How To Find Inner Clarity And Use It To Stick To Your Long Term Health Goals

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Last winter I attended a wonderful medical conference in which I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Terry Wahls speak.

She is so impressive, with the amount of medical experience, knowledge and wisdom she possesses… particularly in the field of autoimmune disorders and how diet impacts our body’s health.  Visit her website here if you are interested in learning more about that.

That’s not what I loved most, however.  The part I loved most was when she talked about helping patients get clear on why they even want to do the work of healing in the first place.

She walked us through how to help patients become really clear on why they are willing to work for their health, because that same motivation will get them through sticking with their healing plan even when discomfort arrises.

Even when cravings hit, or physical therapy is hard, or addictive urges arise. Almost all healing plans — from diet modifications to exercise goals to more dramatic things like recovering from surgery or completing rehab… almost all depend on your ability to stick with the plan even when it gets uncomfortable.

Knowing why you want to do the healing work is exactly the reminder you need to stick with it even when it gets hard.

If you find yourself not following through on your health goals — whether you start and then stop different diets, or pledge to go to the gym and then quit, or if you’d like to be more diligent about grounding daily but never can seem to find the time, or you are having trouble breaking your addiction to your smart phone and find yourself checking social media so much more often then you really have time for… this advice will help you.

I loved it so much I made a video about it for you right here.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed when Dr. Wahls spoke about it:

 

How To Find Inner Motivation For Long Term Health Goals:

 

 

Click the image below to watch the video on my YouTube channel:

 

 

 

Now that you have clarity on why you want to do the healing work, maybe you can already call to mind a difficult health related decisions that you are going to have to make in order to do the healing work.

I’ve got you there too.

I attended a medical conference called “Transforming The Future Of Medicine,” and there were lots of great topics presented… but one of my favorites was a simple decision making tool that I thought was so good, I wanted to share it with you here.

Although this was presented as a great way to help guide patients in making difficult health decisions, it could really work for any decision you are facing that feels overwhelming.  And let’s face it, there are so many huge, daily changes in the world that require huge, important decisions to be made, and lots of overwhelm to be had, day in and day out.

So today, hopefully, I can help make one of the tough choices you are facing a little more approachable.

I created a free printable worksheet for you to help walk you through it.  Simply print it out and then click the 9 minute video below and I will personally talk you through filling it out.

Clarity, ease, a sense of relief, a meaningful choice that actually excites — instead terrifies — you into moving forward…  that is my goal in sharing this with you today.

 

 

 

If you love it, feel free to save this worksheet as a file on your computer to use whenever you like, forever more.   Print out as many copies as you want, whenever you want.  Or bookmark this blog post and I’ll keep this link active on my website indefinitely.

And be sure to share this blog post with anyone you know who is facing a big decision and could use a little support.

After you’ve run through it a few times, you won’t even have to write anything down… it will become second nature.  It’s a very easy acronym that you can easily remember and think of any time, any where, and it can help you make basically any decision on earth:

 

The acronym is BRAIN:

B = Benefits (what are the benefits?)

R = Risks (what are the risks?)

A = Alternatives (what are the alternatives?)

I = Intuition (what does your intuition say?)

N = Nothing (what if you do nothing?)

 

Let me explain it to you in the video below — just hearing it one time will allow you to always have it in your mental toolkit to use whenever you need it.   I guarantee if you run through this exercise just one time with me today, you will remember it forever.  In the future, you’ll be able run through the acronym in just seconds, without ever writing a single thing down.

And again, be sure to share it with any loved ones who are making difficult decisions too — we could all use a little more support.

 

Created for you, with love, from me.

xoxox, Laura

 

 

 

Click the image below to watch the video on my YouTube channel:

 

 

 

And again, if you watched the video first and are now ready to print out your worksheet, here it is, waiting for you:

 

 

Optimism Literally Improves Your Body’s Health, 10 Ways To Boost Your Outlook Today

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I really enjoy providing content that is uplifting and encouraging, and that is because I know that feeling encouraged literally boosts your physical health.

Here are a few healing articles you could start with that I’ve written in the past to uplift you, if you need a little boost today:

 

Outlook has a larger impact on your health than you probably know.

There have been several major medical studies that show the major, physical, measurable impact that a negative outlook has on our brain and body.

  • Like this one, published in Neurology on May 28, 2014, that found that a high level of cynical distrust — for example, believing that no one cares about you or that it’s not safe to trust others — is associated with a three times higher risk for dementia and a 40% increased risk of death over those with the lowest levels of cynical distrust.
  • Or this one, published in Neurology on Oct 1, 2014 which found that being easily worried, anxious and stressed in midlife was found to double the incidence of late-life Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Or this one, that suggests much of the poor health outcomes of obesity is actually due to shame from being overweight, as opposed to from the actual weight itself.  This is totally unnecessary, there is an incredible wealth of medical research showing that having a higher BMI is actually advantageous to longevity, as I go into detail here.

And the opposite is true too.  Not just that negative outlook harms the health of our brain and body, but that positive outlook actually protects it.

  • This medical study, published more recently in 2020, found that optimism literally reduces stroke severity and is associated with improved clinical outcomes.
  • And this one, from 2017, found that optimism reduces mortality in all causes, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, infection and more.
  • And this one, from 2019, found that elderly folks who were optimistic improved their rate of remaining free of major chronic diseases as well as maintaining good physical functioning and having no cognitive decline by 24%.
  • And this study, from 2015, found that elderly folks 85 years or older actually increased their lifespan, living on average 5 years longer, if they had a higher morale.

 

 

Hope, it turns out, is actually health protective.  

The problem is, it’s much easier to remain positive and have positive expectations during times of relative peace and happiness in life… but it’s damn hard to have a consistent basis of hope when an unexpected life change, diagnosis, world event or traumatic incident shakes your very foundation.

But you can do it.  Here are 10 ways to restore your sense of hope:

 

10 Ways To Help Restore Hope:

 


 

 

1. Reconnect with nature:

 

If you are feeling utterly overwhelmed, all you have to do is walk out your front door, step out of your office, or stop driving and step out of your car.  To reconnect with nature is to reconnect with the bigger picture and instantly release pent up frustration, tension, anger, anxiety and fear, restoring hope.

Whether it’s just a few deep breaths as you sit on a patch of grass, taking a walk through a local park, or standing outside at night looking up at the stars… reconnecting with the wonder of being a human being standing on a rock that spirals through space and seeing the earth for the vast support network it is can’t help but lift your spirits for the better.

Taking even one minute to surround yourself with the power of nature has a way of creating a perspective in life that is real, is powerful, is strong.

The power of nature can hold even your worst of days and remain an immovable source of strength.

Don’t believe me?

The next time you are having a panic attack, or a pounding headache, or a knot of worry grow in your stomach, just go outside.  Get out there.  Don’t force anything, just start walking and let nature work its magic.

If you need more than just your own personal experience to truly believe that touching the natural world outside helps boost your health, hop over here to read over the past 25 years of medical literature on the science of grounding:

 

 

Prefer a book?

I wrote an uplifting, inspiring guide detailing for you exactly how grounding supports your inner resiliency, strengthens your physical health, and even boosts positive mindframe and spiritual wellness.  Then I filled it with thousands of ways to get that support from nature, no matter where you live (even in a city it’s super easy to get grounded outside!) and no matter what the weather is like.

It’s available as an audio book, a physical paperback, and a kindle version as well. 

I’m so heart warmed, as I take my after dinner stroll through my neighborhood, to see so many folks going on after dinner walks too, or riding their bikes, jogging, shooting basketballs in driveway hoops, gardening, washing their cars, etc…

Outdoor activities are great, but go outside even if you don’t want to be active.  If you have limited mobility due to medical conditions, or just want to relax when you are outside, still get outside daily.

It can be as simple as a few deep breaths taken outside every morning.  Or at night, taking a hot cup of tea outside and looking up at the stars and moon, when the rest of the world is shut up tight at bedtime, is wonderful for clearing the mind and grabbing a few minutes of beautiful fresh air.

 


 

 

 

 

2.  Focus on feelings instead of thoughts

 

I was told recently that life was *easy* for me because I was a positive thinker.  I almost fainted, because I am so far from a natural positive thinker it’s not even funny.

As an anxious person my entire life, I was extremely pessimistic and worried as a child.  I’m still anxious, but no longer as pessimistic.  I didn’t change this by “positive thinking” — that’s for sure!

I typically can not find a positive thought when I’m worrying about something, so I consciously switch over to reaching for a more positive feeling.  Sometimes all I can find is a way to make me feel just a little less angry. Sometimes it’s all I can do to find a way to feel just a little less impatient.

What I am reaching for, every time though, is a slightly improved feeling.  That’s it.  I don’t even like the idea of *positive thinking* anyway, because positive thinking is usually fake… something you try to convince yourself of when what you are really feeling is crappy.

Authentic feelings… authentic crappy feelings, are infinitely more powerful to me than fake happy ones.  I don’t mind mucking around in a dismal funk for long stretches of time.  I don’t mind letting it show.  I don’t feel the need to apologize for being human and even being snippy or impatient or rude at times.  If I’m feeling it, I’m going to show it.

No… what I have learned and taught myself to reach for isn’t positive thoughts… it’s positive feelings. There will always be a thought that knocks you down… we can’t control those, they come, that’s life… but we can stop believing in them all the time and instead of focusing on our thoughts, focus on our feelings.  I don’t try to put fake happy chipper thoughts into my head and try to cheer myself up — that is instant disaster. Positive thinking just makes me feel like one more thing I’m not doing right, when I’m not feeling well and I try to cover it up with positive thoughts.

Instead, I try and come up with a million different alternative thoughts or actions I can genuinely believe in, and then I feel around for which one makes me feel better.  Usually, I try to move towards  sense of relief.  Examples of thoughts that move me towards a better feeling, a feeling of relief, might be “I feel like a hot fudge sundae and I’m going to get one after work.” Or maybe “I am going to choose to be pissed off right now because it *feels* better then trying to cheer myself up, and that’s ok for the next 15 minutes!” Or, “I am taking myself way too seriously here… I need to crank up some music and just dance.”

Often, I can’t find a thought that helps me feel better, so I reach for a better feeling through action — taking a bath… laying on the earth… painting a picture… making a cup of coffee… texting a friend to vent… going on a brisk walk… drinking a big glass of water… crying for 15 minutes on the floor of the shower… all of these actions, at one point or another, have helped me choose a better *feeling*.

Eventually, selecting your next step based on how you FEEL will be so easy it will be second nature.  Even though I don’t always choose a positive thought… I do usually do the work of reaching for a more positive feeling.  I’m no longer okay with letting my thoughts run away with me and me doing nothing to clean up my act.

And what I have found is that it has gotten easier and easier.

  • What used to take me an entire day to turn around, now takes an hour.
  • What used to really push my buttons before, doesn’t even have the power to push them any more.
  • What used to bring me down into the doldrums for a week might give me an hour or two of wanting space instead.

Very rarely do I ever reach the depths of the darkness I used to be taken by over and over in the past.  Even in those darkest moments, I  now know that a negative thought or feeling is just that — a temporary experience.

And I can reach for a slightly improved feeling even when I can’t find a slightly improved thought.  Focusing on feelings instead of thoughts helps.  Any little bit helps.

 


 

 

3. Focus on Spirit:

 

This is something shown over and over again in the medical literature — the power of prayer to  improve clinical outcome (like reducing pain, enhancing recovery after cardiac surgery, even helping substance abuse recovery) and the power of spirituality to support general wellness (like boosting physical well being, increasing functional well being, and decreasing physical symptoms in cancer patients) is well documented.

The surest way I know to alleviate stress and suffering is to find a deeper spiritual meaning in it.

Whether it’s through mediation or mantra (read my blog post here on how to do this — it’s so easy!) personal prayer, asking friends and family to pray for you, joining online or in person spiritual groups, downloading spirituality apps that will send reminders to your phone, or reading books that align with and strengthen your sense of spiritual presence… cultivating a deeper sense of spirit surrounding and supporting you is such an important way to alleviate stress.

The divine support system is around you, whether you are able to feel it or not.  I’ve painted many paintings over the years to help reminds us:

 

Calling on the power of prayer and connecting with a universal reservoir of love is an instant boost that strengthens your resiliency and changes outcome, no doubt about it.

Need some more inspiration?  I really loved the book:

Man's Search For MeaningMan’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl.

He is a concentration camp survivor who writes beautifully about how the people who survived these horrific conditions were not the strongest, or youngest, or even the healthiest… they were the ones who found meaning in what they were going through, even in the pain itself.

Finding a deeper, spiritual meaning in what you are going through is — in and of itself — enough to sustain you.

 


 

 

4. Leverage the power of music throughout the day:

 

My kids will tell you that if I am really grumpy, all we have to do is hop in the car and turn on the radio and within a few songs, all of a sudden I don’t feel so hopeless.  In fact, I feel optimistic and grateful and filled with a similar sense of wonder and possibility that I feel when I spend time in nature.

The power of music to wash through you and lift you is amazing.

This is how powerful music is: if you play music that holds special meaning to a patient experiencing memory loss, they can recover context and depth and recognition in the form of long term memory recall while the music is being played. (watch this fascinating trailer for Alive Inside to see this happen!)

Playing music that is personally relevant to a patient has been shown to:

  • increase communication skills
  • increase long term recall
  • increase activity level and energy level
  • increase social function and engagement
  • decrease high blood pressure
  • improve mood
  • reduce pain levels
  • enhance sleep

So if you are feeling stressed or depressed, especially if you can not leave your current surroundings to a new change of scenery,  slip on some music and allow it to sweep through your soul and lift you higher.

Music is an invaluable tool for self-soothing and decreasing anxiety and depression rates.  So play music out loud and use it to connect with everyone in your family — seniors through the youngest children — everyone can benefit!  Take turns playing your favorite music, having a family dance battle, or creating playlists for different times of the day.

Music is universal and can meet you wherever you are.

 


 

 

5. Ask for help:

 

I know, I know, nobody wants to do this and especially at a time when everyone is facing huge challenges, it can be tough to ask someone to help you out.  But bonding together, even — and perhaps especially — during the bad times is a game changer.

Of course the typical advice to ask family and friends for simple, actionable things that will help you stands (for example, ask your neighbor to pick up some cereal for you at the store, ask your sister to meet up with you to have a coffee and talk, asking your old friend to text you every morning when you wake up so you don’t feel so alone, etc…) but people are also willing to help you out even if they don’t know you yet.

Do a search to find contact information and call your local support groups, local food banks, local ministries, local disaster relief and emergency financial assistance (to help pay bills,) join online support groups or enroll in private online counseling, all from the comfort of your own home.

I know I didn’t fully realize how many people I had, providing back up support in my life, until I went through a personal crisis. Some of my most meaningful sources of support during a very overwhelming time in my life were from people I had never ever met before, like the manager at my local bank and the complete stranger who came to pick up the furniture I got rid of as I let go of everything.

If you are having a stressful crisis, ask for help.  Ask your neighbor, ask your family, ask your friends.  And even if you have none of the above, go out into the world asking for help to show up — find online support, go to your bank and ask to speak to the manager, go to the grocery store and ask to speak to the manager, contact your local utility companies and ask for help, go to the thrift shop or the park and simply make friends with the person standing next to you.

Angels are out there waiting to embrace and help you every single day.

 

 


 

 

6. Create a symbolic fresh start:

 

A symbolic fresh start during times of stress can help you move on towards healing and help usher in new, positive and hopeful energy instead of feeling stuck.  For me, this meant that I literally moved and relocated my life.

But even if it is impossible to literally move, you can go through your entire home with the idea of bringing in fresh energy:

  • freshen up the plants in each room, repot and water them, add new plants if you don’t have any
  • rearranging whatever furniture you can
  • clean your living space, room by room, and declutter along the way
  • adding a mirror or two to help reflect light around the space
  • burning candles of light in the evenings to help create a new warm glow in old, dark and depressing spaces
  • go outside to take a deep breath of air
  • lighting a smudge stick or burn incense or run a aromatherapy diffuser in your home
  • ring a bell or strike a chime while setting a new intention for the space you are in
  • move your body to increase circulation and flexibility — find a yoga or stretch video (countless free ones are waiting for you on YouTube right now) to get your body unstuck.

No matter what you do, do something to break the illusion that you are stuck.  You are not stuck.  You are a new person every single day and every moment within that day.

When our physical surroundings don’t change, especially in the midst of great turmoil, you can get caught up in the illusion that your situation is permanent and hopeless. This is not so… there is always an ebb and a flow of energy through every situation no matter how unchanging it appears on the surface.

The illusion that things never change can mentally hold you in a place of worry.  Release this by making small changes to your living space, changing the energy of the room you are in, physically leaving the space you are in for a breath or two, or using candles/incense/smudging/bells/chimes/lighting/a new plant… or simply move your own body in a new way, through new yoga sequences or stretches… whatever it takes to feel the energy shift in your space and remind you that nothing… NOTHING… stays the same forever.

 


 

7.  Get sunlight daily:

 

Medical studies back me up on this one… it’s important to get sunlight every single day.

If you are going outside grounding daily (see tip #1, above) this will be a win-win situation!  But for those that are not drawn to grounding for their health, at least be sure to get some form of sunlight.

Sunlight actually prolongs life span, in a dose dependent way (meaning more time in the sun = longer life span.)  I blog about this extensively in this article I wrote for you on getting safe sun exposure — it’s a must read.

To more safely get that sun exposure daily, aim for at least 10 minutes during non-peak hours — that’s before 10 AM or after 4 PM.  Wearing a hat to protect your face and sunglasses to protect your eyes is also a good idea.

Some routines you might consider, to get those ten minutes in at the start or end of your day, is: sitting on a porch, balcony or front door stoop every morning and every evening, eating picnic lunches outside mid-day, observing which of the windows in your home are sunny and at what time of the day there is a sunbeam and sitting in those precious light rays while drinking your morning coffee, your evening tea, while working on your computer like I am doing right now, or while reading a good book, etc…  even going for a drive counts — be sure to roll the windows down and enjoy!

 


 

 

8. Increase Gratitude & Compassion:

 

This is a no-brainer — one of the gifts of going through suffering is that you can witness and hold other people’s suffering so much more fully.  Compassion and gratitude for the journey and knowing that others have made it through similar, and even worse, ordeals can really help instill hope to your own journey.

As contrary as it sounds, topics that would have felt dark or depressing during easier times can somehow feel powerful and empowering now. For example, during our own harsh life changes, the kids and I dove deeply into WWI and WWII studies, reading Anne Frank’s diary and having long, meaningful discussions about suffering and triumph… those felt incredibly moving and fortifying to us.

Knowing the darker side, leaning into it, persevering through it, witnessing with compassion what others have gone through… all of these things make traveling your own dark night feel less lonely.

If you feel inspired to reach out and help others you witness going through a hard time, you are actually boosting your own health, regardless of if you are getting any support in return.  It turns out that it is the giving of social support, not the receiving of social support, that really benefits your health, at least as far as your brain is concerned, according to this medical study, published in 2019.

And compassion for yourself is just as important as compassion for others.  One recent medical study, published in 2021, found that greater self compassion is actually heart healthy, with folk who have higher self compassion having significantly lower rates of subclinical heart disease.

One of the simplest ways to increase compassion for yourself and gratitude for your journey is also one of my favorites, and as a bonus it helps me fall asleep (the topic that’s coming up next!)  All you do is, as you close your eyes to fall asleep for the night, run through the day in your mind’s eye.  Specifically look for moments you had — even if it’s just one — that you were glad happened.  And when you find that moment in the day, pause mentally and just say to yourself  “I’m grateful for that.”

That’s it.  Even on a really horrible, tough, gut wrenching, miserable day, there are singular moments that happened in your favor or helped strengthen you to get you through.  Something as simple as eye contact with someone who smiled at you.  Or chancing into a food that was previously out of stock in the store.  Or hearing a bird outside your window singing to remind you that all is well in the world.  Or finally carving out time to take a warm bath.  I go chronologically through my day and pause here and there to say “I am grateful for that.”

I generally find I have fallen asleep before I’ve gotten to the end of my day and caught up with my own self, laying in bed that night in my “daily rewind.”  Try it and see if you enjoy this nightly practice too.

 


 

 

9. Deepen Sleep:

 

If you find your hope is gone and you are have difficulty figuring out your next step, sleep on it.  Sleep actually can improve outcome by getting negative thinking out of the way.  There are several medical studies that confirm this — this one suggests that you continue to problem solve even while you are unconscious, and this one suggests that you actually improve outcomes when you make big decisions using the unconscious mind, instead of consciously thinking about it.  Making that list of pros and cons to make a big decision?  It doesn’t help.  If you don’t have an immediate positive feeling about one of your choices, try sleeping on it instead.

Here are some general guidelines to help deepen your sleep, helping you to wake up with a brighter outlook the very next day:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
  • Have daily exposure to natural light first thing in the morning, or use a light box,
  • Get regular exercise each day, preferably in the morning — a daily walk is perfect
  • Take probiotics every morning
  • Ground your body to the earth outside for at least 15 minutes during daylight hours
  • No caffeine or other stimulants after 3 pm
  • Take melatonin at dusk, even if dusk is several hours before you will head to bed — melatonin needs to be taken as the sun sets, not right before bed
  • Wear blue light blocking glasses after dinner
  • Stop screens (phones, laptops, television) for 1-2 hours before bed
  • Soak in a nightly bath with Magnesium Flakes in it
  • Drink a cup of magnesium drink mix, or take magnesium gummies
  • Keep bedroom temperature at 70 degrees or cooler (68 degrees is ideal)
  • If you wake in the night, take 1-2 chewable L-theanine supplements

For instant access to the probiotics, melatonin, magnesium and L-theanine supplements I trust, that I personally use, and that I recommend most to patients, click right here to see my Sleep Repair Protocol:

 

 


 

 

10.  Add body work.

 

The feeling of worry and stress and anxiety is often the stress of energy that is accumulating in the body without release.  I know I personally feel this as a ball of pressure right in my solar plexus, but it’s different for everyone.

Irritability, crying, headaches, diarrhea, nausea, tension, muscle stiffness, decreased or increased appetite, weight loss or gain, insomnia… often these all represent energy that just needs to be released to make room for the natural healing process and health/hope to return.

If you are feeling stuck and in need of physical release, do any or all of the following to help assist your body in letting go of the internal tension that is keeping you from feeling positive:

  • deep stretches
  • yoga
  • guided meditation
  • long walks
  • massage — foot, neck and hand massages are all massages you can do on your own body to release tension
  • heat (hot water bottles are the best!) over tense areas
  • water (in the form of showers or baths, as well as increasing hydration by drinking lots of water!)
  • orgasm
  • acupuncture
  • qigong
  • tai chi
  • reiki
  • deep tissue massage
  • physical therapy

 

I really hope this list of 10 things you can do to improve your state of mind, boost your hopefulness and increase your feeling of health — even in the middle of great personal and global stress — is helpful to you and a blessing of some new ideas to consider.

Offered with much love…

xoxox, Laura Koniver, MD

 

How To Discover Your Play Style, And Use It To Improve Your Health

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Play is not only a relief and a respite from the seriousness that stress, illness and trauma bring to our lives, it is actually therapy.   Play time is therapeutic time, point blank.  Child psychologists use this healing tool often, because play is a child’s way to express and release any inner turmoil or fears that the child doesn’t even consciously know they have.  

But it isn’t only therapeutic for children, it’s therapeutic for adults too. In fact, I would argue that engaging in some form of play daily is one of the best things you can do to safeguard your physical health. 

From physical play (whether through dance, playing a sport like golf tennis or bowling, painting, playing a musical instrument, bird watching, hiking, you name it!) to mental play (such as crossword puzzles, chess, sudoku, reading and discussing books, watching plays, learning a new language, etc…) many studies have proven there are mental and physical health benefits from time spent in play.

Just look at the animal world — play is huge!

 

 

 

A study published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology in 2001 on animals and animal behaviors found that the size of the brain of the animal species is directly correlated to the amount of time they spent playing (per body ratio) and a higher complexity of play. 

So animals that had small brains engaged primarily in feeding and other survival behaviors, while larger brained animals spent more time in play and they play the engaged in was more complex.  This applies to humans as well!  We have huge brains compared to our body size and we are meant to spend time in play.

Another study found that play behaviour, not tool using, relates to brain mass in a birds.

These researchers found that brain mass in birds correlated to how playful their behavior was… but not correlated to their ability to use tools to complete tasks.   It seems it is play that warrants a larger brain, not problem solving or task completion.  Social play was associated with both the largest brain mass to body mass ratios and with the longest lifespans of these birds.

 

 

The medical literature in humans is just as clear — play can help save your brain and protect your health, even lengthening lifespan.  One recent study show that being playful, doing crossword puzzles, taking a new route home, enjoying long walks, exercise, traveling, having new experiences and learning new skills, exploring new artistic avenues of expression, and continuing to learn throughout a lifetime drops Alzheimer’s rates by 64%, just by learning new things and being playful and being interactive and retaining a sense of plasticity to the brain. 

Play keeps the brain young and actually helps to prevent dementia… and it’s never too late to begin.  Taking a class on photography, learning a new language, joining a book club, so many ways to learn and grow and play can be done almost any where and at any age. 

A study published in Neuroscience Letters in 2003 showing that play stimulated neurotropic growth in several parts of the brain.  As Dr. Stuart Brown says in his book Play, “when we stop playing we start dying.” But I would say the reverse is also true, when we start playing, we start living!

 

 

 

 

I know that at times of great stress in my life, it was ever more crucial for me to have avenues to release that stress.  For example, during medical school anatomy class, when we were dissecting human cadavers — a process that was intensely uncomfortable and psychologically stressful —  I relished my time spent playing intramural soccer, and I also picked up a paintbrush and painted my first painting on a canvas. 

A large study published in Leisure Sciences in 2014, backs up my experience.  They analyzed students in rigorous educational paths from three different universities, and found that the more playful the student was, the more successfully they coped with the high levels of stress.

Play may also be brain protective as we age.  The Journal of the International Neurophysiological Society published a study in 2011 that showed simply doing crossword puzzles was enough to significantly delay the onset of memory decline. And Geriatrics and Gerontology published a study in 2019 showing that almost all forms of playtime activities prevent cognitive decline (some examples were: reading, playing board games, music, art, handicrafts, crossword puzzles, even learning computer skills) and that activities that involved intellectual stimulation and communication was particularly effective.

 

 

 

Physical play, activities that gets your body moving and reduces sedentary time, has been shown to decrease the risk of death, prevent the development of certain cancers, lower the risk of osteoporosis, and ultimately increases longevity.  

The European Journal of Humour Research published a study in 2013 showing that the more playful an adult was, the higher they rated their physical and mental well being.  As you intentionally welcome play back into your life, you’ll notice that through play your optimism, your smile, and your sense of humor returns. So it’s very important during times of increased stress to specifically carve out space in your life to allow for play.

When you give yourself time to play, it gives your body a time to repair and recover.  Play gives you a period of time where stress hormones can decrease, for you to relax and shift out of stressful mind-frames, and even release unhealthy coping mechanisms.

In fact, replacing unhealthy coping mechanisms with play can actually keep your brain plastic and flexible, ward off mood disorders, and even strengthen your relationships with others (if you choose play activities with a social component.)

A study published in 2008 in Therapeutic Recreation Journal found that leisuretime activities were so powerful in helping to cope with stress that they recommend incorporating play and leisure activities into a therapeutic healing plan.  

A study published in Leisure Sciences in 2013 found that the more playful an adult is, the lower their levels of stress were and the less they utilized negative, avoidant, or harmful coping mechanisms.

While there are so many stressors in life that you can’t control, one thing you can do to bring more satisfaction and well being into your life is to prioritize play.  So be intentional about creating welcoming a time for play into the structure of your daily, weekly and monthly routines.  It’s important to have space for things you actually enjoy!  Pare down stressful obligations to make space for activities, whether mental or physical, that you truly enjoy.

Here are three steps to help you invite more play into your life:

3 Ways To Become More Playful:

 


 

 

 

1.  Figure Out Your Play Personality

 

Need help remembering what brings your inner child out?  Read through these different Play Personalities below to help you discover… or re-discover — what activities might bring you joy. 

Remember back to childhood as you circle the play personality that is closest to your play style growing up.  Then read through them again and put a check beside the one that is your play style now.  Under this list are a few simple follow up questions to get some insight into activities you might enjoy bringing into your life right now!  These are the play personalities suggested by Stuart Brown, M.D. in his book: Play, How It Shapes The Brain, Opens The Imagination, and Invigorates The Soul.

Play Personalities:

  • The Joker: primary enjoyment is being class clown, practical joker, goofy fun, going for the laughs
  • The Kinesthete: enjoyment comes from pushing physical limits, feel the result of movement and often enjoys play in the form of physical competition
  • The Explorer: enjoyment comes from discovering the world, searching, traveling, researching, understanding, experiencing
  • The Competitor: enjoyment comes from play centered around winning games, keeping score, outwitting others, interaction, usually very social
  • The Director: enjoyment comes from planning and executing events and interactions, relationships, satisfaction from a job well done
  • The Collector: enjoyment comes from obtaining objects or experiences, either alone or with groups, enjoys social interaction and clubs based on common interests
  • The Artist: enjoyment comes from making things, creating things, experimenting with different forms of expression, color, decor, visual arts
  • The Storyteller: enjoyment comes predominantly from imagination and expressing the imagination, written word, spoken word, communication

 


 

 

 

2.  Use Journal Questions To Inspire More Play

 

Questions for reflection:

  1. Do you have the same style of play personality now that you did as a child?
  2. Growing up, when did you feel most free to do what you wanted to do, and what did you choose to do during those moments of freedom?
  3. Do you do anything similar to this in your life, in any form, right now?
  4. Are there new hobbies or interests that appeal to you as an adult?
  5. Do you make time to do them?  Why or why not?
  6. Do you feel more free to play with your spouse, with your family, with a child, with a pet, with your friends?  Which relationships in your life allow the most room for play and fun?
  7. Are there new elements of play that you would like to begin to incorporate into your life now?
  8. If you had to pick a physical way to play, a physical movement for your body (i.e. taking a walk, dancing, tossing a ball with your dog, playing team sports, etc…) which would be the most fun for you?
  9. If you had to pick an intellectual way to play (i.e. playing a board game like chess,  drawing, discussing a book in a book club, learning a new language, etc…) which would be the most fun for you?

 

Commit to carving time each week towards one playful activity that feels uplifting, fun, interesting or even simply relaxing.

Once you figure out what style your play is, you can start incorporating similar activities — whether through social groups or alone — that allow you to access to the type of play that appeals most to you.  I highly encourage you to make play an uplifting part of your monthly, weekly, and even daily routine!

 


 

 

 

3.  Bring Play Into Your Health Routines

 

I’d like to encourage you to see healing as fun.  Yes… fun!  After all, as you heal you should feel better and better and better, a sense of relief and even a sense of joy.

Trying out new and fun things… why shouldn’t that apply to health and healing?  It should!  My motto is that life is hard enough… so let’s at least enjoy healing.  After all, healing is all about feeling better and better and better.  It is a powerful forward momentum in your life that should be uplifting.

So, if lately your health care routines leave you feeling stuck, uninspired, or bored, maybe it’s time to introduce a fun new alternative into your healing journey!  It’s always a great idea to find a new way to exercise, fun ways to express your inner creativity, to introduce new healthy recipes inspired by seasonal fruits and vegetables, and to add humor and play into your life.  

But sometimes even new foods, creative expression, play, touch and exercise aren’t enough.  Maybe it’s time to consider a new adjunctive healing therapies… because believe it or not, there is always a new fun way to approach wellness. 

So today, let me take you along with Stacey and I as we test out some unusual alternative healing modalities that you might want to consider.   It’s the top 10 videos from my “Trying It Out For You” series on my YouTube channel.   I’ve put them all on one page for you right here.

Here are some of the fun healing modalities we test out:

  • Nutritional IVs
  • Float Therapy
  • Halotherapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Nia
  • Compression Therapy
  • Sauna

Each video is about a ten minute review where we share what it feels like before, during, and after each therapy, then we give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down as to if we would want to try it again.

Join us in the fun right here:

10 Ways To Make Healing Instantly More Playful & Uplifting

 

 


 

 

 

 

To Summarize:

 

Today try to remember what lights you up inside and brings a smile to your heart.

Whether it is dusting off an old pair of rollerblades, or heading outside for a game of catch with your dog, to crafting or creating something, learning or playing an instrument, dancing to your favorite music, trying a new recipe in the kitchen, heading outside to watch the sunset, blowing bubbles in your living room, singing songs around a campfire, going on a walk,  improving your golf game, learning how to play tennis, playing a pick up game at a park with friends, playing card games with your family, doing a jigsaw puzzle all week long, riding a bike, laying down to look up at cloud shapes in the daytime or twinkling stars at night, writing poems, learning how to sew, creating a scrapbook, practicing photography, trying a new healing modality, and on and on and on…

…know that time you devote to playing is every bit as healthy for you (& let’s face it, probably even more healthy) than the time you spend in serious mode, tackling things like chores, work, emails, and catching up on the news.

 

 

 

If someone forwarded you this email, be sure you are signed up to receive my free newsletter so you don’t miss any of these uplifting, holistic healing tips that I send out once a week.  I’d love to support your health too.

Sign up right here to get these tips delivered directly to your own inbox!  And forward this to any of your loved ones who could benefit from some uplifting support.

 

 

To your naturally resilient, astoundingly incredible human body!

xoxox, Laura

Childhood Trauma Is Scary, Here Are 3 Things That Can Help Your Child Be Resilient

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There is so much hurting our children.  Bullying and isolation and social media pressure and scary headlines that include school shootings, piled on top of the normal stressors of navigating growing up and figuring out a career goal and growing from a child’s body into an adult body and all the growing pains in between, as well as getting adequate nutrition and adequate sleep and it’s just all so stressful.

So today I wanted to offer something positive that we can do to protect the physical and mental well being of our children for the rest of their lives… I have three ideas for you below to support your child’s health, to give them the best launch pad possible.

Because even in the best of circumstances, most children are under tremendous stress and are likely to witness bullying or be directly bullied… and this has huge ramifications on their health.

The medical literature (published in JAMA Psychiatry in Feb, 2016) confirmed something we already intuitively know — that victims of bullying in childhood have painful, lasting ramifications well into adulthood.  It was the largest study ever to look at childhood bullying :

  • Children who were not bullied and were not engaging in bully behavior had a baseline 11% rate of psychiatric diagnosis by the age of 29 years.
  • Children who were exposed to bullying (witness to bullying) had a 23% rate of psychiatric diagnosis by the age of 29.
  • Children who both were exposed to bullying AND then engaged in bullying behaviors had a 31% rate of psychiatric diagnosis by the time they were 29 years old.
  • Being exposed to bullying — even just witnessing bullying — doubled the rates of psychiatric diagnosis in adulthood, including depression, anxiety disorders, and psychosis.
  • Being bullied and subsequently bullying others almost *triples* the rates of a psychiatric disorder diagnosed in adulthood.

So here’s the bottom line:  Being subjected to bullying — and even just witnessing bullying — significantly raises the risk of depression, anxiety and psychosis in adulthood.

If being bullied, bullying others, or even just witnessing bullying activity doubles and triples the rates of psychiatric disorder severe enough to require diagnosis and treatment as an adult — then we need to do more.

Bullying is abuse.  Doesn’t matter what the reason a child is being bullied for.  Appearance, grades, size, shape, gender, sexuality… bullying causes lasting psychological damage equivalent to any other form of child abuse.

In 2012 I blogged about a medical study that shows that physical punishment (in the form of spanking) causes a steep rise in psychiatric disorders…  and this newer study shows that bullying behaviors — even ones where the child is never touched… just WITNESSING intimidating behaviors — is creating lasting psychological damage.

Child abuse happens in all races, all socioeconomic levels, all countries.  Estimates are that about 40 MILLIONS children EVERY SINGLE YEAR are abused world wide.

These studies serve to show it’s absolutely not just a concern over the child’s immediate safety and well being, but it is also a concern for long term health outcomes that reach well into adulthood.

Long term health consequences are not limited to physical health disorders such as adrenal fatigue, obesity, heart disease and cancer, but dramatically increase the incidence of psychiatric disorders in our adult population… including anxiety, depression, psychosis, suicide, addiction, PTSD and more.

 

How?

3864077-856701-puff-of-abstract-smoke-swirls-on-whiteChild abuse leaves epigenetic marks on the child’s genetic make up…

…inducing chemical changes in the way DNA is methylated and the way genes are expressed, activated or silenced.

This alters the way a cell functions and the way that organs and the body as a whole functions, causing poor health outcomes later in life.

Published in the May 14, 2013 in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences, researchers show that childhood maltreatment causes different patterns of DNA methylation and genetic expression, causing a change in a child’s epigenetic profile.

So what can we do?

You know I never provide any form of upsetting medical literature without giving you positive, holistic tools to effect real change.

So here are 3 things you absolutely can do, today, to support your child’s long term health.

 

3 Ways To Support Your Child’s Health Today:

 


 

 

 

1.  Be affectionate to your children.

 

Parents who are affectionate during childhood support long term well being in their children, well into adulthood… mitigating some of the damage of childhood bullying.

According to research conducted by Darcai Narvaez at the University of Notre Dame, adults who reported that they received physical affection from their parents and felt supported by their parents, as well as did things as a family both inside and outside of the home, had lower rates of depression, lower rates of anxiety, less stress in social situations and a greater ability for empathetic behavior.

There was also a very interesting medical study that suggests that affection from a mother during infancy helps protect the health of that child well into adulthood — I wrote an entire article on that for you here. 

So today, to give you tons of ideas on how to parent for the well being of your child, I’ve written an entire book dedicated to presenting the latest medical information and uplifting positive parenting ideas to support an entire lifetime of optimized well being in your child.  I wrote it and offer it to you absolutely free, just to help support you during that exhausting, often overwhelming job of parenting.

Parenting For Your Child's Health eBookIt’s a totally free, easy to read, fun, heart centered parenting workbook that blends the past 20 years of my experience as a physician with my own parenting journey as a mother of two beautiful children, who are now 18 and 20 years old.

I wanted my children to know that health is their natural state of being.

I want your children to know that too.

So I wrote it all down for you.  Download the free book here.

 


 

 

 

2.  Let your child adopt a pet

 

I strongly suggest if at all possible, you allow your child to have a favorite pet during childhood.

Having pets has not only been found to cut asthma rates in half (as published on November 2, 2015 in JAMA Pediatrics) but it gives them many psychological benefits such as:

  • giving children a very healthy exposure to unconditional love
  • providing stability and continuity during times of unavoidable stress in the child’s life (such as during a move to a new home, entering a new school, or a change in the family dynamics such as a death or divorce)
  • providing a framework to talk about holistic and important topics such as death (as inevitably pets have a shorter life span than humans and often the death of a pet is a very healthy introduction to speaking about death before it pertains to a human family member such as the loss of a grandparent) and reproduction (my kids saw many a baby being born by their guinea pigs, rabbits, and chickens, even hand bottle fed baby birds and helped house train all their puppies!)

Loving and caring for a special pet is a priceless, priceless gift during childhood.  To go into more detail on this, you can read an article I wrote for you that reviews how having a pet can boost your child’s health not just during childhood, but for an entire lifetime, right here:

Pets Boost Your Health For A Lifetime


 

 

 

3.  Encourage positive, uplifting connections with others

 

It turns out, children are actually more open to positive mood states than to negative ones.  And as a this study shows, teenagers in particular are more likely to be uplifted by being around others who are in a positive mood than to be brought down by being around those in a negative one.

Supporting and encouraging positive friendships in your teen’s life has the effect of not only boosting their mood, but of significantly reducing over all risk of clinical depression as well as doubling the probability of recovering from existing depression:

  • Using the same models that are used in preventive medicine to assess the spread of infectious disease, researchers evaluated over 3,000 teens enrolled in US high schools.
  • Mood was assessed by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.
  • Followed for 12 months, there was a statistically significant *transmission* of health mood for teens who were surrounded by friends with a positive mindset.
  • Teens with 5 or more healthy friends had half the risk of developing depression, and teens with 10 or more healthy friends were twice as likely to recover from a depressive episode.
  • And happily, there was no statistical significant *transmission* of depressed mood for teens surrounded by friends with a negative mindset.

This is a hugely effective intervention — encouraging healthy friendships is a healthy, natural, holistic, non-medicinal way to create resiliency in your teen.

I find it incredibly interesting that positive, healthy mood states fit into mathematical statistical models… spreading and replicating via human contact… while negative mood states do not.

So… is a good mood a contagion?  Yes!  Turns out, positive mood spreads in a similar way to a contagious or infectious exposure.  So worry less and support your teen’s friendships and joy more… that’s the bottom line from this study.

If you are concerned about your teen’s mind-frame, encourage them to get connecting:

  • play sports
  • join clubs
  • connect with friends
  • connect with family
  • connect with their community
  • and connect with therapists or other supportive mental health professionals if necessary…

…because medical studies prove that being around others with a good mood helps not only in the short term (transforming the energy of that interaction) but is protective over time to help decrease both incidence and prevalence of depression.

 


 

 

 

 

I hope these ideas helped give you some ways to help support your own beloved child as they navigate these incredibly difficult times.  Childhood trauma is no joke.  It is held by the body and internalized and affects our health down the road.

In fact, this medical study shows an association between trauma in childhood resulting in an increased risk of having surgery to remove the reproductive organs as an adult.

In other words, earlier trauma significantly impacts the sexual health and reproductive health of a woman and culminates later in life to increase their risk of having major surgery.

  • Researchers found a statistically significant correlation between women who had ovarian and uterine removal surgery as an adult and verbal abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, substance abuse in the household as a child, and suicidal ideation or suicide attempts.
  • Women who had considered or attempted suicide were more than twice as likely to have their reproductive organs surgically removed as an adult than their matched controls.
  • The highest rate of statistical significance was childhood physical abuse, with patients who had the surgery being almost ***6 TIMES AS LIKELY*** to have had physical abuse as a child.

The Bottom Line:  Traumatic experiences in childhood causes epigenetic changes that increase the chances of having the reproductive organs removed as an adult.

 

 

 

This study is a very vivid reminder that what happens to us affects our physical body.

What happens to us emotionally, what happens to us when we are under stress, what happens to us when we are betrayed, neglected, sexually abused, or mistreated shows up in painful ways that you can’t ignore as an adult.

If there is one thing I know after working with patients on both a physical and an energetic level for all of these years, it’s that there is a heck of a lot more to a physical illness than just what is physically going on in the cells and tissues of the body.

What can you do to protect your health if you have had childhood trauma?

Actually, the detrimental health effects from trauma are fully reversible.  So if you are an adult who had significant childhood trauma, please know that you can reverse the trauma and protect your health as an adult.  In fact, there are some studies that suggest that having gone through a trauma as a child makes you an even healthier adult, with improved longevity.

How?  You can start with talking about it.

The largest meta-analysis to date on trauma recovery (looking at data from over 11,000 relevant medical studies) suggests that the best long term recovery after trauma is simply talking about it, no medication required.

Published in JAMA Psychiatry on June 12, 2019, reasearchers looked at direct comparisons between talk therapy (psychotherapy) and drug therapy (pharmacological treatments) in patients with PTSD.

  • They found that in the long term, talk therapy helped more, being slightly superior to drug therapy both immediately following treatment and in long term follow up.
  • The studies they looked at ranged from 2 months to 6 months long, and this meta-analysis showed there was no advantage to using drugs in recovering from PTSD.
  • This means that drugs are now no longer recommended for first line treatment of trauma, as there is no indication that they are beneficial.

 

 

 

What does this mean?

While I am certainly not against the use of medications when they are needed, they should be used sparingly and either short term (as they do not show any long term advantage) or only for patients who don’t find improvement after talk therapy alone.

Be encouraged by this.  This means that the vast majority of folks can be helped — and helped best — by talking about trauma instead of medicating it away.

Connect with others.

Reach out for help.

Don’t feel like you are going crazy and don’t feel like you must go it alone.

We all have trauma, we all do.  And we can lean on each other and get through it.

There is long term benefit from connecting to others and speaking about it.  Treatment is not relegated to a psychiatrist’s office nor does it need to be prescribed away.

 

 

In fact, as I blogged about here, PTSD can actually be significantly helped by something as simple and as accessible as repeating a mantra.  It’s true.  Here are some other blog posts I’ve written on trauma recovery for you:

 

 

 

 

Health is an expression of who we are and what we have gone through over our entire lifetime.  This is literally why I spent years creating my Trauma Resiliency & Recovery Class.

In this class, I go through what the medical literature tells us about how the body handles and processes (and heals and releases!) trauma so that you can understand and make sense of what your body is trying to tell you.

Everyone experiences trauma… but what makes some people recover?  What allows some folks to not only survive, but actually thrive despite deeply traumatic events and circumstances?  How do you get over something that is unforgivable, unfair, or life altering?

When trying to forget it, trying to forgive it, and trying to move on don’t work, the only thing left is to actually fix it.

I want to invite you to this very special, very personal, deeply healing two week class where we will dive deep into the science, medicine and energy behind healing, resilience, recovery and health.

Class runs August 29th through September 9th.  It’s two weeks of daily uplifting healing videos, medical studies that show us how we can recover more easily and optimize our health along the way, healing activities, exercises and more.

Even old, very old, deeply wounding traumas can be released.  The medical literature is very clear on this: you can actually be healthier after trauma than you would have been without experiencing any trauma at all!

And I’m here to help you do exactly that, click over here for more information.

Healing right along side you…

xoxoxo, Laura

 

 

All The Health Benefits Of Nature, But In An Urban Setting? Yep, Here’s How

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I’m so excited to tell you about an amazing medical study today that is super relevant to my favorite holistic healing modality of all time — grounding.

This fabulous study suggests that adding even a very small greenspace to an urban setting boosts immune function in a measurable and meaningful way. Published in Science Advances in October 2020, researchers found that by adding a small green play area to urban playgrounds, they boosted the immunity of the children using the play area.

Researchers in Finland added a very small, low cost green area in the corner of existing playgrounds in several different urban daycare centers.  They added a little grass patch, some small plants and a planter box with garden crops the kids could tend to.

This is what one of the modifications looked like:

 

University of Helsinki

 

After only one month — just 28 days — not only did the children who played in this urban greenspace (an average of 90 minutes a day) have boosted immune markers in their blood (like boosted T cells) they also had an improved microbiota (both on the skin and in their gut biome) similar to children that lived and played in rural areas with large greenspaces and forests.  These changes were statistically significant compared both to controls and to their own baseline measurements.

This study is just one example of how you don’t need to live in the country to experience improved health from nature.  In fact, in my book The Earth Prescription, I go into great detail about how you can get grounded in urban settings through sidewalks, through touching a metal signpost, through simply touching a leaf on a bush or a tree — even one growing in a downtown city street — that’s all it takes to get grounded from head to toe and experience all of these health benefits.

I’m thrilled the study I shared with you today introduced an opportunity for young kids to garden.  Hopefully this is all the encouragement you might need to consider planting your own crop or two.  Just a few planters or pots on a doorstep works.  As today’s study suggests, even a park with a small greenspace, or possibly a community garden if you are lucky enough to have access to one, is enough to significantly improve your well being.

And there are tons of benefits of interacting with plants (from tending to a single blade of grass, to a few herbs in pots, to a few veggies planted in planter boxes, to a huge urban garden) beyond all the benefits of grounding.

It’s actually healing just to be around plants of any kind, even while ungrounded (for example, just seeing a plant through a window or adding a potted plant to a workspace) can provide measurable health benefits. 

Read through this list of the top 10 perks of gardening and see if it doesn’t inspire even those of us who are non-gardeners to dive into this wonderful activity.  From a windowsill garden to a flower bed to a large plot of farmland, gardening is more than a way to grow flowers and food… it’s a lifestyle that can help ensure longevity and health. 

Read on to discover some surprising ways that gardening is doing more for your health than you ever thought possible:

 


 

I painted this artwork to show the healing benefits of nature to our central nervous system!

 

1. Gives You A Healthier Brain

 

Every minute you spend out in your garden is brain protective… so much so, that having gardening as a hobby actually lowers your risk of dementia!  A study published in 2006 in the Medical Journal of Australia found that daily gardening decreased dementia risk by in incredible 36%.   A follow up study, published in 2019 in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that gardening actually increased levels of brain nerve growth factors.

Another incredibly interesting study, recently published in January 2020 in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that a gardening intervention program significantly boosted levels of the brain neurotransmitters tryptophan and serotonin, which are necessary for healthy sleep patterns and mood stabilization.

 


 

 

 

 

2.  Gives You Boosted Mental Health

 

Multiple studies have found that having access to a garden or other green space decreases depression rates, anxiety rates, and dramatically reduces stress.  One study, called the MIND study (conducted in 2007) found that simply walking through a garden or greenway significantly improved mental health, while walking through areas without greenery (such as a shopping mall) significantly decreased mental health.

If simply walking through a green space impacts mental health so much, you can probably guess that hand’s on gardening would boost mental health even more.  And you would be right.  After an extensive systemic review of 22 studies looking at the health impact of gardening, the results of this meta-anylsis (published in Preventive Medicine Reports in 2016) found that gardening significantly reduced anxiety levels, anger levels and depression rates, decreased tension, stress levels and boosted mood… all while simultaneously improving life satisfaction and boosting over all quality of life.  It’s absolutely incredible that simply tending to a garden can offer such a transformative life make-over, but it’s true!

 


 

 

 

3.  Lowers Your Blood Pressure

 

Even indoor gardens can positively impact on your well being, so don’t discount the power of a windowsill garden or a simple house plant to support your health.  An exciting study published in 2015 in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, showed that simply adding plants to an indoor computer room not only boosted the worker’s productivity, it also significantly decreased their blood pressure.

Another study, published in 2007 in the American Society for Horticultural Science found that workers with potted plants in close proximity to them while working took less sick leave off from work and enjoyed increase productivity. 

 


 

 

 

 

4.  Helps You Recover Your Health Faster

 

Being physically near plants is so impactful to our mental and physical health that it turns out, even just seeing a plant can significantly impact our recovery from stressful health events.  We have such an innate need to be submersed in a world with foliage and plants around us that a study (published in 1984 in Science) found that patients who simply had a view of plants through a window while recovering from surgery had better moods, used less pain medications, had less surgical post-op complications, and even decreased their length of stay in the hospital.  

Less pain during recovery and getting to go home sooner after surgery just by looking at plants?  That’s an awesome health strategy that I wish more hospital and clinics would take into account when designing their architecture.

 


 

 

 

 

 

5.  Decreases Your Body’s Inflammation

 

One of my biggest passions as a holistic physician is encouraging people to touch the earth to decrease inflammation in their body, a healing practice known as grounding.  A study on grounding, published in the Journal Of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine in 2010, found that subjects who were grounded while exercising had 40% lower levels of creatinine kinase (a marker of muscle inflammation) and less soreness after exertion than non-grounded subjects. They also had lower pain levels, significantly lower blood cortisol levels, and even lower white blood cell counts.

When you are grounded to the earth, as you are during gardening while touching the ground in any way, including touching any plants, soil, dirt, rocks and water that is on the earth, you are supporting your health in so many ways.  For more information on the whole body benefits of grounding, see any of these articles I’ve got waiting for you on my Grounding Medical Studies page here or read my book The Earth Prescription right here.

 

 


 

 

 

6.  Reduces Your Toxic Burden

 

One of the very best things about gardening is that you can have a direct impact in reducing your body’s total toxic burden.  By growing your own garden, you can reduce your environmental exposures to pesticides and insecticides by choosing non-toxic, organic gardening practices and choosing not to apply toxic chemicals to your garden space, as well as reducing the amount of pesticides that you directly consume when you eat edibles from your garden that haven’t been treated with chemicals.

With over 5.6 billion pounds of pesticides used globally each year, it’s estimated that the average person eating store bought foods, including store bought produce, eats over a pound of chemicals every year.  The good news is that it only takes a few days of eating your own garden fresh produce to dramatically reduce the concentration of measurable pesticides in your body.  One study, published in Environmental Research in 2019, found that eating organic produce for just one week significantly reduced urine pesticide concentrations in study participants by 70%.  One week!

 


 

 

 

7. Increases Your Nutritional Intake

 

Not only will eating your home grown produce reduce your toxic burden from things you don’t want — like exposures to unwanted chemicals — it  can also dramatically boost the things you do want to go into your body… like active antioxidants and powerful vitamins.  Even organic produce sold in a grocery store can lose half of it’s vitamins and phytonutrients by the time you get it home and eat it, especially water soluble vitamins like Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 & B12, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin.  

Just by eating your food fresh picked, garden-to-table, you reduce the loss of nutrients that inevitably happens when shipped, stored and displayed at super markets.  Fruits and vegetables are extremely sensitive to and heat and light exposures, rapidly degrading over time.  A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture in 2007 found that most produce loses about 30% of their nutritional content three days after picking.  Some dramatically more, for example, spinach can lose up to 90% of it’s vitamin C activity within 24 hours of harvest.  While freezing produce might help slow nutrient degradation, the ultimate solution to having vibrantly nutritious, fresh foods to eat is to grow them yourself and consume them that day, if not the very minute you pick it!

 


 

 

8.  Gives You Better Sleep

 

There is a beautiful relationship between our sleep cycle and mother earth.  Most people believe that our circadian (day/night) rhythm is dependent on sunlight to set that pattern for us, but scientists feel that the earth’s energy field has as much, if not more, to do with our sleep/wake pattern than even the sun, and they have known this since a pioneering study conducted back in 1970.  Published in Life Sciences in Space Research, researchers discovered just how influential the earth is to our sleep patterns. 

Looking at several hundred test subjects that lived for a two month period of time in a bunker that was blocked from sunlight but still had the earth’s electromagnetic field surrounding them, scientist discovered that they kept sleep/wake patterns that were close to a 24 hour rhythm.  Meanwhile, test subject that lived in a bunker that was completely shielded from the earth’s energies became completely desynchronized and experienced significantly longer, and much more irregular, sleep/wake rhythms. Researchers then experimented with introducing different electrical and magnetic fields into the shielded bunker, and only one frequency was able to restore normal sleep/wake patterns…  the frequency of Mother Earth’s natural energy, the Schumann frequency.  

From this the researchers postulated that it is actually the frequency of the earth that regulates our natural biorhythms. Based off of this understanding, it’s easy to understand how directly connecting to the earth through gardening daily can help enhance restorative sleep at night and boost daytime wakefulness.

 


 

 

 

9.  Boosts Your Vit D Levels

 

By now we’ve all heard of the importance of getting adequate Vitamin D… vitamin D protects so many different aspects of our health, from decreasing diabetes risk to boosting weight loss benefits to decreasing depression risk to preventing depression to predicting better cancer recovery to boosting fertility!  

But does gardening actually increase Vitamin D levels?  Yes, says a study published in PLOS One in 2014.  Researchers studied thousands of blood samples from patients who engaged in a variety of activities, and found that gardening and cycling were the only two activities that significantly decreased the risk of vitamin D deficiency… superior all other outdoor activities, including fishing and walking.  Gardening boosted Vitamin D levels across all age groups, so it’s a fantastic pastime that you never need to outgrow, a hobby to get into for life!

 


 

 

 

 

10.  Increases Your Longevity

 

A study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine in 2016 found that people who stayed indoors and avoided sun exposure actually had a shorter life span than those who spent time outside.  Participants who avoided the sun had higher rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and pulmonary disease than those who had daily sun exposure. And the results were dose-specific… meaning that the benefits of increased life expectancy went up directly in correlation to the amount of sun exposure.  Longer time in the sun = longer life span.  That simple!  Gardening is a fantastic way to routinely be inspired to go outside and get that sunshine and fresh air, two of natures best holistic health treatments.

Another reason that being a gardener might lengthen lifespan, besides getting more sunlight, is the increase in activity level.  A fabulous study (published in 2019 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine) found that replacing just 30 minutes of sitting each day with light physical activity was enough to significantly decrease mortality rates.  And again, here’s the clincher: the health benefit of replacing sedentary time with light physical activity was actually even stronger if you were older than 75 years old.  So light activity decreased mortality rates in adults older than 75 years old even more than it decreased mortality rates in younger age groups.  In other words, the older you are, the more that activity of any kind increases your lifespan.

 


 

 

 

And now we can add on #11: Boosts Your Immune System

 

As I talk about at the beginning of this article, this amazing medical study found that after only one month of playing on a small playground that had an area converted to a greenspace, the children’s immune systems got a significant boost.  Markers of immunity in the blood, like TGF-β1 levels, regulatory T cells and the plasma IL-10:IL-17A ratio, all increased after just 28 days of playing in these small urban greenspaces.

All it took to get these improvements to their immunity was a small patch of grass to play on, one that included a small planter with garden crops and some berry bushes.

No matter how big or small your space is, whether you have a windowsill garden, a potted houseplant or two, a few medicinal herbs grown on your porch, access to a community vegetable garden or pick-your-own orchard or berry farm, or are even blessed enough to have your own land, tending to plants and growing flowers or food is one of the most rewarding, most pleasurable activities that I can recommend.

 


 

 

It’s never too late to lengthen your lifespan and boost your health through daily activity — and that includes gardening. 

When you combine the fact that gardening has been proven to have huge mental health benefits, longevity benefits, grounding benefits, nutritional benefits and more, you would be hard pressed to find another activity that supports your health from so many different angles and in so many ways. 

xoxox, Laura

 

P.S.  Want another easy way to boost your health through an increased exposure to nature, even while living in a city?  Hop over here to read why just listening to bird and increasing your exposure to birds boosts your mental health and happiness.  Even from a city highrise, you can get birds to visit your window bird feeder, as I show you in this article:

 

How Your Intuition Impacts Your Body’s Health And How To Optimize It

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Intuition is in our cellular structure… literally.

There is a physical biology behind intuition. Using intuitive guidance is actually in the design of our cells, in the design of our DNA, it’s in the design of our existence.

Dr. Bruce Lipton, PhD, pioneered the ground breaking revelation that it is not our DNA that is a master template that our bodies are wired around, but it is actually the exact opposite:  DNA stands to serve as a resource for incoming information and directives to use as a raw material for expression.

This is the science of epigenetics — how our DNA is read and what it expresses is modifiable by external circumstances.  The perfect example of this is what I wrote about for you a few weeks ago, in this medical study that helped to explain why stress during childhood can affect your health as an adult.

Our cell membranes, with all it’s receptors, and our cellular messenging system that brings incoming information into our cells helps to decide how our DNA is used.  It is the messages coming into the nucleus of our cells that our DNA responds to… used as a template according to the messages our cells are receiving externally.

 

 

 

 

Our body does not function by our DNA initiating and sending out messages on it’s own… each cell functions by receiving information from the external and then uses the genes in our DNA as a resource to respond to incoming signals in the appropriate way.

So it’s as if your DNA is a grocery store — all the genes are different ingredients waiting to be utilized.  They can be selected and utilized in countless ways based on the incoming messages, information, environmental stimuli, thoughts, beliefs, intuitive information, and energetic information.  Based on these signals, different ingredients are retrieved from the shelves in order for you to create whatever meal is being requested.

Any type of dish, and type of salad, soup, casserole, main course, desert, snack — all of it is possible depending on how you combine the ingredients you find in the grocery store.

And all of these dishes and more… an unlimited array… can be created in the same kitchen.

 

 

 

In other words, your cells can create anything they like, using the raw ingredients of your DNA but using the directive from incoming information.  The directive does not come from the DNA.  The DNA is an ingredient, a raw material at best.

External information is the master chef, in charge of the creation!

This has been shown again and again in the scientific literature, the power of the cell membrane and cellular messengers to modify the expression of the DNA… confirmed by the Human Genome Project.

The Human Genome Project revealed that there are only about 34,000 genes in the human genome.

This is less than 1/3 of the genes that were projected to be found… researchers had estimated that humans needed at least — at least! — 100,000 genes in order to have a gene that encodes for all the different proteins and regulatory mechanisms that produce the great variation we have in our anatomy, physiology, and behavior.

What they found, instead, is that the number of genes we have do not cover even half of the proteins that the human body is made of (over 70,000 different proteins.)

So the DNA can’t even account for the variety of physical elements the body is made of, much less the vast array of function and expression of said proteins that create our human existence.

DNA can not be a master template, if more than half of the “game plan” is missing.

Instead, the DNA must be receiving incoming information from an outside source that is using the DNA as an expressive medium.

 

 

 

Just like every single book you have ever read — every single word you have ever read — from a magazine, from the internet, from this blog post, passages from any religious text you’ve ever read to the newspaper to your child’s picture book — is actually simply a combination of a finite amount of letters —  in English this is just 26 letters used in different arrangements to create the unlimited beautiful expression of words.

In this exact way, our 34,000 genes in our DNA simply a beautiful but limited tool, an alphabet, used in different arrangements to create an unlimited beautiful expression of life.

I found this awesome quote in this great article here — I highly recommend you read it! — but in that article there was a quote from nobel prize winning geneticist David Biltmore:

 

“…it is clear that we do not gain our undoubted complexity over worms and plants by using more genes. Understanding what does give us our complexity – our enormous behavioral repertoire, ability to produce conscious action, remarkable physical coordination, precisely tuned alterations in response to external variations of the environment, learning, memory…need I go on? – remains a challenge for the future.” (Nature 409:816, 2001)

 

 

 

So… what does control our biology, if not our genes?

Turns out the cell membrane is the cell’s control center, turning genes on and off from information received and signals transmitted through cell receptors.

In other words, cells are perceptive to outside stimulus and this shapes the function of the entire unit.

Our biology is literally designed to receive outside information and to use this information as a directive on how to experience our lives.

Our bodies do this every single moment of every single day, naturally.  Without conscious effort. We are literally built to pick up on external information and use it.

Our body is responding to at all times, day and night, from incoming information that shapes our physical reality… this is the way we function whether we know it or not.

So… do you think we were meant to be ignoring messages from our soul?

Do you think we were meant to flow our living life force through bodies that were totally ignoring our soul energy and just flowing on autopilot from our DNA?

No way.

If every single cell in our body;

  • from our neurons (who use receptors on the surface to pick up on our neurochemistry that tells us everything from what mood we are in to directing our sleep/wake cycle)
  • to our sensory organs (which tell us everything from what we hear, what we touch, what we are seeing every moment of every day)
  • to our skin (which tells us if we are touching something too hot, too cold, too sharp, too abrasive, that gives us a feeling if we are unsafe, that allows us to soak in every warm touch and loving caress we’ve ever had)
  • to our muscles (that allow us to speak, move, create, journey through life, interact, move, explore the world around us)

and every other cell in every single organ system is created to take in external information and use it to achieve optimum health and expression… then certainly we (as a whole organism) are designed to pick up on external information and use that information to achieve optimum health and expression.

Any function that is higher than a brain stem function operates from external information as the driving force behind expression.  And even our brain stem function too, as a matter of fact.

DNA is not the source of expression.

DNA is static without incoming information.

Without external energetic information interacting with the cell, it is not functioning in a healthy way.

 

 

 

 

Just like after your soul leaves your body — once the soul energy is no longer interacting with the body… all that is physically left behind is a carbon based shell — the old earth suit — that then decomposes.

It is not the body, not the cell, and not even the DNA within the cell that is the basis of life.  It is the energetic environment that moves through the cell, lives the cell, that brings life to the cell and informs it’s process.

In other words, it doesn’t matter how much DNA you have or how many genes you have if it is not receiving a signal!  It’s the signal that informs and expresses life.

And you are seeped in these signals, these messages, every single moment of your life.

  • Messages from your external environment like temperature, location, an assessment on safety, on balance and a judgement on the next movement needed to maintain balance for example.
  • Messages from your internal environment, like your thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, desires, fears, hopes, dreams, preferences, stressors for example.
  • And I believe, intuitive messages from your larger soul perspective, your 6th sense, your gut knowings, your intuitions, your soul’s guidance… these energetic messages are the most important pieces of life-bringing life-enhancing information you could ever hope for.

And they are your birthright. Your innate design, built into your biology. The messages your body relays to you include intuitive messaging from your soul energy.

 

 

 

 

Any vision, sound, smell, sensation, emotion, experience, message and interconnection between yourself and others that brings you extrasensory information is designed to be listened to.

You are meant to receive intuitive information.

You are meant to recognize it.

You are meant to utilize this information to make the best possible decisions in your daily life in order to align with the best possible outcome — every day, all day.

If you want to hear more on this I highly recommend taking 30 minutes today listening to Bruce Lipton speak about this in his interview here  

Enjoy whatever intuitions come into your awareness today, knowing they are there by design to enhance the functioning of your body, your cells, your journey, your path, your life.

To help you open up to intuitive knowings in a fun and simple way, today I want to share with you some exercises you can do to connect to your intuition.  Here are three playful, easy ways to bring more awareness of your intuition into your daily life…

 

3 Playful Ways To Use Your Intuition:

 

 


 

1. Use your intuition to decide on what to wear each day.

 

Stand in front of your clothing, whether in a closet or in drawers, and use your body’s sensory information and open intuition to feel which outfit is most aligned with the unique energy of this unique day.

Colors, textures, fabrics, styles, lengths, warmth, privacy — all of these components of the outfit you wear make a difference to your energy field.

In particular, I have found that color makes the biggest difference to me in my energy for the day, but for you it might be a texture of the fabric you respond to, or how warm it makes you feel on a cool day, or how cool it makes you feel on a hot day, or how private it allows you to be or how visible invisible you want to be that day, etc…

It is undeniable that certain clothes make you feel fabulous on certain days, and certain clothes just drain the color and life force right out of you.

The best example of how to dress comes from children.

Have you ever seen a child light up when they are given the freedom of expression to wear exactly what they want to when they want to?

I absolutely loved watching my daughter create the most amazing combinations of clothes when she was little — often she would layer polka dots with stripes, warm and cool colors together, and skirts over top of pants.  Adding on a vest over her shirt, and fingerless gloves on top of that, she was just the pure definition of sass and vibrancy.

Taking a cue from the raw energy of children, today stand in front of your clothes, whether you have two options or twenty options to choose from, and choose the one that you feel most aligned with.

  • Choose the color that feels right to you intuitively
  • Choose the texture that feels right to you intuitively
  • Choose the one that highlights what you feature feel most good about within your body today and what you’d like to keep covered or protected — your intuition is telling you what body parts could use a little extra nurturing and which ones are ready to be shown off to the world today.

 

 


 

2. Use your intuition to choose what foods to eat each day.

 

Food is meant to nourish us, plain and simple.

It is the energy of the food that enters our body and provides us with fuel to use each day and building blocks to repair and heal our body with.

Our soul energy can feel and sense the energy contained within food… so today, allow your intuition to select what is high quality enough and aligned well with your physical make up at this particular point in time enough to eat.

Putting food into your body is sacred and holy — it is very intimate — it is accepting something as worthy of nourishing your precious body.

You can *feel* past cravings and impulse decisions and choices of convenience to deeper alignment with the foods in front of you.

  • Sense which options make your body energy feel expansive (and which make your energy feel contracted…) as you scan through a menu, walk through the grocery store, or pull foods from your pantry.
  • Scan your body for a *yes* or a *no* as you pull together your meals.
  • Feel which foods your soul accepts into it’s energy feild and which it feels hesitant about.
  • Also use your intuition to know when it’s time to stop eating.  Allow yourself the freedom to change your mind mid-bite if you need to.  What felt like a *yes* when you were pulling it from the fridge might feel like a *no* after two bites — honor this.  If a *yes* turns out to have just been a craving… as it is quenched, stop when you sense this quenching instead of eating past the saturation point.

As you select foods with awareness more and more often, you’ll get really good at what true *soul yes* feels like — when the food not only seems appealing but it feels right as it digests and distributes through your body.

A yes from your soul will feel like a yes all the way from selecting to preparing to eating to utilizing the energy from it afterwards.

Take notice of which foods turn into a *no* once it starts digesting inside.

Or which foods turn into a *no* when you are trying to fall asleep that night!

Tuning in more and more to what your body needs each day:

  • do you need more protein today?
  • do you need to focus more on hydration today?
  • does something crisp and fresh like an apple appeal to you today?
  • does something warm and comforting like soup appeal to you today?
  • today is it better just to fast and focus on good hydration?)

allows you to use food as a tool that nurtures you inside and out and decrease the amount of foods you eat that are not in alignment with your true health.

 


 

3.  Use your intuition to move through your day, for example:

 

Movement:

Pick a movement that aligns with your soul energy best on this particular day, in this particular moment (allow intuition to signal to you when to wake up and go to sleep, what activities feel most engaging and which to step away from, how far to walk or what exercise to do)

 

Driving:

Pick a path that unfolds most easily when driving your daily grind, getting to the grocery store, taking your kids to the park.  It may not be the most direct way or the routine way.  Or maybe it is… let your deeper intuition inform you.

 

Triaging emails and social media:

Use your intuitive sense as you scan your email inbox each day or wade through social media.. your intuition can help you to decide which emails to answer, and which to simply bless and delete, which emails to purge, and which to pass along and delegate to others.  It can help you decide what social media platform to log out of, which ones to engage in and which to step away from, how long to stay on each, whether you really want to do that google search or not, and when to get off line entirely.

Feel that knot in your stomach when it’s time to get off.  Don’t ignore it and keep scrolling.  Feel in your heart or your solar plexus or your mind’s eye, wherever you feel most easily in your body when online activities create even the smallest bit of tension for you… and honor this by disengaging with it immediately.

Over time you will get very good at stepping away and honoring your mental and physical health first — social media second (if at all.)

 


 

Today’s article is a part of my Expanding Your Intuition online class.  If you liked this blog post, it’s just a sneak peak into a course that I know you will love.

If you’d like my help unlocking your intuition, discovering where in your body you feel intuitive guidance most easily and what your unique intuitive strengths actually are, save a spot in my upcoming class right here.

 

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I’d love to share with you how I discovered my own intuition, how I use it to help myself and others boost their well being, and how to find and use your own intuitive strengths.

Yes, you do have them.

I’m here for you and I’ll show you.  And I can’t wait to work with you.

xoxoxo,

Laura Koniver MD

 

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How To Avoid Getting Dehydrated As The Summer Heat Sets In

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Known as the “Elixir of Life” for good reason, water is absolutely critical to our well being in every way.  Not only are we primarily made up of water (over 70% of our body is pure water!) but water has a healing property that goes way beyond simple hydration.

Today, I want to share with you all the different ways that we can use the power of water to support your Well Being from the inside out.  One of the most important ways is that it supports our grounding practice — allowing your body to literally be more conductive the more electrolyte balanced and hydrated it is!

But before talking about the benefits of water and how to optimize your water intake, I want to run through some of the surprising symptoms of dehydration.  I’d like you to take a minute to tally up how many of these symptoms you are feeling right now.  Because if you feel even one, you are already volume depleted and you need to immediately go drink a big glass of water!

Here we go:

 

 


What Does Dehydration Feel Like?

 

Dehydration can be life threatening.  Severe dehydration means our organs absolutely can not function normally and leads to seizure, organ failure, and death.

But did you know even very mild levels of dehydration might be affecting you on a daily basis?

Dehydration can lead to or exacerbate common conditions such as constipation, dry skin, bad breath, headache, and high blood pressure.

How many of these symptoms do you have right now?

  •  Dry Mouth: One of the first symptoms of dehydration is dry mouth, which leads to bacteria overgrowth and bad breath.  If you notice bad breath, you might consider: are you chronically dehydrated?
  • Dry Skin: Your skin turgor is another indicator of dehydration.  If you’ve been concerned about your skin feeling dry or more wrinkled, double check that you are drinking enough fluid each day.
  • Pain: Pain is actually a symptom of dehydration as well, often starting with a headache.  And low fluid status can lead to headaches and brain fog as well, as the fluid volume of the brain gets depleted from dehydration.  I’ve literally had patients with a raging headache drink a glass of water and have the headache clear completely.  The next time you have a headache or any type of pain, make sure you drink a glass of water and then re-evaluate your pain levels before reaching for a pain reliever or medication.  Dehydration makes all pain worse, as the volume of the organs and joints deplete, dehydrated ligaments and cartilage get injured more easily and dehydrated discs in the spine allow increased pinching of nerves and muscle cramps increase as electrolytes deplete.
  • Constipation: Having sluggish bowels is another classic symptom of chronic dehydration.  Recent studies have shown that water status is the NUMBER ONE factor impacting regularity.  More important than walking and more important that even fiber intake, water intake can turn constipation issues around completely.  Drinking water has more of an impact on encouraging  healthy bowel movements than fiber supplement or exercise… in fact, I’d go as far as to say fiber supplements clog people up more often than they help.  In general, a constipated person is a dehydrated person.  You can fix that right now — go grab a glass of water.
  • High Blood Pressure: Another classic sign of chronic dehydration? High blood pressure. When we decrease our water intake, our blood gets thicker, harder to pump, our blood volume decreases and our heart rate increases and our blood vessels constrict.  All together, this means your blood pressure raises and stays raised.  If you are having blood pressure issues, it is more important than EVER to be extremely vigilant about your hydration status!
  • Digestive Issues: Dehydration also impacts your entire gut lining, and chronic dehydration can give rise to stomach ulcers and absorption issues as the mucosal layer stops secreting it’s protective film.
  • Dry Cough: Not only does the gut lining need to be well hydrated to function, but also our entire respiratory lining does too. Our lungs absolutely require a moist mucous membrane to function.  In chronic dehydration, the mucus membranes in our respiratory system dry out and become more vulnerable to dust, pollen and other irritants, leaving you susceptible to an irritating, non-productive, dry cough.
  • Urinary Tract Infections: Getting more UTI’s than usual?  Our entire urinary system (and therefore the health of our kidneys) depends on having enough volume to use liquids to flush toxins from our body.  When we can’t do that, we set ourselves up for issues with kidney function and a higher rate of infections.
  • Weight Gain: Another little known side effect of chronic dehydration is weight gain.  As we become volume depleted, we begin to feel thirst, which is often confused with hunger because the body is craving intake of any kind (knowing that most foods will provide some form of hydration, your body sends out the message that it is hungry when it is volume depleted in any way.). As a result, we eat when what we really need to be doing for our true health is rehydrating.
  • Bad Mood & Brain Fog: Did you know that even mild dehydration affects our mood?   A study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that study participants reported decreased motivation and increased feelings of anxiety when mildly dehydrated.  On top of that, headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and decreased physical activity all were increased during dehydration. And the effect of dehydration on mood was even more pronounced in women than in men!  And this medical review published in the Journal Of the American College of Nutrition showed that our attention spans and even our short term memory fizzles when we are dehydrated.

Out of those 10 symptoms, how many are you feeling right now?

If it’s more than one or two of them (or even if it is only one or two of them!) go drink a large glass of water right now, and repeat in an hour.

 

 

 

And the next time you have a headache, or feel anxious, or notice your blood pressure or weight creeping up… drink a glass of water and re-evaluate.

It could be that chronic dehydration has been a key factor contributing to your symptoms all along.

And don’t rely on thirst to remind you to drink!

Prevent dehydration before you even get thirsty. Dehydration begins when we are just 1% volume depleted, but thirst doesn’t set in until our body is about 2% volume depleted. By then we have already had effects on our mood, energy level, ability to think clearly, and pain levels.

Instead of waiting for thirst or darkened urine to remind us to drink, let’s utilize these preventative strategies for staying well hydrated, instead of treating dehydration!

The goal of this article isn’t to teach you how to address dehydration but to have you protecting your hydration levels by proactively preventing dehydration in the first place.

Here are all of the ways that you can use the Elixir Of Life (aka water) to boost your health.  Pick one you don’t typically do to try out today!

 


 

My 12 favorite ways to use water to boost your health:

 

 

 

1. Begin and end every single day drinking a big glass of water.

 

Drink a full glass of water each AM before you even think about reaching for orange juice or coffee.  In fact, don’t allow yourself to drink anything at all before you’ve had a glass of water.

Replenishing the fluids you lost overnight every as well as the fluids you may have overlooked drinking all day long is a great lifelong habit to get into.

Do it daily so it becomes an automatic routine!

 


 

 

 

2.  Drink a glass of water whenever you feel hungry.

 

Use hunger as a reminder to hydrate!

We feel hunger on and off all day long, and so we can remember to drink water on and off all day long too.

Thirst is often confused with hunger, because your body is craving INTAKE of any kind!

Drink a glass of water before each meal and whenever you feel thirst *or* hunger, and you will stay well hydrated all day long.

 


 

 

 

3.  Include fruits and vegetables at every single meal.

 

Fruits and veggies are full of water (many being more than 90% water!) and minerals that help you maintain essential fluid volume.

Processed foods like packaged snacks actually dehydrate you.

Fruits and veggies are a great way to hydrate *while* you eat!

The most hydrating ones include:

  • melons
  • berries
  • cucumber
  • celery
  • leafy greens
  • tomatoes and
  • bell peppers

 


 

 

4.  Use an unrefined sea salt when you cook, instead of table salt.

 

It’s truly important to make sure you have enough minerals in your diet so that you can absorb and retain the right hydration balance.

Trace minerals, found in sea salts, are essential to the body’s function.

In fact, trace minerals actually help enhance another healing practice that I feel is crucial for our well being… grounding!  I talk more about why minerals are so essential for grounding in this video I made for you here.

 

 

 

 

In this video, I reference these mineral drops. 

Even if you don’t think hydration is an issue for you, most of us are mineral depleted whether we hydrate well or not.  This can affect many different organ systems in our body, and even decrease our grounding potential.

You might want to consider a daily mineral supplement that you drop into a glass of water, which will further encourage you to drink drink drink throughout the day.

My favorite is Concentrace Mineral Drops, which I have waiting for you in my online dispensary right here.

 


 

 

5.  Moisturize your skin to decrease transcutaneous water loss.

 

By removing any dead skin, making sure your skin is moist and hydrated, making sure you are not mineral depleted, and making sure you drink a big glass of water so you are well hydrated internally before grounding, you can maximize how quickly and how easily your body gets grounded through contact with the earth outdoors.

My favorite moisturizer combines two of these principals in one: it moisturizes to repair the lipid bilayer of your skin, and it also adds crucial trace minerals to your body as well.  It is a trace mineral lotion and you can find it right here.

 


 

 

6. Switch from soda to sparkling water.

 

If you love carbonation and find it difficult not to crave soda, make the switch to sparkling water instead.

The sugar and chemicals found in soda (even diet soda!) mess with your metabolism and absolutely do not *count* towards your 8+ cups of water a day.  But sparkling water does… and even better if you drink sparkling mineral water, which also replenishes your mineral balance.  Here is one study showing mineral water has health benefits.

Get your carbonation fix from sparkling water or sparkling mineral water instead of soda and reap the hydration rewards!

 


 

 

7.  Allow tears… always.

 

The healing power of water can work magic for helping to support our entire well being, from clearing our mind frame to easing pain.

Because water is such a transformative medium, it’s no coincidence that the basis for our blood, sweat and tears is water. So the first way to use the power of water to transform your well being is to allow the tears… always.  Never hold them back.

Let the water of your tears release your emotions and lift them from your body.

Water is the ultimate medium of flow and healing… in fact, water is the body’s natural choice of release as well, as you can see in the fact that the body uses tears to facilitate an emotional release.

Tears help encourage the flow of emotions through the body (both tears of joy and tears of sorrow!) and allows us to release tension more easily.

 


 

 

8.  Sweat it out!

 

The other way that the body uses water as a form of energetic and physical release is through sweat.  Working up a sweat uses the energy and flow of water (the blood in your circulatory system) by increasing flushing — fluid in, sweat out.

Exercise is an essential, wonderful, medically proven treatment plan for so many different health conditions, shown to be effective in treating everything from insomnia, to depression and anxiety to fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions… even preventing dementia and extending our lifespan!

Make sure you find some physical activity that you can routinely do that allows you to sweat… whether you like hiking, yoga, kickboxing, jogging, or even, in a pinch a more passive form of sweating like a sauna (which has been recently shown to decrease dementia rates!) — find a way to embrace sweating and be sure to replace that fluid flow with tons of fresh filtered water both before, during, and after sweating!!!

 


 

 

 

9.  Enjoy the grounding properties of water, even inside your home.

 

Take a long hot epsom salt bath soak (add some baking soda and apple cider vinegar to turn it into a detoxing experience) to soothe muscles, calm and relax you before bedtime.

Or, simply relax in a warm shower and envision the water carrying the tensions of the day down the drain for you.

Here is a video I made for you showing you how — most likely — the water inside of your home is probably grounding you!  No wonder showers, baths, and even washing the dishes can feel so stress relieving and centering.

 

 


 

 

 

10.  Use water to increase the strength of grounding outside as well.

 

Another great way to use water to heal is to ground in areas that are naturally moist: by the ocean or river or lake… even simply the morning dew on a blade of grass!

There is a reason that doctor’s routinely gave out prescriptions for spending time by the sea when they had no idea what else to do to help an ailment.  That’s because the earth has healing energy to give you, and if you add moisture to that you increase your own conductivity and healing accelerates.

 

moisture + you + earth = expedited healing

 

This spring and summer, if you can get outside grounded while there is still dew on the grass, you will expedite your grounding experience.

If you can take a spray bottle out with you and spritz the ground before touching it, or spritz your skin before touching the earth, you will boost your conductivity.

If you can run through the sprinkler as you water your garden or yard, you will boost your conductivity (take your kids… they love this!). If you have a hose you can play with, to get wet during grounding, by all means do it!

If you have the option to get grounded in an in-ground swimming pool that is made from cement (not plastic) you will be grounded and the water will boost your grounding experience.

If you have the option to wade through a river or creek, or swim or walk along the edge of a lake, river or beach, you will feel the boost that water gives to your time spent grounding.

Bottom line: if water is ever an option for outdoor grounding — take it!

 

 

 

Here is a video I made last summer with my friend Stacey, experimenting with grounding in water.  It was one of the last really warm days we recently had at the very tale end of summer (which, where we live, is in September!)

I hope you enjoy it.  You can really see and feel the difference of how relaxed and centered we become after spending an hour grounding through water.

 


 

 

11.  Make sure your air contains moisture!

 

You lose over two cups (or a half liter) of water just from breathing each day.  And another cup or more just through your skin.  If the air is dry (which all of our indoor air is…) then that water loss is dramatically higher.

Use steam/humidifiers to help hydrate your air and support the hydration of your mucosal membranes, decrease respiratory water loss and even decrease transcutaneous water loss.

If you can’t humidify your whole house, humidify the area that you spend the most time — usually, the bedroom.  If you breathe mositurized air for the 7 or 8 hours you spend in bed each night, you will notice a difference, waking up with more hydrated skin & mucosal membranes.

 


 

 

12.  Drink water in an intentional way, to energetically reset the body from the inside out.

 

As I mentioned above, you lose about 2 liters (8 cups) of water each day… through skin and lungs, urination, bowel movements, tears, and sweating.  You can utilize this high turn over of fluids to your advantage and hydrate hydrate hydrate during times of worry or sorrow or stress more than any other time of your life.

Look at every glass of water you drink as a way to add a healing intention into your body, infusing every single cell of every single tissue of every single organ system you have with healing support.  You can simply say a prayer, say an intention, even just *think* an intention as you hold your cup of water and silently bless it before you drink it.

Let your body be flushed out inside and out and with every urination or bowel movement or tear or droplet of sweat you shed, recognize you are flushing the old energy down the drain and making way for new healing.

The beautiful, life affirming, healing properties of water can not be matched with anything else we put into our bodies.

 

 

 

 

And on that note, one last note bit of really good news: the water filter that I use in my home, and that I routinely recommend to patients, is back in stock!  Woot!!!

Why do I recommend you filter your water before drinking it, especially if it’s from the tap?

Hundreds of medical studies have shown that fluoride affects everything from cognitive function to bone density to cardiac function in humans, as well as to diabetes, fertility and more in animals… so I recommend avoiding fluoride in water and never use fluoridated toothpastes.

Fluoride is an enzyme inhibitor, point-blank. Even the minuscule amounts of fluoride added to the public water supply accumulates in bone.  It is estimated about 50% of the fluoride we consume is eliminated, and 50% is stored in our body, mostly in our bones.  So miniscule amounts of fluoride adding to our bodies sip after sip after sip equals a not-so-minimal exposure.

Over a lifetime, these levels can reach high proportions… decreasing bone density and causing brittleness.  For a nation whose women have epidemic proportions of osteopenia and osteoporosis, it would be counter productive to continue to drink fluoride on a daily basis.  Studies have also shown that the rate of hip fracture in elderly is directly increased in areas that fluoridate their water.

We also know fluoride is being taken up by our cardiovascular system as well.  A study published in the journal Nuclear Medicine Communications definitively proved that fluoride is absorbed into your vascular system. Researchers followed 61 patients after administering fluoride and found that 96% of them had fluoride uptake in their cardiovascular walls.

In a nation with heart disease steeply rising, this doesn’t sit well with me.  Direct absorption to of fluoride into our cardiovascular walls (and a significant correlation between cardiovascular events and fluoride uptake) makes it all the more urgent for us to avoid fluoride all together.

Have trouble sleeping?  Fluoride has also been shown to decrease the duration and quality of sleep.  Published in 2021 in Environmental Health, researchers found that those living with water that was fluoridated by the municipal water supply had a 34% increased risk of sleeping less than those living in non-fluoridated communities.

Recent reports also reveal that fluoride lowers IQ.  I am routinely asked at the dentist’s office if I would like to give my children a concentrated fluoride treatment.  And affect their still-developing brain?  Uh… NO.  I feel that a fluoride filter to remove fluoride from your drinking water (as well as not using fluoridated toothpaste) is a mandatory investment to protect the long term health of your heart, your bones, your brain, and all the organs in between!

The truth is, you already get fluoride exposures through your foods.  Plants store fluoride found naturally in the earth AND from the water used to irrigate crops.  Yep, even organic crops have fluoride in them from the irrigation water. We are just getting so much exposure to fluoride, that to intentionally consume extra fluoride, whether through drinking water or toothpaste, is way too much. And your skin absorbs fluoride as well, so even when you are showering or taking a bath, you are absorbing fluoride.

Another recent and highly disturbing medical study, just published in 2022 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, estimates that over half of the current US population has been exposed to unsafe levels of lead and that the lead exposure alone (nevermind the fluoride exposure!) accounts for the loss of 824,097,690 IQ points — an average of 2.6 points per person.  Yuck.

Although leaded gasoline was a huge exposure years ago, now the primary exposure to lead is through drinking water, in addition to paint, dust, soil, air and food.  Led gets into the drinking water from plumbing materials (such as pipes, faucets and fixtures (more common in homes built before 1986) as well as brass or chrome plated brass faucets and plumbing soldered together with lead solder (still widespread.)

Because lead is a toxic metal that is harmful to human health even at very low exposures, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the maximum contaminant level for lead in drinking water at zero.  Your community water system must deliver and annual water quality report called a CCR (Consumer Confidence Report) that tells you the level of lead in your drinking water.  You should either request your latest CCR from your water utility service, or have your water tested for lead.   Here is a fabulous resource offered by the EPA for finding out more about the harms of lead in drinking water and what to do about it.

 

 

Or, you can do as I do, and filter your drinking water regardless.  Because not only will the right filtration unit filter out fluoride and lead, but it will also filter out chlorine and other nasty chemicals added to the public water supply, as well as nasty chemicals that are unintentionally in our water supply like arsenic, pesticides, perchlorate, and even pharmaceutical drugs.

I keep a water filtration system out on my kitchen counter space so that not only am I drinking pure, clean, fluoride free water, but the beautiful filtration unit serves as a visual reminder to DRINK every single time I walk it, or am standing in the kitchen preparing a meal.

My agreement with myself — and hopefully one you will make with yourself too now that you’ve read all about how serious dehydration is and how crucial staying hydrated is — is that every time I see the water filter, I have to go take a quick drink of water from it.

So every time I walk by my kitchen, every time I go in for a snack, every time I am doing the dishes, and every time I am prepping a meal or cleaning up from a meal… I drink a glass of water.

It’s win-win, because drinking a glass of water before every meal helps me decrease cravings and control portion sizes naturally, which is one of the best tips for losing weight there is.   But as a bonus, this habit has really helped me to remember to maintain my hydration status.

Using a water filter not only ensures my water is pure and healthy, instead of harming me, but it serves as a visual reminder to stay hydrated.

And PS — did you know that drinking tap water is harmful to your pets as well?  This report goes over why hard water may be harming your pet.  In addition, fluoride, chlorine, lead, microplasltics, pesticides and fertilizers in tap water harm your pet’s organ systems just like it harms yours!

So here is the best one, finally back in stock.

 


 

 

 

 

Today, try to use at least one of the dozen ways listed above to allow water to naturally support your Well Being… knowing you are doing more than just avoiding dehydration, you are boosting your immediate — and long term — health!

Stay hydrated this spring and summer, and all year long.

xoxo, Laura