Immune System Support

Two days ago, I posted the article Self-Care Tips to Ease the COVID-19 Anxiety and shared a Meditation recording to help ease the anxiety while we are moving through the events of the COVID-19. I mentioned boosting our immune system through life enhancing emotions rather than getting caught up in anxiety.

Today, I want to share the article of my colleague Naturopathic Dr. Felicia Assenza from the Awakening Health Clinic in Burlington in regard to supporting our immune system. Felicia herself is in the in the high-risk group due to a pre-existing health condition, and I very much appreciate her levelheaded approach to the situation that we are currently faced with.

We are both here to support you through these challenging times.

You can reach Dr. Assenza through her website https://www.drfeliciaassenzand.com/ and book a virtual or phone appointment with her.

You can reach me to book a Zoom/Skype/phone appointment at 905-286-9466 or greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca.

 

 

Empowered Immune System Support

The news of the latest Coronavirus or COVID-19 seems to be spreading even faster than the virus itself, understandably bringing lots of fear and panic along with it. In times like these, it can be very easy to feel disempowered and helpless against this virus which seems to be popping up in every corner. My goal with this post is to help bring some calm to the situation, clear up some misinformation, and to provide you with some empowering tools to help support your immune system.

What is COVID-19?

You’ve likely heard lots of information and misinformation about the virus so far from various sources. Here’s a reliable source and helpful information sheet from the Ontario Ministry of Health that will hopefully clear up any misinformation.

How can I prevent COVID-19?

There are the standard ways of preventing the spread of infection that you may have seen in the news:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Avoid touching face and mucous membranes (nose, mouth, eyes, ears)

The above are definitely important ways of preventing the spread of infection. There are also some other things you can do that might not be as widely known. Below is a list of some simple things you can do right now to support your immune system so that if you do come in contact with the virus, your immune system will be armed and ready!

Vegetable Soups and Bone Broth

These are great ways to get lots of nutrients in that will help support your immune system and keep your vitality up. The more veggies you can get in the better. You can also add lots of garlic, onions, and oregano to these soups. As we’ll talk about later, these have some helpful anti-viral properties.

How to incorporate:

Check out my bone broth recipe. You can also use pre-made soup stock if you’re short on time or vegetable stock if you’re vegetarian. Always be mindful of ingredients though! Once you have the broth, just add veggies. Check out one of the many soup recipes on Yummly if you need some inspiration and guidance.

Mindful Time in Nature

Nature and mindfulness both play an important role in immune heath. We know that the stress hormone cortisol suppresses our immune system and there are innumerable studies showing that mindfulness and time in nature both reduce stress.

Getting out in nature also gives you a chance to get some fresh air, a change in scenery, and a shift in perspective which can be quite powerful when it is so easy to get caught up in the anxiety surrounding current events.

How to implement:

Go outside. It’s that simple. Maybe to the park down the street. Maybe your backyard. Maybe as much as your balcony or front porch. Just take a minute to be in the present moment and really connect with something bigger than yourself. This would also be a good time for any prayer or meditation practices you may have.

Socializing

This one is important and can easily be forgotten with all the self-isolation that is happening. Socialization, sense of community, and feeling connected is important for our immune system and overall health in general.

How to implement:

There are so many ways to implement this one. Call a friend, spend time with your pets, reach out to the neighbour you haven’t heard from in a while.

This one is incredibly powerful because by reaching out to someone, not only are you supporting your immune system but you’re giving them a little boost too…two for one!

Vitamin D

Also known as the sunshine vitamin and probably needed by most Canadians at this time of year. It not only helps boost mood and support the immune system but has actually been investigated for its role in preventing upper respiratory infections (1).

How to implement:

Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about the appropriate dose for you.

What happens if I do get sick?

It happens, no need to panic. You’ve likely overcome a viral infection or two in the past, there’s a good chance you can do it again. Take this as an opportunity to relax, recharge, catch up on Netflix, catch up with friends, family, pets etc.

If you, like me, are one of the lucky ones in the high risk group (e.g. elderly or have pre-existing health concerns), know that we’ve also overcome viruses in the past and there is lots we can do to help support the immune and respiratory systems if we do get sick. We may just need to act a little quicker and be a little extra diligent in taking care of ourselves.

Below are a couple of my favourite ways to tackle an upper respiratory tract infection (like the cold or flu) as soon as it starts.

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic contain anti-viral organosulfur compounds such as quercitin and allicin that can help fight off a virus and are not only generally safe for consumption but also have lots of nutrients and other health benefits as well. They have both been shown to help shorten the duration of colds and flus caused by other viruses in the past (2).

How to implement:

Add them to dishes, make sure your chopping them up fresh

Garlic infused olive oil

Adding raw garlic and onions to salads

Oregano

Oregano contains carvacarol which has been investigated for its antiviral properties (2). I’ve seen it work well in helping to shorten the duration of a cold or flu and to help clear coughs.

How to implement:

While adding oregano to meals is a great idea, this one is most potent in its essential oil form

I generally recommend taking oil of oregano at first signs of cold or flu

Respiratory Herbs

There are many herbs that have been traditionally used to clear colds, flus, and especially coughs. St. Francis Herb Farm makes a wonderful blend called Respirafect that I have found to be very effective when taken right at the first signs of illness, especially for those who are at higher risk of pneumonia or bronchitis.

How to implement:

Take at first signs of cold or flu. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about dosing and safety.

I hope that brings some calm and clarity to the current situation and I’m always here to answer questions or address concerns.

We always take precautions at the clinic to prevent the spread of infection but if you have concerns and would prefer to have your appointment virtually or over the phone please let me know. Please also let me know if you are experiencing signs of the cold or flu before coming in for an appointment.

Warmest wishes,

Felicia

References

  1. Ginde AA, Mansbach JM, Camargo CAJ. Association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and upper respiratory tract infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Feb;169(4):384–90.

  2. Naithani R, Huma LC, Holland LE, Shukla D, McCormick DL, Mehta RG, et al. Antiviral activity of phytochemicals: a comprehensive review. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2008 Oct;8(11):1106–33.

A Meditation and Other Self-Care Tips to Ease the COVID-19 Anxiety

In each given moment in time, we have choices to make. Then we have concrete actions steps to take. The last and very significant step—after we have done everything that is in our control—is to surrender and keep centred within ourselves.

Times of crisis like this can bring the worst out in people, but it can also bring out the very best in all of us. It is an opportunity to ask, “what I can I contribute, and how?” It can bring out compassion, kindness and emotionally taking care of each other. It forces us to slow down and reminds us to focus not just on our family, but on all the people who are dear to our hearts. It is a powerful connector.

It is also a reminder that all of us are an important part of a bigger community; not just of our neighbourhood, but our country and our entire world. Our well-being is interconnected. This is a time to come together, to realize that we are all like the fingers of one hand, that we are integral parts of something bigger. It is easy to hold a unity consciousness when we are strong and healthy. Now it is more urgent than ever to remember that we are all part of a bigger unit. We are all in this together and we are the strongest when we remember that each of us is making a substantial difference.

The reasonable and community supporting choice right now is to practice social distancing and self-isolate if possible. To separate yourself physically, there are action steps to take, for example to ensure you have the necessary food supplies and medications in the house so you can keep yourself healthy for the next three weeks.

Other action steps are to remember to make use of the lifestyle strategies we all have learned about. At the top of the list is getting 7-8 hours of good sleep.  To keep our immune system healthy and strong, we also need healthy food and plenty of fluids. Stay rested and hydrated.

Stress and anxiety have a negative impact on our immune system. The spread of COVID-19 is, of course, a serious situation that needs to be addressed, but our fear is an even greater enemy. Fear and panic decrease the healthy functioning of our immune system. A chronic state of stress increases the cortisol and adrenaline levels and the inflammatory markers in our blood. Instead we want to enhance our immunity and cut down on the inflammation. There are certain supplements that are anti-inflammatory, for example turmeric, ginger, and aloe vera.

Just as important, or perhaps even more so, is to focus on life enhancing emotions. Joy, gratitude, peace, forgiveness, empathy, compassion and love are all renewing emotions. That means listening to each other, caring for each other, giving others (and yourself!) attention, affection and appreciation. These emotions connect us and positively affect our heart rate, lower our cortisol level and increase the hormone DHEA, which results in less inflammation in our body.

Breathing techniques, yoga, meditation and self-hypnosis are all ways to focus on peace, calm, joy and gratitude. They are well proven ways to bring our body into homeostasis to ensure self-regulation and healing. While fear is the enemy of immunity, meditation and mindfulness can be our best friends.

As Deepak Chopra mentioned in a Facebook video post just two days ago, it is “better to have a quiet mind than a positive mind”. Positive thinking can be hard to achieve when we are not feeling safe. In fact, it tends to only cover up the fear underneath. It is better to release all life depleting emotions like fear, anxiety, despair, grief, depression, sadness and loneliness and to move into the peaceful place inside. A peaceful calm mind helps us to relax into the moment with consciousness. It enables us to ask, how am I going to show up in this time of crisis?

In the free meditation recording below, I am guiding you through releasing fear and to quiet the mind, so that you can stay strong and healthy as we all navigate through this time together.

MEDITATION Releasing Fears and Quieting Your Mind

 

I have worked with long distance clients remotely for years. For the time being, I have shifted all my sessions to Skype and the platform Zoom to continue supporting you in this time of emotional upheaval and uncertainty. Even if you usually prefer in person sessions, do not hesitate to contact me for an online session. You will be surprised how well we can connect and work together.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Unfortunately, due to issues with the embedded player on my website all my meditations are only available right now by going to my podcast channel

Discover the Hidden Potential of Your Mind

Steps to a Happy Healthy Heart

How do we keep our heart healthy? In this latest episode of my podcast “Discover the Hidden Potential of Your Mind”, I am interviewing my colleague naturopathic doctor Felicia Assenza about this topic.

Join us for a 30 minute podcast episode about heart health.

Or you can also read her article below.

Steps to a Happy Healthy Heart

BY FELICIA ASSENZA, ND

February is heart month and with heart disease being the leading cause of death worldwide, it makes sense that we would dedicate a whole month to bringing awareness around the heart. What can you do for your beautiful, hard-working heart? It’s not easy pumping all that blood around day-in and day-out! Here are just a few things you can do that your heart will thank you for.

 

Say thank you!

What Felicia!? You want me to thank my heart? You may be thinking this sounds a little hokey but before you stop reading, hear me out! If you’re a well practiced yogi or someone who’s familiar with chakras or mind-body medicine, then you probably don’t think this sounds strange at all. Gratitude is good for the heart! For those of you who may be a little more skeptical, I have evidence. Not only has having an attitude of gratitude shown to be an amazing motivator for making positive lifestyle changes but being grateful actually lowers your heart rate, results in fewer deaths from heart failure, lowers inflammation, and helps balance emotions1, 2. All that just for saying thank you! So thank your heart for working so hard, thank the people in your life, thank God or whoever who believe in, just be grateful and at the end of the day, your heart will thank YOU for it.

Exercise

Most people already know that exercise is good for the heart so I won’t spend too much time on this one. One thing I will say though is find a way to get moving that is fun. If you hate running, don’t plan to run every day because you heard that it’s good for you. Find an activity you love and can get excited about and work that into your action plan to get moving.

Make healthy food choices

This is a hard one. There is always so much propaganda around diets, each one making amazing claims until the next one comes along. I think this is an area where it helps to have someone (like your local Naturopathic Doctor) who has a solid understanding of nutrition to work with you to figure out the best food choices for you and your body. I will, however, dare to make a generalization for three heart healthy food choices: 1) Eat lots of vegetables, 2) Eat healthy fats (mono- and polyunsaturated), and 3) Avoid processed foods.

Connect

Did you know that social isolation or loneliness has the same risk as smoking for heart disease. Connection is good for the heart! Find events in your community that you’re interested in. Call that friend or family member you’ve been meaning to catch up with. Head to a public library or cafe to catch up on work or reading. Don’t like connecting with humans? Get a pet. Go for a forest walk. Do whatever you have to do to connect with the people and world around you.

Want to work together on your health journey? Send us an email, give us a call, or book a free 15 minute consult.

Dr. Felicia Assenza can be reached by e-mail:

felicia.assenza@gmail.com

or through the

Awakening Health Clinic in Burlington

Sources

  1. Kyeong, Sunghyon, et al. “Effects of Gratitude Meditation on Neural Network Functional Connectivity and Brain-Heart Coupling.” Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, Nov. 2017, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-05520-9.

  2. Redwine, Laura S., et al. “Pilot Randomized Study of a Gratitude Journaling Intervention on Heart Rate Variability and Inflammatory Biomarkers in Patients With Stage B Heart Failure.” Psychosomatic Medicine, vol. 78, no. 6, 2016, pp. 667–676., doi:10.1097/psy.0000000000000316.

  3. Publishing, Harvard Health. “Loneliness Has Same Risk as Smoking for Heart Disease.”Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/loneliness-has-same-risk-as-smoking-for-heart-disease.

The Placebo and Nocebo Effect

One of my favourite topics is the placebo effect and, on the down side, the nocebo effect. I feel very strongly that we should be leveraging the placebo effect more for our benefit, and be acutely aware not to be affected negatively by the nocebo effect. Today, I want to share a conversation I had with my colleague naturopathic doctor Felicia Assenza on this topic. You can also read her article below.

Join us for a 30 minute podcast episode about

the placebo and the nocebo effect.

 

The Placebo Effect

BY FELICIA ASSENZA, ND

What if it’s just placebo?’ Many of us have heard or asked this question before, especially in the healthcare field, but what if there’s something powerful and healing about the placebo effect that we might be missing by simply brushing it off?

WHAT EXACTLY IS A PLACEBO EFFECT?

A placebo effect can be defined as a beneficial effect from a substance or procedure that cannot be attributed to the specific properties of the substance or procedure itself. In other words, someone gets better from taking something that doesn’t, on its own, have any medicinal properties. For example, someone is given a new cutting edge pill for migraines (actually a plain old sugar pill) and the migraine disappears.

sharon-mccutcheon-530237-unsplash.jpg

HOW POWERFUL IS THE PLACEBO EFFECT?

Since its discovery in the 1700’s, the placebo effect has unfortunately been looked at as more of an annoyance or something that needed to be controlled for in studies of ‘real medicines’ or drugs or therapies being tested for their efficacy. For example, looking at whether or not Drug X is more effective than a placebo sugar pill. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the placebo effect itself began to be investigated in more depth and we’re now realizing the incredible role it can have in very real healing1.

The placebo effect has been shown to play an important role in many ailments that our modern healthcare system has much difficulty with treating, such as pain, depression, anxiety, osteoarthritis, immune health, and ADHD. It has even been shown to be effective in the context of surgery! A fascinating 2002 study by Mosely and colleagues demonstrated that placebo knee surgery (where an incision was made but no actual surgery was performed) was just as effective at relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis as the commonly used arthroscopic debridement surgery2.

DO I HAVE TO BE TRICKED FOR IT TO WORK? 

No! It seems the most important part for a placebo to work is believing that it will work, believing that things will improve or that the outcome you are hoping for is possible. A 2010 study by Ted Kaptchuck and colleagues found that when patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were given a placebo, told they were given a placebo, and given up to date information on the placebo effect, their IBS symptoms still improved3.

THE NOCEBO EFFECT

By this point, it shouldn’t surprise you that when it comes to health (and I’d argue other areas of life as well, but that’s a discussion for another day) if you think something will help, chances are it will! Turns out the opposite seems to be true as well. If you think something will be harmful, chances are it will be. This has become known as the nocebo effect. In other words, the expectation that a harmful effect will happen actually leads to that harmful effect happening. For example, a couple of studies have shown that nebulized saline, which is just airborne salt water droplets, actually triggered asthma attacks in individuals who were told they were being exposed to something they were allergic to5,6. An earlier study even showed that people who thought they were being exposed to trees that they were allergic to triggered the same visible, itchy rash that actually being exposed to the trees caused7.

IT’S NOT QUITE THE SAME FOR EVERYONE

Like everything in medicine and healing, the placebo effect does not look the same for everyone. If you’ve been to one of my workshops or read any previous blog posts, you have probably heard me emphasize the importance of individualized medicine or, as I sometimes like to call it, personalized medicine. Everyone is different and I have yet to come across any therapeutic approach to healing that has exactly the same effect in everyone. The placebo effect is no exception. There has, however, been some interesting study into more specific individual variations in genetics, neurobiology, past experiences, and how they relate to the placebo effect and a person’s susceptibility to the placebo effect1,4.

SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN WHEN IT COMES TO MY HEALTH?

I think one of the most important things that the placebo effect shows us is our own healing abilities. One of the most powerful medicines is you! Realizing that your state of health ultimately falls on you is such an empowering way to approach your health but also quite a large responsibility. However, while you are the most important person on your healthcare team, you definitely don’t have to be the only person on your team. That’s where healthcare professionals come in to offer help and guidance to move you forward on your health journey, which brings me to my next point…

It is so so so IMPORTANT that you trust your healthcare professionals and have a positive therapeutic relationship with them. As we already talked about, the placebo effect can be a great asset to your healing but the nocebo effect can be quite the opposite. It is important that you feel comfortable enough with your healthcare providers to voice your thoughts or experiences with certain treatments and can collaborate on a treatment plan that you both believe is in your best interest.

What’s your experience with the placebo effect?

Do you have any experience with the nocebo effect?

We’d love to hear from you.

 

Want to work together on your health journey? Have more questions about the placebo effect? Let’s chat. Send us an email, give us a call, or book a free 15 minute consult.

Dr. Felicia Assenza can be reached by e-mail:

felicia.assenza@gmail.com

or through the

Awakening Health Clinic in Burlington

The Mind Body Connection

I am exited to introduce you to my new affiliate Andy Schmalz at Awakening Heath in Burlington. Andy Schmalz is an osteopathic manual practitioner and certified athletic therapist with 15 years of clinical experience. He is extremely skilled and heart-centred. He treats each client with compassion, wisdom and respect. He synthesizes concepts in energy medicine, nutrition, and environmental influences with traditional therapeutic concepts to provide a thorough rehabilitation to fit each person’s unique needs. I would like to present him to you by sharing one of his articles.

Over the last few years, I have repeatedly written about the mind body connection and how a physical issue has messages for us in regards to our emotional and mental well-being. Some typical examples are headaches, indigestion or physical pain in different areas of our body, or even a simple cold. Andy’s article is filled with excellent examples of how treatment has to address the whole human being.

Read Andy Schmalz’ article below

and/or join us for a 30 minute podcast episode about

the interconnection of physical issues with emotional and mental ones.

 

The Mind Body Connection

BY ANDY SCHMALZ, DO(MP), CAT(C)

We are often taught that the different issues in our body are the result of physical, emotional, or mental stresses. For physical injuries we look to some sort of therapist that focuses on stretching and strengthening to bring the physical structure back into a balance. Mental and emotional issues are treated with a therapist that has been trained in talk therapy and various rehabilitation techniques to help heal the initial trauma. The compartmentalization of these conditions has created a roadblock to healing for many individuals.

Instead of thinking of physical, emotional and mental health as being separate, they should be viewed as interrelated aspects along the same continuum. This can be thought of as similar to colours on the spectrum. Red, blue, yellow, or any other colour are not individual spectrums on their own colour palate, they are part of the same spectrum that transitions through all colours. In the same way that the inclusion of all colours combined produces white light, the total combination of physical, emotional, and mental spheres is required to produce holistic health.

To introduce this concept, let’s look at a simple injury like a sprained ankle. Imagine you’re a high school athlete competing for your school’s basketball team in the playoffs. You accidentally land on someone’s foot when descending from a jump and roll your ankle. You feel a couple of pops, a lot of pain right away and know it’s not good. You later discover that you will have to miss 4-6 weeks in rehabilitation if everything goes according to plan.

This is a very mechanical issue, right? There was no emotional stress that caused you to hurt your ankle so it should be a straight forward rehabilitation – manage the inflammation, begin range of motion exercise, slowly re-build the strength and continue from there. 4-6 weeks, right on schedule. But let’s take a look a little more closely at the whole scenario.

No injury is ever purely physical or purely emotional. They are opposite ends of the same spectrum. When you rolled your ankle, what were your feeling before and after the injury? You’re one of the better players on the team and there’s likely a feeling of letting your friends down, or possibly frustration because you had prepared hard for this year and now you’re going to miss the end of a short season. Maybe your coach isn’t supportive of the situation. Instead of reacting with empathy he/she responds with frustration that they have now lost one of their starters and the team’s chances of winning the championship have taken a hit. You will be able to feel that pressure during your healing process. And these thoughts don’t even include what might be happening at home – maybe your parents have been fighting lately and it has begun to create a lot of stress in your life. Maybe you’re having relationship issues with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Maybe there’s a loved one like a grandparent whose health is deteriorating.

The point is that ALL of these different stresses and emotions come into play during your healing process. Once again, the physical and emotional domains are opposite ends of the spectrum, and it’s important to have a rough idea where this injury falls within the spectrum to determine what type of treatment is required. This is not to say that every injury you experience needs to be assessed by a trained psychotherapist. Having a rough idea where an individual is in the spectrum helps to identify any barriers to healing as well as guide treatment. In this simple example of an ankle sprain it’s likely that the injury is much closer to the physical end of the spectrum with a small emotional component:

PHYSICAL___X_________________________EMOTIONAL

But if there are significant stressors at home or school, the spectrum would adjust:

PHYSICAL______________X______________EMOTIONAL

The difference between the two spectrums dictates what needs to be addressed in treatment. The physical rehabilitation of the injury does not change – control inflammation, then increase strength and range of motion as appropriate. But it’s possible the athlete in this scenario is carrying some stress that can slow the healing of the ankle. It may still heal on its own but the process will be more complete – and the care for the injured individual much more comprehensive – if the emotional stresses are identified and addressed. While this example is hypothetical, it’s well within the realm of possibility. Let’s look at a couple examples from clinic.

Example 1

A pre-teen girl (age 11) comes into clinic complaining of neck pain and headaches. Upon assessment the typical issues leading to neck pain are present – tension in the deep muscles of the neck, a change in breathing pattern (chest breathing), increased tension in the connective tissues of the abdomen, and weakness in the muscles of the mid back. The simple formula is to reverse these findings and the headaches should alleviate. However, in conversation during treatment the patient reveals that she has been experiencing difficulty all year long with a bully on the school bus that has been progressively getting worse. Her parents are aware of the issue but have not been fully informed about the severity and the young girl has not been forthcoming about the impact it is having on her. This simple disclosure has a significant impact on the healing process. The stress of worrying about a bully on a daily basis will create the tension in the abdomen (see effects of inflammation), change breathing patterns, and likely create the tension in the muscles of the neck as well. The approach to treatment at this point needs to change. The physical symptoms will resolve with the treatment of physical restrictions, but will return if the initial root issue is not addressed. The impact of the stress on the patient needs to be brought to his parent’s attention so they can address the issue appropriately – or the time and energy spent on neck rehabilitation will likely be redundant.

Example 2

Many of us carry low-level stress on a constant basis. We have simply been doing it for so long that we do not realize that it is actually affecting us. But the physiological effects of inflammation and the blood flow changes associated with stress can take a significant toll on us that we do not realize until there is a breakdown in the physical body. In this example you are a parent working full time with a couple of kids. You try to take care of your body but your responsibilities to your children take up much of your time. You are so tired at the end of each day that you can barely make it up to bed. Instead, you pass out on the couch most nights. You do get out for walks with the kids and eat the best you can, but the busy-ness of young children consumes most of your life…soccer practices, music lessons, birthdays, family commitments, etc. Sound familiar?

Life flies by, work gets busier and responsibilities increase. The kids are older but there are some minor troubles at school that worry you. Your parents have started to experience some health difficulties and need some help at home. Each of these commitments has also placed a strain on your marriage that simply wasn’t there 10 years ago.

Then one day you pick up your daughter after a particularly bad day at work – the same way you do every day when you get home from work. She’s only 45 pounds and you have lifted her many times before. But this time your back spasms and you experience extreme pain that brings you to your knees. You immediately know you’ve “blown out your back” and are able to see your doctor the next day. You’re told it’s a muscle strain and that you didn’t lift properly and that’s why you’ve hurt your back. NO WAY!!

Let’s take a close look at what has actually happened. Years of wear and tear and progressive increase in stress have decreased the mobility of your body. The lack of flexibility has finally reached a point where your spine cannot accommodate the things you’ve always been able to do, like pick up your daughter. The bad day at work is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. Your system was at a point where it could no longer accommodate any more change. The small change in blood flow to the muscles due to the cumulative stresses combined with one more stress lead to the muscle spasms.

What does this mean for your treatment? The back will likely heal no matter where you do your rehabilitation. If it’s really bad you might need to try a couple different practitioners before you feel back to normal. Stretch the muscles of the low back, release the tight connective tissues on the abdomen, strengthen the core, and things should resolve in a typical fashion. But here’s the problem – you have done nothing to address the root causes of the back injury. You have approached your rehabilitation as a purely physical phenomenon and therefore you have not completed your rehabilitation. Unfortunately, you will likely injure your back again in time.

What else could you do to completely heal your injured back? You can’t necessarily control the events in life that cause your stress, but you can manage how you react to stress using appropriate techniques. Managing stress is a multifactorial approach (view Andy Schmalz’ article “Managing Your Stress”) that should be part of our everyday lives. If there is a significant strain on you personally because of your parent’s health or relationship you may benefit from talking to a trained psychotherapist that would compliment the physical side of your rehabilitation. Meditation, breathing techniques, regular physical exercise, yoga/flexibility work and potential modifications to your diet all come into play when trying to heal something fully instead of simply managing symptoms for another couple of years.

Example 3

It is important to remember that the physical and emotional connection is a two-way street. The first two examples showed how emotional stresses can either create an injury or slow it’s healing. But issues that seem to be purely emotional can also create a physical imprint. Anxiety is a perfect example. Anxiety is like a little breeze that can quickly turn into a tornado that takes over your brain and body. The emotion is often created by a perception based on a root fear that leads to worry and distress. And like many things in the brain, the more it is experienced the easier it seems to become to trigger an anxiety attack. But what we forget is that there is a physical imprint left in the body that seems to form a physical pattern – and once that pattern is established it feeds into the continued development of anxiety. In essence the physical imprint helps to perpetuate and lower the body’s threshold for anxiety.

When we experience anxiety, breathing patterns change – the breath becomes shorter and we no longer activate the thoracic diaphragm to breathe properly. Instead we use the upper chest muscles and neck muscles attaching to the upper ribs to lift the ribcage and create the breath. This results in increased tension in the thoracic diaphragm, neck and upper back that may affect nerve and blood supply to the head potentially creating headaches. There also seems to be a consistent pattern of tension in the centre of the upper abdomen just below the ribs that can lead to abdominal discomfort. It may be the inflammation in the body from the anxiety or some sort of other pathway but some of the stress from anxiety collects in this solar plexus area that seems to make the emotion of anxiety easier to experience.

As these physical changes culminate, they restrict proper breathing and seem to feed into the development of subsequent attacks. Releasing the physical imprints of the anxiety attacks seems to help the body manage anxiety. It is important to note that this is in no way a substitution for counseling. Instead it is approaching the body from a holistic point of view. Treating only the brain for anxiety will help to decrease the anxiety attacks one may experience, but it will not reverse the physical effects the attacks have.

As you can see in these examples, a physical injury is never just a physical injury. Conversely, an emotional issue will always have a physical imprint. To heal the body, mind and spirit a multi-faceted approach is required. It is up to you to determine the right formula for your healing, as you are the one responsible for your own health. At Awakening Health, our goal is provide you with the information and tools available to achieve the balance in life that we are all seeking.

 

For an Osteopathic appointment go to Awakening Health.

To work on the Emotional and Mental side of a physical issue contact

Belief Change and Relationship Coach Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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Infertility – Issues, Fears and Emotions That Prevent Conception

Diane and Paul have been wanting to conceive for eight years. After trying to conceive naturally, they have done two rounds of IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination) and two rounds of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) without success.

“I am a go-getter, a type A personality”, says Diane. “I am good at managing and I like things to be “just so”. Paul sometimes thinks I am too controlling and rigid. But I have achieved a lot in my life. I had athletic accomplishments, I have a masters degree and a very successful career. I have my diet under control. I eat very healthy, I barely drink, and I work out. I do everything to achieve this goal but the one thing I keep failing at is becoming a mother.”

What Diane says in her intake session is fairly typical for women who struggle with fertility issues. We are so used to being able to control everything, to plan our entire future, set our goals and then work hard at reaching them, that we expect it will be the same with conception, pregnancy and birth.

As Lynsi Eastburn, author of “It’s Conceivable!” and “The 3 Keys to Conception” and one of my mentors and teachers, likes to point out, “you can not left-brain a baby.” Conception is one of those areas that are exactly the opposite of doing. It is all about letting go of control, surrendering and allowing.

So if our main personality parts, like in Diane’s case, are a Driver/Pusher, a Perfectionist and a Rational/Analytical Self, it is going to be harder to let go and to relax. If you come to see me, we will work on achieving more separation from those parts. We want them to “step back” and to allow you to relax into this experience of conception and birth happening in its own time and its own way.

It is easy to see how stress at work or in our family would cause overwhelm, tiredness and anxiety, and how that can affect our fertility. Having personality parts that push us to be perfect at work and in our relationships causes us to override feelings of exhaustion, anxiety and overwhelm. That contributes greatly to stress and therefore to infertility.

However, conception goes beyond “stress”. Infertility is not simply a biological process of a tired body but it is a more complicated culmination of our deeper mind and body working together.

In his book “The Body-Mind Fertility Connection” James Schwartz documents studies that indicate that psychological and emotional blocks appear to be the root of many fertility issues. I have sited some of those scientific studies on this website. To read more click here. 

“For many women, the process of healing the emotional issues that are blocking pregnancy is a key component in unlocking fertility and opening the door to conception. The body and mind work as a synchronistic team.” (James Schwartz, The Body-Mind Fertility Connection)

When it comes to the very painful experience of infertility, we have to remember that our subconscious is always trying to protect us, not trying to hinder us and prevent us from reaching our goals. Our deeper mind is operating on the fears and beliefs which exist in the inner system. Here are some examples of what that can be:

– Feeling stressed or overwhelmed with life

For example, feeling overburdened with work, family or other situations. Our subconscious will respond to that by not allowing us to take on another burden (having a child)

– Fears around pregnancy or birth

For example, fears of doctors, hospitals, medical treatments, labour, giving birth, or our body changing

– Fears around parenthood

For example, beliefs that we or our partner won’t be a good parent; the idea that parenthood means a lot of sacrifice and a loss of independence; worries around balancing parenthood and career

– Fears around the marriage/relationship

For example, worries about the longevity of the relationship with our partner, or about the changes in the relationship, or about a lack of resilience due to the new challenges as parents

– Guilt and limiting beliefs around deserving

For example, due to an abortion in the past, or not having been a perfect parent to other children, or in regards to sexual abuse, rape or other traumas

– Fears of loss

For example, due to past miscarriages or stillbirths

– Rejection of physical functions

For example, beliefs that the female period is disgusting, that sex is dirty, or that giving birth is awful and messy

– Fears based on other people’s experiences

For example, our mother/sister/aunt etc. had difficulty conceiving or had challenging pregnancies/births, therefore we expect the same experiences

– Other limiting belief

For example, in regards to our age, “old eggs”, general health, body image issues etc.

If you read the points above, you might recognize some concerns, or you might consciously feel that there are no problems. However, subconsciously, certain programs might be running based on past experiences and learned beliefs which are stored deep in your mind, often completely without conscious awareness. Our subconscious mind can work for us. It can also work against us, if it is trying to protect us in a way that causes us to experience blocks like infertility.

“…the subconscious mind holds our habits, beliefs, behavioural patterns, anxieties, and fears that we have been accumulating since birth. Then, as adults, when we experience emotions like anxiety, sadness, fear, or anger, we are responding to the cumulative effect of the information and programming that has collected throughout our entire lifetime.” (James Schwartz, The Body-Mind Fertility Connection)

Conflicts, unresolved issues, fears and limiting beliefs send a message to the body at a cellular level. The very diagnosis of “unexplained infertility” means that the presenting infertility is psychosomatic.

Fortunately, any and all of those emotions and fears mentioned above can be healed. As the emotions, fears and issues are processed, conception rates increase dramatically.

To clear out limiting beliefs and fears that keep you from getting pregnant, and to shift into surrendering and allowing rather than trying to control the process of conceiving, I use hypnosis and belief change techniques like PSYCH-K®. The first session is 3 hours long due to an intensive intake, subsequent sessions are between 2 and 2 ½ hours.

For a free phone consultation or to book an appointment, please contact me

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you would like to do regular meditations to destress or use exercises to improve the relationship with your partner go to

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I offer different packages starting at 4USD/month.

To read any of the books mentioned above, my amazon associate links take you directly to your country’s amazon page by clicking on an image. Thank you for supporting me by ordering through my links. You can also get a copy of “The 3 Keys to Conception” directly from me.

 

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

The Importance of Negative Ions

Have you ever wondered why we feel so good when we are outside in nature, walking in a forest, or by the beach, hiking up or skiing down a mountain, enjoying a lake or waterfall? We soak up the sun and breathe in the fresh clean air. This air is filled with tens of thousands of negative ions.

Our environment and our body is made up of both positive and negative ions. Ions are particles, either molecules or atoms, which are electrically charged. Some particles are positively charged and some are negatively charged. Positive ions are molecules that have lost one or more electrons. Negative ions, on the other hand, have extra electrons which are negatively charged.

Electrical equipment such as computers, cell phones, air conditioners and other devices which we are constantly surrounded with, can cause an over-exposure to positive ions. Inflammation and pain in the body are due to an excess of positive ions. Positive ions cause our muscles to contract, they weaken us and make us feel tired, depressed or lethargic.

Negative ions on the other hand, increase the flow of oxygen to the brain. We feel more alert. They also produce biochemical reactions in our body that increase the production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. They are believed to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and decrease our pain and boost our physical flexibility and energy. They balance the autonomic nervous system, revitalize cell metabolism, and enhance immune function. They help us to sleep well and to have smooth digestion.

We don’t usually have the choice to leave our cell phone or computer behind and spend the day in nature. Most of us have jobs that require us to be around electronics all day long. Ideally, we should even connect barefoot with the earth every day, a practice which is called earthing. Three years ago, I examined if earthing helps with jetlag and found that it made a huge difference. But for us here in North America, and for many other places in the world, it is winter right now, which makes being barefoot outside challenging.

How else can we get the negative ions we need? Negative ion emitters or insoles for your shoes which release negative ions into your body are two ways of decreasing your inflammation and pain and getting the health benefits.

To find out more, contact me:

Angelika

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

905-286-9466

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!