Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Part IV

Whether it’s the pandemic, the politics, money worries, or more it seems like all of us are feeling the effects of these hard times. For some of us that means anxiety, for some it means depression. Some of us aren’t sleeping, some of us are frustrated by online schooling and having our plans messed up. What follows is a list of coping strategies. Not every strategy will work well for every person. Pick one or two.  Commit to them regularly. This is part of an ongoing series. 

Nutrition  

As the computer programming adage goes: Garbage in / Garbage out. When we feel down, it's natural to crave comfort food. Unfortunately, many of our favorite comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, cookies, and sodas are nutrient poor and loaded with simple carbs and sugars. These poor choices might give up a momentary lift, but later lead to making us feel less energetic and less happy. Better food choices lead to better brain and whole body health. 

Probiotics: science has shown that there are connections between gut health and mood. Your gut produces most of your neurotransmitters. Better gut health leads to improvements in mood, sleep, and systemic inflammation. Good food sources of probiotics are yogurt, kefir, tempeh, miso, tofu, saurkraut, and other fermented foods. Probiotic supplements can also be useful. See these resources for more information: 

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/can-probiotics-improve-your-mood and 

https://www.healthline.com/health/probiotics-depression#how-they-work

Antioxidants: prevent free radials that lead to cell damage. Brain cells are especially at risk to these free radicals. A diet rich in antioxident plentiful rich foods can help limit the damage. 

Beta-carotene: apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato

Vitamin C: blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomato

Vitamin E: margarine, nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ

Complex carbohydrates can be found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Carbohydrates are linked to the mood-boosting brain chemical, serotonin. Simple carbs, like a cookie can cause a "high" and then a "crash". Complex carbs will help you to maintain a more consistent energy and mood.

Vitimins D and B12 deficiencies have both been implicated in mood disorders. Supplementing with these vitamins may help you to feel better. See also: 

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/foods-that-fight-depression-add-these-12-things-to-your-diet/

Vitamin D: Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon; Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals; Cheese; Egg yolks

B Vitamins: margarine, nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ, lean animal and fish products, low-fat dairy

Yoga

Yoga has been shown to reduce the body's stress responses, thus making it a helpful tool for addressing stress, anxiety, and depression. By modulating the way the body's stress responses, physiological arousal is lowered. Heart rate, blood pressure and respiration can all decrease with regular yoga practice. Plus, you'll increase your body's flexibility, too! We are lucky to live in an area with so many in person and online options to participate in yoga classes. Here are a couple of them:

https://soultreecolorado.com/

https://www.mojoshouseofyoga.com/#/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression


Hugs

One of the worst parts of this pandemic for me has been to not be able to hug the people I want to hug. Thankfully, I can still hug the members of my immediate household. The benefits of hugging are reducing stress, relaxes muscles, increases circulation and releases endorphins in your body. Hugging relieve stress and depression by increasing levels of dopamine and serotonin. Find someone and give them a hug today. I frequently give myself hugs. Hey, don't laugh! I do feel better afterwards. 

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Left Hand Community Acupuncture is located in the heart of Old Town Lafayette at the corner of Simpson St. and Michigan Ave. LHCA offers an affordable sliding scale of $40-$65. We do not ask for proof of income. You decide what you feel is fair to you and fair to us. We treat patients in a relaxed, group setting that promotes an atmosphere of healing. Caroline Adams is a Licensed 
Acupuncturist and nationally board certified. Acupuncture can help with a wide range of health
 issues including pain, stress, insomnia, arthritis, allergies, depression, headaches, fatigue, cold and flu, digestive issues, PMS, and many other health concerns. 

http://lefthandacu.com  
 720-378-6090


Monday, November 2, 2020

2020: Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Part III


 2020: Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Part III


Whether it’s the pandemic, the fires, or the election, it seems like all of us are feeling the effects of 2020. For some of us that means anxiety, for some it means depression. Some of us aren’t sleeping, some of us are frustrated by online schooling and having our plans messed up. What follows is a list of coping strategies. Not every strategy will work well for every person. Pick one or two.  Commit to them regularly. I was going to write this all in one swoop, but I have a lot to write and I want to get this out soon. More to come!


  1. Abdominal Tapping Sounds crazy, but tapping on the spot right below your belly button has numerous beneficial effects. It warms the lower dan tien, one of the energy centers of the body, promoting good digestion. It also helps to pull the energy from your brain (your racing thoughts and worry) down back into the core of your body. To perform abdominal tapping, make sure you start out with an empty bladder and loose, comfortable clothes. Either stand with your knees bent or sit up straight in a chair. Breathe slowly and deeply. Gently tap the area beneath your belly button with open palms or loose fists for about three minutes. Check in to see how you feel afterwards. You can work up to five or ten minutes if you like. 
  2. Nature Now that the smoke is calming down, it’s possible for most of us to get out in nature. There have been many, many books and articles written on our disconnect from nature. he mental and physical benefits of getting outside are legion. Being out in nature improves mood and immunity. Exercising in nature has been proven to feel more energizing. “In a study done in Japan, researchers found that after a 20 minute walk in the forest, participants had lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than those who spent time in the city instead.” https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/the-5-switches-of-manliness-nature/
  3. Daily Energy Routine Donna Eden is the founder of Eden Energy Medicine. A healer friend of mine makes it a mandatory requirement that every one of her clients commit to doing the   Daily Energy Routine  every day. It only takes about five minutes each day. My friend reports she sees great health gains in those who follow do the exercises regularly. Those who practice the Daily Energy Routine report more energy, less pain, reduced depression, and greater mental clarity. To be fair I haven’t been able to make it a part of my daily self care, but every time I do the exercises, I *do* feel increased vitality and decreased stress. Check it out and see what you think: https://edenenergymedicine.com/donnas-daily-energy-routine/
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Left Hand Community Acupuncture is located in the heart of Old Town Lafayette at the corner of Simpson St. and Michigan Ave. LHCA offers an affordable sliding scale of $40-$65. We do not ask for proof of income. You decide what you feel is fair to you and fair to us. We treat patients in a relaxed, group setting that promotes an atmosphere of healing. Caroline Adams is a Licensed Acupuncturist and nationally board certified. Acupuncture can help with a wide range of health issues including pain, stress, insomnia, arthritis, allergies, depression, headaches, fatigue, cold and flu, digestive issues, PMS, and many other health concerns. 

http://lefthandacu.com  
 720-378-6090

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

2020: Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Hacks Part II

 2020: Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Hacks Part II


Whether it’s the pandemic, the fires, or the election, it seems like all of us are feeling the effects of 2020. For some of us that means anxiety, for some it means depression. Some of us aren’t sleeping, some of us are frustrated by online schooling and having our plans messed up. What follows is a list of coping strategies. Not every strategy will work well for every person. Pick one or two.  Commit to them regularly. Part III next week!

1. Meditate Start a daily meditation practice. You don’t have to meditate for hours on end to reap the benefits from it. Start small with just a few minutes a day, everyday. Meditation literally changes the structure of the brain which can lead to such benefits as improving your attention span, decreasing your sensitivity to pain, and increasing relaxation. One of my favorite meditation hacks is to meditate while moving; this give my monkey mind something to do while I focus my attention. Even something as simple as swinging my arms gently back and forth makes meditation easier for me. There are many meditation apps out on the market. Calm and Headspace are two of the most popular. There are also many many Youtube videos out there. One of my all time favorite audio programs is The Art of Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hanh https://www.soundstrue.com/products/the-art-of-mindful-living More on the benefits of meditation: https://io9.gizmodo.com/how-meditation-changes-your-brain-and-makes-you-feel-b-470030863


2. Find a therapist Yes, it might be time to actually confront your issues. Having a licensed therapist assist you on the journey is so much easier than trying the DIY method.  It’s easier than ever to find a therapist during the time of COVID. A lot of therapists are conducting sessions via video or text. Some good places to start are www.betterhelp.com, www.sondermind.com, and www.psychologytoday.com. Also, check with your insurance company to see if you might be eligible for a benefit. 

3. Phone a Friend If you still don’t think therapy is right for you, consider talking to a close friend. When you talk it out, you start to organize and make sense of your negative emotions, this helps get you away from the influence of your limbic (fight/flight/freeze) brain. Holding back negative emotions is stressful, getting them out decreases the mental/emotional strain on your body. I encourage you to be a good friend as well. Being a good listener and counselor to your friends can make you feel useful and fulfilled!   https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/03/smarter-living/talking-out-problems.html

4. Start Some Good Habits I just finished reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. He provides a lot of great information about ways to successfully instill good habits and how to stop bad ones. There are a lot of little tips in this book, even if you only employ one of them you will make compounding gains over a lifetime! I found it much more helpful than the books that say “Hey, just go out there and make that change today.” He gives strategies for building up to changes big and little. Starting and keeping beneficial habits is a great way to feel in control of your life. https://jamesclear.com/

5. Commit to Self Care: Here’s a good habit that should be at the top of your list: commit to self care. Choose one thing to do for yourself every week and one thing to do for yourself every day. That could be going for a walk every day or making yourself a cup of tea and enjoying a quiet moment. Weekly habits could include getting a massage, getting acupuncture, meeting a friend for coffee, or going to a yoga class. Do something just for you! Something that puts some gas in your tank. I used to see those t-shirts that say “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” and thought they were very self-centered. Now I understand that if my tank is empty, I do a lousy job of taking care of those around me. I need to take care of myself first if I am to do my best for others. It’s win/win.

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Left Hand Community Acupuncture is located in the heart of Old Town Lafayette at the corner of Simpson St. and Michigan Ave. LHCA offers an affordable sliding scale of $40-$65. We do not ask for proof of income. You decide what you feel is fair to you and fair to us. We treat patients in a relaxed, group setting that promotes an atmosphere of healing. Caroline Adams is a Licensed 
Acupuncturist and nationally board certified. Acupuncture can help with a wide range of health
 issues including pain, stress, insomnia, arthritis, allergies, depression, headaches, fatigue, cold and flu, digestive issues, PMS, and many other health concerns. 

http://lefthandacu.com  
 720-378-6090

Monday, October 19, 2020

How to keep yourself together in these hard times: Part I

 


2020: Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Hacks

Part I

Whether it’s the pandemic, the fires, or the election, it seems like all of us are feeling the effects of 2020. For some of us that means anxiety, for some it means depression. Some of us aren’t sleeping, some of us are frustrated by online schooling and having our plans messed up. What follows is a list of coping strategies. Not every strategy will work well for every person. Pick one or two.  Commit to them regularly. I was going to write this all in one swoop, but I have a lot to write and I want to get this out soon. More to come!





1. Get regular acupuncture.
Yes, of course I’m going to put this at the top! Many of my patients credit regular acupuncture for getting them through the stress and anxiety of their daily lives. They tell me they notice right away if they skip a treatment. Acupuncture has been documented to sedate the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest). Acupuncture treatments can calm anxiety and promote deeper and more restful sleep. Patients often tell me they feel ‘clearer’ and ‘more centered’ after an acupuncture treatment. 

2. Commit to a News and Social Media Detox Put down your phone. Turn off the TV. Back away from the computer, folks! Take a break from social media and the 24 hour a day news cycle. Two hundred years ago, we knew about the happenings of our own little town and maybe a very little bit more. Now, we have other states, the nation, other nations, the world and each and every headline competing for our attention. Overconsumption of this media leads to feelings of fear, anxiety and helplessness. The world will keep turning without you watching it. Your psyche is begging for a break, trust me! https://declutterthemind.com/blog/social-media-detox/ http://jumpparents.co.uk/breaking-news-addiction/

3. Dance like no one’s watching So, perhaps you’re sitting there thinking “I’m so sick of trying to calm down I could scream!” In that case, I recommend having a good old fashioned dance party. Pull the shades, crank your stereo and dance like nobody’s watching. I think the reason so many people feel better after dancing is that it 1) it reconnects you with your physical body 2) it grounds you by drawing your Qi down to your feet 2) It connects you with the primal human affinity to rhythm 3) it releases endorphins and decreases cortisol 4) it moves stagnant Qi 5) plus it’s a fun way to burn calories! 

4. Keep a gratitude journal Our brains are adept at keeping us alive. Unfortunately, that means they are very good at attracting our attention to all the negative things in our world that might adversely affect us. Making a conscious effort to look for things in our life that we are grateful for is a way to rewire our brain towards happiness. Researchers have found that individuals who keep a gratitude practice are more optimistic and have a greater sense of happiness overall. https://www.happify.com/hd/gratitude-infographic/ 

5. Use a weighted blanket Weighted blankets provide deep touch pressure. This type of pressure has been shown to increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of sleep that has a calming effect. Also, the feeling of being held in an embrace encourages your body to produce oxytocin, another feel-good hormone boosts the immune system, helps relieve pain and mitigates stress. Some folks find a marked decrease in their anxiety and chronic pain all by using a weighted blanket. 
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Left Hand Community Acupuncture is located in the heart of Old Town Lafayette at the corner of Simpson St. and Michigan Ave. LHCA offers an affordable sliding scale of $40-$65. We do not ask for proof of income. You decide what you feel is fair to you and fair to us. We treat patients in a relaxed, group setting that promotes an atmosphere of healing. Caroline Adams is a Licensed 
Acupuncturist and nationally board certified. Acupuncture can help with a wide range of health
 issues including pain, stress, insomnia, arthritis, allergies, depression, headaches, fatigue, cold and flu, digestive issues, PMS, and many other health concerns. 

http://lefthandacu.com  
 720-378-6090

Friday, March 1, 2019

I am grieving. What you can do.

My mother, Nancy Caroline Urquhart, passed away on Tuesday, February 26.

We were very close. I am grieving.

Patients and friends keep asking me what they can do. I tell them "I don't know". I what I want to say is "I want my mommy! Can you find her? Bring her to me like she was when she was vital and whole? I want to spend one more afternoon with her hiking and swimming in the hot springs and laughing and eating cookies!" But, of course, that's impossible. (Not to mention not being very mature, becoming, or professional.)

Well, I've thought of something you can do for me. Several things in fact:

- If you're lucky enough to still have a mother and father or aunt or uncle, go give them a hug and tell them you love them. Tell them a few fond memories you have of them before it's too late. Thank them for what they have done for you. Make these things a habit. Trust me, no matter how much you do this,  in the end, it will never seem like enough.

If you have children, tell them you love them and give them a kiss. Tell them why you are proud of them. Make these things a habit. They might feel like they get enough of this after a while, but keep doing it.

If you have grandchildren, nieces or nephews, take them out for ice cream sundaes and a movie. Spoil them in spite the hymenial cries of their parents. Make yourself part of their lives. If you don't have such little folks in your life consider "adopting" some. Teach them how to cook or fish or sew or fix the flat on a bike tire. Teach them some other things too, like how to make farting noises using your armpit and how to sing "Found a Peanut".

If you have an old friend, call them and make a lunch date. Keep the lunch date. Find more old friends to make lunch dates with.

If you're a voter, vote in future elections! If you're not a voter, register, then vote!

If you have some spare change, donate it to the Nature Conservancy in my mother's name.

If you can (you know you can), Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

If you have space, adopt a rescue pet, even if it defies logic.

If you have a yard or a garden, plant some flowers this spring for my mom and the bees.

So.

That's what you can do.

It would mean a lot to me (and Mom).



Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Jewelry Box of Despair


A few years ago, my mom wanted me to look through her jewelry box with her. I think she wanted to show off her treasures, but also to find out if there were things I would be interested in inheriting. My mother is an octogenarian and has traveled all over the states and all over the world for that matter. One would think that making an inventory of such a jewelry box would be exciting and pleasurable, but for every treasured item, there were others that brought bad feelings. 

“These are the earrings your father bought me when he had to work instead of spending Valentine’s Day with me.” 

“This is the ring your great aunt Virginia gave me. She promised me a lot more, but then she gave everything to all the other cousins and nieces. I never forgave her for that.” 

“These earrings used to be my favorites, but as you can see, I lost one. Darn it all! I loved these earrings!”

“These are the ivory beads I can’t wear because it’s not politically correct to wear ivory anymore. The poor elephants!”

“Wow, what a bummer!” I thought to myself. I went right home to my own jewelry box. OK… truth, I have three of them plus several wall displays! I took out everything that wasn’t absolutely fantastic and gave it all to ARC. I’ve started looking at my wardrobe with the same critical eye: Does this top make me feel like an old lady? Out it goes. Are these pants not quite long enough? ARC pile. I don’t wear these jeans because they’re too big, but I love them. Take them to the tailor.

Marie Kondo is a decluttering guru on everyone’s lips lately. She has a show on Netflix that encourages people to ask “Does this item bring you joy?” If not, get rid of it. That’s her advice. Although I have trouble finding joy in the 9 volt batteries, duct tape, packing tape, cello tape and bank statements in my office, I certainly can sure see her point in regards to my wardrobe, jewelry box, and artwork. 

If a material possession reminds you of a sad event or makes you feel bad about yourself: get rid of it! If you’re keeping a thing because it’s a family heirloom, everyone else has one, or it was a gift: think of the cost of keeping it. There’s cost of it taking up space in your basement or closet. There’s a cost of displaying something that makes you feel guilty or angry. There’s cost of wearing something that makes you feel fat or unstylish. There’s cost of even seeing an object that brings up negative feelings over and over. Don’t feel guilty about getting rid of a gift from a friend that wasn’t quite right. Don’t feel guilty about chucking a box of old photos that mean nothing to you. Free up your space and free up your mind! 

I should tie this back to Chinese medicine, huh? Alright, the Liver processes all emotions negative and positive. However, negative emotions cause Liver Qi stagnation. That means the energy of the body does not flow freely as it’s supposed to do. That leads to emotional stress, neck tension, poor digestion. Think of all the stress that’s caused looking for the “right” black turtleneck if you’ve got 5 black turtlenecks. Think of the sadness caused by keeping a lone earring that just makes you feel bad about the loss of its mate.

Go home, open your jewelry box. Make it a jewelry box of joy instead of despair. 

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Left Hand Community Acupuncture is located in the heart of Old Town Lafayette at the corner of Simpson St. and Michigan Ave. LHCA offers an affordable sliding scale of $30-$60. We do not ask for proof of income. You decide what you feel is fair to you and fair to us. We treat patients in a relaxed, group setting that promotes an atmosphere of healing. Caroline Adams is a Licensed 
Acupuncturist and nationally board certified. Acupuncture can help with a wide range of health
 issues including pain, stress, insomnia, arthritis, allergies, depression, headaches, fatigue, cold and flu, digestive issues, PMS, and many other health concerns. 

http://lefthandacu.com  
 720-248-8626

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Plantar Fasciitis or the Agony of De-Feet

What is it 
Many years ago, I casually mentioned to a friend that I had plantar fasciitis "PLAN-tar fash-ee-EYE-tus". He said it sounded like Klingon and accused me of making up an imaginary condition. Unfortunately, it’s all too real. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the ligament that connects the heel of your foot to the toes. It’s the most common form of heel pain. It can also cause pain in the arch of the foot. 


Causes
Risk factors include tight achilles tendons, lousy shoes or broken down shoes, standing, walking or running on hard surfaces and being overweight. Pain in the back, hip or knee can cause you to change your gait leading to this condition also. 

Treatment

  1. Acupuncture Get in for acupuncture twice a week. Plantar Fasciitis is one of those conditions that responds well to acupuncture on almost everybody. I usually use electrical stimulation to activate Qi and blood flow in the injured area and to loosen the fascia. 
  2. Rest Try to rest your foot or feet as much as possible to allow the tissue to repair itself. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but runners, you need to switch to swimming for a while. 
  3. Morning Stretching Every morning before you get out of bed, stretch your foot. Dorsiflect your foot, (pull your foot back toward your knee), rotate your ankle, then dorsiflect again before putting weight on your foot. Folks with an extreme case will need to do this even after having sat in a chair for any length of time. 
  4. Active Stretching The fascia that starts at your toes continues past the heel up into your calf and knee. Stretching the Achilles tendon is a vital part of healing yourself. This article does an admirable job of outlining some great stretches to get you on your way.  Note that I never recommend hanging your heel of the edge of a step because your body will be unable to completely relax the muscles and tissues of the foot and Achilles.
  5. Taping There are two kinds of taping that sufferers will benefit from. Kinesiotape is one, white athletic tape is the other. Watch the video I made about kinesiotaping here.  Kinesiotaping is not meant to provide structural support to the areas in trouble, merely to increase the Qi and blood flow.  KT Tape can be found in Walmart among the sporting goods. I sell KT tape in the clinic also. Athletic taping *is* a structural fix. I like the method outlined in this video
  6. Proper Shoes Throw those cute flip flops away. Time to grow up and buy yourself
    some shoes with proper arch support. Shoes with a low heel, such as Dasko’s, or clogs will help lessen the stress on the Achilles. Many people also swear by Birkenstocks or Doc Martins. Don’t be afraid to experiment with what works best for you. If you’re seeking orthodics, Dr. Ramzi Daloul at Community Chiropractic does a great job at fitting folks with orthodics that work. 
  7. Rolling Rolling your foot twice a day on a ball, dowel or frozen water bottle can provide some relief.
  8. Arnica Montana Using the homeopathic Arnica Montana or preparations containing Arnica, such as T-Pain Relief, are a huge help. Use an internal prepartion and a cream or gel right on the affected area. 
  9. Splinting Splints that are worn while sleeping can help some folks get relief, but many people find them uncomfortable and/or fail to find relief. 
  10. Bone Spurs Bone Spurs often complicate Plantar Fasciitis. Bone spurs respond well to e-stim with acupuncture. There are herbal plasters and oral preparations that can be of great benefit for this condition. Supplementing your diet with Magnesium is also a must.
  11. Deep Tissue Massage can also be a benefit this condition.
  12. Conventional Medicine MDs usually recommend PT and/or a steroid injection. Although most patients benefit from PT, many fail to get the results they are hoping for. Steroid injections can cause the ligament to rupture, so I don’t recommend that route! 
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Left Hand Community Acupuncture is located in the heart of Old Town Lafayette 
at the corner of Simpson St. and Michigan Ave. LHCA offers an affordable sliding scale of $25-$55. We do not ask for proof of income. You decide what you feel is fair to you and fair to us. We treat patients in a relaxed, group setting that promotes an atmosphere of healing. Caroline Adams is a Licensed Acupuncturist and nationally 
board certified. Acupuncture can help with a wide range of health issues including pain, stress, insomnia, arthritis, allergies, depression, headaches, fatigue, cold and flu, digestive issues, PMS, and many other health concerns.


720-248-8626