Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Are You Focusing on What You Want to Achieve?

 by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

It is always a good idea to check in every now and then to determine if your focus and actions are aligned with goals and desires. Many people desire to be healthy, for example, but they actually spend very little time on activities that support health.  

One thing is true, everyone has the same amount of time - 24-hours in a day, 7-days in a week. Being able to see the connection between what you do and where you are in life is a worthwhile exercise and can help you live more consciously.

Step 1: List of Roles and Activities

The first thing to do is make a list of all the things that you do and the roles that you have in life. Most people are surprised at the number of activities and roles that they do on a daily or weekly basis.  Some examples are:

Roles:
  • mother or father
  • sister or brother
  • aunt, uncle or cousin
  • friend
  • student or co-worker
  • volunteer
  • community work
  • etc. etc.

Activities:

  • self-care
  • exercising
  • food preparation and eating
  • working
  • sleeping
  • mindfulness and meditation
  • social media
  • web searching or watching television / movies
  • spending time in nature
  • healthcare
  • reading
  • hobby or project
  • spending or saving money
  • etc. etc.

Step 2: Current Satisfaction Level


The 2nd step is to take some time and assess how satisfied you are with your life. How much joy and happiness do you experience.  Are you healthy and fit?  How are you handling the ups and downs of life?  What are your goals and your plans?  Do you have health concerns that you need to address?  Where are you financially?  How is the external stress of life affecting you?  Are there external factors that may impact your life and are you ready for them?

Spending time to reflect is an important aspect of life.  As we all know, there are aspects of life that are not within our control and it is important to reflect on how they have impacted us and in what ways have they affected our life and our choices. If your aim is to live life more consciously, than it is important to spend time reflecting on what you do and whether it matches with who you want to be.  Living consciously also helps to adjust and accommodate the stressors of life that cross our path.

Step 3: Mapping of Activities and Goals


Once you have an idea of what aspects of your life are working for you and which aren't, the third step is to look at how much time you are spending in each aspect and to determine what needs to change.  The aim is to decide what activities you need to increase and which ones you need to decrease. For some activities, it may be about changing how you are doing them. For example, you might find that you still want to make exercise an important aspect of your life, but you are going to spend more time exercising outside and focusing on cardiovascular versus doing weight training in a gym.  

We change and our life changes when we make conscious choices to do something differently.  It can help to:
  • Keep in mind that you only have 24 hours in a day; 7 days in a week.
  • Recognize that if you are overwhelmed then you likely have too many things on your plate and it would be helpful to look at those activities you can decrease or remove.
  • Whatever you focus on increases in intensity and importance. Living consciously is about being more aware of your choices and choosing more intentionally.

Step 4: Make Strategic Changes

Once you have decided what needs to change, start making the changes one at a time.  Generally, it is not about changing everything at once.  It is about starting slowly and moving forward in the direction you want. It is always helpful to check in on a weekly or monthly basis with your plans to ensure that you stay on track. If you struggle with staying true to your goals, it may help to work with someone else - a naturopathic doctor, nutritionist, personal trainer, etc. - to support the specific changes that you desire.

Other blogs that you may find helpful:





Monday, January 3, 2022

Tips for Self-Care this New Year

 By Dr. Leena Sripada, ND

Self-care has always been a foundation of naturopathic & Ayurvedic wellness. Self-care is not only about taking care of our physical wellbeing but is also about nurturing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. In these past 2 years over the pandemic, for many people there has been a different kind of stress and strain due to fear, uncertainty and reduced connection with people. With the dawn of a New Year, this is a time to refocus, prioritize and set a positive mindset of what you want to work towards and how you want to be.

Do you want to take your stress out on your loved ones or do you want to be a happier person to be around? Do you want to be worried about the future or focus on what you are grateful for? Do you want to worry about your health or focus on things you can do right now, daily to stay healthy? Maybe you want to lose weight, exercise more, eat a healthier diet, feel better or have more time for yourself. When you start integrating simpler, more manageable healthy habits into your daily routine that you do consistently, it is much easier than making ambitious goals. The small things that you do for your health add up, allowing you to prevent disease and feel better every day.

There are many self-care routines that you can incorporate this year. These are practices that you can do on your own such as: self-oil massagedry skin brushingbaths with therapeutic salts or morning stretches. Self-care also means tune-ups with your naturopathic doctor.  Depending on your state of health, this could mean monthly acupuncture sessions, regular massages or body work to realign yourself. Just like you go to the dentist every 6 months and brush your teeth daily for oral health, self-care is essential for optimal health and prevention of disease. Many people often go to the doctor when they are sick or have pain.  However, the naturopathic approach helps identify and prevent illness before you feel symptoms, saving you time and money in the long term.

When you take care of yourself, you will naturally be able to take care of the things around you that matter most: kids, family, career etc. Some people feel guilty taking time for themselves; it's not about being selfish, but instead it's about nurturing yourself. When your body, mind, emotions and spirit are in harmony with each other, you will not only feel great, but you will feel fulfilled with your life purpose.

Self-Care Tips

According to Ayurveda, dinacharya is a term used to describe daily routine and self-care practices which restore balance and attune ourselves to the natural fluctuations of nature. Below are a few suggestions for you in the new year and beyond.

1. Start the day with a warm glass of water. Sounds so simple, but how many of us actually do it regularly? This will help flush out accumulated toxins after the night and stimulate the digestive system to cleanse. For some individuals, lemon-water or light ginger or herbal teas may be advised.

2. Eliminate. No matter how much good food you eat or quality supplements you take, if you are not emptying your bowels in the morning regularly, you are accumulating waste material. Spending the time in the morning to eliminate is a basic healthy habit. If you struggle with constipation, you should speak with your naturopathic doctor as it is a sign of imbalance.

3. Care for your body. Depending on your constitution and the season, self-oil massage or dry skin-brushing can help nourish and cleanse your skin. For example, if you have a vata constitution, a warm oil self massage prior to showering can promote circulation and be a grounding to start the day. If you have a kapha constitution, dry skin brushing can also help stimulate lymphatic drainage.

4. Exercise and/or meditate. It may initially seem difficult to do, but starting the day consciously with even 5 minutes of meditation will enhance the quality of your day. Kapha body types need more vigorous exercise, while vata types need gentler movement or meditation and pitta types need moderation.

5. Start the day with a nourishing breakfast balanced with enough protein - don't skip it before rushing out the door or replace it with a sweet beverage that will spike your blood sugar levels and leave you feeling depleted. Aim for lunch to be the largest meal of the day, and dinner to be early and lighter for digestive health. Try to learn more about your Ayurvedic constitution so you can make dietary choices more aligned for your body. (Learn more about seminars on this topic here).

6. Hydrate! Seems easier said than done, but it is crucial to have adequate water during the day to keep your skin soft and support cellular detox.  Aim for 7-9 glasses of water per day. Drinking warm water or adding lemon, ginger or other herbs can make it more palatable for those who don't like to drink water. There are also many herbal teas in the clinic that are therapeutic. Preparing a warm cup of tea can be very healing in itself, in addition to the therapeutic benefits of the herbs which work gently but effectively.

7. Schedule in appointments for self-care ahead of time rather than waiting until symptoms come up. If you struggle with body pain, regular bodywork can be very effective at preventing issues from worsening. For example if you suffer from tension headaches, monthly acupuncture can keep them at bay. If you have arthritic pain, regular massages can nourish the joints and prevent poor circulation in the winter. These treatments can be done weekly, monthly or at every season transition. Cupping can also be done monthly or every 3 months for maintenance for muscle tension, scar tissue or detox. Speak to your naturopathic doctor on what would be the best maintenance treatment frequency for you depending on your health status.

8. Castor oil packs are very effective for reducing inflammation and detoxifying the liver. If you struggle with digestive complaints, menstrual issues or have a sluggish liver, speak with your naturopathic doctor on how often you can do castor oil packs. Adding this to your daily routine will feel good.

9. Treat yourself to a hot bath with alkaline salts and essential oils. Your skin is the largest organ of elimination, and in winter time we barely sweat. Soaking in a hot tub will ease tight muscles, allowing minerals to nourish your skin and eliminate toxins. If you have skin issues, you may need to soak 3x/week.  Otherwise a weekly bath can wash away physical and mental emotional residue. 

10. Sleep on time. Most people find themselves in a vicious cycle of struggling to get up and get everything done in the day, and sleeping later than planned. Quantity and quality of sleep are equally important, and can be promoted by simple sleep self-care routine such as: foot baths or massages before bed, screen-free time, meditation or listening to soothing music. If you end your day with a restful sleep, you will find your quality of day will improve, leaving you more time to do the things you love to do.

11. Schedule regular appointments with your Naturopathic Doctor. Remember that the conventional medical system is geared to treat disease and, while it can be effective in acute situations, it is not as preventative in nature. The naturopathic approach involves identifying signs of imbalance even before you feel symptoms or before your bloodwork results come out abnormal. Regular wellness checks are an important aspect of self-care and will enable your ND to work with you to identify imbalances early on and guide you on how you can prevent certain diseases to which you may be susceptible . For healthy individuals, yearly wellness checks that include a physical exam may be sufficient for health promotion, just like you would with your family doctor. For most people though, appointments every few months may be required just like you would with your dentist or any health care provider.

Try introducing 1-2 of the self-care tips into your day this week until it's established and before introducing another routine. Once healthy routines become healthy habits, it will seem less daunting and easier to do. Remember, when you take care of yourself, you will be able to improve the quality in many aspects of your life, so it pays off. If you are feeling challenged with any of the tips above or want to know what self-care routines are best for you, speak to your naturopathic doctor. Support and guidance can help you stay on track and keep you inspired to make this year healthier than ever before!

Dr. Leena Sripada is a naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in joint health, pain and chronic disease. If you are healthy and looking into preventing disease or learning more about your constitution, Dr. Sripada can help you. Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Seasonal Treats - Hot Chocolate for your Dosha Type

By Dr. Leena Sripada, ND


With the holiday season approaching, chocolate treats are a favourite . . . so why not try a healthier hot chocolate option suited to your body type or Dosha. 

According to Ayurveda, when diet & lifestyle choices are in line with your dosha type - Vata, Pitta, or Kapha - it is easier to find balance and divert health issues. There are some simple ways of bringing the wisdom of Ayurveda into everyday life. For example, try the tips below for customizing hot chocolate according to your dosha type.

Hot Chocolate - Basic Recipe

  • 1/3 c. water + 2/3 c. organic milk (or almond, coconut, rice, cashew, oat milk etc.)
  • 1 Tbsp organic cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or scrape of vanilla bean (optional)
  •  Honey, maple syrup to taste, coconut sugar, agave - or any healthier sweetener
Bring the water and milk to a boil, and add the cacao powder and simmer until well mixed. Turn off the heat and add sweetener.  Make variations according to your ayurvedic dosha type.


Vata variation

Vata individuals do well with warmth, a little spice and healthy oils. They generally tolerate dairy well, unless there is a dairy sensitivity in which case almond milk is a great option.  Since they generally have sensitive nervous systems and may not tolerate caffeine, carob powder can replace cacao.
  • Basic hot chocolate recipe (milk or almond milk)
  • 1/2 tsp ghee (optional)
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg, or cinnamon or clove (warming spices)
  • Dash of cardamom (supports digestion)
  • Whip cream (optional)
  • Sweetener: honey

 

Pitta variation

Pitta individuals tend to have too much heat in their system and don't do well with excessive heating spice. They need options that are cooling (not necessarily in temperature, but in quality of foods). Mint and coconut are two variations that are cooling and blend well with hot chocolate.
  • Basic hot chocolate recipe (milk, almond or coconut milk)
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint leaves  (boil in the basic recipe and strain)
  • 1/2 tsp of coconut oil (optional)
  • Sweetener: maple syrup

Kapha variation


Kapha types do not tolerate dairy well as it leads to increased congestion. They do well with warming food and drinks, including spices. Sweets should be limited - honey is a suitable sweetener as it has warming properties. Kaphas should avoid dairy or sweets during the Kapha time of the day (6am-10am and 6pm-10pm).
  • Basic hot chocolate recipe (alternate milk or smaller proportion of milk to water)
  • A pinch of cinnamon or clove powder to warm Kapha
  • A pinch of ginger powder (optional)
  • Sweetener: honey

To learn more about eating for your Dosha, contact Dr. Leena Sripada, ND or call the clinic to book at 905-940-2727.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Breathe Easy this Season

by Dr. Leena Sripada, ND, AAWC

As the season changes, we become more aware of the cold dry outside. For some people, this can trigger an onset of symptoms such as asthma, coughs, runny noses and other respiratory issues. Even if you are not prone to respiratory issues, the drop in the outdoor temperature makes us more vulnerable to catching 'bugs'. The respiratory tract (which includes the nose, sinuses, trachea, lungs and mucus membranes) is one of the major barriers to protect from germs in our environment as we breathe in air. In addition to its physical function,  the respiratory tract correlates in Ayurveda to the prana vaha srota which is understood as the energetic channel that receives prana or 'life-force'. 

In this blog, we will look at some of the common imbalances that affect the respiratory season, explore the impact of the doshas from an Ayurvedic perspective and take away a few self-care tips to incorporate into your daily routine.

Doshas and the Respiratory Tract

Concerns in the respiratory tract can often be qualified by certain dosha imbalances, vata, pitta, kapha or a combination of them. Accumulation of these doshas affect the respiratory tract in different but predictable ways. When we can identify the imbalances, we can work with more effective balancing treatments. 

Vata: imbalances due to this dosha can be characterized by qualities such as a dry cough, dry nasal passages, irritated throat, breathlessness or weakness in the lungs. Treatments for vata dosha respiratory issues involve oileating the tissues, steam inhalations and warm moisturizing treatments.

Pitta: issues to this dosha often manifest with heat or inflammation in the respiratory tract. This could manifest as yellow discharge, post-nasal drip or raw inflamed mucous membranes. These types of issues respond well to cooling, soothing treatment such as coconut oil or ghee in the nostrils (nasya) or herbs like goldenseal.

Kapha: this dosha is prone to accumulating in the respiratory tract. Those with a Kapha constitution are most prone to respiratory issues like sinus infections, colds, lung congestion etc. Food like dairy & sweet trigger kapha buildup and are best avoided in the cold season. Emotions also play a role - grief and sadness can accumulate in the lungs and predispose the body to accumulating congestion. Movement and expression can help prevent this, along with a diet rich in antioxidants, fresh warming spices like ginger, garlic, pepper and essential oils like eucalyptus, pine and camphor.

Tips for Healthy Breathing :

1. Steam inhalations: Breathing warm steam with essential oils is a simple and effective way of eliminating kapha or mucous buildup. Warm steam helps liquify and eliminate toxins and bring circulation to the sinuses. Oils such as eucalyptus or camphor support respiratory health and many oils have anti-microbial properties as well. Steam inhalations can be done over a pot of hot water (covering your head with a towel and breathing in the steam) or even as a short cut in a hot shower. Great for everyone, including children.

2. Neti pot: Have you tried the neti pot? This is a traditional yogic practice that is done to open up the sinuses to help with breathing. Neti pot is a simple nasal irrigation using warm saline water to flush out the sinuses. Keep in mind this can be customized with specific herbs, probiotics or homeopathics if there are chronic sinus infections or candida. This should not be done continuously for someone with significant mucous or Kapha buildup in the sinuses and is best done for prevention.

3. Herbal teas: a piping hot cup of herbal tea can do wonders this season - for the throat, lungs, sinuses and for uplifting your mood. Some herbs that can be steeped for respiratory health include tulsi (holy basil), comfrey, mullein and more. Each herb has a specific action so check with your practitioner to customize specific herbs based on your constitution. For example, Kalmegh (andrographus) is an excellent herb to help with excess kapha (such as thick mucus) in the sinuses or lungs and will benefit those with a Kapha dosha.

4. Supplements: There are numerous formulas out there specific to strengthening the respiratory tract. One supplement that I would like to highlight this season is NAC or N-acetyl cysteine.  It is an often overlooked supplement that is an excellent antioxidant and benefits the respiratory tract. It is especially good for mucous in the lungs and helps with prevention of respiratory tract issues. 

5. Pranayam: Breathing is more than just about circulating air & oxygen into the lungs. It is the vital passage of bringing in 'prana' or 'qi' into the body. This is the life force that keeps us going. If you have blocked nostrils, the passage of prana gets blocked, affecting our mood. Pranayama incorporates many types of 'breathing exercises' which can be simple or advanced. If you would like to try learning, there are various resources such as this video which outlines a beneficial alternate breathing practice:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5m6tMjcF8k


Breath is life. If our breathing is compromised, it affects our mind & mood as well.  So keeping a clear and healthy respiratory tract is the foundation to keeping healthy as we enter cold & flu season. If you would like to customize your treatment regime and daily routine based on your constitution, please speak with your Naturopathic Doctor this season.


Dr. Leena Sripada is a naturopathic doctor with extensive training in Ayurveda. Whether you have specific health concerns or just want to promote general wellness Dr Leena provides customized care integrating Ayurveda & naturopathic medicine.  Please contact Naturopathic Foundations at 905-940-2727 or email lathparia@naturopathicfoundations.ca to book an appointment.


Saturday, October 9, 2021

Addressing Dryness Symptoms Through Diet

by Parisa Wang, Nutritionist

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dryness has root causes that are based on internal imbalances and weaknesses of specific organs. Dryness can also occur when the flow of blood and Qi (energy) within the body are blocked. A combination of dietary and lifestyle changes may help improve dryness by strengthening organs and dispelling pathogenic factors. 

Tips for staying hydrated


Some people have a higher propensity to become more dry than others, and their first reaction is to drink more water. In fact, drinking water can sometimes be part of the problem as water can quickly pass through the digestive tract, enter the blood and be excreted from the kidneys. The time to moisturize the throat and digestive tract mucosa is very short with simply drinking water. The internal organs and structures of the body are more efficiently hydrated through specific foods, such as: 
  • Selected carbohydrates  Some carbohydrates absorb a lot of water molecules, delay the absorption of water, and prevent the water from being excreted too quickly. In this way, there is more time for the mucous membrane of the digestive tract to become moisturized and hydrated. Good choices include: avocado, carrots, sweet potatoes, millet, flaxseeds and soybeans.  
  • Foods rich in fructose: A tea made with fructose-rich honey and warm water, when swallowed slowly can moisture your throat and will also make it feel more comfortable. Some fruits contain a lot of fructose and are hydrating, especially if consumed raw or boiled in water (i.e., applesauce or pear sauce). Grapes, pears, apples and persimmons are rich in fructose. 
  • Foods high in polysaccharides. In addition, Tremella (white fungus) soup is rich in Tremella polysaccharides and is also a good hydrating beverage. 

Tips for getting adequate amounts of vitamin A


Vitamin A is necessary for the synthesis and repair of epithelial tissues, like mucous membranes. If the level of Vitamin A is deficient, the resistance of the skin and mucous membranes will be reduced, The mucosal function will also be decreased resulting in dry and keratinized epidermis, protruding hair follicles, rough skin to the touch and prickly hands, and even dry eyes. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that likes to coexist with cholesterol. It is found in liver, kidney, high-fat marine fish, egg yolk and cream. Unfortunately, people eat very little of these foods nowadays. However, your body can produce vitamin A from carotenoids found in plants.
  • Carotene in plant foods can also be converted into vitamin A in the human body, but only orange-yellow and dark green vegetables are rich in carotene - for example, carrots, pumpkins, red sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, sweet potato leaves and other green leafy vegetables with black leaves. 

Tips for changing eating habits            

Food is a vital part of skin health. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can protect various functions of the body's organs. Certain foods, drinks and other substances can contribute to dryness.

  • Salty foods: Eating too much salty foods increases water consumption. After too much salt enters the blood vessels, it will increase the osmotic pressure of the blood, causing the blood pressure to rise, but the water in the tissues will decrease, which will naturally cause dryness. When salt leaves the body, it takes away a lot of water and makes the body drier.
  • Spicy foods: Although spicy food does not increase the osmotic pressure of human blood, it will speed up blood circulation in the skin, heat the body and increase sweating. This will also lose human body moisture. 
  • Barbecue foods are originally low-moisture foods, and then processed at high temperatures to remove the moisture, forming a very dry state. The protein contained in it is a hydrophilic substance, and it is very eager to take back the water lost during processing. Therefore, as soon as BBQ foods enter the mouth, the water in the oral cavity and throat mucosa will be ruthlessly taken away, making the throat and oral cavity dry. Also these BBQ foods often contain high salt content, which makes the mucous membranes worse. 
  • Sugary and baked foods: Eating a lot of sugary foods or baked goods can cause inflammation and change the thickness of the skin.
  • Dried nuts have high nutritional value, but we cannot eat a lot because they contain more salt. Be careful to choose dried nuts with less salt and eat a small handful a day. 
  • Alcohol: Drinking alcohol is not only harmful to the stomach and intestines, but also to the skin. In order to break down ethanol (the scientific name of alcohol), the body consumes a variety of nutrients in the body. On the second day after drinking, many people feel thirsty in their throats. This is because ethanol has a diuretic effect, which can cause the body to excrete a lot of water and result in dehydration.

Tips for changing lifestyle


Most of the time, just making small lifestyle changes can improve the dryness symptom. 
  • Sleep: Some people don’t have enough rest. In this case, the best way is to rest in time to allow the body to recover in time. The moisture of the skin will gradually return to normal, and the eyes will be able to return to their original clear and bright state. 
  • Bath: Long showers or baths and hot water remove oils from your skin. Limit bath or shower to 5 to 10 minutes and use warm water, not hot water.
  • Clothing: Natural fibres, such as cotton and silk, let your skin breathe. You should also use natural detergents to wash your clothes instead of detergents with chemicals, dyes or perfumes that can irritate the skin.

A balanced diet is the foundation to health. What is optimum varies from person to person and is dependent on your underlying conditions, your age and health status. 

If you have questions about what type of foods or nutritional plan is best for you, I would welcome the opportunity to work with you. For more information on my approach to nutrition, check out my blog on Yin Yang theory and detoxification or check out my bio on the Naturopathic Foundations website.

To book an appointment, please contact Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic at 905-940-2727.









 


 



Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Finding Your Anchor

by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

In times of chaos and change is it always helpful to have an anchor, something that keeps you steady during the storm. Anchors allow us to move forward through times of change by helping us stay grounded and limiting the chance that decisions that we make are based on fear.

The following are some tips on finding an anchor that works for you and supports your health during times of chaotic change.

Analogies

The mind likes analogies as they assist in making sense of chaotic times. They provide a perspective that helps us understand the complexity of new situations that threaten our sense of safety. They assist in providing a sense of order or process during difficult situations. At times, they can also provide a sense of meaning to things that we don't yet understand. For me, the analogies where there is extreme destruction and chaos which result in a "new normal" such as a hurricane, a forest fire, a home renovation or even war, may help explain this current pandemic.

We want to keep in mind that infections that threaten health are not a new thing. Learning from the past can help navigate the current situation. For example, an article in the European Journal of Cultural Studies has compared the current pandemic to the AIDS crisis 30 years ago in a paper titled, "Pandemic and its metaphors: Sontag revisited in the COVID-19 era.  This article highlights the overwhelming sense of fear that was originally associated with AIDS that has now significantly subsided even though AIDs has not gone away.

Change is Inevitable

Many people handle acute crises quite well. Acute crises, such as accidents, injuries, losing one's job, death of a loved one, the diagnosis of a serious condition and other life events, are seldom welcomed but there is the awareness that "things happen" and you get through them. There is generally a structured process that walks someone through the change. For example, there is a process that you follow once a loved one has passed or if there is a flood in your home - we know what needs to happen and in what order. The sense of structure and process helps us get through significant life events.

Yet, for everyone there is a cap or ceiling on the degree of change that they are comfortable with and that they are able to integrate into their lives and still maintain a sense of being okay. The pandemic is a new type of change for many of us as we are being asked to change because of an invisible external threat. Not to say that there isn't a virus, but the change that has happened as a result has affected people in many different ways.  

For some, this pandemic has resulted in the loss of loved ones. For others, it has resulted in concern for their children or their aging relatives or neighbors, the inability to spend time with family and friends and/or the realization of the tremendous mental strain the pandemic has had on people of all ages. For others, it has resulted in the loss of a job or business and/or other financial concerns. And for many, the major impact has been the loss of personal freedoms and civil rights and the impact that this will have on our future. 

The factors that have made change difficult for some people to navigate during this pandemic  include:

  • External Forces: The change has been initiated by external forces in ways that we could never (and still don't) believe were possible.
  • Lack of Debate: There has been a lack of consultation, debate and understanding of the broader perspective and breadth of the impact on so many.  As Canadians, we are used to filtering out the truth or at least what we believe to be true, through listening to experts debate. During this pandemic there has been pretty much no debate which has intensified the chaos and sense of fear - on all sides.

Acceptance 

When there is a significant change that has affected a person's life, it is always helpful to accept the reality of the situation - maybe not initially if there is a chance that things may change back, but eventually. Acceptance is not always about agreement. It is about recognizing that some changes alter the future forever. 

With over twenty years in healthcare, I have found that the greatest impact to health is when a person's energy is split - that is, they are living one life yet desiring something else. When your energy is split it drains you, frustrates you and/or it makes you angry. In can also show up in physical symptoms such as pain, inflammation and conditions like autoimmune and others.

This split in energy shows in many different ways. From little things such as eating "clean", but really desiring the junk food you are avoiding. It shows up as choosing a certain job or relationship because they make the most sense, but really desiring something or someone else. There can be a split in energy after an accident or injury when a person doesn't accept that something "bad" happened. At this point in the pandemic, there is a good chance that there will be a split in energy for those that still believe that there is a chance that we will go back to the "old normal".  

The aim of acceptance is to make decisions from a point of knowing, not from fear. It is about deciding to move forward within the reality of the new situation versus waiting or wanting things to go back to a previous reality. Knowingness comes from both knowledge and from instinct. For some, knowledge is the most important, while for others it is instinct. Having and trusting both is important.

Avoid Getting Overwhelmed

A little bit of stress and change can be motivating and can help facilitate change. Being overwhelmed, on the other hand, can become paralyzing.  It can actually be detrimental to acceptance and can be demotivating. When overwhelmed, the ability to make rationale decisions based on what it best for you is hampered. There is a greater likelihood for people to abdicate their own thinking processes and make decisions out of fear.

Steps to take to avoid being overwhelmed include:

  • Decrease the time you spend listening to or engaged in whatever is overwhelming you.
  • Engage in grounding exercises such as going for a walk (ideally in nature or in the forest), gardening, stretching exercises, breathing exercises, etc.
  • Choose whole foods and limit sugar, caffeine and processed foods.
  • Stay hydrated and active.
  • Spend time doing things that you truly enjoy, like listening to music or reading a good book.
  • Reach out to others. You may find that a phone call is more nurturing and grounding than text messages (or maybe I'm just showing my age!).
  • Remember it is important to have your opinion and beliefs, but it is also important to recognize that others may have a different perspective that warrants consideration.

Truth Versus Relevance

Each person has their own truth, their belief and their position on any specific issue. Linking back to the section on change, we are reminded that the impact of a crisis may vary for different individuals. There is "truth" in many different perspectives - what matters to people is what is relevant to them. We have tended to lose sight of the difference between "truth" and "relevance".  For example, the following statements are all "true" (to someone):
  • People are dying of infections.
  • More people are suffering with mental health issues - young and old.
  • The elderly have been more isolated which has had a significant impact on their quality of life and their health.
  • The impact on children is immense and may affect them mentally, academically and socially for years to come.
  • Our rights and freedoms have been significantly impacted in the last few years.
  • Financially we are in trouble in Canada (and many other parts of the world).
  • Businesses have closed and are closing all around us.
  • Climate change is getting significantly worse and it is being ignored, for the most part.
  • Environmental pollutants are likely going to be the next big crisis.
And on and on.  Each person has their own "truth" and their sense of "relevance".  When in fear, there is a tendency to jump to conclusions based on the truth that is in front of us. When grounded, there is a greater chance on making a decision based on relevance. Relevance takes the "truth" into consideration but it also weighs the short-term against the long-term and weighs a broad range of impacts for individuals and the greater community.

Find Your Lane

An analogy that I use with patients is that life is a paved highway with multiple lanes. When you are in sync with your life you are on the pavement. When you're not, it feels like you are riding on the shoulder and at times it can feel like you are going through life in the ditch. There is choice in life (the different paved lanes), but there is also the need to make choices that are best for you and that keep you on the pavement and not on the shoulder or in the ditch.

"Your lane" refers to what you should be doing. It is about your choices and your role in any situation. For example, as a naturopathic doctor, my "lane" during this pandemic is to provide primary health care by staying current on the research related to post-COVID infections and vaccine-related injuries so that I can support patients in their journey through this chaos. 

Each person has the ability to decide what lane they want to choose. An important point to remember is that there are various lanes and a lane is only the "right" lane, when it is aligned with your truth. For some, this pandemic has not changed very much in their life and they are comfortable with the lane they are in. For others, it has felt that they are moving through life in a fog and they aren't sure of their way. They may have lost their business or job and need to find a new way to support their family. Or they may be uncertain of the future for various reasons. Keep in mind, even in war there were those that were fighting the war, those that were building products to support the war, those that were fighting to end the war and those that were just trying to survive the war.

For some, their lane keeps them in the middle of the chaos - and that's okay - if that's their choice. For others, their lane simply involves taking care of a loved one or checking in on neighbors that are alone. Others may be focused on their own personal health, a family crisis or on keeping their job so that they can support themselves and their family. You will know when you are in the right lane as it is easier to move forward, despite the chaos.


Finding Your Anchor


Either at the beginning of the process, or at the end, it is helpful to find an anchor -- or a few anchors. Anchors are things that you can hang onto that pull you through a crisis. Your anchor can be anything that you know to be true - to you.  For some, that anchor is family and the desire to spend time with those they love. For others it is astrology and the belief that there is a higher purpose driving this change. For some, it will be the desire to graduate from University and make a difference in the world. Faith or spirituality has been the anchor for some during these uncertain times.  For others, it may include another person or practitioner that helps you navigate the change. 

An anchor is something outside of the chaos that you know to be true and to be beneficial for you. Your anchor should help provide a perspective that ensures that the decisions that you make are best for you, not only in the present moment, but in the future.  Anchors help ensure that we can keep an open mind and make decisions based on relevance to ourselves and others.

Master Your Mind

Is your mind supporting your health and your decision making or is it fighting you?  I truly believe that mastering the mind is the key to health in chaotic times and as you get older. The following are some tips on mastering the mind:
  • Spend time eavesdropping on your mind. Get a sense for the mind chatter that occupies it.
  • The mind generally settles more when it looks at a situation from a number of perspectives. Be open to seeing any chaotic situation from the perspective of you, others, community and global.
  • If anxiety, fear, frustration or other emotions are driving your life, then look at ways of quelling these first. Check out books on the topic; talk to friends and family; seek help from your naturopathic doctor or healthcare provider.  Reach out.
For further information on the mind, check out the following:

If the chaos in your life is overwhelming you, I recommend that you talk to your naturopathic doctor or other healthcare provider for guidance. You can also call our clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND.