Tag Archives: stress

People may need people and a sense of purpose for health and happiness

People and other species are social creatures whose survival may have been dependent on being part of a group rather than being isolated. Loneliness has been associated with increased inflammation and a reduced resistance to infection by viral diseases. Genetic changes have been found to occur in isolated individuals that lead to the increased inflammatory response in comparison to individuals who have more social support. Our instincts have developed to trust that being part of a group increases our chance of survival. Having a role that fulfills a valued purpose for the group is associated with an increased sense of happiness.

Fitting into groups well can take social skills that need to be nurtured from birth. Infants learn body language at an early age by interacting with a parent who responds to the baby’s cues. If the baby smiles the mother smiles back and the baby learns to smile more readily. If the baby has a mother that doesn’t notice body language though, then the infant may stop smiling as often. Infants and children depend on their caregivers for everything and try to please with their smiles, eye contact, or baby coos. If the infant isn’t receiving eye contact in return however they may stop trying or are scolded they may learn to look away and to avoid eye contact.

Children ideally need emotional support in order to develop trust in themselves and in others. Parents who have limited skills in understanding and accepting their own emotions may not be able to teach their children what they don’t understand themselves. Children who have some role model in their lives who understands emotional skills may cope better than children who don’t.

The topic is discussed in more detail in the book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents, by Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD, (New Harbinger Pub., Inc., 2015, Oaklnad, CA) [1] (This book is not a twelve step book and is not affiliated with the Adult Children of Alcoholic or Dysfunctional Parents twelve step group.) An excerpt from page 108:

“Why is emotional connection so crucial?

According to neuroscientist Stephen Porges (2011), mammals have evolved a unique coping instinct in which they are calmed by proximity or engagement with others. Instead of just having the involuntary stress reactions of fight, flight, or freeze, like reptiles do, mammals can calm their heart rate and reduce the physical costs of stress by seeking reassuring contact with others of their kind. Certain vagus nerve pathways in mammals have evolved to allow stress hormones and heart rate to be reduced by confronting in such forms as physical closeness, touch, soothing sounds, and even eye contact. These calming effects conserve valuable energy and also create pleasurable social bonds that promote strong groups.

For all mammals, including humans, something magical happens when this desire to seek comfort switches on. The danger might not go away, but individuals can stay relatively calm as long as they feel tied into their herd, pack, or circle of loved ones. Most mammals have stressful lives, but thanks to their instinct for engaging with others, calming comfort and restored energy are just a friendly contact away. This gives mammals a tremendous advantage over other animals when it comes to dealing with stress in an energy-efficient way, since they don’t have to go into fight, flight, or freeze every time they sense a threat.” [1]

So a sense of connection to others can help reduce the negative inflammatory effects of the stress response. Some stress can be healthy to help get us moving to meet whatever challenge has occurred. Stress may become more overwhelming however if the person is isolated or never learned social skills or trust enough to ask for help or seek out help. Children in situations with emotionally immature caregivers may learn that people around them can’t be trusted or that trying doesn’t lead to success so why bother trying — they can learn  a sense of helplessness and hopelessness rather than finding strength from others.

The book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents, by Lindsay C. Gibson [1] describes  four different types of emotionally immature caregivers, how growing up with them might affect children and how the children might overcome the lessons they learned later in life as adults who only just discovered that emotions aren’t dangerous things to never be discussed or worse that one might be punished for exhibiting. Some emotionally immature people may feel threatened by strong emotions and may react negatively to children who are simply being children. The child in that situation learns to not trust themselves and may not learn that emotions are normal rather than upsetting or frightening.

Severe childhood trauma can lead to changes in the brain that cause ongoing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A new strategy for treating PTSD has been developed which involves electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve called Vagal nerve stimulation (VNS).  Which the excerpt from the book [1]  suggests is the nerve pathway that naturally is stimulated when social contact is sought during a stressful situation.

Stress and trauma have been too readily available lately. More police officers were shot today in the U.S. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three are injured, one critically, and three officers were killed Sunday morning. The gunman was a former marine who drove there from his home in Missouri. The gunman was killed at the scene. Further information about his possible motives are not known at this time. Whether there were any accomplices is not known but it is believed he was a lone gunman and there has been no further shooting in the area.

My condolences and best wishes to the families, friends, and coworkers of the slain officers, may they rest in peace, and to the community of Baton Rouge

Emotionally immature parents may raise emotionally immature children who grow up to raise their own emotionally immature children. Help break the trauma cycle by reading the book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents, by Lindsay C. Gibson [1]. Whether you are a parent or a teen or an adult learning more about emotional maturity and immaturity can help understand your own emotions and others. Whatever we grow up with will seem normal to us and as adults we tend to seek out similar relationships to those we were familiar with as children — but sometimes what seems normal to some people isn’t normal for everyone else and there is no need to continue living in abusive situations just because it seemed like a normal part of life as a child.

Lack of emotional skills may increase the risk of acting inappropriately when under severe stress. People need the support of people to help reduce negative effects of stress and increase a sense of connection and purpose. People need to learn emotional skills from people who have emotional skills  — or sometimes from a book. [1]

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Stress, Nature, and What 13 Countries are saying about U.S. politics; a link

You can learn a lot by listening to other people. Hard lessons learned, ideals to follow and ideals to disavow, and who likes who and who doesn’t; the following link is to a long article but one that is well worth reading, if only to find out which country is the lone wolf:

Stress can be stressful, [1], a walk in a natural setting [2] or even looking at images of nature has been found to help reduce stress levels — more than taking a walk in a busy urban setting,[3] suggesting that while exercise has health benefits, exposure to nature also has health benefits.


I do care about preventing nuclear war and racism and about not inciting bullying or nuclear war or racism — I care a lot about that.

I didn’t find the older post about nature walks but thank goodness there’s a search engine and the internet.

An excerpt from the link I did find amongst my old posts, paraphrased for brevity:

People more vulnerable to the negative health effects of stress include: older adults, mothers and especially working mothers, less educated individuals, divorced or widowed individuals, people with financial concerns or lack of health insurance, isolated or lonely people, people who are targets of racial or sexual discrimination, and people who live in cities. [1, “Stress,” University of Maryland Medical Center]

Also from that link, having a history of childhood trauma can leave the adult with more risk to feeling stress.

Taking a closer look at nature may help relieve stress.

Taking a closer look at nature may help relieve stress.

You can learn a lot by listening to other people — not always easy to do or pleasant to listen to, but useful if only to learn what not to do or who to avoid listening to or associating with in the future — if possible.

Hazing sets the bad example for our children that bullying is acceptable if everyone or a majority of those in power don’t like the person or the group of people and it’s a bad example for our country’s reputation as a democracy who values individuals as a mixture of both positive and negative traits. Strengths and weaknesses is what adds variety to life and variety to life’s lessons.

dew drop 543

Dewdrops in spring greenery, (Sedum, Autumn Joy).

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and  the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

River thoughts; and a nonprofit working to remove old dams, a link; and an agency for moms and children, WIC links

Be like a river, go with the flow,

It’s less stressful to ride out the turbulence of life.

But maintenance of infrastructure or removal of obsolete structures can also help decrease the risk of turbulence occurring: A nonprofit organization has been successfully working to identify obsolete dams and safely remove them from rivers throughout America. Which opens the flowing river to wildlife like otters and also helps protect communities from the risk of flooding if the dam fails, as is likely when maintenance and repair is no longer occurring. [http://www.americanrivers.org/]

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, grandmothers and great, greats, out there — and to Mother Nature too, we are all her children.

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”
Rainer Maria Rilke .

“I like geography best, he said, because your mountains & rivers know the secret. Pay no attention to boundaries.”
Brian Andreas, Story People: Selected Stories & Drawings of Brian Andreas .

“We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.”
David Brower .


“The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.”  – Jessica Lange
To become a mother is not hard, to be a mother is.”  -from a magnet that I kept in my office at WIC.
The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is an education, health screening and referral program for infants and children up to age five and for pregnant and early postpartum women. Monthly food vouchers are also provided to income eligible participants. The health screening and education is required for participation in addition to being income eligible. The program is for working class families, the income guidelines are 185% of the poverty line, which is also the guideline for eligibility for reduced price school lunches. Agencies are usually based in a county health department with smaller off site locations held in other community buildings or medical clinics.
Call for more information. The goal is to reduce stress and improve health of young children and their caregivers. Fathers and other types of caregivers with custody of children under age five can check on their child’s eligibility for participation in the program also. Past research has found that each dollar spent on the WIC program saved three dollars in Medicaid spending. Go with the flow of life but advice and help is also helpful to reduce the risk of turbulence from occurring.

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and  the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

If elected President I would also be very surprised

As a citizen over the age 35 and born to U.S. citizens I have a right to run for elected office but my health was never that good and it got worse. Being President always seems to turn the President’s hair white – that can be an affect of stress as well as aging. [1]

So while I care a lot my skill set is not well-rounded and my health leaves me with difficulties finding food that I can tolerate and leaves me sick if I’m in the sun very long or get overheated – so traveling in southern areas would be even more difficult for me.

And then there’s the alleged issues that no one is supposed to talk about – making it difficult to talk about me – as the alleged issue that no one is supposed to talk about.

I apologize for having had mental health symptoms in the privacy of my home and a few other places and for writing about them online – likely painful to experience even by proxy.  I apologize for having other issues in the privacy of my home and a few other places and for writing about them online – also likely painful or uncomfortable to experience even from afar.

Filing with FEC was primarily to show that I have always been serious about the need for change in the nutritional care of our public and for compromise among the parties. But I also recognized a long time ago that I had been mistaken about my abilities, I may be willing but I may not be able to keep up with the demands of such a difficult job – I would try because it is important and I would seek skilled help but even that would be difficult for me as I don’t have an established network of contacts already in place.

Government work is often hard work and frequently very important to stuff like water pipes – boring stuff that may seem minor until it goes wrong.

So I may not be a typical candidate, or an ideal candidate, but I care and I do learn from my mistakes and from advice. I may not always follow advice but guidance is helpful. I have two dogs that I love very much and share loving and caring for them with someone else. I’ve been working towards changing my own situation but my health was a significant problem and loving the dogs is a joy.

It would actually be a huge relief to file a termination report with FEC, I almost did it once already but it wouldn’t have counted because it was a paper form and I have to file electronically because that is how I began the process. it is a process – don’t try it at home is good advice because the directions to fill out the forms are miles long – not quite, but lengthy, and there can be penalties and fees if you’re late or fail to file something that you had overlooked in the fine print.  Hug a Treasurer – they deserve some kudos.

  1. Stress is to blame for grey hairs,” by Hayley Dixon, June 11, 2013, [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/10112656/Stress-is-to-blame-for-grey-hairs.html]
  2. Myocardial infarction (MI) and nutrient deficiency info, not quite what I was looking for but interesting – and about magnesium, l-carnitine, antioxidants and B vitamins helping reduce risk of death if used during early stages of MI, the search engine found experimental stem cell treatment is included as well: “Novel Treatment Measures of Myocardial Infarction: A Review,” P. K. Dhakad, et al, (2015)  [http://www.idosi.org/aejts/7(2)15/2.pdf]
  3. Also not quite what I was looking for but also a bonus search engine treasure – blue green algae helps detoxify heavy metals like lead, Excerpt: “Some of the free amino acid peptides found in AFA may be responsible for helping to detoxify our bodies of heavy metals. Dr. Gillian McKeith reports in her booklet Miracle Superfood: Wild Blue-Green Algae that in her clinical experience AFA algae has been effective in chelating (removing) dangerous, toxic heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. She recommends consuming 0.21 to 0.35 ounces to AFA blue-green algae daily for severe cases of heavy-metal toxicity.” AFA = Aphanizomenon flos-aqua (AFA) blue-green algae, And it may help protect against HIV and Ebola virus by interfering with their ability to enter human cells – an excerpt: “Researches have discovered that a blue-green algae protein reduces the ability of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) AND Ebola virus. The antiviral protein, known as cyanovirin-N (CV-N) can extend the survival time of the Ebola-infected mice. There is currently no treatment for Ebola infection, which causes severe and often fatal hemorrhagic fever. “CV-N is extremely effective against a broad range of HIV strains” said Barry O’Keefe, PhD of NCI’s Centre for Cancer Research, one of the authors of the study. “CV-N is the first molecule known to inhibit Ebola infection by interfering with the virus’ ability to enter cells”.
    CV-N inhibits HIV and Ebola infection by binding to the outside of the virus and physically blocking it from entering healthy cells. The protein attaches to a particular sugar molecule on the virus surface.”  And it may help boost our natural stem cell production, an excerpt: “The rare, blue-coloured phycocyanin helps inhibit the growth of certain cancer colonies, reduces inflammation of the colitis, fights chronic inflammation, supports the liver, protects against free-radical damage, improves the production of neurotransmitters, and aids production of rejuvenating stem cells.” And a summary about a review of literature study: “…scientists affiliated with the University of Illinois. The team was composed of one board-certified forensic examiner and microbiologist, one surgeon, and three physicians. More than two hundred cases were reviewed in this study. The study concluded that AFA appears to be effective in treating various viral conditions, chronic fatigue, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), depression, inflammatory diseases and fibromyalgia. The study suggests that AFA acts on the immune and nervous systems and prevents inflammation.Studies done on AFA have demonstrated that it stimulates the migration of stem cells from the bone marrow into the blood and brain (mainly due to the actions of the blue pigment phycocyanin), stimulates white blood cells, and inhibits COX-2 activity, preventing inflammation and improving nervous-system health, as well as one’s overall mood.” Regarding how much might be an effective dose – it also helps mood while promoting weight loss at approximately 10 milligrams per day, excerpt: “Drapeau references a study in Primordial Food that indicates oral doses of PEA at the rate of 10 mg per day decreased symptoms of depression in 60 percent of the patients tested. In addition, PEA did not cause the patients to gain weight, as most people do with antidepressants; instead, they actually lost weight. AFA contains approximately 2 mg per gram of PEA. AFA concentrates are now available that contain 10mg of PEA per gram. PEA has no side effects; chemical dependency issues and tolerance limits over time (ie, doses may stay the same over long periods) are not a concern.
    PEA appears to be the primary active ingredient that inhibits appetite and helps people to lose weight when they consume AFA blue-green algae. In a double-blind crossover study involving human patients, supplementing the diets of obese outpatients with 2.8 grams of blue-green algae three times daily over a four week period resulted in a statistically significant reduction of body weight.”From: AFA Super Blue-Green Algae
    Primordial Food from Klamath Lake, Oregon., stemcellnutrition.net[ http://www.stemcellnutrition.net/afa-super-blue-green-algae]
  4. I was looking for information about B vitamins, magnesium and stem cells – I got lucky. Might be time for a spirulina drink, spirulina is the blue green algae that I’ve mentioned as a possible protection against radiation, likely most blue green algae have some similar nutrient benefits – quality of the company would be important though to avoid contaminants or toxins from bad water sources the article in [3] discusses safety of the Klamath Lake product – it is not selling a product though, it is just an article. I take some of the dry green powder in a capsule, but as I’m loading the empty capsules by hand, I then dip my green fingertips in my glass of water — it is a very pretty color of blue green and it tastes slightly sweet and very green like a barley grass green drink – so not really bad but not a root beer either.

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and  the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

See something, say something

Terror attacks attempt to divide us from each other by instilling distrust. We can fight back by continuing to trust each other and to work together. Belgium citizens and travelers suffered many deaths and casualties recently from bombs that were being carried by terrorists. Two of them are dead and a third man was apprehended the next day.

In the U.S. citizens have been encouraged to report anything that seems suspicious to the police and to then let them check into whether there is a concern, “See something, say something.” Living cautiously is not the same as living fearfully. Being watchful on a routine basis helps familiarize yourself with the normal activity in your neighborhood so that if something unusual happens it will stand out. Living in a daydream or regularly being involved with text messages or phone calls may leave you less familiar with what is normal activity for your neighborhood.

Many of us may not realize how safe our own neighborhoods are compared to many places in our increasingly overcrowded and troubled world. Remaining calm during fearful times can help reduce our bodies’ stress response which is better for our health and may also help promote more clear headed decision making during stressful times. Research on decision making while under stress suggests that we may pay more attention to the positive aspects of a potential decision while paying less attention to the negative aspects or potential risks, [1], — so caution is probably always a good idea when under stress — if you see something suspicious, then say something about it to a police officer rather than risking doing something on your own.

Life is for enjoying, when we can, while we can, until we say good-bye and rest in peace.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./


Babies have dignity too; Magical Child Matures, a book review

Babies should have the right to human dignity too. The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage was based on a human right to dignity. The decision has brought up the question of whether polyamory, marriage between more than two people, should be the next human rights question to discuss. [2] Before broaching that topic I would suggest that the infant’s and birth mother’s right to a good delivery and breast feeding experience need to be clarified legally. The legalization of same sex marriage may lead to an increase in the number of infants born to surrogate mothers or other contracted parenting arrangements which may not allow for a normal amount of time for breast feeding. Ideally an infant would nurse for at least 3 to 9 months and in nature primate species tend to nurse their infants for two to three years. Research into artificial womb incubators also exists which might greatly impact the infant’s right to a dignified (ie close to natural) prenatal and birth experience.

I found the book Magical Child (1977) by Joseph Chilton Pearce to be very helpful during my first pregnancy. It is the precursor to the book Magical Child Matures, (E. P. Dutton, Inc., 1985, New York), which I had mentioned in a previous post and again in my last post where I mentioned that it is now selling used for one penny. I posed the question of whether it is worth a penny and answered that, yes, to me it is worth it specifically because of the third chapter which is titled “Bonding and Attachment.”

The author has written twelve books in all and has focused on child development and the importance of the child-parent bond and breast feeding relationship and also on topics of spirituality and the heart-mind connection or  the “compassionate mind.” [1]

In the third chapter of the book Magical Child Matures labor is described from the infant’s perspective. The stress of delivery causes an increase in an infant’s stress chemicals and establishing a breast feeding relationship as soon as possible after delivery helps bring the levels back down to normal levels.

The chapter titled Bonding and Attachment (1985, page 24-40) first describes an ideal delivery experience for the infant and then describes how disturbing delivery could be in an over-crowded and rushed hospital in the 1970s. The baby and mothers from the over-crowded setting are described as black people receiving care at an inner-city hospital and my impression is that he included the information because he’s not racist, because he felt that #Blacklivesmatter and that all mothers and infants deserve a low stress delivery with a positive bonding experience. Bringing up traumatic history reminds us to investigate routine practices and evaluate them for fairness, effectiveness, and safety risks. He includes in the chapter that the old practice of holding a baby upside down and smacking it on the bottom to stimulate their first breath may also have caused some infants to have internal bleeding in the upper spinal column and die prematurely from silent crib death (found in 80% of autopsies of infants who had died of silent crib death in one study) (Magical Child Matures1985, page 35).

He also described a practice that may have been commonly used to save time after delivery in some busy hospitals. The medical professional would just yank the laboring mother’s placenta out by the umbilical cord instead of allowing her body to progress through the final stage of labor at her own pace.

Never discussing uncomfortable history may be more comfortable for us but it doesn’t promote learning from our mistakes or lead to our making changes in routine practices. Holding a baby upside down and smacking it always seemed like a horrible practice to me so finding information that suggests it might indeed have caused traumatic injury was disturbing and revealing. We do many things each day because that is just the way things have always been done but if we never stop to evaluate procedures for their effectiveness or safety then we may be causing harm on a routine basis without realizing it.

Having a baby, for me, was painful and amazing and euphoric and joyful and beautiful, and kind of sweaty and gross, and just as wonderful as the author describes for the well bonded, good delivery experience.

So is the book Magical Child Matures worth a penny (plus shipping and handling)? Yes I think so. The author discusses development of consciousness during the different stages of the lifespan along with his interpretation of how thinking might occur in a triune brain but that speculative discussion of consciousness could be skimmed and the reader may find the developmental information helpful on its own. The author also describes some personal experiences with psychic phenomenon and meditative practices. So that might be a reason for some potential readers to avoid the book or it might be a reason to seek out the book because they are topics that are infrequently discussed.

I’m expecting my first grandchild this month so I made a copy of the chapter on bonding and attachment for the expectant parents just in case they also would find it helpful. However the discussion of bonding and attachment may also be helpful for any age person to read because early childhood experiences might impact our behavior throughout life – a well bonded infant may grow up to be a more trusting adult while a stressed out infant may have more delayed development during early infancy and grow up to be more focused on collecting things and being dominating within relationships rather than being trusting.

The newborn’s first lesson in life is trust. The fetus had warmth and a constant swishing heartbeat and soothing amniotic fluid and suddenly they are forced out into a cold bright noisy world. Newborns certainly don’t deserve to be held upside down and smacked as their first experience in life whatever their skin color may be. And mothers deserve time to labor at their own pace, rather than have the process rushed for the convenience of the medical professional. Hormonal changes occur for the infant and mother during different phases of labor and delivery, rushing the process may interfere with the infant’s health and development and with the development of the mother’s mammary glands and ability to make an adequate supply of breast milk.

Growing a baby isn’t rocket science – it’s much more complicated than that – but worth it. Thanks for sharing your experience in Magical Child Matures, Joseph Chilton Pearce.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a lactation educator and Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./


Thinking flexibly may help against the negative effects of stress

Chronic stress can damage brain cell health. Neuroplasticity refers to the connections and pathways that form between brain cells. Long term habits develop as routine nerve pathways between brain cells where an initial action may stimulate the rest of the routine habit. Having routines embedded in our memories may help to save us time when we’re performing routine activities like household chores or driving home from work but it may interfere when trying to replace an old habit with a new habit. Routines may save energy for the mind to wander to other thoughts while the familiar chore is being performed.

The ability to form new pathways in the brain may also help to reduce the negative effects of stress. [link] Games that are designed to boost brain plasticity may simply be boosting our ability to take tests. More research is needed to better understand neuroplasticity and how we can change old habits by changing the old neural pathways. [link]

In the mean time learning new words has been found to stimulate reward pathways in the brain. And it was found that people with stronger connections between the two regions of the brain involved in the reward pathways were able to learn more words than people with weaker connections.  [link] And other research suggests that meditation and having a sense of purpose in life may help reduce some of the negative effects of stress which include cellular changes associated with aging. [link]

Today a purpose for American citizens is voting!

Go Vote!

Go Vote!