Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Happy Gut Holiday Stress Tool Kit to Your Rescue

Paula-Tursi

Dear friends of Happy Gut,

As we approach the final crunch before the holidays and the end of the year, I asked my friend, colleague, and yoga teacher, Paula Tursi, how she keeps her calm during this stressful time of year. Here is her tool kit, which I know as a practitioner of mind-body medicine, will help you get through these last few days of the year with a smile on your face.

In health,

Dr. Pedre

***

How Breathing (and a few other tools) get me through the Holidays!

The holiday season is a stressful time, without question! Even if you love your job, your spouse, your children, and all your family members beyond words, you will still feel stress building at some point during the holidays–whether it’s unmet expectations, preparing to host a party, or having to spend it with the in-laws.

Don’t we all feel increased pressure to get all the shopping done and still have “fun,” while putting on a bright smile through it all?  In anticipation of all the year-end, to-do’s, last year I felt the stress coming on as early as October!  That was when I decided to try and do things a little differently.  I used time-honored stress “fix-it” tools I have acquired throughout the years.

Here they are for you to try:

1   The Embrace It Tool

What if you accept things as they are, perfect or not?  The holidays can be very commercial, and they can be full of obligation, but they also offer an opportunity to delve deep into the meaning of the season.  The holiday season is a time for reflection. It’s a time to meet with old friends and get out of your day to day. You get to break out of your life’s patterns.  However stressful stepping out of your routine may feel, you can change that by re-framing it in your mind. Be present. Embrace each moment as a special one to be cherished with family and friends. Take in this celebratory time of year.  Get excited about being social and doing things a little differently.

2  The Meditate Tool

One of the routines I make sure not to break during the holidays is my meditation routine. I ground myself  every morning with at least 5 minutes of meditation.  That gives me focus and clarity and a guaranteed few moments of stillness before the chaos of the day begins.

This is a simple way to do it: 1) sit on the edge of your bed or on the ground in lotus pose with your pelvic bones supported by a small bolster pillow, 2) clear your mind, and 3) quietly focus on your breath, before you do anything else.  This morning meditation routine makes for a kinder transition from sleep to wake, and the slow breathing will stimulate the calming part of your nervous system.

3  The Breathe Tool

Even when using these tools, there are still moments when life gets ahead of me. In these times, I turn to my breath.  When you get angry or anxious your breathing pattern changes, and you get into a cycle of negative thoughts and/or feelings. For instance, everyone can relate to holiday stresses, for example, when the person in front you in line has a cart full of items and a different coupon for each one!

Instead of losing your cool, take advantage of the “extra time” and practice conscious breathing.  By this I mean, without trying to control your breath, take notice of how long your inhale is, then your exhale. After a couple of rounds of this, try to extend your inhale beyond your exhale. For example, inhale for 6 seconds, then exhale over 4 seconds. It’s likely that by the time you are done with this breathing exercise, the irritating coupon shopper will also be done!

4  The Gratitude Tool

The last and most useful tool is gratitude.  During the holidays, when I get upset that I have too much shopping to do, or I just can’t take another social gathering, or my sister is really driving me nuts about this gift thing– I sit myself down again and think about how lucky I am to have the health and friends to celebrate this time of year with.  I remember less fortunate times and feel my heart expand just a bit.

Take a moment, and find something you are grateful for. Breathe in that gratitude, and all the feelings associated with what you are appreciating in your life. Maybe it’s the smell of your favorite dish cooked up by your grandmother, the smile someone gave you while walking down the street, or simply admiring the beauty of a sunny day. Let that moment take over all of your being.  Become one with your gratitude.  Take it into your heart, then feel it expand into every cell in your body.

I  hope these 4 tips help you find peace and joy during this holiday season.

Wishing you love and light and a moment to breathe,
Paula

***

 Read more tips from the Happy Gut Life team here!

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How to Make Space to “Keep Calm + Carry On!” During the Holidays

 8-dr-pedre-yoga-class
Hi All,
The holidays can be a time of high stress, overeating, and late nights for many of us. By the time January rolls around, you’re picking up the pieces and asking how you can get started again on a path to wellness.  But, why wait?  So, I asked my yoga teacher, Janet Dailey Butler, to come up with strategies on how to make it through the holidays with zen-like balance.
CARRY ON,
Dr. Pedre
***
Janet:  Even as a yoga teacher dealing in “calm”…I don’t like to be told to “Keep Calm and Carry On” especially during the holiday season!  This particular phrase feels like a command to me, telling me to not acknowledge my feelings.  So how do we make space for feelings, healing and the “carrying on” of the holidays?
As we move into the holiday season, maybe we can find tenderness towards ourselves and our feelings first, before extending that to our loved ones and friends.  That might mean that we do less, and “in-joy” more. Maybe, we give ourselves a break this year, and instead of coming up with the perfect gift, we spend quality time with our loved ones.  My most cherished moments with friends and family have never been about gift giving.  I believe we all want to feel loved, seen and heard.
Here are my gifts to you, two simple breathing practices to help you bring back the calm, instead of forcing it, and a video on the “three-point breath” at the end.
***
As a wellness practitioner, what I have found to be of great benefit to my health when I am feeling anxious and wound up about what might happen or what just happened is to stop and bring my awareness to my body and to my breath, and to notice my emotional state.
Try this simple breathing practice:
Placing your hands on your heart and your belly, acknowledge the present moment. Tune into your breath, but don’t judge or try to control it — just observe. Acknowledge where you are at with some tender loving kindness.  Witness where stress lives within you and breath into it.  Then, as you take your next exhale, release a little bit, let go of it, and on your next inhale feel your chest expand.
It seems so simple, but I have found that breath work is the key to make a palpable shift emotionally within minutes.  It is not a magic wand that wipes your stress away in one swoop, but more like a “dear friend” that simply listens and is there for you without judgement.  The mind follows the breath.
 
Here’s another favorite:  The “Three-Point Breath” is one of the most simple and effective ways to ground yourself in stressful times.  It has been a powerful component of my stress management toolkit for years.  Click here for a link to a video that will show you how to do the three-point breath.
Quality time seems to be one of the best gifts I can think of this year to give to my family and friends. So, when the rush of the holidays overtakes you, remember to slow down, breathe, and connect with your community.
May Love, Light and Peace surround you all this holiday season.
Janet
Learn more about Janet and the Happy Gut Team here.

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Sugar & Dairy Pumpkin Lattes Move Over! A Happy Gut Solution is here!

Cleanse Tea Tumeric Ginger

CLEANSING TURMERIC AND GINGER TEA

Contributed by Lee Holmes, author of Heal Your Gut

MAKES 1 cup

Why should all the pumpkin-latte drinkers have all the fun this Winter?  If you crave a warm, sweet drink without all the harmful effects of sugar and dairy, this healing and cleansing tea is perfect.

Turmeric is not just a sunny bright spice to curry up dishes, it’s also commonly used in Ayurvedic and Unani medicine. You’ll love this cleansing tea with its alkalising and detoxifying properties which provide powerful anti-inflammatory action within your body. Turmeric is a superhero ingredient to help heal and prevent dry skin, slow aging, diminish wrinkles and improve skin’s elasticity. Indian women use turmeric as a facial cleanser and exfoliant.

Want to know more about the harmful effects of lattes on your brain, heart and stomach, with their double the amount of recommended daily sugar? See below the recipe for a chart and an informative article.

Meanwhile, try this, you and your body will love it!

WF  DF  GF  SF  VEG  VG
Servings: 1 cup
Prep time: 5 min

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened almond or hemp milk

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

6 drops stevia liquid (optional)

1 cinnamon stick (optional)

Step 1:

Add the almond milk to small saucepan and heat gently until it is warm.

Step 2:

Add the turmeric and ginger to a mug.

Step 3:

Pour a small amount of warm milk into the mug and stir to create a liquid paste, ensuring there are no lumps.

Step 4:

Add the remaining milk and sweeten with stevia (or a bit of raw honey) as desired.

Tip: Enjoy as a post-dinner aperitif on cold winter nights. Add a cinnamon stick for its warming, grounding, and soothing effects.

Now about those effects from lattes you are avoiding? Here’s a chart from Yahoo Health and the link to The Guardian article.

Pumpkin Latte

Here’s the article in the Daily Mail, and here’s to your health with this Happy Gut tea alternative!