her fellowship in General Practice and subsequently ran her own private practice in Newport for close to twenty years. Orla is particularly passionate about women’s health and improving mental health in families. Recently Orla moved to Canberra with her family and has had an enriching experience working in Aboriginal Health with a focus on mental health and trauma.

Learn more about Orla

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Winter Wellness Tips

Winter has only just started but the number of people already struck down by colds and cases of flu this year is remarkable. If you’d like to maximise your chances of staying healthy this winter then follow these tips to keep your immune system buoyant.

Rest

Winter in nature is a time of rest and inactivity. The days are short and the nights are long, which is a clue to get to bed earlier than normal and get more sleep. If you suffer from insomnia then now is a good time to address it!

Move

Don’t take the hibernation theme too literally! It’s still important to get your body moving to boost circulation, move joints, stretch muscles and to clear the mind. Your body doesn’t like being sedentary, so if your job involves you sitting for long periods of the day make extra sure you get moving. Try going for a walk/jog/bike ride at lunchtime and you will also get a vitamin D immune boost from the benign winter sun.

Nourish

Now is a great time to support your wellbeing with good nutrition. Winter is the perfect time for slow cooked stews and soups. For inspiration, visit your farmers' markets for some locally grown produce including in season truffles! If you’re feeling tired or run down, go easy on the alcohol and the coffee as you’re just adding to your body’s toxic load and adrenal exhaustion.

De-stress

Prolonged stress smashes your immune system. If you’re the one that catches every bug that’s going around, it's likely that your stress levels are too high.

De-stressing means finding ways to switch off your mind from its habitual worries. Creative pursuits are a great way to absorb your mind in the moment and are a good fit for winter. Knit yourself a scarf, bust out the mindfulness colouring book you stashed in the cupboard or pick up a musical instrument.

Support

Already run down and exhausted? Why not be proactive and get some help? Seek out a trusted health professional and book yourself in for a tune up.

Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression

Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.

Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

Learn more about Wes

Make an appointment to see Wes.

Is There Such a Thing As Healthy Sugar?

In simpler times you had a choice between white sugar and raw sugar and if you used raw sugar you felt fairly virtuous.

Now we have a multitude of options from agave to stevia. So if you want a little sweetness in your life but are also keen to nourish your well-being then have a look at my modern day sugar ‘cheat sheet’.

Keep in mind, even the healthiest and least refined sugars still come with a caveat. The recommended adult dose of sugar is only 25 grammes a day and yet on average, we consume around six times that amount.

Agave

The sweet nectar from a cactus native to Mexico sounds pretty natural. However extracting a honey like liquid from a spiky desert plant requires a lot of processing. The end product has exceptionally high levels of fructose – higher even than high fructose corn syrup. Diets high in fructose have been linked to high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.  

Health rating ★★

Jaggery/Panela/Rapadura Sugar

The pure unrefined juice of the sugar cane plant dried and sieved into a grainy powder is known by different names depending on the country of origin: jaggery in India, rapadura in Brazil, panela in Colombia. Because of the lack of processing, these sugars retain some essential minerals including: iron, potassium, calcium and phosphorus as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and niacin. A better choice, if used in moderation.

Health rating ★★★★

Stevia

Stevia is a South American herb that found traditional use as a contraceptive. It is also exceptionally sweet, around 200 times sweeter than sugar and has no calories. If low calorie is important to you it’s a slightly better option than using artificial sweeteners however if you have issues with hormone balance or fertility it’s probably best avoided or at least used with caution.

Health rating ★★

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose are best avoided at all costs in my opinion. Most commonly found in ‘diet’ soft drinks, the appeal is the zero calorie count, however we’d need a whole issue of the Canberra Weekly to list the known side effects of aspartame alone.

Health rating: zero stars

Brown Sugar, Muscavado, Turbinado, Demarara and Raw Sugar

All highly refined and processed sugars, even though raw sugar sounds so wholesome! All these sugars are very highly manufactured, typically requiring multiple chemical processes to separate the molasses form the sugar and then depending on the colour desired further processing to add some molasses back in.

Health rating ★

White sugar/Corn Syrup/Maltodextrin

The most refined and adulterated sugars.

Health rating: half a star

What is MICBT and How Can It Help Me?

There is a growing number of therapy approaches that incorporate mindfulness training. Mindfulness-Integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or MiCBT  is one of these approaches. It offers a practical set of evidence-based techniques derived from mindfulness training together with principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to address a broad range of life stresses. Below is a brief overview of the foundations of MICBT as well as the core mechanisms and basic practice components of this valuable therapeutic approach. MICBT combines theancient Eastern spiritual practice of mindfullness meditation along with the essence of the modernWestern CBT psychological and evidence based therapy. MICBT is a powerful combination of eastern and western traditions,   taught in a welcomingsmall group setting.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness involves paying attention to each event experienced in the present moment within our body and mind, with a non-judgmental, non-reactive and accepting attitude. In learning to be mindful, we can begin to counter many of our everyday sufferings such as stress, anxiety and depression because we are learning to experience events in a more impersonal and detached way. Mindfulness used in MICBT has its roots in Vipassana meditation which was taught in India 2500 years ago and spread across all of Asia. Vipassana means "insight" or "seeing things as they truly are". Central principles and mechanisms of mindfulness include equanimity and impermanence.

Aiming for Equanimity

Equanimity is best described as a neutral response to something we experience. It is a state of awareness where we neither feel an aversion for unpleasant experiences nor craving for pleasant ones. Other ways of describing equanimity are balance, calmness and composure. The development of equanimity, or an equanimous mind as it is sometimes called, is an important part of mindfulness skills because it gives us the ability to remain less reactive and less judgmental no matter what is experienced, thereby giving us a feeling of ease, self-control and composure as we go about our daily lives.

Impermanence

Mindfulness training teaches us the omnipresent reality of impermanence, the changing nature of all things including our own mental and emotional experiences. By experiencing the changing nature of internal experiences, we can learn to see ourselves in a more flexible and objective way. We can detach ourselves from rigid views and habits that can sometimes lead to stress and unhappiness.

How do we practice Mindfulness?

While we can practice being mindful in everyday life by just observing what is happening around and within us, formal training by way of sitting meditation is most effective for developing mindfulness skills. This is because the formal meditation context prevents the inevitable entanglements with daily stimulations and allows us to focus specifically inside ourselves. Meditation enables us to reprocess our internal experiences, including painful memories, with more awareness, neutrality and acceptance. 

During mindfulness meditation, we sit closed eyes and initially focus on the breath to develop concentration and take control of our attention. This alone helps decrease the intrusion of unhelpful thoughts that we may have. During this training, all sorts of thoughts frequently arise. Instead of being caught up in a thought, we learn to see it for what it is, just a thought, an impermanent mental event, no matter what the content of the thought may be, and go back to our focus of attention. In this way, we learn not to react to thoughts. We gain a direct experience that thoughts cannot truly affect us or define who we are. 

Similarly, when we pay attention to our body sensations, we also learn to perceive a body sensation merely as a body sensation, regardless of how pleasant or unpleasant it is.   Mindfulness training helps us realise that body sensations, like thoughts and all other experiences, are also impermanent by nature and no matter how pleasant or unpleasant they are, they pass away. As we become more mindful of this reality, it becomes increasingly easy to observe that body sensations are essentially an experience that cannot affect us unless we react to them. Body sensations are significant because they are the only means by which we can feel emotions. Accordingly, training ourselves to not react to them helps us accept and let go of emotions, rather than suffer from them. This is called emotional regulation.

What is CBT?

The way we think affects our emotions and behaviour and CBT or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy helps people with such conditions as anxiety and depression change the content of unhelpful thoughts and maladaptive ways of coping, such as avoidance or addictive behaviour. It can involve social skills training, such as assertiveness training, and exposure to situations we avoid out of discomfort but at the expense of mental rest. It can also involve having to verify the validity of our unhelpful beliefs.

MICBT: Integrating Mindfulness and CBT

MICBT is a four-stage therapeutic approach which integrates mindfulness and some of the basic principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in order to help people improve the way they feel and change unhelpful behaviours. However, MICBT helps people make changes in a different way to CBT. While CBT attempts to change maladaptive behaviour by modifying people's unrealistic thoughts and beliefs, MICBT tries to help people learn to develop control over the processes that maintain the unrealistic thoughts and beliefs through mindfulness training. MICBT helps change the process of thinking, not just the content of our thoughts.

Changing Reactive Habits 

Like cognitive behavioural therapy, MICBT draws on the principles of exposure and desensitisation to help us change habitual unhelpful reactions or coping strategies. However, unlike traditional CBT, MICBT regards reactive habits as being the results of habit of reacting to body sensations. Body sensations are the results of the way we think, and we learn, often from early childhood, to react to the body sensations in certain ways in our attempt to feel better. Preventing such reactions, while remaining fully aware and accepting of bodily experiences, leads to rapid change in our habitual feelings and behaviours. We feel emotionally relieved.

Interpersonal Mindfulness

MICBT can not only help people change distressing thoughts, feelings and behaviours, it can also help people change their relationships with others. The skills we learn in MICBT can help us not to react to others and foster a greater understanding and acceptance of ourselves and others. This usually culminates in more harmonious relationships and helps prevent relapse into habitual moods and behaviour.

Mindfulness and Empathy

The fourth stage of MICBT teaches people to use the skills learned from the previous three stages to develop empathy for themselves and others. The three previous stages lead to the realisation that we are the first beneficiary of the emotions we produce, whether this is a positive or negative emotion. A deep sense of empowerment, acceptance and change usually takes place toward the end of the course. Please stay for the duration. 

EVEN if you have tried meditation before and feel that you have  failed or its not for you …..there is no fail….keep trying, all the best

The next MICBT group training with Dr Orla Tegan begins on Tuesday 13th June. 

Come along every Tuesday night at 7.30 p.m for one hour per week for 8 weeks and be a person armed with de-stressing skills that will assist everyone from new mums, Uni students to Senior Executives. It will be an evening of experiential learning with our integrative GP,  Orla in a very relaxed and warm atmosphere. Your commitment is 8 weeks and just 10 minutes practice every day. 

Once you have completed this course you will be on a path to a stressless day ….every day; you will have improved self awareness; be more self confident and happier!

Over the 8-weeks you will develop better interpersonal skills; you will be more accepting of your self and others; you will find work and play easier.

The course will cost just $27.50 per week, thats only $220 for the whole course. Be the first 10 people to call 6295 0400 or email us at info@livewellnaturally.com.au and we will book you in. We look forward to seeing you soon at Live Well. 

Cracking the elusive ‘motivation’ game

Let’s be honest, we all feel it at some stage or another — lack of motivation. Some of us are highly skilled procrastinators! When it comes to motivation, it’s about understanding WHAT is undercutting your efforts and WHERE to start.

At the time of writing this article, 2017 is very much underway. Each of us are getting a feel for what this year will be about. On a large scale, our world is facing major challenges on environmental, political, human rights and health matters. And that's where I want to focus— what MATTERS. This is a fundamental component to success and fulfilment. Ask yourself:

●      Where does your FOCUS lie?

●      What areas of your life are consuming your ENERGY?

●      And most importantly — do these two aspects match-up?

As a global consciousness, are we focussing on what matters, what inspires us and what sustains us? Or are we held back (or driven by) fear, discomfort and difference?

It can be easy to think "what can I do as an individual when so many things bigger than me are happening in the world?" It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

What’s the point?

When we’re struggling, it’s common to ask “what’s the point?”. My response is: “exactly”. Rather than a throw-away phrase, purpose is your starting point. What are you motivated by? Focus on what deeply matters to you in your life. Is it family, friends, self-care and self worth, our land, our people, our animals? Is it making a difference, caring, creating or building?

Secondly, and here’s the cracker: understand that your survival system (in your Central Nervous System) works to prevent you from doing anything that’s hurtful, uncomfortable or different physically, mentally or emotionally. So, why does this matter when it comes to motivation? The very system which works to protect you, will also try to prevent you from expanding or stepping out of the box. New experiences or new levels of mastery can be seen by your survival system as a threat.

Author and Research Fellow, Tiffany Watt Smith in her study of emotions (‘The Book of Human Emotions’, Wellcome Collection, 2015) linked motivation, purpose and our survival system through her study into apathy:

‘apathy was defined as more than laziness or listlessness. It was a loss of motivation or purpose, the vacuous indifference which can come when we are feeling overwhelmed’ (pg 28).

Talk it through

Overwhelm is one of the most common signs that your survival system is playing a major part in your lack of motivation. If someone you care about was stressed or overwhelmed, it’s most likely that you would talk them through what was happening. We often forget to have this same supportive conversation with ourselves. Perhaps you have focus, you’ve found meaning within your next step: a new project, a new job, a difficult conversation, or change in some form or another. But you just can’t get it off the ground. You can’t seem to take that first step. Talk with your survival system. Say to yourself "Yes, this is new or different, but THAT'S OK". Recognise that often, sitting in the zone of procrastination can be more uncomfortable than actually stepping up or out.

Make a conscious choice

The process of making a choice to do something uncomfortable is very different to circumstances whereby it just happens to you. Choice is much less threatening. Choose to step out of the box. Remind yourself of what matters and enable this to fuel action. And remember, discomfort is most likely transitory. The ‘new’ soon becomes the ‘normal’.

I came across this interview and was INSPIRED by the magnificence of Mel Robbins, one of the top 20 TEDx talks in the world, former criminal defence attorney turned on-air commentator and CNN contributor. Robbins exposes the myth of motivation and explains how to make the micro-decisions that will launch you into success in this episode of Impact. 

So, start small. Start with YOU: your focus, your energy and what matters to you. Know that sometimes you need to talk yourself through change, fear and difference. Remind yourself that "You've Got This". Inspire others and thus our global consciousness to realign focus and what truly matters in this world (love, kindness and inclusiveness, anyone?!).

"The idea that everything is purposeful really changes the way you live. To think that everything that you do has a ripple effect, that every word that you speak, every action that you make affects other people and the planet." (Victoria Moran)

Kate's passion is to educate and empower each client to understand their mind, body, and Spirit and how these aspects are all connected. Her integrative approach to health and healing is to explore and treat the whole person. Kate is the creator of Holistic by Nature and is also on the expert panel of I Quit Sugar.
To find out more about Kinesiology please click here.

Learn more about Kate

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Walnuts for male fertility

Walnuts have log been considered to be of benefit to male fertility according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), now modern research supports this concept too.

Walnuts support the Kidney energy which, according to TCM, controls reproduction, development and stores the Jing.  Jing, also known as essence, is a deep form of energy within the body.  Jing is largely responsible for our physical and mental development and forms the basis of our ability to reproduce.  

A study published in 2012 I the journal Biology of Reproduction found that eating 75g of walnuts per day improved sperm vitality, motility and morphology.

The research findings correlated fertility improvement with the walnuts' alpha-linolenic content, along with other nutrients.

A recent animal study by the University of Delaware backs up these findings.  The study found that walnuts reduce lipid peroxidation, a process that can damage sperm cells.

This form of cell damage harms sperm membranes, which are primarily made up of polyunsaturated fatty acids.  Walnuts are the only tree nut that are predominantly comprised of these fatty acids - meaning they are uniquely powerful for replenishing sperm cells.

Walnuts are very nutrient dense. A cup of walnuts contains 511g of protein (about 15% by weight), a range of B vitamins ( 400mcg of thiamin, 115mcg folate and B6 at 600mcg),115mg of calcium, 185 mg of magnesium and 516mg of potassium. Walnuts are also rich in manganese, selenium and phytosterols.  However it is the omega-3 content of walnuts that makes them so beneficial to sperm health. At 10,623 mg of omega-3s per cup they really do pack a punch.

Dietary recommendations are one way that traditional Chinese medicine can help to improve sperm health. If there is aknown male factor (sperm count, motility or morphology) contributing to infertility, optimal results will be achieved through a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and lifestyle changes.

For individualised treatment for male infertility, speak to a registered acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine practitioner.

Sally has a special interest in working with couples to overcome fertility challenges as well as continuing to support women throughout pregnancy and beyond. 

Sally has a Bachelor of Health Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine) from the University of Technology Sydney and a Diploma of Health Science in Eastern Massage therapy (Shiatsu and Tuina) from the Canberra Institute of Technology.

To find out more about acupuncture and how it can help with infertilityendometriosisstressanxietyback pain and throughout pregnancy please click on the links. 

Learn more about Sally
Make an appointment with Sally

Relief From Anxiety

Anxiety is a common problem and is increasing not only in Australia but worldwide. Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, 1 in 4 people (1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men) will experience anxiety (ABS, 2008). In reality, the rate may be far more than 25% as some of us keep our troubles to ourselves and try to hide behind the happy mask.

But the good news is: You are not going crazy even if your brain is telling you otherwise! The sore throat may in fact not be cancer and your headache may not be a brain tumour even if your great Aunt died of it last year.

Are you feeling:

A range of physical sensations in your body? Muscle tension, headaches, fast heart rate, a racing mind, feeling breathless, sweating or trembling? Do you feel like running away from life??

OR

Catastrophic and negative thinking, wondering if your world is going to end?

OR

Emotional fear and dread about now and the future?

If this is you, the good news is, you are not alone and you can beat it, even if it feels like you can’t. Everything passes. The brain tumour you thought you had disappeared the next day after a good night’s sleep. The lump in your throat wasn’t cancer after all once the last assignment had been handed in or the final deadline had been met.

So how might we start to take control of our anxiety now that we have accepted that it exists? Accepting anxiety isn’t as easy as it sounds! We don’t like it, we don’t want it and we just want to be rid of it. But anxiety is stubborn, we need to have a plan to work with. Anxiety is cunning, it can sneak back into our lives when we are least expecting it. So, we need to be creative.

Firstly, get anxiety out of your head and put it on the table. The critical fearful voice has been bullying us for a very long time, it’s time to get to know it.

Let me introduce you to Fergus, my very own handmade fearful friend. He is black and white because he only has black and white thinking. His head is going round in circles (literally). His eyes are almost popping out of his head, and his teeth are chattering. It may be hard to believe but I am very fond of Fergus actually. He has helped me out on a number of occasions! He has even befriended a couple of my clients at Live Well.

So what might anxiety look like for you? Try to draw it, or find a good approximate in a magazine. Although this might seem silly or childish, this is a successful technique for separating us from our problem, or “externalising the problem”. Now that it is outside of our head, we can get a different perspective on it, we have created a distance between ourselves and our anxiety. This is a wonderful start. I bet you didn’t think it could be this easy! Already we don’t have to feel so dominated or bullied by it, we can look at it differently.

Secondly, let’s try a simple breathing technique.

Put some nice relaxing music on, maybe light a candle, or use some aromatherapy with lavender or your favourite natural scent. It is sometimes easier to start your first breathing exercise lying down. If you need inspiration, look at the way babies breathe before the stress of modern day living gets to them! Their little tummies will gently rise and fall, they are the experts at relaxed natural breathing!

Now try slow and deep breathing using your abdominal muscles. I call it fat tummy breathing. We females seem to be always conscious of not having a fat gut, and get into a bad habit of actually holding it in and restricting natural breathing as a result! So suspend that negative self judgement in advance and practice the slow breathing that calms us down. It’s free, needs no wifi and is always effective!

Now, the third thing for this week is to start a gratitude diary. Seemingly Oprah Winfrey uses this tool! Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough are two psychologists who have done extensive research on gratitude. They proved in their study Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life , that after only10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude felt better about their lives and were more optimistic. As a bonus, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to

the doctors than those who dwelt on irritating and aggravating experiences. This highlights the amazing benefits of keeping a gratitude diary which only requires a change of focus and does not require excessive use of daily time or financial outlay.

Even the prestigious universities in the US are embracing it, including Yale, Harvard, UC - Berkley and Columbia University. Here in Australia, the Resilience Project recognises the mental health benefits of gratitude in schools and in the corporate world. Everyone benefits, it’s a real win win game!

So here is a simple suggestion to get started. Dr Martin Seligman , the founder of positive psychology, proved with his colleagues that even a week of doing this improved our wellbeing (Seligman, 2005).

Just write down three things that went well for you each day and their causes. That’s it, what could be simpler?!

I remember asking a child many years ago what she was grateful for, and her answer is still with me. “I am grateful for my hands, because I can help people with them”. Children can be our best teachers.

What do we think is happening at a neurological/brain level?

These simple interventions starts to re-programme the brain, creating a new pathway of neurone firing, steering away from the well beaten track of negative and anxious thinking. These simple but profound 5 minute exercises can make a significant change in the neuronal pathways we use. Tune in next time for more anxiety beating ideas from Dr. Orla Teahan at Live Well.

Dr Olra Teahan is an Integrative GP. She combines the best of conventional Western Medicine and evidence-based complementary medicine with the aim of utilising the most appropriate treatment to meet your individual health needs. She has a special interest in helping with mental health issues including anxiety and depression. 

Read more about Dr Orla Tehan

Make an appointment to see Dr Orla Tehan

 

References:

R. A Emmons & M. E. McCullough (2003) Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 2003, Vol. 84, No. 2, 377–389, available at: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/ pdfs/GratitudePDFs/6Emmons-BlessingsBurdens.pdf.

Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410-421 

De-Stress With Chocolate?

If you overindulged on chocolate over the Easter break, then maybe there is a silver lining. The following foods all have properties that support your nervous system and help you stay resilient when the inevitable stressful times arrive.

Chocolate
Too good to be true? Well there are a few caveats, but chocolate can be good for you. Plenty of studies have shown that eating chocolate stimulates the release of increased levels of mood enhancing endorphins, which decrease stress and pain levels.

Does that mean a big chocolate binge over Easter was a good idea? Well most chocolate is very high in sugar which is a common food we reach for under stress, however sugary foods just make your blood sugar unstable and are more likely to trigger fatigue, anxiety, depression and irritability and diminish our ability to cope. So you’re better off slowly making your way through your Easter stash and sticking to small quantities of quality dark chocolate.

Salmon
Did you eat fish on Good Friday? If you chose an oily fish like salmon you gave yourself a good dose of omega 3 fatty acids which can boost brain function and build resilience to stress.

Leafy Greens
According to Homer Simpson, you don’t win friends with salad, however you do improve your gut health, boost your mood and support the wellbeing and relaxation of your nervous system.

Whole Grains
Don’t tell your paleo pals but brown rice, quinoa, oats are good sources of complex carbohydrates that deliver sustained energy levels and corresponding mood leveling steady blood sugar levels. Additionally whole grains are a rich source of B vitamins which support nervous system health and are necessary for optimal brain chemistry. 

Mindfulness
It’s not just what you put in your mouth that’s important but what state you’re in when you’re eating.  If you’re trying to scoff some breakfast whilst rushing out the door, then eating your lunch in front of the computer it’s no surprise that you body won’t be digesting optimally.  If you can slow down and be really present while you are eating (not watching TV or checking Facebook) then meals can be time for relaxation and nourishment on all levels.


Wes portrait.png

Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

Learn more about We

Make an appointment to see Wes.

How To Beat Inflammation

If you drink the odd turmeric spiced ‘golden latte’ you might already be on the right path. However if you really want to maximise your wellbeing into a ripe old age then it would be wise to get a handle on ways to switch off inflammation and its ability to create chronic disease in the body.

Inflammation can be a normal and beneficial process. Healthy inflammatory responses are launched in an effort to heal after injury, in defence against foreign invaders like viruses and bacterial and repair of damaged tissue. Generally you know something is inflamed when its, red, swollen and painful.

However there’s an increasing consideration of insidious and chronic inflammatory states that are not beneficial and can affect one or multiple organ systems and are increasingly linked to a whole host of illnesses from Alzheimer’s to cancer. These protracted periods of inflammatory response are like ongoing spot fires, often in multiple organs, that are drawing on the immune system’s resources and depleting its capacity to stay on top of its game.

Often the first warning signs of inflammation are noticed in the digestion. The more we understand about the gut, the more we’re seeing that numerous disease process including systemic inflammation begin here. Not surprisingly then, quality, nutritious food is a front line defence against inflammation.

Unfortunately, many common foods like wheat, dairy and especially sugar are seen as potentially inflammatory however there is no blanket rule that you can apply to everyone.

If you know a specific food causes bloating, heartburn or other unwelcome reactions it’s a reliable indication that your body doesn’t tolerate it. On the other hand whole grains, leafy greens and good quality fats are just a few of the common foods that can soothe the inflammatory response.

Whilst diet is the foundation of tackling inflammation, so too is managing stress as stress hormones are fuel to the fire of inflammation in the body. Restoring your ability access quality sleep and emotional wellbeing are just as important.

If you have a few mild symptoms then you can probably make some tweaks to your diet and lifestyle and restore your body back to balance. However if you have more complex and long standing health challenges then it’s advisable to seek help from a trusted professional. I would suggest a great place to start is with a naturopath or an integrative GP


Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

Learn more about We

Make an appointment to see Wes.

Managing Stress with Mindfulness…One Breath at a Time

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It seems most of us are living such busy lives these days, sometimes just getting through the minefield of daily activities can feel exhausting and draining on our health.Whether we are juggling the demands of our jobs or managing a family, connecting with social and intimate relationships, stress is familiar to us all these days.

While a certain amount of stress can be an enlivening and motivating force in our lives, like all things taken in the extreme, it can result in severe disruption to our wellbeing and ability to function effectively.It is well documented that unrelenting stress is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and anxiety and a compromised immune function.When we find ourselves in that stressed state it’s difficult to concentrate and solve problems without feeling overwhelmed.

By contrast we can all recall that feeling of being in life’s flow, facing challenges with realistic acceptance, grace and even humour. At these times we can mobilize our inner resources so the problem itself somehow stimulates a turning point that awakens and propels us forward.The way to gather our potential and tune into a state of flow, is to begin practicing being “here and now” in the present moment. While that’s easy to say, most of us struggle with being present.We have nearly all had the experience of driving the car and suddenly realizing that you can’t remember most of the trip.“How did I get here?”Imagine if we lived most of our lives this way and getting to the end having missed many of the great moments.

Today, meditation is universally recognised as a highly effective tool to stay present and help manage our health and wellbeing in the midst of the madness. Vast amounts of research confirms that by training the mind through meditation we give the body time to relax and recuperate, and clear away stress hormones that may have accumulated in the system.Dr Herbert Benson of Harvard University first established that meditation techniques had a very real effect of reducing the fight-or-flight response, in his groundbreaking research in 1968.Since then, many more studies have reinforced and enlarged upon Dr Benson’s findings and today meditation is widely accepted as a valid practice and complementary to the high tech advances in medical science.

The corporate world, where burnout is a growing problem, has also discovered the benefits of meditation.Ray Lopez, director of the Lawyer Assistance Program for the New York Bar Association, is a strong advocate for using meditation to deal with stress.“When you slow down for a short time on a regular basis, you reduce stress.When people are stressed they think they can do a lot, but they’re limited – they’re impaired. We have to realize that is we don’t take care of our health we’re going to be undone.”

Practicing meditation and relaxed breathing gives us the opportunity to practice responding to our thoughts patterns and stressful situations more peacefully, The positive effect of this is increased clarity, resilience andproductivity, So much so, a number of leading law schools, including Harvard and the University of California are now offering meditation courses to their students to provide budding lawyers with tools to manage stress throughout their future careers.

If you would like to learn more about mindfulness meditation and how it can help you to better manage stress or more positively enhance your experiences in life, Live Well offers a six week program in mindfulness meditation training entitled Managing the Madness.

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This program was co-created by our resident counsellor and coach, Katrina Berg-Howard with Sal Flynn and in 2012, Katrina began presenting Managing the Madness regularly during school terms.

The program is designed to demystify meditation and make it accessible to everyday people wanting to experience the empowerment and calm that meditation practice can bring – managing the madness indeed!

A Gut Feeling

You may have already heard the term “leaky” gut floating around. Also known as Increased Intestinal Permeability, “leaky” gut is a term used to describe a condition whereby the integrity of the tight junctions and cells of the intestinal wall, and thus its functions (particularly the containment of materials and toxins) have been compromised. So the gut ends up “leaking” undigested proteins, particles, microbes, toxins, and waste metabolites into the bloodstream where they freely circulate (and shouldn’t be!). This can impact many aspects of our health, and can even affect the brain.

Why a gut tune-up is important:

The condition and functioning of the gut is not only important for digestive health, such as the ability to break down, absorb and utilise nutrients from our food, or mitigation of digestive conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It also feeds into, and has implications for other less obvious conditions.

Interestingly, the gut is also thought of as the ‘second brain’. This is mainly due to the fact that it relies upon the same neurons and neurotransmitters (such as serotonin) that are found in, and communicate with the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). This helps us to understand the link between gut health and mental health, and how they feed into each other. And suffice it to say, how psychological, emotional and physical stress can cause digestive troubles.

Signs to look out for, include:

       Nutrient malabsorption -the inability to absorb essential nutrients

       Fatigue

       Chronic inflammatory conditions, such as: Asthma, Eczema, Heart disease, Dementia, Fibromyalgia, Pancreatitis, Gall bladder disease, Obesity, Autism, Depression, Lupus, Bleeding gums and Dental caries.

       Candida or Thrush infections

       Immune system function -susceptibility to, and ability to ward off infection; sensitivities and allergies; and autoimmune conditions such Hashimoto’s, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Type I Diabetes.

       Cognitive function: for example, clear vs foggy thinking, and memory decline.

       Mental health: poor mood (or moodiness and irritability), depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder

       Hormonal imbalances, for example PMS or PCOS.

       Skin conditions: eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea

       Thyroid disorders

       Joint pain

       Weight gain

       ‘Syndrome X’ (metabolic condition)

       Toxic build up

       Headaches and migraines

Factors that contribute to poor gut health and function, and “leaky” gut include:

       Stress! Stress has a major impact on the gut (among other things!), and I see this in clinic, time and time again… The gut is a sensitive organism, that is highly vulnerable to the ill-effects of stress. From the tension held in the nerve plexus that feeds into the gut (the vagus nerve), changes to appetite, decreased digestive capacity (the ability to break down, absorb and utilise nutrients from our food), ulcers, reflux, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea and IBS, to lowered immunity, increased susceptibility to infections, and the development of neurodegenerative and autoimmune conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

       Poor Diet -The SAD (Standard Australian Diet), which is laden with nutrient poor, processed, sugary, and fried foods. The SAD burdens the body with rubbish, and typically lacks essential nutrients found in a nutrient-dense fresh produce, and a chemically-reduced (Organic, where possible) wholefood diet that the body requires to maintain good health and functioning.

       Foods that commonly contribute towards and aggravate poor gut health include: sugar, gluten and unsprouted grains, dairy (although the A2 variety appears to be less so), caffeine, alcohol, processed/packaged and foods.

       Medications: particularly antibiotics, due to the fact that they tend to wipe out the good bacteria colonising the digestive tract, destroying the ecological balance; the oral contraceptive pill; paracetamol and ibuprofen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) being most common.

You can take back control of your gut health today by:

       Remove common culprits from the diet, like gluten, dairy, and sugar. This can be challenging to think about, but it doesn’t have to be too complicated or hard. The ability to collate the right resources and support, and make a plan goes a long way in making any dietary transitions like this smooth.

       Take your time to eat. Even if it is just 5 minutes, undistracted.

       Chew well. It may sound silly, but by paying attention to chewing each mouthful more completely, we’re actually helping the mechanical breakdown of our digestive process, which takes a burden off our digestion, and makes it noticeably smoother. Digestive disturbances are reduced, and nutrient absorption is enhanced.

       Get serious about minimising your stress levels -see my articles on 6 Ways to Beat Stress Fast, and Little things you can do to Unplug for a few good pointers.

       Eating more leafy greens, which feed and encourage good bacteria growth in the gut, and help physically sweep toxic waste out from the bowel. They’re also rich in stress-busting nutrients.

       Trying a gut-healing Bone Broth. You can find good recipes for how to make a bone broth all over the net. It is a nutrient-rich, mineralising broth that helps restore the mucosal lining of the gut, aids digestion and the immune system.

       Seeking professional help for a proper assessment, and treatment.

 

Preparing For Labour and Birth

While every pregnancy is unique, the trimesters of pregnancy have a natural progression that can be both exciting and challenging. The first trimester is well known as the time of ‘morning sickness’ which for many women should really be called ‘all day sickness’! The second trimester, if you’re lucky, can be a wonderful time of renewed energy, continuing exercise, work and just getting on with it!

It’s not often until the third trimester that pregnant women begin to focus on getting set-up for the arrival of the baby, known as ‘nesting’, and reality sets in - this growing baby inside your swelling belly will need to come out!

These days, for many pregnant women there are several options for:

●      the type of birth you choose (or at least - plan for!)

●      location of labour and birth (home, conventional hospital, birth centre or water)

●      who supports you through your labour and birth (obstetrician, midwife, doula) and,

●      the many painkillers available, if needed.

In many ways, these options have supported women to have the right to choose how they plan for the birth of their child. On the other hand, the cascade of intervention has increased. Whatever your choices are around the many aspects of the coming labour and birth, it’s important to prepare so that you feel physically, emotionally and mentally strong. This way, you have the best chance of having the labour and birth you wish for.

Focus on grounding, earthing and opening

To bring your beautiful baby into this world requires a focus on lowering and opening your energy, and your body will follow suit. We often look at birth as the baby coming ‘out’, however it is more about the baby ‘moving down’ then out. This can be seen through the natural physiology of birth preparation. As you venture further into the third trimester, your baby’s head and body start to move lower down into your pelvis, this is known as ‘engaging’. It’s a sign that you and your baby are getting ready. Once you’re into the full swing of contractions, and you’re often fully dilated, you begin to feel ‘bearing down’ contractions which is an intense need to push down into your bottom to help the baby down and out.

This natural pull toward Mother Earth is why many women across the world give birth in a squatting, standing or kneeling position as these positions support the need to bear down and allow your body to best open up. Allowing your energy to lower, will also help you to calm your mind, rein in your emotions and balance your hormones - thus, the important phase of ‘nesting’. The key, therefore, is during your third trimester spend time grounding yourself by:

●      taking time out to calm your mind and emotions through activities that are relaxing (swimming, baths, gentle walks, reading, gardening, mindfulness - yes, go buy a colouring book, better yet - make something for the nursery!)

●      keeping an eye on your stress levels (this raises your energy up toward your head instead of lowering, and can knock out the balance of hormones)

●      spending time in a gentle and supported squatting position (prenatal yoga classes are wonderful for teaching this)

●      meditation and visualisation focusing on a smooth, safe and joyful labour and birth

●      practice breathing down into your body and sending your breath to where pain is so as to ease the sensation, and

●      sit and fold baby clothes and blankets!

Build your team

An integrative approach to your health and wellbeing throughout pregnancy is vital. By ‘integrative’, I mean accessing both the mainstream medicine field just as much as kinesiology, acupuncture, naturopathy, osteopathy and yoga. Many women who come for kinesiology report that the ease, success and recovery of labour and birth came down to how physically, emotionally and mentally fit they were.

Pregnancy is quite a ride; one full of wonder, awe, anxieties, fears, tears and joys. Be gentle on yourself with how you’re feeling and know that somewhere, around the world there’s another woman (if not, many more) feeling just like you. If you’re feeling worried or anxious about labour and birth, if you would like to check in on your body, hormones, emotions or mental strength for pain, if you would like to check in on your baby to see if s/he needs anything, or if you would like to learn cool tips and tricks then come along to Live Well for some kinesiology. It’s all about team work for you and your baby.

The magic of Nigella seeds!

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Nigella seeds are produced by the Nigella sativa plant, a flowering annual of the buttercup family, native to the Middle East. The seeds are high in essential fatty acids and can be pressed produce an oil.

Nigella seeds are also known as black cumin or black onion seeds and are one of five spices that make up the classical Indian ‘panch phoran’ mix used to flavour dhal and curries, delivering a peppery and decidedly aromatic tang.

Over the centuries Nigella seeds have earned both considerable renown and some legendary advocates. Galen, the famous Roman physician recommended Nigella seeds as a failsafe cure for colds, whilst the Islamic prophet Mohammed went further, proclaiming nigella as “good for all ailments except death”. Perhaps as a result, nigella seeds are commonly used throughout the Middle East and Asia both as a food and medicinal herb.

Nigella’s status in the West may have remained unchanged as culinary obscurity except for the growing weight of research that indicates nigella seeds have an extraordinary array of beneficial properties. There are over 600 peer reviewed studies referencing the benefits of nigella in a wide range of conditions including:

Type 2 diabetes: by reducing fasting glucose and insulin resistance.

Stomach ulcers: by treating helicobacter pylori bacteria.

Epilepsy: by reducing seizures especially where standard medications have failed and

High blood pressure: especially in cases of mild hypertension.

here are also promising results suggesting that nigella seeds may be helpful in tackling golden staph or MRSA Infection, reduce the symptoms of asthma and prevent colon cancer.

What stands out about nigella is the breadth of conditions it seems to influence. Traditional herbal folklore describes the action of nigella as an immune ‘normaliser’ with the unusual ability to treat both overactive inflammatory type conditions as well as conditions where there is immune weakness and lack of inflammatory response.

Whether in the hands of an expert herbalist, sprinkled onto a flatbread, or thrown into a curry, Nigella is another of nature's magical gifts to be cherished.

Make an appointment to see Live Well's Herbalist!

Are Vitamins a Scam?

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Did you catch last week’s Four Corners episode, “Swallowing It”, examining the vitamin industry? For those that missed it, there were a number of issues raised but the most pressing concern identified was the gap that can exist between the marketing hype and the research data supporting the claims made by vitamin manufacturers.

With around 70% of us regularly taking some form of supplement, the vitamin industry is substantial. All supplements in Australia are subject to scrutiny with regards to their safety by Canberra’s very own Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). However, the claims made about a supplement’s effectiveness are not investigated unless a complaint is made to (TGA) which means essentially manufacturers are trusted to do the right thing. You would hope all vitamin companies behaved ethically and responsibly at all times but unfortunately, there are many examples of overblown claims and instances of downright deception.

So where does this leave those of us who want to be proactive about our wellbeing yet are understandably cautious about wasting money on supplements that might not be doing us any good? If you ask me, the answer is to seek professionally qualified and personally tailored advice.

As we know, unlike prescription medication, most supplements are readily available and can be purchased without professional recommendation. Research into our supplement buying habits has shown that we are largely a nation of self-prescribers. The biggest influence on what supplements we buy is what our friends and family recommend to us and no more reassuringly, the second biggest influence is “Dr Google”.

The way to maximise the benefit from any supplement you take is to talk to an expert, such as a naturopath or GP that specialises in nutritional medicine. They are most likely to be across the latest evidence-based research and more importantly, they will have knowledge of your individual circumstances and requirements. The expertise needed to accurately prescribe supplements is underestimated. For example, it is not enough to just select the correct supplement. Getting the right dosage is just as, if not even more, important.

So whilst many fair-minded Four Corner’s viewers would have come away with the impression that vitamins are a waste of money at best and a fraudulent scam at worst, I think that impression is misleading. Supplements have an important part to play in supporting our wellbeing, however, care and expertise need to be utilised in the choosing of what supplements, if any, are going to best serve your needs.

Endometriosis: From a Naturopathic Perspective

Endometriosis is a condition that really needs to be treated using the best that both the Medical and Complementary healthcare systems have to offer. That is to say, treatment for Endometriosis should be undertaken in a comprehensive and focused way to throw everything you can at it, and achieve an effective therapeutic outcome.

Medical treatment may seek to reduce or stop periods altogether, using hormonally active medications to induce a continual pregnancy-like hormonal state or produce a temporary menopausal state. It would also be concerned with medicating for pain management, mood swings and depression. Medical procedures can range from the less invasive, to the higher end of the “invasive” scale, and may involve:

•       Medication -for example, oestrogen-modulating (e.g. the oral contraceptive pill),  progestogens (e.g. Provera), and analgesic medicines

•       Laparoscopic investigation and surgery/ablation

•       Regular D and Cs (dilation and curettage)

•       Hysterectomy

Naturopathic treatment for Endometriosis is centred on supporting appropriate organs, systems, and pathways in the body through a comprehensive nutritional and herbal prescription to target the disease pathways; as well as beneficial dietary and lifestyle modifications in order to mitigate symptoms, improve reproductive health and fertility, and ultimately, to manage and reduce disease progression.

After proper assessment of the condition -that is, how active the Endometriosis is, severity of growth and symptoms, treatment goals (symptomatic improvement vs fertility, for example), and contributing factors; the main areas of focus in treating Endometriosis from a Naturopathic perspective involves the regulation and support of:

•       Hormones (especially oestrogen and cortisol)

•       Liver detoxification pathways to improve toxin and hormonal clearance

•       Gut health and function

•       Lymphatic and immune function

•       Inflammation pathways

•       Oxidative stress within the system

Naturopathic investigations may also include:

•       Assessment of goal for treatment e.g. symptom reduction, fertility or treatment of entire disease process

•       Hormonal and Pain tracking

•       Hormonal profile (salivary test)

•       2 and 16 (pathways) oestrogen metabolism testing

•       Adrenal hormone profile

•       Food igG and IgG profile

•       Coeliac profile

•       Complete Digestive Stool Analysis

•       Vitamin D status

•       Lipid profile

•       Gene screen

•       Liver function: capacity for detoxification/assessment of phase I and II of liver detoxification processes

•       Levels of oxidation, pro-oxidant factors in the diet and lifestyle (e.g. stress and poor nutrition), and antioxidant status

Nutrition

Nutritional and dietary measures are mainly focused on the repletion and boosting of key nutrients, as well as the avoidance of foods and substances necessary to impact Endometriosis pathways (outlined above). Basic principles of which, include:

•       Nutritional (and herbal) prescriptions to provide symptomatic support (including psychological and emotional stress), and target inflammation and other disease pathways

•       Limit pro-inflammatory substances and foods, such as: dairy, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, non-organic meats and farmed fish, processed/packaged foods, saturated fats and deep-fried foods, soy and other oestrogenic foods (including xeno-oestrogens, commonly ingested through use of plastics)

•       Include more: fresh, whole (natural, non-processed), and organic (this is actually really important, therapeutically) foods that are nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-packed!

•       Increase fibre to aid digestion, enhance the ecology of the gut, and clearance of oestrogen and toxic waste from the system

LifeStyle measures may include:

•       Meditation and relaxation techniques can be invaluable in helping deal with the psychological, emotional and physical impact of endometriosis

•       Moderate, daily physical activity like walking, stretching and yoga are beneficial

•       Losing weight (if necessary), as adipose (fat) tissue produces more oestrogen, and is very hormonally active

•       Refraining from sexual intercourse during menses (due to the link to possible retrograde blood flow)

•       Awareness around what’s in your environment, food and personal care products (e.g. moisturiser, make-up, deodorant, sanitary items); and making appropriate changes to avoid and decrease exposure to chemicals and toxins (for example, heavy metals, pesticides, parabens, phthalates, solvents, and moulds), is a must.

References:

Cook, K and Trickey, R. Endometriosis. Crows Nest, N.S.W: Allen and Unwin, 2002.Print.

Hechtman, Leah. Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier Australia, 2011.Print.

 

 

Shanna is a qualified Naturopath and EFT Practitioner, and member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA). 

Shanna's interest in natural medicine came about through her own health challenges. She has a special interest in helping people with natural fertility, hormone balance, stressanxietydepression, fatigue and general wellbeing. 

Learn more about Shanna
Make an appointment to see Shanna

 

How to help your child through anxiety

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We just want them to be happy! We wish that they see in themselves what we see: brilliance, inner beauty, wit, compassion and love. These little people with whom we spend so much of our energy supporting their growth, safety and exploration through life. More and more I am seeing precious children come into Live Well showing signs of anxiety and sensitivity. Sometimes parents are aware of anxiety in their child, other times it is revealed in the session. Either way, no parent likes to see their child struggle with anxiety.

How anxiety presents in children

Anxiety has common characteristics among children and you may see one or more of the following:

  • sweating and a red face (excluding after running around!)
  • tense muscles, clenching hands or jaw
  • shallow or quick breathing, or holding their breath
  • sleeping problems – trouble falling asleep or waking often
  • loss of appetite or over-eating
  • verbalising or physical expression of worry, being scared, low self-esteem or confusion
  • wetting the bed or frequent toilet use
  • an increase in challenging behaviours such as tantrums, anger or frustration, or

Why is my child anxious?

Anxiety is an aspect of survival and 'fight/flight mode'. When a child doesn't feel safe or they're worried or uncomfortable about something, their body responds by releasing stress hormones from the adrenal glands to help them deal with the situation. Stress hormones cause a child's breathing to quicken, their heart to race, the blood to rush away from their logic brain and to their survival brain and their body gets ready to 'fight' or 'flight'. In fact, many of the symptoms you see in the list above are caused by stress hormones.

A child can start to struggle with anxiety because they don't know how to calm down at the end of the day, to feel safe again and to know that all is well. It could be stress around making friends, being bullied, frustration about learning something new or 'not being good enough'.

Frequently, the emotional and mental pattern is linked to how a child feels about themselves: Do they feel comfortable being themselves? Do they believe in themselves and accept who they are? Do they express self love and kindness? Are they confident?

What you can do for your child

I am sure that many parents reading this article are already doing a lot for their children in terms of expressing their love and support physically and emotionally. If there is a known source to your child's anxiety then it is important to address this: does the school and staff need to be involved, does your child need some tutoring or do they need to be supported to express how they feel? Emotional resilience comes from emotional intelligence and a life-long lesson is understanding and expressing our authentic self.

Whilst you are working through any external elements, you can support your child through anxiety from the inside out by using complementary medicine!

  • Acupressure: ask your child to make a loose fist and press or massage where the tip of their little finger rests – this will help relieve the anxiety and connect them to spirit/instinct.
  • Essential oil: place a few drops of Rose essential oil into their bath or on their pillow, or place one drop into a teaspoon of a carrier oil such as almond oil and massage into their hands and wrists, feet and ankles. Rose essential oil will help your child to feel love and to express love rather than feel isolated.
  • Nutrition: foods high in refined sugars and/or caffeine can set off stress hormones as the adrenals work to balance blood sugar levels, so it's important to give your children healthy treats that maintain their blood sugar levels. 

And remember, all of these techniques can also be used by adults who suffer with anxiety!

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If you would like help to understand what is happening with your child or support with helping your child through anxiety, then call Live Well and book your child in for a kinesiology session with me (Kate!). Kinesiology is gentle and safe for children of all ages – they end up having a great time learning and listening to their body! You will be given tools and techniques to take home which can be used as resources for life. Help your child to reach their full potential and to be happy and strong within themselves.

*Concession prices available for children and students

**Private health fund rebates available from participating health funds

***Weekday and Saturday sessions

How to Reboot Your Relationship With Stress

Stress: the word conjures so many different reactions, judgments and responses. Can you recognise yourself in the following portraits:

The stoic

You will proclaim “I’m not stressed” only to reel off a list of Herculean tasks you are currently juggling on 5 hours sleep a night. To you, admitting to being stressed is to entertain the possibility of a chink in your armour. Not identifying as being stressed is your way of staying resolute in the face of challenges, to continue to reassert your capacity to cope regardless of the challenges life throws at you.

The upside: tremendous drive, resilience and capacity to get things done. You’re still ploughing on when most mere mortals have fallen in a heap.

The health downside: when you crash you crash hard. Not content with the typical cold or flu, these tough nuts will not slow down until a full blown auto-immune crisis hits, rendering them incapacitated for a lengthy period of time.

Stress reboot tip: Don’t ignore the warnings signs of your health breaking down. Just because you can put up with (insert uncomfortable symptom e.g.: headaches, skin rashes, insomnia etc) doesn't mean your body is not trying to tell you something. Wha starts out as a whisper can end up as a scream if you keep ignoring it.

The dramatiser

Stressful events are mined for their rich potential to provide entertaining stories to regale anyone within earshot. You know you’re stressed but you’ve felt this way for so long now you’ve forgotten what its like to not feel constantly stretched to the limit. Ironically you may find yourself having hour long conversations with people telling them how much you have to do! You are so busy coping with being stressed that you can’t get started on your to do list. You can feel incapacitated and powerless, you procrastinate and are unable to take the first steps into stress reducing action.

The upside: Despite everything you’re often fun to be around, you’ve kept your sense of humour despite the chaos and that’s definitely a good thing

The health downside: you know what to do, you’ve probably already bought the relaxation CD’s.  Your Yoga mat is gathering dust in the cupboard, you keep telling yourself that next month is when you’re going to switch you morning coffee for a green juice. Failure to change your ways leaves your cortisol levels dangerously high, you’re immune system compromised, your energy levels flat and your mood tetchy. You’re better than this, its time to make some changes.

The health reboot: Start small. Commit to doing just one thing every day for this whole month and stick to it. No matter what! In just 31 days time you’ll have laid the foundations to being disciplined about making your health a priority.

The quietly desperate

No one knows how tough you are doing it, you keep up a good front but inside its a different story. You might be so good at coping that you’ve even convinced yourself that your ok but deep down you know you’re struggling.

The upside: You are resilient and people turn to you because, despite the turmoil within you radiate calm (even though your not feeling it). Once you learn to better manage your stress you’ll be able to switch on your true inner zen at will.

The health downside: You’re not coping even though you look like you are, which is dangerous. You might turn to alcohol, sugar or other forms of short term stress relief but it only makes you feel worse. It doesn’t have to be like this.

Stress reboot tip: Feeling good is not as far away as it probably feels right now. You just need to make some positive changes, starting today. Exercise is your friend, as it will perk up your liver, cleanse your blood and lift your mood. Once you get a bit of momentum everything will feel and be easier.

Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stressanxiety and depression
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupunctureherbal medicine and meditation.

Learn more about We

Make an appointment to see Wes.

Nutrients to Combat Anxiety

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When it comes to anxiety, nutrition can make a huge difference to your resilience and wellbeing. That means your diet, along with carefully chosen and professionally prescribed supplements, are key tools for reducing the symptoms and the effects of anxiety in your body and mind. Below is a summary of what your brain and nervous system are craving when you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety.

 

Magnesium

Supports:

  • Mood, wellbeing & relaxation of the nervous system.
  • Also needed for activation of B vitamins & vit D + decreases lactate in system

Found in:

Dark, leafy greens; whole grains e.g. brown rice, quinoa, oats; nuts & seeds e.g. almonds, cashews, sesame; eggs; legumes e.g. beans, lentils; avocados; bananas; brewer's yeast.

 

B vitamins

Support:

  • Nervous system health & function + necessary for brain chemistry production.
  • Many anxiety symptoms are associated with vitamin B & Magnesium deficiency .
  • Deficiency in B & Magnesium also increases lactate in blood;
  • Note: B vitamins + Magnesium both feed the & relax the nervous system

Found in:

Dark, leafy greens; whole grains –brown rice, quinoa, oats; nuts & seeds; legumes e.g.  beans, lentils.

 

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)

Support:

  • Healthy nervous system function (protects & nourishes).
  • Necessary for nervous system transmission (communication between nerves/brain)
  • + Healthy mental/psychological function including mood (EFA therapy is highly beneficial in treatment of anxiety & depression) 

Found in:

Avocado; cold-pressed oils (especially olive and sunflower); oily fish (salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel); nuts and seeds.

 

Adequate protein

Supports:

  • Rule of thumb: 1g protein per 1kg of body weight, per day
  • Protein provides us with amino acids (building blocks) that are the precursors (needed substances) to produce the brain chemistry we need

Found in:

Leanmeat, fish, eggs (try to get organic & free-range where possible); legumes e.g. beans, chickpeas, lentils; nuts & seeds…

Try to have protein as a part of every meal/snack, and you will notice a difference! J

 

Complex Carbohydrates

Support:

  • Smooth, sustained energy release; Balance blood glucose; High in essential nutrients & fibre.

Found in:

Whole grains e.g. brown rice, quinoa, oats; dark, leafy greens e.g. silverbeat, kale, bok choi, lettuce; sprouts; vegetables (root vegies like Pumpkin, carrots, turnips, Swede, sweet potato are esp. grounding in anxiety!); Sprouts (nutrient powerhouses! Loaded with essential nutrients e.g.  vits, mins, phyto(plant)chemicals, anti-oxidants..)

REMEMBER, OUR BRAIN & NERVOUS SYSTEM ARE LIKE PONDS WE NEED TO KEEP TOPPED UP! 

Overwhelm is the New Black

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At Live Well we see so many people who, for one reason or another, find themselves feeling stressed, overwhelmed or anxious. In some ways it’s no surprise, modern life demands more and more of our attention. If you’re like me, when you have a spare moment, you’ll find yourself compulsively checking your emails or your text messages or reading something on your phone. Never before have we had such access to information and stimulation.

The consequence? We’ve trained ourselves to be switched on and ready to respond at all times. From a body/mind perspective this means we are perpetually in action mode. It’s interesting to note that you can be lying in a hammock on a tropical island sipping a cocktail but if you are thinking about work then, as far as your nervous system is concerned, you may as well be at work.

Generally speaking we spend way too much time switched on and not nearly enough time spent unwinding and relaxing. In fact most of us have become really good at ‘coping’ with being switched on for long periods and really bad at switching off and deeply unwinding. If you push yourself through the day with low energy and high stress, finding you need to rely more and more on stimulants like sugar and caffeine to keep you going through the day you will know what I’m talking about.

The solution? First to recognise where you find yourself. If you are overwhelmed but just keeping your head above water, don’t wait to see whether life’s going to get easier. If you’ve felt this way for a while, it probably won’t. If you’re already experiencing uncomfortable physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, episodes of panic as well as a feeling that you’re no longer able to keep a lid on things then you probably already have anxiety.

To break the cycle I suggest seeking professional help from someone who is going to offer not just short term relief but longer term holistic strategies. Psychologists, for example, will give you a range of mind tools and education. A naturopath can give you herbs and supplements to reduce symptoms, build resilience and restore balance. Acupuncture will reset your nervous system, helping you access deep states of relaxation perhaps for the first time in a long time. Kinesiology can help you understand the mental and emotional patterns that have been keeping you from switching off and of course a massage or pampering treatment creates a space and time where you can completely let go. Just remember ‘coping’ doesn’t have to be your norm, for your health’s sake it’s time to take action.

Is Integrative Medicine For You?

In 2017 we have never had more breadth of choice for meeting our health needs. The rise of evidence based medicine has challenged all streams of medicine become much more focused on demonstrating results. As a consequence we seem to worry less about whether a treatment is considered ‘conventional’ or ‘alternative’ but whether it’s going to be effective. The key question we all ask is “will this make me feel better”.

In this climate of expanding options for healing and wellbeing, the field of integrative medicine has blossomed. Integrative medicine is described as a combination of the best of conventional western medicine and evidence-based complementary medicine.

To me, integrative medicine is a best-of-both-worlds model of healthcare. Crucially, it neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative therapies uncritically. Whilst there are sections of both conventional and alternative medicine camps that still are, and probably always will be, stuck in an ‘us-vs-them’ mentality, the sensible majority have moved on and are enjoying the broad range of healthcare options we are so fortunate to have in a city such as Canberra.

As the Royal Australian College of GP’s eloquently puts it,
“Integrative medicine seeks to broaden conventional healthcare by emphasizing principles that some doctors and patients believe are undervalued in conventional medical practice.”

These values include:

  • A holistic framework: taking into consideration a person’s physical, psychological, social and spiritual wellbeing.
  • A keen focus on illness prevention and boosting wellbeing.  
  • Using effective but less invasive or natural interventions whenever possible.
  • Recognition that the partnership between the patient and the practitioner is a key component of the healing process.

Whilst it may not be for everyone, it would seem to me that Integrative medicine is flourishing because it’s the kind of health care that, for many of us, is more closely aligned with our values and needs

Wes Smith - Live Well Director

New to Live Well in 2017: Integrative GP, Dr Orla Teahan. To enquire about an appointment with Dr Teahan please call Live Well on 62950400. For more information visit livewellnaturally.com.au/integrative-medicine