Thanks to PTSD, I’ll Never Be a Hero

Thanks to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, I’ll never be a hero.

I want to. I’d like to think that I’m a person of action, and that if I witness a dangerous event I’ll jump right into rescue mode. I’m a nice woman, and I like helping.

But I can’t. Trauma keeps me from moving. Trauma keeps me frozen in place, dissociating myself from reality, stuck to the floor in cement boots.

I taught English for 11 years, so looking back, I’m glad the topic of “disaster response time” wasn’t a job interview question. I wouldn’t have passed to the next level of interviews, that’s for sure.

I remember once when I worked at a middle school, a substitute teacher passed out in a classroom down the hall from me. I heard students running down the hallway, calling for the nurse. I peeked my head out the door, knowing I needed to check and see what was going on, knowing I needed to respond. But everything started moving in slow motion. I heard cries, I heard the words “CPR,” I saw others in action. But I was frozen. I couldn’t move.

I was chained to the past.

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I was 9 years old again, listening to the cries of my mother and grandmother as they try to revive my dying grandfather. I hear my grandma shout “No Freeman!” I watch him falling out of the car to the sidewalk and onto my front lawn. I watch them get out an epi pen, perform CPR, yelling for help.

I watch his eyes roll back.

Continue reading “Thanks to PTSD, I’ll Never Be a Hero”

How Food is Mood – Interview with Ali Miller, RD

Ali Miller is a registered dietitian, integrative functional medicine practitioner, and author of Naturally Nourished, The Anti-Anxiety Diet, and The Anti-Anxiety Diet Cookbook.

In this episode we discuss the concept of food as mood, how neurotransmitters play a role in gut health, and how your stress response affects your overall health – from mental wellness to reproductive function to immune health.

She explains the 6 approaches she takes to restoring our bodies to their rightful state, how to biohack our bodies and create metabolic flexibility – and simple tools to reducing panic and anxiety during times of stress.

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Key topics covered in this episode:

  • Blood sugar regulation is key to balancing mood.
  • The imbalance of our stress response in the HPA axis and how “the body has to feel safe to do well.”
  • Reduce inflammation, reset the microbiome, repair the gut lining, restore micronutrients, rebound the adrenal glands, and rebalance neurotransmitters.
  • What excessive screen time does for our dopamine.
  • How 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut and why probiotics can be nature’s Prozac.
  • Breath is the most powerful way to harness the HPA axis and how to use mantras.
  • How she uses a strategic ketogenic approach with her clients and the reasons it has been beneficial for so many of them.

To download and listen to the full episode, click here. For the link to iTunes, click here.

To learn more about Ali and her work, head to http://www.alimillerrd.com or check out her podcast at http://www.naturallynourishedrd.com.

 

 

Mom Life During a Pandemic: How We Can Best Support Our Kids’ Mental Health

I don’t have to remind anyone that the last few weeks of this pandemic and period of social distance have been unlike anything experienced or seen in our lifetime. My work schedule has been interrupted, my husband’s work schedule has been interrupted, our social life has disappeared, and my kids are completely thrown off. Field trips were cancelled, basketball season has been delayed, and school went online until…when? Do we even know? Dates spin in and out of my head, fighting for the return of normalcy. Is it April 9th? 21st? Or do we wait for the 30th to resume prior activities? I can’t even keep track.

This kind of disruption and uncertainty is difficult for me. Change of all kind is hard for me, especially as one who fights to stay mentally stable. I get the opportunity to verbalize that, share about it with my friends (via phone or text only, of course), and have long discussions with my husband.

My kids, however, don’t know how to express their fear or anxiety as well. For them, it comes out in misbehavior, aggression, moodiness, hyperactivity, tearfulness, or even closed off apathy. That is developmentally understandable. As their prefrontal cortexes are still developing, it is difficult for them to access emotions or positive decision-making when they are in fight or flight mode. A stressful trigger, like being told they can no longer see their friends or go to school, is going to take a toll on their bodies. Stress hormones get ramped up, contributing to more fear and anxiety that is difficult to process. Chronic stress can also affect the immune system and its function.

This is true for adults as well. Even though we have the luxury of developed brains, it is still difficult to access our frontal lobe and respond appropriately to hardship when we are faced with extreme stressors.

So what is the solution?

It starts with us.

Continue reading “Mom Life During a Pandemic: How We Can Best Support Our Kids’ Mental Health”

Healthy For the Holidays

Here I go, adding to the noise in cyber space to try to tell you what it means to be healthy during the holidays.

img_1244But seriously – this is an important time of year to take care of ourselves – body, mind, and soul.

Rule number one: Take care of your stress load. This is a great time of year to exercise your “no muscle.” Don’t try to do it all. Stress weakens the immune system, shuts down proper digestion, and wreaks havoc on our health.

Start a gratitude journal. Get outside and move your body. Play with your kids. Breathe. Eat your colors. Minimize your screen usage (and social media). Do the things you WANT to do, not the things you feel you HAVE to do. This is supposed to be a season of joy, not a season of obligation.

In the latest episode of Sparking Wholeness, I chat with my friend and fellow health coach, Melissa McGaughey. We discuss our top tips for staying healthy during the hectic holiday season. Click here to find it on iTunes, or here to find it on my show page.

How to Raise Emotionally Resilient, Confident Children In Today’s Stressful Environment

Parents and teachers and anyone who works with children – you’ll want to tune in to this episode! While it seems as if children are experiencing more mental challenges than ever before, there IS a way to get to the root of those challenges.

dr sandy gluckman circle headshotSpecial guest Dr Sandy Gluckman has made it her mission to get to the root of child behavior. She is not in favor of ‘managing’ the symptoms children have.  Instead she removes the symptoms by finding and healing the underlying root causes. She is a learning, behavior and mood specialist, author, educator and international speaker who has consulted with and trained thousands of parents and teachers in different parts of the world. She presents a fundamental and highly effective shift in understanding how to treat and heal learning, behavior and mood challenges, preferably without medication.

She is the author of Parents Take Charge: Healing Learning, Behavior and Mood Challenges Without Medication and Who’s in the Driver’s Seat: Using Spirit to Lead Successfully. She also authored a chapter in Mission Possible and has published extensively in parenting, education and business journals. She is a frequent speaker at healthcare, parenting, education and business conferences.

In our conversation, she discusses neurotransmitters and their role in emotional resilience, the science of interpersonal neurobiology, and what parents and teachers can do to raise confident children. Her solutions are surprising yet encouraging.

For more information on Dr. Gluckman and the services and resources she offers, click here.

Find the link to the episode here or on iTunes. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Sparking Wholeness podcast to stay up to date on all the latest episodes!

“You Can Make a Difference in How You Feel” – Interview with Dr. James Gordon

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. James Gordon, Harvard trained psychiatrist, Director for the Center for Mind Body Medicine, and author of the new book, The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma.

Our conversation blew my mind on many levels. Not only is Dr. Gordon an expert on dealing with trauma, he gives practical steps for addressing trauma that anyone can do!

What follows is a short transcript of the interview highlights, but the full recording can be heard on iTunes here or my show page here Continue reading ““You Can Make a Difference in How You Feel” – Interview with Dr. James Gordon”

Is What You’re Eating Stressing You Out?

Stress. We hear about it all the time. It’s in our daily vocabulary. We feel the weight of it constantly.

What if I told you that the food you consume is stressing your body out and making things worse?

It sounds crazy, right? When I think of stress, I think of a busy schedule, too many commitments, big life events or tragedies, etc. I don’t think of an internal response. However, the food you eat has a major impact on your stress hormone: cortisol.

nature animal wilderness head
I’m more flight than fight, looking at this!

Cortisol is the fight or flight hormone. The purpose of it is actually a good thing! It is supposed to protect your body during times of stress. Imagine living in the wild and a mountain lion is approaching. Cortisol shoots through your body through the adrenals (hello, adrenaline!) in order to increase glucose for energy to ward off the attacker. Your heart rate increases thanks to epinephrine and you’re able to store fat needed for the fight. After the mountain lion has been killed and the situation is resolved, your body returns back to its normal state. All is well.

Here’s the problem with our current diet. When we eat lots of sugar and refined or simple carbs, our blood sugar is frequently crashing, signaling to the body that we’re under attack and need an increase of cortisol. So glucose is increased and fat is stored. This is super taxing on the adrenals, because due to the carb-sugar cycle we are always in, our adrenal glands are ALWAYS shooting out extra cortisol, way more than was intended in human design. Our cells soon become resistant to cortisol. What does this lead to? Inflammation, a poor-functioning immune system, type 2 diabetes, fertility issues, inability to lose weight, cancer, thyroid problems, depression, chronic fatigue…the list goes on. Continue reading “Is What You’re Eating Stressing You Out?”