Relaxation Technique – “Deep Inhale and Sigh”

We all need tools to help us relax and get centred sometimes. I’ve practiced a technique called “Deep Inhale and Sign” for many years. I’ve taught it to many of my patients and they report that it helps them find calm their nerves during the day and helps them to sleep better at night.

For National Relaxation Day, I’ve recorded an instructional video for you to watch so you can learn this powerful technique. May it help you find calm within the storm and live more fully present and content.  

Contact us if you’d like one-on-one stress management coaching as part of your naturopathic medical care. 

Mental Health and Your ND

World Mental Health Day 2021 occurred on October 10, designated by the World Health Organization (WHO). The campaign is meant to raise awareness of mental health concerns and promote positive mental health (https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2021). As we move in to fall and winter, it is increasingly important to acknowledge the impact of mental health and discuss strategies to promote positive mental health. In many ways, mental health concerns affect us all.

Preventative strategies are of utmost importance, especially considering how seasonal winter changes can impact our mental health. Specifically, Seasonal Affective Disorder is the presence of depression with a seasonal pattern. It is a concern more common in Canada and other northern latitudes because of the long winters and reduced sunlight.

As a naturopathic doctor, setting in place the tools now to promote your best future self is key to helping you feel better. I work together with my patients to create a plan. Naturopathic doctors utilize some of the same tools that the Government of Canada, back in 2019, detailed as actions each of us can take to promote positive mental health. These actions can include:

1) Managing stress
2) Regular exercise
3) Healthy food choices

It can be hard to know which food choices are the right ones, the exercise program that is best for you, and which stress coping strategies you should use. That is how a licensed naturopathic doctor can help you; to help answer those questions and employ strategies that are right for you.

It can be difficult to know how to manage stress, so WHO created an illustrated guide with tools to help you with just that. The guide includes grounding and other techniques, such as breathing to reduce stress. Find the guide at: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240003927

Meditation is one such way to reduce stress. For those interested in what the science says, David Vago, Ph.D. promotes mental health and well-being through research on meditation and the brain. Learn more here: https://www.contemplativeneurosciences.com/how-to-meditate/

Promoting positive mental health begins with determining any underlying causes or contributing factors so that we can make an appropriate plan. Ordering lab work (blood tests) and performing physical exams are ways naturopathic doctors can do just that. From there, we can discuss specific supplements, herbal medicines, acupuncture, and using light therapy as part of a comprehensive plan to help you as an individual feel your best, now and through the winter.

Contact Dr. Peters for a free “meet the doctor” visit to see if naturopathic medicine is right for you.

Bringing Hope to Mental Health Challenges

Mood and mental health challenges affect many of us, either personally or with those we know.  The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that “in any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.”  Not only that but they further state that “by age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.”

A common feeling people suffering from depression or anxiety have is that they are alone, there is a stigma attached to experiencing mental illness.  Many people do not feel like they can talk to their friends or family about what they are experiencing.  Whether or not one has a mental illness, it is typical for all of us to face mood fluctuations and challenges with daily life stressors.

You are not alone.

It is important for us all to realize that mental health challenges affect people from all walks of life, regardless of sex, gender, age, education, and income.

Nearly half of those experiencing depression or anxiety in Canada never see a doctor for help.  As a naturopathic doctor, I focus on supporting those who experience mood and mental health challenges.  I strive to work with you to provide the foundation for good mental health.  This means utilizing diet and lifestyle considerations and top supplements for depression and anxiety.  Counselling and talk therapy, along with nutritional support and supplementation, is an excellent combination.

Challenges with mental illness can be supported effectively with naturopathic treatments.  There are many specific nutrients and herbal medicines that can achieve similar effects as prescription medications for anxiety and depression with fewer side effects.  What treatment works best for any given person is highly individualized and requires consideration of the whole person.

Often, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances co-exist.  Treating the whole person will involve considering all of these factors holistically, as well as the role of stress.  Stress can worsen mental illnesses.  For both depression and anxiety, supporting the body’s stress response is crucial to attaining a balanced approach to mental health.

Assessment and consideration of the various aspects involved in mental health often includes the role of hormones, the impact of inflammation, and the benefits of the microbiome.  Beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract have been shown to positively impact the Gut-Brain Axis.  As a naturopathic doctor, all of these are considerations I will work with you to balance.

Want to see if naturopathic medicine is right for you?

Book a “meet and greet visit” with Dr. Shawn Peters, ND

Call 250 897-0235

Help for Anxiety – Naturally

Anxiety is certainly part of the human condition. We are, after all, animals with very few physical defences, so we need an alarm system to keep us safe.  The physical responses to fear make us ready to run from predators, fight back, or in some cases freeze and “play dead”.  When that normal fear response becomes a regular pattern of anxiety, it can be overwhelming.  In my practice, I regularly talk with patients who are experiencing a level of anxiety that is distressing to them.  Once people experience anxiety, they often become afraid of experiencing it again, and go to great lengths to avoid trigger situations. The good news is that there are very effective tools for breaking free of the cycle of anxiety without having to limit your life.

 

As a physician, my first inclination is to rule out physical causes of anxiety, such as certain medications or health conditions.  The most obvious physical trigger is caffeine intake.  People who are prone to anxiety are wise to avoid caffeine as its effect on the body magnifies nervous tension.  Another very common trigger, especially in young people, is low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.  Skipping meals or eating refined flour and sugars can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar.  When that happens, the brain tells the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, which causes rapid heart rate, sweating, and anxiety.  Thyroid conditions, both hyper and hypo, can contribute to anxiety.  Patients love that I am able to run up to six blood tests to rule out thyroid conditions as opposed to the one test that is generally covered by MSP.  Blood tests can also help to identify anemia, B vitamin or vitamin D deficiencies, all of which can affect brain chemistry profoundly. I often hear from patients that the hormone balancing work we do helps their mood and anxiety levels.

 

Relaxation techniques are an important part of learning to deal with anxiety.  Meditation is simply learning to observe your mind and make choices about where it is focusing.  Mindfullness Based Stress Reduction is a program that has been rigorously studied to show superior benefits to anxiety over medication. Adding an element of self- compassion into your daily self-talk practice takes the process deeper and is very effective.  Dr. Kirsten Neff’s Ted Talk is a good place to start to explore the practice of self-compassion.

 

Learning strategies for dealing with life stresses such as relationship issues, future uncertainties, past trauma, addiction and more can help to reduce anxiety.  Counselling and personal development work isn’t just for people with mental illness, it’s for anyone who wants to live life more fully and be the best they can be.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a set of incredibly practical life skills for anyone wanting to be more clear and calm in their lives. The website anxietybc.com is one of the best on the subject.

 

As a naturopathic physician, I also offer my patients natural medicines that help to heal the nervous system, balance brain chemistry, and normalize the adrenal stress response. These herbs, vitamins and amino acids can be the leg up that people need to get a handle on stress.

 

Often a person with anxiety can feel overwhelmed by how their mind and body reacts to stress, and with help, they can develop confidence in their ability to be resilient in the face of life challenges.

Dr. Deidre Macdonald is a naturopathic physician who has practiced in downtown Courtenay for 20 years. www.getwellhere.com 250 897-0235.