Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash
Written by Guest Blogger
Head of Prevention Outreach
Health and wellness usually focus on the physical markers, such as Body Mass Index, blood pressure, blood sugar, muscle mass and more. But wellness also includes the ability to get through your day feeling good about yourself and your life. With mental illness and addiction issues, wellness can be more difficult to achieve. When you’re struggling with life, you might have thoughts of suicide, and you’re not alone.
Suicide is a major cause of premature and preventable death. In 2009 alone, there were about 100,000 years of potential life lost to Canadians younger than 75 as a result of suicides, with men at a higher risk than women. There were 3,890 suicides in Canada, a rate of 11.5 per 100,000 people. Research has shown that mental illness is the most important risk factor for suicide; and that more than 90 percent of people who commit suicide have a mental or addictive disorder. Depression is the most common illness among those who die from suicide, with about 60 percent suffering from this condition.
Another major risk factor is addiction. The rate of major depression is four times higher than those without, and people with substance abuse issues are six times more likely to commit suicide than those without. Sometimes it’s the drugs or alcohol that make people have suicidal thoughts, and sometimes it’s the idea that they have no hope.
Here are some warning signs that you or someone you love is at risk for suicide:
If you are feeling suicidal, like there’s no hope and your life isn’t worth continuing, seek help immediately. While you may not be able to see it now, there is always a way out of your situation and a future for you.
Connect with others: If you are worried that you may lose control of your actions and hurt yourself or others, tell someone. Tell a trusted friend who can lend an ear. Reach out to a suicide hotline. Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
Clear your home of weapons: Get rid of ways to hurt yourself, such as pills, guns or razor blades. If you can, leave the home and go somewhere you feel safe.
Develop a plan: Write down a method to keep you from hurting yourself. Keep it in clear sight, so that it’s easy to find. Write down ways to help you calm down, clear reasons to stay alive, phone numbers of friends and crisis lines, write down a place where you feel safe or remind yourself to go to the hospital. When you’re suicidal, you may not be thinking clearly, so having a written plan can help.
See a professional: Get help. If you’re suffering this much, you should be under a doctor’s care. Talk to your primary care physician, who can recommend mental health professionals to you. She can also get you started on medication that can help you feel better. You may not want to talk about your problems, but talking does help.
Remember that no matter how bad life gets, it will always get better. It may not get better soon, and you may have to work extra hard to get there, but it will. Everything passes. Remember that there are people who love you and want you in their lives. Take care of your mental health so you can start to build a happier tomorrow.
It is a soup and stew time of year here in Upstate New York with the single digit and below zero days and nights we’ve been having the past couple of weeks. For me, soup not only warms the body, but it has a way of warming my Soul. One of my favorite soups to make is bone broth. Basically, you slow simmer some bones in water with a little raw apple cider vinegar, and your favorite spices. The apple cider vinegar draws the micro-nutrients out of the bone and into the soup, so that your body can soak them up, and use them for energy. It is a true alchemy. Continue reading for a yummy bone broth soup recipe, and if you don’t eat meat, click on this link to my Soulful Soups article in this month’s Natural Awakenings Magazine for some vegetarian soups. You'll find the article on page 24.
You can make bone broth with fresh bones or you can use the bones that remain after eating a chicken, turkey, beef or even a ham, throw them into a crock pot (or slow simmer on the stove), cover with water and add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Next add your favorite spices like sage, rosemary, turmeric, oregano or basal, and toss in half of an onion. Put the lid on and set the heat to the auto setting. In 6-8 hours, when you’ve returned from your busy day, your bone broth will be ready. Transfer the liquid and any meat that has fallen off of the bones to a pot, and put it on the stove. Add in your favorite veggies, bring to a boil, and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until they are tender. If you like, you can also add rice or pasta. Or maybe try the my gluten free dumpling recipe from Gluten Free Alchemy now on Kindle.
Lately I've been feeling like I've been on a hamster wheel. Doing more and more at a faster pace which seems to fuel me doing more and more at a faster pace and the more I do, the more I feel like there is so much more to do. The other day, I decided to step off the wheel and into a labyrinth.
There is a beautiful little park in Altamont, New York that I pass on my way to work. It's name is Schilling Park and there is a labyrinth there. Recently, I was running ahead of schedule and decided to stop off. The labyrinth is a form of sacred geometry. It is a circle with a path that follows a pattern in toward the center and back out. It is said that as one moves through the labyrinth, they are connecting to a different level if consciousness much like meditation and prayer. Often people say that they receive a message or guidance while in the Labyrinth. Here's what I got, "Believe." My response was, "Believe in what?" The answer that came was, "Believe in yourself."
At first I was a little disappointed. I wanted more, but as the days went on, I began to notice how many times a day things like doubt and self criticism sneak in. Since visiting the labyrinth, when these automatic negative thoughts creep in, I find myself saying, "Believe in yourself."
Looking to step off the hamster wheel, visit the labyrinth at Schilling Park or stop by The Take Care Fair at Riverfront Park in Hudson on Sunday, June 25 th from 11:00-4:00.
It happens every now and then. I let my guard down, get distracted or busy and forget to read ingredient labels. This week, my husband had a stomach bug and was drinking ginger ale. My stomach started to feel a little off too, and I was out of ginger tea, so I had some ginger ale. I’ve never been a soda drinker and for some reason, I didn’t stop to read the label. A little while later, my gut started to cramp up and then the pain started in my hips moving down to my knees and into my feet. At that point, I knew what was happening. My body started attacking the glutenie invaders and my own tissue along with it. The next thing to happen was the brain fog, fatigue and having a really hard time making decisions. Although I was annoyed at myself for being careless, it ended up being a good reminder of how much better I feel now that I’m eating gluten free. I can’t believe that I felt that miserable everyday for a couple of years before I took the big leap to change the way that I eat. Often people will say to me that they feel bad that I can’t eat things with gluten anymore. I always tell them not to feel sorry for me, because I am so much happier and feel so much healthier not eating it that I have absolutely no desire to eat that piece of cake or bagel or whatever it is they are eating.
This little trip down memory lane of feeling miserable made me curious about what exactly is in caramel coloring anyway, so I did a little Google research and here is what I found. Caramel coloring is made by heating a carbohydrate at an extreme temperature and mixing it with acids, alkalis and salts. In the US, the carbohydrate that is used is usually corn or wheat but can also be things like barley malt or sugar. This is where the gluten can come in. But I also found this disturbing information in an article from The Center for Science in the Public Interest, February 16, 2011, FDA Urged to Prohibit Carcinogenic “Caramel Coloring.” According to this article, the process of making caramel coloring by reacting sugar with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures results in “the formation of 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats.” You can read the article yourself here, and the FDA’s position here. If you aren't convinced to give up your favorite soft drinks yet, you might want to check out this Consumer Reports article for some product comparisons. For me, the answer is clear. It is not worth the pain, brain fog and 3 to 4 days of healing not to mention the possible long term effects of continued ingestion of this chemical ingredient. My motto is, if it doesn’t feel good in your body, then it isn’t good for you, regardless of the research.
So what did I do to feel better? Well to be totally honest, I did some moaning and groaning and complaining, because it really can be a good emotional release. Then I used some of Young Living’s Digize essential oil to help with the gut distress. I drank ginger tea to help with the inflammation and gave myself some Reiki to help with the pain. I drank lots of water to help move things out of the body and did some gentle stretching to help loosen up my constricting muscles and joints. I also forgave myself for being careless and allowed myself to be out of sorts and less productive, so that my energy could go into healing my body. What do you do to help yourself feel better when you get glutened?
Now for some happy news- Congratulations to Gail Chase! Gail was the winner of the first gluten free cookbook give away. Thank you to all of you who completed the Food Sensitivity Survey. Now, I could really use your help figuring out the title of the cookbook. You can take the Cookbook Title Survey here. This is totally new opportunity to win a free copy even if you did the previous survey. I look forward to hearing your responses.
Are you familiar with the legend of St. Patrick and how a dream changed his life? Patrick was the son of a wealthy British man. He was kidnapped at age 16, taken to Ireland and sold into slavery. One night he had a dream telling him to escape, and there would be a ship to take him back home. Patrick followed the message from his dream, escaped and found his ship.
Back home, Patrick studied Christianity and then decided to return to Ireland to spread his beliefs. He is most known for driving the snakes out of Ireland. Historians note that this is more likely a symbolic story of Patrick’s work to transform and abolish evil through his teachings. Snakes are most often associated with evil, but have many other symbolic meanings. They are a powerful dream symbol. They often cause a dreamer to stop, become alert and cautious. Do they ever visit you in your dreams? For me, snake dreams feel scary and unnerving, but once I muster the courage to face them, I see that they have come with messages to help me move forward.
Imagine what life would be like if Patrick didn’t follow the message from his dream. Would he have remained a slave for the rest of his life? Would he have gone on to touch the lives of so many people in positive and hopeful ways? Would he have become a Saint and would we be eating corned beef and cabbage, and drinking green beer or shamrock shakes in his name centuries later? What powerful messages are your dreams trying to communicate to you? Are there life changing messages trying to come through?
As I’ve been reflecting on the symbolism of this day and the date 3/17/17 which seems so magically Divine, I’ve decided to offer my Dynamic Dreamer Reports for free this St. Patrick’s Day weekend. What does that mean? Click here to be taken to my Dream Discoveries webpage and send me a recent dream. Just type up what you remember about the dream from start to finish exactly as it unfolded. If you only remember fragments of your dream, that’s okay. We can get good information from fragments and the very fact that you remember them is significant. I’ll give you insights into the dream symbols and self-reflection questions to help you explore the meaning of your dream further. I am so passionate about doing dream work and want to share this amazing experience with you. This service will remain free until Sunday at noon. At that point, the payment button goes back up. So send me your dream today.*
*Dreams will be responded to in the order in which they are received. It may take more than 24 hours to receive your Dynamic Dreamer Report, and I may contact you with questions along the way.
When was the last time that you told yourself that you love you? Ever? We are good at expressing our love to others, but how often do we think to give ourselves some love? It has been said that love begins with ourselves. This week, look in the mirror and tell yourself what you love about you and be specific. Is it your eyes? Is it your smile? Is it your caring nature? How many things can you think of? Notice how it feels to give yourself love. Does it feel awkward or selfish? Does it feel compassionate, and nurturing? Try not to be judgmental about how you feel. Just be curious and accepting. If your critical self emerges, give him/her some love too. Try doing this once a day for the entire week and see how it effects you.
Soup...a symbol of abundance, nourishment and love. It warms the body and brightens the Spirit. There's not much better on a cold winter day than the warmth of a bowl of soup in your hands with the steam rising up to touch your cheeks and the savory aroma awakening your tastebuds. It's a real gift for the body and soul.
Soup is really a wonderful creation. You add your favorite vegetables, meat or fish, herbs and spices to a pot of water and let it simmer until the flavors meld together and magically transform into one wholesome, hearty, nourishing and delicious meal.
Cut the chicken breast into small chunks. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and add chicken. Sauté until lightly browned. Add soup stock, vegetables and spices and simmer on low-medium heat for about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender. Yeilds about 2-4 servings.
Are you a soup lover who needs a soul searching retreat? Check out The Soup To Soul Retreat that Ruth Ann Smalley, Eden Energy Practitioner & I are doing on January 22nd.
Rituals are a prescribed set of patterns of behaviors. Traditionally, they have been connected to religious, historical and seasonal events or ceremonies. They often involve honoring and adhering to a set of rules and engaging in symbolic activities. In a nutshell, rituals create familiar habits that are honored or valued by those who engage in their practice.
How many times a day do you say things like:
"I should start eating healthier."
"I need to exercise more."
"I am exhausted, but I feel guilty when I take time to rest."
Believe it or not, making these changes has little to do with discipline, however, many people beat themselves up for not being more disciplined when it comes to creating healthy changes in their lives. Creating healthy changes involves listening to yourself and your body in a different way. It involves honoring yourself and doing what's right for you. It involves nurturing yourself rather than willing or forcing yourself to do something that you really don't want to do. There isn't one path to being healthy. Everyone's path is different. What works for one person may not work for another.
Where are you on your path? Have you wandered off of it? Have you tripped and fallen and decided not to get up? Have you turned around and gone back to something more familiar? Have you hit a fork in the road and you're not sure which way to go next? Are you a lone traveler wishing you had some company on your journey? Have you suddenly found yourself in unfamiliar territory without a map? Take a moment to consider where you are and where you'd like to be.
If you want to set out on a health promoting journey of love and nurturance where you gain knowledge, insight and new healthy habits, you'll want to check out my upcoming e-course. The course begins November 11th and the last session gets e-mailed December 16th.
How will you benefit from this course? You'll stop to think about and take care of yourself during a time when you are pulled in a million and one directions and usually put yourself and your needs last. You'll give yourself opportunities to de-stress, renew your energy and your spirit and eat healthier and more mindfully. Click here for more details. You Deserve It!
I love a good autumn sunrise and I love starting the day with a good energizing nutrient packed smoothie. Today’s sunrise inspired this beauty. Grate one small beet and one small to medium carrot. Add some raw sunflower seeds, raspberries, banana & greens. I used kale and beet green. Then fill in the space with some almond or coconut milk. You can also add some almond butter or high quality protein powder. Put it in the blender, Ninja, Vitamix or what have you and Voila! You’ve created a beautiful, delicious smoothie filled with enzymes, anti-oxidants, beta-carotene, vitamin D, calcium and a vast array of other vitamins and minerals. You'll also get some nice grounding energy form the beet and carrot root vegetables. Sunrises and smoothies are a great way to add a little color to your life. Try it!
My husband and I have been enjoying this yummy banana tea inspired by Clinical Psychologist and host of The Sleep Summit, Michael Breus, PhD, The Sleep Doctor. He recommends making a banana tea as a sleep aid. According to Dr. Breus, bananas are "nature’s sleeping pill." They contain magnesium and when our magnesium is low, it can affect our sleep. Dr. Breus says, the banana peel has 3 times the amount of magnesium than the fruit. I put a banana in my smoothie every morning, so I figured I'd experiment with the peels. Here's what I brewed up.
1 organic banana peel-washed
3 cups water
Almond or coconut milk
1 cinnamon stick
Dash of ground nutmeg
Teaspoon raw honey
Bring the peel, water, cloves and cinnamon to a boil on the stove and boil on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes to make a tea. Pour the tea into a mug and add milk, a dash of nutmeg and honey. Enjoy! In addition to the sleep benefits of magnesium, cinnamon is warming to the body which may help it to relax. The cloves and nutmeg are also known to help promote sleep, but go easy on the nutmeg. It is a powerful spice, and too much can affect your mental health.
Sometimes, when I sleep, I get cramps in my calves due to low magnesium, so I'm excited to experiment with this new tea. If you are pregnant, it is recommended that you avoid cinnamon, and of course, if you are allergic to or sensitive to any of the ingredients, leave them out of the recipe.
The Sleep Summit is free On-line August 8th-15th. And can also be purchased to be viewed at your leisure at anytime in the future.
I'm a nature loving, garden growing, foodie who loves to eat sweet treats, walk barefoot, snuggle with my dog, discover waterfalls, gaze at the stars,explore my dreams and create my own reality.