Winter Wellness……………and Reflexology’s role in the Immune System.

winter-598632_1280              fireplace-535281_1280

Crisp, frosty days with clear blue skies, the glow of open fires, the taste of warm nourishing soups, freezing mornings, ice on the windscreen, chilling winds, bare branches on tall elongated trees and damp rainy evenings are all descriptive of winter.

It is a time of year that many people dread and a season that often brings with it coughs, colds and various viruses. True, we cannot do very much about the weather but we can certainly do something about our overall health and whether we become ill or not.

Some strategies that I use to help me stay well throughout Winter include:

  • Reducing Stress. Chronic stress causes inflammation in our body and reduces the amount of antibodies available to fight illness. Take time out for yourself. Rug up and walk in nature. Meditate. Laugh. Spend time with those you care about. Think positive thoughts. A positive mindset increases endorphins, our ‘feel good’ hormones.
  • Regular Exercise. This is often harder to do in winter as the cold weather is not an incentive to go outside. However exercise boosts your immune system by increasing circulation. This improved blood flow increases immune cells, by actually doubling the amount of cells circulating. Exercise also boosts endorphins and helps you to sleep better. Exercise indoors at a gym or if that’s not your thing, dance around the house or put on your hat and coat and explore nature. Just move your body. Make sure you get spend some time in the sun too, to boost your Vitamin D levels.
  • Having uninterrupted sleep. 7 – 9 hours is recommended nightly. A lack of sleep can lead to more inflammation in your body and higher levels of stress hormones, which will affect your immune system. Try going to bed at the same time every night and establish good habits. Avoid lights in your bedroom, including clock radios and don’t work on computers or other devices late at night. It disrupts your melatonin (sleep hormone) levels.
  • Healthy Diet. Our diets play a major role in our immune systems and our overall health. A diet high in sugar will reduce immune cells so make sure to include brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, especially those high in Vitamin C, such as strawberries and kiwi fruit. Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrot and broccoli and mushrooms such as reishi or shiitake also help improve immune levels. Don’t forget to include red meat, chicken, fish and eggs to increase zinc levels, ginger, garlic and green tea and herbs such as echinacea,astragalus, andrographis and olive leaf which have been shown to ward off viruses.
  • Using Essential Oils. Essential oils are my ‘go to’ medicine whenever I feel a sore throat or cold coming on. “OnGuard’ by Doterra or “Thieves” by Young Living are two blends that work very rapidly to ease symptoms. Other oils I use in winter are Thyme, Frankincense, Tea tree, Eucalyptus, Lavender and Lemon, to name a few. Essential oils are highly anti-viral and anti-bacterial and work very powerfully so are only needed in small amounts. Diffuse them throughout the house to get rid of airborne bacteria or use them in inhalations if you have a cold. My husband recently had a very heavy cold and rather than banish him to another room, (which I was very tempted to do), I kept a tissue infused with thyme and frankincense in the top of my PJ’s or under my pillow while I slept. Despite normally succumbing to whatever bug he had, I was able to avoid any infection.

A favourite strategy for me is regular Reflexology.

Reflexology plays a significant role in your immune system by detoxifying the body and boosting its immune response.
It not only feels wonderful but it helps reduce Stress and improves the quality of your sleep.
It increases your circulation thereby boosting the transportation of immune cells and nutrients throughout your body.
It improve the functioning of your spleen which filters your blood and produces blood cells. It boosts your thymus gland which produces lymphocytes to fight disease. It increases lymphatic drainage so that toxins are removed, your immune response is increased and white blood cell production is elevated.
Reflexology also assists the lungs to improve breathing, helps the large intestine in detoxifying the body and supports the adrenal glands to reduce inflammation.

So this winter don’t just sit back and hope for the best. Take active measures to support your body throughout these colder months. You never know – you might actually feel better for it and escape the worst that winter offers.

What do you do to stay well during winter? Let me know in the comments below. We can all benefit from each other’s ideas.

 

With love,

Judy

 

References: www.webmd.com, www.newscientist.com, www.health.harvard.com, www.bodyandsoul.com.au

Disclaimer: Please note that all information in this article is the opinion of the author and obtained through her knowledge and the above references. It is not meant to replace medical advice and a medical opinion should always be obtained for any health condition.

Six reasons why Reflexology beats a Massage?

 

facial reflexology

As a busy Facial Reflexologist, I make sure that self-care is an important part of my life. This includes regular facial reflexology treatments and also remedial massage. Both are beneficial and both work in different ways, but is one really better than the other?

Obviously I am biased towards reflexology, but let me point out the benefits of both so that you can make up your own mind.

Here are six ways in which I believe, Reflexology, particularly Facial Reflexology, is of more benefit.

 

1. Relaxation. Massage relaxes the body and mind by reducing muscle tension, calming the nervous system and improving the quality of your sleep. It loosens tight and cramped muscles, improves muscle tone and lowers the heart rate and blood pressure. Reflexology also calms the nervous system but works in a different way. While massage stimulates the nerve receptors in the tissues so that they relax the body and endorphins are released, facial reflexology works directly on the brain and central nervous system. It stimulates points and zones on the face that directly relate to different areas of the brain. This results in a deeper relaxation, also releases endorphins (feel good hormones) and treats any underlying conditions. It directly works on the Pineal gland to help balance melatonin levels and the quality of your sleep.

2. Strengthens the Immune System. Massage improves circulation by helping the blood flow through congested areas of the body. This allows blood flow to increase and also helps remove lactic acid from the muscles and stimulates the flow of lymph. Reflexology also improves circulation and lymphatic drainage by the application of pressure to different zones of the feet or through the meridians on the face. However Reflexology works on the reflex points and acupressure points for a particular organ, thereby directly influencing the blood supply to that organ. It also helps stimulate lymphatic flow and improves the function of organs such as the spleen and the thymus gland to boost the immune system.

3. Balances the Hormones. Massage is a wonderful therapy to reduce stress and the hormones involved in the stress response, such as cortisol and adrenaline. It increases the release of endorphins such as dopamine and serotonin so that anxiety and depression are decreased. Reflexology also balances the stress hormones and the release of endorphins but influences all the other hormones in the body, too. It helps to balance the whole hormonal system and works on specific organs to affect the release of hormones for a particular condition. It helps to balance the ovaries to assist with painful or irregular periods or the symptoms of menopause, works with the thyroid gland when there is an over or underproduction of thyroxine, boosts the hormones of the thymus gland to increase immunity and helps regulate insulin levels in the pancreas.

4. Pain relief. Massage reduces muscle tension and congestion, improves blood supply throughout the body and reduces inflammation. It helps increase joint mobility and speeds up recovery from injury and is of great benefit when there is tension, sore or tight muscles or pain in the body. Reflexology can also be of huge benefit whenever there is any pain in the body. It improves circulation so that faster healing and regrowth of damaged cells can occur, it reduces inflammation by boosting the immune system and works directly on reflex points of an injured organ. Facial reflexology stimulates nerve points that directly affect the brain so that relief occurs quickly. It also stimulate ‘pain points’, that are acupressure points on the face that rapidly relieve pain and tension in the body. Reflexology has been shown to be of great benefit for pain during chemotherapy, labour and post surgery.

5. Improving Digestion. Though Massage is not often the first thing you think of when you have digestive problems, it can be of great benefit. Massage helps to relieve stress, tension and anxiety so can help with an irritated digestive system. Abdominal massage can assist with bloating, cramps and constipation, eliminate toxins and thus relieve any discomfort. Reflexology works on the whole digestive system to detect imbalances. It relieves any stress or anxiety that may be contributing to a digestive issue but it also works on each organ to correct imbalances. It helps to filter the liver, spleen and kidneys to eliminate toxins, reduces gut inflammation and helps relieve constipation. Facial reflexology also employs Ayurvedic techniques to cleanse the gut and balance any underlying emotional issues.

6. Chronic and Acute Health Conditions. Massage reduces stress and fatigue, improves circulation and can reduce pain and anxiety. It has been shown to help in stress-related disorders, insomnia, cancer-related fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, headaches and migraines and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Reflexology also helps in the treatment of many health conditions such as stress, fatigue, auto-immune conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, stroke, diabetes, chronic pain, menopause, infertility, asthma and cancer, to name a few. It also reduces pain, relieves anxiety and improves circulation but it goes a lot deeper. Facial reflexology looks at where the original health condition started, not just the symptoms. It starts to then treat the area of the body that is most out of balance so that the body can begin its own innate healing.

These are just a few benefits of both Massage and Reflexology. Both are beneficial and both achieve fantastic results. Try them and have a think about how you really feel on a deep and lasting level. I love both modalities but I know that Reflexology helps me to heal in a more substantial and lasting way and helps to address any underlying health issues more profoundly.

With love,

Judy

 

References: www.reflexolgiafacial.es, www.facialreflexology.info, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/massage, www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu, www.ucshealth.org/treatments/massage.

Disclaimer: Please note that all information in this article is the opinion of the author and obtained through her research and knowledge and the above references. It is not meant to replace medical advice and a medical opinion should always be obtained for any health condition.

Sugar……………Do you have an Addiction?

sugar-485045_1280     cakes-489849_1280

There has been a huge amount in the media recently about the dangers of sugar. Is it really that bad and could you have an addiction?

Let’s take a look at what sugar really is and how it affects our bodies.

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that comes in many forms. Simple sugars or monosaccharides, consist of dextrose, fructose and glucose. Simple sugars can combine to form disaccharides such as sucrose, which is made up of glucose and fructose. The main difference between the sugars is the way in which the body metabolises them.

Every cell in our body uses glucose for energy. Sugars and starches are digested in the intestines to form glucose so that it can be converted in the cells for energy. The Pancreas secretes the hormone Insulin which controls the uptake of glucose by the cells. If all of this sugar is not needed by the cells, it is converted to glycogen and stored in the liver and muscle tissue.
Fructose however is a different molecule and is absorbed mainly in the small intestine and metabolised wholly in the liver. Any excess is converted into triglycerides and whatever is left is stored in the fat cells.

Fructose is found in fruits and vegetables but most fructose comes in the form of sucrose (glucose and fructose) which is found in cakes, biscuits, sweets, soft drinks and in the form of high fructose corn syrup which is added to many foods. Most processed foods contain sugar and it is often these ‘hidden’ sugars that present the most danger. In the 1990’s the trend was to eat ‘low fat’. As a consequence, food manufacturers reduced the amount of fat in foods and increased the sugar content to maintain taste.

Australians are said to be eating around 30 teaspoons of sugar a day on average, while in the USA the total has been said to be closer to 30 – 60 teaspoons. According to the World Health Organisation, the average should be closer to 12 teaspoons!!
Although we may think that we don’t actually ‘eat’ such large amounts, many people just aren’t aware of the sugars hidden in processed foods. If you’re eating processed foods you are eating unnecessary amounts of sugar.

Did you know that sugar is also very addictive. Endocrinologist Dr Robert Lustig from the University of California and researchers from the University of Bordeaux have discovered that refined sugar is four times more addictive than cocaine! Sugar acts on our neurotransmitters, the hormones that affect how we feel, amongst other things. Constant intake of sugar affects our levels of dopamine and serotonin which play a role in reward-motivated behaviour. Most types of reward affect the levels of dopamine and serotonin and override normal self control mechanisms, thus leading to addiction.

Most experts now believe that refined sugar is also leading to a worldwide obesity epidemic, which is contributing to deaths from heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Sugar has also been shown to decrease your immune system, upset the mineral and vitamin balance in your body, increase anxiety, affect the acidity in your digestive tract and hence overall digestion, cause premature ageing and a myriad of other negative responses in our bodies.

Now, I’m not saying that we should never eat sugar or sugar-containing sweets but moderation and awareness is the key here. Eat fresh, unprocessed food as much as possible and if you do want to add something in a packet or a tin, always read the label and choose the best option. When using sugar, go for natural sweeteners such as honey or rapadura sugar which is unrefined cane sugar that still contains the vitamins.

It has been said that 10% of life is made up of what happens to you but 90% is decided by how you react. We can have a huge amount of control over our reactions and the decisions we make. So when it comes to the food we put into our mouths, we can decide to choose wisely.

 

With love,

Judy

 

References: www.thehealthscienceacademy.or/is-sugar-an-addictive-drug, www.articles.mercola.com, www.nancyappleton.com, www.bupa.com.au/health-and-wellness, Primal body, Primal mind – Nora T. Gedgaudas, 90/10 Principle – Stephen Covey

Disclaimer: Please note that all information in this article is the opinion of the author and obtained through her research and knowledge and the above references. It is not meant to replace medical advice and a medical opinion should always be obtained for any health condition.

What’s all the fuss about Gluten………is it really that bad?

Long wheat sheaf

Long wheat sheaf

We are constantly being told about which foods to avoid or what food we should be eating to achieve great health. There are a myriad of articles in the paper and on the internet, some more believable than others. However what is clear it that all health begins with the food we eat and the cause of most disease begins in the gut.

2,500 years ago, Hippocrates is said to have quoted, ” Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. This is especially relevant today when the convenience of processed and fast food dominates our culture and our supermarkets. However if we want to be truly healthy, we need to be aware of what goes into the food we eat, how much sugar or salt it contains and if it is actually detrimental to our health. Not all things labelled ‘natural’ are good for us due to the many additives and preservatives. Science is proving that the less processed and more fresh food we eat, the healthier we will be.

One ingredient that has been mentioned a lot is Gluten. There are many gluten-free products around now which makes it easier for those who have Coeliac disease (an auto-immune condition where the small intestine is damaged due to gluten, resulting in a severe malabsorption of nutrients). But what exactly is gluten and should only coeliacs avoid it? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, semolina, spelt, kamut, rye and barley and is usually present in oats. It is often ‘hidden’ in foods such as wheaten cornflour, malt extract, some baking powders, some icing sugar mixes, malted milk, salad dressings, mustards, lollies, processed meats and small goods. The list goes on and on. It is used in so many products because it gives bread its elasticity and chewiness and provides a stabilising agent to processed foods.

Gluten is made up of two proteins – gliadin and glutenin. The proteins in our food are normally broken down by enzymes so that we are able to digest the food. However we do not have an enzyme to break down gluten. Grains containing gluten have only been a part of our diet for about 10,000 years since the advent of agriculture. This may sound like a long time but in the history of mankind, it is only a very brief period in our total evolution. We have therefore just not developed an enzyme to break down gluten. As wheat has become more hybridised and processed over the years, the content of gluten has increased and more sensitivity has developed.

Many people may cope with not digesting gluten and have no symptoms. But many others may develop a sensitivity to gluten as the body detects it as a foreign invader. As a result, the immune system is triggered and inflammation results. The ability of the gut to absorb nutrients and filter unwanted substances is decreased and chronic inflammation develops. This in turn can lead to multiple food allergies and autoimmune disorders. Gluten sensitivity has also been linked to ADHD, Adrenal Fatigue, Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer.

This may sound very dramatic and you may think that it doesn’t apply to you. However if you have any autoimmune or inflammatory condition or suffer from constant headaches, fatigue or any digestive issues, take a look at gluten. There are many tests available to check if you are sensitive to it. At the very least, you could try eliminating it from your diet and see if you feel any better. There are many reports of symptoms disappearing on a gluten-free diet. Of course, with any disease process, there are many factors at play such as genetics and environment and gluten is only one part of this. However more and more evidence is emerging of the important part that gluten has to play in many diseases.

We so often put our health into the hands of others when we can make a huge difference on our own by looking at what we put into our mouths. The food we eat determines to a large extent, how ill or healthy we will be. Hippocrates certainly knew a thing or two and his advice though ancient, is even more relevant in today’s modern world.

May the food you eat nourish and enrich your life.

With love,

Judy

 

References: The Gluten Summit – Dr Alessio Fasano, Dr David Perlmutter, Primal Body, Primal Mind – Nora T. Gedgaudas
Disclaimer: Please note that all information in this article is the opinion of the author and obtained through her knowledge and the above references. It is not meant to replace medical advice and a medical opinion should always be obtained for any health condition.

Why I don’t make New Year Resolutions.

Fireworks with copy space

Fireworks with copy space

Happy New Year to all of my lovely clients and newsletter readers. I hope you had a peaceful Christmas and have a healthy, happy and successful year ahead.

The middle of January is already here and many of us may have made resolutions on New Year’s Eve to have a better year ahead. For many years I would do the same and make a resolution to change my life in some dramatic way. I would get fit, lose weight, be healthier, change my diet, have more time to myself etc, etc.  However, by the time February arrived I had either forgotten the resolution or decided I had plenty of time to put it into practice. After all, it was only February…..or April……or August.

Now, I no longer make New Year’s resolutions. I still look ahead to the New Year with excitement and anticipation but I think of the hear ahead in terms of a word that best describes my attitude towards the coming year. Let me explain………

Last year, my word for 2014 was ‘Abundance”. I decided to welcome more of this into my life throughout the whole of the year. WELL, come February, my elderly mother had a fall and went from hospital to rehab to no longer being able to cope at home and was consequently placed in residential care. A lot of my time (and my sister’s) was spent caring for her needs, selling her house and sorting out her finances. In between I was seeing clients and trying to run a business. It was exhausting!! Where was the abundance in all of this??

Although at times I found it very challenging, there was a lot to be grateful for and indeed, a lot of abundance to be found. Firstly, Mum didn’t break an arm, leg or her pelvis and my sister and I found a wonderful place with caring staff for her to live. I was able to have a fantastic holiday in July and another short break in October. Also my sister and I spent some special time together supporting each other and coming to terms with Mum’s frailty and mortality.

Other areas of abundance have been – spending more quality and precious time with Mum as her health deteriorates, numerous occasions with family to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and time having fun with close friends. Although there have been many difficulties throughout the year, there has been joy to be found in every day.

This year my word is ‘Trust’. I see this as trusting in myself and my gifts and abilities, trusting when I fear the unknown, trusting when I need to step out of my comfort zone, trusting in the Universe, God or whatever you believe in to support you, and trusting in the love of family and friends.

What do you do each New Year? Do you make resolutions that you know will have been forgotten or discarded by February or do you have a ‘word’ that resonates with you and guides you through the coming year. I would love to know…..

Take care and have a wonderful and exciting 2015.

With love,

Judy

Reminder that I will be having all of February off to honour and respect my own health.

www.solevitality.com.au

What’s top of your Wish List this Christmas…………is Self-Care up there?

Ball and Bow

Christmas time is nearly here again. It’s a very busy, hectic time of year and it’s very easy to get caught up in all the stress of buying presents, organising the food, socialising and navigating all the crowds.

We’re busy writing lists, Christmas cards and wrapping presents. It’s very easy to forget to look after ourselves and to pay attention to our own needs. Having time out is not an option. After all, isn’t Christmas a time of giving?

Children write lists to Santa and family ask us what presents we would like. We’re busy thinking of everyone else and isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

I agree, that Christmas is about sharing, community and family. However it should not be at the expense of our own health. Self-care tends to be forgotten or completely ignored at a time when it is perhaps, most needed. We often arrive at Christmas Day feeling exhausted and wishing for it to all be over so that we can relax.

What if however, we arrived at Christmas feeling if not totally relaxed, more in control, happier and looking forward to the big day. How is this even possible??

Here are a few suggestions that may help you to arrive at Christmas excited and not totally burnt out.

  1. Write lists. Yes, I have mentioned lists before but lists do help us get organised. If we are organised, we are less likely to run around panicking without actually achieving very much.
  2. Put yourself at the top of every list that you write. This may help remind you to keep things in perspective and look after yourself.
  3. Try and have a few early nights. This isn’t always possible with lots of social engagements but you don’t have to accept every single one. Keep a few nights free just for you.
  4. Exercise, even if it’s a walk around the block. This helps clear your overactive mind and provides more oxygen and circulation to your cells to keep you energised.
  5. Eat healthy meals when possible. It’s easy to indulge in more alcohol, more food and food that’s not necessarily good for you, but try and make most of your meals simpler and fresher. If you are going to indulge at night, eat lots of salads and vegetables during the day.
  6. Water is always important for our health but particularly at this time of year. Eating the wrong foods, alcohol and more running around, dehydrate the body very quickly. Being hydrated helps you to feel more energised.
  7. Have some quiet time just for yourself, every day. Even if it’s only half an hour, take that time out of your busy day and meditate or sit out in nature. You will feel so much better for it.
  8. Share the chores and tasks on your list. Don’t feel that you have to control everything. Yes the tree may not be decorated the same and the table may be set differently but does it really matter. I have always been a bit of a control freak but have learned to let go over the years and it has brought me huge benefits. At the end of the day, you want to arrive at Christmas feeling excited, relaxed and ready to enjoy the day.

Take care and try not to stress too much. Know your limits and respect them and care enough about yourself to do what feels good for you.

I truly hope that each and every one of you has a peaceful, happy and relaxing Christmas and a wonderful New Year ahead.

Thank you so much for trusting in my care and treatments throughout the year and I look forward to working with you towards great health in 2015.

I have a wonderful new website thanks to a lovely lady, Kerry Richards from Florence Road. Please take a look. I would love your feedback. Also, I will be working all January but will have February off to honour and respect my own health.

 

With love,

Judy

www.solevitality.com.au

(Photograph of Red bow and round ornament hanging from Christmas Tree- dreamstimefree-245698 jpeg)

 

 

 

 

7 ways to beat Insomnia…..without counting sheep.

girlinbedHave you ever gone to bed really tired, but toss and turn all night finally falling to sleep as the first rays of sunlight peep through your bedroom window? Or you go to sleep easily, but wake in the middle of the night and no matter what you do, you can’t get back to sleep again?
Insomnia is a common condition experienced by one in three people at some time in their lives. It may be brought on by stress, sleeping in unfamiliar environments, jet lag, stimulants or due to an acute illness. Normal sleep patterns usually return once the stress or event is over.

When insomnia strikes, be reassured that there are things you can do to enhance the quality of your sleep and help you get off to a good night’s rest.

1. Establish a bedtime routine.
Go to bed at the same time each night if possible. This helps the body to establish it’s natural sleep/wake cycle, our circadian rhythm. Also try and get up at the same time each day. Although you may be tempted to sleep in on a weekend, it’t actually more beneficial to get up at the same time and have a brief (no more than 30 minute) nap in the afternoon. If however, your insomnia is due to a health condition, a sleep-in on a weekend may help.

2. Enhance your Melatonin levels.
We all produce Melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleeping and waking patterns. It’s production is controlled by exposure to light and we produce more in the evenings when it is dark so we become sleepy, and less during the day so we can remain awake and alert. Modern life however, often interferes with Melatonin production. Artificially lit offices, computer screens and television all affect our melatonin levels. Try and get some exposure to natural light during the day and exercise outdoors. Keep curtains and blinds open when possible to expose yourself to natural light.
Avoid using the computer, your iPhone and iPad and watching television late at night. These all suppress melatonin production and stimulate your brain at a time when your body is trying to wind down.

3. Create an inviting bedroom.
Make sure that your sleeping environment is relaxing and welcoming and not part of your working environment. Keep televisions out of the bedroom and ensure that you have a great mattress. It has been said that the bedroom is for sleeping and sex and that’s not a bad suggestion. Invest in blackout curtains as any light will affect the quality of your sleep and try to minimise any secondary lights such as from a clock-radio. If you have to go to the bathroom at night, try and not turn on lights. Use a torch or have a low wattage light in the hall or bathroom. Keep the bedroom cool as overheating can affect your sleep.

4. Relax before bedtime.
Instead of working late into the night or watching TV and overstimulating your brain, relax with a book and read by a soft light. Have a warm bath prior to bed with some aromatherapy oils such as lavender or roman chamomile or put a few drops of these oils on a tissue under your pillow. Listen to some calming music to enhance and relax your mind.

5. Eat the right food and exercise regularly.
Cut back your intake of coffee, especially in the afternoon and evening. Caffeine is a stimulant that will disrupt your sleep patterns and it’s also a diuretic which means more trips to the bathroom!
Avoid alcohol late at night even though you may think it will help you sleep. Initially it may help you feel drowsier and get off to sleep quickly but it affects the quality of your sleep and makes it more likely that you will wake later in the night. The old story of a ‘nightcap’ is just that, a story! It is thought to originate from the 1700′s when people had an alcoholic drink to keep them warm. Whether it actually helped them sleep is debatable!!
Avoid heavy meals within two hours of bedtime as your stomach will be working hard to digest the food and sleep will be disrupted. Regular exercise is great as it will help you sleep more deeply but avoid anything strenuous at night as it tends to stimulate and warm up the body.

6. Relaxation.
Deep breathing techniques or meditation before bedtime prepare your mind and body for a good night’s rest. Progressively relax your muscles one by one and breath deeply in and out. Visualize a quiet place, the sea, a meadow or stream and imagine yourself there.
Invest in regular Reflexology treatments to help balance your body and mind and enhance the activity of your Pineal gland which produces Melatonin.

7. Calm your Active Mind.
You may find that you fall asleep easily, only to wake a few hours later with your mind racing. If you find you are tossing and turning, get up briefly and write down what you are thinking or worrying about. Getting your thoughts down on paper often helps get them ‘out of your head.’  Read for awhile by a soft light or have a small snack if needed. When back in bed, ‘listen’ to your body and feel it relaxing. Try some of the relaxation techniques as above.

Remember, Insomnia is a symptom not an illness but if it persists it needs to be investigated. It may be the sign of an underlying condition. We all crave our sleep and feel very frustrated when we miss out or find it is disturbed. However with a few simple changes we can restore that blissful feeling of a great night’s slumber.

 

Disclaimer: Please note that all information in this article is the opinion of the author and obtained through her knowledge and the following references. It is not meant to replace medical advice and a medical opinion should always be obtained for any health condition.

Resources: www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au, www.aromaweb.com.
Photos: FreeDigitalPhotos.net – David Castillo Dominici and Watiporn

Are you always tired…..could it be Adrenal Fatigue?

adrenalglandDo you wake up tired every morning and hit the alarm for 5 more minutes of sleep, then drag yourself into the shower and don’t fully wake up until that first strong coffee? Do you find yourself experiencing a brain drain around 4pm which temporarily eases after a snack and another coffee before going to bed exhausted, falling into a dead sleep and repeating the same thing over again the next day? Does this sound familiar? If so, you could be experiencing some degree of Adrenal Fatigue.

So what is Adrenal Fatigue? It is a collection of signs and symptoms that occur when our adrenal glands don’t function to their full capacity. It usually occurs after periods of intense or prolonged stress but may also occur after an acute or chronic infection such as the flu or bronchitis. The main symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by rest or adequate sleep. You look normal without any obvious signs of illness but you just ‘don’t feel well’ or always feel tired. In really serious cases where the adrenal glands are exhausted, you may only be able to get out of bed for a few hours at a time. Adrenal fatigue is known as the ’21st century syndrome’ due to the pace of our hectic lives this century. Although there are no current statistic on its prevalence, it is believed to affect most people at some time in their lives.

Our Adrenal glands are two small glands that sit on top of our kidneys. They produce steroid hormones such as cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone and adrenaline and are also known as our stress glands as they produce hormones in response to stress. When we encounter a stress, our body goes into the ‘fight or flight mode’ regardless of the stress. Adrenaline and cortisol are released to help you cope with the stress. Your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure increases, blood is diverted from your digestive system to go to your brain and muscles and your blood glucose levels increase to give you more energy. In the short term, this is a wonderful response because it helps your body cope with the demands of the stress. However it is when this response becomes prolonged, that we run into problems.

Cortisol will continue to be produced to maintain your need for glucose, your heart rate and blood pressure will remain elevated and your adrenal function will become depleted and start to slow down. We can have a major stress that exhausts us or a cumulation of small stresses that build up over time but if we don’t give our adrenal glands a chance to recover, adrenal fatigue will result, along with the risk of more serious illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and chronic fatigue.

The adrenal glands affect the functioning of every tissue, organ and gland in our body and also have an important influence on the way we think and feel. We cannot live without them and the very quality of our life depends on how well they are working.

Apart from exhaustion, other signs of adrenal fatigue may include:

  • You feel tired when waking up in the morning even after a long sleep.
  • Have trouble getting to sleep even if you go to bed early.
  • Feel overwhelmed and ‘on edge’.
  • Have difficulty recovering from stress or an illness.
  • Crave salty and sweet snacks.
  • Are depressed, anxious, easily irritated and you find it difficult to concentrate.
  • Have weight gain, inability to lose weight.
  • Increased effort to do everyday tasks.
  • Decreased sex drive. Worsening of PMS or menopausal symptoms.
  • Decreased ability to handle stress.
  • Light headed when standing up. Low blood pressure.
  • Low body temperature. Decreased tolerance to cold, cold extremities.
  • More prone to colds, flu and infections. Take longer to recover from infections.
  • Increased allergies
  • Skin problems

You may recognise some of these symptoms and many may not apply to you. But if you are feeling constantly tired you can do something about it. Firstly know that most doctors DO NOT recognise adrenal fatigue. They believe that the adrenal glands either work or they are compromised by some known medical condition. They often think that adrenal fatigue is psychological. However if the adrenal glands are exhausted, the whole energy system of the body is exhausted and the whole body’s chemistry needs to be rebalanced and toxins removed. If you are experiencing any continued fatigue, you should always see your doctor first to eliminate any other causes. Naturopaths and doctors working in integrative or functional medicine will definitely support and guide you. They can do specific tests such as a saliva test or hair mineral analysis to check your Cortisol and DHEA levels to see whether you have adrenal fatigue and the extent to which your adrenal glands are fatigued.

Treatment is effective though it can take a number of years to fully recover.

  • It involves a combination of a nutritional diet filled with lots of vegetables and animal protein (unless vegetarian), supplements to support your adrenal glands and lifestyle changes.
  • Include gentle exercise as tolerated, (avoid heavy workouts at first and increase gently as your energy levels increase).
  • Sleep and regular early nights (be in bed by 10pm) at least to start with.
  • Afternoon naps (1/2 hour rest in the afternoon is great for recharging the batteries).
  • Regular Reflexology treatments to calm your mind, relieve the stress and gently balance the adrenal glands.
  • Meditation to calm that anxious mind and reduce that stress.
  • Develop boundaries around your time. Don’t be available for everyone. If you are too busy looking after everyone else, you will never fully recover.
  • Recognise the energy vampires in your life. By this I mean the people or things that suck up all your energy. You know the ones that I mean – the friends or relatives that talk for hours on the phone, the people that always ask for just one more favour, the things that make you angry or cause you to react. Stay AWAY from them all or at least limit your time with them. You don’t need to be rude, just explain politely that you are busy or have something else to do….and yes you have! You are busy looking after yourself!
  • Spend time in nature enjoying the sun and outdoors. See friends whose company you enjoy but limit your lunches or dinners so they don’t exhaust you.
  • Ask for help! Don’t feel that you have to do everything. All women work, if not outside the house, then definitely in it! Don’t feel that you have to be in control. Ask your partner to share the chores and ask the children. It helps them to be more responsible and it helps take some of that pressure off you.

Metaphysically, problems with the adrenal glands mean you are not caring for yourself, are anxious, fearful, bored with your life or frustrated at the life you are living. Take steps to look at your fears, are they realistic, can you change your job, what can you do to make your life more meaningful? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I, myself was ‘running on empty’ for a long time before I realised it and sought assistance. Adrenal fatigue is not disastrous. It can be treated and can be resolved. Often it is a timely reminder to have a good look at the way we are living and to learn to really care for ourselves.

We all experience fatigue at some point in our lives but if we really listen to our body, we can avoid it becoming more serious or sustained.

Disclaimer: Please note that all information in this article is the opinion of the author and obtained through her knowledge and the following references. It is not meant to replace medical advice and a medical opinion should always be obtained for any health condition.

Does fear rule your life….and how you can change this.

IMG_8457-225x300I have recently noticed how much fear and worry there is in my life and the life of many people I speak with. By this, I don’t mean terror about everyday things but a general anxiety about decisions and events that may affect our lives.

We are born as perfect babies without fear or anxiety. Soon however, the fears of our parents and the world around us starts to impact on our lives. We are told to behave and be ‘good’ children, we are taught to study hard or else we will fail, we need to get great jobs so we can buy a house.Yes the fear of failure is instilled in us from an early age. Some fears are necessary to protect us, for example, you don’t touch something hot or you will be burn’t, you don’t cross the road without looking or else you may be hit by a car. However we are fed with fear every day of our lives and it’s very difficult to not get caught up in this fear cycle.

The media is great at telling us about the latest war, disaster, murder or other gruesome crime. It’s very easy then to develop a fear of flying, going out at night, or being mugged. We learn to worry about our children and their decisions, we are scared not to be in control in case ‘something’ happens, we fear being ill, we fear failure and we fear being successful in case we become overwhelmed. As Marianne Williamson says in her book, ‘A Return to Love”, ‘We are so scared of death that we fear living.’ Along the way we have learn’t to doubt our inner wisdom and intuition.

This all sounds pretty negative but believe me, it can be changed and here are some suggestions.

1. One way is to remove the source of the fear. Watching the news every night reinforces how terrible life can be, so don’t watch it on a regular basis. I was addicted to the news and every night at 6pm, I would rush to turn the television on in case I missed out on something. Once I stopped doing this, I realised how silly it was. Firstly, my life was no longer dictated by a 6pm call up and secondly, I didn’t need to hear or see half of what I was being exposed to. I don’t mean to advise that you shut yourself off from the world, but sometimes you don’t need to know all the gory details. I do listen to the headlines or check them on the internet but I don’t need to see the full details of the horror that the media loves to report on. We may think that we become desensitised to the news, but it does deeply affect us on a subconscious level and instills a lot of fear into our lives.

2. Change your reaction to the fear. By this I mean, put the fear into context. Ask yourself if the fear is realistic e.g. am I going to crash next time I fly? Highly unlikely! Also ask yourself, what in this situation is causing my fear? Is is a fear of not being in control, worrying about someone else’s decisions that may or may not affect you? I know I often worry about my son and the decisions he makes in his life. But I have learn’t to trust him and know that he has to learn for himself and I can’t control his life or his decisions. I may not always agree with them, but I have learn’t to put my faith in him as an adult and respect the choices he makes.

3. Examine the fear and look as where it comes from. Is is based on a childhood trauma or some other trauma in your life? You won’t be able to change what disaster has happened in the past but if you are aware of the fear and where it is coming from, you lessen the power you give to it. Writing it down, often helps too. If we live our lives fearing what may or may not happen, we don’t LIVE our lives.

4. Know that you don’t need to control everything! Is your fear based on trying to control everything in your life? I know that I have always been a bit of a control freak. The house had to be cleaned by me or it wasn’t done properly. I needed to do all the shopping or the brand I wanted wasn’t purchased. Cheryl Richardson in her book “The Art of Extreme Self-Care” says that she would even re-stack the dishes in the dishwasher because she felt her husband didn’t do it properly. This made me laugh as it’s something that I have been guilty of too! Letting others do the things you think YOU need to do, allows you to let go of the fear that ‘it’s not good enough”. It allows you to trust and know that things will still happen even if it’s not your way.

5. Breathe when fear strikes. By this I don’t mean that you suddenly stop everything and sit down and meditate, but do allow yourself to breathe. If I’m anxious, worried or fearful about something, I take a few deep breaths to calm down, then I breathe out the fear and breathe in a feeling of love instead. As I breathe in the love, with each ‘out’ breath the fear diminishes a little and loses its effect. I often practise this while meditating. It may sound very simple but by letting go of your fear and replacing it with love, allows you to trust in things working out. It really is quite a powerful exercise.

Remember that fear doesn’t need to control your life. Choose to let go and trust in life’s challenges and adventures. Live the life you have, love and laugh a lot and you may find that any fears that remain, lose their effect and potency.