Diet and exercise are typically the first things that get our full throttle attention when we’re looking to improve our level of health and fitness.
A less tangible but equally important pillar of our health is our overall mind-body-spirit balance. If you don’t think well or feel well, you won’t be as well as you can be.
Caring for your mind-body-spirit balance supports your nervous and endocrine systems. More and more people are overstressed long before they are overweight. Having a poor stress response can also stunt your progress and rob you of enjoying optimal results from your fitness and nutritional efforts.
If you’re eating clean, training hard and not seeing improvements in your physical body or feeling positive, chances are you need to consider giving your mind-body-spirit wellness some direct attention.
Changing your thinking habits is the first step to having your feelings follow. Rather than letting your feelings direct your thinking and behavior, I invite you to try the following activities consistently for the next eight weeks to help nourish your mind and spirit. Trust me your body will feel the benefit!
Breathe: This might seem like a no brainer, and for most people it is. To shift mindless breathing inward and make it mindful, find 5-10 minutes in your day 1-3 times per day to practice conscious, deep breathing. Search “Box Breathing” for tips and technique and don’t be surprised if you feel a little lightheaded before you feel less stressed and reenergized.
Be Grateful: Gratitude is an enormous attitude adjuster. The simple act of starting or finishing your day by writing out or verbally acknowledging three things you are grateful for on a daily basis will have a phenomenally positive effect on your well being. Research suggests that implementing daily gratitude can improve your happiness health by as much as 25 percent.
Meditate or Pray: The similarities found in meditation and prayers are quite revealing. For this practice of mindfulness, use whatever label you feel most comfortable with and for the next eight weeks simply monitor your thoughts and feelings without getting stuck on them. You do not have to sit in the lotus position and chant ‘Om’ all the time to practise mindfulness.
Here is an effective three-step “prayer” style closely akin to mindfulness:
Opening yourself to whatever it is that you are experiencing.
Welcome any feelings of fear, anger, unhappiness or whatever it may be.
Let go of trying to control the outcome and leave it to the universe to take care of.
If you’re alive, you’ve got stress. It’s a natural physical and mental reaction to both good and bad experiences. There are also two kinds of stress, each with different effects on the mind and body.
Acute stress can make you feel pumped and is thrilling and exciting in small doses and can be good for you because the stress hormones released help your mind and body to deal with the situation. However overdoing short-term stress can lead to irritability, anxiety and depression. Acute stress can also cause muscular problems including tension headaches, muscular tensions, stomach, gut and bowel problems such as heartburn, acid stomach, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
While acute stress can be thrilling and exciting, chronic stress is not.
Chronic stress can lead to weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, and depression. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, paired with chronic stress can flip the switch that turns on these health problems.
Cortisol is the primary hormone responsible for the prolonged stress response. In the short term, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but chronic stress puts your health at risk because it causes the ongoing elevation of cortisol, also known as “cortisol resistance’. Eating a wholefood balanced diet, minimizing environmental toxins, and committing to a regular exercise and sleep routine are great ways to regulate cortisol levels.
Adrenal fatigue is most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress. If you often have to use coffee, colas and other stimulants to get going in the morning or prop your energy up during the day your adrenals may be on route to exhaustion. When they are unable to produce adequate stress hormones the thyroid function is affected. Every cell in the body has receptors for both cortisol and thyroid and nearly every cellular process requires the optimal functioning of thyroid.
When cortisol gets too high, you start getting resistance from the hormone receptors and none of the hormones such as insulin, progesterone, estrogens, testosterones and even cortisol itself are able to work at their optimal levels.
Your body does its best to make up for under-functioning adrenal glands, but it does so at a price.
Here are 7 supplements to support the adrenals and help prevent cortisol dysregulation.
Vitality Adrenal Support helps the body better handle stress, reduces inflammation, increases DHEA and sports endurance and optimizes immune system.
B-Complex helps support nervous system
Vitamin B12 can help healthy secretion of cortisol during periods of stress.
Magnesium is important for energy production of every cell in your body and is essential for adrenal gland recovery.
Probiotics can be beneficial during times of stress to help populate good gut bacteria. ( dosage 10 billion CFU daily with food)
Vitamin D3: Cortisol desensitizes the Vitamin D receptor sites in the body, which results in lower Vitamin D levels in people who have chronic stress. (Dosage 2000-4000IU)
We all experience ups and downs as we live through life. How you feel from day to day depends not on the outside factors such as your job or relationships, but on how you perceive them. Truth be told, you have little control over what happens to you. You do have complete control over how you react and pre-act to bring about positive mood changes and make coping with stress, loss, life changes or family worries easier to handle rather than making them an insurmountable obstacle. Continue reading →
The saying “let’s sleep on it” is a staple for everyone from those making complex and high stakes decisions to those wondering what colour of paint would work best in the living room.
Most of us have thought it would be best to “sleep on it” before giving an immediate response on the basic questions of day-to-day life?
This is more than just a saying. The fact is we rely on sleep for clarity of mind and to recharge our bodies. It’s easy to understand why we’ll make better decisions with a clear mind and a rested body.
At the other end of the spectrum, the odd night of restless, broken or insufficient sleep is inevitable. The key is to avoid a chronic deficit, one that starts to impact our overall ability to function at an optimal level, leaving us fatigued — and often quite irritable.
The relationship between sub-optimal sleep and stress for women is one of the big talking points among health care practitioners and researchers. It can be compounded during perimenopause (the period leading into menopause) when fluctuating hormones can certainly play a role in throwing our systems off.
I’m sure most would suggest that the night sweats commonly associated with perimenopause and menopause do not make for a comfortable sleep! Moreover, a perpetual state of worrying can exacerbate a sleeping issue.
So what can we do about it? The goal is to find ways to relax and calm the mind; to incorporate into our lives some of the simple steps we can take to promote restful sleep.
How much sleep?
Most of us require 7-9 hours of sleep per night;
If life commitments make it impossible to get 7-9 consecutive hours of sleep at night, look for ways to take cat naps from time to time, as needed. Even a 20-minute cat nap can help balance the hormonal flux we go through during perimenopause and menopause, especially if you’re not getting the sleep required for your body.
Ideally be in bed by 10:00 p.m.;
Research shows that for most people (those not working night shifts), the hours between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. are the key restorative hours of sleep. That’s when the brain does most of its repair work. Get most of those “optimal” four hours as part of your seven to nine per night and you’re going to make the most of the rejuvenation and renewal that sleep can ring. Getting to bed after midnight on a regular basis will deprive us of the best hours of restorative sleep.
What can you do to best prepare for sleep?
What you do each day can often determine how well you sleep that night. Getting regular exercise – even brisk walks daily – can help set the stage for good sleep;
Yoga or other forms of stretching can help to relax the body. Yin yoga, for example, could be part of your evening regimen, either at a yoga studio or at home. It involves deep tissue stretching and long, meditative holds of postures designed to calm the mind and body;
Slow deep breathing can positively affect our parasympathetic nervous system resulting in relaxation. How many of us can relate to sighing after we have been relieved of a stressful situation? Focus on calming the breath.
Eliminate or reduce stimulates such as alcohol, caffeine and sugar from your diet, especially in the evening;
Do not eat three hours before bed; if you need to snack keep it light, ideally vegetables;
Recreate your environment: Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary; start by removing clutter and electronic devices from the room;
Refrain from using electronic devices, such as cell phones or laptops, at least one hour before your bed time. Even though many of us have been conditioned to do it, watching television immediately before bed is not the best preparation for sleep;
Dimming the lights and playing soft music for 30 minutes before bed can prepare us to transition into a restful state, which in turn helps us transition to restorative sleep;
A guided meditation or soundtrack of ocean waves, running creeks or rain water for 15 to 30 minutes before sleep can also serve as great transitions from the stress of our work and personal commitments to a good night’s sleep;
Sleep in complete darkness: This increases our natural production of melatonin, which is essential in regulating sleep. Blinds and curtains are typically enough to do the trick but some find a sleeping mask can do the trick!
How do we manage tossing and turning?
We’ve all had nights when we can’t seem to fall asleep or we can’t help but toss or turn or we get locked into the worrying modes that keep us awake.
How do you reset when the same thoughts keep recirculating in your mind? Have you often noticed when we worry, we’re often thinking about the same issue over and over again? Finding a way to set these worries aside and “organize your mind” can help reduce the number of nights we lose sleep to tossing and turning and insomnia.
Journaling before bed can help clear the mind of lingering emotions or thoughts of the day;
Thinking about tomorrow? Write a list of what is on your mind and then commit to putting it aside until the morning when you are feeling refreshed.
When the underlying issue of our sleep breakdowns or deprivation is hormonal, as in the case of Menopause in women; supplementation can provide additional and often beneficial support. As a hormone balancing formula, PURICA Menopause Relief works to naturally, safely and effectively balance hormones, thereby providing relief for common symptoms associated with menopause, such hot flashes and night sweats. The natural supplement also increases energy, regulates mood and supports the body and mind in dealing with stress. To learn more visit: www.puricameno.com
The bottom line is finding the right sleeping regime that “works for you” and committing to it. Good sleep is arguably the best ally in stress relief and it’s worth doing the things that can help you get the most of a good night’s sleep.
An advocate of whole foods, supplements and healthy lifestyles, Tawnya Ritco is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and product specialist for PURICA. Follow her on Twitter at @Tawnya_PURICA and follow PURICA at @puricawellness.
* Always consult your physician or naturopath if you believe there may be additional underlying conditions affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep, including but not limited to sleep apnea.
A note on vegan and vegetarian options: At PURICA, we’re committed to empowering you with the best in whole foods, supplements and positive lifestyle solutions. We support all athletes and active living people whatever your dietary preferences, although we will always do our part to raise awareness about the benefits of vegetarian or vegan options.
In our modern world, we live so deeply in a limited mindset and it is the source of so many people not being happy, healthy and living a life of ease. In this limited mindset we are consumed with irritation, worry, aggression, and fear – these are habitual unhelpful patterns of conditioned reactivity. Continue reading →
If you are feeling sick, tired, forgetful or stressed, Immune 7 and our other potent medicinal mushroom formulas are effective solutions that improve how your body responds to life with all its ups and downs. By helping to restore youthful and healthy cell function and communication, PURICA mushroom supplements often bring results far beyond expectations.
Fixating on thoughts and emotions, day in day out, affects all aspects of our lives. Learning to be mindful of our “internal dialogue” helps us recognize thought patterns and how they may be affecting the way we handle the situations of daily living. Continue reading →