The Secrets to Bouncing Back from Adversity
When tough times bring you down, your ability to cope in a positive way is known as resilience. An essential skill for healthy development in childhood, resilience is critical to wellbeing throughout our lifetime. The overriding question is this: as adults can we increase our capacity for resilience in order to lead more fulfilling lives?
The answer is YES. Resilience is not a super power; it’s an ordinary skill that anyone can develop at any age. Think of it as an emotional muscle that can be strengthened. Research shows that resilience is linked to wellbeing by way of positive emotions and coping strategies (e.g.,optimism, cheerfulness, gratitude, mindfulness). Benefits include:
- a healthier immune system
- lower risk of chronic disease
- faster recovery from illness/ surgery
- improved stress management
- less depression & anxiety
Six Secrets to Pumping Up Your Resilience:
Catch It Early. One trait of highly resilient individuals is a keen awareness for when things aren’t going right. We’ve all heard doctors say “good thing we caught it early,” and that applies to stress: Identify stress early in the process and you can be proactive in managing how it (and your emotions) affect you and your health.
Stay in the Light. Optimism is the ability to look at a dire situation and assess its meaning for your life. If a significant relationship has ended, there will be grief, confusion, anger and so on. There’s also an opportunity to re-examine your needs and explore what truly makes you happy. Amid dark times, you can mentally stay in the light by using positive affirmation, hanging-out with supportive people, and monitoring what you watch and read on a regular basis.
Look at What’s Next. We all tend to blame ourselves for setbacks, worrying about what could have been done/not done differently. To bolster resilience, remind yourself that even if you made a mistake, many factors likely contributed to the problem. Focus on next steps and see how the vibe of that situation changes from desperation to opportunity.
Recall Your Victories. We’ve all had shining moments of glory – whether at work, in sports, or potty-training a child. When you remind yourself of the challenges you have overcome, you give yourself a shot of resilience.
Manage Daily Hassles. Whether sitting in traffic or waiting in an unexpected long line when you’re in a hurry, use those moments to practice coping skills (deep breathing, for example). Those mindful-skills will come more naturally to you when a crisis hits and you’ll have made a big deposit in your resilience bank.
Break Routine. Routines feel comfortable and are necessary – to a point – but rigidity breeds stress. A sense of adventure, even a simple but challenging activity, helps build resilience by enhancing skills that prepare you to handle stress. So, instead of the 1-mile fun run, enter the 5k; pass on the beach vacation and plan a guided backpacking trip; ditch date-night at the movies and go to the Escape Room or take a class (e.g. cooking or scuba).
Food for Thought. . .
“If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.” – Herodotus
Spaghetti Squash: Tasty & Good For You
Spaghetti squash, also known as vegetable spaghetti, is a type of winter squash that, when cooked, separates into long pasta-like strands. All winter squash share a few common characteristics. The outer rinds are hard and difficult to pierce, enabling them to have long storage periods, from one week and six months. The flesh is mildly sweet to nutty in flavor and finely grained in texture.
In general, this squash provides abundant phytonutrients that promote health. It contains beta-carotene, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, which provide anti-inflammatory benefits and support the immune system. Other key nutrients include vitamin B6, dietary fiber, folate, magnesium, copper, and potassium. The combination of these nutrients make this food an excellent part of a heart-healthy diet. These nutrients are also known for their role in cancer prevention and management of blood sugar levels.
Spaghetti squash is at peak season from October to November. Choose a squash that is firm, heavy for its size and has a dull, not glossy, rind. Soft rinds may indicate that the squash is watery and lacking in flavor. Some tasty yet simple ways to prepare spaghetti squash include:
- Top with pasta sauce and Mediterranean herbs
- Prepare with eggs, onions and spinach for a savory breakfast
- Combine with tomatoes, avocado, cumin and cilantro for a latin flavor
- Toss with sesame seed oil, water chestnuts, carrots and bok choy for an oriental flavor
Find more delicious ways to prepare spaghetti squash
Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is a great choice for incorporating a tasty, meatless meal into your weekly menu. Although it has a mild nutty flavor on its own, when you combine spaghetti squash with sautéed onions, olives, feta, and juicy tomatoes, it absorbs those flavors, resulting in a Mediterranean dish everyone will enjoy. This recipe makes a hearty, lunch or dinner. If going meatless isn’t your preference, pair this dish with fish or chicken.
- 1 3-4 pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
- 3/4 cup crumbled organic feta cheese
- 1/2 cup sliced organic black olives
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
- Place spaghetti squash on the baking sheet, cut sides down. Bake until you can poke a sharp knife into the squash with little resistance, about 35-45 minutes. Remove squash from oven; set aside to cool.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion in oil until tender. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and cook briefly, about 1 minute. You only want to warm the tomatoes.
- Use a large fork to shred the “spaghetti” from the squash and place the strands in a large bowl. Toss with the sautéed vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
Restoring Rhythm with Panax Ginseng
Ginseng is a herbal medicine used widely throughout the world to moderate the effects of stress and support or enhance circulation, immunity, cognitive performance, and antioxidant activity. In fact, Ginseng is traditionally used in Asian countries to maintain homeostasis of the body and to enhance vital energy, or Chi. The herb has received significant research attention in Europe and the U.S, where the effects of stress play a role in quality of life and in many chronic diseases.
Recent research shows that Ginseng has anti-fatigue properties that support the health of cells by reducing oxidative stress (antioxidant activity) and help strengthen the immune system. Taken together, these properties can explain Ginseng’s use as remedy to help with recovery from fatigue and physical and mental stress.
There are several varieties of Ginseng but it is Panax Ginseng (Asian) and Panax quinquefolius (American variety) that has received the most attention. Panax is a Greek term meaning “all heal.” Another related root is Siberian Ginseng, which has different effects and benefits for the body. It’s always best to obtain a Ginseng supplement from your holistic practitioner. This will ensure that you are using the proper variety and dose for your particular health concerns.
Wild Oat to the Rescue!
Wild oat (Avena sativa) is far more than a common breakfast cereal or baking staple. Oats are members of special medicinal herb group called nervines. For more than 150 years, traditional medicine practitioners have used nervines, such as Wild Oat, to quell anxiety, reduce stress, support healthy sleep, enhance cognitive function, and settle digestive stress.
As a tonic, Wild Oat extract is considered trophorestorative, meaning it can help return form and function to a particular organ by helping the body “remember” balance and optimal function (e.g., invigorating function when an organ is sluggish or reducing activity when an organ is overworked). Wild Oat is a slow acting remedy that helps calm the nerves, bring relief to emotional instability, and restore a sense of tranquility. It has been a part of holistic treatment for Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome, PMS, panic and anxiety, hyper-reactivity, and for people who are persistently “on edge.”
Commonly used in tincture form, Wild Oat extract is a safe, gentle way to support nervous system health and restoration without the drowsiness associated with sedatives. It can also be prepared as an herbal infusion for tea. Preparation involves steeping in hot water until beverage has cooled to room temperature before drinking. A holistic practitioner can advise you on the specific amount of tincture or infusion that is ideal for your needs. If someone is gluten sensitive or has celiac disease, Wild Oat must be derived from a gluten-free source.
Reduce Stress with Mindfulness
Can mindfulness really enhance your health and wellbeing?
Nearly 4.3 million U.S. adults think so. That’s how many engage in ‘mindful practices.’
Popular media refers to mindfulness as any generic process of paying attention in life (mindfully doing the laundry.) True mindfulness is more precisely defined as “being fully aware of one’s own mind, body, and surroundings by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment nonjudgmentally and without attachment.”
Mindfulness as a practice to improve health originated with research by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. He demystified the traditional Buddhist form of meditation and founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Today, MBSR is used in hospitals, wellness centers, senior centers, inner city schools, colleges, elite sports programs, and rehabilitation clinics around the world. It’s proven to be beneficial for various health concerns, often as good as, or better than, medication for:
- lowering blood pressure
- managing chronic pain and illness
- enhancing decision-making
- improving depression and anxiety
- recovering from surgery, trauma, and injury.
The MBSR Program helps people learn to be non-reactive to stress, pain or other triggers, and to decentralize it from the focus of their lives. This results in a cascade of hormonal effects that take the body out of high-alert mode. When the body and mind are relaxed, immune function is enhanced and healing can take place.
An 8-week MBSR program is led by a certified teacher experienced in related practices, such as mindful eating, breath awareness, gentle movement, and walking. Programs can also be designed for specific concerns such as post-traumatic stress, grief, addiction, cancer or back pain. In addition to a mini-retreat, small, weekly classes meet for 90 minutes. The course is designed to help participants establish an at-home practice that becomes habitual.
While in-person programs are ideal, there also are excellent online programs. Verify that the instructor is certified in MBSR.