The Goal of the Stroll

The house we grew up in backed onto this amazing park with a soccer field and my elementary school. We had this secret door through the big gate that would open up into a world of imagination, play and adventure. I have so many childhood memories that involve friends and cousins and running out through the gate to the park.

The parks and the mature trees and the friendly neighbours are what I love so much about living in my neck of the woods. I love asking my daughters about which park they want to go to and they yell “the purple park!”

What’s even better is that there are amazing health benefits from getting outside and connecting with your neighbours. As a naturopathic doctor who works with moms, babies and kids, I love sharing about all the great reasons why it’s great to get outside and chat with your neighbours.

Park Perks

Being outside in nature just makes us feel good and this is a huge area of new research because of how much time we spend indoors and in front of tech toys like iPads, phones and TV.

Being surrounded by trees, forests and outdoor spaces has numerous health benefits for you and your kids. These include:

  • Improved short-term memory
  • Restored mental energy
  • Stress-relief
  • Lower levels of inflammation
  • Better vision
  • Improved concentration
  • Sharper thinking and creativity
  • Immune system boosts
  • Improved mental health

So, just being outside among the trees of your neighbourhood can really make you feel good.

Neighbourhood Networking

The number of neighbours who we actually know has changed over the years. We spend more time indoors and the nightly news gives us lots of reasons why we should hide out at home.

However, being with others is extremely important to our health. Having a social network helps with longevity. There was a Harvard study of graduates throughout their lifespans and they found that strong relationships are the strongest predictor of life satisfaction.

A lack of social ties is associated with depression and later-life cognitive decline as well as increased mortality. This increase in mortality risk is roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. So having strong relationships is really important!

Connecting with others relieves harmful levels of stress, which can negatively affect coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and your immune system.

So, let’s get outside more, let’s start talking to our neighbours and forming those relationships with each other, we’ll feel better for it.

Dr. Whitney Young, ND

Dr. Whitney is a Naturopathic Doctor and Super Baby Coach who has a special focus on fertility, pregnancy and children’s health. She is the founder of Guiltless Grace – an online community for moms who want to ditch the Mommy Guilt!

9 Choices of Extremely Happy People

IMG_1791I’ve been receiving The Eco Parent magazine which is a fabulous magazines and I highly recommend subscriptions to it. I pulled out an article about “sustainable happiness”  a few months ago and it has been sitting on my desk. I love each point and I think it’s a worthwhile list to revisit every couple of months to make sure you are on your own path to your unique happiness.

Here is how we choose to be happy: The 9 choices of extremely happy people  – by Rick Foster & Greg Hicks. Putnam, New York: 1999.

  1. Intention. The active desire and commitment to be happy, and the fully conscious decision to choose happiness over unhappiness.
  2. Accountability. The choice to create the life you want to live; to assume full personal responsibility for your actions, thoughts, and feelings, and the emphatic refusal to blame others for your unhappiness.
  3. Identification. The ongoing process of looking deeply within yourself to assess what makes you uniquely happy, apart from what you’re told by others should make you happy.
  4. Centrality. The non-negotiable insistence on making that which creates happiness central in your life.
  5. Recasting. The choice to convert problems into opportunities and challenges, and to transform trauma into something meaningful, important, and a source of emotional energy.
  6. Options. The decision to approach life by creating multiple scenarios; to be open to new possibilities and to adopt a flexible approach to life’s journey.
  7. Appreciation. The choice to appreciate deeply your life and the people in it, and to stay in the present by turning each experience into something precious.
  8. Giving. The choice to share yourself with friends and community and to give to the world at large without the expectation of a “return.”
  9. Truthfulness. The choice to be honest with yourself and others in an accountable manner by not allowing societal, corporate, or family demands to violate your internal contract.

Blood Sugar Blues?

What and when you eat can have a huge impact on how you feel.  Watch this video to learn more.

 

Next week: Are you sleeping enough to be happy?

Mental health diagnosis

Once you have the diagnosis of ‘no headlights’, you have two options on how to handle it.  (if you didn’t tune in last week, read part one ‘Being Labelled’)

1.  You know that you need to find lights.  Since your car wasn’t manufactured with lights, it may take a few different tries before you find lights that consistently work for you vehicle.  You may still crash a few times through the trial and error but you stick with it until you figure it out.  You stop thinking that you’re crazy and when the accidents happen, you take responsibility for having faulty lights and you try out new lights.

2.  You know that you don’t’ have lights but instead of trying to find lights, you just keep crashing and use the fact that you don’t have lights to divert responsibility. ” It’s just the way my car was manufactured” you say after a crash.  “Deal with it”.

The first option is very empowering.  It has the ability of giving you a life with far fewer crashes.  You can also work on mending the damage done before you knew  that there weren’t any lights on your car.

The second option is simply destructive.  Knowing that there is a problem and not attempting to fix it just leads to increase crashes and more people getting hurt along the way.

There are also the people who don’t even bother to find out why they crash in the first place.  But they are not likely reading this blog.

If you or your child is crashing, seek help in getting a proper diagnosis.  Once you have it, figure out what the best strategy is for fixing the problem.  Empower yourself and your child.

Instead of trying to make sure that you or your child isn’t labelled for life, why not instead shine some light on things and figure how to get the most out of life.  If the strategy that you picked is no longer working, pick a new one.

If you don’t know where to start, I’d be thrilled to help.  Book an appointment online or call the office.

 

 

Being labelled

For many people, a diagnosis of a mental health disorder, like ADHD, depression, anxiety, bipolar, fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome is  viewed as a label and is attached with a lot of stigma and fear.

What if we change the perspective or the meaning associated with a diagnosis?

I offer this metaphor:

You’re driving towards a tunnel.  It’s a beautiful day and you’re having a lovely drive.  You enter the tunnel without a worry in the world.  By the time that you come out of the tunnel, you’re a mess.  There are scratches everywhere, you’re angry, and you’re confused.  What just happened?  It was too dark in the tunnel to see anything.  You feel like you were just beaten up.

You decide to carry on, and shake it off.  Back to life you go.

A few days or weeks later, you’re driving on the road, towards another tunnel.  Feeling good and positive, you go through the tunnel.  Same thing happens though.  Something in the tunnel caused your car to get all wrecked and you are furious.  What happened?

You start asking other people if it happens to them?  They look at you like you’re crazy.  What do you mean ‘something’ is in the tunnel?  There’s nothing there.

Now you’re feeling confused and embarrassed.  Maybe it was just my imagination.  Maybe it is ‘all in my head’.  I’ll go through another tunnel and it will be fine.

But again, you experience this ‘something’ in a very real way.  There are visible scratches on your car and you’re pretty shaken up.  But no one else gets it.  They don’t get why things change ‘only for you’ in the tunnel.

To make matters worse, they are getting frustrated with you.  Every time that you crash, you need their help.  You need financial aid to fix your car, you need rides while the car is being fixed, and worst of all, sometimes you are not the only one who gets hurt.

So finally you take your car to a new mechanic and he says, “Of course you’re crashing.  You don’t have lights.”  Huh.

The diagnosis of not having lights explains everything.  You didn’t know that other people could see in the tunnel and they never thought to ask if you had lights because “everybody has lights”.  Finally, your diagnosis explains everything.

Now there are two ways to handle things.

Check back next week to see what they are 😉

Kerri

 

Mental health – it’s not all in your head

Did you know that most of the serotonin that your body produces is in your intestines?  Serotonin is the chemical the tends to be low in depression.

Far too often people believe or are told that’s in all in their head.  Attitude is everything and you just need to think positively.  While this is partly true, it is very hard to implement when you’re feeling terrible.

Virtually every mental health diagnosis – anxiety, depression, ADHD, bi-polar – has a basis in chemistry.  Our neurotransmitters, serotonin, dopamine,and epinephrine need to work together for us to be well.  We understand this concept with diabetes – insulin levels need to be manipulated to cure the illness.  When this cannot be done with diet and lifestyle, we use meds.

When it comes to mental health though, so many people are reluctant to work with their chemistry.  They believe that they should feel good without it. I’m not saying go on meds.  I’m saying, play with the chemistry.  There are lots of natural ways to adjust serotonin, dopamine and epinephrine.  Some of them start out simply by looking at your guts.