Young woman relaxing with tea during the holidays

Don’t Wait Until You’re Sick and Tired

As another year comes to a close and the evening commitments build up, are you in need of a nap? When you look back over your calendar for the past year (and I hope you do this), do you feel invigorated by what you achieved and the changes you made, or do you think the past 12 months were a bit exhausting?

The holidays and New Year’s are the perfect time to talk about fatigue. Most of us have too much on our plates already, and then the holidays arrive. Instead of using the long hours of darkness to turn off the lights and get more sleep, we shop in stores and online, RSVP “I can’t wait!” to the party invitations, and dance, eat and drink into the wee hours of the morning.

Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Christmas are major cultural festivals that deserve all the joy they bring to us and our families and friends, but when they’re over, there’s a seemingly inevitable slide into being just too tired. When January comes this year, let’s make a commitment to use the cold winter months to replenish body, mind and soul.

If we keep burning the candle at both ends, ignoring our fatigue, and dosing ourselves with coffee and tea to wake up, and wine or a margarita to decompress and relax, we stress our body’s immune system. We may be functioning all day long, but our adrenal glands are pumping out cortisol and we begin experiencing aches and pains, anxiety, sleeplessness, or oversleeping our alarm each morning.

Here are a few tips to keep you from running out of steam halfway through the day, and sleeping soundly all night:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Your body thrives on routine, so give up the third episode of your binge-a-thon, and hit the sheets.
  • If you can’t wake up without crawling to the coffee pot, then go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until you can.
  • Cut back on caffeine. Coffee and caffeinated teas and sodas will disrupt your sleep if you drink them in the afternoon, so try to keep those beverages to the morning hours. Or give them up altogether, albeit a little at a time. No cold turkey!
  • If not drinking caffeine in the afternoon leaves you feeling sluggish, head outside for some fresh air and a walk. Drink some water. Eat a healthy snack.
  • If you continue to feel tired, don’t wait until you’re sick AND tired before you do something about it. A visit to your naturopathic doctor for a review of your blood work and diet is in order. I help many of my clients with lifestyle and nutrition changes that get them back on the right track.

You deserve to greet every day feeling great, and ready to take on the tasks that will make your dreams come true. Let’s all get some rest before a cold or flu force us to go to bed. As a mom with a new baby, I’m all for grabbing a nap when I need to. You have my permission to take a nap, too!

Woman stressed out on laptop with notebook

Stressed about Being Stressed: Breaking the Vicious Cycle

A feeling of urgency can be a good thing for many of us, at least initially. A healthy amount of stress propels us to get things done, however, the more stress that piles on, the more we start to feel it. And because we each know the symptoms we get under stress, such as headaches, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, pain, weight gain, burnout, and more, we start to fear the stress.  Eventually we start getting stressed about being stressed. Herein lies “the vicious cycle.” Below are 3 ways to deal with stress and nip this cycle in the bud.

First, what is stress exactly?

And why is it important that we deal with it? When you feel stress, that familiar clutch in the gut or breathlessness or mounting sense of overwhelm, your body tries to help you run for the hills—literally. Your system is flooded with stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, elevating your heart rate and blood pressure to get more oxygen into your bloodstream. Because there is a lion after you!

Except there is no lion, and running away isn’t what you need to do. But stress is using up the energy your body would otherwise use to digest food, repair tissue, and renew cells. When you see a plastic bag fluttering along the freeway while you’re stuck in traffic and it reminds you that while you’re worrying about being late to your appointment that you also need to do something about climate change, glucose is being sent to your blood to give you energy to sprint for the safety of your cave.  In a very short while of fruitless fretting, you have a fuel shortage in your body. What quick fix will solve the problem? Sugar to the rescue! Good thing you have those Milky Ways in your bag.

So you binge on sugar, feel better for 15 minutes, get off the highway right as the sugar crash begins, and arrive at your appointment feeling depleted instead of energized. Now that you’re  doing a presentation to potential clients with a bedraggled body and mind, what’s your response? Stress, of course.

Regardless of what stresses you, you must break this cycle.

Stress Technique #1: Eliminate the stressor.

In order to eliminate the stressor, it is essential to pause for some self-reflection. What’s stressing you out? Take a minute and really think about it. Is it finances? Is it a family member? Is it your responsibility for ___? Is it pressure to do ____?

If it’s work, can you change your position or leave your job? Can you give up your title as captain of your tennis team or the extra work you do with the PTA? If your commute on metronorth is too long, can you relocate? These are the questions you have to ask yourself and sometimes the solution becomes clear. Other times, you might evaluate the stressor and conclude that eliminating the stressor just isn’t possible. For example: If your 3 year old is having afternoon tantrums, the ones where they scream so loud you think they might rupture your eardrum, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t put your kid back.  Some things you can’t eliminate.

Moving on to number two.

Stress Technique #2:. Cope with stress.

Once you have concluded that eliminating the stressor is not possible and you have finally come to accept that there isn’t a pill you can pop to deal with stress, it’s time to figure out your personal coping techniques.

Here a list of some ideas. Feel free to add to this list. Let’s just make sure your techniques are healthful coping techniques. A bottle of gin is NOT an example of a healthful coping technique.

  • Mindfulness/Meditation: Try a Meditation Class, Purchase a guided CD, Watch a YouTube Video, or download and use a phone application such as Calm or headspace
  • Epsom Salt Bath (add music, candles)
  • Walk your dog or if you don’t have a dog, stop at the humane society and love on another dog
  • Sleep / Nap
  • Take a vacation
  • Go to yoga
  • Spend time with friends
  • Sporting Activities (Sailing, Kayaking, hiking, golfing etc.)
  • Listen to music
  • Get a pedicure

Once you have a couple of these things on board, it’s up to you to implement them. Next we need to work on your head game.

Moving on to number three.

Stress Technique #3:  Change your reaction to the stressor.

“Sure,” you’re thinking, “easier said than done”. There’s no doubt that changing your reaction is the most challenging way to deal with stress, but it is often the most rewarding.   In order to change your reaction, try to gain an alternate perspective.   I suggest reading a book. Recently I read “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and found it helpful. There are many others. You could also listen to a TED talk, or meet with a therapist. Again, just pick something.

Stress Technique #4: Find a body-supporting supplement

With all of this, don’t forget to reach out for help. Stress can deplete the body’s store of B vitamins, and an elevated heart rate and flood of stress hormones can set up a cascading domino effect of ill health.  There are some powerful herbs, vitamins, and homeopathics that can help along the way. Consider the healing effects of B Vitamins, Holy Basil, Valerian, and Magnesium. I can help you select the right supplement in the right amounts to support your body while you find better ways of reducing your stress.

Don’t run from that lion alone. I’m here to help.

A 15 minute complimentary phone session can answer many of your questions about treatment for cervical dysplasia. Schedule your call by contacting me at my office, Shalva Clinic, at 203-916-4600.

Transforming Your Health with Dr. El

There’s a sweeping change taking place in medicine today. No longer are people content to see a doctor only when they’re sick, to be treated with a variety of pharmaceutical solutions that they don’t understand, and whose side effects may be as harmful to the body as the original illness. Many patients are seeking natural, gentle solutions to their health concerns, and easily blend relationships with a traditional internal medicine MD with advice and safe treatments from their Naturopathic Doctor.

This integrative approach is one that I recommend to my patients. We can best serve our patients’ health problems when we work together. There are times when an emergency room, surgery, and drug therapy is the right choice. My focus is on rebalancing the body, boosting the immune system and restoring it to full and vibrant health long before those developing illnesses become critical.

Working with me is easy: if you can travel to my office at Shalva Clinic in Westport, CT, then we can enjoy a personal meeting with hands-on medical care. For those of you who live far away, a phone consultation can be scheduled to review your concerns and help you create an action plan for health. After our visit, I can select the right vitamins and supplements to support your health through the Healthy You store.

If you become a member in my Love Life! Program, you’ll receive a monthly newsletter filled with up-to-the-minute health advice, a quarterly master class where you can both watch me live on video and ask questions in real time, a private Facebook page, and a once a year phone call with me for some very personal attention!

I want to do more than just treat a disease once it’s taken hold in your body. I want to promote a healthy lifestyle that supports your body by relying on its own natural wisdom to restore health. I treat the whole person, reviewing your unique and complex physical, mental, and environmental makeup to create a new cornerstone in your life for wellness.

I hope you’ll join me!

A 15 minute complimentary phone session can answer many of your questions about treatment for cervical dysplasia. Schedule your call by contacting me at my office, Shalva Clinic, at 203-916-4600.