It’s National Mental Health Month, so what is mental health?

May 4th, 2021

Spring is here! It has brought with it flowers, green grass, beautiful weather, sunshine, and allergies. I hope you have been enjoying all things spring, except the allergies! Mental health is a pretty heavy topic, but I will do my best to keep it light and provide helpful and practical tips to maintain good mental health each week this month. Maintaining good mental health is a vital component to self-care. Let’s dive right into all things mental health, beginning with defining it. *As someone who has struggled at times with mental health, let me warn you that this is a sensitive and sometimes difficult topic to discuss. I promise to be as transparent as possible and give you solid information.

Mental health refers to an individual’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being according to mentalhealth.gov. Our mental health affects how we think, how we behave, and how we feel about ourselves (our mood). Our mental health influences how we deal with stress, interact with others, and the choices we make every day. Your mental health is impacted by your genes, your family history, and your life experiences. Mental health problems are common, but the good news is your mental health can be improved.

We are all probably familiar with the terms depression, PTSD, and anxiety. These terms have become buzz words in the news and on social media over the last year and, because of events over the past year, has helped raise awareness of mental health issues. I have personally battled depression and anxiety at different times in my life. With the help of professionals, a great support system and developing skills to help shift my mindset, I am able to maintain good mental health and recover quickly from any pitfalls that I incur along my journey. I do not make that statement flippantly or to pat myself on the back, I say this to encourage you if you are in the midst of a struggle that you can get through this. Will it be easy? Definitely not, but it is so worth it! Do not misunderstand me! I know firsthand it is a challenge and if you feel like it is too much to deal with alone, then reach out for help. There is no shame in asking for help. No one person is a master at everything in life and we all need help at one time or another. If you need help finding resources available to you, reach out to me, do a google search, or ask a pastor or doctor, just please do not remain silent. Let me be clear, I am not a mental health professional but I can help you find a professional in your area.

I want to thank you for reading this week, whether this is the first time or you are a loyal subscriber. This topic is near and dear to my heart as mental health problems have affected those close to me. I look forward to the rest of the month as we will cover how to recognize the warning signs in yourself and others, ways to get and stay mentally healthy, and ideas on how to develop your own routine to maintain good mental health.

I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Stress – create your plan to manage it!

April 27th, 2021

Let’s review what we have discovered so far this month…first we learned what stress is, how to identify it and found out that it is meant to help us survive, as long as it doesn’t turn into chronic stress, and last week we learned about the effects stress has on our bodies. Wow – we have covered a lot of ground so far this month! Today we are going to explore how to manage our stress, by discovering different ways to cope in stressful situations, and set ourselves up with a plan to succeed in the battle against chronic stress. A Winston Churchill quote keeps coming up in my mind is simple but true: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

I am astonished that healthy methods for coping with stress are not taught today. Think about it for a minute. We are under stress more now than we have been in over 35 years, all ages of society are impacted daily by stress out of our control and yet we are not taught how to cope with it in a positive manner. Stress is rarely mentioned as a problem, instead it is accepted as an everyday reality that we must “suffer through” until we die. Not a very optimistic outlook, is it? Let’s change our mindset and create a plan to deal with stress in a positive way that will improve our quality of lives and the lives of those around us!

I am going to separate the activities into two categories: physical and mental.

  • Physical coping mechanism ideas: exercise, run outside, spend time with your pets/animals, volunteer at church or local charity, spend time with family and friends, attend a concert, cooking, gardening, or watching live sports.
  • Mental coping mechanism ideas:  meditation, journaling, goal visualization, sleep (if you are lacking it), goal setting, deep breathing exercises, prayer, mindset shift, positive self-talk, create plan/list to change habits or meal planning.

The lists are truly endless but is a good starting point of ideas. The key is to find an activity that you enjoy, can do and have time to include in your routine. What other ideas do you have that I did not include? Would it be helpful to list these activities on my website for you to reference and continue to add to the list? Let me know your thoughts and I can make the list happen as it’s own page and add your ideas to the list!

I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Stress – the effects it has on your body

April 20th, 2021

How is everyone’s week going? I woke up this morning to a taste of winter with snow and cold temperatures. Winter is not my favorite season, and I can’t wait until more spring-like conditions return. Today we are going to discover the effects stress can have on our bodies. Hopefully, this will further illustrate the importance of developing a plan to manage your stress instead of letting your stress manage your life.

Last week we learned about the fight or flight stress response and how some activities of the body shut down in order to give that energy to saving our lives. Have you ever thought what other changes stress causes to your body? Let’s break it down according to systems as explained in the book, “Why zebras don’t get ulcers.”

  • Cardiovascular – heart rate is faster, some major arteries constrict (causing a rise in blood pressure), and your kidneys pause so that water can be reabsorbed into the circulatory system. Crazy, huh? I learn something new every day!
  • Metabolism – storage of energy in fat cells stops, the body uses this energy and also begins to use stored energy to aid in your crisis. Sounds great right? Not so fast! This process is not efficient as you have wasted potential energy during this process. You can also lose muscle due to the constant break down of proteins.
  • Digestive – as we have already discussed, digestion is shut down during stress. Ulcers (gastric, esophageal, and peptic), stomach contractions, colitis, irritable bowels, and a change in appetite are just a few of the negative effects that stress can have on our digestive system.

*Chronic stress, which is unchecked, unmanaged, ongoing stress, can lead to cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, muscle atrophy and even diabetes.

I know I have asked these questions several times already and will continue to ask them, because I believe they are that important: Do you understand the importance of developing a plan to manage your stress? Have you created your stress plan?

Do you have questions on today’s topic or suggestions for future blogs? Send me a message and I promise a response!

I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Stress – what it looks like and can it be helpful?

April 13th, 2021

I hope you are having a great start to your week! In today’s post we are going to find out what stress looks like and I will share with you what I have been discovering in the book titled, “Why zebras don’t get ulcers,” and how this is relevant to our lives.

As we identified last week, stress is a demand for change. Today we will look at one of the most basic and primal responses to stress: fight or flight. The fight or flight decision is a response to a physical threat or stressor. Pretty simple right? This response is essential, and we need that rush of adrenaline to help us survive when we are in danger. Example: If you are in Africa and being chased by a rhinoceros, you have a decision to make – stop and fight the animal or run for your life. Most likely you will run for your life. Your adrenaline will kick in and fuel your body to move your muscles to aid in your attempt to outrun the animal and live another day.

Let’s dig deeper. If all or most of our energy is going to outrun the immediate threat, where do we take that energy from? Our bodies stop/slow some functions in order to give that energy to help us move. Are you with me? For instance, when we are running for our lives, digesting our lunch and growing our hair are not our main concerns, so these activities are put on hold. Make sense? These non-essential (at-the-moment) activities will resume when we are out of danger and our fight or flight stress response is no longer active. The problem comes when we are in a constant state of stress and our body never gets to recover. When this happens, we can experience weight fluctuation, hormone imbalance, fatigue and even decreased immunity. All of that sounds no good to me!

Did you know that humans can make up and cause their own stress response without the presence of an actual threat? Anxiety and worry trigger our stress response. While reading, “Why zebras don’t get ulcers,” this line stuck out to me and actually caused me to stop, reread and highlight it because it is that good! “If you repeatedly turn on the stress-response, or if you cannot appropriately turn off the stress-response at the end of a stressful event, the stress-response can eventually become nearly as damaging as some stressors themselves.” Read that again. How important is a plan to manage your stress – essential! This week begin to identify instances when you create stress and how/if you recover from it. This will help you begin to develop your stress management plan!

I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Stress! What’s that?

April 6th, 2021

April is stress awareness month! This may be a little bit of a review of the March 9th blog, but I promise to add new information as well.

Stress, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is constraining force or influence, also strain or pressure. Well that sound about right! According to The American Institute of Stress, (no, I’m not making that up as it actually exists!) we owe credit for the current use of the word to Hans Selve, defined as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” That is a fairly broad definition! According to this “standard,” I guess we all handle stress well overall. Every day we experience the demand for change, most of us probably experience a demand for change several times a day. We commonly refer to this as being flexible and if you are not Type-A personality this may be easy for you to cope with while it could be a struggle for others, like myself.

As we go through life, only one thing is for certain and that is change. The seasons change, day turns into night and vice versa, people grow older, etc. Because life is full of change, we must learn to adapt or deal with the change/stress that will most certainly be thrown our way. This is when we must learn to pick our battles wisely and recognize that all change is not bad. Those of you that know me in real life are most likely laughing right now and saying remember to practice what you are teaching. I will admit I am a work in progress and am often reminded that change is not as devastating as I may initially think. I am always striving to become a better version of the person I was yesterday; it’s called growth and ultimately it is change. This is a change for the better.

Think of it this way, babies are expected to change. We can’t wait for them to say their first word, to crawl, to take their first step, for them to begin eating new food and the list goes on and on. Why is change expected and acceptable for them but not us? I know I just stepped on some toes because that hit me too! It is all about mindset and perspective. Do you regularly look at situations from several viewpoints before reacting/responding?

I recently took a webinar on mindset. This presenter asked us to take a quiz to figure out where we are in our mindset journey. I was a little shocked to realize that I was in the category of being able to be a mindset coach as I believe I have more work to do in this area. I realized that it comes more naturally for me to help others change their mindset/perspective than it is for me to apply those principles to my own life. I challenge you to work on your mindset (mental attitude) this week alongside me and take note of how it influences those around you.

I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Feed your Brain!

March 30th, 2021

Try this blueberry balsamic glazed salmon sheet pan meal for an easy and tasty meal that is packed with brain healthy foods such as salmon and blueberries! I find trying new recipes to be a learning adventure, sometimes it turns out amazing and other times you learn that a recipe is just not for you. I can not wait to hear your feedback on this, let me know what you think and if it is a keeper recipe or a failure.

Speaking of recipes, have you started to formulate your recipe for brain health. We covered a lot of tips to help you protect your brain, which ones have you tried? Are they easy for you to implement into your lifestyle or are they a huge chore? I’m asking several questions, because I want to know if this is helpful for you and what results you are seeing!

I see good health as a journey, not a destination. I will not wake up one day and say I have arrived, there is nothing else I can do to improve my health! Please understand that this is a positive mindset and by viewing it in this manner, it takes the pressure off you. Give yourself grace in this process/journey. If you view it as a destination, you can put unrealistic expectation of perfection on yourself. You should have goals along the way. Maybe one of your goals is to move your body 30 minutes every day or meditate for 15 minutes every morning. Do yourself a favor and start with small, achievable, and realistic steps. Have the goal of adding one healthy food to or removing one “less healthy” food from your diet, instead of eating healthy 24/7. Do you see the different approach? Always set yourself up for success!

Speaking of success, I am taking a small step to better mental health by celebrating achievements regardless of how big or small they are. I want you to celebrate with be as I announce two new trusted partners as of the past week: Tea-Biotics Kombucha and Happy Door custom wreaths. I love the products from these vendors and am excited to highlight them on my website. Head on over to http://www.rockstarmassagellc.com to check out my trusted partners. Another victory? My schedule is looking very busy the next few months.  I’m gathering several interesting sources for my course on all things stress related. I am looking forward to sharing essential information about stress and helpful tips manage it.

I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Tips to protect your brain.

March 23rd, 2021

I have told you about the importance of protecting your brain, feeding it correctly and what happens to it during the aging process. This week we take a look at how we can protect our brains moving forward and set ourselves up for a bright future.

We live an amazing age of information! It is available quickly and easily. The following information comes from several web searches and Dr Sears books.

  1. We all understand that in order to stay in good physical shape we need to exercise on a regular basis as well as maintain a healthy diet. The same is true for our brains – we need to do mental exercises to keep our brains sharp! Here is a partial list of mental exercises/activities: reading, memory games, going to classes and playing a musical instrument. Physical exercise has also shown to form new neural connections, so maybe try a new fitness or dance class to get your body moving and have fun at the same time.
  2. Get regular checkups for your cardiovascular health. Studies show there is a link between cardiovascular problems (ie high blood pressure and diabetes) and dementia/Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Keep your blood sugar under control. For the same reason as #2. A study from the University of Washington showed that a Diabetes diagnosis was not necessary to increase the risk of dementia/Alzheimer’s, just high blood sugar levels increase your risk.
  4. Wear a helmet when riding a bike, riding a motorcycle, skiing, and participating in similar activities.
  5. Limit your stress and get an adequate amount of sleep. I am creating an entire course on stress that I hope to release before summer.
  6. Protect your hearing and avoid social isolation. Wow! Hello 2020 and the ‘Rona. Social isolation and loneliness can increase your risk of problems with thought processes.
  7. Talk to your pharmacist. Some medications can increase your risk of the above-mentioned problems. Your pharmacist and doctor will be able to check for interactions and answer questions/concerns you may have about any of the medications that you are taking. They will also be able to help you determine if there are any other options that may have a lower risk.

I hope you find this information helpful and easy to apply to your life. You do not have to tackle all of the steps today. Spread them out over a few weeks or months. We are striving for progress, not perfection. I am so glad you tuned in this week for my blog! Do you have a friend or family member that could benefit from this blog? Tell them to subscribe!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Go fish!

March 16th, 2021

I am going out on a limb and assuming that we all want to protect our brains, right? We only get one and I, personally, want mine to last as long as possible. You are probably nodding your head and saying, well, duh Lacey! You may be wondering what steps we can take to improve brain health. No? Well, I’m going to be sharing with you ways to feed your brain and keep it healthy, because this is my blog and this is an important subject that literally applies to everyone. Stick with me to learn a few interesting facts and I might even tell a story or two.

Did you know that of all of our organs, it’s the brain that is most effected by the foods we eat? I didn’t until I read “Prime-Time Health” by Dr Sears. His research tells us that the brain uses about a quarter of the food energy we consume. This is mostly carbs, which is why he emphasizes the importance of a diet full of the “right” carbs. Fun fact: the brain is 60 percent fat and, according to Dr Sears, it needs to be the right kind of fat.

Are you still with me? I struggled with these concepts because we have been told over and over that fat and carbs are evil and should be avoided to ensure good health. Go back and reread the previous paragraph. We are talking about the “right” kinds of fat and carbs, not chips and all things fried. Oh, that hurts! This is not a personal attack on anyone and I am not judging you at all. I am the first one in line for Taco Tuesday and do enjoy chips with my sandwich for lunch. This is about making wise choices and, for me, it’s about moderation. I have carrots with my sandwich and chips for lunch. This provides a serving of vegetables and I do not eat as many chips since I am adding carrots to the meal. Simple enough, right? What other foods can you swap or add to make your meals a better source of the nutrients that our bodies and brains need to function?

We have probably all heard of Omega-3s and that we need to add more to our diet. Do you know why? Several sources tell us that Omega-3s help regrow aging brain cells. Pretty cool, huh? I can eat, which I love to do, and regrow brain cells? I’m totally in! Go Fish! As in eat more fish, especially Salmon. The quality of your food is important and wild caught fish is the best. It is recommended to avoid swordfish and shark, for seniors. I like to make tuna salad, with pickle relish and a tiny bit of miracle whip, using canned light tuna as this is the healthiest option for canned tuna. You can also add hard-boiled egg to it if you would like. Dr Sears recommends eating more of the cold water fish and fish from the Pacific Ocean as it likely contains less biopullutants.

There are more brain healthy foods we will talk about next week. I challenge you to up your intake of cold-water fish, if it is possible and safe for you or to find a good fish oil supplement. As always, I look forward to your feedback!

Have a blessed week ~ Lacey

Stressed?

March 9th, 2021

I am going to go out on a limb and assume that everyone deals with stress, especially in today’s crazy world. From adjusted work schedules and working at home to having to remember your mask, maintaining social distance and meeting family over video feed instead of in person, this past year has given us higher than normal stress levels. What differences have you noticed in your mind and body that points to higher stress level? Headaches, weight gain, depression, and lethargy can all be signs that you need to re-evaluate your stress level and implement new coping methods.

According to Dr Sears’ book, Prime-Time Health, the body needs balance. He mentions an interesting fact about stress hormones: we need the right levels circulating in our bodies. If we have too little, our bodies can become weak and slow, whereas, if we have too much, we can become sick and fat.

What! The fact that we need stress in our lives to be healthy is also comforting to me as I find the goal of being stress free as unattainable. We do not need to eliminate stress completely, just keep it at a manageable level! You are probably saying that is great Lacey, but how? I am so glad you asked! First, I am going to ask you if you can recognize your source of stress. Next, I am going to ask if you are ready to put in the work to change it. If your answers to either of these questions are no, then you need to spend time in self-reflection and learning to listen to your body as well as finding your “why” for the change. If your answers are yes and you are serious about changing your life, I suggest signing up for one or both of my free courses and/or personal health coaching.

You may be thinking that since stress is a part of everyone’s life, is there a reason or reasons to gain control of it and manage it? Yes! There are several. I could list many reasons that stress is not good for you, but the only one that matters is the one that will end up being your why. You can google the effects of stress or ask me or order Dr Sears book, “Prime-Time Health.”

Wow! I have given you a lot of information and asked several questions. I will let you think about this and answer any questions you may have in the meantime. I am in the process of developing a class that dives deeper into all things stress. The reason I started this blog was to highlight self-care and its importance. Stress has been a huge obstacle in my life and learning to deal with it is a continuous process that I am still navigating my way through.

I can’t wait to hear from you about your self-care journey and your understanding of stress and its effects on your life. I also can’t wait to hear how you overcome stress and use it to your benefit. I look forward to meeting you back here next Tuesday! Have a blessed week filled with sunshine and spring-like temperatures.

~ Lacey

Is that spring I see around the corner?

March 1st, 2021

I have chosen monthly themes for every month moving forward to provide a little structure and be able to give you practical ways to enhance your life within the theme for the month. We are starting with a serious topic that hits close to home for me. Brain injuries look different across the spectrum, from concussions to severe open/closed head injuries.

Your brain health is not only affected by concussions and injuries but also by your overall health. I’m sure you have heard the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Accidents are not always preventable, but there are precautions you can take to protect your brain from injury and keep it in good health. According to Dr. Sears book Prime-Time Health, the following happen if you do not take care of you brain:

~ brains shrink

~ brain traffic slows

~ struggle with repair

~ become stressed out

None of this sounds like fun. Ready for some good news? There are steps you can take to keep your brain healthy, such as:

~ eat smart foods

~ steer clear of additives

~ exercise

~ keep calm

These are easy concepts in theory but challenging in practice. Do you want some more good news? There are small steps you can take today (literally) to begin your journey to keeping your brain healthy! Make a commitment today to a new healthy practice for 30 days and see if you notice a difference. It could be to move your body 30 minutes every day, research smart foods to add to your diet, read food labels to steer clear of additives, eat real foods, or practice deep breathing exercise and/or meditation. Pick just one thing to change and stick with it. Here is a tip: pick an exercise or movement that you actually enjoy, so it will be something that you look forward to and stick with for more than a day or week.

Do you learn something new today? What change are you committed to for the next 30 days? Need accountability? I look forward to your feedback and finding out how I can help you in your self-care journey. Enjoy the sunshine and more spring-like temperatures in the coming weeks!

~ Lacey

Life with Lacey

Self-care is not selfish, but very necessary!