Wellness and prevention information from the experts at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

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Invitation to dream

by Ann Peyton, MA, RN, Nurse Clinician

peytonblogAs an integrative wellness nurse clinician, I help patients take a holistic approach to addressing a wide variety of wellness goals or health issues, such as managing stress, improving sleep and eating healthy.  Many times individuals are searching for ways to bring balance and joy into their lives.

In our time together, I may ask my patients to consider these questions:

  • What kinds of thoughts come up when you day dream about what truly fills you with a sense of purpose and meaning?
  • Which thoughts feel most in sync with your core values and interests?

I believe that generally the daydreams that we have most frequently and with the most intensity are the ones that gently nudge us towards actualizing our dreams. They tap into our innate abilities or gifts.

As in many things, it’s easier said than done to connect with these visions and dreams to help them become a reality. I believe the first step to doing so is mindfulness ― basically paying attention to your present thoughts and senses without judgment, and with an open mind and heart.

We at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing give much consideration to the practice of mindfulness. It is for us a “household word.” It is core to preparing ourselves to be present with our patients, and it is what we strive to demonstrate in our own lives.

I recently followed a dream of my own.  My dream was to keep in my family a farm that my late grandparents whittled from the prairie more than a century ago. I wanted to keep the house they lovingly carved from hand-sawed wood and cared for their entire lives. Spending time there brings me joy and energizes me. Caring for this land is core to my value of nurturing the land and my soul, and to balancing work with play.

The vision seemed very “out there” at first, but now this dream is slowly becoming a reality as I move to secure this farm for my family and future generations.

Here at the Penny George Institute, we encourage each other and our patients to look at ourselves and our lives holistically. What are the thoughts, actions, pursuits, relationships, occupations, and daily habits that are in sync with the vision we have for our lives?

I invite you to indulge in a daydream of your own.

Ann Peyton

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Staying connected, even in an electronic world

by Pat Vitale, LICSW

In this fast paced electronic world we live in, staying connected has become increasingly challenging. Finding ways to stay present in the moment and connected to the relationships that feed us―in a world of cell phones, instant messaging and social media―is the challenge of the next generation.

In late March, a new study published by the National Academy of Sciences tied social connections to longer, richer lives. Even people who believe they are happier on their own live shorter lives than their socially connected peers, the study says. As I look at the many electronic tools that seem to disconnect us, I wonder how our children will create the connections they need to live healthy lives.

Today’s teenagers are quite sophisticated with electronic connectedness. My 12-year-old son plays multiplayer games online with friends from around the world.  One might think this is not really a way to feel or be connected. Talking to people you have never met, how could that make you feel connected?

I was quite impressed by a conversation I overheard my son having with a young girl half way across the world while they were playing on line.  You see my son lost both of his grandmothers a year ago within months of each other.  The girl he was talking to was in the process of losing her grandmother, who was very ill.

As I listened to their conversation about what it was like to lose someone―and to hear my son console her from his experience―it totally changed my perspective on electronic communication. Two young kids, connecting through gaming, were building a supportive relationship. Even in the midst of online gaming, we are compelled to connect and find a sense of belonging and understanding.

Our children will redefine the means by which relationships are created and maintained via this electronic world.  But make no mistake about it―they still need to connect, even if it is in the middle of playing a game.

So, I ask you to consider these questions: How do you maintain a sense of connectedness? How many different ways do you have for staying connected to the people that mean the most to you?  How do you create your community?

What I have come to understand by seeing the world through my son’s eyes is that it really doesn’t matter “HOW” we stay connected, just so long as we have a way of building and maintaining meaningful relationships. We need a way to create a sense of community that feeds us, nurtures us and creates a sense of belonging.

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How to eat well to help manage stress

by Maureen Doran, RD, LD, integrative nutritionist

As an integrative nutritionist with the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, I see patients who end up taking on poor nutritional habits during stressful times. It’s easy to do this. It’s a common way to cope.

In some instances, people stop eating real, nutritious foods and resort to living off energy drinks, coffee, or sodas with high caffeine levels. It doesn’t help that when we get stressed, we may have little time to plan, shop for or prepare healthy foods.

The body needs good fuel to work properly. Adding quick, easy nutritious options makes a dramatic difference in overall health. People usually start sleeping better, have a more balanced mood, and overall they look and feel better.

Sugar is like throwing paper on the fire. It burns quickly. Protein is like putting a log on the fire. It sustains. Whole and nutritious foods are key.

Tips for eating well to manage stress

  1. Eat whole food to feel whole. It sounds simple and we hear it all the time, but fruits, vegetables and whole grains are critical to a healthy diet and provide the nutrients we need so that we have a better base to draw from during stressful times.
  2. Eat breakfast. It doesn’t have to be a big meal. Quick, healthy options include a fruit smoothie with protein powder or a hard-boiled egg and a slice of multi-grain toast.
  3. Aim for color and variety in fruits and vegetables.
  4. Snack on healthy foods so that you don’t overeat later in the day or make poor choices. Doran recommends dried fruits, nuts or a mix of both. Nuts are packed with protein and healthy fats. Dried fruits contain powerful antioxidants. Instead of a cup of coffee and a candy bar in the afternoon, hydrate with water and a nut/fruit mix. A small quantity goes a long way, is portable, stores easily in a desk or purse, and will help you feel satisfied.
  5. Keep nut butters on hand. Examples include almond, peanut, cashew and sunflower seed. Enjoy a small serving with sliced apples or other fruits or vegetables.
  6. Don’t feel you have to spend a lot. To help with your food budget, consider canned beans, canned tuna, bean soups, nut butters, local farmers’ markets or frozen foods from discount stores.
  7. Keep stocked on these items to make healthy, nutritious meals and snacks:
    • Nuts – find a favorite from pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and more
    • Beans – red, pinto, black, kidney and more
    • Vegetables – all varieties, certain vegetables even help the body detoxify and are helpful whether they are eaten raw or cooked including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy and brussels sprouts
    • Fruits – fresh or frozen, again aim for variety, berries with anti-oxidants, and fruits with a rich color, such as plums, prunes or cherries, for necessary vitamins and minerals
    • Omega-3s – are important twice a week for brain health. Sources include salmon, canned tuna, sardines and flaxseeds.

To make an appointment with Doran, call 612-863-3333.