Holiday Wellness Series Part 1: Mental Health

holiday person.jpg

 

Avoiding Holiday Burnout

  • Stress Management - The holiday stress may always be there but you have the power to manage the stressful feelings that it may cause. Great stress management techniques may be doing some deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and spending quality time with friends, family, and even pets! 
  • Gratitude - Keeping a daily gratitude practice can help you feel grounded during the constant chaos of the holiday season. Start by listing 5 things you are grateful for each day. Gratitude has been shown to reduce feels of anxiety, stress and depression. 
  • Adaptogens to support cortisol balance - Being under constant stress causes the adrenal glands to continuously release cortisol (fight or flight hormone). Having to plan for the holidays definitely gets our adrenal glands going! Signs of a stressed adrenal gland are: worry, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and many more symptoms. Adaptogenic herbs used in naturopathic medicine help to balance cortisol release so that after a particular stressor (ex. last minus christmas shopping) your body can recover! 
    • Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, Eleutherococcus are examples of adaptogens that help with this process 

Holiday Depression/Anxiety

Holiday advertisements tend to create a false image of Christmas "ideals", which don't include present family/relationship dysfunctions, personal struggles and financial difficulties which may be worsened during the holiday season. Perhaps you or someone you know may be struggling with either a physical ailment or mental health condition (seasonal affective disorder [SAD], anxiety and depression) which doesn't make the holiday season enjoyable. Regardless of the type of struggle you or a family member may be experiencing, these stressors can weigh on your mental health - causing symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. 

Naturopathic Strategies for  Mental Health

  • Nervine Herbs - These are herbs that are either sedative in nature or relax the sympathetic nervous system, leading to feelings of relaxation and ease. These are just some examples, but a licensed naturopathic doctor can formulate a specific blend for your needs (Ex. Anxiety and Digestive issues? A customized tincture with nervine and digestive herbs could be your personalized blend)
    • Mentha Piperita (Peppermint)  - Anxiety with Irritable Bowel/Digestive Issues OR Anxiety with Cold/Flu
    • Matricaria recutita (Chamomile) - Anxiety with Sleep Issues
    • Avena Sativa (Oat) - Burnout with Depression
    • Passiflora Incarnta (Passionflower) - Anxiety & Restlessness
    • Hypericum perforatum (St. John's Wort) - Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Supplements
    • Vitamin D - Many individuals living in the Northern Hemisphere do not receive enough sunlight, therefore are likely Vitamin D deficient. It is worthwhile to get Vitamin D levels checked either by a Naturopathic Doctor or your Family Physician. Vitamin D levels may impact SAD.
    • Other helpful supplements are B vitamins and Fish oils. 

Consult a registered Naturopathic Doctor to see how you can support your mental health during the holiday season!

Stay tuned for the next post on Holiday Wellness - Physical Health: Immune support and Preventing holiday weight gain, 

Signature_smallerversion.png
 

References:

  • https://www.nhpassist.com

 

 

Immunity Series Part 3: An Herbal Medicine Approach

Immunity Series Part 3: An Herbal Medicine Approach

We are now at the end of the 3 Part Immunity Series and are on our last topic, which is Herbal Medicine. As a naturopath, there are many herbs that can be used to boost immunity, prevent colds and flus as well as be used for actual treatments. Read on below to see some of the many herbs for immune health. 

Read More

Immunity Series Part 2: A Supplement Approach

Immunity Series Part 2: A Supplement Approach

As a Naturopathic doctor, I am commonly using many supplements and nutritional interventions for immune health. It is now common knowledge that Vitamin C can help with colds, and that we need more Vitamin D in the winter for mood, immune health and general disease prevention. What is less known are the effects of other supplements such as probiotics regarding immune health, and are these supplements better for cold and flu prevention (maintenance of a good immune system) or treatment? Read on below for what I have found in the research regarding these topics.

Read More

Immunity Series Part 1: A Chinese Medicine Approach

Immunity Series Part 1: A Chinese Medicine Approach

The change from warmer temperatures to colder ones causes many shifts in the body that we must adjust to. From a traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, the summer months are the time of the Fire element, where it is promoted to eat more “cooling” foods like cucumbers, lemons and raw salads. At this time we are more energetic and our schedules will adapt to this.

Read More

Are you Feeling The Effects of Chronic Stress?

September is back to work and school!

September is back to work and school!

As September comes along, so can feelings of stress, anxiety, and fatigue. When treating stress in practice, I hear from many patients that they feel “tired” but also “wired” or that they feel “burnt out”. This can also be seen as as concerns of low energy, poor sleep but also feeling like running on empty in an anxious state. When this goes on long term, depression and intense fatigue can occur. A lot of times, this is indicative of the adrenal glands and different organ systems involved in the stress response (cortisol release) being out of balance. This system is called  hypothalamic pituitary axis (HPA) dysfunction, or is also known as “adrenal fatigue”.

Chronically, this can also present as other issues that one may think to be unrelated such as:

  • Mental health concerns: depression, OCD, alcoholism, PTSD, insomnia
  • Metabolic/endocrine disorders: diabetes, obesity, hyper/hypothyroidism
  • Pain syndromes: fibromyalgia, PMS, rheumatoid arthritis
  • Immune dysregulation: allergies, asthma, eczema

Common factors involved in AF development are:

  • Ongoing chronic stress – It is important to understand that a lot of events are dependent upon how they are perceived, or “perceived stress”
  • Inflammation – This can come from any origin. Some examples are stress, gut issues (food sensitivities, leaky gut), inflammatory diet (high in sugar and processed foods), obesity
  • Sleep disruption – poor sleep hygiene (use of electronics right before bed, using the bedroom for things other than sleep and sex), not receiving good quality sleep, caffeine abuse (especially after 3pm)

How can we treat this:

  • Stress reduction and building resilience
  • Reduce inflammation (heal the digestive system, reduce intake of processed high sugar/high fat foods)
  • Instill proper sleep habits
  • Use of other naturopathic therapies that nourish the HPA axis and adrenal glands (ex. nutrition, supplements, herbal medicine, acupuncture)
  • Test blood levels of cortisol (stress hormone), and naturopathic questionnaires (ex. Stress Identi-T Assessment)
    •  The Stress Identi-T Assessment is a helpful tool to determine whether you are in the “tired and wired” or “burn out” phase of adrenal fatigue or HPA axis dysfunction

Does this sound a lot like you? Come in the clinic for your Stress Assessment by clicking here. Many insurance plans cover naturopathic medicine, check in with yours!

Resources: https://chriskresser.com/myth-of-adrenal-fatigue/

To Your Best Health, 

Kaitlyn

Signature_smallerversion.png
 

August Healing for September Wellness

August Healing for September Wellness

We all know the feeling after labour day weekend when our routines change from the hazy days of summer to full-fledged work hours, back-to-school and all the other busyness that is part of the fall months. The summer nostalgia sets in and we might already feel exhausted and need another holiday. This is why I wanted to write this post about taking the time for yourself for the rest of August so that you can feel well this September. 

Read More

How The Foods You Eat Can Beat Stress & Anxiety

How The Foods You Eat Can Beat Stress & Anxiety

A lot of us think of "stress-eating" when we talk about foods in relation to stress and anxiety. Ever bought a treat to cheer you up? Well the reason why we go towards certain foods when we are stressed or anxious is to boost our "feel-good" brain neurotransmitters, mainly serotonin. Did you know that you can use a healthy diet to create neurotransmitters like serotonin? Or use ingredients that create a calming effect in the brain? Here are certain vitamin-rich foods to look for:

Read More

Social Media Vacation: Unplugging to Reconnect

Social Media Vacation: Unplugging to Reconnect

Does this ever sound like you? After looking at one person’s social media post, its already half an hour later and you have looked at 10 other people’s profiles that you don’t even know. You question yourself: “Am I doing enough?” “Is this person having more fun than me?” “Is this person more successful than me?”. After going camping for a week before Canada Day I realized that I didn’t really miss not going on social media. Because of this, I decided not to go on Facebook or Instagram over the past week.

Read More

Summer Wellness Part 4: Sun safety vs. Fun in the Sun

Summer Wellness Part 4: Sun safety vs. Fun in the Sun

If you're anything like me, the start of summer also brings on the enjoyment of sunshine both for my wellbeing and for health reasons. Like some of you, my family has a history of skin and other cancers - meaning that too much fun in the sun could increase my chances of developing skin cancers, or could it actually reduce my risk? Sun exposure appears to be a double-edged sword - with a positive correlation of increased sunburns and risk of skin cancer development, while lack of sun exposure has shown to lead to an increased risk of other diseases.

Read More

Summer Wellness Part 3: Nature's Healing Effects

Summer Wellness Part 3: Nature's Healing Effects

Being in nature is one of my favorite outdoor activities to do year-round, but especially in the summer. If you also equally enjoy spending time in nature – either at a cottage, camping or simply by going for a walk in the park or a trail – then this article is for you! It turns out that there are scientifically proven reasons as to why so many of us enjoy nature, and feel revitalized and recharged after.

Read More

Summer Wellness Part 1: Banish Bites with Natural Bug Repellent

Summer Wellness Part 1: Banish Bites with Natural Bug Repellent

This past weekend, my partner and I went for a camping trip at Arrowhead Provincial Park. It was a nice 2-day getaway into nature, however was also prime blackfly (and mosquito) season! We did not use DEET bug spray the whole camping trip, and instead used a bug screen shelter and my “Natural Bug Spray” for the times that we were not under the bug shelter. When we were first setting up our tent, without spray, the bugs were relentless. After a full body spray of the natural bug elixir that I concocted, the bugs were hovering over us but definitely not landing and biting as much.

Read More

Foraging for Food Part 3: Lovely Lemon Balm and Lavender

Foraging for Food Part 3: Lovely Lemon Balm and Lavender

Lavender is a well-known botanical that is helpful for a variety of neurological concerns, especially generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).  A recent study found that 160 or 80 mg of Silexan daily (a lavender oil preparation) caused both a 60% and 33% reduction in anxiety on the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA) score after 10 weeks (3).  Incorporate the mind-body healing effects of both Lemon balm and Lavender in this iced tea recipe!

Read More

Foraging for Food Part 2: From Wild Pest to Perfect Pesto

Foraging for Food Part 2: From Wild Pest to Perfect Pesto

This week, I was inspired to use another wild plant growing in large amounts around where I live. Across from my street is a forest, and I noticed that the pathways were covered in a plant that was a few feet tall, with triangular leaves and small white flowers (1). After going on the foraging course with my mother for Mother’s Day, I was enticed to identify the plant and see if it was indeed edible. The plant turned out to be Garlic Mustard or Alliaria petiolata, which is from the Mustard family (Brassicaceae) (2).

Read More

Foraging for Food Part 1: Harvesting Dandelion

Foraging for Food Part 1: Harvesting Dandelion

 Most of us are think of our food sources from grocery stores, markets etc. I always knew that there were many plants growing wildly that were not only medicinal, but also a source of edible nutrition – and free! Not that I would totally abandon grocery store and market veggies but learning how to identify “wild edibles” and then “harvest” them for eating or medicine is not only fun but also healthy.

Read More

How Stress & Poor Diet Are Worsening Your Digestion

How Stress & Poor Diet Are Worsening Your Digestion

     Many of us are familiar with that “butterfly in our stomach” sensation when we are nervous or stressed. This is a great example of the brain-gut (and mind-body connection). The brain-gut connection goes a lot farther than that, and how we are feeling can directly influence our digestive health – and our digestive health can influence how we are feeling! This past weekend I did a presentation at a conference on Stress & Digestion and discussed this topic. Read on below for an overview of what I talked about!

Read More

How to Make Meditation Easy

How to Make Meditation Easy

When first introduced, meditation sounded like a new-age hippie activity that was only reserved for the yogi’s – now it is being picked up by the everyday individual for its benefits on stress reduction, mental health and more! Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT), which is a form of therapy integrating mindfulness meditation and CBT, is now a mainstay in conventional mental health treatment for stress, anxiety and depression. Meditation and mindfulness therapies are now even part of many hospital programs and used by busy doctors, CEO’s and more. We all have heard about meditation and mindfulness being good for us, but it is difficult for many people to keep it up as a long-term habit (myself included!).

Read More