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Grief and Its Lasting Results

Grief and Its Lasting Results

Grief and Its Lasting Results

Recovering from grief is extremely challenging. Mostly because there is no set timeline. You never know when it will creep up again and rear its devastating blows, bringing you right back to the start. 

Grief wraps itself around us, and it can be elusive when we are trying to heal—not letting us cry or emote our feelings when we want to, and forcing us to face it when we are unprepared. 

What is the answer? Sadly, there is no easy one. 

We need to learn how to live with our grief and be a willing participant in the journey it takes us on. 

We need to be ok with not being ok. 

We need to understand that we will always feel sad about the loss of a loved one, and hope that it’ll hurt a little less each day. 

Grief is a beautiful thing as well. It is a sign that we loved someone so deeply, that our life has forever been changed by that love. Each time we remember, we are keeping our loved ones alive. All those happy memories sit with us forever. This is a gift. 

Whenever I face my own grief, I remember that this overwhelming sadness is a result of the all-encompassing love I have felt and been given by that person. That grief is the mirror image of that love, and without one you can’t experience the other. 

There are things that can help. First, is the most obvious, the ritual of burial. Being around those who love you and the person you have lost is a soothing balm that starts you on your healing journey. 

In the past, I thought funerals were expensive and unnecessary. That was until I lost my dad two years ago.

One day he was in perfect health, the next he died in his sleep. He was only 67 years old. When he died, I felt my heart truly break for the first time. I lost time, burst into tears without provocation, and felt cold all the time. Shock and grief have physical effects on the body too, and it is important to recognize them and approach yourself with compassion and kindness. 

One thing that helped me move past the initial shock, anger, and sadness was writing my dad’s eulogy. I sat and wrote down my favorite memories, and I was flooded with so much love and appreciation for my wonderful father. Then sharing those memories with others who loved me and him started the healing process. I continued to write letters to my father whenever I felt sad. I never look at them, but knowing they are there is a comfort. 

Another thing that has helped me to heal is spreading my dad’s ashes. My dad loved adventure, and he and my stepmother spent 15 years traveling the US in an RV.  He loved seeing new places and meeting new people, so I decided I would spread his ashes in places he had never been. So far I have thrown his ashes off a mountain in Maine, and plan on spreading more when we visit Portugal this summer. 

Lastly, is letting yourself feel sad, whenever that may be…holidays or at 2:34p on a Saturday in June. Whenever you feel it, acknowledge it and express your sadness however it needs to come out. A big day for my grief is Valentine’s Day, which was my dad’s birthday. This past Valentine’s Day was no different. I cried throughout the day, and each time I felt better. I was surprised that I still felt so sad; however, now I’ve accepted that Valentine’s Day may never be about conversation hearts, boxed chocolates, or roses again, but grief for my dad, and I’m ok with that. 

I find myself feeling sad when I think of something I want to tell my dad, or when my daughter graduated high school, even when I’m walking my dog on a beautiful day. I still think of him every day. Each memory, each thought, is a gift because I know his love was so strong that it’ll always be there when I need it. It will be for you as well. 

My last parting thought is how I explain death to my children. There are only two certainties in life. You will be born, and you will die. You can’t control either, but you can control what happens in the middle. Live each day to the fullest, love with your whole heart and when your last day comes, it will be like you are going to sleep forever, leaving behind all the love you sowed into the world and be at peace. 

Like this Blog, try Sound Healing, The Benefits of Nature Walks, or Relieving Stress through a Healthy Work Life Balance.

Fight or Flight

Fight or Flight

Harmful Effects of Fight or Flight

Do you have difficulty falling asleep at night? Are you gaining weight despite not overeating or changing your diet? Do you frequently feel unsettled, on edge, or anxious throughout the day? 

All of these are side effects of your body frequently being in the sympathetic nervous system, also known as fight or flight. When we are put in a stressful situation, the body switches to the sympathetic nervous system. This causes increased heart rate, impedes breathing and eyesight as well as inhibits digestion. None of which is good for the body. 

Also, being in constant fight or flight weakens your immune system making you vulnerable to colds and flu. 

What you want to be in, is the parasympathetic nervous system, where your heart rate is normal, you can see and breathe clearly and your food is digesting and providing you with the nutrients you need to go about your day feeling energized. 

If you are like most Americans, you may find yourself living a lot of your life in fight or flight and don’t know a way out. The good news is that it only takes 90 seconds to pull yourself out of fight or flight and into a calm state of mind.

The easiest way to do this is deep breathing. When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, try this simple technique.

Breathing Technique:

If you can, close your eyes. Take a breath in through the nose for a count of 3 and slowly breathe out for a count of 5. Repeat this for at least 90 seconds. Or, for as long as you need to feel your body relax.

Note: When calming the nervous system, you should always exhale for longer than you inhale. 

You’ll notice your face softening, your heart rate slowing and your shoulders dropping away from your ears. The fog will begin to clear from your mind and you will experience a sense of clarity and peace. 

This practice can be done anytime or anywhere. The more you do it, the quicker you will feel that sense of calm as your body will become used to the practice and know what to do. 

If you know fight or flight is a constant problem for you, you might want to take up yoga.

Unlike other cardio-based exercises like running, weight lifting, zumba and the like, yoga keeps your body in the parasympathetic nervous system. So you are maintaining a sense of calm, focus and peace while strengthening and stretching the body. You are also burning more calories because your digestive system is functioning normally. Also, over time, your body learns how to better handle fight or flight and is more resistent to it because you have trained it stay calm and focused when stressors come calling. 

Like this blog? Leave a comment! We’d love to hear from you. Try one of our other blogs: Creating your space, Winter Health Tip: Warming Foods, Sound Healing

Creating Your Space

Creating Your Space

Creating YOUR Space

Do you want to start meditating or doing yoga at home, but having trouble getting started? Or do you need a spot to unwind or relax?

To help our mind and body relax at home, you need to create your space in your home. 

People go to yoga studios because of the soothing atmosphere, calming scents, and quiet peaceful music. However, you don’t need to go anywhere to relax. 

Since our minds are creatures of habit, you can help teach your brain to unwind and relax just by sitting in the same place each day to practice your breathing, yoga, or meditation. You don’t have to commit to an hour or even 30 minutes. Start with five to ten minutes. You need to start somewhere and 5 minutes is plenty. If you dedicate yourself to taking this time in your space every day, you may eventually get to an hour or longer. But if you don’t, who cares! Relaxation isn’t a competition. 

To start, find a quiet corner in your home, that doesn’t get much foot traffic and make it a space where you can go to unwind and destress from the day.

Add some soft blankets, cushions, and pillows to your space. Make it somewhere you want to spend time.

If you want to do yoga in your space, get a mat and props like bolsters, yoga blocks, and straps. When you have support, challenges are less daunting. On a budget, try 5Below or Marshalls, they have many affordable options.

Add music. Find a little Bluetooth speaker or use noise-canceling headphones. Rather than listening to upbeat music, try white or brown noise or ambient music to promote relaxation.

Finally, light a candle, incense, or diffuse essential oils.

Now you are ready to relax.

Enjoyed reading Creating your space? Try one of our other blogs: Sound Healing, The Brain Health Benefits of Meditation, Nurtured by Nature

Winter Health Tip: Warming Foods

Winter Health Tip: Warming Foods

Why eat warming foods? Do you have a difficult time staying healthy during the cold winter months? Or, do you feel cold all the time?

One way to help is eating warming foods. The key to a healthy body is to eat foods appropriate to the seasons. For winter, you should be eating root vegetables such as sweet potato, carrots, and beets and winter vegetables such as kale, bok choy, cauliflower, and winter squash.

For stomach health, you should avoid raw fruits and vegetables and cook them instead. Spiced steamed pears are a great accompaniment to oatmeal.

Or, my new favorite warming food…amaranth, an ancient grain with the consistency of cream of wheat. Add a little maple syrup and cinnamon and you have a healthy protein and fiber-packed breakfast.

Soups and Stews are a hearty dinner pairing warming foods with fresh bread, especially for those of you who jumped on the Sour Dough train during COVID. Get creative with your recipes and add barley, quinoa, lentils, and spices like cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, and cayenne. Try adding honey and cinnamon to your coffee, hot chocolate or tea. 

A good rule of thumb is to eat in-season foods when possible! Stay Healthy! 

Want more wellness? Try one of our Wellness Events: Self Care Workshops, Healing Workshops or Support Groups

Sound Healing

Sound Healing

Sound and vibrational healing is growing in popularity, and you may be wondering why. Here is a simple explanation…

You are a living energy field. Your body is composed of energy-producing particles, each of which is in constant motion. So, like everything and everyone else in the universe, you are vibrating and creating energy.

Vibrations are a kind of rhythm — and happen on a large scale, like seasonal changes and tidal patterns—as well as within the body, such as heartbeats, breathing rates, and circadian rhythms.

But there are much smaller vibrations happening in your body, too. Inside each one of your cells, molecules vibrate at expected rates.

Researchers study these vibrations in the body using atomic force microscopes, which detect vibrations on the nanoscale, and have found that these vibrations generate electromagnetic energy waves. Researchers have found that vibrations and the electromagnetic energy associated with them cause changes in your cells, which can then affect how your body functions.

How can you access these vibrations? One place is nature—the sound of the wind on a walk, the ocean breaking against the shore or crickets on a warm summer night. Don’t have access to nature, but want the benefits? A sound machine can help you sleep at night. Or, listening to white or brown noise. Search it on whatever listening medium you use. Another way is a sound bath.

Sound Baths use singing bowls made of metal and crystal, rainsticks, and chimes. While listening to the sounds deepens meditation and promotes relaxation, they also affect gentle yet powerful changes to the mind and body. The vibrations from the singing bowls massage every cell in the body. Sound healing brings emotions to the surface, so oftentimes feelings that you are harboring will arise shortly after a session—or it could take up to a day for you to feel this emotional impact.

Interested in trying a Sound Bath? We offer them the first Friday of each month in our studio. Learn More

 

Nurtured by Nature

Nurtured by Nature

Do you want to be happier? Reduce your stress? Improve attention? I have one simple activity that can do all this, for free…be nurtured by nature through walks.   

Psychological research is advancing our understanding of how time in nature can improve our mental health and sharpen our cognition, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders, and even upticks in empathy and cooperation. 

How? 

  1. You aren’t staring at a device; instead, you are looking at nature, which allows the eyes to relax and reduces eye strain. 
  2. You promote blood circulation, increase your heart rate and lung capacity, and flood your body with oxygen. All great things! 
  3. Listening to the sounds of nature calms the body by altering connections in our brain that reduce our body’s natural fight-or-flight instinct. Nature sounds distract us from daily anxiety and worries, redirecting our tensions and stresses outward to outside objects and movements.
  4. If you bring a friend, you can get and give a free therapy session. 

You don’t need to travel to the Poconos or Delaware Water Gap to get the benefits. Although, those are great day trips to take with your kids, especially now with the beauty fall brings. Walking around your neighborhood or a local park has just as many benefits. 

As I recover from spinal surgery, one of the only things I can do is walk, and you had better believe I do. My husband and I walk our son to school with our dog each morning. We do about a mile, and at night, we do another with the dog in the dark, which I love! Walking at night is so therapeutic. Everything is muffled and quiet, and I feel so at peace afterward. 

Don’t believe me? Lisa Nisbet, Ph.D, a psychologist at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, who studies the effects of being nurturing by nature, states, “There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human well­being. You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even urban nature. And your connection with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature.”

It’s supposed to be beautiful this weekend, so carve some time for yourself and your family to walk. It doesn’t have to be long. 15 minutes will do. Perhaps you can turn it into a daily activity and improve your family’s overall health. They will thank you for it.