Category Archives: Health / Wellness

Unseen Battles

We each have things in life that make our hearts smile and shine bright.  For me that involves a number of things including family, photography, travel, reading, creating art, writing and making a difference in the lives of others.

We also each have moments where our hearts don’t shine as bright.  For everyone this is different and for some it can last single fleeting moments and for others may last hours, days, weeks, etc.

I suffer from bouts of anxiety and depression, as I am fairly certain all humans do in some capacity.  I suffer to a degree that I am on medication to help with the severity of the episodes.  Again, I know I am not alone in that experience, however it is not commonly accepted to be open about that.  I also know that there are many that suffer in silence and do not seek treatment in fear of being judged or those that have attempted to talk with their doctor about it and not been taken seriously.  I am lucky to have a doctor that listened to me, took my concerns to heart, talked me through everything and connected me with the proper professional for analysis and treatment.

Now many may have stopped reading already and thought that this does not apply to them or it is just another story about mental health.  For those that are still with me, thank you.  Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you and thank you for being open to learning more to either help yourself or help somebody you love.
My hope is that by sharing my experience of what it feels like during my episodes that you or someone you love may find value in it or maybe even benefit from it.

The anxiety sometimes creeps up on me.  I may feel a twinge of doubt or nervousness but it will disappear as quickly as it came.  Then another twinge followed by another and another until my heart is racing, my chest feels tight and heavy and my stomach feels like it is in my throat.  During this time my head feels like a pinball machine with non-defined ‘thoughts’ bouncing around in my brain.  Focus is near impossible and motivation has gone out the door and around the block.  I feel worried and nervous for no apparent reason and as if I am crawling out of my own skin.  I know the feelings are irrational, unwarranted and definitely unwanted; but in the midst of it I am seemingly powerless to change it.

 

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A visual from nature to help explain anxiety and the way it feels as if you are crawling out of your own skin.

Other times all of those feelings will simply pounce on me out of the blue; usually when I am winding down for the night or as soon as I wake in the morning.  No matter if it is a sneak attack or an all-at-once blow, it is a terrible feeling and something very difficult to control.

 

The other episodes I deal with are those of depression, which often like to jump in on the fun alongside anxiety.  While many believe that depression involves feeling sad or blue, I choose to explain it more as a feeling of emptiness.  During times of the deepest depression I truly feel….nothing; empty; invisible.  We all have moments (especially women) where we feel inferior or doubt our abilities or worth.  Take those moments and multiply them by one hundred and then extend them out for awhile; that is close to what depression feels like for me.  When these bouts hit me, my inner hermit appears.  I want to crawl into a cave and hide, never to come out.  I often find that during these episodes I feel extremely tired; which I personally think is my body’s way of coping.  If I sleep, I can’t ‘feel’ the emptiness and the loneliness.

So why am I sharing this with you?  Because I am one of the lucky ones.  Lucky to be in tune with myself; my body, my heart, my mind, my spirit.  Lucky to recognize when something isn’t quite right.  Lucky to have a trusted doctor, friends and family that support me through these discoveries.  Lucky to know that I am not alone in this battle, even when it feels like I am.  Lucky to be proud of who I am and not let this define me.

Others are not as lucky.  Others are suffering in silence and fear.  Others are unarmed and unaware of the battle they are up against.  Others have stood up to fight and hit obstacles only to surrender and give up hope for any relief.

I share this with you today to let you know that you are not alone; you do not need to fight unarmed or surrender; you are worth it; you are loved; and the world needs you.  Do not sit silently and suffer.  Reach out to those you love and trust.  If you hit an obstacle, do not give up.  Find a way around that obstacle; go over, under, around or through.

And if you do not know what it is like to live these battles, please understand that there are many around you that do.  Be kind and understanding to others always; as everybody you meet has their own battles and their own story.

Until next time…♥♥

 

 

 

 

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That thing you have been avoiding…do it!

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The majority of people have something they are avoiding or are procrastinating doing.  I am no exception.  I promised to use this blog to help others learn from my life experiences…so here we go.

I am not proud to admit this to you all because by trade I am a wellness professional and make a living helping guide people on how to best take care of themselves and live a full, healthy and happy life.  But I am human and I too have things that I don’t do as well as I should, even when I know better.  My main avoidance for many years (we are talking 10-15 years) has been the dentist.  That’s right…I have not been to the dentist in over a decade.

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The truth is that I have very high anxiety when it comes to going to the dentist, which made it very easy for me to completely avoid it!  Once it was my responsibility to schedule appointments, I just didn’t schedule them.  I started off with just procrastinating and putting it off.  Then I started using excuses to rationalize why I hadn’t gone yet…I moved away for college, then it was I don’t have dental insurance, then it was I am pregnant (not a good excuse, by the way), then it was I am pregnant again, and again and again and again (yep 5 pregnancies), and then it was that we moved to a new part of town and I didn’t have a dentist in that area.  When in reality I just really, really, really, really, really, really didn’t want to go!

I am happy to say, however, that I finally made an appointment with a local dentist and had my first appointment yesterday! The hygienist and the dentist were both amazing and made me feel very comfortable.  They talked me through everything without scolding me or making me feel bad (or worse than I already was making myself feel) for not seeing a dentist all these years.  They completely changed my perception of going to the dentist and eased my anxiety that surrounded it.  For all you locals…check out Paragon Dental in Papillion.  Dr. Carter is awesome!  And best of all…no cavities or major dental work needed for me!  Woohoo!  One old cavity needs to be refilled (boo) and I need to have at least one wisdom tooth pulled (double boo), but nothing else!  I was convinced I was going to need to have crowns or root canals or other terrifying things done because I had waited so long.

We all have that one (or maybe more) thing(s) that we would just rather not do.  When we put it off and avoid it, it gets bigger and bigger in our minds until we feel guilt and stress every time we think about it.  Soon we start to feel shame for putting it off for so long and that just adds to the guilt and stress and eventually it gets to a point where you feel as if you can’t do it now because you have put it off for too long.

I am here to tell you that it is ok to feel anxious, nervous, stressed, etc. about these things.  But you need to own those feelings and still move forward and confront the task at hand.  And it is never too late to start now.  The thing that helped me most was that I was upfront and honest about it, both with myself and with others.  When I called to make the appointment, I let the person I was speaking with know that I was in search of a new dentist because I hadn’t been in a very long time due to anxiety and fear.  She assured me that I was coming to the right place then because they don’t judge and are happy to help me any way they can.  I let the dentist and the hygienist know as soon as I met them that I was very nervous and they walked me through everything step by step with no judgment.  Not that they wouldn’t have been that way anyway, but I am sure that it helped for them to know that right away so they could take extra care of what they were saying and how they were saying it to keep my nerves at ease.  Life always works out better when we openly communicate with each other.  Others can’t read our minds so we shouldn’t expect them to.  It is difficult for anybody to live up to our expectations if we don’t tell them what we are expecting of them.  So be honest with yourself and be honest with others and face that thing you have been avoiding.  You can do it!

Until next time,
Be kind to yourself and others!

Wellness Break

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Many of us find ourselves in situations at work (or in our lives in general) where we are sitting for long periods of time.  These situations are the perfect opportunity for a wellness break.  In less than 5 minutes time you can work on stress relief, mental focus/clarity, blood flow, mood, heart health and so much more.  Seems to good to be true, I know…but it really does work.  I challenge each of you to conduct at least one wellness break each and every day.

Start your wellness break by finding a comfortable position in your chair.  Tense up all of your muscles and then release them all to a relaxed state.  Close your eyes and take a slow deep breath in through your nose and release that breath through your mouth visioning all of the negative thoughts and energy leaving your body with that exhale.  Repeat the relaxing cleansing breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth two to three more times.  This exercise will help relieve stress and bring your mental focus back to a mindful state.

Next stand and stretch up as tall as you can, stand on your tip-toes and reach for the skies.  Then reach your arms out to your sides and imagine somebody pulling on each of your arms stretching them out as far as they will go.   Finally, return your arms down to your sides and flap your arms slightly tapping the sides of your legs.  This exercise may feel and look a little silly, but it will help get your blood flowing and get you to a more alert state of mind.

Round off your wellness break with a grand finale of laughter.  Laughter can relieve physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.  It decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells which can improve your resistance to disease and it triggers the release of endorphins to promote an overall sense of well-being.  Laughter also improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

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Laughter not only provides all of these physical benefits, but it can also ease anxiety and fear, improve your mood, enhance reliance, strengthen relationships, enhance teamwork and help defuse conflict.  Laughter really is the best medicine and should be done at least once a day.  If you need a little assistance to get you laughing, try looking up ‘baby laughing’ on YouTube!  You are sure to find a video or few that will get you laughing!

Until next time…wishing you all a good belly laugh!

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Balance…

Balance

Being a whopping 34 years old, I have discovered a valuable life truth that all should know and embrace…and yes, I know how silly that sounds as many of you may be reading this and thinking “34…she is just a pup still!”
None the less, I am going to drop this knowledge bomb on you…are you ready?!

Balance is the key to life.

I will take a second to let that sink in…

“Boom!”….I know, right?!

Seriously though, if you can find balance you can and will accomplish anything you want!

Let’s dissect this theory a little further.
How about looking at it through Health and Wellness goggles.  How do you achieve a healthy lifestyle?  Balance.
Balance your calories in and calories out to achieve/maintain a healthy weight.
Balance your work and home life to achieve/maintain healthy stress levels.
Balance your nutrition and physical activity to achieve/maintain healthy blood levels, etc.

Ok, how about Finances?  Proper balance of the amounts of money you are earning, spending and saving can help you achieve sound finances which in turn leads to lower stress levels.  They don’t call it “balancing” your check-book for nothing!

So far so good…

What about looking at faith/prayer versus creating your own destiny?
Some believe that we all have a predetermined destiny and that fate navigates what happens.
Some believe that we create our own destiny and we must make things happen.
I believe that it takes both of those things!  I believe that there is a higher power and that all things happen for a reason, yet we also need to take the bull by the horns and make things happen as well!  The way I look at it, your destiny is where you end up…but the journey is up to you!  Enjoy the journey and make it what you want! 🙂
For example…imagine you are planning a trip to Las Vegas.  Would you rather hop on a plane and fly straight to your destination (your destiny) or would planning a road trip with stops at various attractions along the way be more appealing to you?  Either way, you will end up in Las Vegas…but how you get there is up to you!

I have also found that there needs to be a balance of what and who you know.  You have all heard the saying “It’s all about who you know.”  Or have heard about people getting preference because of their connections, right?  So let’s say you are a college student preparing for the rest of your life…what do you do?  Finish college…get the education you need to be the “expert” in your field.  The knowledge will give you credibility and confidence in your field.  However you want to work the social game as well.  Network, network, network!  If you can find the right balance of these two areas…you are guaranteed to succeed.

Have I convinced you yet that you must find balance in your life…no matter what aspect you are looking at?

Here is to a beautiful day and finding balance and peace in your life!

Small acts can make a big difference…

I woke up the morning of July 18th, got ready as normal and headed to the kitchen to get my cup of coffee before heading to work.  The stack of mail was sitting on the table waiting for me, as it is every morning, and at the top of the stack was a bright green hand-written envelope.  My curiosity sparked, I went straight to the mail pile instead of to the coffee pot first and picked up the green envelope.   I didn’t recognize the sender’s name but it was a local address…figured it was a bridal or baby shower invite of some sort.

I opened the envelope and inside was a Thank You card with a picture of an adorable 16-month old boy, whom I did not recognize.  The card read:

“Lori,

I cannot thank you enough for donating breast milk to help our son Isaac.  He had kidney failure from birth and formula was causing further health problems.  By giving him breast milk he was able to get the kidney transplant he so desperately needed.  We are three weeks post-transplant now and he is doing so incredible!  He’s now started crawling and standing, and even eating!  It’s amazing to watch.  We would not have been able to get to this point without the wonderful gift you have given to us.  I can’t imagine a more self-less thing to do.  You have given health to our son, and I am forever in your debt.  You are an angel on earth.  Thank you!

Kelly (Isaac’s mom)”

My heart was overflowing and the tears began to fall…that note and picture just made my whole day…heck, my whole year!

A while back, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that a friend of a friend (somebody she did not know) needed breast milk for her son who was struggling with kidney failure.  I was so excited to see this message as I had over 300 bags of breast milk stored in my freezer at that time because my son could not use it as he was showing sensitivity (we think to dairy) and would scream in pain after digesting it.  My husband and I had just discussed what we were going to do with it all.  I was not willing to just throw it away for as any mother that has breast-fed or pumped knows…that is hard work to get that stuff and it truly is “liquid gold”!  We talked about donating it, but we didn’t even know where to begin or if it would qualify as I hadn’t kept a food journal of what I was eating while pumping so it had gluten, wheat, dairy, etc. and we weren’t sure how that whole process worked.  But now this opportunity fell into our laps!  I was so excited!!!  I contacted my friend right away and her friend arranged to pick it up from me to deliver to this family that needed it.

Now, months later, I receive this surprise note in the mail that just changed my life!
Something that was so very simple for me to do, meant the world to Kelly and her son Isaac.  Such a powerful reminder that even the small things we do really can make a big difference!

Small things make a big difference

I am excited to write Kelly back and thank her for her kind words and the update and picture of little Isaac.  As far as I am concerned I now have another son…little Isaac will be in my heart forever now.  I am hoping to meet the family and someday be able to hold Isaac and hug his mom!

Get Creative to Get Motivated…

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Have you ever told yourself (or had a friend, family member or doctor tell you) that you need to “get in shape”, “get healthy”, “lose weight”, etc.?  Do you find yourself lacking in motivation to do anything about it?

Living a healthy lifestyle is overwhelming if it is not something you are already doing.  It is easy and all too common to become highly motivated and jump in with both feet only to get overwhelmed and discouraged very quickly.  Thus making your “healthy lifestyle” venture short and painful in memory due to stress and guilt.

So here is the answer for you…are you ready?
Get Creative!

Ok I know what you are thinking…”This woman has lost her mind…That answer doesn’t help us at all!”

So here is the help that goes along with the answer.

1. First determine what it is that you enjoy doing.
Do you enjoy reading, watching television, gaming, bowling, dancing, competition?  What is something that you feel excited about doing?

2. Now take that thing that you love to do and make it into something fitness-related.
Get creative with this…think outside the box…heck, throw the damn box away (recycle it please ;))!!
I know this sounds silly and may seem near impossible, but I challenge you all to give me activities that you love to do so we can brainstorm together and find a way to make it a healthy activity that you will actually do because you enjoy it!

I will give you one example that I used with one of my clients at work.
She and her husband enjoy bowling.  Any mention of eating better or going for a walk and he (like most of us) mentally checks out and thus is not motivated to follow-through with it.  So I suggested we look for a way to make bowling healthy and a fitness-related activity.  I ended up finding an article in a Philadelphia magazine (Be Well Philly) called “I tried it: Bowling for Fitness at Sweat Fitness and Frames“.  Great article!
Obviously those of us that do not live in Philadelphia will not be able to attend this facility and participate in this program…but we CAN take the ideas and creatively apply them to our own activities.  I love the ideas presented in the article regarding doing jumping jacks and other activities to keep your heart rate up in between frames or while your partner is bowling his/her frame.  Will people look at you funny?  Probably…but who cares!  You are getting healthy and having a blast doing it (don’t tell me you won’t burn a whole lot of calories just laughing at each other and at yourself during this)!

So your challenge is to comment on this blog and give me an idea of what activity/hobby you enjoy doing that we can make into a fitness-related activity.

Ready…….
Set…..
GO!

Until next time…make today a happy and healthy day!
🙂

Stress…

I apologize to all my loyal followers for the delay in my blog postings.
This Monday we buried my grandfather, may he rest in peace.  And then Tuesday my grandmother (his wife) was put into the ICU with some pretty major health issues.  Needless to say it has been a very stressful and upsetting time so I didn’t really feel like blogging.
However, I am feeling more like myself again and was missing all of you so here I am! 🙂

So today I want to touch on the topic of stress.  We all have it, there is no escaping it…stress is part of life.  Stress can be good or it can be bad and it affects all aspects of your life, especially your health and wellness.  Weddings, babies, work, vacations, relationships, illness, death, etc. all create stress.  The most important thing is how you deal with it…what are your stress management techniques?  How are your coping skills?

First step is to recognize that you are experiencing stess.  Determine how the stress is affecting you…what are you symptoms? 
Are you experiencing any of the following:
– Fatigue
– Anxiety/Nervousness
– Shaking
– Loss of appetite (or the opposite…cravings/binge eating)
– Headaches
– Nausea
– Aches and Pains
– Insomnia
– Forgetfulness
– Lack of focus
– Irritability/Moodiness
….this list could go on forever! 🙂  Check out more symptoms of stress on the webmd site: http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body.

So now the important part…how to cope.  What do you do once you recognize that you are indeed experiencing stress and you identify what symptoms you are experiencing from that stress? 
This is the part where things get tricky and there is no “right answer” so to speak.  This is because everybody is different and the way that works best for one person may only cause more stress for somebody else.  So you must look into yourself to determine what will work best for you.  Look through the following examples of coping techniques and see what works for you.
Some examples of coping techniques are:
– Exercise/Activity
– Reading
– Journaling/Writing
– Talk to somebody (friend, family member, therapist, doctor, coworker, etc.)
– Take a relaxing bath
– Sleep
– Do something you enjoy (gardening, scrapbooking, dancing, etc.)
– Let your emotions show (laugh, cry, express your anger, etc.)…just DON’T bottle these feelings up or ignore them.  They will NOT just go away if you ignore them.  You must acknowledge and deal with the emotions you are feeling.
– Meditate
– Watch a favorite movie
– Listen to your favorite music
…Again, this list could go on and on and on!
Find more information on stress coping techniques and a list of healthy and unhealthy coping activities at the Helpguide website: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm.

The most important thing is to acknowledge your stress and find a healthy way to deal with it.  The one thing that is most damaging is to ignore your stress or to fall into unhealthy or unsafe ways to cope with it, such as engaging in promiscuous behavior or turning to drugs or alcohol.

Enjoy your Friday and make this weekend a spectacular one!
Wishing you all a low-stress day today! 🙂