Three Amazing Things About Summer Solstice

happy friends

From our Western point-of-view, June 21st marks the first day of Summer, which is called the Summer Solstice. On this day, there is more sunlight than any other day of the year. This is because the sun is farthest from the equator on June 21st each year.

There are three thoughts that come to my mind every June 21st:

1. I MUST get outside and enjoy the day! Today is a day to celebrate nature, the outdoors, and time with friends and family. Go explore a new park, a hiking trail you’ve never been down or go dig your toes into the sand at the beach!

2. Today is a day to FEEL HAPPY.  Summer is here, get out and soak up that sunshine, a natural mood booster and supplier of Vitamin D3! Vitamin D3 is essential for your health.   And don’t forget the sunscreen!

3. It’s time to dig into the healthy foods of the season!  In the summer our bodies crave lighter foods, such as fruits, raw veggies, salads and so-forth.  These foods not only have a “cooling” effect on the body, but they are all in season so we can enjoy these foods when they have their peak nutritional value.  So chow down on those summer salads, watermelon, berries, and other yummy treats!

Happy Summer!

Health Coach Autumn (start your summer off right by signing up for a free consultation with me at http://www.pacificnorthwesthealth.com)

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How to Discover Your Core Desires

 

armsup

“You can’t hit a target, if you don’t know what it is.” –Anthony Robbins

If you don’t know what you really want in life, you are not alone. This dilemma affects people of all ages and crosses all political, social and economic lines. As a society, we often make lists of things we want to accomplish; only to find those same things create unhappiness in our lives. This problem arises because our intentions are often not aligned with our core desired feelings.

Core desires are things you want with all of your heart. They are persistent, deep, intense and powerful longings of your core being. When you become clear about how you want to feel, you can make daily intentional choices for pleasure.

This exercise can help you discover your core desires:

  • Ask yourself, how do I want to feel in every area of my life? (health, relationships, career, spirituality, finances, social life, education, etc.) Brainstorm multiple feelings within each area and record them on paper.
  • Study your list for each area. What feelings are replicated? What words jump out at you, feel important and valuable? Narrow down your list to five overall feelings. Having trouble? Looking up the definitions of the words may help you to pinpoint your desires.
  • Now, use repetitive questioning with each of your feelings. Let’s say one of your words is “confidence.” Ask yourself, “What does confidence feel like?” Your answer, “Like winning.” Ask again, “What does confidence feel like?” Your answer, “Like being certain.” Ask again, “What does confidence feel like?” Your answer, “Like clarity.” Exactly. What you really desire is to feel clarity.
  • Write each word you’re considering on its own sticky note and stick them somewhere you’ll see them every day. After a week, you’ll know if your words feel authentic and right for you. If not, take time to re-evaluate.

Once you discover your core desires, identify three things you can do today, three this week and three this month, to help you generate those feelings. Lastly, surround yourself with people whom make you feel those ways. Unearthing your core desires will bring more fulfillment, profound joy, balance, serenity and happiness into your life!

To your desires!

Health Coach Autumn (check me out at http://www.pacificnorthwesthealth.com)

 

My Journey from Depression and Anxiety to Happiness and Health

butterfly

Five years ago, at the height of my health problems, I moved from my busy city life in Florida all the way across the country to a little town on the edge of the Olympic National Forest in Washington State. (Population year round 1500)  Into the woods I went…. away from my job, my friends, my boyfriend, my hobbies… my livelihood.

I had become very ill and could not work any longer. I moved in the hopes that with the help of alternative medicine and my family in Washington State; I could cure my body and become healthy again.

Two weeks into my move I awoke one day to see a family of deer hanging out in my new backyard, eating away at the plants and bushes like there wasn’t a threat in sight.  I listened and couldn’t hear a single sound at all, inside or outside.  The sky looked dark and grey.  This was Washington State after all.  As I lay in bed, I could feel how terrible my sick, exhausted and toxic body felt.  It was in that moment I realized the weight of my decision.

I had picked up my whole life and moved to the middle of nowhere, USA.  Furthermore, I was 27 and living in a community where the average age was 65.  Suddenly, there I was, without a job, without any friends, and with a whole load of health issues that I had no clue where to begin to fix.

What was I to do?  What was my purpose now? Why was I so sick?  Through the years I hadn’t treated my body nearly as bad as most of the people my age.  Why me?

I became depressed.  I became fearful, angry and stressed. I felt like a failure. My health problems got worse.  I felt misunderstood.  Alienated.  Anxious. In fact I was so anxious it took me days to get the courage to do simple tasks, like go to the grocery store.  Every hour of the day became a struggle.  I had moved into a home with a very uncomfortable situation going on.  I became more anxious at home than ever.  To add to everything, my Aunt, Uncle and Grandmother unexpectedly passed away.  My life felt like a pit and I was at the bottom of it.

I decided to take some time and do some soul-searching.  I watched, read, and listened to everything I could to lift my spirits.  I looked for signs from the universe–signs that told me I was on the right path.  I took every medical test, tried every treatment and diet, and saw every doctor I could.  I went outside to exercise, get fresh air and be around nature whenever possible.  I called my friends whom I felt closest too, as hard as it was. I sent cards to those I could not bear to call.  I joined classes for families and friends of addicts.  I joined a meditation class, and started to work on two local committees as a volunteer.  I tried my best to attempt things that scared the living —- out of me.

I would be lying if I said my life changed overnight.  It didn’t.  Although, with time things did start to change.  Step by step I became less afraid, less depressed, less fearful of my life.  My anxiety and shame began to lift.  I brought gratuity and spirituality into my life.  I looked for the “blue skies” in everything.  Slowly but surely I became a happier and happier person. My health even began to prosper!

I stumbled across the Institute for Integrative Nutrition online and decided to sign up.  I than became more excited and hopeful about my future than ever.  On the first day of class, my gut told me my life was going to change forever.

Today, I am a new person.  I am the healthier and happier version of myself.  I continually try to align with my purpose–to inspire, to motivate, to heal, to lead–and to become the best version of myself I can, in every single area of my life.

During my journey I found that one of the tragic ironies of modern-day life is that so many of us feel isolated from each other, by the very same feelings that we all have in common:  Failure. Procrastination. Stress. Anger. Hurt. Anxiety. Depression. Guilt. Shame. Unworthiness. Helplessness. Fear.

We must learn to become larger than our anxiety, fear and shame. We must learn to share with those we trust about how we are feeling. They surely have felt the way we do at sometime in their life.  WE must want to show up– to speak, to act, to learn, to dance, to discover, to dare, to invent, to express, to create, to live!!

We must also continually search for our purpose. You know, that thing in your heart of hearts that you know that you were put on this earth to do.  I  know you know what it is in your gut, your heart and your head.  Stop denying your soul what it truly is here to do.

With that I must say, “Feel the fear, and Do it Anyway!” and also, what is that thing in your heart of hearts that you know you were put here to accomplish?  

Be happy, Be healthy. be well!

Health Coach Autumn

Five Tips for Overcoming Negative Thoughts

Sunshine field

Hello Followers!  Did you start following my Happy Health Coach blog because you needed some inspiration!? Or something to counteract those negative feelings and thoughts that are swimming around in your head?  Well, if you did, here is your…shot of sunshine for the day!

Five Tips for Overcoming Negative Thoughts:

1. Surround Yourself with Positive People

It’s true!  We do adopt the characteristics, thoughts and feelings of those who we are in contact with on a regular basis.  Do you have toxic friends or co-workers?  Maybe a toxic family member? Find some new friends and peers to hang out around who live life the way you want to live it!  Healthy, happy friends are an important part of a healthy, happy lifestyle.

2. Help Someone

Assisting others with their needs will help you get the focus off of little distractions and thoughts that consume your mind and lead to depression, anxiety and stress.  Helping others boosts one’s confidence, creates feelings of compassion and nurtures your spirit.

3. Write a Gratitude List

Start a gratitude journal that you write in daily before bed or as soon as you wake up in the morning.  Write down anything and everything you are grateful for– even if those things feel insignificant!  Try it out for a week to start–I know you will see a difference in your life!

4. Sing to Upbeat Music

Crank up your stereo, radio or boom box!  Music has a way of speaking to our soul and our hearts like nothing else in this world can.  You become what you consume. Listen to happy music and your negative thoughts will internally start to change.

5. Give Yourself Permission to Turn Your Day Around at any Given Moment

Did your day start out sour?  Who says it has to stay that way?  We often judge our days by the way our morning started out.  Our thinking process goes something like this, “Good morning=good day and bad morning=bad day.”  I’m telling you–it doesn’t have to be that way!  What if you decided that Mondays were now the best day of the week instead of the worst?  How would that change your life?

Happy thoughts!

Health Coach Autumn

Mindfulness Meditation Improves Depression, Pain and Anxiety

meditation

Mindfulness meditation programs can effectively improve anxiety, pain and depression in some people, according to a new review of studies from Johns Hopkins University researchers.

The review, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, included 47 different randomized trials that involved 3,515 people. The review showed that mindfulness meditation had small, positive effects in these three areas, with the improvements for depression in particular being similar to that of an anti-depressant. According to the study, mindfulness meditation programs involved “training in present-focused awareness or mindfulness.”

“Anxiety, depression, and stress/distress are different components of negative affect. When we combined each component of negative affect, we saw a small and consistent signal that any domain of negative affect is improved in mindfulness programs when compared with a nonspecific active control,” the researchers wrote in the study.

However, the review did not show a marked benefit of mindfulness meditation programs on substance use, sleep or weight. While few studies examined potential harms of mindfulness meditation (nine of the trials), none of them reported harm.

In addition, mantra meditation programs — such as transcendental meditation, which involves “use of a mantra in such a way that it transcends one to an effortless state where focused attention is absent” — did not seem to show any particular health benefits, though researchers noted that very few studies on mantra meditation met their criteria to be included in the review.

“This lack significantly limited our ability to draw inferences about the effects of mantra meditation programs on psychological stress-related outcomes, which did not change when we evaluated transcendental meditation separately from other mantra training,” they wrote.

Overall, the review showed researchers that more studies on meditation are needed, especially to see how greater meditation training, trainer expertise and amount of time spent practicing mindfulness meditation could potentially improve health even more. This is considering mindfulness meditation is a skill that does require time and practice, and that presumably the more and longer you do it, the greater benefits it may have. (However, many studies included in the review were relatively short.)

Indeed, in a related editorial published in the same journal, Dr. Allan H. Goroll, M.D., of Harvard Medical School, notes that most studies in the review were less than 12 months long, and that “longer study duration will be needed to address the question of maximum efficacy.”

“Nonetheless,” Goroll said in the editorial, “the small but potentially meaningful reductions in the distress of anxiety and depression associated with limited-term mindfulness programs argue for consideration of their use as a means of moderating the need for psychopharmacologic intervention in these conditions.”

Goroll noted that the benefits of mindfulness meditation found in the review are modest, with some studies finding no benefit. He postures that trendiness, the desire to establish control and potentially even capitalizing on common anxieties are all reasons for why mindfulness meditation has become increasingly popular today.

*This article was found on www.huffingtonpost.com

To your health!

Autumn (check me out at www.pacificnorthwesthealth.com)

Want to Beat The Winter Blues?

 winter oak tree

By Autumn Pappas, CHHC, AADP

Do you find yourself feeling a little low in the winter time? Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s the shorter days—but somehow you just can’t seem to get out of a funk. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that affects 25 million Americans each year. Symptoms include loss of interest in activities, oversleeping, irritability, sadness, poor sleep, low self-esteem and anxiety. Whether you suffer from SAD or not, here are some great tips on how to beat the cold weather blues and start looking on the bright side of things.

Exercise. Exercise is a natural stimulator of serotonin and dopamine, two very important mood boosting hormones. Serotonin also regulates hunger. Physical movement increases metabolism, and stimulates the digestive tract which can help prevent bloating, constipation and indigestion.  Not in the mood to exercise? Find an exercise buddy this winter and hold each other accountable. Start a new exercise class, dance around to some holiday music, or take a brisk thirty minute walk. This will get your heart rate up and help trim your waist line at the same time.  Don’t wait until January to set some fitness goals.

Stick to a healthy diet. Sadness can increase food cravings and send you rummaging for sweets.  Caffeine suppresses serotonin and can have the same effect. Stick to serotonin-boosting foods like bananas, flaxseed, wild fish, high quality eggs, buckwheat, and free range turkey so you don’t get caught up in a vicious cycle.

Stay on schedule. It’s hard to stay motivated when the weather is cold and it’s dark outside.  Sticking to a normal schedule will keep you upbeat and focused, as well as keep you from procrastinating. Surprisingly, procrastination in not only linked to stress but depression as well.

Invest in good lighting. Our serotonin levels drop due to the lack of light in the wintertime. Sitting within three feet of a 300 watt bulb for 20 minutes a day can help. You can also purchase a UV lamp or a Happylight. These lights mimic sunlight and encourage the production of Vitamin D. Furthermore, spend time outdoors during the peak hours of daylight.

Increase your Vitamin D intake. Check with your doctor to see if you should up your dosage in the winter. Vitamin D is a key contributor to our overall health. It supports our bones, brain, nervous and immune systems.

Try a new activity this winter. How about a painting class, cooking some new healthy recipes, or volunteering for a local cause?

Lastly, start a gratitude journal. It’s important to notice the beauty of our world, kind gestures and the little things in life. Gratitude can have an immensely positive effect on your self-esteem, health, career and relationships.

To your health!

Autumn (check me out at www.pacificnorthwesthealth.com)

*This  article was written by me, and featured in the December 2013 Issue of the Port Ludlow Voice.

 

 

Boost Your Happiness Level by Eating!

happy

We all need Serotonin, an important mood boosting hormone.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous to eat food, and get happy at the same time?  You can!  The following foods increase serotonin levels in the body.

1) Free Range Beef
2) Flaxseed and Flaxseed oil
3) Bananas
4) Wild Fish and Sea food
5) Sour cherries
6) Buckwheat
7) High quality Eggs
8) Whey Protein
9) Free Range Turkey
10) Dark Chocolate

That’ll put a Smile on your face!  I’m thinking of you all today and hoping you are as happy as you should be.

To your health!

Autumn (check me out at www.pacificnorthwesthealth.com)