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By Dr. Annika
These fires are very stressful for everyone. The fear of not surviving is a really visceral one. Even if you haven’t lost a loved one or property, or if you haven’t watched the news, you are still breathing in the smoke and have probably been down to the shops and noticed the subdued atmosphere. We all seem to just want to curl up under a rock and hide till it’s all over.
And that would actually be a very good thing to do. Remember that the only actual remedy for stress is rest. So allow yourself to feel tired, give yourself extra rest and sleep. It’s likely you won’t feel the exhaustion until after the fires have subsided and you are out of immediate danger.
Make sure you replenish your water. The air is very dry at the moment and being dehydrated just makes everything worse and stops your body from working optimally or even well.
Try not to overdo the quick fixes – alcohol/caffeine/sugar etc – because you are doing it on credit and will have to pay back that energy with interest down the track. If you need caffeine go for green tea, which isn’t quite so hard on your adrenals.
Allow yourself to feel the emotions – grief, sadness, anger, rage, loss, fear are all normal responses to the events. When you are in immediate danger, they get supressed because you have to concentrate on survival. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t in your beingness, however, and stiff upper lip will only lead to these emotions being trapped in the body and are likely to make you sick down the track. Let the tears flow- the tears of anger and joy and fear and grief all have a different chemical composition, so as far as I am concerned it’s the way the body can literally wash the emotions out of itself. Don’t harm yourself by trying to pretend you are superhuman.
Music! Sing your heart out, as if no-one is listening. It’s also a great way to express emotions. Music in general is wonderful, especially if you are the maker of it, such as playing an instrument or singing. But just listening to music that makes your heart happy will help too.
Movies – watch a funny film, or read a funny book, and allow yourself to laugh out loud as often as you can. Refill your tank so you can keep going.
Hug those you love. For at least 21 seconds, ideally longer. Allow yourself to really feel that warmth in your heart as you hold the ones you love.
Pat your pet.
Take deep breaths.
Walk in bare feet on grass or on the beach.
Remedies – there are lots of wonderful remedies that can help. A good generic one is rescue remedy (Bach flowers) or emergency essence (bush flower remedy). Herbs that are useful are ones like withania and rosehip. Take up drinking rosehip tea. Lavander is a lovely calming essential oil, and the citrus ones are uplifting (use good quality). We have found NAC really useful to help the body clear the smoke toxins out of the body.
Nourish your body – choose real food. That means the kind that doesn’t have GST on it. Your body easily gets depleted with this much intense stress going on, and each mouthful should ideally be a nutrient “bomb” so your body can replenish itself.
Do gentle exercise – like walking or swimming or dancing – something that you can sustain for hours without getting exhausted. This is the kind of exercise that switches on the “rest and digest” part of the nervous system and it’s really good to move to actually get the adrenaline shifted. Also keep in mind that it’s easier to get injured when you are stressed (for a variety of reasons), so be mindful if/when you move heavy objects etc.
Have some body work. I haven’t encountered an adult recently that doesn’t have a tight neck and even possibly headaches. This is because of the posture we hold when we are stressed. Whatever works for you – chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, bowen, reiki …..
Meditate. It’s not hard, and there are gazillions of guided meditations out there if you, like me, have the kind of mind that likes to be kept busy.
Do something kind for someone else, and really feel the gratitude when someone else does something kind for you.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. And for the big stuff, break it down into small, manageable bits. Ask for help if you need to, and allow others to help you. It makes them feel good, so it’s a total win/win!
And mostly be kind to yourself. This is a tough time, and if you have sustained a heavy loss, it can take up to two years to process fully. So don’t judge or compare yourself. It is what it is, and you are at where you are at. Beating yourself up as well isn’t going to make anything better.
…. In re-reading this, it’s actually excellent advice for life in general. I think it’s an invitation to make today the beginning of the rest of our lives and give it all meaning by increasing the compassion and love and gratitude in our hearts and therefore in the world.
“with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world” (from Desiderata)
By Dr. Annika
Many people think that if you want to have a baby, you just stop taking the pill, fall pregnant and have a happy, healthy baby. And are often left wondering why it doesn’t happen like that.
Why is preconception care important? Well, everything that has happened in the last 3 generations can potentially affect a baby. There have been studies done on men who were starved when they were teenagers, and the effects were seen on their grandchildren, who had increased levels of heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer and diabetes. The baby’s reproductive organs are some of the first to form, so what a pregnant mum eats or is exposed to can directly affect her children’s as well as her grandchildren’s health.
What about dads? The same goes for dads. If dads start smoking before the age of 11, their sons are more likely to be fat, for example.
But it’s not only nutrition that’s important. Through epigenetics (the science of how genes are switched on and off) all sorts of other things can get passed on too.
For example, there was an intriguing study performed on mice, where male mice were exposed to a particular smell (cherry ripe) and given a shock at the same time. The mice developed a strong fear of the smell. Their sperm was used in IVF (so they never met the mother mice) to impregnate female mice, and their offspring showed fear of the same smell, as did their grand-pups!
Preconception care is based on the premise that it takes two healthy parents to conceive and a relaxed, nurtured pregnancy to birth a healthy child. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
How do you go about preconception care? Both parents should start preconception care at least 4 months prior to trying to conceive (it takes 4 months to make a sperm cell). Some of it is fairly straight-forward – or at least well known, such as exercising, getting to a good body weight, stopping smoking and drinking, eating really well and start taking preconception supplements – yes, dads too! It takes some very specific nutrients to make sperm, and many men have poor sperm motility and morphology (that’s swimmers bad at swimming and not shaped right when it’s at home).
During the pregnancy, mum should be as relaxed and happy as possible, as the amount of stress hormones she releases will have a direct impact on her baby’s body. With high stress hormones the baby’s muscles are developed more, with low stress hormones the brain and the organs develop better.
Preconception, pregnancy and infant care are a very intricate dance and we would recommend seeing a naturopath prior to trying to conceive in order for you to have a healthy child. After all, you will only be expected to “deprive” yourself for a number of months so your child can be happy and healthy for life. And the fitter and healthier you are, the better you will be able to cope with a baby and toddler. And who knows, you just might enjoy feeling healthy, too!
By Kelly, our naturopath
When we talk about health at this practice we are not just talking about the absence of disease. It is the total well-being of mind, body and spirit – how many people can truly say they have this? I believe you need to be aware of where your priorities are so you can make room in your life to allow health in. So, I wanted to tell you guys about a conversation I had a few weeks ago that brought me to thinking about this topic of priorities.
I told a work mate that I have a proper cooked breakfast every morning. She says “but how do you have time?” I said “oh it’s not that hard, the eggs cook while I do my eyes [makeup] or whatever, and it takes no time to put the greens, sprouts and fermented veg on the plate”. And then she goes “but how do you have enough time to eat it”. I said “well I make time and I make sure I get up early enough so I can have a proper breakfast”.
So, I will admit, I walked away from this conversation thinking “hmmm, am I abnormal….is there something in the ‘The How To Be An Adult Handbook’ that I missed? Granted, I don’t have children I need to get organised in the morning but is there something I am not doing that I should be doing in the morning?” I pondered this for a while and then it came to me – a healthy balanced breakfast is one of my priorities that I have so that I can feel good. In my mornings I go for a walk, dry body brush and have a proper breakfast but I leave all my washing up on the sink to be washed that night. If there is clothes to be folded, they stay there. If the bathroom sink needs a clean, it says dirty til later. For some people the thought of leaving their house in this state before they head out for the day would send them crazy! Some people like to wake up 15 minutes before they are due to be at work so they can get in every little bit of sleep they possible can. And that’s totally cool – everyone has a set of priorities that works for them.
The other side to this story is when your priorities aren’t serving you or are actually keeping you from feeling well. These can be the obvious ones like smoking and excessive alcohol of course. The thing is, there are also ones which aren’t so obvious, seem harmless and have become habit rather than a priority.
I will give you an example of this from my life that is common for a lot of other people too. After a long day at work I might not finish all the jobs I want to do at home until, say, 10pm. I will be exhausted and I really know I should go to bed. Instead, I decide I need some ‘chill time’ so I can tune out and relax before bed. So I will put on some Netflix and then next thing I know it is midnight! I know it doesn’t serve me but I do it pretty much every week night. Yes, I use blue light filters and luckily, it doesn’t affect the quality of my sleep but I also know I am the type of person who does best on a good 8-9 hours of sleep. I know I would be better off reading a book or listening to one of my meditations to relax but I really enjoy watching a bit of TV before bed while the rest of the house is quiet and all the work is done. It’s a priority/habit that I have formed that I know really isn’t in my best interest.
Think about your day/week/month/year and the priorities you have in place. Think about how your time and energy is split over the day/week/month. How much of it is going to something that is beneficial for you and moving you closer to your health goal? Which of these priorities make you feel better or well? Which ones are causing you frustration or stress? Are they a priority out of necessity or obligation? Is there priorities that you have now that you can let go of or reduce so you can make room for a new priority that will serve you better?
If you are having trouble with your health goals then maybe these questions might be good ones to ask yourself. You might find it gives you fresh eyes about what is truly going on with your health. If you are having trouble figuring out what you should be making a priority to achieve your best health then maybe it’s time to make an appointment to see one of us here at Spectrum.
And don’t forget – there is nothing wrong with having priorities that serve you only. You need to take care of you before you can be fully present for the people around you.