“The Human Spirit Needs Places Where Nature Has not Been Rearranged By the Hand of Man” ~Unknown~
Yay, warm weather is here, as we’re quickly approach the official first day of Summer. Like many of you, I long for this time of year when I can spend time outdoors and I also look forward to taking advantage of the many opportunities to reconnect with nature. This longing for fun in the sun and fresh air is not only rejuvenating both physically and mentally, the great outdoors also offers us incredible healing benefits. Scientists have discovered that by spending time outside we increase our exposure to phytoncides which naturally reduce stress. People who take walks in the park where they encounter many plants and trees, versus walks in the city where they are surrounded by buildings and cement sidewalks, had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as a lower pulse rate, and lower blood pressure readings. In several other studies, specifically one that took place in April 2007, showed an increase in white blood cells within a group of 12 healthy men ranging in ages 37-55 , who took two-hour walks in a forest over a two-day period. In January 2008, a group of women who also participated in a very similar experiment entitled ”forest bathing” had an increase in white blood cells and a reduction in anti-cancer proteins, which lasted up to one week due to their exposure of phytoncides which are found in forest air.
The beach is another place to go for wonderful healing benefits. Salt water is high in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and bromide which not only accelerates the healing of cuts, it also helps to fight infections, reduces inflammation of joints and relieves muscle pain and soreness. Salt water also stimulates blood circulation, increases moisture retention, detoxifies and promotes cellular regeneration. As a result it offers beautifying and anti-aging benefits, for both the inner and outer body. Regular beach time & salt water swimming also offers healing benefits for skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. In summary, spending quality time in nature, offers us incredible physical and psychological benefits, such as recovery from stress, increased relaxation, decreased mental fatigue, better performance, restored mental clarity, increased immune function for improved heath, healing and an increased overall sense of well-being.
Best Places to Enjoy Nature
3) Local Parks
4) National Parks
6) Camp Sites
A Few Outdoor Nature Activities for Summer:
6) Paddle Boarding
9) Outdoor Meditation & Relaxation
10) Outdoor Yoga & Fitness Classes
Want to feel better mentally, physically and emotionally? Increase the amount of time that you spend outdoors surrounded by nature!
May is mental health awareness month. Our mental health is an aspect of invisible chronic illness that we can easily overlook, because we’re busy focusing on the pain, discomfort or numerous other symptoms that accompany our autoimmune disease or chronic conditions. We must keep in mind the importance of paying close attention to our mental and emotional health, as well as our physical well-being. Depression is not only a symptom of conditions which affect the brain, such as Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or a symptom of conditions that affect mobility such as autoimmune arthritis, it’s also one of the leading causes of disability effecting approximately 120 million people worldwide. Being able to recognize the signs of depression and having a well established support system is incredibly important. Symptoms of depression include: anxiety, persistent sadness and hopelessness, loneliness, sense of loss, withdrawal from friends & loved ones, isolation, loss of interest in activities, enjoyment, feelings of guilt, low self-worth, sleep disturbance, disruption in appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. There are ways in which we can manage our own symptoms of mild depression and these methods also work with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. Such as exercise, yoga, meditation, lifestyle management, stress management, balanced whole-food nutrition, and nutritional & herbal supplements. Within our support systems it is incredibly important to also include a mental health professional who is capable of easily recognizing when depression exceeds our ability to self manage, in which case medication or psychotherapy might be needed.
It’s hard to believe that this awareness effort has been underway since 1949, especially since mental illness was incredibly taboo until recent years. We are so fortunate to live in society where advocacy is alive and well. Education is at our finger tips and we can openly discuss invisible chronic illness in all of its forms. Along with Depression & Major Depression also known as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) & clinical depression, there are numerous other mental disorders which fall into the category of mental health and require awareness such as: ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder GAD, Panic Disorder, Eating Disorders, Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Dissociative Disorders, Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Phobia, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Schizophrenia, Self-injuring Behaviors, Social Phobia and Tourette Syndrome.
1st week in May is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week
The entire month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month
There is now neuroscience research that support yoga’s positive effects on anxiety, stress and depression. As the medical community continues to embrace the healing benefits of yoga does this mean that one day your doctor just might prescribe yoga for what’s ailing you?
We’ve heard about the amazing healing effects of meditative techniques such as relaxation, meditation and yoga for many years, including how these reduce the activity of the autonomic nervous system, alleviating stress-related maladies, including migraines, anxiety and depression, among others. Now there’s additional medical research available to back these claims. Dr. Chris C. Streeter Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Boston University School of Medicine practices yoga and conducts research on its effects.
Dr. Streeter conducted a study with doctors of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, comparing two groups of exercisers (group 1) people doing yoga and (group 2) people walking. After 12-weeks, those in the yoga group showed greater improvements in their mood and anxiety levels compared to the walkers, and there was a positive correlation between increased Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), a key neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA levels were measured through brain imaging, and improved mood. The results of her study latest study is published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicinein 2010.
There is an estimated 20 million Americans practicing yoga. It’s no wonder that yoga and alternative therapies have shown up as elective courses at many medical schools across the country, including Boston University, Dr. Rob Saper of BU a former burned out medical student in the 80′s took a year off to study at Kripalu, the yoga retreat in western, Massachusetts, which he says, inspired him to “try to change medical education and medical care in a way that’s more wholistic” with an emphasis on self-care. Medical students at BU learn of yoga’s research-based benefits, in hopes that these future doctors will be able to exploit their knowledge to help patients as they become comfortable enough to include this alternative therapy in their evidence-based practice (EBP), perhaps one day prescribing yoga as they would Prozac or even pain killers.
Thanks to much research, the medical community continues to embrace the healing benefits of yoga among other natural and alternative healing methods, this is a wonderful news for those of us with who live with invisible chronic illnesses, and their multitude of symptoms, and many of which we might choose to manage naturally. Yoga is also great for chronic pain, it also lowers levels of inflammatory proteins, and helps with many other ailments. As an avid yogi and sufferer of Ankylosing Spodylitis, Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue & Immune Dysfunction, I for one look forward to seeing yoga or even acupuncture appear on doctor’s electronic prescription pads. Perhaps doing so will garner even more support from insurance companies, hopefully making alternative treatments affordable and accessible to everyone.
You’re only one workout away from a good mood! It’s fairly common knowledge that exercise has incredibly positive effects on the body, but exercise can also improve mental health.
It takes only 10 to 30 minutes into cardiovascular exercise or strength training to release endorphins, which helps to reduce stress, and relieve symptoms relating to anxiety, depression, tension, fatigue and anger, while also improving vigor & self-esteem. The release of endorphins also helps to reduce pain (including chronic pain) & enhance the immune system. Having workout partners or joining a group exercise class gives you the added bonus of socializing with people who share your interests and common weight loss & fitness goals. Continued exercise will also help to delay the effects of aging. Having a regular workout routine is much like having your very own fountain of youth! After your workouts you experience a sense of euphoria and a higher level of energy. You will also likely sleep better after a good workout, feel more energetic the next day and find yourself in a better mood.
So come on, what are you waiting for let’s get moving!
Courtesy of Shake Fitness
Long-Deep Breathing Technique used in Yoga & Meditation to Release Stress, Allowing the Mind & Body Much Needed Recovery.
This breathing technique calms the mind and soothes the emotions. Use at night prior to bed or at anytime during the day when you are experiencing high stress periods. Lie down on your back if possible, or trying sitting someplace calm & comfortable. Close your eyes, breathe through your nose. On your inhalation, fill your belly with air, pushing your stomach up to ceiling. Complete the exhale, relax your belly and bring your stomach back into its normal relaxed position. Continue the process for 3 to 11 minutes. Inhale positive thoughts & feelings, and exhale (a.k.a. release) negative emotions:
Repeat this Mantra 3xs:
Today I will…
INHALE health and EXHALE disease
INHALE strength and EXHALE weakness
INHALE energy and EXHALE fatigue
INHALE faith and EXHALE fear
INHALE peace and EXHALE tension
Wishing you pain free days & many stress free moments.
Today I will renew myself by letting go of all expectations.
Relaxation is good for the mind, body & soul. Create your very own relaxation ritual that you are sure to use each night. You can curl up with a nice warm cup of decaffeinated-herbal tea, such as Chamomile and a good book. This will allow for well needed emotional, mental & physical recovery time. Everyone can benefit from taking the time decompress and reflect on the events of the day. However, those suffering from chronic invisible illness need more recovery time than the average person. Taking the appropriate amount of time for rest and recovery will help with the daily battle of managing symptoms such as fatigue, pain and inflammation.
The Healing Power of Chamomile Tea
The medicinal and healing benefits of Chamomile Tea have been well known among herbalist and tea enthusiasts for centuries. Now there is scientific proof that this amazing herb is useful in relieving a wide-range of physical ailments. Chamomile known by many names: Matricaria recutita, manzanilla, chamomilla or German chamomile; is an annual plant belonging to the Asteraceae or Compositae family, also known as aster, daisy, or sunflower family. Also referred to as Chamomilla chamomilla, Chamomilla recutita, Matricaria recutita, and Matricaria suaveolens.
The heath benefits of Chamomile Tea are many, including it’s ability to boost the immune system and aid the body in fighting infections associated with colds & flu. This fact was supported in a study conducted by American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, where fourteen men and women drank 5 cups of Chamomile tea daily. Urine samples where taken before and after consumption for comparison, where is discovered that there was an increase of hippurate, which is a natural compound of phenolics or polyphenols found in plants. Many polyphenols have been known to have antibacterial properties. This is one confirmation of the plants ability to boost the immune system helping the body to fight infections.
This study further discovered the existence of glycine, which is a a nonessential amino acid and an inhibitory neurotransmitters which works as a mild sedative, nerve relaxant and antispasmodic. Successfully relieving muscle spasms, menstrual cramps and proving useful for relaxation and symptoms of insomnia. Balancing out neurotransmitters such glycine can be incredibly beneficial to those who suffer from anxiety, depression, compulsive behavior, ADD, ADHD and stress-related disorders. This amazing, yet powerful herb has also shown to have anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive and antibacterial properties. Making Chamomile useful for reducing pain and inflammation when applied topically and when taken internally, successfully reducing and eliminating headaches, migraines, intestinal cramps, stomach upset, gas and diarrhea in both children and adults. In addition, studies have confirmed it’s efficacy in eliminating colic in babies.
Chamomile remains in the system and continues to heal even if when it isn’t consumed daily, as proven by the London Chamomile Tea study. Participants were tested for levels of hippurate and glycine up to two weeks after they’d discontinued drinking the herbal remedy and it was discovered that levels of both compounds remained quite high.
The healing properties of herbs are numerous and offer us an abundance of health benefits, as with any medicinals, proper safety precautions must be taken with use. Chamomile should be avoided by those who suffer from ragweed allergies or those who may have reactions from other plants in the composite family, such as daisy, aster, chrysanthemum, or marigold. Joining the ranks of herbal tea enthusiasts, herbalist and the Holistic Health community, are those of the medical communities who are also embracing the need for functional foods and natural remedies. This numerous studies relating to Chamomile Tea and other and natural supplements. Chamomile helps to calm the mind which then in turn relaxes the body, be sure to add this amazing herbal remedy to you daily relaxation ritual.
Read more on Natural Stress Management Techniques.
The Chamomile Study was published in the January 2005 Journal of American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Colic study and the results of two clinical trials under Complementary, Holistic and Integrative Medicine: Chamomile; by Paula Gardiner; April 2007 issue of Pediatrics in Review.