Monday, January 16, 2012

This Site Has Moved...

Hi All! So I have finally combined my blog and my website into one site! I will no longer be posting on this site so if you would like to continue 'following' my posts then feel free to do so at: Roots Wise Wellness Hope to see you all on the other side!!! Meg

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Daily Practice! Insomnia and the Art of Rest!

Every few months I battle a bout of insomnia. It's not fun and it sure ain't pretty! It takes a hold from seemingly out of nowhere and then a few days fly by and I'm feeling funky, feeling down, overwhelmed and can't seem to catch up. I learn a lot every time. I learn that I am only human, that I can only do so much, that I am in love with life more than I know and that just because I want to live it fully and share it fully does not mean that I have to do so in one week and that by not doing so does not make me any less of a woman. I learn that I have to intervene before it comes on, that I need to not stress on the things that I can't control and that I need to let go. I learn that each day I need to take time to reflect, to slow down and let life happen. More often than not I sleep with no problems as my body is often so damn ready for it, but then moments like last week happen and I need to refocus. Sleep is so important, it is our ally. Without it we get caught in a viscous cycle of up, down, up down....stimulants to keep us going and going which makes us more wasted and in more need. Adequate sleep is a must in any attempt to live a healthy life. It is just as important in the clean living - healthy living cycle as quality nutrition, movement and stress reduction. While we sleep at night, we heal and recuperate from the wear and tear of our day. Our liver and digestive system gets to catch up on all we gave it to deal with throughout the day. While we sleep is when our liver is alive, detoxifying and reinvigorating. Unfortunately, more and more people find it necessary to cut back on their sleep. The consequences for their health and quality of life can be devastating. "Clinical studies have shown that sleep deprivation can be a contributing factor to a number of lifestyle-related illnesses – among them obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Patients with persistent sleep deficits have routinely shown alterations in their metabolism, inhibiting their ability to manage glucose levels by making their cells increasingly insulin resistant.

Sleeplessness can lead to imbalances in the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Potential consequences are weakening of the immune system, risk of a variety of chronic illnesses as well as psychological effects, such as memory loss, mood swings and depression. Sleep deprivation may also have a significant impact on one’s life expectancy."

Damn if that ain't enough to convince you to get some quality sleep....what then do you need?!

Here are a few tips to help you get a good night's sleep:

  • Exercise....yes! It’s actually known to help you sleep better. Your body uses the sleep period to recover its muscles and joints that have been exercised. Twenty to thirty minutes of exercise every day can help you sleep, but be sure to exercise in the morning or afternoon. Exercise stimulates the body and aerobic activity before bedtime may make falling asleep more least that's what I find sometimes.
  • Stick to a schedule: Sticking to a schedule allows your body to set its internal rhythm so you can get up at the time you want, consistently, every single day....this I need to work on!
  • Taking a hot shower or bath before bed helps bring on sleep because they can relax tense muscles.
  • Avoid eating just before bed. Give yourself at least 2 hours from when you eat to when you sleep. This allows for digestion to happen (or at least start) well before you go to sleep so your body can rest well during the night, rather than churning away your food
  • Avoid caffeine at night....duh right? Not always easy to remember to do for me when I want to keep going....Mate is just soooo good!!
  • Drink an herbal tea blend for sleep...see below.
  • Read a book in bed. Not only are you learning alot but you can take your mind away form your own life
  • Avoid alcohol before bedtime. It’s a depressant; although it may make it easier to fall asleep, it causes you to wake up during the night. As alcohol is digested your body goes into withdrawal from the alcohol, causing nighttime awakenings and often nightmares for some people and it makes your liver have to focus on that and not all the other stuff it needs to focus on while doing it's job over night

Here is an exercise I find very helpful to practice every evening before bed (I just need to do it more!):

  • Lie down in a quiet place and place a glass of water beside you
  • Relax the muscles in your body. Go through and consciously relax your legs, butt, abdomen, back, shoulders, arms, neck and face
  • Let all the tension of the day subside and bring your attention to your breathing
  • Let your inhalation naturally become a little deeper and your exhalation a little longer
  • As you take 3 slow breaths imagine your body becomes filled with water, as pure as a mountain stream. Feel the water regenerate all your cells, removing toxins and filling them with vitality
  • Bring your attention back to reality and sit up. Slowly drink the glass of water. With each sip taste the water and be aware that the major constituent of your body is water. Be aware that this water is purifying and detoxifying.
  • Now go pee before you go to bed!

Herbs for sleep:

Being an herbalist, I have experimented plenty and have worked with many people on a wide variety of issues. One of which is often the sleep issue. Here is a quickie on 2 herbs for sleep, addressing either the mind or the body...but be in touch if you want/need more specifics for YOU! However, nothing should replace the need to get to the root of why you are not sleeping.

Passionflower: One of my personal favorites! Passionflower is great for folks who have trouble with sleep because their brain won't slow down. It helps to reduce some of the brain chatter as well as the anxiety and nervousness that may go along with it.

Valerian Root: Valerian is great for those who's body won't let them sleep. Those whose muscles are ticking away or digestive system is overworking. Valerian helps to reduce the amount of time it takes to slip into a deep sleep.

Sundown and Slowdown: For years I had a medicinal tea business. The teas were available throughout New England and this was one of my best sellers! It is a blend of chamomile, skullcap, passionflower, hope and california poppy. A great blend! And still available in bulk at Healthy Living in Burlington.

For kids having trouble sleep...Lemon Balm is often a great and tasty choice, either as tea or as a glycerite.

So my challenge to you for this week's Daily Practice is to mindful of your sleep!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Daily Practice...Conscious Gifting

Tis the time of year that many people are in search of the perfect gift to pass on to a loved one, a friend or a family member. I have to admit that I have a real hard time with this time of year, the concept of gift giving and with the amount of waste that abounds. We stopped giving gifts in my family a long time ago and we all are thankful. There are certainly ways of giving that don't require excess waste, dollars we don't actually have to be spent, and gifts that support the environment rather than exploit it. We have all heard this over the years, with every Christmas season that comes around: "Give the gift of love" and "Think about the needy" and "We don't need to show people we love them with gifts"....redundant right? We know it yet more often than not, do not follow it right because it really does feel good to give! I challenge you to live this. To continue to be the giver of yourself and your services, the environmentalist, the doer, etc...just do so by living it through this time of year as well. Christmas doesn't have to be an exception to your values and to doing what you know is right. At the risk of sounding "righteous" or a "downer" on christmans...think consciously about what you buy: is it really needed? Is is a waste of plastic? Don't you think kids and adults too, would rather have a full day - play date with you then get yet another toy that will only cause more clutter, create more use of hazardous plastic and ultimately end up tossed aside and then in the landfill. Teach them how to ride a bike, climb a tree, snowboard, play music, make art, cook that last and create incredible people! One of my favorites is to do IOU's! I owe you a garden in the spring, I owe you a night out dancing, I owe you a home cooked meal, I owe you a poem, I owe you a handmade scarf, I owe you a nutrition consultation, I owe you a movement program....share your talents, your passions and exploit the dreams of your loved ones!!! Get creative! Make something out of 'nothing'!! Turn your junk into art! Check out this video about making something out of seemingly nothing and giving back to the environment at the same time. Great video, great message, well worth the watch! One Beach Video This week and next week's Daily Practice is about cutting back on the waste, getting creative with gifts and being mindful of the waste you are creating. Give the gift your talents, your services or donate to a cool nonprofit in there name! If you want to check out non profits to donate to in someone's name, here are a few spots that have great lists: One Percent for the Planet or check The Year of Giving Adventurously Give the Gift of Living Life Alive!! Give the gift of the BEST F-ING YEAR!