By Dr. Alisha Rawji ND
Happy Spring everyone! As the snow starts to melt and the days are getting longer, it’s easy to feel a new sense of renewed energy and optimism, especially this time of year. Of course, as things are continuing to look up it’s still very important to make sure that we are managing our stress and anxieties so that we are keeping ourselves at our optimum health.
Likewise, even though the sun is shining, and we’re getting ourselves outside and seeing our friends and family more than we did during our winter in hibernation, times of stress can manifest for everyone at any time, in any season, and throughout life’s many stressful times and situations. Here are some health considerations to take in mind when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed:
Sleep. This is the main reset for both our bodies and our minds, and if it isn’t functioning optimally, it’s very easy to negatively feed other issues we’re dealing with – chief among them our stress levels. Sleep can be measured in both sleep quantity (how long or how many hours we get each night) and also sleep quality i.e. if we stay asleep consistently throughout the night without tossing and turning, or if we feel refreshed upon waking.
Proper sleep can help lower our stress levels throughout the day, as we will feel more refreshed and clear-headed to help us deal with life’s stressors, make better decisions, and feel less stressed and more at peace throughout the day overall. This is one of the main facets of health that I like to help individuals improve if they’re feeling stressed out.
There may be underlying reasons as to why one’s sleep is off including (but not limited to) anxiety, depression, overthinking due to important decisions or excess stress, sleep apnea, hormonal disturbances or adrenal imbalances, and cortisol dysregulation. Some other factors may be a lack of sleep hygiene which could be not sleeping on time, having too much screen time before bed, or not having a successful method to turn your mind off such as meditation techniques, or lack of exercise or activities throughout the day.
Hormone regulation. It isn’t uncommon for stress to be compounded during times where hormones aren’t adequately balanced, and this may even be more pronounced for women. Progesterone, estrogen, and even testosterone are factors that rise and fall naturally in a cycle, and more so in times of stress. Also, if any hormonal dysregulation is present due to conditions one may or may not be aware of – especially if you’ve never had values tested before. Of course, during a women’s natural cycle these values can also rise and fall, and even more if they’re peri-menopausal, post-menopausal, or post-natal i.e. after given birth, as well. These changes can be difficult to navigate through, however, support using hormonal testing, as well as vitamins, foods, herbs, and Chinese medicine can be very effective in balancing hormones, and decrease stress as a result.
Vitamin deficiencies: Sometimes we might not be getting the proper vitamins and minerals, from our current diet and lifestyle and this can certainly be adding to our stress levels. Vitamins, minerals, protein, iron, and healthy fats, are all important co-factors to building up proper levels of serotonin, dopamine and other necessary neurotransmitters needed for proper and healthy regulation of brain chemistry. After a consultation with an individual, we can determine if there may be any deficiencies present based on what they eat, how much sunshine they’re getting, how their signs and symptoms present, as well as any lab work they’ve brought in. Often times, I may suggest hormonal or other necessary testing, which can give a great indication about where imbalances are present and base an individualized treatment plan based on this.
What can we do about this?? Lots, in fact! I find that isolating the source of stress as much as possible, is the best place to start. This is the most accurately done by booking in a naturopathic visit so that I can gather as much information about an individual as possible. I’ll ask very detailed questions about how one is sleeping, what they’re eating, what kind of routine blood work they’ve gotten from their previous medical appointments as well as all previous and current medical history, signs and symptoms and how they’re experiencing them. As well as any medications or supplements they’re currently (or previously taken), as well as taking any vitals or necessary physical exam to determine what other information may be needed. All of these together give me an indication about what the best natural treatments are available for them:
Sleep hygiene and relaxation mechanisms: going to sleep at the same or at least similar times each night can help balance our sleep-wake cycles, also known as our circadian rhythms. Doing so, will help balance out our main stress and sleep hormones (known as cortisol and melatonin) naturally. Furthermore, if we’re participating in activities such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, even journaling and working through stressful thoughts and feelings can do wonders for lowering our overall stress responses. Adding to this notion, it is also imperative to seek help and support from a licenced psychologist who can help you work through a lot of these emotions, and can help provide you with helpful tools. It can also be helpful to seek care from a Life Coach, if you’re struggling with feeling stuck in your head or with decisions involving your professional, or personal life decisions.
Balance those hormones! Sleep, can help reset this for sure, however we are all individuals and are often dealing with many different types of signs and symptoms and imbalances. Whether it be during a certain part of our cycles: menstruation, post-natal issues, and menopause being some of the more common reasons. Although we also need to screen for any major hormonal abnormalities such as endometriosis, fibrosis, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), or any others you might not have been screened for. Hormones testing via blood, but mainly via urine testing can give a great idea about what may be going on. This can also be done for men, who may not know they have hormonal imbalances though struggle with sleep, excess stress, low sex drive, erectile dysfunction or others signs and symptoms that may be present. Any or all of these, can be due to an imbalance of hormones, and in both men and women can present with things like hair loss, excess anger or emotionality, weight gain, or even brain fog, as well as an overall fatigued, irritable or sluggish demeanour. I find that pinpointing these issues, is the first step in treating it effectively. The use of specific vitamins, minerals, and herbs as well as many types or oral supplements can drastically help this, especially if taken on a consistent basis. Liver detoxing and gut health can further help make sure that extra (known as exogenous) hormones and toxins are effectively broken down and excreted in the liver and kidneys to promote adequate health and balance overall.
Vitamins and mineral IV/injection support – I love this one! I find that these treatments help individuals very quickly since vitamins and minerals administered this way are absorbed at a 100% absorption rate. Since vitamins are delivered straight into the system via intermuscular (IM) injections or intravenous (IV/directly into the blood stream), it doesn’t need to be processed by the gut or intestines; which is what needs to occur if you’re taking them orally (or by mouth). This is especially important and vital as a tool if an individual has any kind of gut absorption issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease (gluten processing disorder), or irritable bowel disease (IBD) such as crones or colitis. As well, if one has leaky gut (intestinal imperialities), multiple food sensitivities, or have issues such as candida overgrowth, or SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth). The reason is, that if you have issues that are impeding your gut or intestines, you may not be able to absorb vitamins and minerals using oral supplements. Vitamin and mineral support by IV/injections are exceptionally useful for maximizing the dosage, as well as are safe to administer since they are water soluble therefore will be excreted through the system and urine in a similar way, as usual. As well, those who don’t eat meat, or have strict vegetarian/vegan diets may also benefit from this, since they’re likely not getting adequate B-vitamins from food, especially B12. It is best to get B12 values checked, via lab-work to see if this is something that may be beneficial. Adrenal supportive injections are incredible ways to balance out cortisol, and stress hormones – giving the body the ability to feel less stress, and more energy overall.
Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture: Also, a fan-favourite! I find acupuncture can be helpful, not only to help for muscle pain, but for balancing out one’s energies, or Qi, in Chinese medicine. I find those who do one or more acupuncture treatments, report a significant decrease in their stress, anxiety and mood issues, overall. They’re also able to sleep better and feel more flow in their minds, bodies, and overall wellbeing.
Vitamin D3, omega 3s, magnesium, and other herbs and minerals (in various doses), depending on each individual, can be very helpful to reduce stress, and increase happiness and sleep, and helps individuals feel lighter, and even think more clearly.
Based on the recommendations after an initial intake (or even a pre-treatment-screen), I will assess both sign, symptoms, and physical markers I have access to, come up with the best laid treatment plan for you, to help you feel not only less stressed, but feeling like your best self!
Give us a shout – I’d love to help you out to be the very best that you can be!
By Amanda Delamer, Leadership Coach, MSc, CPCC, PCC
We are faced with circumstances beyond our control every day, both personally and professionally. How we respond to those circumstances has an incredible impact – on us, on those around us, and on our decision making processes. And when facing challenging circumstances at work, it can leave us longing for greener grass somewhere else.
Sometimes a new environment and a fresh start can be beneficial, and even necessary. Sometimes it can be helpful to stay in it and discover more about ourselves. And sometimes it might be a bit of both.
Have you ever thought about quitting your job? What were your reasons? For many, the idea of leaving their job has nothing to do with the work itself, but instead, it is due to their feelings and experience with their boss or other colleagues.
People don’t necessarily quit their jobs, they quit their boss and/or the people they work with. So what if shifting how you are showing up and engaging could result in you not running for the door?
Consider how you are currently approaching relationships and conflict at work with your boss and/or colleagues. How do you approach a difficult conversation? When you are under pressure, what are your natural tendencies? How do others experience you when you are in a challenging situation?
Changing up your approach to challenging conversations and situations can leave you feeling empowered and energized, now, even at your current job, and setting you up for even greater success if you do decide to move on.
The Approach: Fight. If you can’t beat ‘em, join them. I think it is safe to say we may have all used this approach at some point in our lives, even at work. Think of a time when you were treated in a way that left you fuming, hurt, confused, frustrated, and your response came from a place of “enough!” Your approach – maybe you decided to stick it to them, gave them a taste of their own medicine, lashed out, or even decided to resign yourself and just ignore them. You probably, to some extent, responded in a way that mimicked that exact thing that drives you crazy about how they treat you. It leaves you feeling hungover, wishing you would have handled a situation differently.
The Approach: Flight. Retreat, rehash, repeat. We’ve all been there. Laying awake at 2 am beating ourselves up that we let someone talk to us or treat us that way. Rehashing a conversation you had at work, wishing you would have stood up for yourself, spoke your mind, had a voice, been honest about how you are feeling… Argh, I wish I would have said ____. This approach can leave you feeling exhausted and consumed by work.
Approach: Lead. Draw on your courage within and lead. Think of a conversation you recently had, where you disagreed or spoke up about something that did not feel right for you. Maybe it was a conversation with someone at work, or maybe with your partner or friend. When we lead, all parties walked away with dignity. When you lead at work, you can leave at the end of the day feeling good about how you showed up, how you treated others, you shared your thoughts and ideas, you are good. And you have energy left to be present with the people you love and achieve personal goals that bring you joy.
We all have it in us to take a breath, show up, and lead. Leaders are not leaders because of a title they possess, but because of how they show up and the impact they have on the world around them. How you lead impacts your environment. It has an impact on your workplace culture. It has an impact on both your personal and professional relationships. It has an impact on your family and friends. It has an impact on how you experience joy in your life. Take responsibility and lead.
Don’t let challenges at work take the lead. Book in for a coaching consult with Amanda today!
Amanda Delamer is a Leadership and Life Coach. Amanda coaches and supports people in living healthy, balanced, and joyful lives, with a focus on leadership, self-awareness, and fulfillment. She coaches and honours the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. Her clients experience fulfillment in all parts of their lives – health, family, relationships, career, and beyond – and they value and appreciate that all parts of their lives are connected, and we all have a responsibility in and for the world around us. She lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her husband and three children.
By Dr. Michelle Hagel, ND
Coffee is something that most of us feel we can’t live without, it is the first thing we do in the morning, and almost feel that we cannot function without it. We absolutely can, and if appropriate I challenge you to try! For individuals struggling with anxiety and fatigue, coffee can be one of the worst things for us. Yes it gives us that initial boost but it can be doing some harm to our adrenal health and of course increasing our anxiety. People struggling with anxiety often feel tired/burnt out so coffee is a common go to. I’d like to present a few alternative options that can give you an energy boost without taxing your adrenal glands or worsen anxiety.
- Starting your day with a glass of lemon water. I think you’ll be shocked to see how good that water feels and how much energy actually comes from just lemon water.
- Mushrooms – I’ll mention my top 4 picks, these are often purchased as a powder to be used as a coffee substitute.
– Chaga – These mushrooms are backed with nutrients that are immune-boosting, good for our heart health, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory. This can help with weight loss, digestive issues, blood sugar balancing, and lowering cholesterol levels.
– Lion’s Mane – this was one of my favorites when I was in school needing focus and concentration while trying to learn about things like all the benefits of mushrooms. Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, immune supportive, and digestive protectant.
– Turkey Tail- Also anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, immune supportive, and digestive protectant.
– Reishi- Has been found to reduce stress, support sleep concerns and reduce fatigue. It also carries the other health properties of anti-oxidant, immune support, and anti-inflammatory
- Matcha Green tea – Most of us know that green tea is good for us but Matcha green tea contains more chlorophyll (detoxifying properties) more amino acid and antioxidants than its steeped green tea counterpart. It is wonderful at supporting brain functions like memory and concentration. While also containing L-theanine which induces relaxation and decreases stress levels. It protects the liver, promotes heart health, reduces inflammation, and can even aid in weight loss.
Coffee alternative elixir
1 cup Water
1 1/2 tbsp Cacao Powder
1/2 tsp Maple Syrup
1/8 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Maca Powder (optional)
1/16 oz Lion’s Mane Powder (optional)
4 Ice Cubes
3/4 cup Oat Milk
Bring the water to a boil. In a blender, add the just-boiled water, cacao powder, maple syrup, sea salt, maca powder and lion’s mane powder, if using. Blend until smooth, making sure you allow space for the heat to escape. In a glass, add the ice cubes and then add the milk. Pour the cacao mixture on top and stir to combine. Enjoy!
Coconut Matcha Latte! This is one of my favorite options I generally don’t find the raw honey necessary as it is very creamy and delicious without the honey.
1 cup Water (hot)
1/2 cup Canned Coconut Milk
1 tsp Green Tea Powder
1 tbsp Coconut Butter
1 tbsp Raw Honey (optional)
In your blender, combine the hot water, coconut milk, matcha, coconut butter, and raw honey (if using). Blend until creamy and frothy. Pour into a mug and enjoy! Add the ice cubes and then add the milk. Pour the cacao mixture on top and stir to combine. Enjoy!
By Dr. Michelle Hagel, ND
It has been a tough year this year, with lots of stress and isolation. It is more important than ever to support our mental and physical health. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, talk to loved ones, talk to a professional.
Nutrient injections are a great option to support mood, stress management energy, and sleep. By injecting the nutrients they bypass digestion and are ready in high levels for absorption throughout the body. There are many options for injectable nutrients, you can discuss with your naturopathic doctor to see what is the best fit for you to optimize your nutrient levels.
Now let’s talk about how to get some of these brain important nutrients from our food.
This year is going to look a little bit different for everyone but that shouldn’t stop us from enjoying some yummy food. Avocados are high in good fats, our brain loves good fats and so think of this delicious brain food. I’m also a huge turkey fan I always look forward to turkey dinner, you know the feel good hormone that usually puts us to sleep after turkey dinner is called tryptophan. Trytophan is a precursor to both melatonin and our happy neurotransmitter serotonin.
Chocolate Avocado Pudding
1/2 cup Pitted Dates (chopped, soaked and drained)
2 tbsp Maple Syrup (I usually do not add this the dates make it sweet enough for me)
1/2 cup Plain Coconut Milk (from the carton)
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
Add the avocado, soaked dates and maple syrup to the food processor and pulse to combine. Add the coconut milk and blend until the avocado mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add the cocoa powder and blend again until combined.
Roasted Turkey and Carrots
2 1/4 lbs Turkey Breast, Skin On (bone-in)
1 Navel Orange (cut into quarters)
1 Yellow Onion (cut into quarters)
3/4 tsp Sea Salt (divided)
3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (divided)
1 tsp Fresh Sage (finely chopped)
1 tbsp Rosemary (finely chopped)
1 1/2 tbsp Thyme (finely chopped, divided)
2/3 cup Water
6 Carrot (medium, peeled, roughly chopped)
Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Arrange the orange and onion quarters in a large baking dish or a roasting pan.
Season the turkey breast on all sides with two-thirds of the salt. Place the seasoned turkey breast on top of the orange and onion in the baking dish.
In a small mixing bowl combine half of the oil with the sage, rosemary and two-thirds of the thyme. Spoon the oil mixture evenly over top of the turkey breast. Add the water to the bottom of the baking dish then bake the turkey breast for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the carrots on the baking sheet and season with the remaining oil and salt.
After the turkey has cooked for 20 minutes, reduce the oven to 350ºF (176ºC). Place the carrots in the oven with the turkey. Continue cooking for 30 to 40 minutes or until the turkey is cooked through, the skin is brown and crispy and the carrots are cooked. Be sure to add more water to the pan if it evaporates too quickly or if the pan juices start to burn.
Let the turkey rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Season the roasted carrots with the remaining thyme. Divide the turkey and carrots between plates and enjoy.