We like certainty. When things feel uncertain, it is normal to feel stressed. Part of protecting your health is being mindful - what are you thinking?

What Are You Thinking?

We like certainty. We are hard-wired to want to know what is happening and notice threats, and when things feel uncertain, it is normal to feel stressed. And while this reaction is there to protect us, it can cause havoc when there is a sense of uncertainty and conflicting information around us. What are you thinking?

Are you feeling some anxiety? Right now, many of us are worried about COVID-19. We may feel helpless about what will happen and uncomfortable with our apparent loss of control, and this uncertainty can remind us of times when we didn’t feel safe and the future was uncertain.

In times like these, our mental or emotional health can suffer without our realizing it’s happening. Take time to notice … what are you thinking? You might feel more on edge than usual, angry, or sad. Or you might find yourself feeling depressed and less motivated to carry out daily activities.

I want to encourage you that you are not helpless, despite what you are reading in current news. You can always choose your response. If you notice that you are struggling here are some things you can do to take care of mental and emotional health in the face of uncertainty:

Separate what IS in your control from what is not

Focus on what you can do. Wash your hands. Make sure you sleep. Check out other suggestions I shared earlier this month, and limit your consumption of news (it’s not encouraging positive thoughts, right?).

Do what helps YOU feel a sense of safety

This will be different of each of us, and I encourage you not to compare yourself to others. It’s okay if you feel safer when you limit your attendance at social events, provided you are isolating yourself out of concern for infection and not because of depression.

Get outside in nature!

Even better, take a walk in nature. There are numerous studies that have documented the benefits of being out in the sun where you can see the signs of spring and hear the birds and the wind in the trees. This one practice alone will boost your mental, emotional and physical health. If you didn’t read my suggestions for supporting your immune system, check it out here.

Challenge yourself to stay in the present

Do you find your worry is compounding – you are not only concerned about what is happening now, but also the “what ifs” in the future? When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently shift yourself back to the present. To do this, notice sights, sounds, tastes and sensory experiences in your environment and name them. This is called mindfulness, and coupled with deep breathing, it helps to reduce stress. Here are more approaches.

Stay connected with people and reach out for support

Talk to trusted friends or family members about what you are feeling. It’s okay to reach out to a mental health professional for support. You don’t have to be alone with your worry. It can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with someone trained to help.

Parents be aware that teens tend to feel emotions more intensely. If you have a teen who seems anxious about current events, read this article for some tips.

There may also be a physiological reason for your anxiety or depression. The microbiome (bacteria in your gut) is a key player in making the neurotransmitters that govern our feelings. When it is damaged by medications or eating foods to which your body reacts, your body will lack the neurotransmitters that it needs. Thankfully, the gut can heal and the microbiome can rebound, and I can help identify what is needed to support healing.

Life is full of uncertainty and change. It is important, as part of your overall wellness, that you take note of your emotional and mental health and mindfully take action to support yourself.

Kelly Lutman Pursue Wellness

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The common BBQ menu can be part of the trouble. Besides an oversized portion of meat, the majority of BBQs seem to include a heavy helping of high-glycemic carbs (think potatoes, baked beans, etc).

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Are you in full spring-cleaning mode, yet?  Tidying up your home and cleaning its surfaces can breathe such a breath of fresh air into your life.  Provided your cleaning products are not adding more toxins in the process. I’d like you to try some eco-friendly cleaning products to shine up your home.

The majority of the household cleaners we see in the store and advertised in media contain chemicals that can make it hard for us to breathe, cause our eyes to water, or even lead to health concerns we certainly want to bypass.  These damaging chemicals are found in everything from your fabric softener that gets clothes feeling snuggly to your soap-scum remover, and everything in between.

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Our hair is an integral part of our style, personality, and sense of attractiveness. It is one of the first things we notice about someone when they enter a room. But thinning hair, bald spots and hair loss can undermine our self-confidence and cause great frustration.

How many products have you used to remedy the situation? The root cause can be elusive. These can involve unique hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, and environmental factors. Hormones are generally a prime suspect, so let’s explore them.

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How to Stop Stress Eating during the holidays

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Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza, the holidays can be a great time of joy for many. But for others, they are filled with anxiety and stress. Sometimes, even for those that love the family get-togethers, the stress of holiday shopping, finances, and hosting relatives can tear them apart. Let’s talk about ways to stop stress eating during the holidays and enjoy the happy activities and time with your family.

When stress hits at this time of year, it’s easy to turn to that tray of cookies for moral support. After all, cookies won’t criticize you about your life choices the way your family will.

But that’s not healthful … and you know it. Plus, you’ll feel even less joy when you realize you’ve undone this year’s hard work toward wellness. If you find the holidays cause you to gobble down more than you should as a way to cope with the stress, I am offering you these tips for curbing the stress eating before the first tray of cookies is introduced.

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Are Your Hands Safely Clean?

It happens throughout the day in all sorts of settings. Hand sanitizer is squirted and spread on the hands, creating a cooling sensation and the feeling of clean.

You have no doubt found this product convenient when you did not have running water available, but have you ever wondered what long-term effect it would have on your body? Given that the majority of chemicals used in the vast number of personal care products have not been tested for safety in humans, it would benefit you to explore what you are using and its potential side-effects.

Hand sanitizers can be made with alcohol (usually ethyl alcohol) or an antibiotic compound called triclosan, which can also be found in antibacterial soaps and even toothpaste. There are a wide variety of potential hazards involved in these ingredients:

Toxic Chemicals – personal care products often have ingredients such as synthetic “fragrance” which is made of phthalates, a hormone disrupter that interferes with the proper function of your hormones, and parabens, which have been demonstrated to age your skin and are linked to breast cancer.

Weaker Immune System – researchers have found that triclosan may negatively affect the human immune system, can make people more susceptible to allergies and more vulnerable to the BPA found in plastics.

Alcohol Poisoning – while using the alcohol-based santizers avoids exposure to chemicals, remember that what you put on your skin is absorbed, and repeated use of the product exposes you (and your children’s smaller bodies) to alcohol.

Hormone Disruption – animal studies have shown that triclosan can change the way hormones work in the body, and mice exposed to just one dose of triclosan experienced a 25% reduction in heart function.

Antibiotic Resistance – researchers found that health care employees who were most likely to use hand sanitizers over soap and water for routine hand washing were nearly 6 times more at risk for illness.

Are there better options? Thankfully, yes.

Remember good ol’ soap and water? That’s a good place to start. While you may think of soap as the star in this mix, it merely removes debris that may harbor bacteria. It is actually the friction of the washing motion that removes the microbes. In fact, a 2007 study found that routine handwashing with regular soap and water is more effective than the use of antibacterial soap.

So skip the antibacterial products and reach for castile soap or other varieties with simple ingredients. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds and then rinse well under running water.

If you are frequently in settings where running water and soap are not available, consider making your own sanitizer using the recipe I have provided or one that is similar. These ingredients don’t put your hormones at risk, but will still control the bacteria on your hands and the essential oils provide natural scents.

With the start of the school year, your children will once again be exposed to more “bugs” and it is important to teach them how to protect themselves. Providing them with their own “‘safe” sanitizer will protect them from the “bugs” now and the effect of questionable ingredients in the future.

What first step will you take to keep your family’s hands clean?

Give Your Liver Some Lovin’

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