Archive for ‘Stress Transformation’

May 8, 2019

#571 – Live Better with RA – Tip #6

Tip #6 – Accentuate the Positive

We’re hard-wired to scan our environment for danger. Unfortunately, for some, our experiences have us performing this operation far too often.

In one study, optimistic subjects had increased cell-mediated immunity, whereas a drop in optimism showed a decrease in immunity. Other studies show that an optimistic attitude about aging can help people live longer, and optimistic cardiac patients are less likely to be readmitted to hospital.

One way to flip your perspective is by practicing gratitude on a regular basis. Another is to do stress techniques, which help to lighten the load and carry you into a better frame of mind.

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April 3, 2019

#568 – Live Better with RA – Tip #4

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Image courtesy of  Gail  Rau.

Tip #4 – Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

Relentless flares, disease-related anxieties, family issues, bills, noise, frustrations — just a sampling of the things that can keep you up at night. A lack of sleep can create a snowball of increasing sleeplessness, wreaking havoc on your RA. With a few important but relatively small changes, you can learn to cultivate good sleep habits, which may lead to a better night’s sleep.

Yeah, but How Do You Do That, Exactly?

  1. Transform your stress on a regular basis.
  2. Experiment to discover the time by which you should stop eating and using your electronic devices. Too close to bedtime and you might be too wired to sleep.
  3. Limit alcohol.
  4. Make your bedroom an electronics nogozone.
  5. Find the right bedding. For example, I prefer feather pillows, a down duvet and definitely not a soft comfort (Yeah, right!) mattress.
  6. Your bedroom ambience. For me: a cool, dark room is a must.
  7. Don’t count sheep, but instead, list all the things for which you are grateful.
  8. Practice cognitive shuffling: Choose a 5/6 letter word, such as “dream.” Now list as many words that you can think of for d, then r, and so on.
  9. Do a room inventory, once you’ve turned off the light. Slowly list everything that is in your bedroom. You might find you’re asleep before you are half-way around the room.
  10. Perhaps you have sleep apnea? Get tested.
  11. Support your jaw.
  12. Do you have painsomnia? Onboard strategies to help you manage your pain. See #1.
  13. Reset your sleep clock. Sometimes you’re simply going to bed too early. Stay up later and find your ideal bedtime.
  14. Medication can interfere with sleep. Talk with your doctor and pharmacist to discover solutions and options.
  15. Hormones may impact your sleep. Talk to your doctor about getting tested.
  16. Your sleep hygiene routine may include a nap on the couch.
  17. Exercise – but at the right time for you. For example, I know if I exercise in the evening, I’m too wired to sleep.
  18. Laugh. Several hours before bed, I watched several YouTube videos of one of my favourite comedians, Michael McIntyre. No, he didn’t put me to sleep with his routine; he is laugh-out-loud funny with his observational humour. All that laughter changes your chemistry – for the better.
  19. Your turn: Please share what helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.

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March 22, 2019

#564 – Live Better with RA – Tip #1

SymptomGang

If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you are no stranger to its marauding gang of symptoms: aches, pains, brain fog, fatigue, insomnia, and stiffness, to name just a few. When you take care of your mind, body, and spirit, you might just find that your RA symptoms improve.  You can live better with RA with these 10 tips, which will be posted one at a time.

Tip #1 – Transform Stress

My journey with RA is definitely better since I’ve become Auntie Stress (AS), almost 13 years ago. I often joke that I am my own best client. However, neither RA, nor stress, are jokes. When I transform my stress, I am better equipped to manage my life.

Self-care becomes easier when your system isn’t flooded with stress hormones, which have a tendency to move you further away from what you want.

The Why

If you want to live well, it’s imperative that you learn strategies that help you break out of the stress cycle. Stress and RA have a direct influence on each other. Stress can increase inflammation. RA can increase stress.

If you’ve ever driven with someone who is stepping on the gas-brake-gas-brake-gas-brake, you’ll know how distressing that is. The 2 branches of your autonomic nervous system (ANS) – sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system, are operating in a similar fashion. Go-stop-go-stop-go-stop – it’s not a good feeling. This type of action tends to wear out the nervous system and sets up the scene for worsening health. Your system is disorderly and you pay the price.

Instead onboard techniques that can bring your nervous system into balance.

The When

Anytime. Anywhere. The beauty of these techniques is that they are not dependent upon waiting for a quiet room, after work, after school or a retreat. You can do them anytime once you know what to do.

The How

Employ a mindful, deliberate approach and use your feelings to help you navigate out of The Stress Zone. When you learn to manage your thoughts and feelings, you gain invaluable emotional management techniques that allow you to shift out of the Stress Zone. A change in perspective can result in an internal change.

For example, last week I awoke with a number of stiff and swollen joints – something I haven’t experienced in quite a long time.

Before AS

I would immediately jump into “Oh no, is this the start of a major flare? What am I going to do? What if…?” That sort of fear-based thinking put me into The Stress Zone. The Stress Zone triggers a cascade of hormones that are designed for flight or fight. Additionally, it also triggers the inflammatory response.

After AS

I regularly address and undress my stress. I am my own best client, after all! For example, last Friday, I awoke unusually stiff. I had rusty hinges for knees. My fingers were about as useful as sausages – they looked like them, too. Apparently I had marbles in my slippers – at least that’s what my feet felt like.

I knew that panicking, wondering and worrying if this was the start of a flare, especially since I hadn’t experienced this in quite some time, was not the best route to take. So, I started with a session on the Inner Balance. While I was doing that, I had ice packs and heat packs. I followed up with an easy swim, since exercise can help reduce inflammation. It didn’t take long and I was moving as well as I normally do.

Heart rate variability (HRV), is the way in which your heart speeds up and slows down. Learning to improve my HRV and regularly practising it has made a difference in my health and well-being.

Here’s what Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School’s blog, has to say in Heart rate variability: A new way to track well-being:

 If a person’s system is in more of a fight-or-flight mode, the variation between subsequent heartbeats is low. If one is in a more relaxed state, the variation between beats is high. In other words, the healthier the ANS the faster you are able to switch gears, showing more resilience and flexibility. Over the past few decades, research has shown a relationship between low HRV and worsening depression or anxiety. A low HRV is even associated with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular disease.

People who have a high HRV may have greater cardiovascular fitness and be more resilient to stress. HRV may also provide personal feedback about your lifestyle and help motivate those who are considering taking steps toward a healthier life.

Here is how technology (Inner Balance) helps me improve my HRV:

InnerBalance1

I use this device on a daily basis to assist me in living my best life with RA. The techniques can be done without the device, however, there is power in having proof that I am in high coherence.

Are you curious about what this is showing you?

Level

There are four challenge levels. As you build coherence within your system, you are encouraged to move up into the next level, which is more challenging to do. In level one and two you can move into high coherence by changing the way in which you breathe. Level three and four require a willful letting go by changing your feeling state. 

Coherence

Coherence indicates synchronization between your cognitive, emotional and physiological systems.  When you are able to move out of low coherence into medium and/or high coherence you enjoy greater feelings of well-being, as well as increased immunity, and other physical and mental health improvements.

Coherence Over Time

This shows a real time picture of what is happening with the two branches of your ANS.

You can see where I dropped from high coherence to medium coherence at about 2:25. This is when my thoughts shifted to an ongoing family issue. That’s an example of how our ANS is influenced by how we think and feel.

HRV

HRV is the beat to beat way in which your heart speeds up and slows down. The smoother the rhythm, the more harmony within your system. Your heart is constantly speeding up and slowing down. When you take your pulse, or when you use the heart sensor on gym equipment you are getting an average, rather than your HRV.

I was unable to capture the entire session on my phone, but you can see the speeding up/slowing down rhythm of my heart.

Another Look

On The Language of Stress you can see a different picture of my use of technology. This time it’s the emWave, a desktop unit that I like to use before I sit down to do any writing.

I do have some specials on these. If you’re interested in the DIY of stress transformation, or stress coaching, please send me an email.

Watch for Tip #2.

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With Gratitude

For Graham Shaw’s TED Talk video: Why people believe they can’t draw.

HeartMath is a registered trademark of the Institute of HeartMath.
emWave and Personal Stress Reliever are registered trademarks of Quantum Intech, Inc.
Inner Balance Trainer is a trademark of Quantum Intech, Inc.
January 9, 2019

#561 – The Tune Changes of RA

The tune changes when you have with RA. When your disease is active, the time signature slows, and you find yourself moving at a different pace.

Strike the right note as you conduct yourself through the day: attune to your emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs to create more harmony for yourself.

Emotional Harmony

Frustration. Disappointment. Impatience. Anger. Negative emotions strike a sour note. It’s important to recognize the undertones and then work your way into feeling better.

Mental Harmony

When you’re in the flow, your mental acoustics improve. At times, the cadence of your work may seem effortless. Transform the discordant sounds of stress to achieve mental harmony.

Physical Harmony

When you are in harmony physically, it is easier to determine whether you are in need of rest or as I was feeling yesterday, simply lazy. So, I did what I usually do when that happens. I make a deal with myself to only do a short swim. Guess what happens? Once I’m in the pool, I go on to do my full workout.

Up and down, up and down, the length of the pool I swim. Yes, there’s even a rhythm to being physical. Similarly, when you synchronize with the lub dub sound of the heart, you change the tempo and move from the Stress Zone into the Stress-Free Zone.

Stress increases physical disharmony and shows up in a number of ways. Its effects can be different for each person.

Spiritual Harmony

Spiritual harmony can signify different things to different people. When you have spiritual harmony, you improve your connection to la dolce vita.

Introducing the Conductor

What is an orchestra without a conductor? Consider your heart the conductor that helps the various “instruments” (example: cardiac system, respiratory system, hormonal system, endocrine system) in your body make beautiful music. Afferent nerves, leading from the heart to the brain, carry messages to the brain. By learning to regulate the signals from the heart (your conductor), you achieve more harmony in all areas of your life.

Recognize Harmony

Make this the year you increase harmony in your life.

Here are some of the places where you will recognize it:

  • In the flow.
  • In the zone.
  • Deep feeling of connection with someone.
  • Witnessing beauty in nature.
  • Synchronicity.
  • Development of a bond with an animal, like this:

 

Improve Your Harmony

As Auntie Stress, I can help you live a more harmonious life, even with a chronic illness. All price points of products and programs are available to help you help yourself. Email for more information or to discuss your needs.

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