5 Ways to Beat Nighttime Anxiety

Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the most challenging times of the day for people with anxiety is the time right before bed. After a long, stressful day, a person with anxiety may struggle to decompress, which can often lead to sleepless nights, which only contributes to the anxiety and stress felt the following days. Finding ways to relax before bed is the key to getting to bed in a timely manner. Here are a few ways to combat nighttime anxiety and fully relax before bed time.

1. Stretching – We hold so much tension in our bodies, especially at the end of a long, stressful day. Doing some simple, light stretches can help release some of this tension, which will help the body relax overall. Many people with anxiety also have issues with soreness and even bruxism (teeth grinding), so getting some stretches in before bed helps to prevent both of these things so you can wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, not sore!

2. Meditation – Meditating before bed helps you find peace and quiet in your mind so you can drift off to sleep with ease. Find some peace and quiet in your own home and meditate for a little while before going to bed. If quiet is hard to come by in your home, lie down and listen to a guided meditation through headphones. You can find many free guided meditations on YouTube to help you get ready to drift off to sleep. Try this one!

3. Essential Oil Diffuser – Many studies have shown the benefits of using essential oils for those struggling anxiety, depression, physical pain, stress, and more! There are particular oils that have been proven to benefit anxiety in particular. These include lavender, rose, chamomile, bergamot, ylang ylang, vetiver, and frankincense. Choose your favorite scent, put it in an oil diffuser, and turn it on when you are beginning your relaxing process before bed. Find essential oils and diffusers on Amazon.

4. Coloring – Adult coloring books have become the newest trend, however, did you know that they can help improve anxiety and sleep? Coloring is a relaxing, soothing activity that help with a number of mental and emotional issues. Focusing on coloring actually turns down the brain’s response to stress. Additionally, it is an activity before bedtime that does not require you to sit in front of a screen. Watching TV, playing on a cell phone, and other activities where one must stare at a screen have actually been proven to deter people’s ability to fall asleep. However, coloring still keeps a person actively engaged while also relaxing the mind.

5. Journaling – Many people know the feeling of lying awake in bed at night ruminating on all of the problems of the day, month, and/or year. However, writing a journal entry right before bed time gives us a chance to let out all our anxieties, worries, and fears. We can put the journal away right before bed along with all of these stressful emotions so that we can fall asleep easier, having already expressed the emotions that would normally be in our minds when we’re trying to sleep.

 

If you struggle with anxiety, stress-management, or sleep issues, schedule a free consultation with our director Dr. Ross to develop a wellness plan unique to your needs. Call 781-444-9115 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Natural Ways to Ease Seasonal Allergies

Image courtesy of Stoonn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stoonn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With spring comes allergies. Here are some natural ways to ease your allergic reactions. 

1. Avoid Mucous Producing Foods: Ideally starting a couple months before your allergy season, eliminate mucus producing foods from your diet. These foods include wheat, gluten, and dairy containing foods such as milk, cheese, bread, pastries, cereals, etc. This will help lessen the burden on your body as well as decrease the amount of mucous your body produces.  Our health coach Shayna has had clients who used to go through a box of tissues a day due to their allergies. By cutting dairy, they have gone down to just a few tissues a day! 

2.  Bromelain & Quercitin:  Bromelain is a compound found in pineapples, especially the crunchy center, and quercitin is a compound found in various fruits, vegetables, and also turmeric. These antioxidant compounds combat congestion in the nasal cavities and chest by stabilizing immune cells and reducing inflammation. You can get both of these in capsule form.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3. Increase Your Fiber: The average American eats only 15 grams of fiber per day where our predecessors were getting upwards of 120 grams of fiber per day. Fiber assists in regular bowel movements and also binds to toxins for excretion. Increasing your daily intake of vegetables, seeds, and whole grains improves detoxification, lowering the burden on the body so that it can better handle the allergens that it is exposed to.

Image courtesy of khumthong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of khumthong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4. Hydrate: When drinking plenty of caffeine-free fluids, your body is better able to flush toxins from your system. The general rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. Herbal teas can count towards your daily water goal.  For every cup of caffeinated beverage you consume, it’s best to add an extra cup of water to compensate for dehydration.

5. Sweat: Our skin is our largest organ and sweat is a great way to excrete toxins. Aside from exercise, dry saunas are another wonderful detoxification option if you have the access.

The Skinny on Chocolate

Not all chocolate is created equal!

Image courtesy of m_bartosch at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of m_bartosch at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Quality is so important in order to take advantage of chocolate’s MANY health benefits.  The secret behind chocolate’s nutrition punch is cacao. This super food is packed with healthy chemicals like flavonoids and theobromine. Cocao is bitter and chalky on its own, though it is a great snack with something that adds some sweetness to it. For example, try mixing gogi berries with cocao nibs for a great power snack!

However, because of cacoa’s bitter taste, ingredients like milk, sugar, and butter are added to create a sweeter, more rich flavor. This is the aspect that is not always great for your health. Besides adding calories, these can dilute the benefits of the cacao. Therefore, to enjoy the health benefits while treating yourself, stick to healthy chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao (or cocoa, which is cacao in its roasted, ground form). As long as the content is that high, you can reap the benefits from eating only small amounts.

A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber.
  • 67% of the RDA for Iron.
  • 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
  • 89% of the RDA for Copper.
  • 98% of the RDA for Manganese.It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium!

100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and not something you should be consuming daily, especially as this also includes 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar.

Five Ways to Eat More Veggies

Image courtesy of kratuanoiy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of kratuanoiy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mental health relies heavily on the food we put in our bodies, as this is the fuel that allows our brain to function. Vegetables are a crucial aspect of our diet as they provide so many valuable nutrients for the brain and body. People who include more vegetables in their diets have a reduced risk of many chronic diseases as well. Low in calories and fat but full of nutrients, vegetables should be used as often as possible with cooking! Not sure how to include more veggies in your diet? Try these five ways!

1. Fill half your plate with veggies! Making vegetables the priority of the meal will help you eat more veggies as a whole. Filling half your plate with vegetables is a good visual measurement of how much you should be eating. Tip: Find a dressing that you enjoy that’s low in calories, fat, and sugar, and use in moderation. This way, you can fill half your plate with a leafy green like spinach!

2. Eat all veggies on your plate first! The purpose of doing this is so you will eat all of the vegetables you need before you fill up with the rest of your meal. You may be more full by the time you get to the other parts of your meal and you will have still gotten the good nutrients of the vegetables.

Image courtesy of hyena reality at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of hyena reality at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3. Replace carbs with veggies in recipes! You can still enjoy your favorite recipes with a healthy twist. For example, instead of pasta, substitute spaghetti squash. Although slightly different, this replacement tastes very much the same with many more healthy nutrients instead of empty carbs. Another great example is to replace the potatoes in your mashed potatoes recipe with cauliflower! Again, this makes the recipe slightly different, however it still tastes great and contains way better nutrients.

4. Hide your veggies! Not a fan of eating vegetables typically? Make recipes that hide your veggies! Smoothies are a fantastic choice, because you can throw in your favorite fruits along with some veggies. The fruit will mask the taste of the veggies. Just make sure you are eating more vegetables than fruit in your diet. Fruit has many health benefits, but it is also full of sugar, so it is important to be conscious.

Image courtesy of BrianHolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of BrianHolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5. Throw in some additional veggies into familiar recipes. Just throw them in where ever you can! There are so many recipes that could use a few extra veggies. For example, for pasta recipes, throw in some extra veggies into the sauce you are making. Plus, if you make the switch to spaghetti squash, and you are literally eating all vegetables!

 

Interested in learning more about nutrition? Our health coach Shayna Strickland can help you develop your own personal eating plan fit specifically for your needs! Click here to contact our office about health coaching!

11 Benefits of Cinnamon

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cinnamon is best known as a spice, something that adds flavor to breakfasts, pastries, and teas, to name just a few, but there are great health benefits to cinnamon. It can lower blood sugar levels, reduce heart disease risk factors, and much more!

However, not all cinnamon is created equal. The Cassia variety contains significant amounts of a compound called coumarin, which is believed to be harmful in large doses. Unfortunately, most cinnamon found in supermarkets is this cheaper Cassia variety. On the other hand, Ceylon (true cinnamon) has shown that it is significantly lower in coumarin than the Cassia variety, making it safer. You can purchase organic ceylon cinnamon on Amazon here.

Therefore, make sure to get Ceylon cinnamon, or stick to small doses and perhaps avoid daily use if you’re using the Cassia variety.  This will help you take most advantage of the health benefits and minimize your risk.

Here are some of the amazing benefits of cinnamon:

1. Antioxidants/Cancer Fighting: Cinnamon contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. This is especially important for preventing cancer, for example. It also reduces the growth of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels in tumors, and appears to be toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death.

2. Anti-inflammatory: Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties helping the body fight infections and repair tissue damage, thus potentially lowering the risk of disease and pain.

3. Neurodegenerative Disease Fighting: are characterized by progressive loss of the structure or function of brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are two of the most common types. Two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. In a study looking at mice with Parkinson’s disease, cinnamon helped to protect neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels, and improve motor function. It is also suggested that it is a cognitive enhancer.

4. Reduction of Heart Disease Risk: According to research, in people with type 2 diabetes, 1/5th of a teaspoon of cinnamon per day has beneficial effects on blood markers. Cinnamon reduces levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while HDL cholesterol remains stable. More recently, a review study concluded that a cinnamon dose of just 120 milligrams per day can have these effects. In this study, cinnamon also increased HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. And in animal studies, cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood pressure. When combined, all these factors could drastically cut the risk of heart disease, and it tastes so good to boot!

 5. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels/Metabolism: The distinct smell and flavor of cinnamon is due to the oil, which is very high in cinnamaldehyde. It is this that is responsible for most of the powerful effects on health and metabolism. Cinnamon can dramatically reduce insulin resistance, helping this important hormone to do its job. In this way, cinnamon can lower blood sugar levels. It has been shown to decrease the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream after a meal. It does this by interfering with a number of digestive enzymes, which slows the breakdown of carbohydrates. Also, a compound in cinnamon can act on cells by mimicking insulin. This greatly improves glucose uptake by cells. Numerous human trials have confirmed the anti-diabetic effects, showing that it can lower fasting blood sugar levels by up to 10-29%. The effective dose is typically around 0.5-2 teaspoons per day.

 6. Antifungal/Antibacterial: Cinnamaldehyde has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which may reduce infections and help fight tooth decay and bad breath. Further, if you have a bad stomach bug or food poisoning, cinnamon can help!  In particular, viruses such as E-coli and salmonella can be cured using cinnamon. Further, a cup of cinnamon tea can help to prevent or speed up recovery from a cold.

 7. IBS Relief: IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating and constipation. Cinnamon can effectively kill the bacteria and infections that are a common culprit to those with IBS. On top of that, it can even reduce gas caused by IBS!

8. Increased Blood Flow/Weight Loss: Cinnamon can increase the circulation of your blood stream. This makes your metabolism more active, which is ideal when it comes to weight loss. Increased blood flow has more benefits beyond weight loss, including increased blood circulation, which is important for overall heart health.

9. Good Nutrients: A serving of cinnamon contains minerals such as manganese, iron, and calcium. In each serving, you’ll find almost 20% DV manganese. You’ll also find 2% of calcium and 4% of iron.

10. Insect Repellant: Cinnamon’s antibacterial properties can be used as an insect repellant! The leaf oil can be used for the treatment of head lice. The oils can also be used to get rid of bed bugs, black ants, and even keep mosquitos away! It may be time to keep some cinnamon oils available!

11. Reduce Odors: Effective at neutralizing odors, just a few drops of cinnamon bark oil and some water you have an all natural cleaning solution. Wipe down whatever is causing the odor and the nasty smell should disappear within an hour.