A Prayer for 2022
I write this on a stolen day, patients canceled, snow has fallen and I was able to shift into an alternate reality where there is time for things like building a fire with flint and steel, and writing. I have been contemplating the varied philosophies about the new year over the past weeks. Like most things, human nature tends to divide us amongst a play of polarities. Some love the new year and thrive off of the chance to create new goals and resolutions. Others abhor this idea and shirk off a new year as “same old”. I happen to savor the opportunity for a new beginning, while simultaneously feeling an aversion to resolution setting. Just as the bound journals line up on my shelves, year after year, the turning of one calendar number to the next feels like a special container for a period of time. Is there not a freshness, and excitement about opening a gift? As we have come to learn, with each passing year, every day is a gift to be treasured. So, my friends, as this year of 2022 begins I celebrate that I get to begin anew for another dance around the sun, with all of you, on this crazy frolic of life!!
More than anything, as I speak day after day with patients recovering from covid, reestablishing their immune systems after covid vaccinations, grieving losses wrought by the pandemic in one way or another, or learning how to unburden their fear and lessen the constant anxiety they are feeling, I pray that we can widen our arms to embrace each other again soon.
There are some common health practices that ALL of us can adopt that will make us more resilient and comfortable to connect (in real space) with each other again…we all learned how sad it was to go “hugless”. So my prayer for this new year is for more hugs, more embracing nuanced conversations with deep listening, and a genuine devotion to holistic health practices. I am sharing my current practices in hopes that they will help you. I do have limited consultation appointments available as well if you would benefit from support for your health and healing. Just reach out via email.
Covid Related Support
Nourish the Gut
Bacteria comprise an astounding percentage of what makes each of us “us”. A probiotic before bed is a wonderful way to keep your bacteria diversified. It’s great to choose one that has 50 to 100 billion CFU with a mix of strains of microorganisms. Switch up the probiotic every couple of months as well. Prebiotics are important to feed the probiotics and that basically means fiber. Make sure you get your vegetables, especially those leafy greens! We have a philosophy in our house, “a pinch of fermented food at each meal” to keep us wild and alive. If you can make it yourself, more power to you. There are so many fun ways to play with fermentation. Check out Sandor Katz’s work on fermentation, he has some amazing offerings. Check out his latest here. You can drink your bugs too, with kefir grains and jun (kombucha brewed with green tea and honey).
Exercises to keep your lungs and respiratory tract functioning at their best also help to keep anxiety at bay. Did you know that anxiety is a contributing factor to an adverse outcome with covid? A wonderful incentive to remind us to mind our emotions and embrace empowering tools to help us with the inevitable stress that being a human in this crazy world can bring on. Alternate nostril breathing is a very effective, and ancient way, to oxygenate the brain and increase nitric oxide. I adore listening to Sarah Blondin’s guided meditations on Insight Timer when I am stressed. Holy Basil is my ally for bringing me back to my breath. I keep a tincture of it on my desk. Additionally, finding ways to become “breathless” through exercise every day is helpful and will increase heart rate variability, a crucial component of optimal health. Tune into how it feels to become “out of breath” from exercise. One way I do this is by anchoring into my lungs and experimenting with the various ways breathing can happen as I push myself to my edges with exercise.
Drinking filtered water, at least 8 to 10 glasses a day, is one of the easiest and most effective ways to maintain optimal health. This is often one of the things that we forget to do for ourselves when life gets busy. Keeping a water bottle nearby, and setting goals for how many times you need to finish and refill it can be very motivating. There are even apps to help. Adding lemon or drinking some sparkling mineral water can help mix it up for those that don’t like water.
I get at least half of my hydration from drinking herbal tea. Warm delicious medicinal liquid is exactly what makes winter yummy to me. These days I’m drinking a lot of chai. I love cutting up ginger and turmeric root, and simmering them with a couple of slices of reishi mushroom, cloves and cinnamon sticks. You can add a bag of black or green tea if you like.
The goal here is to fight the urge to be sedentary. Many of us have work that has gone virtual in the past couple of years, making it challenging to move our bodies adequately. Others, like me, find it hard to motivate in winter time when the seasonal tendencies tempt our animal selves into hibernation. On top of all these other factors, comfort levels with shared exercise spaces have, understandably, tanked since the pandemic began. I have created a standing desk, by putting a bench on top of my desk. It works well but there are also some amazing options available for purchase where you can simply move from sitting to standing with the touch of a button. When I am not standing I balance on an exercise ball to engage my core. I started running again this summer, and when I say running I mean a twenty minute run in the morning, that’s it (no long distances here, just enough to get my blood moving and make me feel alive). I was determined to keep it up for the winter and tried all kinds of warm layers. Nope, I just can’t motivate! I’ve been on my good old NOISY body champ elliptical for the last month, and it works. Other options include youtube videos that encourage movement (if you have limited space or budget for equipment). One of my patients creatively jumps on a mini trampoline every day. This gets her heart rate going, makes her breathless, and supports movement of lymph throughout the body.
I am concentrating on nutrient dense foods and having at least three meals a day every four hours or so to keep my energy levels up and my blood sugar balanced. Eating seasonally, with lots of warm soups, and stews is supportive of seasonal wellness. When I make a soup I am sure to simmer reishi mushroom or some adaptogenic roots like ginseng, ashwagandha or astragalus (to be removed before eating). Here’s a blog on that. Most importantly I make sure that every email includes vegetables with a variety of colors throughout the day. The Doctor that I am honored to work with at Clinic is a huge proponent of eating beets and kale, for their ability to boost nitric oxide levels in the blood.
When we think about embracing a lifestyle that supports optimal nutrition and a nourished gut it is important to discuss what to include, as we did above, and even more important to discuss what to avoid. There are a lot of comfort foods that can be extremely inflammatory to the digestive and immune system, cascading inflammation into other systems. For some these foods are best avoided all together, and others eating them in moderation is fine. This all goes back to sensitivities. It is important to note that sometimes by doing a gut repair protocol we can heal from these sensitivities. According to Very Well Health the 10 most common foods that people are sensitive to are eggs, peanuts, shellfish, gluten, corn, soy, coffee and High FODMAP Foods -Read more about what that means here.
The good news here is that there are particular supplements that have been used with much success to help with prevention and early treatment of covid. These same supplements have also been supportive for patients who have had difficulty bouncing back after initial vaccines or boosters. I have made a a list of them on my fullscript page (click here for access). You are welcome to order from there, using my account to enter and explore. Not only can you order from this list but you will have access to everything that fullscript stocks. They have a wide variety of professional grade supplements, teas and tinctures. If you have an independent local health food store or food co-op that is even better!!
My Go-To’s (all available through the link above)
Vitamin C- I take this daily during cold and flu season, and increase my dosage with symptoms of imbalance.
Vitamin D- I take this daily through out the winter.
Querecetin and Zinc-I take these at least 3 or 4 times a week and make sure to take daily if I have been in a situation that makes me worry about my health or if I have cold symptoms.
NAC-I take a few times a week to make sure my detoxification pathways are working optimally.
Magnesium and melatonin- I alternate these as needed to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Be well my friends. I hope that this winter season is gentle on you and brings you plenty of time for rest, play and deep nourishment!
Love, Ashley xo