Back to the basics

As we go through this trying time of COVID-19, I feel that we are all going back to our roots. We are connecting with others more as well as ourselves. Emotionally, Spiritually, and Physically. We are becoming aware of how important it is to have a clear mind. Mentality is a crazy strong power that we control. It’s very easy to lose control of this in our egocentric world. Spiritually, we have to have faith that this too shall pass and we can fight this. Physically it’s teaching us how important it is to nurture our bodies. We’re reminded of the chemicals and dangers that we have been putting into our world. It’s a stressful and unknown time, but it’s also an eye-opening, self-reflecting time.

Having a hard time staying grounded?

The easiest and cheapest way to get connected to “your roots” and to ground yourself is by exploring nature!

  • Plant something: Not everyone has a green thumb so start with easy things. Plant succulents or get a snake or pothos plant. If the frost has passed, plant some wild flowers and easy gardening veggies, like squash and cucumbers. Nourishing and caring for something as a seed and watching it grow gives you so much gratitude as well as confidence in yourself and in working with nature in general. Plus it’s much healthier and cheaper to eat food that you grow vs the chemically-sprayed stuff 😉.
  • Forest bathing: Forest bathing is simply “taking in the forest” and is a free way to connect with nature. It has been shown to dramatically change our brain chemicals in positive ways. By consciously connecting with nature, you are able to calm your thoughts and “gerbil mind” to appreciate the little things in nature — things that our great ancestors had and were able to also enjoy. It’s quite amazing when we think about it!
  • Plant medicine: Now don’t go around eating random mushrooms; start with common, easy-to-grow or naturally occurring herbs such as rosemary, basil, mint, and dandelions. If you don’t have these options then good grade, safe therapeutic essential oils are great for this. You can ingest them (cook with them) or simply enjoy them topically or with aromatherapy through a diffuser. The simplicity of smelling the aromas of the herbs ignites all our senses. This opens your mind and spirit while allowing you to calm and quiet your thoughts. Find joy in whatever you are doing — eating, massaging, bathing, diffusing — while enjoying the great smells and energy! In Ayurveda, there is a term called “ama,” which translates to toxins and bad energy that build up in your body. By increasing our good vibrations or “prana” (good energy), our minds and moods are boosted. Simply by cooking with herbs, you can remove ama and increase prana, thereby grounding yourself. Being thankful for the nature of it and putting good intentions into your cooking can go a long way! It sounds silly, but it’s free — so why not try it?
  • Moon cycles: This is also free! You can spend some time outside stargazing and enjoying the fresh air at night. This is fun while learning and might give you flashbacks to middle school astronomy classes. There are a ton of apps and online resources for this. I use the app Moonology. You can track the moon phases which give off energy and provide so much for us in nature. This practice incorporates the known things — such as the tides, planting, and harvesting — as well as wishes and intuitive stuff that you may or may not be interested in or believe in. Horoscopes also fall in this category, which is a whole science of its own.

The importance of our health during this time

Most of us know how important it is to eat healthy and exercise, but over the years, it’s gotten more complicated when it should be easy! Eat more fruit and veggies, exercise, drink water… Sounds basic, right? We are “going back to basics.” As a society we are learning to garden and make more and more at home, which is great. But no supplement, medication, or food is going to make you a healthier person unless you mentally and physically change your mind and lifestyle. I am guilty of this and have spent endless amounts of money on herbs and vitamins looking for a quick fix, when ultimately I just needed to fix my diet and my gut biome while throwing out all of the junk and preservatives in my pantry that have became common staples in our diets! Check out my last post if you want help transforming your lifestyle into a healthier one.

Sympathetic vs Parasympathetic

I’m not sure if everyone knows the difference, so I’ll explain this in layman’s terms to help you understand the toll that stress places on your body.

  • The Sympathetic Nervous System is the “fight-or-flight” part of your body. We too commonly live in a stressed and anxious state these days, especially if you suffer chronic pain like I do. Being in this mode more often than you should messes up your hormones. This is because you are constantly releasing cortisol and causing adrenal fatigue. You are also messing up your gut because you can’t digest properly if your body is always in that “fight-or-flight” mode, leading to nutrient deficiencies or a leaky gut. Simply put, it’s not good on any part of your body. Every single organ and cell is affected by a constant activation of our sympathetic nervous system. How do we turn this off if we’re always so stressed? To start, we need to learn how to turn on our parasympathetic nervous system. If you are thinking, “Oh my — this sounds like me,” then you should first seek medical help as I’m not a doctor. This is just what’s worked for me and is not medical advice.
  • The Parasympathetic Nervous System is what we know as the “rest and digest” part of your body. This is the mode that you should be in mainly when your body is balanced. When you become stressed, live in chronic pain, or have bad anxiety, your body becomes sensitive and lingers in the fight-or-flight mode all the time. I learned about this way too late in life, leaving me with tight muscles, bad posture, bad breathing, and worsening pain. If you are falling or have fallen down this path, don’t ignore the warning signs. Luckily, there are free and easy ways to improve:
    • Mediation
    • Yoga (especially restorative)
    • Essential oils
    • Diaphragm breathing
    • Avoiding multitasking and over-stimulating tasks

Granted, we all work or have kids running around, which almost makes this impossible. Well, this is why self-care was invented and has become such a big part of combating today’s stigma. You can spend an hour on yoga, use oils at work, or even download a meditation app and just give 1% of your day to it. It’s easier than you think. That negative attitude isn’t going to help you get out of that fight-or-flight mode! Heal your body and take some time for yourself. Go back to the basics 😉

The vicious migraine cycle

Everyone’s migraines are different, their are so many different kinds of migraines, different pains and symptoms. I love reading the research and notice my cravings and odd behaviors before and after my attack are common. It’s even harder if you have chronic migraines and your are constantly cycling through the four stages of migraines. It’s difficult when you aren’t sure if it’s going away or coming back. It’s all apart of a learning curve while you figure out how to heal and help your body.

Here are the four stages of a Migraine. As migraine wasn’t complicated enough. It may be helpful to realize one is coming and if medications work for you, you may be able to prevent a full blown attack.

These stages of pain and discomfort that can play out for an entire week plays a toll on anyone’s emotions. Especially if they cycle over and over again like I’ve experienced. I know when I get into my migraine phase I feel all the emotions I hate feeling.

I begin feeling:

  • Envy: envious of others for not having to deal with this pain.
  • Guilty: I’m guilty that I am on the couch and not helping around the house, with family, or any other activity that I planned.
  • Anger: Angry that I am sick like this.
  • Depressed: Why is my life like this, why is nothing working.

It’s hard to pull yourself back from these emotions. It’s completely acceptable to feel all these emotions. But the important part is to not let the emotions win. You have to become stronger than your emotions. Accept and feel them for a little and then realize that feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to help you get better. Being strong and fighting is the only way you are going to figure out and heal your headache and body.

I was using my mediation app after a rough migraine attack. They used a Sanskrit word in the session, which is is exactly what I needed to hear to help me get out of my funk. Mudita. Feeling unselfish joy and good fortune for others. When you let yourself accept the emotions of pain, jealously, sadness…it’s easy to not feel joy for others. Especially when you can’t feel this for your self. But this is what you need to do, or at least work on to pull yourself out of the rut and get back on track to positive thoughts and your own version of joy. This will help you continue to work on your journey which will only help you and healing your self.

What is being present to you?

First off what is being “present” ? More and more people are using this word, making this their goal, but what does it mean? This word I’m sure has a google definition, but it is whatever it means to you. To me being present is to give all of your mind and self to the current situation. Being mentally aware of your surroundings and simply being joyful for what life presents you.

This can be hard for us to do in our busy lifestyles. We were all raised to be thankful but we were also raised to get our lists and chores done. It’s hard to breathe some days when life hits you and the list gets longer. When you feel this overwhelmed feeling is when you need to pause and appreciate “the little things”. Something I blogged about a few blogs back, and doing so allowing yourself to be present.

Think of where you have the most stress in your day and how you can mold it into a positive by being present. If you feel stress at work (most of us), start with something small. First off, take that lunch break that you don’t get paid for. Do some breathe work, meditate, go outside, put on some essential oils and get off your phone. Read a book or journal. Enjoy your food instead of shoveling it in. A harder one to build up to, but is most important to me, is to eat alone. You are with these people all day, you need a break to be present and reconnect with yourself. It will help lower your stress of your work day and it allows you to just enjoy your time alone and b r e a t h e. If you are eating with coworkers, simply get off your phone, make eye contact to your colleagues and engage in a conversation that brings you away from work (meaning not gossiping about work or your annoying client/patient). We are all guilty of lunch time gossiping. At home start with a routine something small such as journaling, morning tea or meditation and work up to a bigger commitment such as hiking in nature daily.

In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much, and forget about the joy of just being

Eckhart Tolle

For my pain sufferers, I know this is easier said than done. Turning off your mind while your right in the middle of your pain cycle can be hard. My mind is constantly going to that annoying noise, smell or trigger to my migraines. Putting me in a downward spiral and allowing my anxiety to surface, allowing the fear of the pain that is going to come enter. When you realize you are doing this, stop, turn off the hamster wheel in tour head and ACCEPT you cannot change or avoid every environment that has triggers. Personally, when I catch myself in this downward spiral or if I’m already suffering in pain at work I pause, and allow myself to be present. Look around at your day. What have you gotten done, look at the positives and just be thankful for your day so far. My pain is a huge part of my life, but it doesn’t control me. Some days it does, but it does not and will not control my life. I can control how I react.

If you know me personally you would never know how much pain I’m in. I mask it well until it’s too much for me to get through and am stuck on the couch with ice over my eyes. I’m not saying ignore the pain. Ignoring it was a bad mistake I did for years. Accept that you are in pain but you are in control of your mind, and let it know you are boss. But more importantly not letting it ruin every day of your life. Enjoy being present and what it in front of you, instead of retreating and sorrowing in pain.

The importance of the “small things”

I am not sure if it’s my life in chronic pain or just me getting older, but the quote, “it’s the little things that matter most” couldn’t be more true. The annoying voice that gives me anxiety about don’t do that it could give you a headache, or for most people the voice is saying you need to do ______ fill in the blank before today is over. This voice needs to be put aside. I have my best days when I abandon that voice and just live and appreciate everything put in front of me. From a beautiful sunrise and being able to watch mother nature wake up, to someone simply holding the door for you or when something just goes right. These are the little things that make you pause and smile. The laundry can wait, even though it kills the OCD part of me, so can the dishes and so can the store trips.

Feeding your body, being clean, being mentally and physically in shape and present is what is important. The little things in life give us gratitude. And being grateful for the little things can change your outlook on life. Although a clean house and checking off a list for example sure gives us the feeling of gratitude, and seems very important, it’s not. The self caused stress of cleaning or getting the checklists done is not a priority. I’m guilty and still learning that it is important to do things on its own time, when you simply have the time, and not stressing about if it. If you have the time great, if not don’t stress out your body, your emotions and affect the others around you. Yes lists are good, but treat them as goals not requirements for the day.

Because being present and enjoying life allows you to be happier than a clean house and a checklist done can give you.

Is there such thing as a waste of time?

This is something I’ve been debating lately. Having a “chronic illness” or figuring out what’s going on can be expensive medically. A lot of different specialists are consulted and time is spent during this process. Some doctors require you to see them weekly and/or need you to perform tests for an evaluation. Sadly, a lot of these specialists have great reviews and recommendations but don’t always accept insurance. It’s frustrating to spend so much money on hope and no guaranteed answers.

But one of these visits has to work and it will all be worth it, right? One of the books I’m reading says to imagine yourself with your wishes granted. Every time I picture myself pain-free and truly happy in true bliss, I cry. The joy of a pain-free life and the possibility that one of these doctors will be worth it makes the waste of time and even harder waste of money worth it.

It has to all be worth it. I have many years ahead of me to live happily as a wife and hopefully as a mother. We all deserve the chance of pure bliss. Keep fighting warriors 👍🏻