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It’s Ok to Not Be Ok.

Wow! 2016 is almost over! In less than 48 hours, 2017 will have arrived! Reflecting on the closing year is a prime opportunity to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What have you accomplished? Where could you use more support? What needs cleared out? What could be built up? Are there circumstances that have influenced you? How will you turn them into an action plan? What is your first step?

Initially it may seem overwhelming to catalog your thoughts, emotions, accomplishments, and set-backs. However, taking time to truly assess your well-being and honestly face your circumstances will allow a better foundation from which to start building a better outcome in 2017. Find out where you are at on your internal map so you can formulate a solid plan on where you want to go in 2017.

Maybe 2016 was full of goals met, moments celebrated, progress, peace, and things coming together. We wish this for each and every one of you! If so, take that momentum right into the New Year, with bigger and better plans on climbing higher in 2017! Maybe 2016 held brokenness, illness, loss, difficulty, failure, struggle, or conflict. While we at Lake Pointe would wish you a better set of circumstances and a more joyful place to stand today, we also realize that this is a reality in many lives at any moment and honor the truth that there are times when each of us is not ok. If you find yourself in this category, take a moment, openly assess where you find yourself mentally and emotionally and use that information to power your journey upward.

The functional medicine doctors at Lake Pointe understand the intricate connection between mental and emotional health and physical health. Feeling blue can be the result of any number of factors from circumstantial difficulty to low Vitamin D levels to poor gut health. Regardless of what might be getting you down, there are ways to support your physiology for stronger mental and emotional health. It’s ok to not be ok. However, finding the right support is key in your plan to regain, recover, and restart. True wellness is more than the lack of physical illness, but incorporates the health and balance of body, mind, and spirit. If any of these is not functioning properly, the whole is unwell. Partnering with a functional medicine doctor can help set you on your journey from maybe-not-so-ok to more balanced moods and mental health. Schedule a consult with your Lake Pointe practitioner to put together a customized plan for wellness. Call 612-922-8100 to get started. And may 2017 be a happy year!

Body Language for a Better Life

Fascinating research is confirming that choosing more cheery body language can translate into the physiological responses that make us feel better! In just a matter of minutes, chemical changes take place in the body (and brain!) in response to particular postures or poses. These responses, however, work both ways… choosing a despondent posture or shuffling around looking at your feet can keep you feeling low as much as lifting your chin and producing a smile can make your spirits soar. Turns out that body language not only informs others, but it informs us!
Amy Cuddy, social psychologist, has spent years researching how body language impacts our own physiological responses. In her TED Talk on this very topic, she explains the profound impact on the body and mind when one simply assumed a more “powerful” pose for as little as 2 minutes prior to entering a stressful situation.  Not only did the test show differences in how others perceived the test subjects, but revealed that the internal chemistry of the subjects shifted in relation to whether they had assumed a positive or negative stance prior to testing. Imagine how your mind and body could be impacted by more consistent changes in body language and posture if it only took 2 minutes to shift biochemistry in test subjects! For the full take on this intriguing research, check out the video below:
A May 2015 article by Live Happy Magazine enumerates 6 quick ways to give yourself a little boost by just engaging your body in a positive action, posture, or facial expression:
1.  Add a little bounce to your step. Walking in an upbeat and cheerful manner can positively affect mood and memory!
2.  Smile!!!! It could boost your immune system, release endorphins, and help you recover from stressful situations.
3.  Assume a “power pose.” (See Amy’s TED Talk in the video above!) Standing like a victor or superhero can reduce stress hormones and promote feel-good chemistry, helping you feel more confident.
4.  Mirror someone. Loosely acclimating your body language to that of whomever you are engaging with can help to produce trust. Once that trust is established, your partner may then mirror you!
5.  Let out some laughter! Genuine laughter reaps a host of benefits for the body. Laughing with others reduces isolation! Quick! Share a joke with your neighbor!
6.  Spread out. Stress tends to encourage us to hunch up, fold arms, close our posture, and make our bodies generally smaller. Opening your posture and inhabiting more space is a natural way to tell your body you are confident and haven’t lost control.
Try to incorporate a new technique each day this week. Let us know how it impacts your day!
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Happiness Habits You Can Master

hat-591973-1January isn’t far away. (YIKES!) Who wants to resolve to Be Happy in 2017?! Below is a mega-list of attributes and habits shared by happy people. Habits have to be carefully cultivating, requiring effort and dedication for lasting impact, so rather than trying to tackle the whole list (and then getting tackled by your zealous commitment…), choose a few of the habits listed below and make a plan now to incorporate them into your life in the coming year. Take intentional steps toward happiness!
1.  Keep yourself busy (don’t get bored), but don’t allow life to get rushed (don’t get overwhelmed).
2.  Maintain a handful of close relationships… preferably with happy people.
3.  Don’t allow your happiness to be tied solely to external sources.
4.  Cultivate resilience. Keep getting back up!
5.  Actively try to be happy. Be the decision maker when it comes to your attitude.
6.  Exercise.
7.  Look for good in everything and appreciate the small and simple pleasures life presents.
8.  Be generous. Spend some of your time and resources giving to others.
9.  Don’t avoid discomfort if it’s leading to mastery. Struggle is part of progress. Keep at it!
10.  Find a hobby or activity that you can get lost in. Let yourself get carried away once in awhile!
11.  Choose to spend on experiences more often than you do on things.
12.  Seek out opportunities for in-person connections (rather than opting for social media or text messaging).
13.  Engage in deeper conversation.
14.  Learn to listen.
15.  Get enough sleep!
16.  Listen to music.
17.  Get outside more often.
18.  Follow your dreams.
19.  Make time for your spiritual health.
20.  Change your body language (check out our recent post on this!)
Check out some of the research behind these habits and benefits of making them part of your life by checking out this post on 99U and this article by the Huffington Post. Make happiness a habit!
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Be Rested: Don’t Be Crabby!

ostrich-992753_1280How many times have you seen the seemingly insurmountable woes of an overtired child cured miraculously by naptime? It’s simple enough to recognize sleep deprivation for what it is when your toddler gets fussy or you can’t keep the kids from squabbling in the backseat, but it can be all too easy to forget that the same basic needs of infants and children don’t disappear as we age. Food, water, shelter, relationship, clothing, touch….. sleep. Each of us needs it and we probably only fool ourselves if we think we can get by without it. Not only is the body prone to suffer when we don’t get adequate rest, but cognitive and emotional health take a hit as well. In his article on the effects of sleep deprivation, Dr. Mercola lists many of the results of even one night of poor sleep including slower reaction time, poor memory and learning capabilities, declines in cognitive processes, and heightened emotional response. Regarding the latter he states:

“As your reaction time and cognition slows, your emotions will be kicked into high gear. This means that arguments with co-workers or your spouse are likely, and you’re probably going to be at fault for blowing things out of proportion.

The amygdala controls basic emotions like fear and anger. As discussed in the film, another area of your brain called your frontal cortex, plays a key role in the regulation of emotions, and sleep is vital for its function.

When you’re well rested, your frontal cortex is nicely connected to your amygdala—that deep emotional center—and works almost like “a break to your emotional gas pedal.”

Sleep deprivation causes a disconnect between these two brain centers, allowing your emotions to run amok. Sleep deprivation also plays an important role in mental illness, and tends to result in more adverse psychiatric outcomes.”

Prioritizing sleep can result in mental clarity and better emotional stability. Approach complex and challenging emotional situations from a stronger, more stable place by getting the recommended 8+ hours each night. Your body will thank you, your mind will thank you, your heart will thank you, your friends (and family, and coworkers, and community) will thank you!

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Be Focused: A Functional Approach to ADHD

“ADD is not a Ritalin deficiency.” This insightful quote is central to Dr. Hyman’s discussion on healing the body to heal the mind and reverse ADD/ADHD. Prescribed stimulants are not your final option for helping your child (or yourself!) overcome an ADD/ADHD diagnosis. More and more research is confirming that healing and balancing the body is necessary to heal and balance the mind. Watch this great video by Dr. Hyman on how Functional Medicine can reverse ADHD and then schedule your Functional Medicine appointment at Lake Pointe to begin healing your body and balancing your mind.

 

Be Regular: Your Second Brain

watercolour-1336856_1920“Within the human gut lies a “second brain”: a vast network of neurons located along the intestinal lining. It’s called the enteric nervous system—enteric as in “pertaining to the gut”—and for years researchers assumed its sole province lay in regulation of the digestive process. Researchers now know that the enteric nervous system also relays and sends neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA, responds to emotions, and has a direct conduit to the brain via the vagus nerve.

The gut is not the site of higher-level cognition. The neurochemical processes responsible for writing emails, doing trigonometry, and reading this blog post occur solely in the brain. But though decision-making and conscious thought happen up top, the gut has a lot of input on how those thoughts and decisions develop. About 90% of traffic along the vagus flows from gut to brain, and it’s not all information about intestinal contractions. The second brain is likely the province of instinct, subconscious response, and emotion. In other words, gut feeling, gut instinct, butterflies in your stomach, and got the guts? aren’t just figures of speech. They hint at real physiological processes occurring along the gut-brain axis.

Emerging evidence is showing that our enteric nervous system, and the gut bacteria, probiotics, and prebiotics that comprise and affect it, have effects on how we think, feel, perform, and respond to the world around us.” writes Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple. (Read more here.)

Mark continues to list a variety of mental and emotional health challenges that have become increasingly common in our society. Each of them is then linked to research and evidence showing that manipulating the microbiome of the gut can drastically change factors and symptoms common to mental and emotional health challenges. Depression, anxiety, autism, cognitive flexibility, and reactivity are all sited in relation to gut health in his comprehensive article on the topic. It would now seem that the answer to many common mental health problems may now begin in healing the gut. Ready to balance the mind? Get started balancing the body. Schedule a Functional Physical with your doctor at Lake Pointe for a personalized protocol to heal the gut.

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