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A Sacred Pause

A Sacred Pause

Holidays are an extra-busy time of year. We have rituals, memories, and expectations associated with whatever holidays we celebrate. Too often, that can set us up for stress, disappointment, anxiety, or depression.

At its core, though, a holiday is a "holy day" - a time dedicated and set apart. It is an opportunity to create a sacred pause, and to appreciate and celebrate all that is most important to us.

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Your Multi-Million Mile Check-up

Your Multi-Million Mile Check-up

You've traveled many miles in the last 12 months - 584 million of them, to be specific. As you have been going about the business of your life, you have also been a passenger on planet Earth, and it has covered quite a distance in its annual orbit. It's pretty amazing that we can travel so far on automatic pilot!

Sometimes it can feel like our lives are on automatic pilot too. Unlike Earth, though, we actually have a say in the path that we are following, and how we experience it. The opportunity to chart our own course is often both exhilarating and daunting!

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Five Self-care Strategies during Grief - After the Election and Beyond

Five Self-care Strategies during Grief - After the Election and Beyond

This past week has been especially hard on our country. Whether or not you were happy with the results of the election, I think that we can all agree that it has been a time of great emotional turbulence.

For many, it is a time of grief. Indeed, internet searches on the topic "stages of grief" have gone up exponentially in the last few days, as you can see from this graph:

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Is Workplace Stress Sabotaging your Wellness?

Is Workplace Stress Sabotaging your Wellness?

We're hearing a lot about bullying these days - not just in schools and the twittersphere - but in our workplaces too. It turns out, this toxic behavior is much more common than we might think.

In fact, research has found that 75% of workers are affected by bullying at some point in their careers - either as a target or a witness. If you add in other kinds of counterproductive behavior -- like rudeness and incivility — the number would be even higher. Businesses are increasingly paying attention to what bullying and incivility cost them.

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Taming the Stress You Can't Feel

Taming the Stress You Can't Feel

When you hear the word "stress", what comes to mind?

Many of us have come to associate the word "stress" with the physical, emotional, and mental reactions we experience when excessive demands are placed on us. That kind of psychological or emotional stress, is well-known in our fast-paced society.

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Four Mindful Practices for Making Peace

Four Mindful Practices for Making Peace

Keep Calm and Carry On.

Often, that is easier said than done.

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Six Keys to Being Well-Seasoned

Six Keys to Being Well-Seasoned

Have you noticed that many of us are sensitive when it comes to growing older? Some of us don't talk about how old we are, and we use politically-correct language when referring to those of us who have more life experience. We hear words like "old" or "elderly" less frequently — and opt for language that is less stigmatizing. One of my favorites is "seasoned"!

This sensitivity most likely boils down to fear. Most of us don't like the thought of aging. It's not that we don't want to grow older chronologically — who doesn't aspire to living to a ripe, old age?

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Staying Well in an Unhealthy Healthcare System

Staying Well in an Unhealthy Healthcare System

The facts about healthcare in the United States can be discouraging. Our country is notoriously lagging behind in terms of our health outcomes when compared with other countries with similar resources. We spend substantially more, but have worse health. 

There are many smart, capable people that mean well and work hard in our healthcare system. Unfortunately, the system itself is set up in a way that doesn't promote wellness. It's a GREAT place to be if you need a high-tech diagnostic test or intervention — but we're not known for promoting well-being. Ironically, as providers are pressured to see more patients, they invest less time in conversations that help people create the healthy lifestyles that promote health and prevent disease in the first place.

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Five Ways to Use Good Vibrations for Health and Well-Being

Five Ways to Use Good Vibrations for Health and Well-Being

Traditional western medicine operates based on assumptions based in biology and our current pharmaceutical treatments are rooted in chemistry. Practitioners from this tradition have been somewhat slow to embrace the emerging field of energy medicine which is perhaps better understood from the perspective of physics.

Nonetheless, there is compelling evidence that our experiences of resonance and vibration - whether through practicing an ancient technique like Qi Gong or participation in a group sing-along - can have profound impacts on our health and well-being.

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Three Four-Letter Words that Impact Your Well-Being

Three Four-Letter Words that Impact Your Well-Being

There is no doubt that language is a powerful tool. It can alter perceptions, affect relationships, and determine the limits of what we understand or consider possible. So, it behooves us to pay attention to how we speak - in public, in private, and especially within our own minds.

There are several four-letter words considered off-limits in polite company. Using them in the wrong setting might negatively impact your relationships. So, avoiding those is wise and even admirable.

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How to Get Unstuck

How to Get Unstuck

Most of us feel "stuck" at one time or another — either individually or collectively. It can feel pretty frustrating.

Although being stuck is challenging, it also presents opportunties (don't most challenges?)

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Three Simple Ways to Bring More Calm Into Your Day

Three Simple Ways to Bring More Calm Into Your Day

Life can be busy, even when you're on sabbatical! Over the last month, I've been exploring different ways to recalibrate my energy and increase my resiliency.

In a nutshell, this means avoiding unnecessary stress (that stimulates the sympathetic or "fight or flight" response), and intentionally engaging in practices that bring calm, steady energy (that stimulates the parasympathetic or "rest and digest" response).

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How to be More Resilient

How to be More Resilient

The road to greater well-being is rarely a straight path. Often our journeys take us up, down, and around. Sometimes it may even feel like we are going backwards! Parts of this last week felt like that for me.

No matter how much we plan, we don't know what Life has in store for us. While that can be unsettling, the good news is that there are lots of tools and practices that can help us weather the stress of unpredictability.

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How to Be Well when you are Healing

How to Be Well when you are Healing

I felt another nudge to share with you, so I made a video to honor that.

The video that I made is unscripted and long - so not everyone will have time for it in one sitting. I trust that it will reach whoever will find value in it.

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How to Thrive in a Broken Healthcare System

How to Thrive in a Broken Healthcare System

Wow...

What a week it has been. You may have noticed that I missed my blog post on Wellness Wednesday and I haven't been sharing much on social media (and it is o.k. with me if you didn't notice...)

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Three Ways to Stop Struggling

Three Ways to Stop Struggling

"You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging." ~ Brené Brown

This is one of Brené Brown's most popular quotes. Ever since her first TED talk went viral, it became evident that her research was capturing a key human experience - the belief that we are not enough.

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Self-Care Lessons from my Dog

Self-Care Lessons from my Dog
If you’ve ever spent any time on social media, you know how much people love their pets. We view and share photos and videos of our four-legged friends with enthusiasm, and the images are sure to bring us smiles of affection and enjoyment. What is it about our animal companions that is so heart-warming? Of course, it feels good to be connected to other creatures, and the health benefits of having a pet are well-established. A number of studies have explored the ways that pets improve our cardiovascular and emotional health. Pets can also be good teachers of self-care, if we pay attention. They are naturally vulnerable and authentic - characteristics that experts like Brené Brown associate with “whole-hearted living”. Here are a few of the self-care lessons that I’ve learned from my dog, Princess:Be Curious — Even if you’re in the same place with the same people, stay present and engaged. If you want to keep growing, don’t assume you know everything about anything. Allow yourself to ask questions and take in new information. Curiosity is a key ingredient of mindfulness and a critical tool for creating breakthroughs in thinking and behavior. When I take a walk with Princess, she models a vivid experience of living in the moment.Relax — You probably remember from science class that the automatic part of our neurological system is designed with two complementary parts — one which helps us respond to challenges and emergencies (i.e. the sympathetic system which activates the stress response) and the other which promotes rest and repair (i.e. the parasympathetic system which activates the relaxation response). To maintain optimal health, we need a balance of stimulation between the two. Our busy culture often promotes overstimulation of the stress response. Our pets are great reminders to slow down and balance things out.Cuddle —Dogs have obvious physical needs like food, shelter, water and exercise. They want more though. They want to be petted and cuddled. It’s not just that we help them scratch in places that they can’t easily reach. It is also apparent that they enjoy our company and our touch. Research demonstrates that cuddling helps meet important physical and emotional needs. In this age of electronic interaction, we need to make sure we’re getting some cuddle-time too! Ask for What you Want and Need — When our pets sidle up to us for some love and attention, who can resist? They aren’t shy about asking, and even if we can’t accommodate them at the moment, they’ll try again later. They don’t seem to worry about what we think or whether we’ll reject them. Did you ever notice how good it feels to be able to make them happy? People like to be of service. Next time you get stopped from making a request, consider this: When you don’t ask, you are denying someone an opportunity for kindness and generosity.Show Appreciation —  The sight of our dogs bounding to meet us, tails wagging, brings us joy. It embodies a warm sense of welcome, love and belonging that never gets old to us. To our delight, it never gets old to our companions, either! We know what makes them happy — seeing us come home, scratching them in their favorite place, taking them on a walk, feeding them - because they show us. Fortunately for both of us, their expressions of appreciation help reinforce our desire to do more of what they like...which is good for us too (see #4).What about you? What self-care lessons have you learned from your pet? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Seven Ways to Become "Well"-Connected

Seven Ways to Become "Well"-Connected

We humans are social creatures, and we place a lot of value on our relationships. In this day and age of social media, the number of people that we know and connections that we have gets a fair amount of attention. Quantity, of course, isn't everything — and it probably isn't even the most important thing!

Our relationships and social ties have a significant impact on our well-being, affecting both the quality and length of our lives. Research has found that people with high quality (and quantity) of social ties have - among other things - lower risks for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and poor immune function.

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Ten Self-Care Strategies to Soothe your Stress

Ten Self-Care Strategies to Soothe your Stress

Last week the American Psychological Association (APA) published it's report Stress in AmericaTM:Paying With Our Health. This annual report polls adults in the U.S. on questions related to stress. From the title, you can imagine that the findings were sobering. Here are a few of them:

Three-quarters of U.S. adults (75%) report experiencing at least one symptom of stress in the past month.Most adults report that their stress levels have stayed the same (53%) or increased (29%) in the past year.42% of adults say they are not doing enough or aren't sure they are doing enough to manage their stress. One in five of them (20%) say they never engage in activities to relieve or manage stress.A number of Americans report engaging in unhealthy behaviors because of stress including lying awake a night (42%), eating too much or eating unhealthy foods (33%) and avoiding exercise (29%).

To many of us, this may come as no surprise. In fact, we may expect stress as a necessary by-product of our American way of life. What's the big deal?

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Nine Ways to Love Yourself Well

Nine Ways to Love Yourself Well

It's February, and here in the U.S. we're celebrating hearts, love, and relationships. Although Valentine's Day tends to focus on romantic relationships, it also provides a great opportunity to acknowledge all of the relationships that make our lives rich. As you celebrate all your relationships, I invite you to to remember one that is near and dear to your heart — your relationship with yourself! After all, THAT relationship affects every other relationship that you have. So, I hope that you nurture it well!

Here are nine different ways that you can love yourself well that are based on the Wheel of Health model created by Duke Integrative Medicine:

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