Take the Edge Off the Holidays: 6 Natural Holiday Stress Relief Tips

The holidays are usually a joyous and wonderful time of the year for most, but for many of us they can also be very stressful. Whether it’s related to gift-giving anxiety, travel upsets, inclement weather, difficult family dynamics, isolation or overindulgence, this time of year can make us all more susceptible to colds, flu, fatigue, depression and general malaise.

Instead of allowing ourselves to go into hibernation mode as there is less and less sunlight during the holiday season, we pull our coats tight and brave the cold weather, traffic jams, crowds, and long lines to get our gift shopping done (often at the last minute). We stay out late, drink too much, eat too much, and scramble under pressure to complete projects or plans before the close of the year.

Add the pressure of living up to the expectations of family and the inevitable weather-related travel upsets and you’ve got a recipe for major stress.

So what can you do to take a little bit of the edge off this time of year? Here are some tips to help you keep your stress to a minimum and improve your mood so you can enjoy the holiday season with some sanity:

Get plenty of rest. Stay hydrated and remember to breathe … deeply! Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night or make up for lost sleep by taking naps or sleeping in. Lower alcohol consumption and drink plenty of other fluids, especially water, to stay hydrated. And remember to breathe deeply.

Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugars. OK, I know this is a tough one, but it can make a huge difference in how you feel! Refined carbs tend to spike then deplete your serotonin levels leaving you exhausted. So, indulge a little, but try to stick to healthier treats like dark chocolate or seasonal fruits. Balance things out by eating fiber-rich serotonin-enhancing foods like whole grains, root vegetables, beans, legumes, seeds and nuts, along with a little lean protein (turkey or fish).

Load up on Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Research shows a strong association between Omega-3 fats and brain health. Definitely a case of the more the merrier! Your brain needs a certain amount of fat to function properly and remain healthy. but not all fats are created equal. Some of the ones you may think of as unhealthy are actually good for you (in spite of the conventional wisdom), while others that you may have been led to believe are healthy, are actually quite harmful for you due to their high Omega 6 content, not to mention the significant amount of processing that goes into making them. That’s why it’s important to increase you essential fatty acid intake during the winter months and times of high stress like the holidays. You can get your omega 3s from wild caught salmon, walnuts, avocados and chia seeds!

Slow down. Take time to savor and enjoy the rituals of the season. Stay present with yourself and everyone around you and practice forgiveness and acceptance. Remember, you can choose to let go of whatever is troubling you for the moment.

Reach out to others, especially those in need. The holidays can magnify feelings of isolation or loneliness for those who can’t be with family or don’t have family to be with. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and comfort if you are in need. Helping others in need also has a profoundly healing and uplifting effect, both physiological and psychological.

Surround yourself with uplifting and nurturing sounds and smells. During the holiday season it is especially important to surround yourself with soothing and uplifting smells and sounds. Listen to music that makes you happy and calm even if its not holiday music. A great place to start is with one of our Soothe collection of aromatherapy products. The combination of lavender, geranium, clary sage and chamomile essential oils in this blend help you stay calm and grounded, even when things around you are a little chaotic.

If you need a little extra help adjusting your mood try our Inspiration blend with it’s uplifting mix of citrus essential oils –sure to put a smile on even the most stubborn of scowls. If traditional holiday smells stress you out or make you depressed, avoid them as much as possible.

Safe, Natural Alternative Ingredients to Hydrate, Moisturize & Protect Skin: Coconut Oil for Skin Health from the Inside and Out

coconutCoconut oil’s ability to nourish and heal the skin has been known in the tropics for hundreds of years. One need only look to the Philippines to see the first hand evidence of this. Filipinos have been using coconut oil on their skin for generations because they known about its wonderful moisturizing and healing powers. Another interesting thing to consider is that skin cancer in tropical places like the Philippines, where its people are constantly exposed to the sun’s rays year round, is virtually unheard of. This may well be due to their regular use of coconut oil, with its protective qualities.

Most commercial skin care products in the US today are made from polyunsaturated oils, which oxidize and turn rancid very quickly causing free radical damage in the skin. Coconut oil on the other hand has wonderful antioxidant properties that protect the skin from free radical damage. That’s one of the reasons it makes such an excellent skincare ingredient. Of course virgin coconut oil is the purest form and the only one that should be used in formulating skincare products especially lotions and creams.

In addition to its highly moisturizing properties, it also helps to keep connective tissues strong and supple so that the skin doesn’t sag and wrinkle. In some cases it can even restore damaged or diseased skin. The natural oil our bodies produce is called sebum. This oil is very important to skin health because it softens and lubricates the skin and hair and prevents them from drying and cracking. Sebum also contains medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that can be released to fight harmful germs.

While coconut oil applied directly to the skin doesn’t have any immediate antimicrobial action, when bacteria, which are always present on the skin, turn the coconut’s triglycerides into free fatty acids, just as it does with sebum, the result is an increase in the number of antimicrobial fatty acids on the skin, which provide protection from infection. By using a coconut oil cream, lotion or just pure coconut oil you can quickly help reestablish the skin’s natural antimicrobial and acid barrier.

Because coconut oil can help reduce chronic skin inflammation within days and be soothing and healing to wounds, blood blisters, rashes, etc., it’s also an excellent ingredient to use in healing salves and ointments.

If you use coconut oil both internally as a nutrient in your diet, and externally as a skin care ingredient you will reap its numerous health benefits!

The Sunscreen Innovation Act: Are We Finally Turning the Corner?

When it comes to sun safety and sun care products, the U.S. market has fallen far behind Europe in developing safer and more advanced sunscreen ingredients. One of the reasons why U.S. manufacturers have been slow to change and improve their product offerings in this area is the glacial pace that the FDA has taken in issuing new regulations and requirements. It took the FDA almost 14 years to finally update and issue the new, long-awaited rules in 2012 (see my post on this topic for more details: Update on the State of Sunscreens: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same!)

During the arduous wait, the industry just kept doing what it had done before because it could, and because no one wanted to invest time and precious $$ to re-formulate and re-package until they knew what they could continue to get away with and what they were going to have to change. Then when the FDA finally issued the new rules, there was so little by way of meaningful change that the industry has, with minor exceptions, essentially continued to do what it was doing before: making products with ridiculously high and dangerously deceptive SPF numbers; continuing to use many of the same sunscreen chemicals in spite of research showing many of them to be harmful; and adding other ingredients to their formulations like Vitamin A, which is now proving to actually increase your risk of skin cancer!

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been rating sunscreens since 2007, putting together an annual Sunscreen Guide, and each time the report finds that roughly half the products on the U.S. market are unlikely to provide even the minimum level of protection required in Europe. Currently, eight new sunscreen chemicals are under review at the FDA, and six of them have been awaiting a decision for more than eight years. The FDA has never acted on promising sunscreen ingredients that have been sold for years in Europe, Australia, Japan and Canada, limiting the sunscreen options for American consumers.

Well, nothing stokes the fires of innovation like competition! European manufacturers have been toting the fact they have more advanced and safer sunscreens and now Americans want and deserve them too. So last week Congress introduced a new bill called the Sunscreen Innovation Act. If passed, this bill would expedite the Food and Drug Administration’s process for reviewing new sunscreen ingredients while ensuring that it has the authority to keep unsafe products off the market.

Let’s hope this will prompt the FDA to finally get moving and get real about regulating sun care products to ensure more products with safer and more effective ingredients can become available as soon as possible. The Sunscreen Innovation Act now goes to the Senate, which is expected to take it up in September. You may want to start writing or calling your representatives to urge them to take this issue more seriously and vote for the bill

Everyday Items You’re Probably Allergic to and Don’t Even Know It …

According to WEBMD.com 55% of the U.S. population tests positive to one or more allergens. The estimated annual cost of allergies to the health care system and businesses in the U.S. is $7,900,000,000.00

Crazy huh? More than half the U.S. suffers from some type of allergy and that statistic is based on just the allergens we have tests for –the things that have already been identified as common allergens. It doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of all the myriad chemicals in our everyday items that may be causing allergies or making them worse.
If people really knew just how many chemicals they’re being exposed to through their everyday items and how that exposure is contributing to their allergy misery they would run out and get themselves a hazmat suit for some cover!

I know that sounds a bit radical but the research and evidence are overwhelming for anyone who is willing to take a hard look at what’s going on with the cumulative effects of using products made with these toxic ingredients. The real culprits are the ones that get into our body either by being absorbed through the skin or inhaled into the lungs. From there they get into our bloodstream and end up hanging around because our bodies don’t know how to properly metabolize and eliminate them.

This chemical residue that remains behind is sometimes called a Body Burden. The greater your Body Burden is, the more damage it does to your body in the long run. It causes inflammation that can be similar to the inflammation you get when you have allergies, which is why it’s usually overlooked as a possible source. It also weakens your immune system which makes it harder for you to get rid of your allergies and a lot of times it paves the way for your allergies to turn into something more serious like sinus infections, bronchitis or even asthma or eczema.

The good news is that by simply making safer choices you can radically reduce your exposure to substances that might trigger or worsen your allergies. Having healed myself from over a decade of chronic allergies, asthma AND eczema, I am living proof it can be done. But the first step to addressing any health challenge is simply creating awareness of what may be causing it, or otherwise interfering with your body’s ability to resolve it without the need for medication.

If you suffer from chronic allergies, or know someone who does then it’s vital for you to pay attention to the hidden toxins in your everyday items and start by getting rid of them or switching to healthier alternatives. In my next post I’ll be exploring 3 everyday items that we often use when we go camping, or throughout the summer season, that are suspect.

Easy Birth: A Conversation About Childbirth Choices

Hope you were able to attend last Thursday night’s call –our Holistic Pregnancy Tele-Summit Grand Finale call. It was an interesting, enlightening, and informative panel discussion offering different perspectives on all the various choices for childbirth. I can hardly believe it’s been a week already! I am SO grateful to our expert panelists: Laura Shanley. Author of Unassisted Birth; Sheila Kamara Hay, Ecstatic Birth Advocate and Rena’ Koerner, Founder of Integrative Childbirth Services, Doulas for Surrogacy, and the Lullaby Lounge, for bringing their energy and wisdom to this final call in the series.

Here are some of the highlights from that call in case you missed it:

Laura emphasized that giving birth is inherently safe and relatively painless provided a woman doesn’t live in poverty, and does not interfere either physically or psychologically. It’s important to not “over-think” the birth process. Connect to your inner strength, believe in your body’s ability to give birth without interference and always remain calm. That’s how Laura was able to give birth to her four now grown up children without any assistance even though each birth had some form of complication including a footling breech!

Sheila shared the story of how she moved from a traumatic birth with her first child to a Zen-like birth with her second child followed by an ecstatic birth with her third! She emphasized the importance of connecting with your body and its inner wisdom and asking it what it needs, to know how to do this for yourself. Her ecstatic birth was triggered by her mid-wife’s suggestion that she move around. After her mid-wife left the room, she turned on some music and started to dance and danced that little girl down through her body and out. She now believes that dance is one of the most sacred paths from maidenhood to motherhood!

Rena’ explained the importance of having a Doula that supports you wherever you are in terms of the type of birth you desire, the place and the care provider — without judgement. She strongly believes that pregnant women and their birth partners should invest the time in educating themselves by taking birth preparation classes so they can really be prepared in advance and not get thrown off by the stress and pressure that can come up during childbirth. She recommends laboring at home in a safe, private place for as long as possible to avoid the all too common pitfalls of unnecessary interventions and medical interference.

There’s still time to take advantage of our limited time special discounted price for The Holistic Pregnancy Tele-Summit: The Complete Recordings. You get unlimited access to all 6 Natural Self Care & Childbirth Training Calls as downloadable MP3s files that you can listen to any time and as often as you like PLUS multiple FREE bonuses including a variety of gifts from our speakers. Go to www.dropwise.info for more details and to purchase your copy now. But hurry … prices go up at the end of the month.

Don’t forget to join the continuing conversation on our Facebook Group: Holistic Pregnancy and Natural Childbirth

Easy Birth: Addressing the #1 Fear Most Pregnant Women Harbor

Great call last night with Debra Pascali-Bonaro! She confirmed what I’ve suspected all along: the way a woman gives birth has the potential to change how she feels about herself forever. The way she feels has consequences for how she mothers and cares for her baby. Babies are also affected emotionally and physically, and over the long term, by their birth experience, and it has consequences for a woman’s other relationships, as well as for society.The creator and director of the documentary film Orgasmic Birth, knows what she’s talking about and when Debra speaks, people listen. She made it very clear that birth CAN be a profoundly sensual, sexual, and spiritual experience. When women agree to feel their labors, the flow of oxytocin will increase which is beneficial to both mother and the baby before and after birth. But in order to enable an orgasmic birth, a woman has to feel safe and open to surrender –something that doesn’t often happen under the watchful eyes of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel.Tomorrow is the final call in the Holistic Pregnancy Tele-Summit series and I said I saved the best for last so it should be a good one. I’ve got a panel of birthing experts with different perspectives lined up for a lively discussion about childbirth choices and what you really need to have a successful and pleasurable childbirth experience whichever method of delivery you choose.

Our distinguished panel consists of:

Laura Shanley — author, freelance writer, speaker, and childbirth consultant widely recognized as one of the leading voices in the natural-birth movement. A new and expanded edition of her book, “Unassisted Childbirth,” with a forward by physician and homebirth advocate Michel Odent, was released in 2012. Laura maintains a website dedicated to natural childbirth: http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com. Her work has been featured on ABC News, “20/20,” “The Doctors,” BBC, Discovery Channel, Disney, The New York Times, Reuters, and The Washington Post. She also works with women on a one-on-one basis, providing them with childbirth education and emotional support before and during pregnancy.

Rena’ Koerner –owner and founder of Integrative Childbirth Services and the Lullaby Lounge –a Southern California based place where families can come for education and proper support beginning with childbirth classes, baby classes, exercise and nutrition, all the way through the postpartum period, with special emphasis on addressing postpartum mood disorders. As a trained and certified Childbirth Professional for over ten years, Rena’ has had the pleasure of serving over 350 families. She co-founded Doulas for Surrogacy with partner Darla Burns to offer support to all triads. Her goal is to bring knowledge and compassion to both clients and students. She continues to stay abreast of the latest research as it pertains to fertility, pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. She has sat on the Board of Directors for local, state and even national organizations, so she could spread the word of choices in childbirth.

Sheila Kamara Hay is the creatrix and visionary behind Ecstatic-Birth.com. She fiercely desires to share with women that childbirth is not something they must endure, but something they can enjoy. As a mother of three, Sheila has experienced firsthand a range of births — from the traumatic to the ecstatic — and has advised and inspired countless women in the creation or reclamation of their births. Sheila serves on the board of Choices for Childbirth, a not-for-profit organization that raises awareness among expectant mothers about their options for childbirth. Sheila has worked closely with leading women in the fields of birth and pleasure, including Dr. Christiane Northrup and Regena Thomashauer (of Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts). Sheila loves cracking wide open her worldview of what’s possible in life and passing that knowledge on to other women.

These three birth professionals are passionate advocates for childbirth choices and bring an interesting and eye-opening perspective on the subject!

In this final session, we’ll be talking about:

    • The pros and cons of different delivery methods

 

    • Answer your questions about how to prepare for a pain-free birth

 

  • Tips and techniques you can use to make the most of your birth experience whatever you choose

We’re going LIVE at 5PM Pacific/8PM Eastern tomorrow, Thursday June 6th. Don’t miss this very important call – your last opportunity to learn how you can remove the fear from childbirth and turn it into a joyful, ecstatic experience as well as the best options and tips for doing it from women who have been there and done that! It’s totally FREE and there’s still time to register and attend the call! Even if you can’t make it to the call you will have access to a replay for a few days afterwards, but only if you register!

If you’re pregnant now, are planning to become pregnant, work with pregnant women and want to better support them through this journey, or know anyone who fits any of these criteria, please share this with them and encourage them to register at: http://www.dropwise.info.

Orgasmic Birth: Can it Really Be This Good?

The Final Week of The Holistic Pregnancy Tele-Summit has begun and we’ve saved the best for last! I’m excited and honored to be interviewing our expert Debra Pascali-Bonaro for tomorrow’s eye-opening call: Orgasmic Birth: Can it Really Be This Good?

Debra is one of the founding mothers of the “doula” movement. She has been a doula for over 25 years, and has trained thousands of doulas and birth professionals around the world in the practices of gentle birth support. After attending more than 400 births over more than two decades, she believes most births can occur with less technology and interference and that childbirth is a process to be enjoyed and cherished.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro is the creator and director of Orgasmic Birth: Nature’s Best Kept Secret, a documentary that examines the intimate nature of birth –an everyday miracle– and the ways in which our current system of care during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period disrupts the normal rhythms of birth and causes a myriad of other problems.  Debra is also the co-author of the book “Orgasmic Birth, Your Guide to a Safe, Satisfying and Pleasurable Birth Experience” which goes beyond the film and turns the information into a helpful guide.

Debra’s work has been featured on ABC’s 20/20, The NBC Today Show, Discovery Health, in The New York Times, The LA Times, The UK Times ands numerous parenting and health magazines.

We’ll be talking about:

  • Why having a joyful, ecstatic birth is so important to you and your baby’s long term health and wellbeing

 

  • The relationship between sexuality and birth, how orgasm can transform your birth experience and why societal taboos around feminine sexuality keep a lot of women from having this experience

 

  • How to consciously create a birth environment conducive to having a joyful birth no matter where you choose to have it

 

  • Having a natural vaginal birth after having a C-section in a prior birth (VBAC) and how to have an orgasmic birth experience after having had less than satisfying prior birth experiences

 

We’re going LIVE at 5PM Pacific/8PM Eastern. Don’t miss this very important call!

If you’re pregnant now, are planning to become pregnant, work with pregnant women and want to better support them through this journey, or know anyone who fits any of these criteria, please share this with them and encourage them to register at: http://www.dropwise.info. It’s FREE and there’s still time to register and attend the call! Even if you can’t make it to the call you will have access to a replay of it for a limited time afterwards, but only if you register!

Look and Feel Your Best Without Compromising Your Baby’s Health

Hope you’ve been enjoying all the insight and wisdom that’s being shared on these Tele-Summit calls. This evening is our 4th call in the series: “Look and Feel Your Best Without Compromising Your Baby’s Health.” I’ll be the resident expert for today’s session and I’ll be talking about something very important –-the hidden health threats to your baby from the personal care and beauty products you use! Some of the things I’ll cover on tonight’s session:

  • Startling new research about ingredients in mass-produced personal care products that may pre-dispose your baby to obesity (among other serious health problems!)
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  • The top 10 ingredients you MUST avoid to keep you and your baby safe and how you can find out if the products you’re using right now may contain them
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  • Using Mother Nature’s Rx: Essential Oils to safely address some of the most common pregnancy-related complaints

Much of what I’ll be sharing on tonight’s call applies to you whether you are pregnant or not, but becomes even more important when you are or planning to be. There’s no better time than now to take inventory of the products you currently use and toss the ones that are bad for you. Come join me and learn how to become a more conscious consumer so you can stop exposing your baby to hidden threats from toxic exposure while learning how to identify and choose safer, more effective natural alternatives.

We’re going LIVE at 5PM Pacific/8PM Eastern. Don’t miss this very important call!

If you’re pregnant now, are planning to become pregnant, work with pregnant women and want to better support them through this journey, or know anyone who fits any of these criteria, please share this with them and encourage them to register at: http://www.dropwise.info. It’s FREE!

Re-cap of Holistic Pregnancy Tele-Summit Session on Post-Partum Blues with Dr. Diana Hoppe

We had another great session last night in The Holistic Pregnancy Tele-Summit series, with Dr. Diana Hoppe! Awesome call on an important topic that pregnant women need to know more about!Here’s a quick recap and my “Cliff Notes” in case you weren’t able to join us last night  . . .

    1. Some of the typical physical changes women experience immediately after birth are triggered by hormones, which can lead to vaginal dryness and perineal pain which can make sexual intercourse difficult and painful. This is normal and usually only lasts for a couple of weeks but it’s important to communicate honestly with your partner about how you’re feeling without experiencing guilt, and to acknowledge them so they don’t fell neglected or displaced by the baby. Interesting research shows that male partners experience hormonal changes during this time that makes them inclined to be more supportive of their partners so don’t overlook this opportunity to ask for the support and understanding you need!
    2.  

    3. Some of the typical emotional issues that present during the post-partum period are:
      • Feelings of guilt over what happened or didn’t happen during the birth
      • Overwhelm exacerbated by lack of sleep
      • Fear of not being a good enough mother

      These are normal and constitute what is more commonly known as post-partum “blues” which is different and far less severe than post-partum depression

    4.  

    5. There are a number of natural solutions for managing and improving the symptoms of post-partum blues but it’s important to pay attention to more severe symptoms or prolonged duration of symptoms as these could be an indication of post-partum depression or in extreme cases, post-partum psychosis. If you think what you’re experiencing is more intense than the typical post-partum blues then please see your doctor –you may need treatment to keep it from becoming a longer-term condition.
    6.  

    There’s still time to register and access the audio replay for this call, which includes instructions on how to claim your FREE copy of the chapter from Dr. Hoppe’s book that discusses changes in libido after birth.

    If you’re pregnant now, are planning to become pregnant, work with pregnant women and want to better support them through this journey, or know anyone who fits any of these criteria, please share this with them and encourage them to register at: http://www.dropwise.info. It’s FREE!

Post-Partum Blues: Managing the Transition to Motherhood

Today marks the start of WEEK 2 of The Holistic Pregnancy Tele-Summit. Our speaker and resident expert for our 3rd call in the series is Dr. Diana Hoppe, distinguished OB/GYN, clinical researcher and author of “Healthy Sex Drive, Healthy You: What Your Libido Reveals About Your Life.”  

Our topic for tonight is “Post-Partum Blues: Managing the Transition to Motherhood.” Pregnancy brings with it a lot of physical changes and emotional challenges, especially post partum. If it’s your first time, there’s also the added anxiety that comes with the shifting roles you and your partner may experience in anticipation of becoming parents. This can put a strain on your relationship with your spouse or significant other, challenge your ability to communicate clearly and support each other in this transition.  In this session you will learn how to enhance intimacy while dealing with physical limitations during pregnancy and post-partum, and how to maintain healthy communication to ensure you have the emotional support you need during this journey and beyond.

What we’ll be talking about:

  • The physical and emotional changes to expect immediately after giving birth
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  • What post-partum depression is, what causes it and how it typically manifests
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  • Natural ways to improve symptoms and deal with communication and intimacy issues with your partner
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  • How to know if and when it’s time to seek treatment and what are the best options

We’re going LIVE at 5PM Pacific/8PM Eastern. There’s still time to register and get onto this call. If this subject interests you then please register now. Even if you can’t make it to tonight’s call you can still access the audio replay up until midnight pacific time on Thursday, May 30th.

If you’re pregnant now, are planning to become pregnant, work with pregnant women and want to better support them through this journey, or know anyone who fits any of these criteria, please share this with them and encourage them to register at: http://www.dropwise.info. It’s FREE!