LiveWell®

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


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Learning to forgive

I had an amazing opportunity this morning to meet with another healer, Mary Hayes Grieco, who specializes in helping people learn to forgive.

Many of you appreciate how the mind, body and spirit work together to affect our health. Perhaps you also know that science has proven that certain emotions can change the neurotransmitters our brain produces to influence which hormones and chemicals our body produces. It’s amazing to me to see how resentment, anger, frustration and regret can lead to disease.

The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing’s own Greg Plotnikoff, MD, recently wrote, “Trust Your Gut.” The book explains how our mental well-being can influence the flora our gut produces and whether we experience irritable bowel syndrome.

As a cardiologist, I have seen numerous patients who manifest their frustrations at home and work as chest pain.

Unfortunately, no amount of statins, stents, or even transplants, takes away that pain, but forgiveness often does. In fact, there is a lot of research to show that the act of forgiving has countless health benefits. That sounds simple, but the real challenge lies in learning how to forgive.

How many of us harbor resentment towards someone or a situation that we feel wronged us? We may need to learn to forgive a person, a job, a situation, ourselves … who knows? It can be really difficult, and it helps to remember that forgiving doesn’t mean stating there wasn’t wrong doing. Instead, forgiving is letting go of the negativity that continues to ruminate within us and can lead to physical consequences.

When we let go of grudges and stop being bitter, we find room for compassion, kindness, peace and, most importantly, healing. Forgiveness has been shown to:

  • foster healthier relationships
  • increase spiritual and psychological well-being
  • decrease anxiety and stress
  • lower blood pressure
  • improve depression
  • lower the risk of alcohol and substance abuse.

I challenge you to try to let go of something today that has been holding you back! If you feel you want some more support to do that, I suggest checking out one of Mary’s books, “Unconditional Forgiveness: A Simple and Proven Method to Forgive Everyone and Everything,” and “Be A Light: Illumined Essays for Times Like These.”

Recently, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to hear the Dalai Lama speak at the “Change Your Mind, Change the World” conference in Madison, Wis.

I leave you with a famous quote from him. When asked what surprised him most about humanity, he said, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Here’s to the present, forgiveness, and letting go of the past.

Be well,
Dr. Baechler


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Penny George on why integrative medicine is critical to discussions on national health care

Penny George, a national leader in advocating for integrative health and the namesake of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, recently contributed a commentary to the Huffington Post entitled “What Is Integrative Medicine and Why Is It Critical to Today’s Healthcare Discussion?

Read her thoughts on this topic and learn more about how the Penny George Institute, part of Allina Health, is offering and expanding programs that use integrative approaches to improve the health and well-being of patients.

Read George’s post.


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The scent of sweet marjoram, and the power of integrative therapies

Aromatherapy

by Vicky Grossman, NCTM, Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

I work for the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing as an integrative health practitioner at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Certified in massage therapy, I offer hospitalized patients massage therapy , aromatherapy, reflexology, relaxation techniques, guided imagery, and energy work such as healing touch or Reiki,.

I am at times struck by how these therapies and approaches help different people heal in different, and sometimes powerful, ways. One moment like this occurred with a patient who was hospitalized with a form of an inflammatory bowel disease.

The patient, who ultimately needed surgery, experienced a great deal of pain and anxiety prior to that. I treated this patient several times. Our first encounter included reflexology, using pressure points and massage on the feet, and aromatherapy. I used the essential oil sweet marjoram to address the pain.

The patient’s response to the inhalation of sweet marjoram was nothing less than an amazing surprise, even to me!  The patient enjoyed the scent immensely and found it not only helped with the pain, but also with the anxiety. Following these treatments, the pain was reduced, and the anxiety dropped to almost nothing.

At one point, the patient was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in an emergent situation. While there, the patient was sedated and not particularly interactive.  When I visited the ICU, I left sweet marjoram with a family member of the patient to use once the patient became more alert.

I was told that periodically the patient’s blood pressure or respiration would become elevated, and the patient’s family member would administer the sweet marjoram for inhalation. He was astounded at how the blood pressure and respiration would return to a normal range.

I feel honored to treat patients with what can be a powerful combination of healing therapies and approaches. There is such great potential for gain in using these non-invasive, non-pharmacological approaches to pain managment, anxiety and healing.

If you want to learn more about integrative health approaches to help with pain, stress management, cancer care, or even just health and wellness improvement, visit the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing Web site. If pain is an issue for you, visit our online pain education tool, which introduces integrative approaches for pain management.


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Art of Healing exhibits in April and May

Print by artist Laura Corcoran

Print by artist Laura Corcoran

Art is powerful. It can nourish the mind, body and spirit, and it can support healing. That is the inspiration behind a bimonthly Art of Healing exhibit offered by the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing.

You can view the following exhibits on the Abbott Northwestern Hospital campus for the remainder of May:

The displays are part of the Penny George Institute’s Art of Healing Program, which provides arts-based wellness intervention and education, and supports a healing environment. For more information, call 612-863-9028.


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Exercise – getting started and sticking with it

by Gail Ericson, MS, PT, Physical Therapist

LiveWellPhoto BlogWe all know the benefits of exercise, like feeling good, and warding off disease and weight gain. So why is it so hard to do it? It’s not about information – there are thousands of publications, online resources and professionals to turn to for exercise recommendations. Even a health scare or a warning by a doctor doesn’t always do the trick.

So, where does one go for motivation? You have to look within yourself. You need to find an exercise program that resonates with, motivates, and has long-term meaning for you. How do you do that? It’s not a cookie-cutter approach, but there is a process to go through to develop an exercise program customized to motivate you.

You can follow these steps:

  1. Evaluate your readiness for exercise. Do you ever say, “I won’t exercise” or “I can’t exercise?” Do you constantly make excuses for not exercising? Then it’s time for some thinking-and-feeling prep work.
  2. Consider your “barriers to exercise” and evaluate what is real and what is an excuse. Brainstorm with friends or family on ways to get around the real barriers. Research movement activities available in your area. Once you start making plans about when, where or with whom you will exercise, you are ready for real change.
  3. Create a personal wellness vision statement by answering in writing the questions below.

    If I had optimal health and wellness:
    – What would that look like? Talk about why these things are of value to you.
    – How would you feel?
    – What would you look like and sound like?
    – What would you be doing for fun, work, with family, and for exercise.

    Write your statement as though it is already happening, such as, “I am energetic and focused. I am less stressed, and I exercise most days of the week because I love it …”
  4. Set long-term goals you’d like to achieve in three to six months or more. Be specific, time sensitive and measurable. Instead of simply having a goal of “I want to be stronger,” consider how you would measure stronger. Try: “I want to do 15 push-ups on my knees without stopping.”
  5. Set short-term goals, such as “I will do five push-ups three times per week.”
  6. Rate your confidence level in meeting your goals on a scale of 0-10. If your answer is seven or below, you might want to rework your goal to something you rate as an eight or higher.
  7. Execute your plan. Reward yourself for meeting your short-term goals with incentives, like a special coffee or new music. Remember, any movement is better than none!
  8. Revisit these goals weekly and adjust them as necessary. Ask yourself: What worked? How can you change a goal so you can achieve it? If you don’t meet some goals, don’t consider it a failure. Learn from it. Remember, change is a process, not an event.
  9. Read your vision statement often to remind yourself of why you are exercising.

If you feel you need more support to get motivated or make a health change, consider integrative health and wellness coaching at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing’s LiveWell Fitness Center.

Gail Ericson, PT
Physical Therapist
LiveWell Fitness Center