Live Well
November 2016

Coping with Stress… It’s not just about breathing

In my last blog post, I referred to an article that had appeared in the Huffington Post about a list a teacher gives his students every year on 101 Ways to Cope with Stress. I decided to try a few of the recommendations and wanted to share with you the five tips I liked the most.

Prepare for the morning the night before. This is one of the tips I have actually done for years and really believe in. I encourage anyone with teenagers to force them to do it too. In our house, we set the breakfast table and take our clothes out the night before. Being prepared for the morning removes so many variables from the morning routine so that, if you are faced with a little setback (didn’t hear your alarm clock, forgot to complete that last bit of homework, or just need a little extra time), it doesn’t set your entire morning out of whack, especially if you have a limited time before you have to rush off to school or work. It also sets the tone for the rest of the day. If you start the day prepared and calm, you are ready to brave anything that comes at you.

Don’t rely on your memory…write it down. Until I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t possibly remember every reminder to myself that flowed through my head during the day (especially in a house full of young kids), I would spend 3/4 of my day trying to remember what I had forgotten and growing increasingly frustrated and annoyed at myself. Now, I have notepads and pens throughout the house and in my car so that when something passes through my head, I can write it down and act on it the next day.

Schedule playtime into every day. In order to function properly, I need downtime to allow my mind to tune out my to-do list and process whatever is going on. So, every day, I schedule time to go horseback riding (my version of playtime). On the odd days that I don’t get a chance to go, I get cranky and irritable because I haven’t had time to take a mental break.

Know your limitations and let others know them too. This is a biggie…I used to accept every engagement that I was invited to, and participate in every project I was asked to participate in, even if they didn’t interest me. Or I would plan far more than I actually had time for (like decorating my house for every single holiday, not just the one that I really like). Over time, this became exhausting and I really couldn’t do a good job on anything because I was stretched so thin. And, not only that, I found that I was missing out on time with my kids. Now, I limit my commitments to those I am interested in and don’t plan on being out more than twice a week.

Look for a silver lining. It’s so easy to get sucked into a bad situation and just see the negative aspects of it. Every situation has a silver lining and, if we can focus on that, we can gain the strength to move forward in a positive way.

We tend to forget how detrimental stress can be. Often, the “damage” is not clearly visible and builds up over time until, one day, our body just says, “I have enough!” This is why it’s important to take small steps every day so that when we are confronted with a stressful situation, we have the inner resources to deal with it.

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The Dark Side of Antibiotics

I recently read some alarming news: 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant infections because of our over-reliance on antibiotics. As a matter of fact, one of the big issue at this year’s UN General Assembly meeting in September was the threat to global health posed by antibiotic resistant bacteria. As is stated in the World Health Organization Fact Sheet on Antimicrobial Resistance, “Antimicrobial resistance occurs naturally over time, usually through genetic changes. However, the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials is accelerating this process. In many places, antibiotics are overused and misused in people and animals, and often given without professional oversight. Examples of misuse include when they are taken by people with viral infections like colds and flu, and when they are given as growth promoters in animals and fish.” In the United States, 70-80% of the antibiotics used in the US are added to the feed of livestock and poultry, which are used for human consumption. Ironically, antibiotics in animals are used to enhance growth not to prevent disease.

Excessive use of antibiotics creates an imbalance in the balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut, thereby weakening our immune system. So, here are some steps we can take to protect ourselves:

  • Avoid consuming animals that are fed antibiotics. Know where your meats are coming from and what they have been fed.
  • Use antibiotics judiciously and sparingly. Don’t underestimate the power of food to heal and build up a strong immune system.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water and avoid antimicrobial soaps. Antimicrobial soaps have not been found to be more effective than regular soap and water, and actually break down skin barriers (our skin is our first line of defense against bacteria and other infections).
  • Support the development of good bacteria in your gut. For more on this, check out my blog post from September 2015.

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Worthwhile
Pumpkins and Squashes at Forest City Farm

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit three Connecticut farms with a friend who owns a company called Connecticut Farm Fresh Express, a farm-to-door food delivery service (for those of you who live in Connecticut, I highly recommend the service – check out www.ctfarmfreshstore.com). I visited three farms – High Hill Orchard, Forest City Farms, and Tobacco Road Farm. You can check out some of my photos HERE..

The most interesting part of my visit was listening to the farmers and hearing their philosophy of farming. All had grown up in or around farming families and their knowledge had been passed down from prior generations. Also, all shared a deep commitment to the land and stressed the importance of supporting the biological life of the soil. Bryan O’Hara, of Tobacco Road Farms, told us that the ecology of the earth has become destabilized because of chemicals in the environment. As a result, there is approximately 10% less solar power available to plants and plants are less nutrient-dense. Therefore, farmers need to re-stabilize the soil by adding more minerals to the soil to give the crops more integrity and quality. Soil health is key to sustainable farming.

Through my multiple visits to Connecticut Farms over the past few months, I am heartened to see farmers’ commitment to their land, and to producing produce that is nutrient rich, and meats that are sustainably and humanely raised. Seeing them, makes me event more committed to buying food from local farms.