Monday, 23 February 2015

The 3 double edged swords when it comes to stress

When it comes to stress, people often use coffee, alcohol and nicotine as coping mechanisms. They are a double edged sword as although people use them to manage their stress, all three actually contribute to increased stress levels.

1.       Coffee. Although it is thought of as the norm now days to drink coffee, caffeine containing drink stimulates the nervous system and contributes to feelings of stress and anxiety. As it is an addictive substance, people will initially feel good after a cup of coffee and it does help to improve mood and feelings of happiness. However, when you are drinking in excess of 3 cups a day it has a negative effect on the body, increasing cortisol production and therefore heightening the stress response. For people that suffer from extreme anxiety coffee should be avoided completely but otherwise 1-2 cups a day should be a maximum. I recommend swapping any other cups of coffee for herbal teas such as dandelion tea if you want something that resembles coffee, or chamomile or peppermint for a more relaxing alternative.

2.       Alcohol. Often after a stressful day all you feel like doing is relaxing at home with a glass of wine. Well, if it’s one glass of wine and it’s not every day then I won’t tell you to stop. However, alcohol is another one of those things that people use to reduce stress but in actual fact will contribute to an increased stress level. Alcohol acts as both a stimulant and a depressant wiring your nervous system while resulting in a depressed mood. If you feel that you need alcohol regularly in order to relax then there may be a deeper issue that needs addressing. If you tend to drink excessively then what I recommend is to alternate between a glass of alcohol and a glass of water. This way you will stay hydrated as well as halving the amount of alcohol consumed.

3.       Nicotine. It is often people who are under a great deal of pressure that you find smoking. And to make matters worse when trying to give up smoking, the feeling of stress is often so heightened that people find it near impossible to quit. The immediate result of smoking is relaxation, however, this is only temporary. The withdrawal symptoms of nicotine mimic those of anxiety and will persist until the individual has their next cigarette. Studies have actually found that smokers report more irritability, stress and depression than non-smokers. Talk to your health professional to help create a plan for quitting.

Image result for cup of coffee

Thursday, 19 February 2015

How to reach your potential

Obviously this one is not as simple as following a few tips. It requires effort and our lives are dedicated to constantly striving to reach our potential. It is however, one of the most important posts I will write. Everyone wants to be the best version of themselves not just when it comes to a job but in all aspects of life. I mean how can you be truly happy when you are not being your best true self and nurturing the amazing person that is YOU!
Here are three important points to be thinking and acting upon on a daily basis in order to reach your potential.
1.     Stay healthy. Now obviously as a health care practitioner I have seen the impact that poor health has on people trying to strive for something bigger. If you don’t look after your health you are not going to be feeling energetic, happy or motivated. So rather than working yourself into the ground to achieve great things, take a step back and look at what will happen in the future. That lifestyle is not sustainable and you will inevitably crash and have to stop what you are doing anyway. Making sure you are putting good food into your body, exercising and getting enough sleep will allow you notice the difference within yourself.
2.     Have a goal in mind and don’t be afraid to fail. If we stay within our comfort zone we will never grow as people. I took a risk starting up my own business as a Naturopath and my business would never have grown if I had just sat in my room waiting for people to come and see me. I had a goal of the number of clients I wanted to see per week and then I was proactive about achieving that. I did things out of my comfort zone such as calling and connecting with other health care professionals and giving talks. Although these things were daunting for me they also allowed my confidence to grow and as well as my business. If you don’t have that goal in mind, you won’t be able to reach it!
3.     Have outside interests from your day job and do them on a regular basis. How on earth can you reach your potential when you are not nourishing and exploring who you really are? We all need to work for survival, and some of us do really enjoy our work but that is only one aspect of our lives. You need to be able to find other things that you enjoy whether it be exercise, knitting, baking, reading or writing it is important that you allow yourself time to try out different activities and discover which ones you are good at and enjoy the most. This will allow you to flourish in other aspects of your life.
Be curious, stay accountable for your actions, appreciate feedback from others and just go out there and enjoy life!


Monday, 16 February 2015

Super Berries!

With so many super foods on the market now days its hard to know what’s what. I went for breakfast this morning with my brother and on the menu was a ‘Maqui smoothie bowl’, to which he asked ‘what on earth is Maqui?

So I thought I would explain some of these less common super berries and what all the hype is about.

1. Goji berries have been around for quite a while now. Originally they were the berries to eat due to their high antioxidant properties. They are native to the Himalayan region of China and Tibet. They contain high amounts of Vvitamin C, beta carotene, amino acids, iron and B vitamins.

2. Go to a trendy café now days and you are sure to find an Acai bowl on the menu. This berry is native to the rainforest of South America. They are full of antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats. Plus they are a magnificent purple colour!

3. Maqui berry is another beautiful purple berry that is found in Chile.  They contain vitamin C, calcium, iron and potassium, anthocyanins and polyphenols, and anti-inflammatory compounds.

4. Noni Berry comes from the tropical areas of the South Pacific where the locals have used them to treat a myriad of health complaints. People often buy the juice as a general tonic. It contains vitamin C, niacin (vitamin B3), iron and potassium, with lesser amounts of vitamin A and calcium.

5. The acerola berry, which is native to South America, has one of the highest vitamin C contents. There are 1677.6 mg of vitamin C in 100 g of fruit which is about 9 times the amount found in oranges.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

5 ways to improve recovery after exercise

Image result for exercise

Exercise is one of the most important tools when it comes to obtaining an excellent quality of health. It is important for weight management, blood sugar regulation, detoxification, circulation, mood enhancement and the list just goes on. Personally, I have experienced a huge increase in energy since I began regular exercise last year and I have found that I am no longer experiencing such cold hands and feet. However, exercise can actually be detrimental to health if you are not replacing what the body is losing during this time. It does place a stress on the body, and the body needs to be nourished just as when we are under mental stress we need to take the time to relax.
Here are my 5 tips for getting the most out of your workout!
1.     Keep hydrated. Although this is the most basic tip it is also the most vital. We all know the importance of hydration and when we exercise we lose a lot of water and electrolytes. Our cells require these electrolytes to function so if we are dehydrated our bodies will not be able to function to their full abilities. Plus, dehydration contributes to a myriad of health concerns such as dizziness, constipation, palpitations, lack of energy and feeling faint. What I recommend is drink at least 2-3 litres of water per day. Make sure to increase your water intake the day before training. Also adding electrolytes to your water can be very beneficial if you are sweating a lot, if it’s a hot day or just simply if you exercise regularly. I really like the Endura Hydration low carb fuel (Coconut is my favourite flavour).
2.     Eat 5 small meals a day and incorporate protein into every meal. Protein which is found in foods such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, dairy and legumes is necessary to repair tissue damage during exercise. That burning feeling you get in your muscles after a workout is actually due to you damaging your muscle fibres. However, this is not a bad thing as it encourages them to strengthen and grow. This cannot occur though without the amino acids found in protein. Protein is also important to stabilise your blood sugar levels so that you do not become dizzy or lightheaded during a workout.
3.     Following on from protein there is 1 particular amino acid that stands up above the rest. This amino acid is called Glutamine. Glutamine is required for the repair of any tissue damage in the body. It helps to repair damage in the digestive tract which if not rectified can lead to leaky gut as well as repairing the damage caused in the muscles. It aids with the immune system so if you are the type of person that always gets sick when you start exercising then glutamine may be the solution for you!
4.     Take a magnesium supplement! This one I cannot stress enough. And not just for people exercising but for everyone. We simply just do not appear to be getting enough magnesium from our diets now days. In terms of exercise magnesium is a muscle relaxant so it will help reduce muscle cramps and pain in the muscles post exercise. As it is also a nervous system relaxant, taking it before bed will aid in sleep.
5.     A warm bath with Epsom salts. This is similar to the above point but soaking in an Epsom salt bath is a much quicker way of getting magnesium to your muscles. You will definitely feel the relief after and it is a great way to wind down after a busy day.
So go out, exercise and have fun!

Monday, 9 February 2015

3 simple tools to help you avoid distraction and stay focussed!

Whether its doing your homework, studying for an exam or simply carrying out day to day tasks one of the main challenges people face is how to stay focused on the task ahead without getting distracted by the thousands of others things you need or want to do.
In today’s day and age it is so easy to get distracted with the world at our fingertips. Doing research for an assignment, I'll just quickly check Facebook. Before you know it an hour has passed and no research has been done (but you are all up to date with what everyone has been up to over the weekend).
Here are 3 simple ways to avoid procrastination and get your work done.
1.     Make a list of everything you need to do. Writing it down as a checklist so you can see it visually makes a huge difference. I remember when I had to do my homework I would get very overwhelmed and not know where to start. I thought there was too much to do and as I was freaking out about it I would end up doing nothing. I decided to start writing lists of all my work and once it was down on paper it no longer appeared so overwhelming. I saw that it was all manageable and I could allocate an amount of time per task and what order I would do it in. By seeing it visually I had a plan of action and always managed to complete each task in the allocated time.
2.     Make an internal checklist discovering what you are anxious about. I hear from many clients that exam study makes them extremely anxious. It all seems like too much, they are confused by concepts and are worried they wont be prepared by the time the exam comes. Well we all know that when you are feeling anxious it is very difficult to concentrate on anything else. So by taking a few minutes to acknowledge what you are anxious about, you can do something about it and get on with your work. Whether you talk to someone about your worries, write it down, go for a walk or do some deep breathing. Simply acknowledging that you are anxious and figuring out why allows you to move past it so that you can focus on your studies ahead.
3.     Give yourself a deadline. Back at school I had a friend Louise who would always leave every assignment until the last minute and stay up late the night before it was due completing it. She simply could not organise herself enough to get it done in advance. At the time I could not understand this but now it makes complete sense. If you don’t have a deadline then there is no motivation to complete the task. I was simply giving myself an earlier deadline than Louise. I wanted to finish my work by the weekend before so that I didn’t have to worry about it during the week and could focus on other things. I would tell myself that I needed to complete the assignment by the end of the weekend and so I did. Once we have a deadline, it motivated us to do the work, as we know it must be done soon. By completing small amount of the work regularly rather than sitting down to a huge, overwhelming assignment that needs to be finished by the end of the day you will reduce your stress levels, complete the work in time and do a more thorough job.
So if you are the type to procrastinate (which most of us are) try these three tools. Make a visual list of what needs to be done, create an internal checklist of what you are anxious about and give yourself a deadline.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Back to school!

So the new school year has begun. No matter what year you are going into, whether it be prep or year 12, starting a new year can be a bit daunting. I remember crying to my dad the day before school started each year as I was worried that the year to come would be so much harder than the year that had past. I look back and laugh now, when I remember how terrified I was to start grade 4 as someone had told me that it was much harder than grade 3. And you know what, despite all my worries every year was fine and I managed to get through them all.
Now for me all I needed was to get back into my routine and I was fine. A few days after school had begun I had forgotten all my fears and was just happy to see my friends. It is usually the fear of the unknown that is the worst. I tell this story to many of my clients to help reassure them that it is completely normal to feel nervous about starting something new. However, every single one of us has managed to get through it so it really can’t be that bad.
For those of you that get extremely anxious about starting school and simply talking about it isn’t enough to calm you there are a few things you can do to help yourself relax.
1.     Rescue remedy. This flower essence is excellent for calming the nerves. You can take it to school and when you start to feel anxious simply take a few drops. It also comes in pastille form so if you dont want people to know what you are taking, eat a pastille and they will just think it is a lolly. You can take it every time you start to worry and it is great for calming you down.
2.     Deep breathing. Deep breathing is one of those tools that is great to learn from a young age. It can be done anywhere, anytime and helps the nervous system to immediately relax. If you feel unsettled go to the bathroom and while sitting on the toilet take a few deep breaths. Practicing this several times a day can make a huge difference in reducing stress.
3.     Hold your thumbs. I practice a form of body work called Jin Shin Jyutsu (you can read about it on my website In this form of Japanese body work the thumbs represent worry and well as the stomach. That is why babies suck their thumbs, it helps them to relax and digest. So if you are the type of person that gets a tummy ache when you are nervous this one is especially good for you. All you need to do is hold your thumb with the opposite hand. It is the easiest method to use because no one can even tell you are doing it. You can hold your thumb in class while the teacher is talking, at home while you are watching TV or in the car on the way to school. If you can hold each thumb for about 5 minutes a few times a day you will really notice your worries dissipating.
If these techniques are not helping of your anxiety is very severe I do suggest that you go and talk to a healthcare practitioner so a treatment plan can be tailored especially for your needs. But if it’s simply a niggling fear about starting something new, give these a go. I would love to hear which one works best for you!