Archives for category: Grounding

Berries

I recently found out that Bob Nielsen, a dear professor from my undergraduate years, and part of the reason I started this blog, passed away. He had struggled with prostate cancer for years, as well as diabetes. I remember watching as he checked his sugar during our independent study session that followed the lunch hour. One of the things he mentioned that his wife allowed him to eat for a snack or dessert was “graham crackers and cream cheese; oh boy”, he would say as he tried to drum up some enthusiasm. Prostate cancer is an inflammatory disease. A study done by Sfanos and DeMarzo (2012) provides some evidence that inflammation is to blame. “There are multiple different lines of evidence suggesting that inflammation is very common within the adult prostate” (para 4). One can imagine that inflammation has its hand in other diseases too, including diabetes. We have all had injuries when inflammation took over and helped us heal. Chronic inflammation moves in when the body’s immune system overloads because it cannot rid the cause of the initial swelling. Sometimes stress is a major factor in the inability to overcome inflammation. Known as the fight or flight response from our parasympathetic nervous system, our bodies gear up to escape from that bear or lion. These days, the bear or lion is replaced by sitting in the hot-seat of an office desk with loads of work, though it is not an immediate threat. If the perceived threat has no relief, the body has trouble eliminating the adrenaline and translates it into stress. That stress creates inflammation in the body.

Chronic stress is a terrible condition because when there is no outlet for the build-up, the body cannot help but create inflammation as its response to stress, whether real or imagined. The body only understands feelings. It cannot determine if the pressure is real or something we see on television as we sit in a theater watching gory or horror films. However, some adrenaline is good. We need it to get out of the way in traffic, for instance. But everyday stress from a job is detrimental to health.

Let’s look at some of the ways we can help our bodies cope with stress overload. Sometimes the help of a medical professional is needed; but you may want to try some of these remedies first.

Anti-inflammatory Foods:
Harvard studies indicate that certain foods will help fight inflammation. Certain foods should also be avoided. And if you have been paying attention to good health, that food list will not come as a surprise. Think about what your grandmother and grandmother’s mother would have eaten and follow those rules.

Foods that fight for you are:

* Green leafy vegetables
* Some fruits – berries, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
* Nuts and seeds
* Fatty fish
* Olive oil
* Tomatoes

While Harvard lists tomatoes as anti-inflammatory, it’s one of those foods considered a night shade – think eggplant, potatoes, peppers – which may cause inflammation in some people. I react differently when eating them; I notice right away when my knee begins to ache. I feel better both in my joints and in my mood when I stick to these types of foods. Another thing that Harvard has left out is the importance of fermented foods. Improving the health of the gut can combat chronic inflammatory diseases with proven results. Gut health enables the body to eliminate toxins like pesticides common in commercially produced food today.

Herbs and Spices:
One of my favorite public figures, Dr. Mercola, has a terrific website with great deal of information regarding health. He lists clove, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric (curcumin) as the best herbs to use. Starting out slowly with these as a daily regime is a good way to start.

I take turmeric supplement for my aching knee. It has been one of the most beneficial herbs for me. It’s actually a root, similar to the ginger family. Check out your local grocer. You might find it there in its original form now that it has become popular. Funny how that happens.

Spices to use include:

* Cinnamon (ceylon)
* Jamaican Allspice
* Apple pie spice mixture
* Oregano
* Pumpkin pie spice mixture
* Marjoram
* Sage
* Thyme
* Gourmet Italian spice

Dr. Mercola lists these specifically to help us boost our resistance to inflammation by adding these to our own recipes. When it’s easy to do, people will do it. Start with one or two today.

Essential Oils:
Essential oils are also recognized to help combat inflammation. In a study of lab rats, rosemary, eucalyptus, and ginger essential oils reduced episodes of edema; the latter two reduced effects from the ingestion of carrageenan, a common ingredient in commercial yogurts and ice cream. You might want to scout out this ingredient and remove it from your diet. I found too many tests in my search that aim to fight its inflammatory side effects.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine comments that essential oils are used as therapies because the nose first detects the scents. The sensors recognize the chemical compounds of the oil, then work on the limbic system as effectively as a drug (PDQ, 2014). Certain combinations from fragrant plants demonstrate relief from stress and improve the quality of life. Two of my favorites are Stress Away and lavender from Young Living essential oils. Lavender is one of the most popular scents, often found in baby products since its affect is almost immediate. You can create your own uplifting scents like the combination of cinnamon bark, peppermint, and cedarwood that I use when I need to stay calm yet alert while driving in heavy traffic. You can breathe away the stress in your life too.

Grounding:
While not commonly known as grounding, using the effects of the earth on our bodies is an amazing way to de-stress. Countless studies and feedback are addressed in the book Earthing. The subtitle says it all. Is Earthing really a new heath discovery? Hardly. People have walked barefoot on the earth for thousands of years. But lately we have disconnected, so to speak. Our high-rise buildings and the invention of the rubber sole shoe promote the separation between us and the earth. The text demonstrates the electrical effects and relationship between humans and the earth, provides a list of the benefits of getting our feet back on the earth, and provides compelling thermal imagery after grounding. Page 63 shows a list of diseases caused by inflammation. It’s not surprising that other chronic conditions such as allergies, asthma, diabetes, lupus, and MS are on this list. Pain is listed too.

We all have pain of some sort. Think of it… just coming in contact with the earth on a regular basis can help us. You see, lowering the EMF (Electro Magnetic Field) is imperative. We are surrounded by constant waves of energy; over time, people who do not ground with the earth are susceptible to “infection, stress, and degenerative diseases” (Ober, Sinatra, & Zucker, 2010, p. 79). Earthing helps to move that EMF off of us.

Think of the last time you were at the beach and played in the ocean or other body of water. Recall the feelings of peace, relaxation, and regeneration. What about the last time you walked in the yard to feel the grass under your feet? Doing so is completely free, but so few of us do it. At the very least, Ober has invented a way to gain similar effects from placing a ground in the earth. Your kitchen and bathroom electrical outlets have a ground to the earth. By using this part of the plug, Ober created grounding mats, mattresses, pillowcases, and the like to help you absorb the earth’s ground as you work and sleep. The grounding mat is great when the air becomes dry in the winter months. Static electricity can wreak havoc when doing laundry or just walking on a carpet. I am using a grounding mat as I type. The sweat from the bottoms of my bare feet help create the ground and move the EMF off of me when I work. Aside from the turmeric I use, grounding has helped when my knee was so inflamed I had trouble walking.

BeachBest

Being pain free is something we all desire. Consider these methods to reduce the stress and inflammation in your life. Tell a friend.

Joy,
Cheryl

References

Ober, C., Sinatra, S. T., & Zucker M. (2010). Earthing:The most important health discovery ever? Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

PDQ® Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. (2014). PDQ Aromatherapy and Essential Oils. [PMID: 26389261]. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/aromatherapy-pdq.

Sfanos, K. S. & DeMarzo, A. M. (2012). Prostate cancer and inflammation: The evidence. Histopathology 60(1), 199-215. doi 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2011.04033.x

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Travel with Frank – Frankincense, that is.

Frankincense (Olibanum) is one of the most widely known essential oils, and for good reason. Used as currency and trade for centuries, as early as 500BC, its original form was resin which was burned as incense in many rituals and ceremonies, and during embalming to cover the scent of the dead. Most people remember this oil from the Bible. It was one of the gifts the three Kings gave to Jesus at his birth (or shortly thereafter).

Grown in Oman, the people have used frankincense for basic necessities in the household, religious ceremonies, and medicine for centuries. Common uses in the home include driving insects away, as a toothpaste, a deodorant, and as a flavoring in food. Interestingly, its more common use was medicinal. I’ve heard it called the father of all oils. Perhaps it received the name because of the variety of ailments frankincense was used to treat.

On my recent vacation, I used frankincense on my toothbrush. It has a pleasant taste. I also added a drop in some water for indigestion. I was pleased with the results. If you have a high quality, pure essential oil, this one is considered safe for consumption and can be used as a dietary supplement. And if, according to Hippocrates, “Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, people can ward off many illnesses just by consuming natural herbs, food, and essential oils.

Hey ladies, I also discovered that if I rub some of the oil into my skin after shaving, I have less bumps near the bikini area. Men, you might try this oil as an aftershave.

Women have used the oil as an addition to cosmetics. In fact, I remember reading something about Cleopatra’s eye-liner coming from the burned resin. In modern days, it’s added as a main ingredient in products to help reduce wrinkles. I have been using it to clear an occasional bout of acne.

I don’t want to forget to mention that frankincense can be diffused into the air during meditation or yoga practice. Our senses connect the exotic fragrance of the Holy oil with the creator to uplift the spirit during the meditation practice.

The idea here is to do your research. Find the best quality oils available; look for 100% pure, therapeutic-grade oil marked as a supplement. Frankincense has never been cheap. If you find a 15ml bottle less than 30 or 40 dollars, chances are the oil is not pure. In this case you would only hurt yourself.

A common dose is 1 drop of oil to 1 Tbsp of honey or in 4 oz. of water or almond milk. Under 6 years of age is not recommended.
Used wisely, you will find this oil is a treasure. Invest in yourself and use frankincense. You will not be sorry.

Joy,

Cheryl

Reference

The story of Frankincense. (n. d.). Middle East Institute.  Retrieved from http://www.mei.edu/sqcc/frankincense

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Longing for a break?  Stress Away Essential oil to the rescue!

The stress that comes with the demands of the classroom and life can wreak havoc on the immune system. Chronic stress, the flight or fight response present without an actual physical threat, does more damage to the sympathetic nervous system than we think. Perhaps it’s too bad a real threat doesn’t show up on occasion; at least then we can expend that adrenaline for the cause. Without an imminent threat that is dealt with once and for all, we simply remain tense and stressed out to the point of exhaustion. This condition leads to inflammation and a weaker immune system.

Thank goodness there’s an oil for stress. Stress Away is the bonus oil in the Young Living Premium Starter kit.  The company even throws in a free roller-ball for use on the go. Just roll onto the wrists or the back of the neck and let it go to work.

Stress Away is a blend of Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood, Ocotea, and Lavender. Each has its own job. The Copaiba relieves muscle aches and pains, helps with inflammation, and lifts the mood. Lime is uplifting and aids in feeling refreshed and lively. Cedarwood has a calming effect on the nerves. Ocotea balances emotions so you do not lash out at others. Lavender promotes well being as it relaxes the body. Simply, this oil blend brings us back a more relaxed state to enable the body to cope with moments of stress.

Since we cannot often control stressful situations, we can change how we respond to them. Keep a bottle of Stress Away on hand at school, at work, in the car, and just about anywhere else to ease the body through even the most stressful times. It’s like Zen in a bottle. Ahhh.

Joy,

Cheryl

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Lavender is one of those oils one cannot live without. Its scent is floral, sweet, herbaceous, balsamic and woody, and packs so much punch it has been used since the medieval times. The French suggest that lavender is an equalizer in which its properties are used by the body wherever needed the most. This essential oil’s uses are also universal.

Use it on cuts, diaper rash, burns, hives, stretch marks, even sprains. I use it when I want to relax or to enhance sleep. Add a few drops along with Epsom salts to bath water and soak to detox and give the body time to absorb its properties.  It’s one of the most commonly used scents in baby products for good reason.

Lavender is not just used on the skin, it can ease a migraine headache, help with depression, and provide relief from nervous tension. Diffuse this oil in your sleeping area for added benefits.

Lavender can also be ingested.  I’ve made tea or added a small drop of the oil to vanilla ice cream for an exotic flavor when I serve my guests an after dinner or evening treat.

Be sure to use Young Living Essential oils to ensure the quality necessary for ingestion; most oils found in stores are questionable.

Enjoy the quality and benefits of this essential oil. It’s one of the oils included in the Premium Starter kit. (See my deals page for more information on how to obtain your own kit.)

Joy,
Cheryl

It’s Saturday and I’m lying on my bed reading the new syllabus created by Joel Williams. It’s the same syllabus I’ll be working with this semester. He’s picked an interesting reading selection for students including a web project called “This I Believe” on NPR.org. Browsing the selections online I click on a couple of topics that interest me. I read about how one woman’s father taught her to never give up in any situation no matter how hard or painful. At a moment she gave up on herself, her father never did. She is now successful in her recent endeavors. In another essay, I read about a father and son’s relationship growing deeper the day the young man drives off across the country to go to college to start anew, and the third, definitely not the last, essay I read was about a woman who pursued a career in literature because it does matter the way the arts can help us see ourselves in new ways.
You see, I’ve been away from academics for almost three years yet still held out for that full time faculty position at an accredited college despite the ever-rising stack of rejection letters I have received and the mental notes of all the times my resume and desire to teach has been ignored.

I have understood the value of writing and have shared my passion to teach to others for many years. I even call myself the Grammar Guardian. You should see my costume. I’m sure my students thought my standards were rather high for grammar because I would find every error. To ease their minds I would tell them that I had written a love letter at the end of each of their papers upon returning them. Whether they understood what I meant, I’m not sure. I have missed their ah-ha moments and triumphs as they improved.

This Monday I’ll be back in the classroom. The phone interview, only a couple of days ago, was the first in about five years. I had almost given up. Somehow the conversation was much less stressful, and I felt much less needy. I explained the type of service I have provided students through my tutoring and teaching as an adjunct professor. I explained the profound love I have to help a struggling student receive a passing grade on a paper. I have tutored my own students on my assignments before the due date if needed. Generous? I suppose. A better term may be service. I was offered the job the following day. I’ll move to a new city in two days to serve more students.

Before this fateful event, I found a website called AuthenticHappiness.org. I took a free quiz to find my character strengths. I wasn’t at all pleased at first when I received the results. My top two strengths are Love and Mercy. Mulling these over I realized that my techniques were completely in line with my strengths. I showed love and mercy in and outside the classroom. I helped students achieve their goals. It’s a wonderful feeling to know my strengths enhanced someone else’s strengths. Give the site’s questionnaire a try. You might be surprised at the results. I surely was, but also thrilled to use these as often as I can now and in my future.

Joy,
Cheryl

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How often have you grumbled through the day in the hopes it would end soon? The day just didn’t start well. You slept through the alarm, stubbed your toe on the bed post, spilled coffee on your new shirt, et cetera. Down hill from here? it seems so. With mornings like these it’s a wonder we can even leave the house at all, let alone get in the car to drive to work where we become outraged by others on the road, and find ourselves wanting to take hostages and shout out a list of our demands… Sound familiar?

Ok. So just because I smeared my mascara while brushing my teeth, I should feel it’s my right to take my frustrations out on others? Nonsense. But it would seem that Bad Day Syndrome strikes without warning. Are we really subject to the ebb and flow of life’s troubling lows and high points just like that? Wow, what a roller coaster. Let’s take a moment to think about this. Does the bad day come strictly from external sources or does it come from within?

If a bad day comes from external sources, that means that stubbing one’s toe, and the like, are certainly cause for one of these days, silly as it seems. If a bad day comes from within, it simply indicates that we are all over worked and exhausted. Forgive yourself for being overwhelmed by life’s challenges. We may need to get more sleep. This way, we can wake up refreshed instead of wishing for another hour or more. And each day is open to suggestion. Yes, we can decide how we’re going to feel. *Ask: How am I going to feel today? *Answer: Generous, loving, joyful, sexy, focused, ambitious, steady, or many of the other good feelings we have within that can trick a bad day into a good day. Now, there is no such thing as good or bad; there is, however, perception. Decide to respond rather than react to days like these. Yes, there will be disappointment from time to time. That’s part of life. Coping with the not so wonderful events does not mean we have to fall into a myriad of other tempting behaviors just because of them.

Here’s a suggestion. Smile. Yes, I said smile. Oftentimes, just the act of smiling will help fool the bad day syndrome away. You may have to start with a grimace, but in time, a smile on your face will seep into your heart. You can start to look at the reality of life, the what is, and begin to accept certain situations. Remember nothing is permanent. You’ll get through it.

My mother has a great smile. I think you’ll think so too. I’m sure she’ll appreciate my having shared this with you because hers is a smile that is absolutely contagious. You see, she started out using her smile when she was young and continues to use it today. I find that just looking at this picture melts my heart. I hope you’ll think of her smile, use your own, and sweep away the bad day for yourself.

Joy,

Cheryl

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When was the last time you pretended to be someone or something you’re not either to impress or fit into the crowd? Perhaps you purchase certain types of clothing or listen to specific music though deep inside each of these makes you uncomfortable. Has your vocabulary changed? Maybe your hair style?

Is your outward appearance more important than what’s inside your heart? Do you value the opinions of others over your own truths?

Time to take a good look at your value system. Sometimes we believe hanging with the “right” crowd will make us better people. You know this is hardly true. Usually, the scenario goes something like this: You’re spending time with someone only to be ridiculed for having your own thought. Initially you are taken aback, but continue to press forward. As time goes on you find yourself watching the things you say, and feel stifled that anything you may say or do will be met with similar reproach.

This is no way to live if you’re to be the free person you are. If the people you spend time with do not allow you to be your best self, it’s better to be without them. Instead, enjoy the company of those whom you do have the freedom to be yourself – The freedom of authenticity. We should never be drones without self worth. Speak your ideas freely, particularly with like-minded people. You’ll find that’s the way to thrive and become your best self. Don’t let others stifle you or your ideas.
You may find true friends as well.

Joy,
Cheryl