Woman holding vintage alarm clock

This Gift of Time

And so, we find ourselves in the throes of a global pandemic. Over these past few weeks, due to one miniscule virus, the landscape of the world around us has changed in unprecedented ways, and life as we know it has become strange and confusing to navigate.

Where do we go from here?...

 

But in the midst of this upside-down world, there is a hidden gift. It has tremendous potential. And offers an incredible opportunity.

Time.

There is no better time than NOW to focus on deep healing, to becoming centered, grounded, and explorative. Now is the time to understand and strengthen those parts of you that need extra love and attention. Now is the time to gently move towards the most physically apt, mentally sharp, and emotionally level version of you.

Quoting Nike, "Just Do It!"

So....Relax your brain. Loosen your jaw, neck and shoulder muscles. Close your eyes. Take a long, slow, deep breath. And exhale.

 

Have you ever...

  • been curious about a permanent, non-drug solution to completely overcoming your seasonal allergies?
  • wondered about that incessant stomach pain?
  • wondered if your 'irreversible' autoimmune thyroid condition is truly irreversible?
  • wondered about that nagging lab abnormality that keeps coming up on your blood tests?
  • been curious about why you wake up exhausted after twelve hours of solid sleep?
  • been concerned about your daily need of acid blockers, antihistamines, or stool softeners?

I tell my patients that in fact your body has all of the answers. It already knows why it's unwell, and what it needs to be perfectly content. It's just a matter of tapping into that deep knowledge bank.

Do you want to get from YOU in your current state of health to being on the other side of the chasm - ie. YOU in that excellent, 'my cup runneth over' state of health?

It could be that:

  • seasonal allergies are perhaps just an overactive immune response. The question is, why would your immune response be overactive? That is, in my opinion, what ought to be investigated and remedied.
  • that stomach pain may be a response to a long-standing mono-diet, or a lack of proper gut flora balance, or antibiotic overuse. It could even be due to a nervous system that's stuck in "fight or flight" aka. sympathetic mode - the gut functions best in "rest and digest" aka. parasympathetic mode.
  • just because you have a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis or lupus doesn't mean that you have to be on prednisone or methotrexate forevermore.

The job of the astute clinician is to:

  1. identify and remove the triggers egging on the condition and/or symptoms (such as daily consumption of the wrong foods)
  2. identify deficiencies and ensure optimal levels of nutrients and such (including a deficiency of emotional nourishment)
  3. identify toxicities and avoid/remove these from the body (including toxic drugs, toxic relationships, chronic stressors)

There may be other additional elements that weigh into the diagnostic mix, such as genetics, lifestyle factors, and history of trauma and surgeries. Regardless, I believe that you have every right to connect with a physician who will put their detective hat on for you, and who will take the time to dedicate themselves to digging deeper into your unique health situation, so that your health may finally rise higher than half-mast.

If you want to fly at full mast with your body and mind, you can now partner with a Reboot Center provider without needing to leave your sofa. Imagine that! All you need is an internet connection and access to a desktop, laptop, smart phone or tablet. Easy peasy.

Go for it and email or call us for a new or established patient virtual telehealth appointment.

As the coronavirus pandemic has kept an increasing number of people at home, I have seen more and more patients via telehealth. I do have to say that even though I miss seeing my patients in person, I feel (dare I say) almost more in tune with their healing journeys with these online visits. I wonder if this may be due to the increased passion and dedication by individuals to improve their organ and systemic health given the impact of COVID-19. But whatever the reason, I am so encouraged that people are taking the time and redirecting the course of their health and becoming truly WELL through healthier eating, selective testing, and partnering with me in the formulation of solid treatment plans, all the while focusing on their short-term and long-range health and life goals.

I feel so privileged to partake in your healing journeys. Thank you!

And remember....

Just Do it!


woman meditating on beach

Mindfulness Meditation and Chronic Disease Management

Mindfulness meditation is not only good for stress-reduction, it has a plethora of other health benefits. Many illnesses can be mitigated, if not completely managed, through a consistent meditation practice. It is a powerful “self-healing" tool that is fairly easy to implement.

Meditation has been shown to have positive changes that can actually affect function and structure in the brain. In addition, it may improve other markers of health and well-being, some of which are discussed below.

For those wondering if meditation may help you, I’ve provided a short summary of some of the research that has been done to show its benefits in the following conditions:

Immune health

Stress has a large impact on the immune system. Auto-immune conditions (ie. the immune system “attacking” the body) are typically managed through pharmaceutical medications. Natural medicines can also help modulate and improve immune function, but addressing the mind and spirit is key. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to help lower markers such as the main stress hormone, cortisol, in addition to lowering inflammatory markers often implicated in auto-immune conditions, such as TNF-alpha and C-reactive protein (1).

For those who are susceptible to recurrent infections, Mindfulness Meditation can be very effective. In fact, a 9-month randomized controlled study including 154 adults showed a decreased incidence, severity and duration of upper respiratory illnesses such as colds and flus with such meditation (2).

Chronic pain and depression

Mindfulness meditation may significantly decrease chronic pain as well as depression (3). The prefrontal cortex plays a role in depression while it also modulates and can lower pain perception, mainly through dopamine. Meditation is one of the activities that stimulate this area, which is why it can be so effective (4).

Similarly, people with diagnosed fibromyalgia benefit from meditation and other activities that help them practice “acceptance, non-attachment, and social engagement” (5).

Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension

An 8-week study with 49 participants showed that those attending mindfulness classes twice weekly had significant health improvements, including lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and inflammatory markers over the control group, who attended a health education class. Participants practicing meditation also showed increases in focus, confidence, relaxation, and happiness; decreases in fatigue, anger, and loneliness (6).

Other Conditions 

Anxiety, sleep problems, and fatigue are among other conditions that mindfulness meditation may help manage (6).

With all the promising benefits of meditation that have been shown thus far, it would be wonderful to see more research with documented clinical success. However, if you are willing to implement a consistent practice, you may cultivate your own "self-healing" experience!

Resources

  1. Pascoe, M.C., Thompson, D.R., Jenkins, Z.M. and Ski, C.F., 2017. Mindfulness mediates the physiological markers of stress: systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of psychiatric research95, pp.156-178.
  2. Barrett, B., Hayney, M. S., Muller, D., Rakel, D., Ward, A., Obasi, C. N., … & West, R. (2012). Meditation or exercise for preventing acute respiratory infection: a randomized controlled trial. The Annals of Family Medicine10(4), 337-346.
  3. Hilton, L., Hempel, S., Ewing, B.A., Apaydin, E., Xenakis, L., Newberry, S., Colaiaco, B., Maher, A.R., Shanman, R.M., Sorbero, M.E. and Maglione, M.A., 2016. Mindfulness meditation for chronic pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Behavioral Medicine51(2), pp.199-213.
  4. Ong, W.Y., Stohler, C.S. and Herr, D.R., 2019. Role of the prefrontal cortex in pain processing. Molecular neurobiology56(2), pp.1137-1166.
  5. Adler-Neal, A.L. and Zeidan, F., 2017. Mindfulness meditation for fibromyalgia: mechanistic and clinical considerations. Current rheumatology reports19(9), p.59.
  6. Lee, S.H., Hwang, S.M., Kang, D.H. and Yang, H.J., 2019. Brain education-based meditation for patients with hypertension and/or type 2 diabetes: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Medicine98(19), p.e15574.

core exercises

Reboot Your Core [Functional Movement Group]

It's that time of year where we're thinking of getting back into shape again.

But...before you begin to build lean muscle through exercise, it is important to make sure key core muscles are balanced, mobile and strong. If they are not, everyone from body builders to those who are more sedentary are predisposed to disk herniations or muscle and ligament injuries.

You cannot build function on dysfunction.

FMS (Functional Movement Systems) is a method of personal training that addresses this common problem. In this group, we will learn self-myofascial release, stretching and strengthening. This will improve your mobility and core strength. With a more “functional” frame, you may move into more resistance or weight training with better safety. We will also discuss our progress and set personal goals.

Reboot Your Core will take place at Reboot Center on the following Saturdays @ 9:30AM: 

March 9th: Feet & Legs

  • Self-myofascial release through rolling and stretching feet, calves, IT bands, and quads

March 23: Pelvic Stabilization

  • Assess and strengthen pelvic floor
  • Assess and correct abdominal and psoas muscle imbalances

April 6: Correcting "Dead-Butt Syndrome"

  • Release and stretch piriformis
  • Assess and strengthen gluteal muscles

April 20: Back & Upper Extremities

  • Release and stretch erectors, pecs, rhomboids and traps
  • Stabilize back and shoulders through resistance

To register, call (360) 331-2464 to reserve your spot. Limited space is available.

 

Preparing for your first group visit:

Participants who are established Reboot Center patients: One-on-one assessments with Dr. Dana are encouraged prior to March 9th so that she can send you an individualized workout schedule after each group.

Participants who are not established Reboot Center patients: A prerequisite to participation in the group is a one-on-one assessment with Dr. Dana prior to March 9th. This visit allows Dr. Dana to determine an appropriate workout schedule for you following each group visit.

The equipment list will be provided to you prior to the first visit. For details, please e-mail Dr. Dana.

About the facilitator:

Dr. Ruth Dana, ND learned about FMS through her active participation in Sports Medicine Club at Bastyr University. After a roller skating injury, she worked closely with an expert in the field, applying this method to her exercise routine daily to get back to enjoying her favorite sport with greater safety. She is passionate about sharing FMS with those who are in pain or wish to build lean muscle safely.

 

Billing logistics:

Pre-pay (non-insurance): $180

Insurance: For those with insurance that covers visits with Dr. Dana, standard office visit co-pays apply, and visit charges will be billed to insurance. 

Questions? Contact Dr. Dana.


woman sleeping

5 Easy Steps To Sleeping Like A Baby (Again)

Do you find it frustratingly difficult to fall asleep at night? Wake frequently during the night? Weary-eyed at 4AM, without being able to fall back asleep?

The many variations on the theme of insomnia are a major health concern, to the point where the CDC has declared it a public health epidemic. Americans are notoriously sleep-deprived, and the stats in this country are staggering:

  • Approx. 30% of adults have symptoms of insomnia
  • Approx. 10% of the population may suffer from long-standing insomnia
  • Insomnia costs the workforce $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity
  • Insomnia is a major contributing factor to deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes
  • Roughly 27% of working women suffer from insomnia, compared to 20% of working men

Insomnia is defined as: “Difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or both, despite adequate opportunity and time to sleep, leading to impaired daytime functioning.” Sound like you fit the bill?

In my office, I see lack of good sleep likely undermining or being a contributing factor in many conditions, including chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, and IBS. In fact, studies have shown that ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and stroke. Insomnia can also increase the risk of car crashes, work-related accidents, and cancer.

 

How much sleep is enough?

Here are the recommended number of hours of sleep per age group:

  • 0-1 year: 12-16 hours/day (including naps)
  • 1-3 yrs: 11-14 hours/day (including naps)
  • 3-5 yrs: 10-13 hours/day (including naps)
  • 6-12 yrs: 9-12 hours/day
  • 13-18 yrs: 8-10 hours/day
  • Adults: 7-8 hours/day

 

Bottom Line: The right quantity and quality of sleep is worth it!

Consider these health benefits of good snoozing:

  • Healthy growth and development in kids
  • Proper healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels
  • Improved insulin response - this is the hormone that controls your blood sugar level
  • Improved immune function, enabling your body to fight infections with more oomph and keep inflammation in check
  • Better ability to think, learn, work, and be actively and positively engaged with your environment.

 

How To Get Sleeping Like a Baby Again:

Here are some tried-and-true methods to help encourage great sleep. If you still need help rebooting your sleep after implementing these, consider a Reboot consult.

  1. Create a foolproof sleep environment:
    1. Your bed, pillow, sheets, and blanket should be as clean, natural, and organic as possible. This reduces exposure to toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, benzene, and naphthalene.
    2. Keep your wifi off at night. Here's why. This is particularly important for individuals who have a known sensitivity to EMFs. But, all of our brains would surely benefit from reduced exposure, especially at night, when our bodies are in repair mode.
  2. Set yourself up for nighttime success with your daytime activities:
    1. Avoid caffeine after noon
    2. Exercise daily, preferably in the morning
    3. Get plenty of fresh air and sunlight
    4. Have dinner by 7:30PM
    5. Get into bed by 9PM in order to be asleep by 10PM
  3. Establish an evening routine to encourage an easy transition to bed. This routine may include:
    1. A warm bath
    2. Meditating
    3. Reading a good book
    4. Spending quality time with loved ones
    5. Try to avoid computer use within two hours of going to bed, as the blue light can suppresses the production of melatonin (aka. our “sleep hormone”)
  4. During the night:
    1. Righto, Keep that wifi off!
    2. Get your room as calm and dark as possible- consider black-out blinds and reduce extra sources of light
    3. Open your window a bit, even if it’s just a sliver, so that the well-oxygenated air from outside can circulate through the bedroom
  5. If you still need some extra supplemental support:
    1. My go-to supplement is NapCaps, which contains herbal extracts of valerian, passionflower, and lemon balm, as well as L-Theanine and 5-HTP. It works wonders for many of my patients (and me)!
    2. 1-2 teaspoons of a gentle lemon balm & chamomile tincture or a cup of tea from these herbs can also be lovely, taken 15 minutes before bed.

It’s ALWAYS important to focus on any underlying factor(s) or conditions egging on that nighttime wakefulness. Salivary adrenal hormone testing can help to determine abnormalities in your circadian rhythm cycling (ie. you should have the “wake” hormones be high during the day and the “sleep” hormones high during the night, but sometimes these levels are turned around or are otherwise abnormal). I use this type of testing often in my office, and have found it to be a foundational part of the assessment process for insomnia.

Want to make an appointment at Reboot Center? Easy!!

 

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3157657/

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency

https://www.sleepdr.com/the-sleep-blog/cdc-declares-sleep-disorders-a-public-health-epidemic/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

 


a happy group of people from men and women practicing yoga

Healthier Living - BodyLean program

Is it “flu season” or “sugar season”? We are more susceptible to illness when eating diets high in sugar and low in nutrients! Let’s UP our health game this winter with our Healthier Living - BodyLean Group Program! This group is appropriate for anyone and everyone who wants to improve their health through lifestyle and nutrition. 

We will offer a Bioimpedance Analysis (BIA) at the first and last visit to check your body composition of body fat, water, lean muscle, etc. We will  set personal, achievable goals and support each other as we navigate through our individual challenges.

Group meetings, led by Dr. Ruth Dana, are from 3:45-4:45PM on the following four Wednesdays, each focusing on a particular area of healthier living:

  • December 5, 2018 - Brief overview of therapeutic exercise/diet, goal setting
  • December 12, 2018 - Anti-inflammatory nutrition
  • December 19, 2018 - Mindful eating
  • January 2, 2019 - Exercise for health

Once the 4 weeks are complete, we will offer continued meetings on the 1st Wednesday of each month in order to solidify our new healthier habits within a supportive group setting.

Regular office visit copays will apply. Cash rates are available in bundles of $180 for 4 visits if you do not have coverage for naturopathic care through your insurance company.

Please email or call Reboot Center at (360) 331-2464 to register!

BONUS: The BodyLean & BodyClear meal replacement programs will be available at a 10% discount for active group participants.


exercise

Exercise: The Health Plan with the Biggest Bang for your Buck

We all know that staying physically active is good for health. Regular exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight, since obesity is a risk factor for many diseases, particularly heart disease and cancer. But, if most of us know exercise is healthy, then why can it be so darn difficult to stick with an exercise plan? Well, for one, even though we cerebrally know that exercise is good, there can be significant challenges in starting up and adhering to an exercise regimen. There are often time constraints. You may be confused about where to start, in what type of activity to engage, at what intensity level, and for how long. But if you do stick to it, exercise can have incredible health benefits and can truly be the single most effective way to improve your overall health.

It's good for your brain!

Research shows that exercise is important in maintaining brain health. Not only does it prevent cognitive decline; it also improves dementia.[5] The adage “it’s never too late” definitely rings true with exercise. The reason exercise is so good for the brain is primarily due to improved blood flow and metabolism. Just like all tissue in the body, the brain needs oxygen. Better blood flow delivers that oxygen. Also, when we exercise, the body shifts from using glucose to ketones as energy. Ketones are used efficiently by the brain and are protective to the brain.[1]

Many of us work with our healthcare team to monitor lipids, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Exercise significantly reduces all of these.[3] It is literally a “cure-all”. In fact, an exercise regimen can be considered a first-line approach to help manage type II diabetes. Aerobic exercise and resistance training can effectively decrease insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome scores in addition to lowering triglycerides, VLDL (“bad cholesterol”), and reducing fat mass.[4]

How much exercise is the right amount?

The standard recommendation is at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, 5 times per week. Moderate intensity is defined as 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your max heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, the maximum heart rate for a 60 year-old is calculated to be 160 beats per minute. In the case of this 60 year-old, moderate intensity exercise would be at a heart rate of 80-112 beats per minute. Depending on your goals, individual health conditions and exercise tolerance, exercising at a high intensity may also be appropriate, even approaching your max heart rate. Always consult a physician before starting any exercise program.   

Don’t have time to exercise?

Not a problem. Even short durations of exercise with intervals of high intensity have been shown to be just as effective as continuous intensity exercise for longer duration. In the example of one study, 9 minutes of moderate intensity exercise with three intervals of “going all out” high intensity of 20 seconds during each interval had the same benefit as 45 minutes of continuous moderate intensity exercise.[2] So, if you want to save time but still get the same workout, go for intervals!

Regarding making time for exercise, I have found that I have been able to stick to my exercise program much more closely when I planned it in my schedule, along with my other planned activities.

Additional helpful tips to ensure exercise success:

  • Find an exercise partner (such as a spouse or friend) to keep each other accountable and motivated.
  • Engage in an activity you truly enjoy that gets your heart rate up. The options are limitless!
  • Partner with a healthcare provider, who can track your progress with labs including hsCRP, lipids, glucose, insulin, as well as monitor your BP and resting pulse readings. Some physicians also use tools such as Bioimpedance Analyses (to monitor body fat, muscle mass, etc.)- at Reboot Center the BIA is a cornerstone of every patient's exercise program. The data points collected via blood draws and other tests can help keep you motivated and on track towards reaching your goal.

And now, lace up and enjoy the benefits!

 

Resources:

  1. Cunnane SC, Courchesne-Loyer A, St-pierre V, et al. Can ketones compensate for deteriorating brain glucose uptake during aging? Implications for the risk and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016;1367(1):12-20.
  2. Gillen JB, Martin BJ, Macinnis MJ, Skelly LE, Tarnopolsky MA, Gibala MJ. Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(4):e0154075.
  3. Lackland DT, Voeks JH. Metabolic syndrome and hypertension: regular exercise as part of lifestyle management. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2014;16(11):492.
  4. Muniyappa R, Lee S, Chen H, Quon MJ. Current approaches for assessing insulin sensitivity and resistance in vivo: advantages, limitations, and appropriate usage. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2008 Jan;294(1):E15-26.
  5. Northey JM, Cherbuin N, Pumpa KL, Smee DJ, Rattray B. Exercise interventions for cognitive function in adults older than 50: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018;52(3):154-160.

empty plate

Live Fast, Die Old

Fasting dates back to the ancient civilizations of Greece and the Near East. Fasting as part of a religious practice has been used by numerous cultures and religions. Christianity, Judaism, Gnosticism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, South and North American Indian traditions all utilize some form of fasting.

Many of the early great philosophers used fasting for health; Hippocrates, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and Galen all made note of the benefits of fasting, and Plato and Socrates were both known to have fasted for days at a time. Paracelsus, one of the three fathers of Western medicine, is quoted as saying, "Fasting is the greatest remedy-- the physician within." Interestingly, fasting has long been observed among animals during times of illness as well.

Spas in Europe long incorporated fasting as part of their therapeutic regimen for both ailing patients as well as those who wanted to stay well. In the early 1800’s, Dr. Isaac Jennings began to advocate a therapeutic system in the US that included clean air, sunshine, exercise, pure water, rest, and fasting.

In the 1900’s, Herbert Shelton (1895-1985), who supervised 40,000 people in the art of fasting, refined Jennings’ system by focusing specifically on purified water fasting and complete rest. He wrote: "Fasting must be recognized as a fundamental and radical process that is older than any other mode of caring for the sick organism, for it is employed on the plane of instinct..." He formed the American Natural Hygiene Society in 1949, which is still very active today.

Fasting for Health

Fasting is not just a fad for losing weight. It can have real impacts on multiple aspects of health. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer can all be improved, and possibly prevented, by fasting. Even autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis, that have little correlation with increased weight as a risk factor, can benefit from fasting.

This may be due to a deep re-regulation of our bodies induced by the fasting state, that then modulates our endocrine and immune systems into being able to become less reactive, less “auto-immune.”

The word fasting can conjure up feelings of doubt. How can health be accomplished when the treatment might involve hunger pangs, cravings, and deprivation of nutrients? Well, it can! In an effort to focus this article, as there are so many different fasting regimens used around the world, for various reasons, utilizing different methods, I will focus on one in particular called the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD).

New research into the FMD is beginning to uncover that it can have all the benefits of classic water fasts, but without the risks of water fasting. And, it can be easily incorporated into a busy life. Few of us can take time off work and life to water fast on a regular basis. Enter FMD.

One particular study involving five days of adhering to the FMD each month for three months demonstrated the benefits of this type of fasting. The FMD subjects were found to have reduced body weight and body fat, lowered blood pressure, and decreased the hormone IGF-1 (implicated in aging and disease) after the 3 months, as opposed to their non-FMD counterparts.

Want to know more about how to actually undertake the FMD? I suggest that you consult with a FMD-literate physician or nutritionist. Be sure to have your blood values and body measurements checked before embarking on the FMD journey, and also at the end of the process. Track your sleep, energy level, mental clarity, and other markers of general health during the process. And have fun!

Who should not try Fasting

There are some people for whom fasting is not recommended. These include individuals with eating disorders, cachexia, underweight individuals, the elderly as well as young children, and people with particular psychological disorders. Always consult a physician before embarking on a fast.

References:

Wei M, Brandhorst S, Shelehchi M, et al. Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Sci Transl Med. 2017;9(377)

Choi IY, Piccio L, Childress P, et al. A Diet Mimicking Fasting Promotes Regeneration and Reduces Autoimmunity and Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms. Cell Rep. 2016;15(10):2136-46.


woman meditating

Stressed? 5 Ways to be the Eye of the Storm

In our modern world we are often going from one thing to the next, or rather, trying to continuously get on top of multiple overlapping tasks, with an ever-growing task list. It seems there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done.

All too often time to ourselves and self-care are the first things to be sacrificed. This coping strategy may feel efficient in the short-term, but it will soon lead to fatigue and adrenal dysfunction, aka. “burnout”. In other words, with constant low-grade stress, the adrenal glands, aptly named as they produce hormones like adrenaline that give us energy, will not be able to keep up with demand. This leaves us in a pervasive “fight or flight” state, where we feel wired and tired.

What your body needs is balance. And to balance this fight or flight sympathetic activity in the body you need more of the opposite: parasympathetic “rest and digest” activities. Here are 5 simple ways to get your nervous system back to a balanced, productive, focused, calm, and rejuvenated state of being. I suggest adding in one activity at a time and making a habit of it before adding in the next.

  1. Breathe your stress away. Begin by placing one hand on your belly and the other over your chest. As you breathe in notice which hand moves the most. If you notice the hand on your chest moving more; work to move your breath down so the hand on your belly is moving the most. Pause for a count of four seconds at the end of each inhalation and exhalation. Repeat x 2-5 minutes every time you start to feel overwhelmed, as well as after waking and before falling asleep.
  2. Drink up! Drinking adequate water maintains your fluid volume. When you are dehydrated your heart tends to beat faster, which requires more sympathetic activity. Remember to drink one cup of water for every cup of coffee as coffee is a diuretic and will dehydrate you. Coffee is also a stimulant which will push you into a sympathetic state. There is no magic number for how much water your body actually needs, as it differs for each person. But as a very general rule, I suggest drinking half of your body weight in ounces. To fine-tune your particular water requirements, consider your diet, weight, and physical activity level. A good practice is to drink 16oz after waking, as well as 4-8oz before meals.
  3. Slow down meal times. Digestion is a parasympathetic activity. If we eat on the go, such as while working or driving, our digestion is not optimized, throwing us into a gut maddening state where food is poorly digested and assimilated. This can promote issues such as food intolerances, belly aches, and heartburn. For a healthy nervous system, it is important to take time to prepare and enjoy nourishing meals.
  4. Sleep more. Deep, restorative sleep encourages decreased sympathetic tone. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, one should go to sleep between 9 and 10PM, as one benefits from deeper sleep. Additionally, make your sleep environment cool, quiet, and as dark as possible. Reduce exposure to bright lights such as computer and phone screens right before bed to help sleep onset.
  5. Visualize grounding. These can either be self-guided or with the help of others. Find a quiet, comfortable space to be seated. The visualization exercises are nearly limitless, but find ones that resonate with you. A good one is to imagine roots coming from the soles of your feet and going through the floor, through the foundation, through the soil and rocks; imagining them spreading all the way to the center of the earth. Let your imagination go in a disciplined way and have fun with it.

There are very effective ways to test adrenal function. My favorite, of which I have run hundreds, is the 24-Hour Salivary Cortisol/DHEA test. This test provides a visual graph of your cortisol level (ie. adrenal activity) over a 24-hour period, plus DHEA. I have found this particular test to be phenomenal in pinning down adrenal issues underlying or contributing to sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, brain fog and other health issues.

Here is an example of results from a patient with insomnia, brain fog, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue:

Comprehensive adrenal testing, which can also include serum cortisol, testosterone, estrogens, progesterone, pregnenolone, and DHEA-S, is available through Reboot Center.

References:

Trinder et al. Autonomic activity during human sleep as a function of time and sleep stage. J Sleep Res. 2001 December; 10(4): 253–264.