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

 

Resolution Revolution

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Why do we make New Year's 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.

How Meditation Changes Your Brain For The Better

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Lately everyone’s talking about meditation and just how good it is for you and a lot of that buzz is thanks to research showing the positive effects of meditation on the brain. You have probably heard about neuroplasticity, a mouthful of a word that means your brain can change and that’s a quite big deal because the prevailing logic until the 1980’s was that once you became an adult you were stuck with the brain you had. Now we know you can continue to train your brain much like you can train your muscles and one of the most cutting edge brain training tools is, of course, meditation.

Here’s how:

De-stress your amygdala

Meditators know it and now science has explained why meditation makes you feel so damn relaxed. It comes down to meditation switching off activity in the amygdala –  the part of the brain that becomes overstimulated with chronic stress and anxiety. Meditation not only makes you less reactive it also boosts your resilience to stress.

 

Thicken Your Cortex

Meditation makes your cortex thicker but that’s a good thing! Thickening of the cortex is associated with boosting your memory and attention as well as your brain’s ability to plan and organize. It also points to the potential for meditation to prevent the thinning of the cortex associate with old age memory loss.

 

Happy Hippocampus

Meditation has been shown to boost the level of grey matter (science speak for brain power) in the part of your brain linked to positive emotions as well as emotional stability – the hippocampus.

 

Juice up your Junctures

Not only does meditation make you feel good it also makes you a kinder more compassionate person thanks to the activation of you temporal parietal junctures. This area in your brain is tied to empathy and means you are more willing to respond to those in need.

The wealth of research showing the benefits of meditation is amazing and the results being produced are astonishing however I’m sure what we have already seen is just the tip of the iceberg of what we will discover about the benefits of meditation.


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 with Wes

Tips to Unwind and Recharge These Holidays

Whether you’re heading to the coast, having a ‘staycation’ in Canberra or travelling to be with family over the Christmas holidays, apply these tips to make sure your body and mind get the most benefit from your break. These suggestions are especially important if you’re someone who is busy all the time and, when you do stop for a break, you find it hard to unwind.

Unplug

Give yourself a break from the world of screens. Working, for most people, requires staring at a screen for most of the day. If, on top of that, you like to unwind by watching TV, gaming or being on your phone/tablet/laptop then you’re long overdue for a digital detox. Dust off the board games and the jigsaw puzzles, get out the craft gear and the paint brushes, read some (real) books or tackle some cryptic crosswords. Whatever you choose, your nervous system will thank you.

Monotask

Are you always juggling about a million priorities? It’s time to master the art of monotasking and kick your multitasking habits to the kerb. Even if you’ve got a tribe of kids and you’re unruly in-laws are coming to stay, you can still find a part of each day where you allow yourself the luxury of being able to focus on just one task at a time. When you give your mind just one thing to do, a kind of magical meditative stillness is unleashed and your whole body and mind can surrender into being in the moment. 

Nature

It’s as easy as opening your front door and walking through! Get yourself outside and into nature these holidays in any way shape or form that takes your fancy. Have a picnic in the park, potter in the garden or head off for a night or two camping. Time in nature elevates your mood and is one of the most healing treats for an exhausted nervous system. If you’ve got the energy you can combine nature and exercise and accrue extra bonus points viabushwalks, mountain biking or kayaking. However, if it takes all your strength just to drag yourself out of the house, treat yourself to a snooze under a shady tree in the back yard instead.

Holiday Living

When you get back from your break make an effort to continue to integrate your favourite holiday habits into your regular routine. It takes practice but you can learn how to keep your relaxation tank topped up in order to build resilience and bolster your wellbeing throughout the year.


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 with Wes

Want sugar and sleep? Dream on

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We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but you’re going to have to pick a side. Sugar and sleep do not good bedfellows make.

It’s no secret that consuming sugar will get you wired. Think of children buzzing around at a sugar-laden birthday party, lips caked with, well, cake.

We know that sugar can bring with it accelerated ageing, weight gain, increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. But, oh joy, it also offers sleepless nights spent tossing and turning. Meanwhile sleep fights for immune strength, metabolism, memory, learning, a great mood, and has a leading position in our overall health and wellbeing.

Now let’s look into why you should kick sugar to the curb for the sake of a little shut eye.

Unbalanced blood sugar levels

Some research indicates that snacking on sugar before sleep may have a sedative effect; and perhaps you’ve experienced this as a coma-like state following a night-time sugar binge or a carb-heavy lunch (see more from the National Sleep Foundation).

Unfortunately, the physiological struggle between responding to sugar intake and resting for sleep doesn’t stop once you’ve finished eating. It continues throughout the entire phase of sleep and your body spends the night balancing blood sugar levels.

If you wake often during the night or wake-up tired it could be the chocolate you munch on after dinner. Snacking on sugar before bed will raise blood sugar levels, and you know what they say: “what goes up must…” Eventually blood sugar levels will fall and during the night you will have a sugar crash (the very same one you get at 3pm in the afternoon).

Stress hormones

In response to the sugar crash, your adrenal glands release stress hormones such as cortisol which enable the ‘fight or flight’ response by increasing your heart rate, quickening your breathing and alerting your brain to the need for action (all this when you’re meant to be resting). Inevitably, your body wakes often in the early hours of the morning. Your body can’t sleep as you’ve given it fuel for action, not rest.

If you enjoy a bedtime snack then opt for complex carbs like oats and other whole grains that keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the night. Try a warm glass of milk, a few slices of cheese, a small tub of yoghurt or a handful of nuts as they all contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which stimulates serotonin – the hormone that makes you feel good, relaxed and ready for a solid night’s sleep. See our post on 10 natural tips to help you sleep better.

Are you a night-time sugar tragic? Have you noticed its affect on your sleeping patterns?

Kate Pamphilon is a Canberra-based kinesiologist and writes about complementary medicine for her blog, Holistic by Nature. Kate works with clients to clear what stands in their way from living a full and happy life. 

Breathe Easy

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Breathing, you’re doing it right now but have you ever stopped to notice your breath? Is it smooth and deep or shallow and fast or something different? Of course it changes throughout the day depending on what you’re doing.

Your breathing is usually governed by your autonomic nervous system, meaning its on auto pilot, so that when you go for a run you don’t have to think: I must breath faster now, it just happens. You also have conscious control, so you can deliberately slow or deepen the breath just by thinking about it. 

What’s fascinating is how your breathing changes when you are stressed. Cue simplified biology lesson. Stress triggers a brain and hormone response, which amongst other things makes your breath faster – lets call this the stressed breath. This is an excellent thing for running away from sabre tooth tigers, which was what it was designed for, but a terrible long-term strategy for thriving in chronically stressful situations like juggling a busy day at work or at home. 

Under ongoing stressful conditions – otherwise known as modern life, your breath, when left to its own devices, will be sustained in faster and more shallow pattern. 

That’s because without intervention your physiology easily gets stuck in an unhelpful feedback loop. Your brain ‘listens to’ your breath and if your breathing is shallow and fast then it registers ‘danger’ and it perpetuates the hormone signals to continue the stressed breath. Along with the stressed breath comes chronic muscular tension, elevated blood pressure, depressed immune system function, impaired thinking capacity, digestive system shut down and chronic nervous system exhaustion. If that list sounds familiar that’s because these are the most common health issues of our time!

Thankfully spending a few minutes a day consciously applying simple breathing techniques can profoundly change your wellbeing. 

Try this simple exercise. Breathe in normally and count one, two, three and so on until the end of your natural easy inhalation. Then as you breathe out extend your exhalation by one count. So if you breathed in for a count of four breathe out for five. Continue this for 10 to 12 breaths and notice the difference even a few conscious breaths can have on the way you feel.

Toxic Emotions? Try This Approach ...

Have you ever felt really angry or afraid, embarrassed or lonely? Of course, you have, they are just some of the common side effects of being alive! What's interesting is that whilst we may answer YES when asked directly, we may still expend enormous energy trying to not feel these common emotional states when they arise. Why is that? Well, it's a good question, one that I'd like to explore here and in doing so we will cover one of the most helpful concepts I've ever come across, one that's made a huge impact on my life.

Emotions are like the weather

One of the most helpful lessons I have learned from Yoga philosophy is that emotions are like the weather; they are very changeable (a concept that I grasped easily having grown up in ‘four seasons in a day’ Melbourne) but more significantly emotions are BEYOND OUR CONTROL. We have no say in whether it rains or is sunny today all we can do it adjust the way it is, if its cold we rug-up, if it's raining we take an umbrella. No amount of effort will change what the weather wants to do! If it's sunny and we want rain….too bad!

When it comes to emotions, most of us want it to be sunny all the time, we prefer “positive” emotions like love, joy, happiness, contentment and gratitude to so-called “negative or toxic” emotions like fear, sadness, anger, despair and bitterness. The problem is at some stage or other we experience all emotions, every day a hundred or more emotional states arise within us. If we like some and don’t like others we’re going to try and hang on to the one’s we like and push away the ones we don’t like…the result is tremendous tension and guaranteed misery.

Letting go

Before I understood the idea that emotions were beyond my control I had been suffering under the illusion that I could make myself feel only enjoyable emotional states if I tried hard enough. If I felt bad, sad or mad I thought I must have done the wrong thing, I should have meditated more, should have exercised more, should have thought different thoughts or eaten different foods! In truth, I could have done everything "right" and yet be visited by sadness, confusion or fear. When I truly understood emotions come and go of their own accord it was an immense relief, for I could begin to accept how I felt. It was the start of a journey away from trying to make circumstances fit how I wanted them to be and towards a state of more ease with how things are.

Having a War With Reality

Yoga teacher and author Steven Cope describes the battle between how we want things to be and the way things are as our “War With Reality”. Fundamentally whenever we are suffering the root cause is this war between how we want to feel and how we actually feel. The result of denying or suppressing the unwanted feelings we have is we lose the opportunity to feel ok with how things are.

Remember the weather analogy, if it's raining we’re sad, if it's sunny we’re happy and even though we know it's not going to last we spend our days chasing this temporary happiness and running away from (or suppressing) a temporary sadness. It’s exhausting and futile and we end up being anxious about not just how we feel but also who we are and how our life is.

Acceptance

What heals the dissatisfying gap between how we want to feel and how we actually are feeling is the practice of acceptance. Remember no amount of wanting the sun to come out when it’s raining is going to make a difference, so it's time to stop fighting a losing battle. A good starting point is to become curious, just like meeting new people is interesting, meeting these previously shunned feeling states is fascinating. What we find is that these yucky feelings are really not that scary when we consciously choose to be with them rather than run away from them. Some states are more challenging than others, who really wants to feel ashamed or lonely or full of dread, I’m not saying this is always fun or easy necessarily but it’s a relief to really FEEL what’s been there all the while. Each time you feel an uncomfortable emotional state without running away you start dismantling the tension built up around trying to avoid feeling it. The experience is like being able to welcome all these feelings that are just different parts of yourself, no part of you need be in exile anymore, all of you is welcome.

Welcoming

So the theory is very simple, feel whatever arises, whether it’s a pleasant or unpleasant emotion. I would suggest starting with a daily practice of quiet observation for 2o minutes. In that time sit or lie somewhere where you won’t be disturbed, close your eyes and take your awareness inside your body and feel what’s present. It’s a bit like sticking your head out the window to see what the weather’s doing but this time you're taking a look inside of yourself. Ask yourself how you feel. Is it's sunny and warm and peaceful in there or is there a storm raging with wild winds or something in between. The crucial thing is to not judge what you find but practice welcoming what you feel. Imagine you are opening the door to a dear friend, as you open the door you don’t know if she is elated and smiling or upset about something and in tears, either way, you welcome them in. Extend the same courtesy to yourself and welcome what you find no matter what state you’re in.

If you find it hard to feel anything, try mentally visualising the events of the day in one-hour blocks and see whether it triggers any emotional states to observe. With practice you can check in with your emotional state throughout the day, it only takes a moment to stop take your awareness inside and feel what’s going on in there. In time you’ll be able to stay aware of uncomfortable feelings as they’re arising even in really challenging situations.

Important Tips:

Avoid the Story

Try to avoid getting involved in the story of WHY you feel how you feel, for our purpose of making friends with your feelings the why is not important, it can easily become a distraction from feeling,  which is our goal.

Acceptance is not the same as being passive

Accepting how you feel from moment to moment isn’t the same as being passive and accepting circumstances in your life that you need to change. For instance, your may observe a feeling of frustration arising frequently. Really feeling the frustration and accepting its presence (without wishing it was wasn’t there and without creating a story about why it’s occurring) lets you be comfortable with observing the feeling in yourself. Once we tap into and accept our true feelings they can be a catalyst to change and growth as we are no longer numb, no longer in such conflict with ourselves. Feeling frustration arise regularly and accepting its presence may lead to embarking on a new path, perhaps more in accord with your deep desires in life. Interestingly the more we can open to feeling the uncomfortable emotions like fear and loneliness the more open we are to feeling the enjoyable emotions like love and contentment.

You’re not alone

You’re never alone. If you feel overwhelmed by grief, for example, imagine all the billions of human beings around the world, and in the very same moment that you are grieving many thousands of others are also in that exact same state. We’re all human, we all have the same challenges and experiences, that can be a comforting thought.

Sometimes this work brings up sensations and feelings that are very powerful and challenging. If you feel overwhelmed and scared find a professional to support you as you do the work, such as a psychologist, or counselor.

I hope these ideas and practices help you as much as they have helped me over the years. It's an ongoing task but one that is well worth the effort.

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 with Wes

Are you tired but wired?

Can't switch off? Feeling on edge and irritable? Desperate for a really good night's sleep?

You really would like to wind down and relax but modern life has other plans for you. When the birds start chirping you desperately want to stay a little longer under the doona but that desire is squashed by the need to get to work or get the kids off to school.

Once you are awake it's difficult to slow down. You are subject to an increasing onslaught of information and stimulation unlike anything humanity has previously known. One edition of the Sydney Morning Herald contains more information than someone in the 17th Century encountered in a whole lifetime. No wonder your mind is busy and can't switch off.

Its not surprising that so many clients we work with at Live Well are what I call 'wired but tired'. It's easy to become wired when your nervous system, which is responding to an avalanche of stimulation runs faster and faster just to keep up. 

As a consequence of being wired, it becomes progressively harder to switch off. Have you ever noticed how babies when they get overtired can’t settle and become increasingly distressed? As adults the same process is happening but we are better at pushing through the tiredness barrier and soldiering on. In other words you are good at 'switching on' and even when you do stop for a moment your nervous system stays on standby mode, ready to leap into action again at a moments notice. It’s not surprising all this go, go, go leaves you feeling deeply exhausted.

So how do we access the deep rest our bodies are craving? Try these tips:

  • One night a week, go electronics free: switch off the TV, turn off you mobile phone and hide the laptop. Better still turn off all devices at least 2 hours before sleep and give you body and mind a chance to unwind. 

  • Include a relaxation practice in your day, even a five minutes starts to re-train your nervous system to unwind.

  • Get out in nature or learn to meditate both are very healing and proven to reduce stress.

  • Let go of multi-tasking all day. Find space in each day where you can stick to one task. Your nervous system will thank you.

  • Remember to breathe. A few deep mindful breaths will quickly bring your mind and body into the moment and offer your nervous system a much needed pause.

  • Reach out and get support. Acupuncture is exceptionally good at helping rewire you body and mind to relearn how to access deep relaxation and restful sleep and Herbal Medicine can profoundly soothe an irritated and depleted nervous system. 

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 with Wes

Top 3 Merry Stress Busters: How to Stay Centred and Authentic this Silly Season

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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. 


Ramone is Live Well's Thai Yoga Massage practitioner and resident Yoga teacher. Her passions include exploring the connections between the body, mind and abundant health, helping people cast-off their limitations so they can start living more fulfilling lives and encouraging laughter, lightness and wildness once in a while! She combines these loves by hosting retreats that combine yoga, meditation and self-study in stunning, natural locations. 
Ramone specialises in Thai Yoga Massage for Pregnancy and is also a qualified Pre and Post Natal Yoga teacher tailoring individual programs.

Beat the bloat and feel better (for Summer)

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You know that uncomfortable feeling when your tummy feels swollen and bloated. You may notice it happens after eating too quickly or having something you know doesn’t sit well with you… Maybe it happens after a certain meal, or perhaps it’s even become kind of normal.

That constant uncomfortable feeling and tightness around the waistband; self-consciousness from feeling like you must look 6 months pregnant or closely resemble Santa; skipping meals to avoid blowing up or not being able to “stomach” certain foods at certain times; sporting a classic muffin top and daydreaming about being able to slip back your comfy pants can really suck the joy out of your day. Especially when it starts to become more of a “norm”.

But did you know that it’s not just “normal”?

A bloated tummy can be caused by a number of factors, and usually a little combination of them, such as:
• Diet and reactive foods/drinks such as that toast or cereal you had for breakfast, the latte midmorning, or perhaps the wine at the end of the day
• Not chewing food properly
• Inadequate enzymes and gastric secretions
•Stress (a major culprit, going hand-in-hand with dietary causes) –and can be situational, everyday stuff or accumulative, and includes aspects like rushing around, feeling time poor, eating-on- the-run, and particularly mental or emotional upsets. Deadlines, places to be, something pressing or on your mind?
• Permeability of the gut wall (is it letting toxins leak into the bloodstream?) from certain foods (especially processed, sugary, wheat or dairy based foods), medications -including oral contraceptive pill, antibiotics and over the counter stuff like paracetamol, hayfever meds; alcohol; parasitic infections; chemotherapy; and stress.

Did you know…

The gut, digestive system, our thoughts and emotions are inextricably linked…This is via the nervous system which keeps them highly attuned to one another, which we know often at a more intuitive level which we articulate through the language we use when we refer to having a gut feeling; or having the guts to do something; getting the (insert appropriate proverbial that starts with ‘sh’ and ends with ‘s’) with someone or something; when something doesn’t “digest” or “go down” well; feeling sick in the guts or sick to the stomach about something…

So how healthy is your gut? Is there an imbalance of harmful (unhealthy and disease causing) bacteria (badies) vs beneficial bacteria (the good guys) in the gut, compromising its delicate ecosystem?

This can manifest with a number of digestive and non-digestive related symptoms, with bloating being high on the list…

If you experience regular bouts of bloating, it’s likely there is more to the story and probably not just “something you ate”.

But the good news is, you don’t have to put up with it and you can beat the bloat this Summer by following some simple principles and practices.

Left unchecked, an imbalance ofharmful bacteria (aka bacterial dysbiosis) can be responsible for a whole gamut of unfriendly symptoms, butcan lead to more serious conditions such asinflammation of the bowel and autoimmune activity.

Here is a common cluster of symptoms that often accompany bloating, and may be indicative of something more going on:

  • Brain fog: impaired clarity of thought, poor concentration and memory –for example, with word recall or forgetting what you came into the room for or what you were going to do next…
  • Mood disturbances such as depression and irritability
  • Fatigue/Chronic fatigue
  • Seemingly uncontrollable cravings for sweet, surgary foods (candida feeds on sugar)
  • Poor immune function e.g. more susceptible to infections going around such as colds/flus
  • Autoimmune activation as seen in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple sclerosis…
  • White coating on tongue
  • Belching
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive need to pass wind
  • Sensation of food sitting in the stomach after eating
  • IBS and Inflamed bowel
  • Headaches & migraines
  • Joint pain
  • Poor stool quality
  • Insomnia
  • Rashes
  • Easily broken nails
  • Itchy skin, ears, nose, throat, vagina, penis, “jock itch”,perianal region, feet(Althlete’s foot)
  • Cystitis
  • Weight gain
  • and last but certainly not least, Bloating!

If you'd like to get your digestion back on track and end the discomfort of bloating then come and see me, I'd love to help.

Shanna Choudhary, Live Well Naturopath

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

 

Thai Yoga Massage

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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.

During a Thai Yoga Massage treatment, the therapist will move you through a sequence of gentle yoga stretches whilst using their 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 two of our own Thai Yoga massage experts, Ramone and Takako who both have a wealth of knowledge of the body's movement patterns from years spent practicing Yoga and martial arts as well as understanding of the body's energetics making them exceptionally aware of, and in-tune with, the human body.

Please click the link to find out more information about the kinds of massage therapies we offer at Live Well or to make a booking with Ramone or Takako.

Junk Food Hurts More Than Your Hip Pocket

Do your best intentions crumble when Tim Tams go on sale?

Apparently, we start out well. A recent survey of 2000 Australians by LiveLighter found that most of us have planned our meals and go to the supermarket armed with a list of healthy items. Nevertheless, our good intentions are thwarted by clever promotions and canny product placement that sees 3 in 5 of us being sucked in to buy cheap junk food and sugary drinks on special. The upshot is that our trolley fills with unhealthy items that we hadn’t planned to get.

According to Heart Foundation ACT Chief Executive Tony Stubbs, “Junk food like chips, chocolate, and sugary drinks are often cheap to buy and heavily promoted in the supermarket, making them seem like a smart financial choice. But in the long run, these foods could come at a cost to your health.”

Sadly, we know that cost can be incredibly high. Poor nutrition is the cause of much illness and premature death in Australia by way of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and many types of cancer and the truth is we are yet to really fully comprehend the broader impact of diet on things like depression and anxiety, arthritis and many other illnesses.

Apart from the cost to our health, junk food isn’t always a smart family budget choice either according to Tony. “If you need more convincing, consider how junk food prices compare to healthier foods. One example is potato chips – they cost around $20 per kg, but bananas will only set you back around $3.50 per kg and are a great alternative if you’re on the go.”

So what can we do to support our goal of eating well and being healthy?

According to LiveLighter ACT Campaign Manager Bernadette Cording, the best ways to avoid buying tempting treats is to visit the supermarket less often and when you do go, stick to the outer aisles. The LiveLighter research also showed that people who make more frequent trips to the supermarket are more likely to buy junk food items on special. So planning your meals ahead and doing a weekly shop is one small step. Additionally, Bernadette suggests “Consider shopping at local markets, greengrocers or butchers where you are less likely to find sales and promotions on processed, high kilojoule food and drinks.”

Sounds like great advice to me. Given our exceptional range of great fresh food markets and farmers markets in Canberra and the warmer spring weather, we have no excuse to eat well.

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 with Wes

Mindfulness Made Easy: 3 Techniques You Can Start Today

Do you get easily side-tracked from what you’re doing and then not get things done?Can you get stuck in thoughts and find them hard to shake?
Does your mind often wander rather than “staying present” in the “here and now”?

I’m sure we could all say yes to these at different times, however if you’re noticing they are occurring for you more often lately, here’s three simple mindfulness exercises to help you “zone in” to being present and help “unhook” you from negative thought patterns.

In the current mindfulness training program at Live Well (“Managing the Madness”) participants are now easily integrating these exercises into their daily lives. You might like to try them too.

Mindful Breathing – if you’ve only got 6 seconds to spare, that’s OK!
Noticing 5 Things You Can See, Hear and Feel … right now
Adopting the Three C’s – Curiosity, Concentration and Compassion

For those who may be unfamiliar with mindfulness, a good definition from mindfulness guru Jon Kabat Zinn is “paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally”.

In our mindfulness training course, we are cultivating the skill of noticing and observing our experiences and responses from moment to moment, mostly using our breath as an anchor, which  helps us to manage stress, stay calm, centred and present…rather than reacting automatically, doing the same old thing or things we later regret, potentially getting stuck.

Remaining non-judgemental is a challenge for most of us. Not only are our brains wired to constantly observe, analyse, prioritise and make judgements in order to survive, work and function but many of us also have a pretty active “inner critic” to contend with, constantly commentating in the background. Mindfulness training helps us to notice these judgements as an “observing witness” – rather than switching the mind off (which is impossible) these exercises help us to consciously notice the noise and choose to turn down the volume.

1. Mindful Breathing

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about breathing for long hours sitting at the top of a mountain or on retreat (although if you have time to do this, that’s great). This is about being aware of your breath as much as possible wherever you are, throughout your day.

So…when you notice that your mind has wandered off, or that you’re getting fused to thoughts that aren’t helpful, or anytime at all, try taking 5 x 6 Second Mindful Breaths as a circuit breaker.

So that’s six lovely big breaths, simply breathing IN-2-3 and then OUT-2-3.

With each breath, noticing the rise and fall of your belly….the expansion and falling away of your chest…the coolness of the air as you’re breathing into your nostrils and the warmth of the air as you breathing out. Try it now! It’s free!!

And if you take 5 Mindful breaths in this way now and again – you’ve successfully completed a 30 second meditation practice. Hey Presto. Who says you’re too busy to meditate?

2. Five Things You Can See, Hear & Feel Right Now

This mindfulness exercise helps to ground us by observing what is present in the current moment. If we’re getting too tied up in knots this can introduce a sense of “what else” is in the picture which is a helpful to “unhook” or defuse from the challenging thoughts.

We can do this one any time, whether you are sitting calmly and quietly on your own, in a meeting with other people, in a busy environment – even driving your car. Obviously keeping our eyes open!

So to start – look around your environment and take extra special notice of 5 different things you can see right now. You can name the objects by speaking out loud or just internally but it’s important to notice each object individually.

Then, taking extra special notice of 5 different things you can hear right now. This may be challenging if you’re inside but see if you can notice even very subtle sounds…so it might be something like…1. the humming of the air conditioning 2. The sound of muffled voices 3. The buzzing of the computer 4. The tapping sounds of the keyboard and 5. The sound of your own breath, breathing in and out.

Finally, now noticing 5 different things you can feel right now. Whether they are internal feelings (fluttering tummy, tightness in chest) or external sensations (clothes on your skin, bottom in the chair, feet on the ground, pen in my hand), whatever you are feeling is OK….we are simply noticing and observing what’s present, then moving on to the next thing. Don’t stay too long with each one to the point of analysing it. Notice, observe, move on.

If you want to, you could then return to the beginning of the exercise and then notice 4 Things You can See, Hear and Feel right now….then 3 Things…then 2 Things and finally then just 1 Thing you can See, Hear and Feel.

Chances are you will feel a lot calmer and more centred after doing this exercise. I’ve done it myself in meetings or during stressful events (like when I accidentally backed into someone’s car last year and the driver was screaming at me…my instinct was fight or flight…I felt quite anxious and scared, but still managed to stay calm by noticing 5 things like…she was wearing a green cardigan, she had red shoes, she has a tight lipped expression, she had curly hair and was shaking her fist).

3. Three C’s of Mindfulness – Curiosity, Concentration, Compassion

Let’s take something we all have to do from time to time – like washing up - and consider how it might be a different and potentially even more pleasant experience, if we adopt the 3 C’s….of Curiosity, Concentration and Compassion (or bring to mind another example)

So, as you are next washing up, see if you can bring some Curiosity to the task, which means washing up as though you have never done it before. Notice the warmth of the water, the smell of the detergent, the bubbles and suds, the tinkling sounds of the crockery and swishing of the water etc.

Try to stay with this exercise for a few minutes by Concentrating on just the washing up. One thing at a time. So often we are multi-tasking and not totally taking in our experience of just one thing. So concentrate, and keep focused. While you are doing the washing up…you are ONLY doing the washing up. It can be more challenging than we think!

Finally, whatever we are doing, try bringing a sense of Compassion into your experience also. Sending some loving kindness to your hands, softening your heart and being open to the experience rather than just “getting it done”.

Consider how adopting the 3 C’s could bring a more mindful and calming perspective to a whole range of daily activities and experience in your day. Here’s some that the current participants in Managing the Madness have found the Three C’s to be helpful in staying present and mindful in their lives:

Eating breakfast without reading the paper and checking emails all at once
Driving to work without the radio on and giving myself some quiet time
Conversing with café staff while waiting for my coffee instead of checking Facebook
Playing with the kids at the park and not taking the phone

Turning off the TV during dinner time, focusing on my family and their conversations. You might find similar opportunities present themselves to you and I hope these simple exercises may be helpful for you in the weeks ahead. Practice is the key. I’d love to hear your feedback, so feel free to let us know what worked well for you and how.

Katrina Howard is the is the co-creator of Managing the Madness, a 6 week mindfulness based meditation program, to help participants to manage day to day stress and anxiety and enhance meaningful enjoyment for life. The next course begins on Monday 7th November, to find out more please click here. 
Katrina is also a qualified and experienced counsellor and coach and runs a highly successful coaching practice Katrina Howard Coaching and Connecting for Change, working with clients across issues relating to relationships, work, family and health.

To find out more about meditation click here

Complementary Medicine

Q: Do you know what they call ‘alternative medicine’that's been proved to work? 
A: Medicine.  From “Storm” by Tim Minchin

 I usually love Australian comic and musician Tim Minchin’s work but it’s fair to say we don’t see eye to eye on healthcare. It would seem however, that his attitude resonates with those who are skeptical about natural therapies.

Recently, I read a discussion thread in an online forum where someone had sought a recommendation for an acupuncturist in Canberra. More than half of the replies were along the lines of “it’s just hocus pocus, a scam, they’re snake oil salesmen, don’t waste your money” variety but much less kindly worded. I searched other complementary medicine modalities including naturopathy and osteopathy and found they got the same treatment. I was shocked at both the vitriol and the cynicism that some have towards well-established complementary medicine modalities.

On reflection I realized that the vast majority of the remarks come from people who have never tried the treatments themselves but nevertheless feel entitled to offer scathing and derogatory assessments. It’s like saying I don’t like that restaurant without ever having eaten there which would be galling enough, however the attitude extends to ridiculing the clientele who love the restaurant for being gullible fools for dining there and accusing the owners of the restaurant of knowingly serving food that has no substance or value. I find comments like these ill informed and patronizing. 

Perhaps this attitude comes from people who feel threatened by the massive growth in natural therapies. To those of us comfortable with a model of healthcare that embraces the concept of the body being able to heal itself and the notion that we need to attend to the wellbeing of body, mind and spirit this expansion in holistic medicine is a very welcome one. For others who cling to a narrower medical model, that if the doctor doesn’t prescribe it must be worthless and ineffective, it creates an ‘us vs them’ mentality. Natural therapies are therefore the enemy and must be attacked. 

I personally have always liked the term ‘complementary medicine’ as it encapsulates the notion that natural therapies, by looking at wellbeing from a different perspective can enhance and improve the healthcare of a society. There are clearly some areas where conventional medicine excels, acute and emergency medicine is one obvious example. If you’re in a nasty car crash you want to be taken to a hospital or if your child has a fever you want your GP to check them over. In other areas of health, complementary medicine is, in my opinion, better placed to help. If I had chronic migraines I’d want to see a osteopath; chronic digestive or skin complaints I’d want to see a naturopath; an auto immune disease or chronic anxiety I’d want to see an acupuncturist.

Additionally there are many areas where you really want to access the best of both worlds. If I was diagnosed with cancer I’d want the best of conventional and natural medicine working together to give me the greatest chance of survival and recovery.

As healthcare evolves we are, by necessity, moving to a world where there is more integration and cross-fertilization of wellbeing models and ideas. It wasn’t long ago that GP’s routinely dismissed the notion that diet had anything to do with disease. Now as research proves inadequate nutrition to be a core driver of disease, there is a massive demand for GP’s and naturopaths who specialise in nutritional medicine. Integrative medicine is growing because it’s the kind of medicine best placed to meet and solve the complex health needs of current Australians. 

Perhaps another way you can read Tim Minchin’s quote is that most of the principles and practices of alternative medicine will eventually be adopted and integrated into mainstream medicine, but it might take another generation or two. Fortunately, as an independent and progressive thinker you don’t have to wait but for now you may need to navigate past the naysayers and the critics.  

Wes Smith

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, stress, anxiety 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 acupuncture, herbal medicine and meditation.