Nature and Fractals Reduce Overwhelm and Stress

Fractal 1Many of us have times of overwhelm and stress during these times of uncertainty. It may be only sporadic or more pervasive. Overwhelm is the consistent state of feeling in over your head, overburdened, and unable to sustain manageable control over the various expectations in your day. It has a domino effect. Usually beginning in one area of life, it can extend to all areas as the body begins to fatigue from the chronic stress.

If your overwhelm becomes more than occasional, you may notice that you develop chronic headaches, stomach aches, body aches, and can’t seem to get enough sleep.  These are symptoms of adrenal fatigue and your body’s natural reaction to chronic stressors.

Mother Nature’s Surprising Antidote to Stress and Overwhelm

As we continue forward, it’s helpful to expand our strategies for coping with the stress, not only of the immediate but of all the unknowns of the coming months. Most of us find that being out in nature is one of those strategies. What is it about a stroll in the woods or going for a walk along a country lane that seems to bring a sense of inner peace?

Or perhaps walking barefoot on the beach, watching the waves and collecting seashells brings much joy into your heart.

Is it simply because you’ve “got back to nature”? Is it because you are outside breathing fresh air for a change instead of being stuck in the stress box you call your office?

Those are all true, but there is another perfectly natural one-word explanation for why you feel so calm and content. FRACTALS! They’re all around you, wherever you look.  They are even inside you – your body is full of fractals: Your veins, nerves and even your bronchial tree is fractal.

What are fractals and how do they reduce stress?

The simplest way to describe a fractal is a pattern that repeats itself over a decreasing scale.

Take trees for example. The branches are copies of the trunk, only smaller.  The smaller branches are copies of the larger branches they stemmed from. Twigs are copies of the smaller branches. Each part of the tree is a smaller copy of the whole.

If you were to look at a snowflake under a magnifying glass before it melts, you would see that it is made up of the same complex repeating pattern.

Since the beginning of humanity, we have been surrounded by fractals.  They are Mother Nature’s building blocks and our evolutionary comfort zone. More examples include fiddlehead ferns, broccoli, aloe vera plants, crystals, angelica flowers (and many others), lightning, and seashells.

How do you use fractals for stress relief?

  • Don’t spend so much time inside. Get outside more. Stand and watch the clouds, or sit on a park bench and watch the trees swaying in the breeze for a few minutes. Do some deep breathing and fill your lungs with fresh air while you’re there. You’ll soon feel your stress melting away like a snowflake that lands on a surface.
  • If you can’t go outside when you feel your stress levels rising, just look out the window for a few minutes instead.
  • Add fractals to your indoor environment and take breaks to view and appreciate them and their soothing patterns.  These can be houseplants like fractal succulents or aloe vera. They can be seashells that have those patterns.
  • Fractal art and other man-made fractals, according to research, are equally effective. You can just as quickly lower your stress levels by watching a fractal screensaver on your computer for a few seconds or watch a video like this one:
  • Fractal Coloring Books can serve this purpose, too. These are distinct from mandalas and are labeled as such. Here are some examples:

Yes, it might seem incredible, but studies have shown the calming effects that fractals have on the mind really do take effect very quickly.

Fractals are all around, hiding in plain sight. Focus on them and relieve your stress and overwhelm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Superfood Smoothies For Health And Energy

smoothiesAccording to the calendar, summer is winding down as kids start returning to school in just a few weeks. But the weather is definitely SUMMER! I have noticed my early summer focus on healthy eating has diminished. Perhaps you have also. This is a good time to re-look at some options and boost our health and energy as we move into fall with all of its unique 2021 challenges.

If you’d like to refresh your memory of options of summer superfoods and what they offer, I wrote about them here:  https://carolbrusegar.com/great-superfood-choices-for-summer/

Why are smoothies such a good way to consume those great superfoods? Here are three good reasons.

Quick and Easy Preparation

Superfood smoothies are very quick and easy to prepare. They take literally 5-10 minutes at the most to prepare. Gather your ingredients, do any chopping, throw the ingredients into the blender and within a minute the smoothie will be ready to drink.

If you are preparing for one person, I hope you have a personal blender which makes the process easier. There are many varieties; check them out here: Personal Blenders

They Taste Delicious

You can combine ingredients to fit your taste preferences, either of green-based or berry-type smoothies. Eating or drinking something “healthy” that we don’t enjoy means we likely won’t continue consuming it very long. So experiment with recipes and variations to find combinations you love and look forward to drinking. (I suggest a great recipe book below.)

Drinking Your Smoothie in the Morning Starts Your Day With Energy

Although smoothies are great whenever you choose, there can be benefits to having one for breakfast. Of course, they are a healthier alternative to sugary cereals and high-calorie pastries. And they deliver lots of nutrients which will help you to feel more alert and energetic and ready to start the day.

Now, let’s look at a few tips for creating healthy superfood smoothies.

1) Use either fresh or  frozen ingredients

Fresh ingredients are great when they are easily accessible and economical. But frozen ingredients can contain just as many nutrients as fresh. If they were picked and frozen right after being harvested, they’re going to maintain the same level of nutrients as they had when they were fresh. Many times frozen ingredients are cheaper to buy, and there is less waste too.

2) Use natural flavorings

If you find your superfood smoothies to be a little bland, always use natural flavorings to enhance them. Did you know for example, that dates can help to add sweetness to a smoothie instead of sugar? Honey is also an excellent natural flavoring to add sweetness.

3) Add water to thin the smoothie out

If you find the smoothie is too thick, water is the best thing to use to thin it out. It’s healthy, readily available and will help to thin the smoothie out without adding additional calories.

4) Tailor your ingredients to your needs

Any superfood smoothie will provide a healthy alternative to many of the other things you might eat. Perhaps you would like to boost your immune system or want to take off some pounds. If you have those goals, you can research ingredients or recipes that will work for that.

5) Pair your superfoods carefully

Not all superfoods will go well together. So, when thinking of what to add in the smoothie, be careful to match the right superfoods together. Orange fruits and avocado or kale and almonds, are great examples of superfoods which work well together.

This cookbook will help you with both tailoring your ingredients to your needs and in deciding on combinations of superfoods. It provides recipes, indicates what they offer your health, and is a great reference. http://Simple Superfood Smoothies: A Smoothie Recipe Book to Supercharge Your Health

smoothy book

 

Great Superfood Choices for Summer

Superfood - Cherries

Many of us eat differently in the summer, particularly when the temperatures are hottest.  We eat lighter, and often healthier.  We can make intentionally improve our nutrition by making great superfood choices.

Superfoods are foods that contain more nutrients than average: very high in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and more. Here are 13 that you can benefit from and enjoy during these summer months.

1. Cherries
Cherries have multiple amazing antioxidants. One of them is anthocyanin which provides easing of inflammation in your body and can help with joint pain. You can eat either fresh or frozen cherries.

2. Kiwi
Kiwi is sweet with a little tartness and includes many essential vitamins and minerals. It is a potassium powerhouse: a cup of sliced kiwi has the same amount of potassium as a cup of bananas. It also is lower in sugar and calories than many potassium-laden fruits and veggies with 7 grams of sugar – along with 5 grams of fiber – in a serving.

3. Bell Peppers
Choose all colors of bell peppers, such as green, yellow, orange, and red. In fact, using multiple colors adds vibrancy to your meals and often gives you a variance in the nutrients you get. Bell peppers contain vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and phytonutrients. Plus, they are very low in fat and calories.

4. Herbs
Most herbs are considered superfoods since they contain so many wonderful vitamins and minerals, but here are some of the best ones to find in the summer:
Basil – Nutrients in basil include vitamin A, vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C, omega=3 fatty acids, magnesium, iron, folate, and calcium.
Cilantro – Cilantro is extremely low in cholesterol, but it contains vitamins like C, E, A, and K. It also has dietary fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Parsley – Like many other herbs, it contains a good amount of folate, iron, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C.

5. Swiss Chard
Swiss Chard is another type of dark, leafy green vegetable just like spinach and kale, except it is a little more bitter. It is full of phytonutrients, especially in the red-purple stems and veins of this vegetable. That is where you get a lot of the nutrients. Swiss chard also contains potassium and magnesium, two nutrients that are essential for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Eat it raw or cooked; if you cook it, it will be less bitter.

6. Lemons
Lemons are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants and also contain fiber and micronutrients, as well as being very low in calories. There are endless ways to use them, but here are a few ideas:
Infused Water – Add lemons to water (as well as other fruits you may choose). A simple sugar-free strawberry lemon water tastes like lemonade, without added sweeteners.
Lemon Ice Cubes – Just add lemon juice to an ice cube tray and cover with filtered water. Add these to every glass of water you drink for nutrients and flavor.
Garlic Lemon Sauces – Make a citrus sauce or dressing and use them in a casserole with chicken, over a light salad, on pasta, or even to coat veggies.

7. Spinach
Spinach is more nutrient-dense than romaine or iceberg lettuce and makes a healthy salad on its own or combined with other greens. The top nutrients in spinach include Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Iron, Folate, Copper, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Manganese and Magnesium.

8. Avocado
Avocado is actually a fruit, and often considered a “superfruit” – or a superfood fruit. You get a lot of great fiber in avocados, plus vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin K, beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and potassium.

9. Watermelon
Watermelon is relatively low in calories, is fresh, sweet, and has a high water content so a little bit goes a long way. It is also loaded with nutrients including Vitamin C and Vitamin A, which help reduce inflammation, lower your blood pressure, and even protect your skin from UV rays thanks to the lycopene.

10. Strawberries
Strawberries have a higher-than-average amount of vitamin C. They are very antioxidant-rich to help fight illnesses and boost your immune system, and contain an excellent amount of manganese, a mineral that helps improve your health and vitality. Other important nutrients in this fruit are potassium and B vitamins.

11. Summer Squash
There are many different varieties of squash, from yellow squash to zucchini, but not all of them are available year-round. Summer squash have a good amount of vitamin C, as well as lutein and xeaxanthin. You can get help preventing a summer cold thanks to some squash in your diet. You can eat them raw, make a roasted veggie side dish with other veggies, saute with olive oil and seasonings, and include them in a pasta dish.

12. Peaches
Peaches not only have vitamin C, but peaches also contain potassium and fiber. Besides eating them fresh and whole, they can be added to salads, served over ice cream or yogurt, or grilled for a sidedish.

13. Blueberries
Blueberries contain vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, and manganese. They are low in fat and calories as well. Enjoy your blueberries many different ways, such as on your salads, mixed in with yogurt or granola, as a side dish, or just a light snack.

Check out these cookbooks – one especially for children. Eat light and healthy with these Summer Superfoods!!

Easy Superfoods Cookbook

Superfoods for Super Kids Cookbook

Creating and Sustaining an Effective Wellness Routine

Wellness

Do you have a wellness routine? Creating or recalibrating a wellness routine is a do-it-yourself project that addresses our individual, unique needs. Cultivating wellness in our lives is a mindset as well as specific actions and routines.

So much of “healthcare” in our country is sick care – identifying what is already affecting us negatively and figuring out to treat it.  The prevention that we are encouraged often focuses on things like eating right and getting enough sleep and exercise. Of course, these are important. But there is more.

Beyond the physical practices, mental and emotional self-care are key to wellness. Sometimes self-care is seen as self-centered and even selfish. I hope you see how important it is to staying healthy and strong and available for others in your life. Having a wellness/self-care routine that fits your needs is important to the totality of your life.

Reject Extreme Goals, Adopt Sustainable Habits

I recently found an inspiring article which summarizes the approach used by wellness coaches Manda and Meleah Manning. They advocate “forming intuitive, sustainable habits rather than chasing extreme goals.” (You know, like eat no sugar or carbs, workout every day, no pain no gain approaches, meditate for thirty minutes or more daily, etc.)

The article describes four practices that can bring more balance into every part of a wellness routine: start a morning routine, make time to meditate, journal mindfully, and try energy cleansing. The first three are ones we’ve all heard about before. They are described in the article in some unique ways that you may find helpful.

The last one, energy cleansing, is new to me.  It is simple, doesn’t take a long time and is highly effective according to coaches.  They recommend this daily morning and evening routine: “Begin the day by ‘visualizing yourself safe and protected within a golden egg of light, almost like a forcefield’…. At the end of the day, think about releasing anything you don’t need anymore. ‘You can do this be visualizing yourself standing underneath a waterfall and feeling the cleansing water wash over you, cleansing your energy from the crown of your head out through the soles of your feet.’”

These energy cleansing practices are meditative techniques using the power of visualization and centering. Perhaps you find that many recommended techniques involve more time than you are willing or able to commit. These do not require much time at all. I love the image for each – golden egg of light in the morning and waterfall in the evening. No need to refer to a source article or book – remember the images and the accompanying thoughts will come to you once you have done it a couple of times.

If you lack a self-care/wellness routine, or are ready to revamp what you have, check out the article,  “Build Balance Into Your Wellness Routine With These Expert-Recommended Practices” by Annalise Mantz.

In addition, here’s a possible tool to consider. A Year of Self-Care, Daily Practices and Inspiration for Caring for Yourself by Dr. Zoe Shaw provides a daily practice that will take you about 15 minutes. Start whenever you want and see where it takes you.

The Year the Hugs Went Away

Hug

 

“A hug is a wonderful thing. It’s a marvelous gift to share. It’s a grand way to say; ‘I care.’ A hug communicates support, security, affection, unity, and belonging. A hug shows compassion. A hug brings delight. A hug charms the senses. A hug touches the soul.”

~  Unknown

2020 – the year the hugs went away. What a year it has been!  As a person living alone, I have lacked anyone in my own safe-at-home household to hug for all these months. A few “back hugs” – arms around the shoulders from behind – have been a brief taste of the real thing. Are you in that situation? Who do you know who is?

Individuals have different attitudes about hugging. Some reserve it for intimate relationships within the family – and may even be limited in that expression there. Others – like myself – identify themselves as huggers and apply them generously.

A major venue for hugging for me in the past several years has been within my faith community where we are unapologetic master huggers. Across all the boundaries that often separate us, we hug – genuinely and warmly. The hugs express acceptance, affirmation, inclusion and love. In these months, the hug deprivation is real.

We have stayed with virtual gatherings all these months in commitment to the safety of all of us and of those with whom each of us is connected. We have rejected the modified form of gathering has been adopted by some churches – fewer people, distanced and masked. The risks are not worth it. It’s nearly impossible for me to imagine being in the same space with these dear people and not hugging them. And so the physical separation continues for the well-being of all.

What is so powerful, so profound about hugs? There has been much research done, and the conclusions include the physiological and the psychological impacts. According to “The Power of Hugs: Benefits to your Health” in SteptoHealth.com, hugs release several hormones in our bodies. Hormones are substances produced by one tissue and transported by the bloodstream to another tissue to affect physiological activity. Oxytocin, the attachment or bonding hormone, is released by hugging, as well as serotonin and dopamine, which have a sedative or calming/wellness impact. The impacts of hugs can even be as specific as reducing blood pressure and easing a headache, strengthening the immune system or helping you overcome fear. It is also noted that these effects can persist long after the end of the physical contact.

Psychologically, hugs cause the brain to release endorphins – any of a group of peptide hormones found in the brain that act as neurotransmitters. They promote healing and create feelings of well-being, build self-esteem and bring joy.

We’re missing a lot when we aren’t hugging! Until we can safely hug, what can we do to prevent negative physiological and psychological impacts of hug deprivation? Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW says, ““The paradox of hugs is that though they are quintessentially physical, they can also be enacted mentally. I often invite my patients, if it feels right for them, to imagine someone they feel safe with, including me, holding them. This works because the brain does not know the difference between reality  fantasy in many ways.”

This form of visualization can have a profound impact on us. It flips the script from focusing on the absence of and need for physical hugs to creating at least some of the positive impacts through the power of our minds and imagination. We can remember and recreate nurturing and healing hugs to help tide us over until it’s safe to do in person, in real time.

Will you try it and encourage others who are missing and needing physical hugs to do the same?

Perhaps you’d like to express your virtual hug materially to some special people; check out some options here:

http://carolbrusegar.com/Hugs-Gifts

The Power of Sound to Calm and Heal

Power of Sound

The power of sound to calm and heal has been known for centuries. Sound is extremely effective for helping us manage stress, overwhelm and anxiety. Music is one category of sound, and you may find certain kinds of classical or jazz music calming. While driving my grandchildren from school recently, the local classical radio station played some lovely music and my twelve-year-old grandson commented at least twice about how relaxing it was and asked how to find the station. I was a bit surprised and delighted to hear that.

Nature sounds are another category – waterfalls, bubbling brooks, chirping birds, falling rain, and ocean waves are all calming. Of course, actually experiencing them in nature is wonderful, but recorded and simulated versions are readily available. Perhaps you have used sound machines to help a baby, child or yourself get to sleep. They generally have a similar selection of options to choose from in addition to white noise. Use of a sound machine can be part of sleep training for children that establishes lifelong patterns.

As you noticed in the list above, water is a common inclusion. Taking time alone to simply breathe and allow the calming effect of water to permeate your mind can be powerful. You have probably noticed large water installations in commercial building lobbies. As you walk in, it has a visual and auditory impact. A waterfall or bubbling brook can be included in a yard or garden to add to the ambiance if you have a large space and the resources to do it. There are many options for small indoor fountains/waterfalls that can be used in a bedroom, meditation room, office or any small room at a range of prices. Indoor Water Installations

Discovering the Sounds That Work For You

As with so many things, what is effective for one person may not be for another.  If you would like to try out different sounds to see what is most calming, relaxing, and/or sleep inducing, here are two options:

+ Amazon.com has a variety of CDs, many of which offer a “Listen Now” sample that you can experience immediately.  Some are also available to stream if you are an Amazon Prime member – no CD required. Check it out here: Sound Therapy CDs

+ Free apps are available here, as well as in other places:  https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/10-calming-apps-destress-clear-mind/ Discover what works best for you.

Trying Frequency Sounds to Calm and Heal

The power of sound is reflected and verified in scientific studies. Advanced techniques like frequency sounds which include both healing sounds and binaural beats are available to explore through recordings and apps too. They are effective in reducing stress and in healing. An article in AwarenessAct.com points out that “Frequency sounds can be used to help us as human beings calm down. This is especially important since we’re facing a lot of stressful things right now. We’re seemingly stuck within a huge crisis and it feels like things are going to get worse before they get better…Sound healing, for the most part, is something that uses vibrations through vocal measures or even instruments like gongs to get music that can really work to calm.”  https://awarenessact.com/frequency-sounds-to-calm-you-down-during-times-of-crisis/

At the above link there are several videos holding different healing sounds and binaural beats. Some are hours long so you can have them playing in the background during the day or through the night. Please note the instructions about whether or not headphones are needed to get the full benefit of a particular video.

I am hopeful that this introduction to the power of sound to calm and heal has been helpful and has ignited your interest in using it for yourself and others. Try something new and share what you discover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Developing the Art of Staying In

painting watercolors

We are past the holiday season with winter surrounding us, whatever that looks like where you are. The pandemic has affected everyone. Let’s continue the challenge of developing the art of staying in safely!

Earlier, I offered some ideas for fall that included getting out in nature for activities of various kinds: https://carolbrusegar.com/celebrate-and-enjoy-autumn/ Now let’s focus our plans and activities on things we can do at home safely, possibly with a small number of friends or family.

The art of staying in begins with focusing on activities and pleasures we may not have taken time for in more active seasons. Some will take some time, others are just tweaks of things you may already be doing.

Being Healthier By Using Spices

Many of us are tiring of cooking at home much more than we used to. We may be eating the same few things over and over. New recipes can perk up the rotation; even just adding additional spices can enhance a dish or a beverage. And here’s a bonus – besides tasting great, certain spices are widely considered as “healing spices” that can boost the immune system. Anything we can do to strengthen our body’s ability to fend off colds, flu and other seasonal ailments is especially important this year.

Turmeric is one of the top spices in this category. It is closely related to ginger and has been used for its medicinal benefits for more than 4000 years. It is ideal in rice and chicken dishes. Here’s a simple recipe to try: https://www.food.com/recipe/turmeric-lemon-chicken-19687  Turmeric can be used in teas and other warm beverages. For example, Turmeric Golden Milk which also includes honey and pumpkin pie spice.  https://www.yummly.com/recipe/Turmeric-Golden-Milk-2226958

Cinnamon is a favorite flavor and is used in many fall recipes, especially baked goodies. It is also an antioxidant powerhouse.  Experiment with additional ways to consume more of it this fall. Try adding cinnamon sticks to your water – I like to combine them with apple slices in my infused water – and to hot beverages like apple cider or coffee.

For ideas about using some other immune-boosting spices, go to https://carolbrusegar.com/use-healing-spices-to-boost-immune-system/ .

Scents of Fall DIY Projects

Making your own scrubs, bath salts, candles, etc. is a great self-care activity. The process is enjoyable; the results provide relaxation. In addition, these items are great gifts for others. To get some ideas and “recipes” go here:  https://carolbrusegar.com/scents-of-fall-diy-projects/

Did you make Clove/Orange Pomanders when you were a kid? I did. They add scents of fall, too, and can be artistic projects as well. Check this out for ideas for designs, ways to make them last longer, and ideas for using them. https://www.almanac.com/content/how-make-pomander-balls

Learn Some Watercolor Painting Techniques

At my granddaughter’s birthday party, we had a painting party utilizing a YouTube video to guide us. It was great fun and expanded my interest in similar resources. I found that Jay Lee Painting has a variety of videos teaching watercolor techniques using simple trays of watercolors. You can use heavy art paper rather than canvass and have a relaxing and enjoyable time alone or with others.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=watercolor+painting+jay+lee

Take Advantage of Online Arts and Other Events

Early in the pandemic, I was intrigued with the number of concerts that were being given online so that musicians and other performers could stay connected with their followers and boost the spirits of anyone who watched. I anticipate a surge of such events as we move into the holiday season. Watch for announcements, check on websites or social media platforms for offerings and enjoy them. For example, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is having its first-ever Virtual Winter Season, December 2–31, 2020. In the spirit of making dance accessible to all, it will be free for everyone to enjoy. What a treat!  For more information: https://www.alvinailey.org/blog/announcing-aileys-virtual-season-dec-2-31 Festivals and other such events are often virtual these days. Find some you are interested in and see what they are planning.

For all of these events, enjoy them alone/with your household, or have some friends tune in at the same time and share the experience by connecting electronically during it.

Developing the art of staying in can be enjoyable and open new vistas and interests at the same time. It can boost your spirits and transform the time at home.

How the pandemic is affecting us continues to change. I invite you to be journaling through these changes if you are not already doing that. I created a free downloadable and printable journal a few months ago at the beginning. It can still be useful.  You can print additional pages as you wish. I also invite you to join this Facebook Group:  http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-a-Tool-For-Life

In the journal, I provide some questions/prompts that can help you zero in on your experiences and questions.  So that it is most flexible, those questions/prompts are in list form and you can write about what seems most useful on any given day. Or perhaps you just want to do daily reflections as you go along.

Here’s your link to the direct download: http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-Through-Crisis

The Art of Allowing – When Everything is Topsy-Turvy

hands+candle2020 so far has been topsy-turvy for all of us. So much has changed, so much is uncertain. For some of us it’s disastrous in terms of income, housing and of course health. There is a wide spectrum between those most severely impacted and those who are affected in less extreme ways. But every single person is affected. As someone noted, “We’re all in the same storm, but we’re not in the same boat.”

We all intellectually understand that life is going to teach us some tough lessons. No one escapes sickness and death. Everyone is going to have challenges in their life to mold them into what they can become.

When we are faced with upheaval, we generally have two major approaches most of us take: the default of fighting and raging against it – or attempting to ride it out as best you can, knowing that there is an ebb and flow to life and that this situation is temporary, no matter how it feels right now. The latter usually involves letting go of the illusion of any control and working with what you’ve got.

Letting go of control is anathema to many of us; Americans seem to be especially afflicted with an illusion or obsession of independence. It has become part of the cultural struggle – for example, no government official can tell me I have to wear a mask vs. our actions affect others and for the good of all, I will wear a mask.

It is encouraging to hear and read about people who are using this unexpected time in our lives to do the proverbial “making lemonade out of lemons.” As we find ourselves in situations that make us pucker up at the very least, many are seeing ways to use this opportunity to reflect on what was normal. Was that normal optimum? How can we do things in ways that are more family-affirming and better for personal health and wellness? People are creating things that better meet their needs and desires now. What impact will that have as we move through and beyond the immediate crisis?

What is Your Mindset?

Our mindset is key to how we handle any situation. Some people have a foundational belief that life is one big struggle after the next, and then you die. They might feel like they are always unlucky or accident prone. Our current situation just reinforces that. Others see life as basically good with some rough spots that they will go through and probably gain knowledge from. From both positions, the expectation nearly always is that person’s reality. What we focus on, we will attract more of.

Most of the time we don’t even realize our mindset. We live on autopilot and by living that way, stay in the same rut we’ve come to expect. Cultivating and reinforcing a mindset of basic good is a key part of continuing to go through this pandemic year and beyond. By seeing negative events in your life as flexible, short term situations, you can more easily move on. Those who view situations as being temporary, will be more likely to see the same situation as a speed bump in life’s rear-view mirror. That mindset leads to flexibility and adaptation – two outlooks that help people recover from bad situations.

Create an allowing practice

If you find yourself struggling to maintain that belief that things will get better and we will get through whatever it is we face, creating an allowing practice and using it daily can be of help.

This is a simple practice you can do daily when you put your attention and awareness on allowing rather than resisting. Think of:

  • accepting things as they are;
  • identifying, receiving and celebrating the positives, surprises and gifts in the current situation;
  • trusting things will ultimately work out.

Taking a short time each day to do this can release some of the intense responsibility you feel for all the outcomes of everything facing you and your family. It may also release some of the anger (even rage) about the difficulties of these days. Give it a try!

Ways to Use Five Healing Spices to Boost Your Immune System

assorted spicesIn a previous post, A Spicy Approach to Staying Healthy, I introduced five healing spices that are likely in your cupboard and that can help keep your immune system strong. How can we use turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin, and cloves to make a difference in our health?

Here are some suggestions for using each.

How to Use Turmeric

You can choose to use either the ground powder or the fresh turmeric root. The powder is easier to find. Turmeric is largely used in Indian dishes. So you can use as an addition to homemade curry.

Turmeric is a great spice for many savory dishes – roasted vegetables (try cauliflower), rice, quinoa and other grains. You can make a turmeric broth, adding ground turmeric to taste in a bone, chicken or beef broth. It can be the base for soups, or you can drink the broth. Adding turmeric to soup or chili is a good boost also. Start with a small amount and add to your taste.

Turmeric tea is the easiest way to have the spice daily. You can easily add it to a basic green or black tea, or in a turmeric milk. This is often called golden milk and combines any type of milk you like with turmeric and other spices. It’s a soothing tasty beverage.

A spice rub or marinade using turmeric, ginger and other spices you choose can be great for chicken, beef or other meats.

How to Use Cinnamon

You can purchase cinnamon as a whole bark, or in dried powder form. The powder has a stronger taste than the whole bark does.

The bark/cinnamon sticks can be added to water to enhance the taste as you drink the needed amount each day. I like to combine them with apple slices in my infused water. And of course adding a cinnamon stick to a wide variety of warm beverages like apple cider, chai teas and more enhances the flavor.

Powdered cinnamon is an extremely versatile spice that is used in all kinds of baked goods we especially enjoy in the fall and winter – anything with apples or pumpkin and much more.

There are many ways to add cinnamon to your daily consumption by sprinkling it on top of yoghurt, granola, fruit (especially apples, bananas, and pears), or ice cream. You can add it to smoothies, whether fruit or those including peanut butter, chocolate, or honey. Stirring a little into juice, tea, or coffee is also great. Another morning tip is to sprinkle cinnamon onto your coffee grounds; it will go through into your coffee as it perks.

Fall vegetables including sweet potatoes, squash, etc. taste great roasted with cinnamon.

How to Use Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne peppers are a staple in Southwestern American, Mexican, Cajun, and Creole cuisine. They are used as a powdered spice for seasoning and used whole in many Korean, Sichuan, and other Asian recipes. Exploring those dishes can add to your menu.

Cayenne can be added to spice mixtures for barbecue rubs, or marinades and to olive oil vinegar, and other ingredients for a salad dressing with a kick. Look for recipes for salsas and slaws that incorporate cayenne – fruit salsas can be greatly enhanced with them.

How to Use Cumin

Cumin is an essential spice for Indian curries and chutneys, and also in many Mexican style dishes. It also works well in a variety of rice dishes, stews, soups, pickles, barbecue sauces, and chili con carne recipes. It’s even good in muffins and bread mixes.

Roasted Cumin Potatoes are simple and tasty dish. Use cubed medium potatoes or new red potatoes. Coat them with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin, salt and ground pepper and bake on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

It is best to be conservative when cooking with cumin as its flavor can easily overtake a dish. You can always add more later.

How to Use Cloves

Whole cloves are often used to flavor warm beverages – apple cider, teas, etc. Put them in a tea infuser/strainer so they are easily removed when you are ready to drink. You can  stud ham, onions, glazed pork or beef with them before roasting or baking.

Powdered cloves can be added to dishes that use curry powder. A good way to tell when clove will be appropriate for more savory dishes is to think about what you use curry in. For example, an Indian dish that is using curry powder, like rice, will taste great with clove as an added spice.

Cloves are a good addition to Asian dishes and as a marinade for chicken, fish, or other meat with other species like turmeric and ginger.

And of course, cloves are great in baked goods that include cinnamon. They are so complimentary.

I hope this introduction to five spices that can boost your immunity and health has been helpful. Having all of these powerhouse spices on hand and using them as often as possible can make a difference. Perhaps turmeric is a spice you are less familiar with. To see what’s available, check this out: https://amzn.to/3eS4hQE   Stay healthy!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Spicy Approach to Staying Healthy

SpicesAs we continue during a time of pandemic, our concern about not being infected by the COVID-19 virus persists and grows. We know the actions that will decrease our chances of that happening from our public health officials.

Generally boosting our immune system is critical even more than usual to ensure our general health and wellness. We need to keep our bodies strong, address deficiencies and be able to ward off other illnesses and conditions while living in this strange reality. Summer is a great time to focus on summer superfoods – fruits and vegetables that provide great nutritional value. I wrote about them here: https://carolbrusegar.com/great-superfood-choices-for-summer/  These can also help us drop the extra weight many of us have added during the past few months – the “quarantine fifteen” or so!

SPICES – Another Tool  for General Wellness and Strong Immune Systems

Used in holistic medicine, healing spices have numerous awesome properties which can be used as useful preventatives and to treat everything from the common cold to inflammation. The majority of spices on the market boast at least some healing properties and different spices offer different healing properties. But generally speaking they all contain a high level of antioxidants.

These antioxidants can help fight off free radicals, protect against heart disease and other serious conditions, and keep you looking and feeling younger for longer. They also contain great anti-inflammatory properties which can help with allergies and even help to ward off more serious health conditions.

Due to the strength of many spices, they can also be used to boost the metabolism. This really aids in weight loss, while also helping to provide a delicious kick when added to your meals.

To get the full benefits, you will want to purchase quality spices – a well-known brand and organic versions if possible. Organic spices often also stay fresher for longer due to their production and cultivation method. You may be suspecting that healing spices are exotic varieties which are expensive and perhaps hard to find. Fortunately, that’s not true! Some of the best healing spices to boost our immune systems are common ones that may be in your cupboard, even if you don’t use them in all of the ways that can be beneficial. Here are five:  Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Cumin and Cloves.

Top 5 Healing Spices to Boost the Immune System

  • Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the best healing spices you can use, particularly in terms of boosting the immune system. It’s closely related to ginger and has been used for its medicinal benefits for more than 4000 years.

It is the active ingredient, Curcumin, which helps to boost the immune system. It contains a high level of anti-inflammatory properties, required to ensure the immune system is functioning correctly.

  • Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the more versatile spices and it’s great for the immune system.

This is because of its impressive mix of antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. All work together to protect the immune system, as well as fight off numerous illnesses.

  • Cayenne

It doesn’t matter whether you use the supplement capsules or the real thing, cayenne will help significantly boost the immune system.

It contains a lot of Vitamin A and antioxidants. These don’t just protect the immune system, but they also ensure the body is better able to fight off any illnesses which may develop.

  • Cumin

Cumin seeds are often used as a spice to help boost the immune system. In fact, they’ve even been used in traditional medicine to improve a weakened immune system. When consumed daily, you’ll start to see a difference in how you feel within weeks.

It’s largely the spice’s Vitamin C content which makes it so efficient at fighting off illness and protecting the immune system.

  • Cloves

While largely used to improve oral health and ease toothache, cloves can also be used to boost the immune system. They contain an exceptional level of antioxidants which help the immune system fight off free radicals, as well as oxidative stress.

They’re also good for reducing the symptoms of infections and fighting off disease. Or, use them to fight off the common cold and aid digestion.

 Check your cupboard for these spices, and if any are outdated, replace them and start using them intentionally and regularly. In an upcoming post, I will share a variety of ways to use these spices and a few recipes.