Some years back I saw a survey of several thousand people who were asked what they considered their greatest blessing. The majority indicated “A good night’s sleep!”
I don’t disagree. Thinking back to when I was privileged to meet Sally Fallon Morell for the first time, my most poignant memory is proudly holding onto my signed copy of Nourishing Traditions and thinking that wellness—and yes, a good night’s sleep—was just a rare steak and a glass of raw milk away!
I’d made numerous attempts to incorporate Sally’s recommendations, but due to a real lack of time to learn how to make such nutrient dense meals, I finally realized that I was failing miserably. As I took a closer look at my lifestyle, I saw that I was overwhelmed with every kind of activity. Although they were worthy endeavors, few of them did anything to genuinely contribute to the superior health I was promised the day I met Sally.
Along with this disappointing fact, my stress level was at an all time high. After all, I was working my way up the ladder of success! The result was that I simply hit a brick wall. I eventually came to understand two vital lessons about the brain and body that simply cannot be ignored if you want to achieve a modicum of calm and good health, especially as you age:
- The brain seems to run at the speed of light. Some of us truly believe the myth that if we could just organize better, eat halfway decent foods on the run, cross at least six or more things off our to-do list on a daily basis, and other such activities, we’d achieve a happy, healthy, and successful life—with no serious consequences to hold us back. And the greatest myth of all is that when we retire we’ll have the time to really relax! Please, don’t believe it.
- The body, however, runs at the speed of Mother Nature’s ever slowly grinding timetable. Ever planted a seed and noticed how long it took to grow into something beautiful? At some point if we don’t want to die prematurely or spend lots of time and money on therapy of all kinds, we need to join this very smart lady. And then guess what? We may be able to heal some ailment that plagues us, sleep better, and enjoy a much higher chance of success. We may even remain healthy enough to enjoy the rewards of working in tandem with Mother Nature—or, as I often write, the “natural law.” She is the natural law after all, and she has the final say!
After a substantial reworking of my time and activities, I was finally able to bring up my website, The Traditional Cook. I devote a page on my site to explain My Personal Health Perspective. The first thing I advise is as follows:
Would you sincerely like to improve your overall health or help bring healing to a current health issue? If yes, others and I can testify that there must first be a serious willingness to replace activities that do nothing to nourish the body, mind, and soul with those that genuinely do! Without this commitment you will no doubt flounder and later say, “It didn’t really work for me!” This commitment may even mean reconsidering your career, working less hours, and (of great importance in my case) reducing involvements in clubs, organizations, and /or other worthy but time-consuming endeavors that had kept me from being able to focus on the one thing that WILL and DID allow me to do more . . . better health!
Of course life is not perfect, and there will always be times when our own bad decisions—intentional or not—bring us ill-fortune. Events such as the death of a family member or friend, the loss of a job, a divorce, or other adversities in our lives can cause our mind and body serious and sometime damaging stress. Nevertheless, when we learn the practice of what I term “real relaxation,” our body, mind, and spirit can come through these situations and miraculously remain at peace with little or no loss to our health. When we allow ourselves a genuine, daily period of real relaxation, our body becomes a magnificent structure able to endure whatever can be imagined.
But if we refuse for whatever reason to really relax on a daily basis, our autonomic nervous system will suffer. We can become so severely out of balance that we develop serious health issues. To prevent this, we must keep two major operating systems in balance: the sympathetic nervous system, which produces the body’s stress response (“fight or flight”); and the parasympathetic nervous system, which produces the body’s relaxation response (“rest and digest”). The balance of these two systems is our homeostatic state. What we don’t always realize is that the body’s natural self-repair mechanism only fully functions when the nervous system is in relaxation response.
The Secrets of Real Relaxation—And Its Powerful Benefits
In one of my favorite books, Release from Nervous Tension, noted neuropsychiatric physician Dr. David Fink indicates that real relaxation is only accomplished when the body is allowed to “let go.” This is his term for a unique type of progressive physical relaxation that he developed while working with thousands of veterans and other patients. In his explanation of the interaction between the cerebrum and the hypothalamus (our emotional center), Dr. Fink explains the body must be allowed to release its emotional tensions daily. He suggests 30 minutes twice a day, with the focus on the arms, eyes, legs, and other tense muscle areas. Real relaxation, he says, is not sitting on a beach and contemplating, or just resting, or watching TV. Rather, it’s a time of focus on the muscles that hold the emotions in our brain centers. This book is unique in its application of his particular progressive relaxation technique, but there are many progressive relaxation techniques available for your investigation.
After 10 weeks of practicing this simple technique, I was stunned to notice the relative slower pace at which I physically moved while still accomplishing much more than I ever had before. Additionally, and of even greater importance: the anxious sense of urgency I always felt to get so much more done than I knew I could rationally accomplish had begun to dissipate, and I was able to think ever so much clearer. But the greatest effect was that I was happier mood-wise than I’d been in years, and yet nothing had really changed! Once again I was able to laugh with gusto, something I hadn’t done for many years. Things did not upset me as much, and I knew that I’d discovered one major component of recovering from my numerous ailments. I’m convinced that we must give our body and mind the wondrous rest it needs on a daily basis.
Another stress-reducing technique that was of great help to me was putting first things first in terms of what was of major importance, such as the following:
- Make a will and review it at least once or twice a year.
- Reduce or eliminate your debt load, and make a budget and stick to it.
- Pray and meditate daily. This is vital. In addition to the progressive relaxation technique you adopt to help your muscles truly relax, you must release the emotional garbage daily. Interestingly, in real prayer and meditation we receive many answers to help us resolve our worries.
- Last but not least, join the Weston A. Price Foundation, go to chapter meetings, and learn to make nutrient dense foods—they can be the frosting on your overall success story. A great way to start is to buy my Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD and booklet, also available for a special bundle price with Nourishing Traditions and the Weston A. Price Foundation Shopping Guide.
Some Super Relaxing Recipe Ideas and Necessary Food Grade Supplements
Let’s talk a little about the benefits of potassium and how it can help you lead a less stressful life. Potassium is so important because it ensures a healthy nervous system and a regular heart rhythm. It may also control the water level in body cells, aid in converting glucose into glycogen for energy, prevent hypertension, and help aid fatigue.
It may not be advisable for some people to take potassium supplements—and everyone should especially avoid synthetic supplements. Too much potassium may cause health issues. It can react with some prescription drugs you may be taking, so check with your doctor if you’re on any medications. In particular, don’t take potassium supplements if you’re taking diuretics without asking your doctor first. See your friendly Standard Process practitioner for an evaluation of whole food potassium supplements.
Here are some other Standard Process whole food supplements and MediHerb herbal supplements I’ve found useful in easing the more stressful times in my life:
- Standard Process Calcium Lactate: Nerve calming calcium and magnesium in the right proportions.
- MediHerb Nevaton: Nerve support for stressful situations.
- MediHerb Valerian Complex: A great sleep aid.
- Standard Process Orchex: A mild, calming mineral-based sedative.
- Standard Process St. John’s Wort: A powerful aid to depression or anxiety
Potassium-Rich Recipes for Your Relaxation Pleasure
- ½ cup fresh organic or frozen strawberries
- ½ cup full-fat organic yogurt
- 1–2 teaspoons coconut oil, softened
- 1 medium organic banana
- 1 tablespoon organic unsulphured blackstrap molasses
- 1 tablespoon organic raw honey (optional)
- ¼ cup cold spring water
- 1 raw organic egg yolk (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Standard Process Calcifood Powder
Mix well in your Vitamix or blender. Add your favorite whole grain toast with lots of raw butter for an energy-packed meal.
Orange-Carrot Potassium Burst
- Juice of 6 organic carrots
- 1 organic orange
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, softened
- 1 tablespoon Standard Process Calcifood Powder
Mix well in your Vitamix or blender. This is a low-fiber smoothie, so be sure to add your favorite whole grain toast with lots of raw butter for a nutrient dense meal.
Top-Notch Potassium-Rich Foods
- Bone Broth (Nourishing Broth, Sally Fallon Morrell’s latest cookbook, is highly recommended)
- White beans
- Dark leafy greens
- Baked potatoes with skins
- Dried apricots
- Baked acorn squash
- Whole-fat yogurt
- White mushrooms
Image from iStock/pixomedesign