Posted in Health, Personal

Earthing: It’s good for you

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. It has been a busy week of working, writing, and running. I’m starting to feel like my old self again. Running always clears my mind of cobwebs.

Summer is finally here. I plan on hiking as much as I can this season. I find it healing. Whether I’m hiking on the beach or through the woods, it calms my inner angst and I work out plot issues when I do this. Something about being out in nature clears the static in my head.

Connecting with nature is something we humans have forgotten we need. Did you know walking barefoot on the earth is good for you? It’s called Earthing. Walking barefoot allows you to connect with the earth and allows us to absorb electrons that provide a variety of benefits.

One of those benefits is that it reduces inflammation. Inflammation is a key factor in many of our life-threatening diseases like cancer and heart disease. Wouldn’t it be something if all we needed to do is walk barefoot for an hour as a prevention to these diseases?

There are many natural ways to heal our body. Ways we’ve forgotten as humans because we believe taking a pill is the best way to solve our problems. It’s quick and easy. Whereas earthing is a little time consuming. I mean it’s important to do it as long as you can, at least an hour. Sometimes we don’t have an hour to devote to this. I know. I’ve been there. We’re trying to parent, work, and for me I write as often as I can. Time is of the essence.

But there’s a meme going around that hit me like a punch in the gut. It states: If you don’t make time for your wellness. You’ll be making time for your illness. I’ve never read a truer statement.

My point is you need to make your health a priority. Spending an hour walking barefoot through the woods (watch out for poison ivy) or even your yard is a great way to reduce inflammation and stress. Two key ingredients to life threatening diseases.

Here’s a quick list of the benefits of Earthing:

          Reduces inflammation: The extra neutrons from the earth help neutralize free radicals in our bodies. This reduces inflammation which is a common factor in diseases like cancer and heart disease.

          Reduces cortisol levels: Cortisol is the stress hormone created by our bodies when we’re under stress, and who’s life isn’t stressful right now? Increased levels of cortisol are responsible for accumulation of belly fat which is a factor in diabetes.

          Improves Sleep: We need to sleep. It’s our body’s way of repairing itself. Because of stress in our lives sometimes and our dependence on technology our sleep cycles get interrupted. Grounding or Earthing can help in keeping us on track with our sleep cycles by syncing our electrical system for us.

          Increased Energy: With better sleep you’ll have more energy. With all the things we want to accomplish more energy is a plus.

Now I’m not a doctor, but those benefits certainly sound good to me. I think it’s worth an hour of my time to do some Earthing especially if it helps me prevent those life-threatening diseases.

To learn more about Earthing, check out this article here. https://1md.org/article/earthing-grounding

How about you? How do you feel about Earthing? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

Is Social Media Replacing Physical Touch?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week with working and writing. I’m back to running outside. It’s finally warm enough. I’m being careful because of my back, but so far so good. I sleep better when I exercise and my mood during the day is better. I can tell a difference.

But enough about that. I’m back today to talk about our emotional needs. As I scroll through my feed on Facebook, I find many people posting about their emotional needs on social media. Need an ego boost? Post a selfie. Need prayer warriors? Make a post on social media. Don’t get me wrong I’m okay with asking for support on social media, but I’m concerned.

I’m concerned because what happens when social media becomes the only form of emotional support for people? I mean what if it replaces the hug and the touch on the arm? We as a species need physical touch. I strongly believe that. Did you know hugs and cuddling can ward off depression?

Maybe that’s why so many of our young people are depressed. Maybe they’re turning to social media and not getting the hugs they really need. It doesn’t have to be a hug. It could be a touch or just hearing the affection in the tone of your voice. You can’t get that from social media either. I’m not a therapist or a scientist, but I love to research for my stories and other things that intrigue me. So, I’m drawing a conclusion based on my research and I may be on to something here.

We need face to face interaction. There’s no way around it. We need to hear the inflection in the voices of our loved ones when we walk in the door. We need the physical touch of a stroke on our arm or a hug. Social media can’t replace that, and I feel these things are vital to our health.

We need social gatherings more than ever now and family traditions. Any type of face-to-face contact. Our kids need it so they learn social skills, and we can maintain our mental health. We need to use all five of our senses to keep our brain working properly not just our eyesight. What do you think? Am I on to something here? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health

The Real Role Models responsible for our Daughters’ Self Image

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy this week with kids, a pinched nerve, and work. My neck is getting better, but it’s a slow process that leaves me exhausted at the end of the day. I haven’t been writing much because I’m focusing on getting my shoulder and neck back to normal. I may have to give up running. I hope not, but I might have to find another way to work off those calories. But enough about that, that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.

Today, I’d like to talk about girls who have poor body image. Experts blame magazines and Barbie Dolls. They state that these “role models” give girls an unrealistic image of what a female body should look like, and I know it doesn’t help, but we need to dig deeper. I say we need to have our mothers show love and acceptance for their own bodies.

Young girls’ role models are their mothers. So, if we have healthier mothers, we will have healthier daughters. Mom’s need to accept their bodies with grace and instead of focusing on what their body looks like, they need to focus on how healthy their body is.

We also need experts and role models to focus on HEALTH and not on image. If you have your health, you truly have wealth. It doesn’t matter how much you have in your bank account. So, mothers stop beating yourself up because you can’t lose that last five pounds. Instead focus on how strong your body is and how good you feel because you exercised. Illustrate those attributes for your daughters and they will be unstoppable.

If we do this, they won’t need to look outside the family for guidance from a role model who’s trying to sell them something. I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Parents need to be involved with their kids. Mothers with their daughters and Fathers with their sons. Especially in the teen years, when they’re trying to find out who they are.

So, make your health one of your life’s goals, and you can’t go wrong. I know teens tell us they know everything, but they’re watching us and emulating our behavior when they don’t think we’re looking.

What are your thoughts? Do you think I’m on the right track? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal, Writing

Self Care: It’s a Choice

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Because of the pinched nerve in my neck, I’ve been doing more editing and reading this week while I wait for my neck to heal. It’s getting much better thanks to my chiropractor, but I believe my treadmill days are over. There will no longer be treadmill season at the Orchard’s.

I’m not upset about that. I’ve always disliked running on a treadmill. But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about self-care. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I feel it’s important. Sometimes we get stretched too thin, and we need to take a moment and regroup.

There’s nothing wrong with that. We can’t be going full tilt all the time. I can always tell when I hit the wall. I get tired and cranky, and I don’t enjoy the things I usually enjoy.

Here are my go-to self-care activities.

  1. Reading. I grab a good book and curl up on the couch. I do this during the winter more because it’s too cold to go outside. Did you know reading for just fifteen minutes reduces your stress level by 60%?
  • Exercise. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and it gets those endorphins going. Even a walk is good for you. Especially if you’re a writer and you sit at a desk all day.
  • Hiking. Hiking is also good for you. I love hiking in the woods, and if you hike in the woods, you get the added benefit of receiving phytoncides from the trees. In Japan, this is called forest-bathing and it’s a real thing.
  • Painting. I’m learning to paint, and it’s a great way to take a break. I’m still creating something, but it’s just for me, so I don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks about it.
  • Yoga. Yoga is another great way to create calmness within yourself. You stretch your muscles, and you relax while becoming more aware. It’s a great feeling.

So, there you have it. Five things I do when I’m in need of some self-care. I know there are more. What do you do for self-care?  Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in community, current-events, Family, friendship, Health, mental-health, Parenting, Teen

In Real Life Connection vs. Engagement

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work, writing, and running. It’s treadmill season at the Orchard household and I did something to my back the other day when I was running. It hasn’t gotten any better, and I fear I’m going to have to go to the doctor and get it checked out. It has been four days and it hasn’t gotten back to normal. Ugh.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about staying connected. With social media we can connect any time for any reason, but is it a true connection? I don’t think so, there’s nothing like taking the time to sit down with family and friends and spending good quality time with them.

The social media platforms, be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, main intent is to keep you engaged. Behind the scenes, they analyze your likes and comments to learn what your interests are so they can plant more of those interests in your feeds. This keeps you on their site longer, and it appears like you’re connecting with friends and family, but in reality, it’s more about keeping you engaged than connecting with people.

Don’t get me wrong I love social media because it allows me to stay in touch with friends in other states and countries, but it doesn’t take the place of a true connection with your family and friends right here.

Just the other day, I had brunch with some friends and then we spent the afternoon painting together. It was an In Real Life Connection. One in which, I’m learning how to paint, and I must say Bob Ross is right, there are no mistakes just happy little accidents. 😉 But I digress, the point I’m trying to make is we need in person connection now more than ever. If we lose the ability to read social cues and body language, we’re going to set the human race back to the caveman era.

Evidence suggests there is a correlation between the rise in suicide rates and the rise of social media. We have more access to more information than we’ve ever had. That means we have access to chat rooms and forums that are pro-suicide. Our kids have access to these forums. So, if you’re dealing with a child with some mental health issues and they find their way to one of these forums, it could be trouble.

Cyber-bullying has led to suicides as well, especially among the younger crowd. Social media has become an avenue for that also. So, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have a connection with your loved ones. We can never truly know what’s going on in someone’s mind unless we watch for the signs.

But that’s not where I want to go with this. I digress again. Sorry. What I want to say is that maybe Social Media is the symptom, and the real disease is lack of connection or disconnection.

I believe that if it’s not the sole cause, it’s a big part of it. So, keep the communication open with your family and friends. Stay connected. Make sure your kids learn how to make an emotional connection with their friends, so they won’t feel isolated.

So how do we stay connected with so many distractions?

  1. Engage in a common interest like hiking or biking or robotics
  2. Have family night where you play a card game or board game
  3. Watch a movie together once a week
  4. Take a family vacation

These are just a few ideas. There are many ways to make connections with your family. How do you connect with yours? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Reading

Technology’s Effect on Our Health

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week with work and writing. I’m editing my second work in progress, and I’m happy with the results so far. This story is flowing smoothly and I’m enjoying it.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about technology’s effect on our health, both mental and physical. When I think back to my own childhood, I remember being extremely active. I rode my bike everywhere. I remember going to my friend’s house and swimming in her pool. We’d play games like Yahtzee and Monopoly, or we’d go for long bike rides. When I look back, I realize how wonderful my childhood was. My friends and I had a connection.

Then I look at my kids, and I’m frustrated. They’re glued to their computers. If they’re not playing games, they’re chatting with friends online. The face-to-face interaction isn’t there. I know they get that at school, but I feel something is lost for our kids. They’re missing out on that special connection that I treasured in my younger years.

I also feel that we’re losing some of our vocabulary. I mean when you can communicate with an emoji, what do you need words for? Is our technology dumbing down society?

I think so. Instead of reading books, kids are looking at their phones. Social Media’s goal is to keep everyone engaged. So, they have complicated logarithms that keep track of the things you like so they can show you more. This keeps you engaged longer. I suppose you could argue that they’re reading, but they’re reading posts, and as we all know, posts on social media are usually a way for the individual writing it to receive acknowledgement from their followers.

Right now, kids need to read stories that teach them empathy and compassion. They need stories they can connect with and relate to. The teen years are the hardest years in my opinion because there are so many firsts. First loves, first rejections, first successes, and first failures.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for kids between the ages of ten and twenty-four. I’ve always felt that the reason for that is disconnection. They feel disconnected from family, friends, and community.

We need to make the family bonds stronger and protect our children. We need to bring story-telling back. It has always been a way to connect with our family members. We need to sit around the campfire and tell stories of our youth, so our children can bond with us.

Stories are more important than ever now. I know when I was a teen, I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. It was a self-inflicted kind of pressure. I was afraid to make the wrong decision. I couldn’t articulate this pressure to my parents, so I wasn’t able to talk to them about it. I felt so alone.

To escape this pressure, I’d read. When I was finished reading, I’d feel better. The pressure wasn’t so bad, and I was calmer, so I could look at my issues more objectively.

In my opinion instead of more technology, our kids need more physical exercise, and they need to spend more time reading stories not social media posts. Not only will reading stories relieve stress, but it’ll teach empathy and compassion. So, writers keep writing. We need your stories now more than ever.

How about you? Do you feel our kids need to feel more connection? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal

The Importance of Self-Care

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of writing and work. It was a tough week, there were little fires everywhere that I had to put out. I had a breakthrough with my story, though, so I’m excited about that. Small wins are still victories, and they must be celebrated, right?    

So, enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about self-care. It’s the buzzword lately and everyone seems to be talking about it, but even so, it’s important.

Sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. We become so busy doing and putting others or our projects first we forget to take care of ourselves. And really, our health should be our first priority.

I’m not just talking about our physical health either, I’m talking about our mental health as well. The two are inter-related. When we take care of ourselves physically it boosts us mentally, too.  Have you ever noticed that after you exercise, you feel better mentally? I know my problems aren’t so big after I exercise. They are manageable and not overwhelming.

Sometimes our mental health requires us to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Sometimes we need to hibernate and spend time with ourselves to become balanced again. Sometimes our mental health requires us to get out and connect with like-minded people. It’s important to have a support system too.

It’s important to have people in your life other than your spouse who support you in your goals and dreams. I’m fortunate to have those people. What I appreciate about them is they help me see things from a different perspective. This helps your mental health, too. Hearing a different perspective pulls you out of the mental loop you get into when you’re trying to solve a problem but can’t see a solution. These people help me switch gears.

Our diet is just as important to our physical and mental health too. Not only does a good diet help our bodies stay strong and healthy, but our minds, too. Anxiety and depression are exacerbated by a poor diet. So, if you’re dealing with one of these conditions, start eating healthier and go for walks. The combination will help you manage your condition.

Writers especially need to make sure they get enough exercise. It’s very easy to get lost in our work and forget about our health. So, go hiking with a friend and get that socializing need taken care of at the same time.

Everyone’s different, so we all need different amounts of food, exercise, solitude, and social interaction. Take time with yourself and figure out what your needs are. Take a few minutes every day and focus on what you might need. Then take care of it.

What are some of the things you do for self-care? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Earth, Health, mental-health, nature

Reconnecting with Nature

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of vacationing and writing and I must say I had an excellent time on vacay. Nothing like getting out on the water and soaking up some sun.

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy this awesome summer weather, too. Winter is coming and school is just around the corner for my guys. This school year is going to be different. Masks are recommended, but not required and the students will have to try and maintain a social distance of six feet.

I’m not ready for back to school. We’re returning this year a week earlier than we normally do and I feel we’ve been cheated out of some of our summer. I’m sure my boys feel the same way.

But enough about that, today I’d like to talk about the human connection with the Earth. I find it amazing that we can go for a hike in the woods or a walk along the beach and our spirits lift. They do. I’ve experienced it myself. We’ve forgotten about that connection in our hurry to build and create.

As a society we need to slow down and reconnect with nature.  I feel everything we need we can get from the earth. It provides food and water and by walking in the woods or on the beach we can improve our overall health.

It’s true, the trees in the woods release phytoncides. They’re a defense mechanism against fungus, bacteria, and even animals. These compounds are good for humans as well. According to one study, they enhanced the destructive mechanism in our cells that kill the cell when its time has run out. It also enhanced the anti-cancer proteins production.  Now that is good news.

To put this in layman’s terms, breathing in phytoncides enhances our own natural defenses.  I think this is incredible. It supports the theory that we’re all connected, with each other, and with nature.

Being in nature is also a great stress reliever as well. Studies have found that the stress hormone cortisol is lower when walking in nature. It also puts you in a meditative state and allows your creativity to flow.

Not only is walking in the woods good for you, but so is walking on the beach. Getting out into the sun is a great way to increase the Vitamin D in your system. That’s one major health benefit of going to the beach, but it’s also a great stress reliever. When you get near the water and hear the waves breaking on the shore, it releases serotonin in your system. Serotonin is a key hormone for relaxation and happiness.

Walking on the beach isn’t just good for our mental health, it’s good for our physical health as well. If you’re near the ocean the saltwater has anti-bacterial antibodies in it. So, if you have a wound that needs to be cleansed. Dip it in the ocean. Salt water also contains iodine which is a great antiseptic. It’s also an amazing immune system booster. It helps the thyroid gland do its job which boosts our immune system.

With all these health benefits, why would become the indoor generation? Technology has taken us out of the fields and put us inside and it has been detrimental to our health. We need to take our health back and reconnect with nature. We also need to take care of the Earth. With all the health benefits it provides it’s a key element to our survival, wouldn’t you agree?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Don’t you think getting back to nature is vital for us humans? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health

Is Social Media Bad for Your Health?

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week of work, writing, and running. This week I saw a post on Facebook (kind of ironic, I know) and it made the statement that Social Media makes you dissatisfied with your life.

I gathered from this statement that social media makes people dissatisfied because we start to compare ourselves to what other people post. The meme went on to say, get off social media, read a book, work in your garden, or go for a walk. Do something that brings you joy and do it for that reason alone. Don’t do something just so you can post it on Facebook later. Do it because you enjoy it.

I agree with this statement even though I’m guilty of spending time on social media myself. I find that scrolling on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter is a passive exercise. You’re not actively participating in life. Sure, you can connect with people and message them and that’s all well and good. I do that myself.  But you’re not actively living.

When you go for a walk, you’re not only doing something good for your body. You’re experiencing life. You’re experiencing the smells of the forest and the beauty of the wildflowers growing alongside the road. That’s living. You’ll feel better getting up and doing something. Going for a walk or a hike even by yourself is much better for you than scrolling through posts on Facebook.  

If you’re feeling frustrated with your life or you’re dealing with a problem and you can’t find a solution. Read a book. Reading is a great stress reliever and I guarantee if you read for even just fifteen minutes, the problem you’re dealing with won’t feel so big. Again, reading is active. Your brain is working, focusing on something other than your problem or dissatisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, social media is a great way to keep in touch with people and make connections, but it’s not good for your health if you’re neglecting exercise or it creates mental anguish. Remember, the goal of social media is to keep you engaged. You have to actively set limits for yourself or you’ll get sucked in. It happens to the best of us.

Remember to actively live your life. Enjoy that walk or run while you’re doing it. Stay in that moment. Enjoy cooking that meal for your family. Enjoy the smells of the spices lingering in the air as you cook. Turn on the radio and listen to music while you work. That’s living. Social media isn’t.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. How do you feel about social media? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Parenting

What is PAI?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you today. I’ve had a busy week of working, running, and writing. My Fitbit has a PAI indicator on it, so I’ve been a little more active this week. LOL

The PAI indicator is a personal physiological activity indicator. It measures, heart rate, intensity of daily activity, and other multi-dimensional characteristics to determine your PAI value. Long story short if you score above 100, you’re living your best life. A score above 100 means that you’re reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and increasing your life expectancy. So, my goal is to get a 100 or better every day.

What’s nice about that number is that you don’t have to do high intensity workouts to achieve it. It can be achieved just by going for a long walk. The days I run, my PAI is much higher, but walking a couple of miles also helps me reach my goal as well.

This gives me hope because sooner or later, I’m going to have to stop running. It’ll become too hard on my knees and ankles, when that happens at least I know I’ll be able to walk and still maintain my health.

I’m worried about the next generation, though. Many teens these days aren’t getting enough exercise. They sit and watch YouTube videos or play video games and this activity has a detrimental effect on their health. Modern technology is great, but our bodies were made to move, and the kids these days are growing up on video games, Red Bull, and fast food. Not a great combination.

I try hard to get my boys out moving, but I’m not always successful. I’m thinking about getting them fitbits and telling them they need to score over 100 on their PAI before they can sit down at the computer and play their games. But what about when they’re back at school?

I wish school required more physical activity. We need to revamp our educational system to consider both mental and physical health. Make physical education a requirement all the way up to your senior year. Or maybe schools could offer classes for tennis, running, and volleyball so kids could learn those skills, too. I’m not sure what the answer is. How about you? What changes would you make to our educational system to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of our kids? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!