Health Tip #41

health-tip-41

Past hurts and traumas have  very real effects on our health.  Health disciplines across the board, from holistic healers, to acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine to modern mainstream medicine, all understand this connection.

Past Hurts and Traumas Can Make Us Fat

Jon Gabriel, author of The Gabriel Method, who weighed 409 lbs at his heaviest, explains about emotional obesity.  Emotional obesity is caused by traumatic events that cause our bodies to hold on to weight as a form of protection.  Jon uses  a number of techniques to overcome past trauma including visualization and doing a rewrite of past traumatic experiences.  Remember when we talked about how diets don’t work and how cravings for junk food aren’t really your fault?  When former life saving adaptations have become maladaptive and health damaging, this is part of the emotional obesity mechanism.

Past Hurts and Traumas Can Make Us Sick

Pediatrician, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris describes ACE’s (or Adverse Childhood Experiences) and toxic stress as childhood traumas that occurred before the age of 18 which have lifelong negative health effects.   Some of these childhood traumas include: physical, emotional and sexual abuse, physical or emotional neglect, parental mental illness, substance abuse, incarceration, parental separation or divorce and domestic violence. These ACE’s alter brain development, immune system development, hormonal systems and the way our DNA is read and transcribed.   17,500 adults studied, showed that the greater the number of ACE’s they suffered as children, the greater the negative health effects in their lives. Some of these negative health effects included greater susceptibility to:  heart disease, hepatitis, depression, suicidal thoughts and cancer.

It’s Not Even Our Trauma

Research has shown that another adaptation is at work when it comes to trauma.  Traumas suffered by our parents and grandparents may be genetically passed down to us.  Information about traumatic situations can be passed down from generation to generation so that successive generations can more easily adapt to their environment.  The trouble is, if our parents or grandparents lived through a war, and they pass that adaptation down to us, we may be living our lives as if we are constantly under attack and constantly in danger.

Methods for Healing Trauma

Fortunately there are methods available to us for healing past traumas.   These methods include mental health care, nutrition, holistic interventions and in some cases medication.  Many of mental health techniques for healing center around the idea of changing our beliefs about the past situations.  Some ways that we can change past beliefs are by doing visualizations and rewrites as Jon Gabriel describes.  Positive affirmations (thoughts) to replace the negative thoughts should be done regularly.  EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Faster EFT are techniques we can learn to do ourselves and involve tapping on acupressure points while bringing up emotionally traumatic events, feeling the emotions of them, releasing and letting them go.  Questioning away negative thoughts and feelings, as in Byron Katie’s The Work, is also an effective method.  In this method we learn to question our stories we create about our life events and to see the positive in every situation we have gone through.  Relaxation techniques such as meditation and focusing on gratitude are helpful techniques we have already discussed.

Health Tip #22

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We Need Our Sleep

Sleep is not merely a waste of productive time.  Sleep is a necessary part of your overall health.  We need 8 hours of sleep each night for optimal health.  Lack of proper sleep can lead to a decline in mental and physical health including:  reduced cognitive function, memory loss, weight gain, obesity, depression, headaches, anxiety, accidents, diabetes, decreased immune function, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and lack of emotional control.  A lack of sleep also exacerbates chronic illnesses already present.

While we sleep, our body goes into a detox, repair and mental and immunological integration faze.  Without sleep we miss out on all of these processes.

Sleep For Better Brain Health

Sleep makes you smarter.  While we sleep, and as we dream, our brain sews together (integrates) the pieces of our experiences into memories, discovers the rules for our lives and fosters insight.  Studies have shown that students performed better on problem solving and memory and recall tests when given a chance to sleep on it.   Our brain strategizes and figures out answers to our problems and possible paths of action and the meaning of our lives while we sleep.  A lack of this process can lead to lack of mental health including depression.

Lights Out

In order to get good sleep we need complete darkness.  Light at night disrupts our anti-cancer, melatonin production.  It is for this reason that shift work is listed as a possible carcinogen.  Blue light emitted from fluorescent and LED lights are not healthy for us during the night.  Using blue-light blockers on technology, blue light blocker glasses and incandescent lights at night will help with this.

Stay In Sync With The Sun

Ideally to synchronize our biological clocks, we should be rising with the sun, being exposed to natural sunlight during the day and darkness at night.  Spending daylight hours outdoors will help with this, especially at high noon, so taking a walk on our lunch break is a great idea.  Not only that, but spending time outdoors in nature also helps with good quality sleep.

Winding Down

Shutting off all electronics and stopping work 1 or 2 hours before bed can help with a good nights sleep.  Doing activities that help you to relax and wind down will also help you sleep.  Have a hot bath, listen to relaxation recordings, read something uplifting or write in your gratitude journal and have a good nights sleep.

Health Tip #8

health-tip-8

We hear the word stress thrown out there so often that it has kind of become meaningless.

What is the big deal about stress anyway?  The big deal about stress is that  it is the underlying factor in every disease you can think of.  We all have a weak link in our chain and under stress, that’s where the chain is going to break.  That’s where we are going to see ill health show up.  Stress can turn on disease promoting genes that might have otherwise remained switched off.  That’s a pretty big deal.

So what is stress anyway?  Stress is wanting reality to be different than it is.  Stress is fear  and lack of trust in our future. Stress is perceiving our situation in a negative way.

Stress can make us crave sugar and processed carbs to sooth our emotions and as a quick source of fuel for our muscles so we can  fight or take flight.  Stress raises our blood pressure.  Stress shuts down our digestive system making it hard for us to extract nutrients from our food and can lead to irritable bowl syndrome and other digestive disorders.

So what can we do about it?  Relax.  Find a few moments each day to unplug and slow down.  Activities that help us to relax and de-stress are ones that encourage deep, rhythmic breathing.  Deep breathing sends the message to your body that you are safe.  Some of these activities include meditation, guided meditation or visualization work, yoga, and tai chi.  Writing in a gratitude journal also affords us that little break to slow down and switch gears.  I enjoy little reminders throughout the day to stop and take a conscious, deep, cleansing breath.  I sign up for positive reminders that remind me stop, relax and refocus.  I also have a mindfulness chime app on my phone that I can set to go off periodically throughout the day as a reminder to take that much needed breath.  And finally as pictured above, one of my favorite ways to relax and de-stress is to take a walk in nature…And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul!

 

 

Health Tip #6

health-tip-6

This tip has recently been a game changer for me.  Like you, I’d heard this advice dished out many times before.  It wasn’t until I actually started to do it consistently that I started to notice changes in my life.  But how can writing in a gratitude journal improve my health or help me lose weight you ask?  It’s actually brilliant in its simplicity.  The nervous system can only focus on one thing at a time.  You can do more than one thing at a time but you can only focus on one.   So if you focus on gratitude and on what a privilege it is to be alive, in that moment you can’t be making those stress hormones that we talked about in health tip #2.  You know, the stress hormones that were making you store fat.  As humans, when we don’t feel safe we tend to store fat.  Not only that but a whole cascade of negative health effects follow in the wake of the release of stress hormones.  So the more we focus on what makes us grateful, the less we can feel the effects of stress in our lives and on our health.  More about stress to come in a future post.  For now let’s get back to gratitude.

So here’s what to do: get yourself a gratitude journal and a pen or pencil.  Keep them on your nightstand.  Every night before you go to bed or every morning before you get out of bed, or both, take a few moments to concentrate on what you feel grateful for and write it down.  Try to find at least five things you feel grateful for.   What we’re really going for here is to elicit the feelings of gratitude.  Ideally you should feel a slight stirring in your heart.  It should feel good.  Why’s it so important to write it down?  There are couple reasons.  1.)  If ever you are looking for inspiration for things to feel grateful about, just look through your past gratitude lists.  If they were written with feeling, they should help get you in the flow.  2.) The mind is a slippery thing.  It can go from a positive thought to a negative thought in a heartbeat.  You can start out thinking about things you’re grateful for and very quickly become distracted and off task.  Writing it down helps pin the mind down.