‘Sign…Sign…Everywhere a sign.’ Are you Paying Attention to the Signs your Body is Sending?

This month signs of various forms have been bringing me messages.  Crocuses popping up indicating spring is truly here.  Ducks literally walking down the middle of the road reminding me to slow down.  An oriole pecking at my window, then my front door reminding me to get outside and put bird food out 😊.  Other messages have been more obvious in the form of letters – ‘now that you’re 50 you are eligible for breast screening’.   ‘Just a reminder you are due for your routine Pap test’.  The most important ‘signs’ or signals are blatantly obvious or subtle.  Are you paying attention to your signs?

Women are often the last to take care of themselves or pay attention to the body signals begging for attention.  For breast and cervical health, screening exams are important to keep up to date.  I always ask patients ‘Do you know your breasts?‘ Blush, squirm, giggle….it’s a valid question.  No-one should know your breasts more than you.  You or your partner often are the first to notice subtle changes…a little lump, a dimple, skin color change, unusual discomfort, nipple discharge.  These are signs that need to be investigated – early detection is key.

The same goes for vaginal health.  Do you know what is normal for you?  If there are any changes with discharge, odor, discomfort during sexual intimacy, or pelvic pain in general, please get it assessed.  No question is off limits…no question is embarrassing.  And keep up to date on your PAP test.  Cervical cancer is preventable  – 15 minute examinations are way easier to tolerate than perhaps a lengthy illness or hospitalization or worse.

So please pay attention to the ‘signs’ your body is sending you.  I am happy to provide women’s health assessments/Pap tests to anyone that does not have a provider.  Please contact the office to book an appointment or if you have further questions.

Resources:

www.knowyourlemons.org for information on signs of breast cancer

www.choosingwiselycanada/paptests.org for more information

In service,

Dana Clay, NP

Freshness of Spring Recipes

Spring is finally here!  With warmer temperatures comes the excitement and desire to spend more time outdoors. This beautiful season is rich with the growth of plants and offers us a wider selection of fresh foods.  One of my families favourite Spring things to do is spend time on our backyard patio BBQ’ing and enjoying the freshness of what Spring has to offer.   I’d like to share some of my favorite Spring-time recipes with you. Enjoy!

 

Honey Mustard Chicken Kabobs

(from Real HouseMoms)

Ingredients

Kabobs

  • 1-1/2 lbs chicken cut into 1-1/2” cubes
  • 1 lb red potatoes cut into 1-1/2” cubes
  • 1 large red onion cut into 1-1/2” chunks
  • 2 medium zucchinis cut into ¼” slices
  • Salt and pepper

Honey Mustard Marinade

  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari
  • 1 teaspoon EACH parsley, paprika, garlic powder and salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  • Whisk all the marinade ingredients together EXCEPT olive oil (“Reserved Marinade”)
  • Remove ¼ cup marinade to a large freezer bag or shallow dish. Add chicken and 3 tablespoons of olive oil and turn to coat.Marinate in refrigerator for 4-6 hours.
  • Add potatoes to a large microwave safe bowl.Add 2 tablespoons of water.  Microwave covered, 4-5 minutes or just until fork tender; drain.
  • Add zucchini, onions, 3 tablespoons of reserved marinade, 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper. Toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate.
  • All the remaining unused Reserved Marinade will be used for basting.
  • If using wooden skewers, soak for at least 30 minutes in water before grilling.
  • When ready to cook, thread chicken and veggies onto skewers.
  • Grease grill and heat to medium-high heat.Grill chicken kabobs for approximately 8-10 minutes, rotating a few times until nicely browned and slightly charred on each side and chicken is cooked through, basting halfway through cooking.

Nectarine, Pistachio and Goat Cheese Salad

(from Vanilla and Bean)

Ingredients

Salad

  • 8 cups fresh tender mixed lettuce greens such as read leaf, romaine, beet greens, spinach, bibb
  • 3 nectarines cut into wedges
  • 2 oz goat cheese crumbled
  • 6 tablespoons pistachios roasted and salted; shells removed

Dressing

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons champaign vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon poppy seeds
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Instructions

  • Add all dressing ingredients into a lidded jar.Shake until well mixed.
  • Add greens to a large bowl.
  • Arrange the nectarines on the salad and top with goat cheese and pistachios.
  • Toss with dressing just prior to serving.

 

Frozen Yogurt & Berry Ice Cream Pops

(from Clean Eating with Kids)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups coconut milk yogurt
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 cups of your choice of mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, black berries, cherries)

Instructions

  • Add yogurt, berries and honey to blender and blend until smooth.Stop halfway and scrape down the sides if needed.   It’s nice to leave chunks of berries.
  • Pour into popsicle molds.
  • Freeze for 3 hours until firm.
  • Remove from mold and serve.

Benefits of Hydrotherapy or “Water” Therapy

Although it may sound like a simple, basic approach to healthcare in the midst of fancy, complicated, expensive technologies, we constantly find ourselves resorting to the important role water has as a treatment for optimizing our bodies functioning.  It is a foundational and necessary piece of the puzzle for optimal health.

Just as the quantity & quality of water we ingest is paramount to properly influencing all the biochemical processes that go on inside our bodies, why not play around with the temperature of the water we subject ourselves to externally?

I am a sucker for a warm bath or a warm shower. The heat can do wonders for promoting relaxation and relaxing tight musculature. However, have you tried cold water therapies??

Influence of cold external temps on our body system:

  • Decreased inflammation and pain regulation related to various chronic diseases
  • Increased brain activity and alertness due to increased oxygen intake, & increased heart rate
  • Regulation of autonomic nervous system
  • Decreased uric acid and increased glutathione levels
  • Supports the immune system & reduces oxidative stress
  • Increases brown fat – metabolically favourable tissue that can generate heat by burning fat supportive for optimal body composition
  • Improves circulation due to the constriction of distal blood vessels in the limbs increasing the circulation rate of the blood in the deeper tissues to maintain ideal body temperature.
  • Improves skin complexion due to tightening and constricting blood flow which gives your skin a healthy glow
  • Closes and strengthens your hair cuticles and doesn’t dry out the sebum layer

Something to try…

Daily Hot/cold contrast shower challenge:

Try 30 seconds cold, 1 minute warm water; alternate three times and end on cold.

Give it a try and enjoy the benefits!

Some of the other ways I like to incorporate water therapy into my patient’s protocols:

  • Evaluation of quantity & quality of drinking water- bodily water quantity can be assessed by results recorded after a full body composition analysis which I offer complimentary in office
  • Optimizing electrolyte intake
  • Contrast water showers with or without breathing exercises
  • Ice baths
  • Warming socks for kids during illness
  • Heating packs
  • Foot baths
  • Epsom salt baths
  • Cold plunge outdoors
  • Hot/cold plunges

I usually incorporate at least one of these techniques into my client’s protocol, but the reality is that all of these things CAN be used to optimize our health in general. It just may be a bit overwhelming to do them all at once each and every day so we may try to prioritize the tool with the biggest effect depending on our specific health goals. The health benefits of water therapy are endless and crucial to our wellbeing.

Just like the great Bruce Lee once said… “Be like water, my friend.”

Transitions

The movement and progression from one situation to another is easily summarized as a transition.  Our life is full of transitions.  Some transitions are short and optimized, some transitions can be heavy on the heart, while others can be fun and uplifting.  Transitions can be forced upon on us – death, job loss or relationship unravelling – or an imminent transition we know is on the horizon, it’s looming, either in our personal or professional life, but it’s usually up to us to initiate it.

 

All transitions carry the potential for mixed reactions based on our current health, mindset, support system and previous life experiences.  Our perspective is what contributes to our response.

 

I know these transitions all too well in my personal and professional life, as a significant career transition is what has brought me to Prairie Sky Integrative Health.

 

A few months ago while on Vancouver Island, I was mountain biking on Maple Mountain and came across a beautiful arbutus tree, that was much larger and thus older, than any other arbutus tree I have seen before.  It exuded wisdom and stability.  A closer look revealed a few of its branches were completely dead, pale and lifeless.  Our eye somehow travels to notice what is wrong, instead of what is correct.  Pausing to reframe my perspective, I noticed near each dead branch, was a new creation of a limb that was viable, full of colour and thriving.

 

As I pondered this unique dichotomy of living and non-living branches on the same tree, I see the parallel in my own life where relationships terminate and new connections sprout.  I stared at the root of that arbutus tree, in awe, at how many transitions it must have weathered and it hit me; that in order to cope, withstand and thrive through a transition, we need a stable root.

 

Ashtanga yoga speaks about 8 limbs, and the importance of a confident base to move from.  Our root is likened to our boundaries, or parameters for what we will tolerate and what we will no longer endure. As we become wiser with age, we really start to understand ourselves, and we sense what cellularly aligns with our soul.  Authenticity is the word I like to keep near.

 

So what is my root?  It’s a valid question, and I recognise the answer changes as I progress through life and accumulate experiences.  We each have a different idea of what makes us rooted, grounded, happy and wholesome.  Sometimes roots get pulled out, and this can be difficult to replant.

 

During life transitions the physical, mental and emotional body often wavers.  Sleep, pain, nervous system dysregulation and digestion upset are common signs and symptoms.  These times are when patients are more likely to seek treatment of a physical nature, or sometimes even just to talk.  Through conversation, the finer details of life’s decisions become evident.  I think this is the value of having a trusted health care practitioner in your corner, an independent influence perhaps, to help realign the systems of our physical body to allow our intuition to symmetrically connect with the mind.

 

A few transition questions that can lead to clarity:

 

  • Who am I today, and does my current environment align?
  • Why am I feeling the impulse to make a transition?
  • Have I felt this feeling before?
    • If so, how did I act?
    • When I acted, what was the outcome?
  • What are my support outlets to gain clarity?
  • When do I have to decide?
    • Is it an internal pressure, or one from an external source?
  • Where do my fears originate?

 

Every transition has a unique set of circumstances.  Our life will perpetually have transitions, we cannot run from them, nor should we try.  If we can slowly develop and get to the root of who we are today, we start to feel more confident in our ability to adapt.  More confidence leads to less pain, better eating habits, more physical activity, improved sleep, and more authentic relationships.  Whether you tackle a transition solo, or with a team approach, clarity lies on the other side of a difficult conversation.

Loving Your Lymph

I often say that the lymphatic system is the most underutilized and under-appreciated system of the body. As your own personal waste disposal and recycling system, your lymphatic system spans the entire body and is interconnected with the circulatory and immune system. The lymphatic system consists of various tubes and cleansing stations that move lymphatic fluid or lymph throughout the body along with the spleen, thymus, GALT [gut associated lymphoid tissue] and tonsils. Lymph consists of fluids from cells, minerals, fats, proteins, bacteria, viruses and foreign particles. The cleansing stations – lymph nodes – house white blood cells that mount a response to any infections or cancers brewing in the body. Lymph nodes are typically the size of a kidney bean and yet they are actively surveying the body at all times. When they come across an intruder, the amount of white blood cells increase and the lymph node itself swells as the body fights to keep you well.

 

The direction of lymph is a one-way street that relies on nearby blood vessels, deep breathing or muscle contraction for movement. Lymph naturally tends to move slower however, if there is too much debris and not enough movement, lymph can become congested. This is best explained by using the metaphor of a bus route; we ideally want just as many people exiting the bus as people entering the bus. If there are too many people on the bus, your lymphatic system becomes overwhelmed and congested. This can also cause lymph nodes to swell and it can lead to any of the following:

  • Acne and other skin concerns like rashes or itchy skin
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Constipation
  • Clogged ears or chronic earaches
  • Brain fog
  • Bloating and water retention
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throats
  • Chronic sinus congestion
  • Weight loss resistance
  • Puffiness

 

Ways to support your lymph:

  • Deep breathing
  • Contrast showers (alternating hot and cold in the shower)
  • Castor oil packs
  • Jumping into cold lakes (my personal favourite)
  • Dry skin brushing
  • Rebounding
  • Exercise
  • Using herbs to move lymph – top choices are cleavers, calendula, dandelion
  • Lymphatic massage

 

Neither of the above are exhaustive lists as lymphatic congestion and release is a really rich area of discussion. However, I hope this intrigues you enough to consider this amazing system that harbours amazing healing potential.  As we…eventually…move into spring, show your lymphatic system some love and thank it for its endless work in keeping you well!

My Supplement Regime

I am often asked what I personally take for supplements, and what I give to my kiddos.  Sometimes people are surprised by my answers, for a number of reasons.

A main one is that many people still hold the belief that if one eats relatively well, they shouldn’t have to take any supplements.  And people believe me to be healthy and one of those people.  Which, well, I am!  I do consider myself healthy, largely because I take really good care of myself.

I practice self-love in the forms of daily prayer and meditation time.  I engage in daily physical activity from a place of self-kindness.  I try my very best to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night, preferring to hit the 8 hour mark where I can, and making up the difference when I have the opportunity to have a bit of a sleep-in or a nap on a weekend, on vacation.  I eat well, smoothies every morning packed as filled with nutrient dense foods as possible, including several scoops of various “superfoods” as I will discuss in a bit.

Because I mostly practice intermittent fasting, which is leaving a 12-18 hour window between evening dinner and morning breakfast the following day, my smoothie is generally consumed mid-morning and due to the sheer volume of goodness I attempt to pack in there, it holds me well until dinner time.  Occasionally I might sneak in a mid-afternoon snack of some nuts or a homemade power bar or ball type of treat (I’ll include a recipe!).  Suppers are for sure several cups of mixed organic greens, some sort of protein (usually vegetarian-based or fish, but sometimes chicken and every once in awhile a good beef or bison burger), a few giant forkfuls of fermented foods (kimchi or sauerkraut), generous drizzles of flax oil, sometimes a little goat feta… you get the gist.  Healthy, right?!

That being said YES, I do supplement as well.  Main reason is that I love having the extra insurance that I am getting the right amounts of all the micronutrients on a daily basis.  I always take a good quality multivitamin that has extra B-vitamins and antioxidant support.  I take daily fish oils, in liquid form, adrenal support (as I am on the go, a lot, and have much on my plate, I like knowing that my nervous system and adrenals have some extra TLC to keep me healthy, energized and sane), liquid calcium:magnesium, Vitamin D+K, Reishi mushroom (because I love the medicinal mushrooms for all of their amazing properties: healthy immunity, hormones, hair, etc.).  I toss in iron and B12 periodically as I don’t eat a lot of meat, I give myself a few squirts of liquid liposomal Coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin C, for mitochondrial and immune health.  And my smoothies… I mentioned those, right?

Filled with Greens First (greens powder), Nutribiotic brand fermented rice protein, Maca powder (more adrenal and hormonal support), several tablespoons of ground flax seeds (love ground flax!!), cacao nibs, astragalus powder, green tea powder, moringa leaf powder and mucuna powder when I can find it.

I use a base of frozen berries, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of unsweetened non-dairy milk or non-dairy chocolate milk and a chunk of banana to sweeten it a little, and dump in a scoop of each of the above goodies.

I love my mid-morning shakes!  They keep me full, satisfied, and energized throughout the day.  Because they have so many great nutrients in them, I don’t crave much and I just feel so ‘clean’.  It is of course important to be your own inner detective and find out what mixture of goodness agrees with you and your body, and of course any of our NDs can help you out and give you personalized suggestions at any point in time.

Maybe next blog I will do about Superfoods!! These are essentially nutrient dense foods that come in powdered forms that can be used to fortify what you are already eating and drinking, many of these concoctions I mentioned above as part of my smoothie extravaganza fall into the superfood category.

So, consider your investment in your supplement regime an investment in yourself!  And pop these little nuggets knowing you are in good company, and are engaging in quality self-care.  Of course, they are but condiments, and they need to rest on the “main course” of sleep/ rest, exercise, meditation/ prayer, laughter, outdoor time, food, community that make up health.

April is IBS Awareness Month

IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome.  Almost everyone knows someone with IBS.  I also have been diagnosed with IBS so I can speak from first hand experience about the trials and tribulations as well as ways I have controlled this imbalance in my body.

As the name indicates, irritable bowel syndrome is pretty much an umbrella term for the multitude of ways our digestive system becomes irritable and doesn’t function correctly. The general symptoms of IBS include abdominal cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or constipation, and if severe can lead to nutrient deficiencies due to lack of absorption in the gut.

IBS can have a huge effect on your life – who else plans their errands or road trips around the best bathroom stops? Or walking into a mall or restaurant, scoping out where the nearest bathrooms are? Anyone…anyone…Buller? Yep, your life is consumed by not if, but WHEN IBS will occur.  There is no definitive cause for IBS but more of a group of TRIGGERS that create the symptoms:

  • Stress – not a cause of IBS but more how the nervous system reacts and influences the body – the gut/brain connection
  • Food allergies – gluten, dairy, nuts, etc
  • Hormone levels, especially in women
  • Frequent antibiotic use

So some ways recommended to have better control over these symptoms and create balance in the body are as follows:

  • Manage your stress – meditation, exercise, counselling, journaling
  • Clean up your diet – choose real food, our body struggles to produce the correct enzymes to break down food, the more processed the food, the more difficult for the body to recognize how to break it down.
  • Create balance in the gut – increase intake of pre and probiotics to recolonize the proper gut bacteria.
  • Water – proper hydration is important for all body functions

So in a nutshell, IBS is a common condition and often not diagnosed.  If you resonate with this information, I invite you to discuss this with your healthcare provider to explore ways to improve your health.  For more information click here  or contact me here.

 

In service,

Dana Clay

Dr. Allison Ziegler’s Maternity Leave Update

I am excited to announce that I am due to have my third child in June 2022!

I will be taking three months away from the office starting July 1st-October 1st, 2022. There will be no disruption in IV therapy while I am away as Dr. Lynn Chiasson has graciously offered to continue them for me.

Due to the inconvenience this may pose to my clients, I wanted to let you know sooner rather than later so you have ample time to book an appointment if needed.

To book please call 306.757.4325.

Who do you know that is self-employed, runs and integrative health care business, or is graduating soon from any of the following fields that would be interested in an affordable office space in an established multidisciplinary clinic to rent on a monthly basis? I have a beautifully furnished room available for individual use while I am away on maternity leave and on a part-time basis when I return.

  • holistic nutrition
  • counseling
  • lactation consultant
  • psychology
  • bodytalk
  • reiki
  • chiropractic medicine
  • massage therapy
  • acupuncture

Our goal is to ensure our community has access to as many integrative health care resources as possible, under one roof, as well as to promote the extensive number of healing professionals that Regina and the area boasts.

Reception is available if required, for additional rental fees.  Contact me by email at allison@zieglerhealth.com if you are interested in discussing our options and touring the available space.

Play with the Bitter Principle this Spring!

Call me optimistic but I am choosing to believe that spring is here. Although I had a wonderful winter, as they go, I am fully ready to embrace a new season. And with a new season, comes a classic spring culinary friend – dandelion greens! If you’ve ever tried them, you know that they are quite bitter and if you happen to know me, you know that I LOVE bitter foods and herbs.

 

Aside from the bitter receptors that reside on our tongue, we have bitter receptors all through our bodies including the gonads and the heart. This should raise a curiosity: Why would this be? We evolved from eating bitter foods such as berries and roots. Bitter foods are very much a part of our ancestral diet. However, as the food industry evolved, they favoured flavours that were addictive like sweet and salty leaving our bitter taste receptors untouched.

 

Whether or not we flock to bitter foods, there is a series of physiological changes that happen when we engage with bitters. In botanical medicine, we call this the bitter principle. When we taste bitterness, it automatically shifts us into parasympathetic or rest and digest mode; saliva increases, enzymes increase and peristalsis begins. What this ultimately means is less gas and bloating and better bowel movements. Oh, and of course a more relaxed nervous system.

 

Dandelion is one of the first “weeds” that peaks through the earth in spring. The greens also happen to be a wonderful choice for a bitter food. Below are three of my favourite ways to eat dandelion greens.

 

  1. Dandelion Greens Pesto

Ingredients
2 cups dandelion greens, packed, chopped, and washed
½ cup olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or walnuts
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, parmesan or pecorino (my favourite!)
A squeeze of lemon juice or 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar

Directions
Add into a small blender in this order:

Garlic

Nuts or seeds

Greens

Half of the oil

Lemon or balsamic

The remainder of the oil; if you have the option to drizzle in slowly as the blender runs – please do!

Add in cheese and give one final blitz.

 

Enjoy this pesto on crackers, drizzled on meat, tofu, fish, with pasta or drizzled over a yummy soup!

 

  1. Sauteed in a salad and sprinkled with sheep or goat cheese like this awesome recipe here 

 

  1. Dandelion Juice

To mellow out the bitter (if you must!) of dandelion greens, you can always juice them with citrus and apples. I prefer that folks add in some ground flax seed to their fresh pressed juice to stabilize blood sugar!

 

I typically do some variation of the following:

1 apple

1 large bundle of organic dandelion leaves

Small chunk of ginger

1 lemon

And sometimes I add a little pineapple for some more flavour

 

Please do enjoy playing with all of the above. I promise that if you welcome bitter herbs and foods into your life, you’ll grow to love them! Another promising tidbit for you is that your bitter receptors will change over time. What this means is this: The first time you have something bitter, you will have a wicked response (make a funny face, announce how much you disliked it, etc) but over a few weeks, you’ll notice that even though it is still bitter…you can handle it much better. The body adapts beautifully to old friends like the bitters.

 

P.S. – Do not harvest your own dandelion greens unless you know for sure that they were not sprayed!

 

P.P.S – If you’re looking for some tips on how to support the body this season, check out this freebie on my website.

Breaking the Vicious Cycle

Each month my turn to write my blog post rolls around, and each month I often feel stumped for what I am going to write about.  This drives me crazy!!  As someone whose head is otherwise constantly spinning with thoughts and ideas and inspiration of various sorts, I am perplexed and annoyed when all of a sudden, I feel as though I am staring inside my own mind at a blank wall.

What I have learned, after years of practice, is not to get too caught up in the annoyance.  Not to resist the irritation, and yet not to let myself get riled up by it either.  In fact, what I have learned to do is to lean into it all and then to simply breathe, get curious, and see what arises.

So, you see, in this exact moment as I write this, I have a choice.  I can choose to: get frustrated about not knowing what to write about; worried that I am not going to make my deadline to get this to my colleague for posting; scared that inspiration will never strike me again; self-defeatist and start beating myself up that I have nothing to say and am a horrible communicator and I am best just to resign myself from the blog post rotation (can you relate to any of these wild thoughts??); or, I can lean in to the symphony of thoughts and feelings.

I can simply stop.  Breathe.  Notice the frustration, fear, panic, angst. But rather than resist it, I can metaphorically wrap my arms around it.  Acknowledge, love and accept it, and thus myself, for feeling what I feel.  Feel how tired it makes me feel.  How underneath the edge of anxiety I can feel some sadness, some tears springing to the surface.  I can feel a bit of vulnerability coming forth, honouring the small still voices of worry and fear, and if I can breathe and lean a little further in, I can start to relax.

Simultaneously noticing the voices of judgment that want to spring forth and tell me how ridiculous this is, how this ‘feeling’ thing will do nothing to getting me towards my goal of writing a blog post, how I need to stuff this all down and just get to work; attempting to pull me back out of this relaxation response I was beginning to fall into through my breath.  And so, with this next barrage of thoughts too, rather than follow them, I notice them, honour them, give them a voice, surround them with love and patience and those metaphorical hugs, and then feel that feeling settle back into my nervous system: the melting, surrendering into peacefulness, vulnerability.

Perhaps you can feel it yourself, too, this rollercoaster effect, just by reading these words, and can relate to similar rides you might take in your own life as a result of your own mind.  When the mindset of pressure, judgment and expectation dominates, it winds us up, creates a stress response and pulls us into a state of panic.  Until we remember the breath, and to lean into the uncomfortable feelings, resisting nothing, and engaging the mindset of calm, relaxation, acceptance, thereby creating a relaxation response and stirring the inner feeling of inspiration and possibility.

And up and down we go, with our bodies following our thoughts, until that time we retrain ourselves not to attach so strongly to the fear-based amygdala-activating thoughts, and we cultivate the habit of leaning in, being with, breathing and acceptance.  Like riding a bike, we can all learn to do it, and like riding a bike, it will take practice however our nervous systems can be trained over time, not to forget.

As I leaned into my own blank wall of a mind, allowed myself to acknowledge the impatience, frustration, fear, etc. that was there (as I described earlier), basically breathed and loved and hugged myself through this, then the words, as you are reading, started to flow.  And they flowed back to this concept on the Nervous System, one that I risk sounding like a broken record about, as it is my passion and the focus of my work, both for myself personally (as someone who has had a handful of nervous system/ mental health challenges over the years; acquiring labels from anxiety to depression to ocd/ disordered eating/ body image manifestation) and in my practice.  Because in fact, the nervous system really does trump everything.

The act of writing (or any other inspired process) takes place in the right hemisphere of the brain, the creative brain, which can really truly be best accessed when our bodies are in the parasympathetic nervous system response, aka the relaxation response.  This is the opposing system to the sympathetic nervous system response, aka the stress/ fight or flight response.  With this latter nervous system predominant our brains and bodies are concerned solely about survival: we subconsciously tense our muscles, increase our heart rate, blood pressure, and breath rate (shallow and short) and we start to sweat and perhaps even feel a little anxious as our bodies prepare to fight or to flee.  When we are not actually fighting an enemy or running away from danger, what happens is that we begin to fight ourselves and run away from the task at hand, or our goal, whatever that may be.

In my case, writing an article.  In yours it might be choosing a new more nutritious way of eating, cooking a healthy meal, deciding to implement a workout program, giving up a detrimental health habit (such as too much screen time, smoking, sugar, overwork, etc.), incorporating a supplement protocol, or even writing a blog article!!

Everything we do (other than ACTUALLY fighting or fleeing!) will be more effective if we can do it from a place whereby the PNS is dominant over the SNS.  We absolutely need both in activation, as the SNS is what actually allows us to get sh** done, however if we are constantly panicked and burnt out and anxious as our starting place, we really aren’t that effective.

This is because the choice to act from inspiration, rather than stress, is far more sustainable, and creates a positive, constructive, self-perpetuating cycle of success, thereby breaking the vicious cycle of stress, negative self-talk, punishing/ violent “motivation”, poor personal choices and destructive, addictive self-soothing but also self-sabotaging habits and patterns.  I am sure you know the latter all too well.

There are a multitude of ways to help your brain and body shift gears and learn this new state of being and fall into the health-promoting, constructive cycle.  I will include a few of my favorites here and as you read through them, see which ones may sound intriguing, curious and enticing to you.  Then try them!  Reach out as we have an incredible resource team here at Prairie Sky health who can help you:

  • Mindfulness practices, prayer and meditation
  • Journaling
  • Time spent alone and in nature
  • Movement: exercise, especially time spent outdoors in very beneficial
  • Supplements: GABA, l-theanine, lemon balm, passionflower, B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, 5-HTP, lavender, hibiscus, etc.
  • Essential oils: frankincense, lavender, mint
  • Nutrition: 40:30:30 diet whereby 40% of your foods come from carbohydrates in the form of: whole grains (rice, quinoa, oats), starchy (sweet potatoes, plantains, beets, carrots, etc) and non-starchy (green leafy) veggies, fruits and berries; 30% of your foods come from proteins (eggs, chicken, fish, lentils, chickpeas, beans, wild game, naturally raised beef/ bison, raw nuts and seeds); 30% of your foods come from good quality fats (avocado, coconut, olive oil, flax oil, hemp oil, raw nuts and seeds also fit into this category, etc.)
  • The “Mediterranean Diet” is one of my favorite diets for balancing the nervous system and feeding the adrenal glands.
  • Avoidance of high stress foods like caffeine, sugar, alcohol, processed foods, breads, cakes, cookies, etc. is important as these are stressful on the body and perpetuate the fight or flight response.
  • Reiki, Body Talk, Acupuncture or other energetic healing practices
  • Physical practices like massage therapy, chiropractic or osteopathy

I have spoken on the various aspects of health and what one can do to support each crucial aspect in the radio series I did with Sherry Lee on CJTR earlier this winter.  I have also spoken to her on this subject specifically: “The Nervous System Trumps Everything”, and all of these episode links can be found on my website

If you would like to learn more and immerse yourself in learning this new language of health.  By all means, reach out any time for more information, to any of us at the clinic, and we would be honoured and overjoyed to work with you on your own health journey towards greater health, joy and peace.

Blessings, and thanks for reading!