Thursday, December 14, 2017

Merry Christmas!


I know this can be a difficult time of year for some of us. Health challenges, missing loved ones, stress, etc. can make it hard to feel very "merry."

At the same time, I think we all need moments to stop, to pause, to breathe, and to celebrate something.

In the midst of every trial, we need hope.
In seasons of sorrow, we need pockets of joy.
In hardship and stress, we need laughter and song.

Christmas is a special time of year. But I think we can easily miss what it's really about.

It's not about decorations, cards, or trees.
It's not about parties or food.
It's not about shopping, stockings, or presents.
It's not about lights or caroling.
Ultimately, it's not even about gathering with family and friends.  

Christmas is about what we all need. It's the reminder that Jesus loved us so much, that He chose to leave heaven and come to earth. God became a baby.

Jesus left perfection to enter our messy world.
He came to experience our trials.
To carry our sorrows.
To endure our hardships.
To embrace life as we know it.
And to die in our place.
So that we could then embrace Life itself - in Him.

Christmas is about the gift God gave in sending Jesus.

When we pause to remember that gift...
we'll see again the hope that we have in Him,
we'll receive renewed joy, knowing that death is not the end,
we'll want to celebrate and sing about how good our God is,
...and in the process, Christmas once again becomes the gift we always need.

So whatever you're going through right now - sorrow, pain, trials, hardships, stress - I hope you'll celebrate this Christmas with wonder, gratitude, and enthusiasm!

And in the process, I hope you'll find whatever you need.


"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people, for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior...'" -Luke 2:10-11

"The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means 'God with us')." -Matthew 1:23

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." -1 John 4:9

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16

Friday, December 1, 2017

Thankful For Reflexology

I apologize that this post is a day late. It's been a busy week, but I'm thankful for all that I'm able to do these days! And I'm excited that last month I completed the process to become a certified reflexologist! I started the training about a year and a half ago, and along the way I've seen more of what a wonderful gift reflexology is.

For those who haven't heard about it, here are some quick facts from the International Institute of Reflexology.

What is reflexology?
Reflexology is a science that deals with the principle that there are reflex areas in the hands and feet that correspond to all the organs, glands and parts of the body. Reflexology stimulates these reflexes using specific techniques.

What does it do?
Reflexology helps to relieve stress and tension.
It improves nerve and blood supply.
It helps nature normalize (come back to balance).

By working the reflexes in the feet, specific areas of the body can benefit (through the three things listed above). It's amazing to me how God created our bodies, not only with the ability to heal and repair, but also with built in help such as reflex areas in the hands and feet. 

For me, reflexology has been a great addition to the other things I've done for my health. Having reflexology sessions helped me a lot when I was still recovering from years of chronic illness. It has also helped me with issues, such as trouble breathing, pain, reducing stress, etc.

Here's a brief quote from someone I did reflexology for earlier this year:

"I did reflexology with Joanna after a very physically and emotionally stressful period of my life, and I found it really helpful. Working on my feet really helped highlight and release things in my body, and sped up the healing process, and even started it in some cases where my body seemed 'stuck.' Having Ehlers Danlos Syndrome means that I'm quite wary to place my body under the care of others as it is very fragile and hyper-flexible, but Joanna was very sensible to the needs of my body and its limits." -S.W.

So far I've been able to do reflexology for a variety of people with different health challenges - including headaches, arthritis, back pain, acute pain, allergies, intestinal problems, and more. I've had great feedback from people about it.

Reflexology isn't a "magic button;" it's simply another tool that can be used in taking care of our health.

From my experience, I'd encourage anyone with severe or chronic health problems to start slowly with reflexology. When my health was still pretty bad, I started with a 20 minute reflexology session (10 minutes per foot). Gradually I was able to build up to having longer sessions. I also told my reflexologist when to use less pressure. She was great about being sensitive to my needs.

Some people I've worked with can start with an hour session, and it feels great to them! It just depends on the individual and what their body needs.

If you haven't tried it before, you might consider reflexology. The IIR (International Institute of Reflexology) that I did my training with, has a list on their website by state of certified reflexologists, if you want to try to find someone in your area. You can also read more information about reflexology on their website: http://reflexology-usa.net/

Reflexology has been a blessing for me. I'm excited about seeing it hopefully be a blessing to others as well.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Choose Less Sugar


I wrote a post about the harmful effects of sugar a few years ago. But with the holidays upon us, I think it's a good time to address this topic again.

Not only does sugar negatively affect the body in many different ways, but most people are seriously over-consuming sugar! 
Some form of added sugar is in almost every prepared or processed food these days. And most of these sugars are under various names you might not realize are actually sugar.

(See Dr. Mercola's article - https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/10/12/other-names-for-sugar.aspx for a long list of such names.)

Just how much sugar is too much?
"The American Heart Association and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend limiting your daily added sugar intake to nine teaspoons (38 grams) for men, and six teaspoons (25 grams) for women. The limits for children range from three to six teaspoons (12 - 25 grams) per day, depending on age...and I strongly recommend limiting your daily fructose intake to 25 grams or less from all sources, including natural sources such as fruit—regardless of whether you’re male or female."

The reason these numbers are so important is because of how our bodies work.
"The main problem with sugar, and processed fructose in particular, is the fact that your liver has a very limited capacity to metabolize it...you can safely metabolize about six teaspoons of added sugar per day...the average American consumes 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day."

The human body is not made to handle the high amounts of sugar people eat today. That's why “sugar consumption in America is one of the 3 major causes of degenerative disease." 

Many people say, "Well, I don't eat much sugar." But when you ask a few more questions, you realize they are consuming a LOT more sugar than they realize. "Sugar" isn't just cookies or candy. It's in almost every processed food, like tomato sauce, salad dressing, crackers, etc. If you read every label and added up how many grams a day you're consuming, it would probably be well over the recommended amount.

The kind of sugar you consume is also important. High fructose corn syrup is probably the worst kind of sugar (see my previous post here). White table sugar runs a close second. However, things like fruit, honey, and even small amounts of real maple syrup have various health benefits - as long as they aren't over-consumed.

This time of year it seems like the sugar is flowing freely at every event and place you go. But I hope you'll consider what a gift you'll be giving your body, your health, and your loved ones if you watch out for sugar. 


Thursday, November 2, 2017

What Are Tonsils There For?

Do you still have your tonsils? Many years ago doctors starting removing tonsils from children who had frequent infections. So a lot of adults today are missing their tonsils. Tonsils are treated similar to the appendix - they're not essential, you can live without them. So if we can live without them, what are they there for? Good question, glad you asked. =)

The tonsils are actually lymph nodes that contain immune cell-produced antibodies that help kill germs and prevent infections. They are a key part of our body's defense. Here's a quote from an article by Dr. Axe -

"The tonsils are considered “guardians” since they’re a part of the immune system, specifically the lymphatic system, and are made up of tissue that acts as a natural germ filter. The tonsils are one of our first lines of defense, since they normally trap germs (bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.) that make their way into the mouth or nose and threaten the immune system.

They’re responsible for tackling threatening pathogens soon after they enter the body, stopping them from potentially traveling further into the body and causing infections. The production of germ-fighting antibodies is one of the most important roles for the tonsils, since these white blood cells attack bacteria that are deemed dangerous."
(from - https://draxe.com/tonsillitis/ )

As you can see your tonsils are actually quite important. Even though you can live without them, they serve a vital role in your overall health.

For those who have frequent throat infections, the answer may not be removing the tonsils, but focusing on improving the immune system. The tonsils can keep the infections from going to other parts of the body. Without your tonsils, you may still get infections, but they'll show up in other places in the body. 

When dealing with frequent infections, remember that many time when the tonsils are infected, it's actually from a virus, not a bacteria. So it's important to confirm the presence of a bacterial infection if antibiotics are prescribed as a treatment.

There are many natural remedies that can help fight throat infections. Various herbs, essential oils and supplements can help, for example: slippery elm and licorice root herbs, lemon and frankincense essential oils along with others, and vitamin C, garlic, and oregano. Of course what works best will depends on the person, what their body needs, and what the situation is. There are many good tools available. Find what seems to be helpful for you. You can read Dr. Axe's article (link above) for more information on fighting infections naturally.

If you've already had your tonsils removed, then you don't have that first line of defense in your throat. So it would be good to do things to boost your immune system and especially to keep good oral health, so that germs don't have a chance to get past the throat into some other area of the body.

Again, essential oils can be helpful for this. Rinsing your mouth and gargling with mild saltwater (using a good quality sea salt) can help, especially during times when germs are more prolific. Rinsing your mouth with coconut oil can also be good, although it can cause you to detox, so be cautious when starting that.

Obviously eating a healthy diet, getting adequate rest, staying hydrated, and taking care of yourself overall is important. And keeping your lymphatic system healthy is also key. You can do that through lymphatic massage, stretching, deep breathing, etc. Probiotics can also be helpful (when you find one that works well for you).

Your tonsils were designed by God for an important purpose. If you still have yours, I hope you'll appreciate them more after reading this. =) And if you don't have yours anymore, I hope you'll find some good ways to improve your immune and lymphatic systems.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Brain Detoxification


I learned something new today. Isn't that fun? :) (It's good for us to always keep learning!) 

I learned about the "glymphatic system." Have you ever heard of it? It's your brain's detoxification system, and it's pretty amazing! 

This system is similar to the lymphatic system in the body, but is unique to the brain (since the lymphatic system doesn't include the brain). 

During sleep this system is activated and "garbage" in the brain is removed. 

This is yet another reason why adequate and good quality sleep is so important! Without healthy sleep, the brain can't properly detoxify. 

Think of it like running the dishwasher at night while you sleep. When you wake up, the dishes are all clean and ready for another day of use. :) 

There's much more to the "glymphatic system" than my simple explanation, so here's a great article that I encourage you to read. 


And please remember that getting healthy sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health. 


So on that note, I think I'll get some sleep now. Sweet dreams! :) 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Keep It Light

When life feels overwhelming, as it often does, we tend to be serious about everything. But even in the midst of great challenges, I think we still need moments to pause and let our hearts be light, even laugh out loud. I know sometimes that feels impossible or perhaps irreverent. Yet God reminds us that "the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Neh. 8:10).

So whether things are ok for you right now, or you're feeling crushed by trials, or you're somewhere in between...I hope you'll take a few minutes today to pause. To breathe. And to think about something that makes you laugh or brings you joy. Don't let hardships or pain consume you 24/7. Make a space once in a while for your heart to be light again.

Here's a little something to help you out today. Some classic comedy, though not exactly the healthy way to secure food. =) Enjoy, and let the gift of laughter be a "little vacation for your soul" as my friend says. =) 

God bless you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KQnA2U46JI

Friday, September 22, 2017

Reducing Stress

I'm sorry this post is a little late. Things have been a bit crazy for me lately, but God is good. With all I'm going through, I thought this post about dealing with stress was a good one to share again. I hope it's helpful for you too. =)

Tips for Dealing With Stress

Stress is a pretty hot topic these days, as it should be. It seems people have never been more stressed-out than they are now. In spite of modern "conveniences," for many people life has gotten more complicated, more frenzied, and more demanding. 
However, living with ongoing stress causes all kinds of health problems (such as heart disease, digestive problems, depression, autoimmune diseases, etc.). 
So what can we do to reduce stress? Here are a few tips:
Physically:
This specific kind of massage is excellent for de-stressing the body. It's a relaxing massage that also stimulates the body's natural healing processes. My massage therapist recommends having a lymphatic massage at least twice a month, or every week if possible.
2) Exercise
 Research clearly shows that regular exercise is necessary and beneficial for almost everyone.
(If you have a severe adrenal or thyroid condition, then it's often better not to exercise until the condition improves. For many months I didn't attempt exercise because it would have made my condition worse. Be sure to listen to your body and to your health provider so you know it's safe for you to begin exercising.) 
The kind of exercise that is best depends on each individual's condition and specific needs. For many people walking is the best exercise. Others can handle a more strenuous program. It's important to figure out what is best for where you are right now and then start!
Consistent exercise reduces stress in the body and boosts health in many other ways as well. 
 Most people don't breathe well. Taking a few minutes 2-3 times a day to practice deep breathing can help reduce stress in your body. 
You can do this standing (take a big breath in while raising your arms over your head, then slowly exhale while you lower your arms). Or you can do it while lying on your back (inhale deeply, filling first your diaphragm then your lungs with air, then exhale slowly). 
Also, when you're confronted with a stressful situation, form a habit of stopping to take a deep breath in and then releasing slowly. This will calm the stress reaction and help you think more clearly about how to respond.
Laughing actually shifts the body from a stress response to a relaxed state. (It has many other great benefits, including increasing endorphins, boosting the immune system, and giving your heart a workout). 
Dr. Don Colbert recommends 20 seconds of belly laughter 10 times a day. So find some comedy videos, read a joke book, or just laugh for no reason! You'll be glad you did. =) 
These four things are great for physically reducing stress in our bodies. 
Spiritually/Emotionally:
5) Prayer partner 
 Ask someone you know to be a weekly prayer partner. You can meet with them face to face or over the phone. Sharing your needs and requests with another person and then praying together can do wonders to reduce stress. 
God says to be anxious for nothing, but in all things with prayer, petition, and thanksgiving to present our requests to Him. And He promises that His supernatural peace will guard our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:6-7). 
Even though we can do this on our own, I've found that having a prayer partner to share my requests and prayers with helps me tremendously.
6) Worship time
 If you haven't already, start a habit of spending at least 10 minutes a day simply worshiping God. 
It's great to sing along to praise music throughout the day. But it's even more vital to set aside a specific time with no agenda, no multi-tasking, and no distractions. Then you can focus on God - how great He is, how much He loves you, His faithfulness, etc. 
So get comfy on the couch, stand in your backyard, or hide in your closet if necessary, and spend some time singing praise to God and worshiping Him.
If you try this for a week, I think you'll be amazed at how much it brings down your stress level. As you focus intentionally on God, the cares and stress of this life gradually fade to their proper perspective. 
These two habits have wonderful potential to lower stress and enhance your spiritual/emotional health.
Practically:
7) Simplify
 - Your schedule
Most people are way too busy, resulting in feeling stressed out all the time. Pray over your schedule and see what activities or commitments you can cancel. Let God guide you in His plan for investing your time, then happily let go of the rest. =) 
 - Your environment 
We all have more stuff than we need. Take some time to find things you can give away, sell or throw away (or make a habit of reducing excess clutter little by little). Worrying about "stuff" causes unnecessary stress. Research shows that often people with fewer possessions are happier than those with much. So keep your "stuff" simple.
 - Your media intake
Today we're bombarded with media 24/7. With smart phones we're never "unplugged" from news, email, Facebook, blogs, etc. But this deluge of media actually adds stress. Take a realistic look at how much media you consume daily. Then find ways to cut back and allow yourself time off to breathe and enjoy some of life's simple pleasures. =) 
It takes effort to simplify and keep life simple, but the rewards of a more focused, less-stressed life and truly worth it! 
I hope these tips are helpful. What ideas would you like to add for dealing with stress?