Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dealing with Stress through Nutrition

When we are stressed our bodies have a hard time:
  1. Digesting
  2. Detoxing
  Digesting: Sometimes our bodies will hold weight when stressed so eating slowly and really chewing our food helps with digestion. Also our bodies do not absorb minerals and vitamins from our food as well when we are stressed because so much of the energy of the body is in flight or fight. Eating small amounts of protein throughout the day is good (hand full of almonds). Also liquid supplements are useful as smoothies with fruits and yogurt.
 Digestive Enzyme:
Helps digestion, bowel problems
Probiotics: Udo Super 8, healthy bacteria.
 Throne DigestionKit is also a good product.

  1. Any physical activity.
  2. Change the diet. Try supplementing with Omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, magnesium, possibly vitamin B6 and a few others.
  3. Massage.
  4. Walking at least 20 minutes a day. White blood cells make up your body's defense against illnesses and diseases. When your immune system works at its peak, foreign germs are instantly killed by the white blood cells before they infect the rest of the body. Certain diseases, stress, a poor diet and hereditary issues can lead to a low white blood cell count. Drink green tea. Green tea helps stimulate the production of white blood cells. Decaffeinated green tea is better for your body, and 1 or 2 cups a day should do the trick.
  5. Infrared saunas
Infrared Sauna:
    * Helps with weight loss
    * Improves your immune system
    * Improves your strength and vitality
    * Helps cure several skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis and acne
    * Strengthens the cardio-vascular system
    * Helps control your blood pressure
    * Detoxifies your body
    * Gives you more energy and relieves stress
    * Helps treat burns and scars
    * Relieves pain (joint pain, sore muscles, arthritis)
    * Helps control your cholesterol level
    * Helps treat bronchitis

Best foods for de-toxing:
All fresh vegetables. Vegetables thought to be particularly good detox foods include broccoli, cauliflower, broccoli sprouts, onions, garlic, artichokes, beets, red and green vegetables.
All forms of rice, including rice cakes, rice crackers and rice pasta. Brown rice is typically preferred.
Other Grains: Quinoa, amaranth, millet, and buckwheat can be used instead of rice. They can be purchased at a health food store or in some grocery stores.
Split yellow and green peas and lentils are easiest to digest and require the least soaking time. Other good options include kidney beans, pinto beans, mung beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and adzuki beans.
Unsalted nuts or seeds can be sprinkled over salads or eaten as a snack. Good options include flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews and walnuts. Nut butters  cashew, almond. Extra-virgin olive oil is a preferred oil. Herbal teas, green tea.
Start each day with a warm glass of water with a slice of lemon.
Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day, warm or room temperature.
Fish Oil: Udo’s (good brand) , essential fatty acid, omega 3,6,9
Helps change mood, calming effect, helps with focus
Avoid: Dairy Products: Milk, butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and other dairy products.
Wheat and products containing wheat, such as pasta and bread. 
All gluten-containing grains: wheat (including spelt, triticale, and kamut), rye, and barley. Food additives and preservatives and high-fat food.

Vitamins for Stress
 One effective method of stress relief management involves the use of vitamins. Taking in extra nutrients helps to ensure that the body will have adequate amounts in store to combat stress. Among the most important stress vitamins are the B-complex vitamins and the antioxidant vitamins.
B-complex vitamins are important in stress relief management because one of their primary roles in the body is to keep the nervous system functioning well.
Deficiencies of B-vitamins are associated with nerve problems and an increase in stress-related symptoms such as depression, anxiety and irritability. The B-complex vitamins work as a team, and supplements should include a balanced formula containing all of them.
 Antioxidant vitamins are important vitamins for stress. Vitamins E and C, both antioxidants, protect the body against free radical damage. When the body is under stress, more free radicals are produced, so extra antioxidants can be of great value in stress relief management. Antioxidants also help to strengthen the immune system, which can be compromised during stressful times.
 Nutritional supplements for stress relief management should contain more than vitamins. Several minerals and herbs are of value in combating the effects of stress as well. For example, the minerals magnesium and zinc are often depleted when a person is under stress, and supplements may help to replenish stores and alleviate stress-related symptoms. In addition, herbs can be used to treat a variety of stress-related conditions.
 Vitamin D is an andro-steriod and it affects serotonin levels, which means when we are not getting it we experience more anxiety, depression, irritability, and insomnia. It can also cause muscle fatigue.
 Along with a vitamin D deficiency, an iodine deficiency can cause depression, tiredness. low energy and headaches. I recommend IOSOL.

Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meal:
This will provide your body with a consistent supply of energy throughout the day and help you avoid feeling tired or overly hungry.

General Information:

We spent the last weekend in Montreal de-stressing and eating great food. Happy fall!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Focusing Level One and Expressive Art Therapy

A few weeks ago I traveled to Winnipeg to work with a fabulous group of women who took my Level One Focusing and Expressive Therapy course. They created lots of amazing expressions of their  feelings, thoughts and body sensations.
 Art Therapy and Focusing is a natural way to work with deepening our inner relationships. Even when people are just beginning this work, they travel deeply into their process.
 It was a beautiful weekend working in pairs Focusing, painting, and sharing our lives. If you want to join us for Level Two Focusing and Expressive Therapy, please email me. We have room for a few more explorers. Level Two is Jan. 14, 15 in Winnipeg.

So, what is Focusing?
It is a method of awareness… 
Focusing is a simple matter of holding a kind of open, non-judging attention to a something, which is directly experienced but is not yet in words. Out of this simplicity, many things arise. It is listening deeply within you.

How does it help you make changes?
Focusing is a technique that helps us slow down, go inside and hear all of our inner voices or parts. We can get a whole sense of what we are struggling with. This is called a felt sense. This is a body sense. When we make contact we feel release, fresh energy and forward movement. Sometimes change happens by just making time to pause and listen deeply to ourselves and sometimes change happens by spending time to listen to all the parts of us that may be conflicted over an issue and need time to express and work out what is really needed.

So, here are some things it helped me discover:
-       A greater sense of trust in myself and my own feelings
Through Focusing I learned to slow down, and really listen to myself in a compassionate, nonjudgmental way. Due to creating a safe inner space for myself I could bear witness or increase my capacity, really hear all the different parts of myself.
           -       It has brought clarity to my life
The process has helped me get in touch with my inner rightness or next forward movement of what I want in my life. I am clearer about what makes me passionate, and how to move towards it and what triggers or upsets me and what I need to do about that.
-       It has increased my ability to be Present for myself and others
Present means aware, grounded, expanded, heightened awareness. This has also deepened my mediation practice.
-       It has been the most affective way that I have found to work with all the parts in me to achieve inner peace and compassion towards myself
Because the language we use is so respectful and the way we work with our different selves, or parts is so open and unconditionally receptive, I feel that I have really made peace with the warring parts of me. I no longer view my inner critic as a destructive part of me because I now can listen to it and understand how it is only trying to protect me from getting hurt. Focusing allows me to sit patiently with all my overwhelming emotions and slow down to really understand what is needed.
-       It has helped me become free of what used to limit me
I can work with the parts of me that are afraid to move ahead and the parts that are excited and want movement. It helps me negotiate, create a clear path where as before there was only confusion. It has helped me develop my inner sense of rightness.
-       It has helped me heal emotional pain
Focusing is a process of sensing, a process of awareness. This process has helped me understand and bring movement to emotional blockages.

Friday, October 7, 2011

How Does Change Happen?

There is a visualization that I do with clients which involves having them visualize who in their life stands in front of them, behind them and on each side. They decide who surrounds them.

I was at a team meeting for one of my clients, which included me (her Art Therapist), her psychologist, her school counselor, her parents and her high school principal. We were all gathered at a table for the meeting. We are all good caring people who are invested in my client’s well being. However, because of our different roles, we all stand with her differently. I watched her slowly start to react and become activated by the conversation which of course was centered around how she could change.  This is often how these meetings go, focusing on deficits. My primary concern is not her outer behaviour but on how to support and help her regulate her inner behaviour. What I am good at as a therapist is helping clients self regulate, slow down, stand in their place of power and safety and stay out of reaction. I do this by truly seeing, hearing and valuing them. I am helping her autonomic nervous system function in such a way that she will not be overwhelmed by those around her. That is where I stand.

Someone did that for me once a long time ago when I was in grade six. I was a very disconnected and dissociated child until a teacher saw me and encouraged me to write. I can’t remember much about her, but I do remember that she gave me permission to be. Someone thought that I was okay, just as I was. I felt free. She had helped my resistant, fearful body thaw. For the first time I felt valued. Because of that, I was free to change. With that encouragement I could stand my ground, be still, breathe and write.

I strive to give my clients that freedom. I know what it is like to be a child at meetings where the whole conversation is how I need to change when no one there is standing with me in a place where change can actually happen. Change takes trust, risk and energy. These things cannot build from focusing on what is wrong or lacking. Inner strength grows from feelings of self-esteem, self-worth and self-acceptance. When I, as a therapist give clients permission to “just be exactly as they are,” that opens the invitation to allow the body to make room for change as a natural forward movement not a forced agenda.


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