Most of us have been spending the majority of our time at home these days along with the whole family. Now might be a great time to create or update your home’s safety plan. If you don’t already have such a plan, putting one together and adding needed safety features may be welcome activities, especially if you’ve run out of fresh ideas after watching Frozen 2 for the tenth time.
Trips and falls can happen to anyone of any age around the home. Risk of these can be substantially reduced with a few simple activities and additions to the home:
Clear your floors of small and loose items such as pet bowls, toys, electrical cords, throw rugs; anything that might slip away when stepped on or someone could catch with their foot and lose balance.
Arrange or remove furniture so there’s a wide walking path in all rooms, especially those leading towards exits to the outside.
Essential items should be placed where they can be easily reached by family members that may need them.
Add grab bars inside and outside of your bathtub or shower, and next to the toilet.
Add railings on both sides of stairs, and make sure stairs, hallways and any transitions in floor height have good lighting.
Outdoors areas should be well lit, with walkways smooth and free of puddles so mud and ice can not form.
Nine in 10 structure fires occur in the home and more than 8 in 10 fire-related deaths resulting from home fires. Only 1 in 5 parents regularly practice fire escape plans at home, and only half of parents report their children know what to do in the event of a fire. When a fire does happen at home, children can become frightened and hide. By educating and practicing with our children for these types of emergencies, we can save lives and even have a little fun while doing it. Kids of all ages may find this a fun diversion and it can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish:
Have family members draw out on a sheet of paper your house with outside exits anyone can use clearly marked.
Pick a family safety spot that’s near your home, yet a safe distance away, for everyone to meet up in the event of an emergency.
Press the smoke alarm test button with all family members present so they know what the beep sounds like.
Then press the smoke alarm test button again, this time everyone walks to the safety spot in two minutes or less (use a timer). Two minutes is how much time a family has to safely exit the house in the event of a fire.
For children under six, assign an adult to help them during the beeping sound and reaching the family safety spot activities.
Consider posting your house plan (with exits and family safety spot clearly marked) for everyone to see, like any good work of art.
(Sources: National Safety Council, 2020; IAFF, 2018)
By Nita Baer MA Lifespan Integration Therapist/Consultant Spiritual Director
Surreal times! I’ve entertained a host of emotions this week as our community shuts down and the stock market flails. COVID-19 feels like a bully and the fall out chaotic. I’ve known bullies since day one. No fun!!
This bully put our world into a steep, disorienting learning curve. Super uncomfortable! As humans we prefer comfortable because at a subconscious level our animal (reptilian) brain equates “sameness” with safety. Our first, subconscious question, in every situation is … “Am I safe?” This need for safety is found in your amygdala that was formed 80% in uterus and the last 20% in the first couple months of your life. Your amygdala houses your fight, flight, freeze, and collapse responses. All information comes in through your bodies five senses for screening by the amygdala before moving into conscious thought.
If you were born into a home were your parent responded with warmth and kindness when you cried your outlook on life is much more likely to be, “Yes, I am safe. All will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” Thank your parent!
If your parent was unpredictable for any reason, or unable to soothe you because you were sick, your matrix was wired much, much, differently. Your brain tells you, “If I am uncomfortable, I am in trouble. Nothing that causes me to feel uncomfortable ends well for me. We are going to die!”
This anxiety does not improve by telling yourself to get a grip! In fact, dismissal will ramp up your emotions big time. Think of your amygdala like a young child. If a child thinks the adult in charge is not going to watch out for them, they freak out. If the child knows the adult in charge will be kind, stay with them even if they have big emotions, the child will calm down.
This is because the worst thing a human can experience is a felt sense of abandonment. Abandonment to an infant (remember the forming age of your amygdala) means we die. A felt sense of abandonment verses physically being left is what matters. If a child cries or reaches out to their caregiver who is preoccupied with their phone or too busy, the child becomes anxious. Right now, in our community there are many people feeling anxious. Not uncomfortable, not restless, but perched on the edge of a panic attack, or well into a panic attack. They struggle moment by moment to ride the wave of emotion. They may startle more easily, anger may have a shorter fuse, they may withdraw or become really clingy.
And these can be normally really high functioning folks! Like you and me! For those of you who believe, “All will be well,” the dysregulated emotions of the anxious may seem uncalled for, overreacting, a waste of energy, foolish, etc. How very privileged you are! Be thankful your amygdala is working well for you!
This is a time for you to offer empathy (Brene Brown has a great free online animation regarding empathy) and offer constructive alternatives. Somewhat like a kind parent who validates a child’s emotion and then helps the child reorganize. Reorganizing an infant may be all about changing a diaper. Helping an adult reorganize may look like taking a walk, doing yoga, telling a funny story, offering art supplies, helping them consider what is true about the present moment.
You who feel anxious… for God’s sake stay off the news!!! You all know the drill by now. Social-distancing, wash your hand, quarantine if you feel sick. All the details are too much and unnecessary!
If you are reading, this the truth is, you have many more resources then when you were a child. The uncomfortableness of this moment is not the same as when you were an infant. Now you have many, many more options. You can call a friend, take a walk, a bike ride, weed, (our yards may look amazing this year!) read a funny story, do Qi-Gong, yoga, Sudoku, read something inspirational, do art, cook good food. (Yes, there is food. People in China are not starving, I checked!) The vast majority of you are not stuck in a blanket needing someone to pick you up!
Make a choice to breathe deeply many times a day. Breathe in to the count of eight, hold it, exhale deeply and pause. Repeat ten times. If anxiety is increasing, count anything and everything. Count backwards by three or seven. Counting drives you into your left brain that will help your right brain (where your emotions hang out) calm down. Smell something yummy, feel the seam of your jeans, notice the colors around you. And breathe some more!
To be human is amazing!! We all grew our own heart and lungs, we are tenacious, resourceful and strong! Remember vast majority of folks want to help you!
Lee Holden Qi-Gong, online classes and he is offering free wellness routines.
Oak App for breathing.
Luminosity is a brain training app. A constructive place to put your mind to work.
What Does “Mindful Eating” or “Intuitive Eating” Mean?
The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they mean different things. Mindful eating is the process of paying attention to your actual eating experience without judgement. This sounds simple and straightforward, but the process can be complex, especially for those who are not used to it. A mindful eating practice helps you become aware of the reasons behind your hunger (emotions, lack of food, tradition, schedule, etc.).
Intuitive eating is a broader philosophy that incorporates mindful eating. It emphasizes attunement of mind, body, and food, and focuses on strengthening the relationship with all three of those elements. This approach includes using nutrition information without judgement and respecting your body regardless of how you feel about its shape.
According to Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, those who practice intuitive eating
Eat for physical reasons, rather than emotional reasons
Rely on internal hunger and satiety cues to guide when, what, and how much they eat
Give themselves unconditional permission to eat
Mindful and intuitive eating practices are helpful for everyone, but they are especially important for those who have suffered from disordered eating patterns, or who feel like food controls their life. They provide a respectful and healthy way to reconnect with food while gaining a deeper understanding of your mind and body.
Mindful and intuitive eating practices are not diets. They are mindsets that require you to trust your natural instincts and listen to your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues. In these practices, there is no room for outside influences like social pressures to eat or not eat certain foods. There is no directive to eat or not eat specific amounts of food at specific times. Instead, these practices teach you to listen to how your body is feeling and allow you to make food choices for yourself without judgement.
Mindfulness is a struggle for many people, and it takes time and dedication to master. Work your way up to eating mindfully every day and forgive yourself when you don’t. Being aware that you don’t always have the time or energy to eat mindfully is part of building a successful mindful eating practice. Trust your instincts, and your body’s instincts. It can take weeks, months, and sometimes years for mindful or intuitive eating to become a natural part of your life. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the process of building a stronger mind-body connection and improving your relationship to food.
Tips for Eating Mindfully and Intuitively
Prepare. Cooking for yourself is the best way to prepare your body to eat mindfully. When you are preparing food, the sights and smells ignite the part of your brain that readies your body to accept nourishment. If you are eating at a restaurant, enjoy the sounds, smells, and sights as you wait for your food.
Put away electronics. Allow yourself to hold space for one thing: eating. Make sure all electronics are away from your eating space and eyesight.
Sit down. Take a deep breath, center yourself, and give yourself permission to eat as much as you want and enjoy the food in front of you. If desired, this would be the time to give thanks, pray, or say grace. Express gratitude for all of the people who had a hand in growing and making your food, including yourself.
Develop a mealtime ritual. This may include setting the table or turning on some relaxing music to enjoy during the meal.
Be still. Dedicate at least part of the meal to silent enjoyment of the food.
Connect. When eating alone, connect to your mind and body. Note to yourself how the food tastes when you chew slowly and savor it. Pay attention to your body’s reaction. When eating a meal with family or friends, connect with them over the meal. Talk about the food together.
Take in the food with all of your senses. What does the food look like? Is it appealing, or unappealing? What do you hear? Is the food sizzling? Is the music you chose relaxing? What does the food smell like? Are there smells other than the food? How does the food feel in your hands or in your mouth? What’s the texture like? How does the food taste? Is it savory, or sweet? Taste everything and chew slowly. Try to identify ingredients and flavors. This activity can be helpful for anyone looking to heal their relationship to food. It can be an especially fun activity with children to help them understand and appreciate what they are eating.
Listen to your body. Recognize when you have had enough to eat, or when you want more. Honor those internal cues as natural and healthy. A major sign of fullness is that food becomes less appetizing or doesn’t taste as good as it did when you began the meal. Note that internal regulations can be disrupted for certain people, particularly those with eating disorders and diabetes. Significant intake of sugar and processed foods can also disrupt the body’s natural fullness cues. If you find yourself eating uncontrollably, you may need to limit the amount of food you put on your plate at first. Waiting five minutes before getting seconds can also help your body become more attuned to hunger and fullness cues.
Reject the dieting mindset. Do not attempt to restrict your intake of foods or significantly limit calories. Don’t punish your body for craving foods that others might deem as “bad” or “unhealthy”. Let go of the notion that your body must conform to societal standards of beauty. All bodies are worthy of love and life. Shift your focus away from actions you think will change the way your body looks. Instead, focus on actions that will improve the way your body feels.
Bacon L. Health at every size the surprising truth about your weight. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books; 2010.
Bacon L, Aphramor L. Body respect: what conventional health books get wrong, leave out, and just plain fail to understand about weight. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books; 2014.
David M. Nourishing wisdom: a mind/body approach to nutrition and well-being.
There has been some great research projects on the benefits of gratitude in our country as well as around the world. Keeping a journal of gratitude can increase your well being and life satisfaction.
Every day find something that you are grateful for and journal or just sit and think about it. It helps to be specific and write down things like “today my friend called me and told me how much they care about me and I’m really grateful for her/him”. This practice will help with your general outlook and mental health.
Here are some tips and ideas on how to incorporate gratitude into your life:
Tell people what you are grateful for.
Focus your gratitude on people instead of things
Write something down every day
Keep a gratitude log/or jar
Write a gratitude letter to someone who has had impact to you.
Share your grateful moments around the dinner table
Anticipate beauty and be grateful for it (it’s all around you)
Summer is here and we all want to feel better as the weather is warm. Here are some practical ways to help modify your current diet and life choices:
Make sure that at least half of each meal is plant based
Consume a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. All of the different colors found in plants are derived from phytochemicals which may help prevent cancer.
Try exploring local farmers markets or consider signing up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to enjoy locally grown and seasonal produce. Find some options near you at http://www.localharvest.org
Choose whole grain carbohydrates like whole grain breads, pasta, crackers and brown rice to help meet the recommended daily fiber intake of 25-38 grams per day. Use nutrition fact labels to help identify high-fiber foods by choosing carbohydrates with > 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
Incorporate plant sources of protein (like legumes, such as beans and lentils) into meals to reduce saturated fat intake.
Get out and walk. Work in your yard or garden. Get outside every day, even if its still cold. It’s good for the mind and body.
Limit non-work screen time to less than 2 hours a day.
Have a positive attitude. Attitude can affect your inflammatory levels in your blood.
Limit Alcoholic beverages
Hopefully this is helpful to you. Please comment with what you are going to do to the rest of the summer to stay healthy and happy!
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