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How to Deal with Holiday Stress

Christmas music plays on the radio, green and red decorations cover stores and neighborhoods, there’s a cheerful spirit in the air–it must mean the holidays are here! This time of year can be full of warmth and memories, but it’s not always smiling rosy cheeks and a holly jolly spirit. The holiday season can be stressful as we rush to accomplish everything on our lists, a sad reminder of those we’ve lost, and an exhausting strain on our mental and physical health. Here are a few tips to deal with the struggles of the holidays so you can enjoy the most wonderful time of the year:

Use the power of smells: Certain smells can ease stress, holiday stress tips provide energy, and even help strengthen your immune system. Harness the power of essential oils this season to help give you a boost when you need it .

Be okay with saying no: The holidays can put a big demand on our time and energy. You can’t attend every holiday party while finding the perfect thoughtful gift for every person you know while preparing to host a huge get together–and that’s okay because you’re human! Prioritize your health and wellness this season, and focus on doing less but enjoying more.

Express yourself: The holidays bring up a number of emotions and memories. Set aside a few minutes each day to work through these feelings. You can journal, engage in art therapy, write slam poetry, whatever helps you reflect.

Eat well: Eating healthy can be a challenge during the holidays with the abundance of homemade sweets and other unhealthy foods. You don’t need to avoid all treats, but do be mindful of what you eat. The healthier you eat, the better you will feel.

Take time to disconnect: It’s easy to get sucked into the holiday craziness-and stay there until New Years. Be intentional about taking some time away from the business (and the electronics) to help reduce stress. Try to meditate each day or set aside time to exercise so you can improve your mental and physical health this holiday season.

 

This time of year can be stressful, but with a little proactivity you’ll be able to work through the challenges to enjoy the blessings. From all of us at Sunstone, we wish you a happy holiday season!

Art Therapy Workshop

 

 

Play, discover, and create at our introduction to art therapy workshop! Absolutely no artistic background or art therapy experience needed. Just bring your wonderful enthusiastic self, we’ll take care of the rest by providing supplies and walking you through every exercise.

It will be a jam packed event with activities that encourage an exploration of your identity and feelings, while having a blast of course!

Three reasons to come:Sunn
You can improve your self-expression, self-esteem, and communication.
You can use the activities to help you express thoughts and situations that may be hard to express in words. After doing art therapy activities, many people feel a sense of relief and see improved mental health.
You can spend the morning reconnecting with your inner child by playing with finger paint, scissors, and magazines (it’s the best part of kindergarten all over again).

Art therapy is all about expression, so after each activity we will engage in a short discussion of our experience to help you reflect. By the end, you will come away with a better understanding of art therapy’s benefits and practical ideas on how to incorporate art therapy into your life.

Spots are limited, so sign up ASAP. The workshop will be on January 23rd from 10 AM to 1 PM and cost $100 per person. The location for the workshop is 1700 W. Smith Valley Rd., Suite B4 Greenwood, Indiana 46142. We’d love for you to join us!

You can register by calling 317.886.1000 or emailing office@sunstoneindy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils

Wellness CoachWhen I heard about essential oils, I’ll admit I was skeptical. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is right?

Then a friend told me all about how she’s used essential oils as cold medicine, bug repellent, perfume, cleaners, and more! It got me curious, so one night I tried using a lavender essential oil to help me sleep. And it worked!

Since then, I’ve learned more about essential oils and realized how beneficial they are (which is why we sell essential oils at Sunstone). Since not everyone is familiar with essential oils, I wanted to provide a beginner’s guide to help you get started with this great health tool.

What Essential Oils Are

Essential oils are a substance extracted from a plant that holds the smell and characteristics of that plant. The oil is in a liquid form, but feels much less dense than other oils. Essential oils are highly potent, so you usually only need a small amount.

Benefits Of Essential Oils

The list of benefits of essential oils seems almost infinite! You can use essential oils to help you sleep, relieve stress, clean your home, nurture healthy looking hair, and more! Beginners often focus on using essential oils for energy or relaxation.

How To Use Essential Oils

There are three methods of using essential oils, but I recommend leaving the dietary method to the more experience (not all essential oils can be ingested and you should always talk to your doctor before ingesting them). Instead, focus on topical or aromatic methods. Topical involves massaging the oil onto your skin while aromatic involves inhaling the oil either from the bottle or from the use of a diffuser. Since essential oils are so concentrated, they are usually used with a carrier oil to help diffuse them. You can play around with aromatic and topical applications and see what works best for you.

Where To Get Essential Oils

You can buy essential oils at some stores, but make sure to research the product first. Not every option is of good quality. When you find an essential oil you like, don’t let the price tag alarm you. Remember that you only use a few drops, so that small bottle can last a long time.

You can buy quality essential oils at Sunstone (we offer doTerra and Young Living  products). We carry some essential oils at the office and offer the most common picks. If we don’t have the oil you want, we will add it to our bi-weekly orders. Because we are a distributor, we can get the oils at a discount and pass that savings onto you!

Whether you use essential oils every night before bed or occasionally on stressful days, they can be a great natural healthy option. For more information on essential oils, click here or call (317) 886-1000.

 

Take advantage of the benefits of walking

SomeWalking in the woods of history’s greatest minds, from Steve Jobs to Charles Dickens, realized walking daily helped them think, create, and innovate better. Walking for exercise just thirty minutes a day offers numerous health, mental, and emotional benefits, yet it can be difficult to get the motivation to get up and go. Here are some common roadblocks that keep us from walking, and how to overcome them.

We undervalue the benefits: When trying to decide between thirty minutes watching TV or thirty minutes doing something that’s ‘good for you’, it’s easy to pick the couch. Re-frame how you view walking instead to an activity that will decrease your stress, make you more productive, decrease your risk of heart disease, improve your mental well-being, etc. Focus on the benefits of walking, not on how comfortable the sofa is.

We don’t think we have the time: Yes, our lives can get hectic. But what we often forget is when we are intentional about finding time in the day, we usually can. If you really don’t think you can devote thirty straight minutes, break up the walk into chunks. A few minute walk in the morning, afternoon, and evening is better than no walk at all.

We don’t want to be alone: Not everyone loves the solitude of a nature walk. If the thought of a solo walk keeps you from going, find a partner. Your dog, friend, neighbor, spouse, just grab someone and go.

We don’t want to be bored: If walking for thirty minutes sounds, well, boring, there’s a simple solution. Make it fun! Download music or podcasts that you only listen to while you walk. Call someone who lives far away, a parent, old friend, or great aunt. Use the walk as a way to explore the city, such as taking a self-guided audio tour of Indianapolis. Walking each day can be a fun activity. You just need to find what makes it fun for you.

Easy Art Therapy Activities for the Artistically Nervous

Easy art therapy activities for the artistically nervousaqua color abstract stone

Art therapy is a great tool to express yourself, cope with a variety of issues, and improve your mental health. Some people hold the misconception that art therapy is only for those good at art. Not so! If a blank canvas isn’t your style, there’s plenty of other simple art therapy activities that you can try.

Build off an existing painting: Print out the Mona Lisa, American Gothic, or any other picture you like. Now add to it. Be creative and make the piece your own.

Make a color collage: What emotion are you currently feeling? Now assign a color to it. Cut out photos predominantly that color from magazines and junk mail to make a collage. You don’t have to create any of the individual pieces, and you still are creating something new and expressive.

Color a mandala: A mandala is a form of art involving a circle with a patterned design. Many religions, cultures, and therapy practices use mandalas for meditation. Simply print out a mandala from online and color it in.

Draw in darkness: Gather your art supplies and then turn out the light. Focus on creating something without worrying whether it looks like you imagined. Express yourself without allowing yourself to criticize what you made.

Black out poetry: Find a newspaper or magazine article and a pen. Now black out words you don’t like. After a while you are left with a poem you created. Nonsensical poems are fine, just focus on creating.

If concerns about your artistic ability are keeping you from art therapy, remember art therapy is for everyone! You can try one of these activities to get the benefits of art therapy without worrying about what you created. If you’re interested in learning more about art therapy, check out our art therapy services.

8 Reasons You Should Probably Try Meditation

CoachMeditation may not be the easiest habit to form, but it could be one of the most rewarding. Meditation has the studies behind it that prove it’s good for you to do. From personal experience, I can tell you that although it was definitely a struggle at first, meditation is something I began to look forward to. I noticed a difference in my mood, the way I reacted to work stress, as well as my general stress level. But if you don’t want to take my word for it, check out eight great reasons that studies show meditation is good for you

1. Lower your stress levels. Much like yoga, meditation helps to relax your nervous system. This helps to lower the level of cortisol in your system, and that’s a good thing. When you’re sympathetic nervous system is constantly engaged your body takes a beating. In today’s go-go-go world, it’s pretty common to live in a constant low-level stress state. Meditation gives your system a break

2. Sleep better. If you meditate before bed, it can help slow down the busyness of your mind, allowing you to fall asleep easier and stay asleep

3. Be more creative. Calming your mind, your body and your nervous system can help you focus, bringing greater clarity of thought. When you’re focused you’re freer to be more creative

4. Improve your mood. If you’re less stressed and are sleeping better, then you’re two steps closer to feeling better

5. Get a better handle on your emotions. When you meditate on a regular basis, you learn how to watch thoughts and emotions bubble up without engaging with them. This extends into your everyday life, so when you encounter life’s little obstacles, you’re less apt to react without thinking first

6. Improve your memory. Research proves that regular meditation can thicken the brain’s cerebral cortex due to increased blood flow. Learning, memory and concentration take place in the outer cortex, so meditating can help improve all three

7.Be your own fountain of youth. Every time you stress about something, cortisol is released and your body pays for it, becoming a little bit older. Lowering your cortisol level isn’t just good for your stress level, is also helps to save brain cells. High levels of cortisol can kill off those precious cells leading to cognitive issues. So in the same way it helps you better your memory, it also helps maintain the life of your brain cells and cells throughout the rest of your body

8. Increase your overall health. Better mood, healthier brain and restful sleep…it’s no wonder your overall health will improve. But that’s not all; studies also show that meditation can have a positive impact on your heart, as well as other organs throughout your body.

This is just a brief overview of some of the wonderful affects meditation can have on your body and mind. And maybe best of all—it’s free! All you need is you. So if you’d like to be calmer, happier and healthier, why not give meditation a try?

Finding Your Happy

at-home yogaHappiness

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you’ve probably heard a teacher say that deep down inside we are nothing but love and happiness. I know I’ve heard that countless times, and while I always wanted to believe it, I never truly felt that in the core of my being I was a happy person. I had struggled with depression on and off for too long to feel like I was anything but a sad person fighting my way into the sunlight.

I’m not saying that I am not happy these days; I’ve worked hard to get to a place of happiness, stability and self-awareness, but there was always a part of me that felt like all of that was a fragile state. At any moment the dark chemicals in my brain would take over again and shatter the balance when I’d be least expecting it. But then I went to India.

It was a trip I didn’t necessarily want to take, it was one I felt like I had to take. I didn’t know what was in store and what I learned in those two weeks is hard to describe. But there was one day, one moment even, which changed everything.

It was the second morning of our stay at the Govardhan Eco Village. Three pilgrimage groups had come together to do sunrise yoga in a gorgeous wooden yoga shala lined with giant windows that looked out into the mountains that surrounded us. Kirtan was being sung; the sun was rising over the mountains and shining in through the windows, taking the morning chill out of the air. And there I was—in India.

In that moment, I took in the sounds, the smells and the energy. There was no work stress, no money stress, no everyday life stress—there was just love. There was music, love, support and happiness pouring out from everyone around me and filling the room. And as hippie as that may sound, I felt it wash over me and ignite every cell in my body. I was alive and completely free. I felt light and happy—completely happy. Before I knew it I was crying tears of joy. That morning and that feeling will stay with me forever.

It wasn’t until I got home and was talking about that morning that it dawned on me: I am not a sad person trying to be happy, I’m a happy person who just needed to clean the dirt off of the lens (albeit, a lot of dirt). Knowing, feeling and truly believing that there is a core of utter bliss inside me, whether or not I am able to find it on a daily basis, changed what I thought I was made of deep down. It completely changed my perspective on life.

Now, I’m not saying everyone needs to hop a plane and go spend two weeks in India. What I am saying is that, for most of us, there is something in this world that makes us truly happy, that allows us to tap into that core of love and happiness each one of us has inside. There is something out in the world that makes you feel connected and alive. There is something that will help you clean off your lens.

I encourage you to find what that is. And if you don’t know, or it takes sometime (or help) to find, know that it’s okay. It took me 35 years, several medications, various hobbies, entirely too many drinks and trips all around the world to find my inner peace. But finding it, finding my footing in this world was worth every second of the struggle.

5 Superfoods to Super Charge Your Health

SuperfoodJust like Superman, the word superfood alone makes it sound like they’re going to come in and save the day. While they may not be a magic bullet for all that ails us, they can certainly help keep us, or even get us, on a healthy track. But just what is a superfood? And why does it seem like there are always new ones being announced?

Superfoods are foods packed with antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamin and minerals. In today’s world of fast and processed food, most Americans could stand to eat better. Adding superfoods to our diets is a great way to start.

But why do they change? Like any other fad, a superfood’s popularity comes and goes, but that doesn’t change the fact that whatever is hot at the moment (or what was hot last week) is bursting with goodness for your body. And, the even better news about superfoods is that there are a lot of them. So if broccoli makes you cringe, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from. Here are just a few:

Aloe Vera: You may think of aloe as your go-to for cuts and burns, but aloe’s benefits go far beyond that. Aloe Vera juice is detoxifying, full of nutrients, is packed with immune-boosting polysaccharides and has anti-inflammatory properties—just to name a few of the reasons you should run out and get some.

Bee Pollen: If you’re looking for something that is protein packed, you’ve come to the right place with bee pollen. This stuff has more amino acids than beef, eggs and chicken. It enhances energy, helps with digestion and for you allergy sufferers, local bee pollen can provide relief to seasonal allergies. And since it’s super, you can bet the benefits don’t stop there.

 Cauliflower: You may think, “meh” when you think of cauliflower, but this little unassuming veggie has a lot going on. For starters, it provides you with 77 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. Cauliflower is a good source of vitamins B1, B1 and K. It’s got omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and biotin. Plus, since cauliflower doesn’t have a strong flavor, there’s so much you can do with it in the kitchen!

 Chlorella: If it’s green, it’s generally good for you. Why’s that? Phytonutrients for one. Chlorella, similar to spirulina, can help detox heavy metals from your body, lower cholesterol and strengthen your immune system. So yea, green is good.

 Hemp: No, we’re not talking about the stuff you wear around your neck. Hemp seeds and hemp milk are becoming quite popular and for good reason. Hemp milk is more digestible than cow milk, has omega 3’s and 6’s, it’s rich in vitamin E and helps boost your immune system. So the next time you’re sitting down for a bowl of cereal, consider trying some hemp milk.

Other superfoods include: almonds, apricot, amaranth, apples, artichoke, avocado and asparagus. And that’s just the letter A!

Interested in more guidance for living a healthy life?  Get in touch with our wellness coach here!

Build a Positive Relationship With Cooking

Have you ever felt so completely into a meal that you wanted to savor each indulgent bite for ages? A meal so enriching and delectable that it it delights not only your taste buds, but your soul as well. This is the kind of experience that calls for eyes half-closed in a dreamy state and a sweet smile on your lips as you slowly taste, smell, chew and enjoy your food.

Think about what it would feel like to eat this way. How would the food taste as it reaches your tongue? How enticing would the aroma be as it wafts through the house? Would you eat this meal quickly, scarfing it down without so much as tasting it, or would you take your time and finish it when you’re truly satisfied?

With all of the convenient options and boxed meals available nowadays, so many of us have lost the sacred art of preparing meals by hand and enjoying them mindfully while seated at the table. When you cook meals yourself, you are taking the time to connect with your food on a deeper level. You have the ability to taste it as you go, smell the delicious spices you’ve used, and have complete control over the quality of ingredients. Chopping vegetables and mincing herbs can be a meditation in itself.

Body + Mind + Soul + Spirit = You card isolated

When you have a positive relationship with cooking, and make meal preparation a mindful activity, you make it feel more special–more sacred. You can infuse your food with love and healing thoughts of nourishment while it simmers on the stovetop, for example. Creating a positive environment around your food, especially when it comes to eating, makes it a safe and enjoyable space. Unfortunately a lot of people are more concerned with counting calories or staying away from carbs, which causes us to fall out of touch with listening to our body and nourishing it on all levels.

That’s where the power of mind-body affirmations and mindful eating comes in to the equation. Imagine that you are about to eat your favorite not-so-healthy dessert. What do you tell yourself before you take the first bite? Many of us would have already begun to berate or punish ourselves for eating something that we know isn’t good for us, even before we take that first bite. This constant negativity and stress around food and punishing ourselves for indulging is what causes us to have an imbalanced relationship with food, which can lead to weight gain, emotional stress, eating disorders, and even worse conditions (Have an issue with one of these disorders? Our art therapist can help).

While you shouldn’t indulge in unhealthy foods too often, tearing yourself apart and causing your body even more stress isn’t going to make that food any better for you. Indulging occasionally is soothing for the soul, but the best way to heal yourself in the food realm is to utilize positive mind-body affirmations before eating your food. You can make meal preparation sacred, positive and fun by playing music, simply thinking positive thoughts as you cook, or other creative therapies.

Another great way to make your dining experience uplifting is to eat at the table. Sit with your feet firmly planted on the ground so that you have good posture. You can light candles or decorate your table with fresh, local wildflowers for a visually appealing meal if you wish. Before you begin to eat, use your senses to engage all that is in front of you, ready to nourish your body, mind and soul. Smell the food and try to notice each scent from the spices or herbs you used. Plate your meal beautifully and use a variety of whole foods for an array of vitamins and minerals that also look nice when displayed. Maybe even taste a small sample from your fingertip. Take these moments to be mindful and associate positivity with your meal.

I encourage you to always practice gratitude at mealtime. Think of the farmer who grew such juicy produce or the earth and appreciate this bounty of whole foods. Now take a quiet moment to breathe deeply and become one with this experience. There are many different affirmations you can recite, whether in your head or aloud, but choose one that fits for you at that particular moment. You can find some examples to help build a positive relationship with cooking listed below:

  • This meal is going to nourish my body and supply nutrients, vitamins and minerals so that my skin glows
  • I am thankful for this spread of food that will heal my digestion, uplift my spirit and satisfy me on all levels
  • I infuse this meal with abundant and healing love so that I may feel energized and recharged
  • I know that my body will assimilate and utilize these nutrients as I need them
  • I indulge in this food, but I know that on occasion that is perfectly okay
  • I choose to consume this meal in a mindful and peaceful manner for optimal healing

If you are going to consume something that is considered more of an indulgence, like the dessert mentioned above, don’t beat yourself up over it. Simply accept that you are choosing this food and say an affirmation such as “I allow my body to have delicious treats on occasion and in moderation because I nourish myself on all levels.” This doesn’t mean that you can make poor eating choices and simply say an affirmation beforehand to excuse it, but every now and then, we all deserve a treat. If you make healthy choices most of the time, you are doing your body wonders.

Having a positive relationship with cooking and a mindfulness around food are incredibly beneficial and will allow you to become more in tune with yourself. When this happens, you will rely more on nature to heal you in the form of fresh, tasty whole foods. The next time you sit down to a meal, close your eyes and just be in that moment. Taste your food, chew it extremely well and breathe deeply in between each bite to prevent overeating. Mindfulness will connect you to your spirit and improve your digestion and ability to detect when you are actually full.

So take this time to play with your food, infuse it with love, and create a positive relationship with cooking. Enjoy!

How Yoga Helps to Relieve Depression

*Depression and other mental health issues are serious and should be evaluated by a professional. For counseling in Indianapolis or Greenwood, call Sunstone Health & Wellness today.

Today’s post is the second in a 4-part series on how yoga can help with depression.  It is brought to you by guest blogger, Jennifer Minchin.  Jen is a yogi, constant explorer, and lover of the written word.

People worldwide suffer from depression and its incidence is on the rise. In many cases, depression and stress go hand-in-hand. If you just look around at how over stimulated people are today, it’s no wonder. Thanks to technology, you’re always accessible, you’re constantly being hit with more information that anyone can possibly digest, and that’s just life with your smart phone.

Chronic stress can do incredible damage to your body starting with your sympathetic nervous system. That’s the one that kick starts your “fight or flight” system and releases the hormone cortisol. If cortisol is chronically high, it can do some real damage to your body, including a lowered immune system, gastrointestinal disorders, endocrine system disorders and cardiovascular issues. And since everything in our bodies is interconnected, you can bet the damage doesn’t just stop there. Chronic stress can also reach out to your limbic system causing memory damage. All of this, and it can cause or worsen your depression. Many findings show that people suffering from depression have higher levels on cortisol, which is a stress hormone.

How can we take back our health and our mental wellness? For one, studies have shown that yoga can have a measurable impact on those with depression, even after just one class. Just what makes yoga so good for depression?

Yoga helps in several ways. It asks that you focus on your breathing, which calms your system and lowers adrenaline. As you move through your yoga practice, one of the goals is to focus on your breath and try to keep it as calm and steady in the hardest poses as it is in the easy poses. It also gives your mind something to focus on instead of the hundreds of thoughts that are constantly running through your head. Steadying your breath can also lower your heart rate.

The opening and closing chants that sometimes take place also help to lower your heart rate and blood pressure. One study showed that participants had their lowest heart rate of the day while chanting. (Not into chanting? Why not sing in the car or the shower? It’s the vibrations that do a body good.)

Certain poses activate your parasympathetic nervous system, helping your body to relax. Your parasympathetic nervous system is your rest and digest system. It’s the opposite of the sympathetic and it’s the one that is active when you are calm. Cortisol levels are lower when you’re in “rest and digest” mode.

Yoga releases muscle tension. If you’re upset or stressed, your muscles tense. Releasing that tension automatically helps to relax the body. That’s why massages feel so good! The stretching and lengthening of your muscles in yoga has that same relaxing affect.

Tension isn’t the only thing that your muscles store—a lot of emotion is also held deep within your muscle tissue. Certain yoga poses can even trigger deep-seated feelings and you may find yourself in a pose, suddenly crying or completely elated. So, a regular yoga can also help you work through things that are stored beneath the surface.

Like anything, the effects of yoga are cumulative, so if you can really stick with it, you’ll definitely see lasting results.

If you are so someone you know is depressed or looking for counseling in Indianapolis or Greenwood areas, contact us to learn how we can help.