live stress free Archives

OK – So, Who Pissed Off Mother Nature?!

I'm not sure what Mother Nature is attempting to tell us with all these recent events, but...

In light of these natural disasters occurring all over the globe right now, I have decided to push back what I had planned for today and simply talk about where and how we can all be of help at this time.

If you are able to volunteer for any of a number of things like bringing in supplies, helping to staff shelters, nursing care at shelters, hospitals and senior living centers, and much more, check out the FEMA web site for links to these. Please don’t attempt to go without contacting one for the organizations listed, so that you can be fully aware of where and what is needed most, and how to get there with all the downed trees, power lines and flooding of roads.  Thanks!

And don’t forget that you can donate blood to your local Red Cross and designate it to go to a hard hit area.

If you have the means to donate funds, that is what’s needed most and here are some links:

American Red Cross – which has deployed disaster responders and delivered donated blood to hard hit areas. I know there are people who won’t donate to the Red Cross due to whatever bad experience they had in years past, however, when hurricane Izzy hit my neighborhood on the Chesapeake, Red Cross came as far down the road as they could get with their truck every morning and evening with hot meals for us all, and blankets if we needed them.

Americares provides emergency medicines and medical supplies to disaster areas.

For St. John, in the US Virgin Islands, which was completely destroyed by Irma, click HERE. There are still many people trying to get off these islands at this point, but airports are closed. Ferry transportation is only just starting and is slow.

GlobalGiving’s Irma Relief Fund is accepting donations. It vets the local organizations it helps fund and is well-regarded by charity watchdogs. (GlobalGiving prioritizes local organizations over the long term, but often steers money toward larger entities like Save the Children or the International Medical Corps during the early days of disaster response.)

For the terrifying wildfires out west, use this link.

There are many ways to help. Both now and as the months go on. Remember that it will take weeks, months and in some cases years for some of the hard hit areas to recover and perhaps some never will. These people will need MUCH in the months ahead, so even if you cannot do anything right now, you can make a plan to send some of your tax refund to one of the organizations helping to rebuild.

The earthquake in Mexico and severe flooding in India will also tax major relief funds, so please keep in mind that we can donate to some funds in the future. And there is always the option of offering a prayer for those in need. All of us can do that, anytime, anywhere.

Below is a relaxation technique that we can do for ourselves to keep our spirits healthy and strong, and keep our minds free from worry.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Did you know that recent medical studies have shown that our brains begin showing signs of dementia related diseases up to 30 years before we actually can’t remember what our car keys are used for!? It’s true. We begin losing grey matter and growing amyloid plaques in our 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. That’s the bad news. The good news is, now that we know this, we can take steps to prevent getting dementia at all!

Bruce Miller, MD, director of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center states “We believe if people started taking preventive lifestyle measures, we could potentially decrease the incidence of Alzheimer's by about 30 percent,”  Okay, 30% is good!

Last week I wrote about how mindfulness based practices, like meditation and yoga, help to change our gene expression and also keep our memory intact. I’d like to continue that discussion today with more information about Alzheimer’s prevention. We all know that, presently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. There are many things, however, that we can do to help prevent, or at the very least, slow the progress of dementia diseases like Alzheimer’s. Here are a few that “new science” proves will do the trick:

Exercise! And you get even more benefit if you complete your aerobic exercise with others. The combination of social interaction and aerobic exercise can increase grey matter.

Eat The Right Foods

Martha Clare Morris, ScD, one of the researchers who developed the MIND diet, which is a combination of a Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, explains that our brains crave plants!

The MIND diet emphasizes vegetables and nuts, while putting limits on animal products, saturated fat, and sugar. This is based on research which examined which foods improve brain health. In a 2015 study published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia, people who were most faithful to the MIND diet enjoyed slower cognitive decline—the equivalent of gaining seven and a half healthy brain years. In a second study, that same group was also found to have a 53 percent reduced risk of Alzheimer's compared with those who were the least dedicated to the diet.

The MIND diet's ten brain-boosting foods:

Leafy green veggies (six servings per week)

Other vegetables (one serving per day)

Nuts (five servings per week)

Berries (two servings per week)

Beans (three servings per week)

Whole grains (three servings per day)

Fish (one serving per week)

Poultry (two servings per week)

Olive oil (your main cooking oil)

Wine, preferably red (one serving per day)

Kirtan Kriya Meditation (info here) – It’s not too late to take advantage of my special from my last newsletter.

Neuroplasticity Training:

In the last year or so, I have spent a great deal of time studying neuroplasticity, and have developed a course to help people accomplish goals that have been out of reach for years, like, weight loss, being on time, getting back to writing that book, or putting paint to canvas. This course was tested a few months back with great success and I’ll be offering it again in October.

Basically, we now know that making new pathways in our brains is key for keeping our brains healthy and active at any age. And, the even better news is, it’s not difficult, nor does it take a lot of time and money to build these new pathways. It does, however, take commitment. You must decide that this is important and that you are going to follow through with the steps you take because ritual making and repetition help to make these new connections stronger.

For instance, let’s take the goal of being on time. Let’s say you have attempted many different times and ways to change this bad habit in recent years and each time something comes up, something ALWAYS comes up... Your babysitter cancels due to illness, so you have to drop the kids to school on your way to work, or you get a return call from your doctor just as you’re leaving for your tee time at the golf course and you answer because it might be important, etc. And before you know it things have “come up” enough times that you’ve blown your lovely plan to smithereens! Well, thanks to the science of neuroplasticity, we now know that this has nothing to do with willpower, and you are not doomed to failure with this goal. Mostly, this is your brain following the same pathway it knows over and over again. So at this point, that pathway is strong as cement! If you truly want to be on time, you must make new pathways in your brain, rinse and repeat, until this new pathway is strong, and, voila, you have conquered a habit. It sounds simple, right? It is. Simple – not easy. As I said, you must be committed.

There are many tools which help us make these new brain pathways and I’ll be covering all that I have found and researched in my new course. Watch for more information in the next newsletter on this!

Meanwhile, take a look at the TED Talk below, from a scientist who studies the brain and how to help people recover from stroke, through neuroplasticity. I was delighted when one of the participants from my new course sent me the link, as what she talks about here supports my own work! How cool is that!?

Best of Health,

Kathi

Yoga Alters Your Gene Expression!

I'll bet that's a surprise, huh? I admit, when I first saw those headlines, I was skeptical. Even though I see firsthand every day how much Yoga helps our physical health, I didn’t understand the "why." Now that it makes so much sense, I wonder why someone hadn’t discovered this information long ago.

For years we‘ve known that practices like Yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi make us feel better, breathe better, remove stress, and even sleep well. “New science” has shown us that these mind/body practices leave, what science calls, a “molecular signature” in our cells; they actually cause our body to either raise or lower the protein production of our genes. Cool!

One recent study examined the effects of mindfulness practices on the immune system, with a specific focus on five outcomes: (1) circulating and stimulated inflammatory proteins, (2) cellular transcription factors and gene expression, (3) immune cell count, (4) immune cell aging, (5) antibody response. Their conclusion is that there is enough evidence to support a link between these mindfulness practices and gene expression to warrant further studies. YES! Let’s get more scientific evidence on board so that more docs will recommend Yoga, meditation, etc.

Another review seemed to point to what most of us already know – the majority of improvements and health benefits that people enjoy from these mindfulness practices are related to stress hormones and inflammation. While previous studies have focused on how these practices affect our brains (losing less of our grey matter as we age), this study also looked specifically at how our genes are affected. Certain genes are either upregulated or downregulated in our body throughout our day, based on many different circumstances. All of the studies measured what they call “gene expression,” (the way that genes activate to produce proteins which influence the biological make-up of the body, the brain, and the immune system.) They used blood samples to identify this gene expression both before and after each different mindfulness practice. Some studies were all about Yoga, some Tai Chi, others studied different forms of meditation, etc. In all the studies, the gene expressions of genes that control inflammation and stress were changed after the session.

The results of 18 studies that used gene expression analysis in research on mindfulness practices have, overall, found a significant downregulation of NF-κB (a key transcription factor that controls the expression of inflammation-related genes), which can reverse the molecular effects of chronic stress. I’ll take that!

Even though the study designs, the population, and the types of mindfulness practices used in the studies included in this review vary, it indicates that some of the psychological and physical benefits result from biological changes in NF-κB genes. More studies are currently being done to understand better how Yoga and other mindfulness practices affect our genes.

Another study, which was a follow up to a previous study done at UCLA, found that the Yogic meditation practice called Kirtan Kriya, reversed the pattern of increased NF-κB-related transcription of pro-inflammatory cytokines and decreased IRF1-related transcription of innate antiviral response genes previously observed in healthy individuals confronting a significant life stressor. Translation: This meditation practice reversed the inflammatory process in stressed out caregivers! This particular study was done on caregivers who live with the daily stress of caring for family members with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

When that first UCLA study came out, I wrote an article about it and offered training in this particular meditation practice. I am offering a special on Kirtan Kriya meditation training again today. You can find out more, and sign up HERE.

Dr. Helen Lavretsky, senior author of this study and a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and her colleagues, found, in their work with 45 family dementia caregivers, that 68 of their genes responded differently after Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM), resulting in reduced inflammation. “The goal of the study was to determine if meditation might alter the activity of inflammatory and antiviral proteins that shape immune cell gene expression," said Lavretsky. "Our analysis showed a reduced activity of those proteins linked directly to increased inflammation. This is encouraging news. Caregivers often don’t have the time, energy, or contacts that could bring them a little relief from the stress of taking care of a loved one with dementia, so practicing a brief form of yogic meditation, which is easy to learn, is a useful tool."

Notice she used the word “brief”. This meditation takes only twelve minutes a day! Can you spare twelve minutes a day to alter your genes for reduced inflammation as well as increase your grey matter? Sign up now and learn this easy meditation practice!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Fitness For Your Brain

One of the most interesting bits of information that I have come across when researching for my program on Neuroplasticity is the finding that the combination of aerobic exercise (not Yoga, Tai Chi, or even strength training) and a strong social network gives us a MUCH better chance of retaining good health AND keeping dementia at bay as we age.

The advancements in computer technology in our lifetime are great, and have enabled us to watch instructive videos and repair our own cars or appliances, write emails which arrive instantly, and have live chats with family and friends all over the world!

While the socialization part of this is good for us, the sitting part is not.

In 1969, René Dubos published his Pulitzer Prize winning book, So Human an Animal: How We Are Shaped by Our Surroundings. After studying indigenous populations in remote locations, Dubos concluded that the secret to longevity was directly linked to social connectivity and physical activity. A handful of more recent studies have concluded the same.

Where do you fall in this category? Are you an avid walker, but work at home alone all day and have a limited social network? Or, maybe you have an active social circle who gathers for concerts, dinners, and/or travelling, but are mostly a couch potato?

Here are some examples of how we can integrate this new information into daily life:

Join, or start, a group exercise program. Walking clubs are nice. I am starting one in Otis soon. A group of women who walk together at least once a week, chatting, laughing together, solving all the problems of the world… You can bike or hike or swim together as well. Do what gives you joy, but do it with others as much as possible.

If you only need to add aerobic exercise, once again, it’s important to use what you have available and what fits into your schedule. If you try to make time to get to a gym, for instance, when you already have a busy schedule, then you might find it too difficult to continue going after a week or two. Perhaps a 30 minute walk at lunchtime would fit into your schedule better, or 20 minutes on your mini trampoline a few times a week, or walking to that selectman meeting, or library board meeting. Sometimes, I incorporate HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) training into my program by listening to an interesting program on my iPod while switching off between walking around the yard and running up the stairs to my studio; the time goes by quickly as I’m concentrating on what I’m learning while getting the exercise in. I have a brother-in-law who reads the paper while riding his stationary bike every day. Use that creative brain of yours to fit something in that doesn’t feel like another task you have to complete. And make it fun!

Whatever you chose to do – schedule it into your calendar! You Are Important! Your own health and well being is the most important job you have in life. If you are not healthy, you cannot care for others, nor participate in life as you wish. Make this appointment with yourself a regular habit by scheduling it in just as you would a dental appointment. You will be glad later in life if you start to take better care of yourself now. It’s never too late to start working out, especially working out with others, which is more fun and even healthier!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Can Your Mind Really Heal Your Body?

I'm sure you've heard things said before like, "mind over body" or, "your mind can heal anything," but do you ever think to yourself, "that's easier said than done!" After all, if you're like most people, you don't have time to sit around like a Buddist Monk, meditating for hours a day, focusing on healing your body. So how exactly do you apply it to your life?

Well, I want to share a video with you today that will reveal some startling research on just how powerful the mind is over the body. This video will also introduce a grounded, everyday technique that you can use to help your mind keep your body healthy.

It's a video of Dr. Lissa Rankin, M.D., a traditionally trained medical doctor who specializes in understanding the mind-body connection, and Nick Ortner, producer of the upcoming 9th annual Tapping World Summit, to discuss her findings in her book, “Mind Over Medicine,” and the implications they have for all of us, both the "seemingly" healthy, and those with health challenges. If you’ve been receiving my newsletter for a while, you may remember Dr. Lissa from my telesummit on healing chronic pain a few years back. This video is being released in the lead up to the 9th Annual Tapping World Summit. They have some very interesting dialogue where Dr. Lissa shares her latest research, and her perspective on what is happening in the mind and body when people are doing EFT Tapping. I’ve talked about EFT before, in my newsletter, and you know that I highly recommend using it on a regular basis.

Tapping, most commonly known as EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques, is a type of energy psychology that combines eastern medicine and modern psychology. It is extremely effective with both physical issues (back pain, headaches, etc.) and emotional issues.

Here’s what you’ll get from today’s video with Lissa and Nick:

- You'll hear about what Dr. Lissa has learned from studying over 3,500 cases of "spontaneous remission" and what the research both tells us, and isn't telling us, about why people get sick or healthy.

- You'll discover the nine common characteristics that people with "spontaneous remission" have, and why they're critical to know for both sick people and healthy people.

- You'll learn about the only two modes that our nervous system can be in, and how in one of them, our bodies’ self-repair mechanism literally shuts down! And the scary part is that most people tend to get stuck in this shut down mode (she'll explain why and how you can get out of it).

- You'll hear about why some of her supposedly "healthiest" clients (exercising, eating well, meditating, etc) were getting sick and the big "aha" moment she had about what was causing it all.

- Near the end Dr. Lissa will blow your mind by redefining what "placebo" actually is and how most scientific studies are not digging deep enough into what is going on with the mind and body.

Watch this video HERE, I know you'll love it!

Best of Health,

Kathi

World Tapping Summit PreviewVideo

I've been chatting with people and asking questions during the last few weeks about how one views the end of the year. I found that the majority of people look at December as a month of parties, shopping, children's holiday programs, and in the north, snow and cold. Most people I spoke with were not looking forward to December at all and felt tired just thinking about everything to be done before the end of the year.

Hmmm. What about acknowledging your accomplishments during 2016 and taking the time to reward and/or nurture yourself? Nobody that I spoke with had done that, nor was anyone planning to. In fact, most women I talked with said that their only reward after a long hard day of working, shopping, caretaking kids (or parents) was a glass of wine. Oh, dear... That's not really going to nurture you.

For me, taking action makes me feel empowered and chases that holiday stress right away. If I plan something nice for myself and I know it's on my schedule, I start to feel better already!

If you want to make this December a little bit less stressful and feel less overwhelmed and overwrought by the end of the month, try one or two of these suggestions:

Bring more gratitude into your daily activities. For instance, even when you have to endure a family member who goes on and on about all that's wrong with the world, find one tiny little thing to be grateful for in the moment. It could even be that you're grateful you do not share their negativity.

Set limits for yourself. Decide ahead of time that you will only listen once to Uncle Henry's complaint about when you were ten and you broke his grandmother's glass Christmas ornament. Gently remind him that it's an old story which everyone has heard and that he is making you uncomfortable. If he doesn't take the hint, then walk away. There are always dishes to be done in the kitchen...

Write down one thing that you did this year that you are proud of. Now schedule something that is nurturing for yourself as a reward for that accomplishment. Yes, I know that it's the holiday season and busy doesn't even begin to cover your life right now, but YOU are important. Nurturing can be as simple as locking yourself in the bathroom for 30 minutes in a hot, scented bubble bath. You deserve to have that 30 minutes to relax and nurture yourself.

My gift to you today is this meditation that takes only a few minutes yet reduces all the day's stress and worry. Be good to yourself - you deserve it!

Wishing you a holiday season filled with love, joy, and good health. Catch you next year!

Kathi

Coloring Is Fun AND Good For You!

cover-jpegMy friend Dianna Mullane and I are excited to tell you about our enchanting, stress relieving, adult coloring book, "A Coloring Book For Women - 30 Divine Designs." Dianna and I have just completed this project of love and we're so excited to share it with you today! "A Coloring Book For Women - 30 Divine Designs," was written by, and for, women. This is different from any of the others that I have found in bookstores or on Amazon. We wanted to provide something more; something informative, something that would be a way to connect with our inner child again. According to this review on Amazon, we have been successful! "I tried adult coloring books before, but the designs were busy, geometric designs that I found difficult to color. Those types of coloring books actually ended up frustrating me more than anything! But, "A Coloring Book For Women, 30 Divine Designs," is very different; the designs that Kathi Casey and Dianna Mullane have chosen are lovely and FUN to color! After all, that's why we want to color again, right? To feel the joy we did as children when we sat down to color. I love this book and can't recommend it enough!" -- Jane The book is available on Amazon, (go take a sneak peek) and also HERE on my website, where, for the same price, we'll include a box of colored pencils to get you started. Each design in our book has a description that will inspire, empower, or simply bring a smile to your face. If you are starting your holiday shopping this week, please consider our simple, inexpensive stress relief, for all the women on your list (including you!). Here's what people are saying about our coloring book: "This book is GORGEOUS! I've seen plenty of adult coloring books, but this one tops them all! Calm and pleasant designs to color that don't make my head explode! I love it. No complicated geometric designs; instead, lovely designs that have meaning for women and are truly a meditative and soothing experience to engage with. This really is a coloring book for all women. I especially love the depiction of Pinga, an Inuit goddess of fertility, medicine, and the hunt. She is surrounded by two beautiful swans. I highly recommend this book!"Estra Roell "A Coloring Book for Women: 30 Divine Designs" is a dream come true. An adult coloring book created just for women! The pictures are incredibly creative and inspiring. There are descriptions with each design that help you think, and contemplate your own inner path. It is a fantastic addition to the adult coloring book world. I highly recommend "A Coloring Book For Women: 30 Divine Designs." A great gift for the holidays!!!" Elizabeth Helming Take a peek on AMAZON or our WEB PAGE today! Thanks. Best of Health, Kathi

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

A topic that seems to surface almost constantly on social media, at the water cooler, family parties, or anywhere that people gather, is sleep. Many people feel that they don't get enough sleep, but find it hard to get to sleep at night, or they wake up during the night and can't get back to sleep. Many of us also know that some of our daily habits can cause this lack of sleep, but we still don't attempt to change!

Sleep is important - we all know that. When we don't get enough sleep, not only does it make us grumpy and out of sorts, but chronic lack of sleep can cause memory issues, premature wrinkling, and even interfere with our ability to metabolize our foods, affecting weight gain/loss. Yikes! 

Prolonged lack of sleep can also disrupt your immune system, causing you to catch every cold that floats past your nose. 

If you are one of the estimated 1 in 3 Americans that don't get enough sleep, here are a few tips:

  1. Turn off your computer, TV, etc., an hour before bedtime! This is important, yet most people that I know don't take advantage of this simple tip. For your own health and safety, please consider doing this.
  1. Have a regular bedtime. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. This is another difficult one for many people.
  1. Eating a big meal less than two hours before bed is going to make your body work too hard at digesting that meal to be able to concentrate on sleep. So, if you know you'll be arriving home late, plan a larger lunch and have a small, lighter meal when you get home. 
  1. Getting plenty of exercise during the day (not before bed) also helps the body to sleep better at night.
  1. And here's a quick breathing exercise that can help you get to sleep. Give it a try for five minutes before bed tonight, and let me know how it worked for you!

Best of Health,

Kathi

How To STOP Beating Yourself Up!

Ever been in a place where all of life's standard issue strain has literally hit the fan and you sink into a place of believing that Oprah, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, your Yoga or meditation teacher, and countless others are so much more qualified, prepared, capable of getting through this life smoothly, and you wish you could too?

We all sink there sometimes. That quagmire pulls you farther down into the depths as each event happens. Your best friend's dog dies, you get the flu and writers block at the same time, and then your internet goes out for six days... Sometimes life is not easy.

But it's not easy for Oprah and Deepak either. It is easy, when we are suffering, to look at someone we admire and think that they never let themselves get down like this, but, in reality, we're all human. And being human means that sometimes, despite our best efforts, life gets very, very difficult, and we can feel weak, sad, or angry. 

That was me last week. Trying to run a business is near to impossible when you have no internet for six days!!!!! And that was just the tip of my iceberg, so to speak. Life on this planet is chock full of adventures and disasters at times.

When times like this hit, I force myself to meditate more - even though there are a thousand things my mind thinks I should be doing instead. Even if I only take a ten minute self Reiki break, I do it anyway; every little bit helps. And, since we are all human, what also helps, is remembering a story my brother shared with me several years ago. I'll share it with you now to make my point.

This brother has lived in New York City for many years. He, like most people in the city, rides the subway to get everywhere. It's crowded, people are often unfriendly, angry, in a hurry, late for an appointment, etc. On one particular day, my brother was attempting to share positive emotions with those around him, which is his habit, by making eye contact or saying hello, but it was really, really difficult. There was lots of angry energy around and he was getting down on himself for not being able to keep his own positivity up.

He thought he recognized a man standing on the platform near him, and was wracking his brain to remember who it was. This man also looked pretty angry, which, it occurred to him later was one of the reasons my brother, at first, didn't recognize him. When it hit him who it was, he felt much better about his own situation. It was Deepak Chopra.  

If Deepak, with his four hours of daily meditation, his Yoga practice, and everything that he does for himself and others can fall into that quagmire once in a while, then we needn't beat ourselves up about sometimes being in the same position!

So, smile, think of this story when you feel overwhelmed by life's ups and downs, and take care of you! 

Here's a little  video of a calming eye massage. It only takes a few minutes and can help you come back to your sane, centered self.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Mid Year Goal Recap

Well, it's mid June - that means 2016 is more than half over. How are you doing on your goals for this year? Have you completed some of them?

What I have noticed lately is that it's just about impossible to meet new goals when life is buzzing along with more responsibilities than one can handle. I have my garden, which takes up a lot of time in spring and summer. The lawn (what little is left) needs mowing often. I have my work, graduations, summer parties, and I live on a lake so it's nice to get down there for a swim or to watch the sunset over the water...

Here's an idea I started about six weeks ago, and so far it's working for me. You may want to give this a try.

I have a checklist of five habits that I want to make a part of my daily routine. Things that I find myself letting slip sometimes, like taking my morning AND evening vitamins, getting more aerobic exercise, filling the tea kettle at night before bed, etc. I started with five items and each day checked them off when they were done. I also have an accountability partner that checks in with me to help keep me on track. After about five weeks, three of my habits had become ingrained and I now do them regularly - even when travelling!

Now, you may not think that filling the tea kettle before bed, so that I only need to turn it on in the morning on my way to the bathroom, is a big deal. But I knew that it would make me feel better to be more prepared for my day and I also knew that a couple of the items had to be simple so I could get them down pat in a month. It worked. Now I've added three more items to replace the three that are routine and I'll keep going with these five for several weeks until they also become routine.

Science shows that it takes about 30 days to form a new habit, so be sure to give yourself enough time.

Best of Health,

Kathi

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