Posted in health and wellness, loreeebee.ca, mental health, relationships

How Stress and Laughter Affect the Immune System

photo credit

It has been said that one minute of anger, stress, or anxiety weakens the immune system for four to five hours, while one minute of laughter boosts the immune system for over twenty-four hours.   I’ve read these statements in several different places recently; I believe scientists are on to something.

Recently, when chatting with a dear friend,  I was reminded how anger can cause stress providing inspiration for this post.

How the Immune System Works

Better Health Channel explains the immune system as follows:

  • The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that defends the body against infection. 
  • The immune system keeps a record of every germ (microbe) it has ever defeated so it can recognise and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again.
  • Abnormalities of the immune system can lead to allergic diseases, immunodeficiencies and autoimmune disorders.

For those reasons, it is important to keep our immune systems at peak performance.

Why Anger and Stress is Unhealthy

Think about it for a minute.  When something or someone angers you, your blood pressure rises, your heart races, and you get a sick feeling in your stomach.  I know I do.  But did you realize that the sick feeling you get can manifest into something more sinister if it persists?  

The sick feeling resulting from anger or stress spreads throughout the body, wreaking havoc on all organs. It has been scientifically proven that stress has been linked to many health conditions and disease states.

How Stress and Laughter Affect the Immune System
Photo by Inzmam Khan on Pexels.com

Why Laughter is Healthy

Conversely, after a good laugh, you feel great and stress or tension is relieved, improving your mood, your outlook, and even your physical appearance!  Check out a previous article listing the specific scientific benefits of laughter.

Laughter is contagious as well, meaning difficult or awkward conversations or situations can be diffused with some levity.

Have you ever noticed that some people giggle or laugh awkwardly when stressed? It may appear that their laughter is insensitive or inappropriate, but alternatively, most likely their way of trying to diffuse the stress or awkwardness. I am one of those non-confrontational people that prefer to diffuse rather than fuel a volatile reaction.

How Stress and Laughter Affect the Immune System
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Replacing Anger and Stress in Your Life

If you find yourself in any situation that evokes prolonged and unresolvable anger, angst, tension, stress, or sadness, move on and let it go before you cause any permanent damage to your health

Personal relationships are trickier to remove yourself from, especially the long-term ones. The process is usually much easier said than done, with lots of complications. Professional counseling, however, will most likely encourage extrication from these relationships and offer detailed steps on how to do so.

The Covid pandemic has resulted in a major increase in mental health issues. Fortunately, awareness of these issues and support for those affected have increased as well. Many governments are now willing to spend money on mental health programs, including online options.

Posted in current events, family, grandkids, health and wellness, loreeebee.ca, mental health

Introverts still have the advantage

photo credit to Andrea Piacquadio on pexels.com

This article was posted way back in April when the COVID pandemic lockdowns were new to us, reposted today in frustration that most of it still applies…

Introverts have such an advantage in this COVID-19 turmoil and the isolation, quarantine, and social distancing guidelines it has spawned.  So much so that I find myself wishing I was more introverted.

I never realized before just how much of an extrovert I am.  Or perhaps it’s the strict rules we have been instructed to live by that I bristle at.  I never have been good at someone telling me what I can and cannot do, or when I can do them.  I am getting lots done, things I have been procrastinating about forever, but not on my own terms.

I am missing the social interaction we take for granted that enriches our daily lives.  Whether it’s chatting with neighbours, meeting friends for lunch or coffee, or stopping into our favourite stores.  I miss the actions and all of the people that make them so special.

I miss my grandchildren so much, and their parents too of course.  The sunny smiles, hugs, and laughter from the children and the amusing anecdotes their parents share with us are what makes my world go round, usually.  My world feels like it has turned upside down, with me holding my breath until it rights itself.

Compared to others, my life is relatively good.  My family is safe and healthy. My landscaping business may get a late start this season, but my freelance writing can fill in the extra time.  And, my own gardens may get some extra TLC.

This extrovert is just impatient for this nightmare to be over.  In the meantime, perhaps I should try channeling my inner introvert so I might enjoy the few things left we are allowed to do.

As an update, my gardening business did resume in May, although I lost several clients as they were either working from home and able to tackle their gardens themselves, or had to give up my services due to budget constraints. My own gardens did indeed benefit from the extra attention as suspected, although they generated more expenses than income. I was not able to pick up as many freelance writing projects as anticipated, again mostly due to clients’ reduced budgets.

Nine months later, memories of 2020 became a poem in a recent post. Many things remain the same or have evolved, been reinvented, or reinstated, but some have changed. Some in a positive way and others not so positive.

The judgement, finger-pointing, blaming, and ugliness has ramped up to an all-time high. Family get-togethers are still taboo, especially since our immediate family members total 12. As one son stated, “he can work with his brother, but cannot have Christmas dinner with him.” Where is the logic in that?

As for the positives, a hot summer meant more time in the lake at the cottage. Socially distanced from our neighbours, it was the place to be. Family members came to visit, but not all at once.

In July, when it seemed like we had “flattened the curve,” we were able to gather for at least one birthday celebration this year when our second grandson turned one…

Introverts still have the advantage

Sadly, it was only the second time these five cuties were able to see each other since March.

Also on the positive side, we (as a family of 12) have decided that since I have been assisting our 7-year-old granddaughter with her online school and allowing our almost 3-year-old granddaughter to visit weekly to give her mom a break after the birth of their new baby, (our 5th grandchild, a celebration in itself) that we would continue this support system by allowing the grandchildren to visit. This decision was made despite the fact that Ontario residents have been told not to permit anyone outside of their household into their homes as of December 26. As a support system for my family members that are considered essential services, I feel it my duty to do whatever works for them, and I take great pleasure in the visits.

In fact, I believe my mental health and that of my precious grandchildren rely on these visits.

After all, I am still an extrovert. That will never change.

Posted in health & wellness, loreeebee.ca, mental health, nature, nutrition

4 Ways to up your Mood when the Weather is Down

This article was originally posted on Higher Dose, and modified for a guest post here on Loreeebee.

It’s officially #PSL season, which means it’s time to put on our cozy knits, binge watch Netflix, light a million candles, and excitedly cancel plans with friends. Even though we all look to fall and winter as a time to get hygge, the novelty of the season can wear off quickly as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, lowering our moods and affecting our health.

People often joke about “winter blues” and Seasonal Affective Disorder, but it’s actually a diagnosable type of depression that is prompted by cold weather and less sunlight, affecting 5% of Americans.

How does this happen? 

It’s not all in your head!

The sun naturally releases a broad spectrum of light throughout the day to help signal our body’s many functions. In the morning and afternoons, we take in more blue light to release cortisol, so we have the energy to be more productive. In the evenings, we’re meant to start winding down with red light and infrared as a way to prompt our melatonin production to facilitate better sleep.

When the days are shorter and colder, we’re taking in less energy-giving light, nutrient-dense vitamin D (which is necessary for immune function), and fewer healing vibrations from nature’s fresh air, resulting in lower energy, chronic fatigue, increased hunger and interrupted sleep.  Plain and simple: Good, nourishing recovery is a lot harder to achieve.

Don’t let this info get you down. Here are some quick and easy ways to hack your mood as the seasons change.

Get a DOSE of happy vibes

Happiness comes from the feel-good chemicals in our brains:

Dopamine: A hormone and neurotransmitter that stimulates the nervous system functions like pleasure and attention.

Oxytocin: Aka the “love hormone” that decreases stress and anxiety levels.

Serotonin: A neurotransmitter that is often released by the sun and infrared light therapy. It’s essential for balancing mood, memory, sleep, and sexual desire

Endorphins: A group of hormones that reduce pain and increase pleasure and overall well-being. They are often released during exercise, hence the term, “a runner’s high.”

Hot Tip: If you’re in NYC, zen out in one of our warm, soothing saunas for a serotonin-releasing mood lifter. At home instead? No problem! Cocooning yourself in our Infrared Sauna Blanket will release your endorphins without ever having to move a muscle. Burning ~600 calories during one single sweat session, your body will feel like it worked out while staying relaxed AND detoxified. Better circulation, mood, and glowing skin are a plus.

Use a light box

Lightboxes, along with infrared therapy, are a popular treatment option for seasonal affective disorder.

There is a broad spectrum of light therapies:

Sunlamps  Improve Vitamin D absorption and increase overall energy levels
Red Light Therapy Focuses more on deeply-penetrating muscles and tissues to calm the skin, manage hormone production, and boost the immune system


If you can’t spend 30 minutes or more in the sun per day and are faced with a dark sky when you wake up in the morning, consider a light therapy box first thing when you wake up to help get your body on a normal schedule.

Get good vibrations from nature

The Japanese practice something called shinrin-yoku, which translates to forest-bathing. “But how do I bathe in a forest?!” Don’t take it literally.

It’s just the act of being in nature and connecting to yourself through your senses. It helps to reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure to relax the body and focus the mind.

The reason being in nature is considered such a healing, mood-boosting activity is because plants release the chemical, phytoncide, which has antibacterial and antifungal qualities that can increase our white blood cells and help strengthen our immune response to foreign invaders.

Nature also gives off literal good vibrations. The Earth has a natural frequency of 7.8hz, which sends low-level frequency through our bodies to help recharge our cells and heal us from the inside out.

If you don’t live near nature, or it’s too cold to go outside, consider:

  • Keeping plants inside your home for at-home plant benefits
  • Try our Infrared PEMF Mat, which uses PEMF, infrared heat, and Negative Ion Therapy to send Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency throughout your body. Go deeper with your DOSE while getting the ultimate recharge.

Skip comfort eating

Like bears who eat more as they prepare to hibernate during the winter months, we too get excited to indulge as the weather gets colder.

BUT, managing seasonal depression and keeping your mood HIGH starts with eliminating sugar when you can.

Refined starches and carbs that lack fiber and are high-glycemic can directly impact your hormones, which directly affects your happy chemicals. Your gut manages the majority of the hormone production in your body and sends direct messages to your brain. you consume sugar, you end up feeding bad bacteria in your gut that can throw the chemicals in your brain off-balance.

Sticking with whole foods that are nutrient-dense is ideal, but if you do decide you want to get into the goodies, try one of these detoxes to reset your system and get back on track.

Conclusions

This guest post fits in well with my theme as many of these points have been discussed previously on Loreeebee. For many of us, our mental health is taking a beating during the pandemic. Nature is a huge part of my life, as is nutrition. Research tells us that nature, nutrition, and mental health go hand in hand.

If you decide to try the infrared sauna blanket, please use my referral code to save us both some money. I’m hoping Santa reads this; I would love one!

Posted in current events, health & wellness, loreeebee.ca, mental health

Mental Health More Critical During Pandemic

Mental health issues have become much more prevalent during the Covid pandemic. Unfortunately, these issues have not (yet) been given the respect they deserve. I say yet, because I hope someone in power will step up and recognize the increased need for help.

This group in Canberra, Australia has stepped up to address mental health in a big way. MIEACT or Mental Illness Education Act was created in 2014 but is recognizing the increased need for mental health support during the pandemic.

I saw this post on Facebook recently where MIEACT describes the ways to improve your mental health:

Did you know that you can consciously create opportunities for your body to release Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphin, increasing your wellbeing, stabilizing mood, improving motivation and increasing connection?

MIEACT

 That’s lots of ways to make yourself feel more cheerful and healthier!

According to AtlasBiomed, endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin are all “happy hormones,” chemicals that are released within our bodies naturally sending positive, feel-good messages to our brains.

Good on MIEACT for sharing these ways to improve our mental health. Hopefully, the rest of the world can step up too to recognize, support, and tackle mental health issues in their areas of the globe.

Posted in exercise, health and wellness, loreeebee.ca, mental health, nutrition

Making Good Choices in the Time of COVID-19

This informative article was originally posted on the Pyure Organic blog Sweet Talk and ties in nicely with a recent post of mine. It has been adapted for a guest post here:

At the peak of the pandemic, there were new guidelines seemingly every day to help us stay safe and lower our risk of catching and transmitting COVID-19. Today, the advice is clear. Wash your hands regularly, wear a mask and keep your distance from others. 

There are other ways you can make healthy choices beyond virus prevention: changes to your diet, exercise and mindset. These lifestyle changes may not completely prevent your risk of catching coronavirus, but they can boost your immune system, help keep your spirits high and make your body stronger for whatever life throws at you. Here are some simple changes you can make to stay fit and healthy in the midst of a pandemic. 

Focus on good nutrition

There are many reputable research studies that have found a link between a well-balanced diet and a strong immune system. As we head into winter, flu season is right around the corner; pandemic aside, it’s useful to start building healthy nutrients into your diet so your body is ready to ward off everything from the common cold to COVID-19. Here are some simple changes you can make to your diet. 

Switch to sugar alternatives

We know sugar can have negative consequences for our long-term health and is a contributing factor for diabetes and obesity. But some studies have shown that sugar can also decrease the effectiveness of white blood cells – a critical part of our immune system that fights infection. Eating lots of sugar can actually decrease your body’s ability to ward off the bad stuff. 

That doesn’t mean you should stop production on all that quarantine comfort baking! There are plenty of better-for-you sugar alternatives that can make your tasty treats even better. Stevia is one sugar alternative that we love – and Pyure Organic Stevia is one of the only organic stevia brands out there. Stevia is a sweetener that rates a zero on the glycemic index (meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar), zero-calorie and free from any of the chemicals used to create artificial sweeteners. Check out some of our favorite recipes that use Pyure Organic Stevia for some healthier at-home baking inspiration.

Add in a few supplements

In addition to cutting out the bad stuff, you can also add in some minerals and probiotics to make your immune system even stronger – and able to fight off threats. We get most of these minerals through eating a balanced diet, but many of us are deficient in the so-called “Big Four” that help our immune system: 

  • Zinc: This mineral is critical for the development and function of immune cells, yet 79% of us are deficient in zinc. Studies have shown that “80–92 mg per day of zinc may reduce the length of the common cold by up to 33%.” 
  • Magnesium: This so-called “master mineral” is involved in processes like producing energy and building important proteins like your DNA. Your body needs magnesium to function properly, and most people should aim to take 200–400 mg per day. 
  • Selenium: This mineral acts as an antioxidant to reduce inflammation in the body and improve immunity. You can get selenium through foods like fish, eggs and mushrooms.
  • Iodine: This mineral boosts your thyroid gland, which produces hormones that directly impact your immune system. Too much iodine can be a bad thing, so be sure to consult with a doctor before adding in an iodine supplement.

The more proactive you can be about building a healthy immune system, the better! Luckily, many of these minerals can be found by adding some new ingredients to your grocery list.

Eat your leafy greens

Feeding your body with the good stuff is an easy way to keep out the bad stuff. We’ve all heard that citrus is full of Vitamin C and can help ward off the common cold – these foods can also make a big difference in your health: 

  • Red bell peppers: These veggies contain almost 3 times as much Vitamin C as a Florida orange. 
  • Broccoli: It’s packed with Vitamins A, C, and E, fiber, and many other antioxidants.
  • Spinach: rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and beta carotene
  • Plain yogurt: Look for the unsweetened kind, which is packed with Vitamin D to help regulate the immune system (and add a little Pyure on top to make it taste great!). 
  • Kiwi: These little green guys are high in folate, potassium, Vitamin K and Vitamin C.

These are just a few foods that are great additions to your diet – there are many more out there that can give your immune system a little extra power. 

Stay active, even at home

With many gyms closed and workout classes canceled, it can be difficult to find ways to stay active – but every little bit counts. “Inactivity is an important risk factor similar to high blood pressure, smoking or high cholesterol,” reports the American Society for Nutrition

Regular physical activity supports your immune system and your mental health (more on that in a minute). It’s also a big part of protecting your health from long-term, chronic issues like heart disease and high blood pressure. 

If you’re not sure where to start with an at-home workout, think about what it is you would like to improve. Do you want stronger arms? Better flexibility? More aerobic capacity? From there, you can find a workout plan that works for you. Aim for 15 to 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise and build from there. Check out YouTube and Instagram for free at-home yoga classes, circuit workouts and bodyweight strength-training to keep your routine varied and interesting.

Don’t ignore your mental health

Mental stress can put your body in physical distress, as anxiety takes a big toll on the body. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and taking care of your mental health. “Immune system activation alters sleep, and sleep in turn affects the innate and adaptive arm of our body’s defense system,” says the National Institute of Health. Many of us are juggling working from home, caring for family and many other parts of life, but getting a good night’s sleep – that’s seven to eight hours for adults – should be a priority. 

There’s also evidence to support the idea that meditation can improve your immune system. Meditation can not only improve your sleep, but it can also help you manage stress and anxiety. Take 10 minutes out of your day to do some deep breathing, relax and calm down your nervous system. Your body will thank you!

Posted in Canada, current events, lorieb.wordpress.com, mental health

Megxit Means More Royal Sightings in Canada

Megxit, the exit of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry from Great Britain, means we Canadians will be seeing more of the young(ish) royal couple. We Canadians do love our royals, at least most of us do. Some of us are thrilled and proud of the fact Harry and Meghan have chosen Canada as refuge from their fishbowl (AKA royal lifestyle), others not so much.

Speculation has been frantic this past week, since the (for now) Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they wish to “step back” from their royal duties. After a family meeting, the Queen announced she has given the couple permission to move to Canada part time. What they will do here is still up for speculation.

megxit
Duke and Duchess of Sussex

What choice did she have, really? Like any concerned parent, she worries about her grandson and wants the best for him. The signs have been there for a while now, long before Meghan even came on the scene, how severely affected Harry was by the tragic loss of his beloved Mum when he was just twelve years old. Most people are greatly affected by the loss of their mom at any age. It would be horrible for a child to go through a similar loss, but the fact that Harry’s (and William’s) every move has been on display since he was born would only add to the trauma. Every tear, smile and action scrutinized and photographed for everyone to judge. Is it any wonder he doesn’t want that lifestyle for his wife and son?

Critics are blaming Meghan for disrupting the royal family by influencing and controlling a more naïve Harry. I believe however, that he was influenced more by his mother’s choice of charitable work when she was alive and even more so by the cause of her untimely death. Harry said so himself how “every flash of a camera brings it all back” last summer in an interview in Africa. He saw (and lived through) his mother’s anguish for years, with the good, the bad and the downright ugly press coverage omnipresent for all to see.

In his early twenties, Harry joined the military, spending ten years serving his country, including two tours in Afghanistan. Some analysts believe those years were to find a sense of accomplishment and purpose in his life, prompted by the fragile state of his mental health.

Whatever the reason for Megxit, the fact that Harry is (perhaps downgraded to was) only sixth in line to the throne (behind his father, brother, two nephews and one niece) doesn’t make a potential abdication a big deal. To us at least. His grandmother would feel differently of course.

The Queen’s latest announcement has created a whole new frenzy and the media are running with it. What will they do in Canada? Will they still be Duke and Duchess of Sussex? Will Harry become our next Governor General? Will Meghan return to acting or perhaps take up directing? Will they live in British Columbia, where they celebrated Christmas and New Years, or Toronto where Meghan lived for years and where the couple met? What are the Canadian rules and laws to be considered? (immigration, working visas etc) Stay tuned for more details.

Rumours have it Justin Trudeau has already told the Queen that Canadians would pay for the couple’s security when they are on Canadian soil. I think the Canadian taxpayers might have something to say about that, in fact I saw a petition to that tune going around Facebook already. Surely the couple’s new quest for financial independence will include paying their own security bills, unless the Queen ticks off her own taxpayers by requesting that the couple’s security expenses will continue to be covered by Scotland Yard. Even when they are living in Canada!

The fact that the younger couples, especially Harry and Meghan, William and Kate, have added a much needed boost of vitality and popularity to the aging monarchy in Britain cannot be denied. I admit I am a sucker for a good love story, and I have always loved Prince Harry, Prince William and their beautiful, kind mother. Hopefully Megxit is merely the next chapter in Harry and Meghan’s love story and not a more sinister warning of impending heartbreak for Harry in the form of another royal scandal as the haters believe.

Perhaps Megxit will boost a waning interest in the monarchy here in Canada. We could certainly use their positive energy, compassion for those less privileged, love of nature etc., etc., etc.,