Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Toxic Emotions

By Emma Stafford, RN, APN-C, ACHPN, APHN-BC 
Nurse Practitioner

We've all had bad days. Think of a time when you experienced a bad day and try to name the emotion you were feeling. Was it helplessness, apathy, depression, fear, guilt, or rejection? Perhaps, it was more like jealousy, anger, hatred, blame, or resentment. These can all be labeled toxic emotions…toxic because these emotions can be harmful to our health.

Within the first 60 seconds of us encountering a negative emotion, our reaction to it will either determine whether we are going to handle it positively or negatively. Research shows that chronic negative thinking that goes on day-after-day creates stress that can damage the body and mind, resulting in disease. The good news is we have the power to change our thoughts and impact our health.

Try these 5 simple steps to release toxic emotions:
  1. Notice when you are having a negative thought. 
  2. Ask yourself if this thought is serving your higher good. 
  3. If the thought is moving you away from who you want to be and how you want to live, then let the thought go. 
  4. Acknowledge that a thought is just a thought and you have the power to change your thoughts. 
  5. Take time to breathe…breathe in compassion and breathe out the negative thought you want to release. Take another deep breath. Now, notice how you feel. 
Our thoughts are very powerful, they become part of our cells, our tissues, our organs…they become who we are. Do not think that your mind is in charge of your thoughts…it is you who is in control of your thoughts. Choose positive thoughts that nourish and support us and create a more balanced life.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Being A Part of the Journey Towards Health

By Dean Nelson
Owner/Founder, Dean’s Natural Food Market
Guest Blog

None of us know where things will lead. Thus, when my natural food journey started some 20 odd years ago, who knew where it would take me? The initial premise was simple: provide people with nourishing food, free from artificial ingredients and toxic additives, and provide them with genuine warm service--the level of attention and respect every person deserves.

Though those have always been the core basics of our mission at Dean’s, truth be told, the path has taken a much more meaningful direction. I have the privilege of providing people with employment, which means I get to create an environment I believe coaches, inspires, and brings out the best in people. I have the opportunity to shape the work ethic of young people, employ minorities, and show them the respect all people have a right to.

I have the amazing opportunity to serve people -- great people -- who understand the “why” of what we do. I serve conscious people and get to create consciousness for those willing to discover it. Our customers are changing the world. Having the opportunity to play even the smallest part in that is humbling beyond question.

Our success through customers’ support allows us to influence change in the food system. We get to raise awareness about GMOs, encourage food manufacturers to provide better choices, encourage better farming practices, and ultimately, provide food that nourishes the body and spirit.

Most importantly, I have learned that all things are connected. We are no better or worse than anyone else and are but a part of the whole. I have learned there are amazing people in the world. People dedicated to positive change. People willing to make sacrifices for the sake of humanity and our planet.

I for one am blessed to be a part of the journey.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

EFT: A Powerful Tool for Change

By Lisa Sussman, PsyD
Health Psychologist

What if I told you that you have an amazing stress-buster and life-changing tool right at your fingertips that you can learn quickly and use at any moment, as often as you need? YES, you can literally use your fingertips to calm your body down, neutralize intense emotions, link the emotional part of your brain to the rational decision-making part of your brain, reach your goals, and enhance your wellness and happiness! Adults and even young children can easily learn the basics of this self-care and self-regulation strategy, and it can be used in conjunction with other health-enhancing lifestyle tools such as meditation, good nutrition, getting quality sleep, and exercise, to catapult your results.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), or Tapping

I am very excited to tell you about EFT, which is also referred to as tapping. EFT uses a combination of acupressure points from Eastern Medicine and modern psychology from Western Medicine. In its basic form, you focus on a problem or something you want to change while lightly tapping on certain acupressure points, and this gently facilitates the body’s healing (in part through downregulating the stress response) and the ability to reduce feelings, thoughts and behaviors which are getting in the way of you living the life you want to live. While you can tap at home, at work, at school, or anywhere and get good results on your own, you can also work with a certified practitioner who can help you take your tapping to the next level or address a problem or issue that may be more difficult to tackle alone. The research and evidence that tapping and other forms of energy psychology are effective interventions are continuously building. EFT has been studied in over 100 clinical trials, and recently the U.S. Veterans Administration system approved EFT as a “generally safe” therapy. EFT is a safe and effective mind-body treatment and can be a helpful noninvasive, non-pharmacological strategy for many problems.

Personal Experience
I first learned and tried tapping about nine years ago, and the possibilities blew my mind. Since then I haven’t stopped learning, I hold a level 2 EFT certification, and I use tapping every day in my own life and very often with the patients I work with, both individually and in group/class settings. To show you a bit about the variety of issues you can use tapping to work on, I’ll share some of my experiences. When I first learned how to tap, I had been struggling to take off the last 10 pounds of “baby weight” for 5 years. EFT was the missing piece for me, and I was able to shed the weight within a few months and maintain my ideal weight. I also incorporated EFT in helping me to realize my goals of running a half-marathon and completing sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. I’ve taught my children how to tap, and they use it to help focus, boost their performance, calm nerves before auditions, and they’ve even showed their friends how to tap. Teaching people how to tap and seeing their positive responses has been a joy for me over the years. Often patients and class participants feel a difference very quickly in how their bodies and minds feel. Tension visibly eases, and there’s more space between thoughts. I love to see quizzical smiles spread on people’s faces as they tune in and realize that something just shifted. Some have commented that it’s like a short cut to the end of a yoga class when you’ve worked for an hour and then peacefully lie in the restorative Shavasana pose!

Learn how to Tap!
If this resonates with you, and you’d like to learn more about EFT and how to tap, please check the Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine website for our class schedule and contact information at HackensackMeridianHealth.org/IntegrativeMedicine. Register here for my upcoming class on October 12. You can also make an appointment to meet with me at your convenience at our Jackson office.  In addition, if you do not live within driving range to our center, or to quickly get started, there a number of informative websites which provide research articles, information on how tapping works, and free online tapping audios, videos, webinars and podcasts. Some of my favorite websites are www.innersource.net/ep /, www.thetappingsolution.com, and www.tappingquanda.com. Happy Tapping!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Minding your Spirit

By Sara Scheller, BSN, RN, CPN, CCRN
Integrative Health Coach

What part does our spirit play into how we move through our life? Spirit is the essence of our being. It is what lights us up and makes us feel alive. We cannot see it, but we know it is there. Spirituality is not the same as religion but it is in religion; it is the connection to something bigger than us. One formal definition from a group of experts defines spirituality as, “…a dynamic and intrinsic aspect of humanity through which persons seek ultimate meaning, purpose and transcendence, and experience relationship to self, family, others, community, society, nature, and the significant or sacred. Spirituality is expressed through beliefs, values, traditions and practices.” (Puchalski et al., 2014). In an environment overrun by technology and constant stimulation, it is important now more than ever to have a connection to our human spirit because it can keep us grounded, motivated and living our lives on purpose. It can help us feel peace when we cannot answer some of the big why questions we have in our lives. It can help us heal when we are faced with challenges in our lives. So how do we build or improve our connection with our human spirit? Here are four ways to get started:
  1. Practice presence. We are human beings not human doings. Are you taking time to just be?When we are present, we are paying attention to what is happening in the here and now. We aren’t rehashing the past and we aren’t anticipating the future. It is estimated the average person only spends about 10% of their time in the present moment. If you find yourself in this category, start with the simple action of awareness. Are you aware of how often your mind is wandering in conversations with others, while driving in the car, or while taking a shower?When we take time to simply be present, we calm and balance our nervous system which can build our resilience and allow our mind and body to do what it knows how to do best. In doing so, we can tune into our body, mind and spirit, and what we truly need in order to live our best life.
  2. Live life on purpose. Do you know your purpose? Why are you here? Purpose is fundamental; it’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. It’s what keeps us going when times get tough. It may change throughout our lives and even one simple moment can split our path and send us in an entirely new and different direction. When we know our purpose and we make choices in our lives that are aligned with that, we can develop a deeper sense of meaning that can keep our spirit alive.
  3. Get out in nature. Most of us probably spend the majority of our days inside. We are working, the weather isn’t ideal, or we are just too busy to get out. Did you know that exercising in nature can release hormones that make you happier and improve your overall well-being? Fresh air has more oxygen which can help our brains think more clearly. When we can appreciate the beauty in nature, we activate primal regions in our brain. Can you feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your skin and appreciate the unlimited view of the sky? Spending time in nature helps us connect with our spirit.
  4. Find support. Maybe you get in touch with your spirit in your community -- church, synagogue, ashram, or other religious structure or organization. Or maybe you feel more at one with your spirit in conversation with a friend or loved one. Caring for our spirit in this way is fulfilling one of our core human needs -- social connections. While alone time to reflect is also important, we were placed on this earth as social beings. Experiment to find a balance of alone time and together time with people who can support your spiritual needs.

  5. Studies show that spiritual distress often can have a negative impact on health. When we improve our spiritual well-being, it gives us an additional coping strategy to build our resilience and live a purposeful life. Spirituality can be found along the entire illness to wellness continuum; we can use it in times of illness and death, in times of great joy and thriving, or anywhere in between. At Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health and Medicine, we believe in caring for a whole person--body, mind and spirit. We follow a patient-centered, team approach to caring for our patients. Our five pillars of health and well-being include sleep, activity, purpose, nutrition and resilience. Call us for more information at 732-763-7999 or visit our website at HackensackMeridianHealth.org/IntegrativeMedicine.       

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tips on Reducing Environmental Toxins

By Vivian Kominos, M.D., FACC
Integrative Physician 

I thought I was doing a good job protecting the environment: I recycle, grow organic vegetables, try to walk for chores instead of getting in the car, and buy food that is locally sourced. Then I read that my dental floss was toxic! It is coated with PFCs - perfluorinated chemicals. These are man-made slippery compounds that help the floss glide easily between teeth. PFCs are also the substances that are used in many products to make them waterproof, stain resistant and non-sticky. They are found in clothing, cookware, carpeting and furniture that are treated with Gore-Tex, Teflon, Stainmaster, and Scotchguard.

So what is the problem with PFCs? They have been linked to thyroid and fertility problems, immune system damage and hormone instability. So if we are using dental floss, the PFCs can be absorbed in our blood. And when we dispose of articles that contain PFCs, they eventually enter the waterways where they pollute our environment. We are surrounded by many toxins besides PFCs --- bisphenol A and phthalates in plastics, pesticides in fruits and vegetables, and antibiotics in meat, to name a few. Luckily, there are just as many ways to reduce exposure to these poisons.

We each have a responsibility to care for our earth the same way we care for our bodies. Follow these 10 tips to make our homes and planet safer:
  1. Use dental floss that is made with natural fibers, such as silk or flax, which is coated with beeswax.
  2. Use only organic teas. Non-organic teas may contain toxins; the longer you steep non-organic tea, the greater the chance you will be drinking metals and poisons. 
  3. Store food in reusable, lidded glass containers to cut down on plastic, foil and paper.
  4. Recycle paper, glass and appropriate plastics. Do not put paints or electrical appliances in your regular garbage. Instead check with your town to see if they have a special and safe depository. 
  5. Buy local, seasonal and organic food. This decreases the amount of fossil fuels used to transport food. Organic farmers do not use toxic herbicides or pesticides. Shop at farmers markets. 
  6. Use public transportation, share rides, walk or bike when you can.
  7. Eat less animal protein. Raising meat uses more resources than plants.
  8. Turn off lights when you leave a room, unplug electrical appliances when not in use and turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Run the dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads. 
  9. Use environmentally safe cleaning products for your body and your home. Refer to ewg.org (Environmental Working Group) for specific product information. This site has a wealth of information regarding safety in everything from cosmetics to fish to sunscreens. 
  10. Start an organic vegetable garden if you have the space and time. It is easy to grow herbs and salad greens in pots even indoors by a sunny window. And if you garden, use organic pest and weed control products. Look at OMRI.org for a list of products.