De-stress, Dealing with Stress (Covid-19 Pandemic)

Stress Is Everywhere

We all have a lot of stress these days, especially here in the U.S. where daily life is so busy for the most of us anyway. Whether it is the daily routine of our jobs which likely includes a long commute before and after work or perhaps for a stay-at-home parent who after getting the kids off to school has plenty of chores to keep themselves busy. Some of us work from home (or home school our children) which makes it even more difficult to separate tasks and find relief from our daily stresses. But this should not be the case. We all need a break from our tasks so that we can de-stress.

At the writing of this article, we are 4 months into the Covid-19 pandemic. In some way or another, this event has added stress to just about everyone’s life. So what are our solutions? Because we are individuals, we all have individual ways of experiencing the happenings of what this pandemic has brought to us. Likewise, we all need to find our own individual way of dealing with the stress that we are experiencing.

Dealing With Stress

To help you get started right away, here are simple five ways you can de-stress:

  1. Give your brain a time-out. This can be accomplished in many ways. It depends on where you are and how much time you have. Yet, just taking 5 minutes to relax and allow your mind to rest will work wonders and likely boost your energy levels. I find that thinking about something that I enjoy works the best during this time. Spending time in prayer and focusing on what you are thankful for is a great way to move your attention away from thoughts that may be causing stress. It also is a great way to begin a time-out nap if you can take more time to fit a nap in.
  2. Go for a walk. This option provides many benefits. Not only does it provide exercise and help with circulation, but you can also implement the give your brain a time-out strategy (as noted above). Also, a walk outdoors will give you an extra dose of fresh air and Vitamin D which helps you to produce those feel good hormones.
  3. Play with your children and/or pets. All of us could use more playtime. Remember what it was like to be a kid and feel free? We can implement that same feeling in our brains by playing with our children and/or pets. Neither are likely to turn you down on the offer to play and it will definitely benefit both parties.
  4. Talk with a friend. Friends bring us delight. Make sure the friend you call is one you normally have conversations with that are enjoyable and encouraging. Yet, if a friend is not available at the moment you want to de-stress, another alternative could be to write out your thoughts and ideas (as talking with a friend) to get them out of your head for now. Or better yet, write a letter to a good friend to let him or her know you are thinking of them and allow you both and opportunity to share and connect.
  5. Do something you enjoy. Some ideas are read a book, play an instrument, play a sport. An artist might draw, paint, or create something new. If you enjoy cooking, prepare a meal. Watch a comedy or read comedy. Laughter is a stress reliever undoubtedly. Like to dance? Then definitely dance. You get the idea. Switch gears to something that you can enjoy doing.

Compound your De-stressing Efforts

And guess what? You can combined these de-stressing activities. Many of these de-stressing activities can easily be merged which will likely give you a greater, compounded effect. For instance, while you walk you can pray and empty your mind.  Or you might walk with (or play a game or a sport) with a friend, your child, or even a pet.

Additional Stress Relievers

What else should you do while de-stressing?

  1. Avoid your phone and the TV. The phone and the television may be interjecting messages that are causing us more stress than we recognize. You can use your de-stress time to re-organize your thoughts and think about helpful ways to deal with the thoughts and opinions of others that may be causing stress for you.
  2. Drink fresh spring or Artesian water. Dehydration can make us feel tired and cause unnecessary stress on our bodies. Not drinking enough water restricts our body from carrying out its normal functions. Be sure to hydrate well. (Click here to read how to choose a good water source.) Fruits and vegetables also provide hydration, so have them as snacks while you are relaxing.
  3. Stretch your muscles. Okay, we know than fitness gurus say this over and over. Yet, many times I like to look at nature to see what I can see. And in this case, when I look at my 4 dogs, I see that they all stretch themselves when getting up from a stationary position. This is a practice that I too have had to purposefully do – and I can feel its de-stressing effects with every move. So, do not forget to stretch often and you can even practice stretching while doing other activities or try a yoga class to learn some good stretching positions.

The Importance of Dealing with Stress

Why is de-stressing important? Most of us can recognized when we are stressed. Some of us feel overwhelmed by simple daily tasks. We may experience a lack of energy. We may even experience pain or even anger/frustration. These are all signs that we are over stressed. Therefore, when we have any of these symptoms, it should be a sure signal to us that we need to de-stress. Scientists have studied this phenomenon and they all agree that stress weakens our immune system. Therefore, the most important reason to de-stress is to boost your immune system.

Currently, due to Covid-19, our immune systems are taking a big hit due to lifestyle changes, added fears and simply living in a state of a new normal or perhaps even a state of the unknown. Yes, it is true that Covid-19 has added stress on top of stress for most. Yet, many of us even have extra time on our hands. So, I encourage you to fill in some of that extra time with these 5 ways to de-stress.

You can experience a healthier outlook. The above list of “5 ways to de-stress” will help to boost your immune system, by giving the body a break from stress. Do them as often as you can. Make them a part of your healthy lifestyle. You will not regret it as you begin to see and experience a healthier outlook on your life that is being de-stressed.

Related Podcast:

Podcast Episode 1 – Covid-19 and Stress

Related Lifestyle Articles:

Sunlight and Infrared Sauna Therapy

Podcast Episode 1 – Covid-19 and Stress

relaxing by the lake

Looking for ways to handle stress? With the pandemic of Covid-19 we all could use some helpful tips in this area. In Episode 1, Shonda and Patryce discuss how Covid-19 has affected their lives and share some practical ways that may help you deal with the newly added stresses in your life too.

We invite you to listen and share your perspectives with us too. Send us a recorded message.

Listen right here:

Related blog article: De-stress, Dealing with Stress (Covid-19 Pandemic)

Water

Most city tap water contains a chemical called chloramine. It’s replacing the regular use of chlorine in most cities. I called my city in 2016 and, yes, discovered they are using chloramine.

Chloramine contains both chlorine and ammonia.

Unless properly filtered, we are drinking it from city tap water and bathing in it!

Chloramine cannot be filtered using a basic charcoal filter.

Think of Water as a Nutrient

Water serves a number of essential functions to keep us all going (as posted by USGS)

  • A vital nutrient to the life of every cell, acts first as a building material.
  • It regulates our internal body temperature by sweating and respiration
  • The carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream;
  • It assists in flushing waste mainly through urination
  • acts as a shock absorber for brain, spinal cord, and fetus
  • forms saliva
  • lubricates joints

Considering this list of how water functions in the human body, I’d say that it’s an important nutrient for sure. And, surely you want to get the cleanest source possible to help the body function at its best.

What About Tap Water and Bottled Water Labeled Purified (Drinking or Filtered)?

Purified water, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is “produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or other suitable processes” and also may be called “demineralized water, deionized water, distilled water or reverse osmosis water.”

It’s highly likely that even if you drink bottled water labeled “Purified” water (also labeled “drinking” and “filtered”)…you are still drinking chloramine. All water with these labels are most likely to just be city tap water that has gone through some type of filtration system. And, the filtration process that is used usually doesn’t remove chloramine. Chloramine cannot be removed through reverse osmosis* and regular carbon filtration processes. If you choose to buy “drinking”, “filtered” or “purified” water, I recommend contacting the bottled water company to see if there are any water quality reports available. You can also contact the city for which the source is listed to view the city’s water quality reports. (NOTE: In many instances, the city water quality reports are a few years behind and many city water agencies allow some amounts of contaminants.) Looking at the tables available at the EPA’s website, they test for over 200 contaminants, so chloramine isn’t your only worry (just perhaps the latest that’s been added to this overwhelming list)! Many of these contaminants are from the insecticides and pharmaceutical drugs!

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are both responsible for the safety of drinking water. EPA regulates public drinking water (tap water), while FDA regulates bottled drinking water. 

Better Bottled Water Choices?

Spring water, “derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth at an identified location, may be collected at the spring or through a bore hole, tapping the underground formation that feeds the spring,” according to FDA guidelines.

While reviewing documentation that was sent to me by one popular bottled water company, I noticed that they treat their spring water with chlorine during shipment from the source and then filter it out prior to bottling. This doesn’t seem like a good idea to me, so it’s not one of my choices either. In addition, the pH of that same water is 5.6 which is too low. (Water should be at minimum a bit above 7 pH and you regularly do not want to go much higher than 9 pH.)

Therefore, one choice you can make for a better drinking water is to choose spring water that has not been treated using chlorine or one that has not been treated by reverse osmosis (which is excellent at filtration, but it also removes good minerals from the water)

Choose spring water that is pure and perhaps has only undergone the following processes: “filtered with carbon, carbon block, or a sand filter, ozonating water or passing water by an ultraviolet light.” (Ultraviolet light can eliminate chloramine.)

Artesian water is water produced from an artesian well. To be an artesian well the water in the aquifer (a subsurface rock unit that holds and transmits water) must be under enough pressure to force it up the well to a level that is higher than the top of the aquifer. Artesian water is mostly rain water that has seeped underground and is naturally filtered by the earth’s rock formations.

My favorite artesian drinking water is Evamor. Yes, I know it’s quite expensive, but so are doctor visits and hospitals. I enjoy this water because of its high alkalinity due to the naturally occurring mineral content. It’s not treated by reverse osmosis! Evamor water is bottled right at the source and it taste great!

Be Aware of Many Alkaline Water Claims: Don’t be fooled by water just because it claims to be alkaline. Many water companies that use the label “Alkaline” water are companies whose source is a city tap water that is treated using reverse osmosis* and then minerals are added to the water to increase its pH (alkalinity).

Remember, water is an important nutrient. It’s a liquid “food” and just like our goal is to eat REAL FOOD, likewise, we should want to drink REAL and “unprocessed” water too.

RECOMMENDED Bottled Natural Artesian and Spring Waters (that I found at my local grocery store):

*Additional Notes/Comments:

Berkey has an article about removing chlorine and chloramine from water.

Reverse osmosis is probably not a good source of drinking water…especially for long term. It DOES NOT hydrate the cells of our bodies well and it NO LONGER CONTAINS the necessary minerals that our cells require. In fact, it is void of all minerals and, as a result, has a lower pH than is ideal. Yes, it can remove bacteria and even viruses (if the systems are well-maintained), but we should not depend on it for daily drinking water.

To find out what’s in your water, you should have an independent company test it. These companies usually provide whole house water filtration services and/or water delivery services.

I know many may be concerned about drinking water from plastic bottles. If this is your concern, but you want Artesian or Spring water, you will need to find a water service that can deliver in glass bottles. Yet, if youwant to filter your city tap water, I recommend something similar to a Berkey filtration system. (Or perhaps just use these types of filtration systems to filter plastic bottled Artesian or Spring water…which would be my personal choice.)

I do not receive compensation for referring you to any of these waters or websites, I just think they are the best choices and the websites provide some valuable information that can benefit us all. Please read the links, they include some really interesting facts about things such as cholesterol, skin and stomach problems and other various health issues that can be linked to drinking (and bathing) water.

Read more about Artesian Water and Artesian Wells (USGS)

EPA Water Regulations

Bottled Water Standards

Related Podcast:

Podcast Episode 4 – Immunity – Water (Drinking and Bathing)

Creamy Balsamic Dressing

This dressing has a tangy, burst of flavor. The cashews give it a creamy texture. I used the Vitamix which made it quick and easy.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of filtered water
  • 1 -2 small garlic cloves
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 1 -2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup cashews (soaked is preferable)
  • splash of lemon juice (optional, adds more “tang”)
  • dried herbs of your choice (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients except for the dried herbs to a blender and blend.
  2. Add dried herbs if using them.

Other Suggestions:

  1. Use fresh herbs in place of dried herbs. Basil is a nice addition. (Add once blended just to chop a bit, but not to puree the fresh herbs.)
  2. Use 1/8 cup balsamic and 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar.

Salad Made Easy

This technique makes creating a mid-day lunch or dinner snack easy.  It also helps with creating a variety in your meals.

What I like to do is put various toppings together into containers and add the salad dressing too. Ideally, choose any ingredients that you would like to marinate in the salad dressing. For me, this is everything other than nuts and soft lettuces, but I will add kale and cabbages because they are tougher lettuces.

Toppings in this photo:  beans – edamame and chickpeas, fresh sweet corn, zucchini, artichokes, bell peppers and olives.

There are so many vegetable toppings for you to choose from. For more ideas download the “Delicious – ‘No Fail’ Salads” Guide. Also, check out these delicious oil-free salad dressings.

Chickpea Tortillas

Tex-Mex is my favorite without a doubt. I really enjoy corn tortillas, and my preference is organic corn tortillas. Yet, it’s so difficult to find organic corn tortillas or the right organic corn meal (masa) to make my own tortillas (still looking though). But this tortilla recipe is just as satisfying. It’s very mild tasting so it would make a good wrap for anything you wish to put inside.

The original recipe is from Elavegan, but when I didn’t have any chickpea flour I decided to try fresh, cooked chickpeas instead – and it worked!

Notice how flexible they are!

Crispy Baked Tofu

Crispy Baked Tofu

Main Tip: Use firm tofu always. I’ve never had a problem eating firm tofu, but ‘Silken’ (SOFT tofu) can be difficult to digest especially if you are more sensitive to the GOS and Fructan FODMAPS (found in wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes and lentils).

Crispy baked tofu goes well with leafy greens and wheat-free noodles, rice or quinoa.

FODMAP FRIENDLY Approved
Click here fore more FODMAP FRIENDLY Recipes.

Ingredients:

  • Firm tofu (even “extra” firm)
  • Seasonings for the tofu marinade:
    • Tamari Soy Sauce (Tamari is gluten free soy sauce, no wheat ingredients)
    • cumin
    • turmeric
    • dried chives
    • dried parsley
    • salt/pepper
  • Coconut oil or Garlic infused olive oil if you enjoy the taste of garlic

Directions:

  1. Cut tofu into desired sizes, preferably equal size squares
  2. Press tofu between napkins or a clean towel to remove excess liquid. The more drier the more crispier once baked.
  3. Brush tofu with Tamari sauce

 4. Place into bowl with desired seasonings

5. If using oil, drizzle a bit onto the baking pan prior to adding the seasoned tofu. You should just slightly oil the pan. Oil is not necessary for baking, but will produce a crispier texture.

6. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes. It’s best to flip half way through cooking. If desired crispiness/firmness has not been achieved after 20 minutes, you can bake longer.

Tips:

  • I like to bake these on a pizza stone for added crispiness.
  • Also, I heard that baking in an air fryer will work. I don’t have one yet.
  • I’ve even pan-fried with a bit (only about 1 tsp) of oil too.

ENJOY! Serve over a bed of quinoa, rice, noodles or even a salad.

Crispy Baked Tofu

Sunlight and Infrared Sauna Therapies

Sunlight and Saunas! I’m all about these. I prefer light/heat therapy because they are most enjoyable for me. They provide relaxation for the nervous system and when my nervous system is relaxed, my digestive system is at ease too. Sunlight undoubtedly has a wonderful effect on our immune system.

SUNLIGHT IS MEDICINE and CONTAINS LIFE-GIVING NUTRIENTS

“When you spend time in the fresh air and sunlight, your body drinks in their life-giving elements” – Stormie Omaritian, Greather Health God’s Way. I couldn’t have worded this sentiment in any better way.

Benefits of the sun:

  • Vitamin D
  • Calming, yet Energizing at the same time
  • Refreshes/relaxes the mind
  • Gives life to fresh fruits and vegetables (and then we eat their nutrients )
  • Assists in detoxification

Ways to get more sun in your life. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Ride with my car’s sunroof/windows open (even if I have to run the A/C at the same time)
  • Take a walk/bike ride through your neighborhood (even better through a park with lots of trees)
  • Open the windows and blinds inside your home to allow fresh air and sunlight inside
  • Step outside often to take breaks from inside chores and the computer
  • Have meals outside away from electronic devices

We should be enjoying the sun and air that God has created for us. He knows what’s best for us and it’s almost as if we have forgotten how to live properly. Note: Of course we don’t want to stay in the sun until we are sunburned. But we can enjoy healthy doses without this damaging effect.

INFRARED SAUNA THERAPY for DETOXIFICATION and HEALING

All objects in the universe emit some level of infrared light, but two of the most obvious sources are the sun and fire.  Therefore, when we get sunlight we are also getting the benefits of infrared light and more. But, if you cannot get sunlight or you wish to intensify the benefits of infrared light. Infrared sauna therapy makes this happen. I enjoy both the sun and infrared saunas to attain the best benefits.

Sauna heat therapy is good, but infrared sauna therapy has some added benefits.

All saunas:

  • Balance the autonomic nervous system
  • Induces sweating along with relaxation
  • Increases circulation
  • Relaxes muscles and enhances flexibility
  • Hastens the death of weaker cells (such as cancer, bacteria, viruses, parasites)

Additional benefits of infrared saunas:

  • Deep tissue healing
  • Increased enzyme activity (required for digestion and healing)
  • Ability to direct heat energy to specific parts of the body
  • Color therapy
  • Ease of use

What first caught my attention about infrared sauna therapy is it’s ability to inhibit the sympathetic nervous system (the one that is activated when we are anxious) and enhance the parasympathetic nervous system (the one activated when we are in a relaxed state). It’s the parasympathetic nervous system that is required for healing. So if we remain in our anxious states, we inhibit healing.

These lists of benefits, by no means, are exhaustive. Additionally, I cannot explain the feeling  and degree of healing that has occurred in my body as a result of adding infrared sauna therapy to my lifestyle.

I want to encourage you to make some healthy lifestyle changes toward getting more sunlight and infrared saunas into your life to activate healing in your body.

Wondering how to get started? 

  1.  Watch this YouTube Video to see my infrared sauna setup
  2.  Read this grounding/earthing article  about more life-giving elements of outdoors
  3. Greater Health God’s Way” by Stormie Omartian (affiliate link)
  4.  “Sauna Therapy – for Detoxification and Healing” by Dr. Lawrence Wilson (affiliate link)

Tex-Mex Bowl

As you may already know, I live in Texas. Houston has been my home for my entire life. (Actually now I live in Pearland, but if I just drive for 5 minutes I’m back in the Houston areas.) Therefore, it should be no surprise that my favorite dishes are “Tex-Mex” combinations which include lots of beans, rice, salsa, guacamole, corn, grilled onions, etc. Yeah, I know, you might be thinking…”What about the cheese?” Well I don’t eat cheese anymore, (gasp), and I don’t miss it one bit.

This is my chance to add a little nutrition/health info…so I’m going to do just that.

I grew up eating cheese and many dairy products (ever heard of Borden milk and Blue Bell ice cream?) I never imagined my life without cheese/dairy. But about a decade ago, when my allergies had become unbearable…I decided to test the theory that perhaps the milk and cheeses were causing most of my issues…and that was exactly the case.

But, since that’s the only change that I made during that time and the fact that I haven’t been bothered by seasonal allergies since then….well one thing is for sure – the milk and the cheeses didn’t agree with my body. I had these issues since a small child and they disappeared  when I took milk and cheeses out of my diet. The relief that I now experience makes up for any losses I initially felt when I gave up dairy.

For you – Do you battle seasonal allergies? If so,  I suggest that you try changing your diet by removing dairy from your diet. You will know in a matter of weeks whether it’s had a positive affect.

I won’t try to explain the science behind it all. Just some basic principles. I talk about this more in the online courses and in some of the nutrition blog posts too. Here is the recipe:

Sleep is VERY important

Have you ever considered that the amount of sleep you get can affect your health and your weight?

Let’s face it, when we’re tired we tend to make fewer healthy choices throughout the day, and we reach for the quick-fix energy boost we need, often in the form of sugar-filled options and processed snacks. When we’re tired, we also tend to skip the workout we had planned for the day. For many people, this is an ongoing cycle that’s tough to break.

Adequate sleep sets the stage for everything else. I found this quote online. It seeks to explain the concept of getting enough sleep using science.

“When it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze, you lose. Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours.
Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. “Ghrelin stimulates hunger and leptin signals satiety to the brain and suppresses appetite. Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin.
Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss programs” – WebMD

But, as I’m sure you already know and have experienced…you feel great when you get good, adequate sleep and almost miserable when you do not! (No science explanation needed.) But think further, not only is it affecting how you feel, but what’s actually going on inside of your body. Your body simply functions better when you get the sleep that you need.

Sleep can also affect your immune function, aging process, memory, learning, and metabolism. Yes, adequate sleep is a big deal! I know that the days I haven’t had enough sleep that my digestive system is sluggish. And I’m sure your experience is something similar…something is just OFF when you lack sleep. If you have been in a habitual pattern of not getting enough sleep then try to experience something new and refreshing by making a change. You won’t regret it.

To get more sleep, set a goal of what time you need to be in bed each night to get the 7-9 hours you need. Try it this week and see if you notice a difference with your energy level and your eating habits. When I get adequate sleep, I just want to sing and jump for joy in the mornings. (Really, my family looks at me strange when I behave this way, but I just cannot help it because it feels so GOOD!) When is the last time you gave yourself the gift of sleep?

Make a commitment right now by writing this goal down on your TO DO list and read it throughout the day.

Write this down: “I’m committing to getting _______ hours of sleep each night this week.“  (Did you write down your commitment? Really? Go ahead. Do it. Okay. That’s good.)

Guess what prompted me to write this article? I wrote it following one night that I stayed up to work on “things” that I felt were important. I believe I only had 3 hours of sleep that night? Did I pay for it the next day? Yes I did.

So, add something good to your lifestyle: add more sleep. Your body will thank you for doing so.

Much health to you.