Just Breathe…

breathe

Living on Canada’s west coast surrounded by trees, I was more concerned about daughter’s year-round hay fever and the air quality in my home. I thought about outdoor air quality in the abstract, but never about how it directly affected me or my family. It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives.

This past summer was a wake-up call.  “Summer 2017 has been B.C’s  worst wildfire season on record, & as of Sept 28, more than 100 fires are still burning.”  Many communities have been impacted, like Williams Lake, 100 Mile House & the Elephant Hill fire, near Cache Creek & Ashcroft. The smoke affected the air quality near the fires but it also affected air quality in different areas throughout the province.  One day this past summer, I was outside in the middle of the afternoon, everything was hazy, the air felt thick, & it was hard to breathe.

I have never thought much about breathing other than if I had a chest cold or sinus congestion. From the moment of our birth, our body’s  “autonomic nervous system” controls our breathing; we don’t even have to think about it. Adults breathe anywhere from 12-20 times per minute. If you do the math, (which I did), that adds up to 17,280 – 28,800 breaths per day (depending on your fitness and/or stress levels). While we can’t-do a lot about outdoor pollution personally (well other than voting in governments that have strong environmental protection plans, writing letters/ petitions to your MP or MLA, and recycling! Sorry that was just a little rant), we can do something about the air quality in our homes.

Things you can do:

  • Get rid of chemical cleaners, laundry detergents, fabric refreshers, and Synthetic Room Sprays/ Plugins.
  • Avoid using Incense & candles with synthetic fragrances, or at least limit their use and get some ventilation into the room. (I am finding that these 2 things really bother me.)
  • Go more natural with your Personal Body Care Products. There are a lot of products available, but educate yourself & read the labels to find the best ones. (No one in my house is allowed to use a certain type of Body Spray because it affects my breathing.)
  • Air out your home frequently. Many manufactured items in your home will continue to off-gas to some extent. Older homes were drafty so this wasn’t as much of a problem, but newer homes are more airtight so it is important to open some windows periodically, especially during the winter months.
  • Consider getting some plants in your home. NASA calls plants part of “Nature’s Life Support System”. Peace Lilies, Spider Plants, English Ivy & Weeping Fig plants are a few to consider; they are fairly hardy & are thought to help with air quality due to the photosynthesis process.

And you can also use Aromatherapy in your home. When using essential oils, cheaper isn’t better, quality is. It is important that you find a reputable supplier that sell pure, hopefully, organic &  unadulterated oils; that your suppliers know where their oils come from & they share all the important information with you. (And if someone wants to sell you “100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils, know that this is a registered trademark of the company. There is no organization that oversees the quality of essential oils.) At a minimum you need to know:

Continue reading “Just Breathe…”

Heads Up!

First Posted April 2017

headacheI have had headaches & migraines since I was a young teenager. Each year approximately 45 million Americans suffer from headaches. (That is 1 in 6 people). One of the reasons I got interested in Aromatherapy was because I was taking a lot of OTC pain relievers to help with my headaches and they weren’t working all that well; I was also concerned about the long-term effects of pain reliever usage on my stomach. I decided then, that I wanted to go a different route, to manage the ongoing pain that I was experiencing.
With our busy lifestyles, our daily stress can cause a lot of different physical symptoms which can include, you guessed it…Headaches. (Other causes of headaches may include certain foods, air pressure as well as anxiety, lack of sleep, and dehydration). It is important to take the time to manage your stress and to understand your headache and/or migraine triggers.

There are different types of Headaches:

Tension Headaches:
With a tension headache, you tend to feel pain as well as the pressure across your forehead and at the back of your head. You may also find that your neck and shoulders muscles get really tight too.

Migraine Headaches:
If you have ever had a migraine, you know how painful they can be. The main symptoms are feeling the pain on one side of your head, seeing spots or having a sensitivity to light as well as nausea. The duration & symptoms may vary each time you experience one.
Migraines can be triggered by everyday things like stress, foods, too much or too little sleep, hormones, and certain smells.

Sinus Headaches:
If you have had a sinus headache, you will recognize how the symptoms differ from that of a tension headache. Usually, you have some form of sinus congestion, either from a cold, allergies or a sinus infection. While symptoms may vary (You may have a stuffy nose, a cough, or be sneezing) you will definitely feel some form of facial pain and/or pressure.

Hormonal Headaches:
A lot of women have experienced hormonal headaches at some point in their reproductive life. Women who experience PMS may have headaches as one of their symptoms. Dips in hormone levels (Especially estrogen) may be the cause. Hormone headaches can also happen during pregnancy as well as perimenopause & menopause.

TMJ Headaches:
You can get a headache if you clench your jaws either when you sleep, are stressed or if you grind your teeth. There may be pain in your jaw, the Temporomandibular joint, as well as the side of your head. ( Talk to your dentist to get more info.) Continue reading “Heads Up!”

Don’t worry, it’s just Anxiety.

First posted February 2017

Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday. ~Author Unknown

Most people use the term “stressed out” as an umbrella explanation for what is going on anxietywith them. What may be causing some of the confusion is that while stress & anxiety share similar symptoms, the causes are very different.

“Psychology Today” defines stress as, “Simply a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium.”  According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, “Anxiety is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things. The fear of the unknown & the uncontrolled situations in life & and the worry about how to handle it.”

What Causes Anxiety?
It has long been thought that brain chemistry, heredity, and environment may contribute to causing anxiety and anxiety disorders like Panic Attacks, OCD, and PTSD.

Brain Chemistry: Because symptoms of anxiety tend to be helped by medication, experts have long believed that brain chemistry may play a part in triggering anxiety. There are also contradictory studies that state that this is not the case. These findings definitely need more research.

Heredity and/or Genetics: While there is evidence that anxiety runs in families, research is showing that it is because of the handed down behavior and thought processes rather than the genetics themselves that is causing anxiety. Children often witness the ongoing anxious behavior of their parents, which they learn to model.

Environment: There are findings that suggest that people who come from challenging backgrounds are more likely struggle with anxiety. Poverty, as well as traumatic events like abuse, the death of a family member, witnessing violent events, or natural disasters, can trigger anxiety. More research and resources are definitely needed.

If you have anxiety you will find that in your everyday life, anxiety tends to ebb and flow. Some days you are doing ok, some days you are doing really well, and then you get triggered by a person or an event and your anxiety is back… sometimes a little or sometimes a lot. Managing your anxiety, for most people is an ongoing process. Don’t be hard on yourself because you think that you can’t keep it together. Being angry at yourself actually, makes your anxiety worse.  In times of stress and anxiety, we tend to revert to familiar behaviors; so, try to come up with strategies that will help you to manage your anxiety, as well as get you through your more challenging days. Continue reading “Don’t worry, it’s just Anxiety.”

Working towards Gratitude…

With the New Year, there are lots of blogs about releasing negative patterns and feeling canstockphoto19853169Gratitude all over the internet.  Everywhere you look on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook, there are well-meaning yogis, life or fitness coaches who #hashtag about gratitude. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but what if all of this gratitude stuff isn’t resonating with you right now?  Before you dismiss me as being all negative, let me explain…

If you have been going thru a transition, whether by your own choice or not, it can bring up a lot of different feelings and some of these may be the ones that No One Wants to Talk About…THE NEGATIVE ONES!!!! (Cue the music here).

Positive or Negative, feelings are just that, feelings. I find that it is better if you don’t attach judgment to them. Repressed feelings can keep you stuck in the past and prone to repeat old patterns. Some will repress their feelings in the name of positive thinking. This can make it hard to move forward, to embrace passion in your life, as well as feeling GRATITUDE. I agree with author Christiane Northrup, who says “With spiritual practices becoming very popular, so too is the practice of taking a “spiritual bypass” to avoid dealing with painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs.” 

Painful feelings can actually be a gift in disguise. They are often clues that give you insight into what is going on in your life. If you are feeling resentment, maybe you are constantly putting everyone else’s  needs ahead of your own. If you are feeling restless, it may be time to make a change. Sometimes you can have mixed feelings about an event; this is okay too. It is possible to be happy and sad at the same time.

Taking the time to honor your feelings is an important part of self-care. Sometimes an interaction or an event can trigger a feeling; when this happens, take a moment, and do what you need to do to help yourself feel and possibly understand where the feeling is coming from. Sometimes when we feel pain, we shut ourselves down to try to cope. All this does is lock the pain inside us. Take time to find tools that work for you. These tools are helpful as you move thru a painful time and can help you start the process of healing. Continue reading “Working towards Gratitude…”

Sleep Part 2 – What’s keeping you awake

First Posted July 2016

5635160When it comes to sleep or not sleeping, I’ve had years to figure out what does & doesn’t work for me… I’ve tried the herbal teas, the vitamins, meditation, the warm baths, Melatonin & almost every tablet in the health food store. Some work for awhile, & some don’t work at all.

I find what keeps me awake can change from night to night. Most of the time it is my busy brain that is keeping me up. But there are other things that can keep you awake too. It may be restless legs or leg cramps.  And then there’s the big one… SNORING!!! And in the morning have you ever woken up with a sore jaw from clenching or grinding your teeth?
Because essential oils have so many different properties, they are a big help when you find yourself sleepless wherever you are & for whatever reason…

When Using essential oils at bedtime, try using an electronic diffuser, a room spray or smelling salts for inhalation.These methods work well for insomnia. Also, have a few different types of essential oils on hand so you can switch them up because after awhile, you can get used to them and they aren’t as effective. And keep in mind, everyone responds differently to essential oils, so what works for me, may not work as well for you. That being said… Continue reading “Sleep Part 2 – What’s keeping you awake”