5 Ways to Find Peace in Our Hearts to Build Peace in Our World
by Angela McCann
“If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the nations. If there is to be peace in the nations, there must be peace in the cities. If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbors. If there is to be peace between neighbors, there must be peace in the home. If there is to be peace in the home, there must be peace in the heart.” ― Lao-tse
In light of the current events, mass shootings, spotlight on sexual assault and hate speech, it is time we put some focus on how we each can find peace in our hearts which translates into peace in our world this holiday season. When we seek out peace in our hearts, we move out of fight or flight mode to rest and digest mode. By moving to rest and digest mode we reduce the amount of stress hormone we release. As a result we are able to better sleep and focus, be more energetic and maintain our hormone status—all needed to have peace in our hearts at the holidays.
When in fight or flight mode, our adrenal glands pump out cortisol. When we do this for many weeks, months and years, our stores of cortisol become depleted which can lead to a subclinical condition called adrenal fatigue. It’s hard to uplift ourselves when physically exhausted. Stress can drain the hormone system as cortisol is a chemical, and the precursors to cortisol are progesterone and DHEA. These hormones get pulled out of the system to make cortisol when you are chronically stressed out. When these hormone levels drop, they can cause menopausal symptoms in women, and fatigue and lack of libido in men.
Start doing these five things to boost the adrenals, reduce stress and increase energy to help find peace in your heart and get through this holiday season.
Breathe. Focus on peace within. When we are calm on the inside, it is easier to be present for all of the challenges the holiday season throws at us. There are many studies that show that meditation reduces cortisol. It’s as simple as taking three deep breaths to reset. If more time is available, listen to a guided mediation, or take a meditation class, which can help even more. But remember it begins with taking a few deep breaths when rising stress levels are noticed.
Exercise. For group exercise, try yoga, the YMCA or Cross Fit. If one’s choice is exercising independently, try ice skating this season, or take a winter hike or snowshoe in the local park. If you hate exercising or have no time at all, then park further away from the mall to get your holiday shopping done or shop locally and deliberately walk down the street of your town. When the hustle and bustle begins to cause stress, go back to #1.
Steer clear of refined sugars. When stressed out, our body is already high in blood sugar as cortisol forces the body to increase blood sugar to fight or flee. Eating lots of sugar increases levels more. When blood sugar is high, it forces the body to release insulin, and over the long term causes insulin resistance, also known as diabetes. Refined sugars include white sugar, soda, candy, sweets and treats. While these are hard to resist, it is worth it. Consider bringing a fruit basket to family gatherings rather than fudge; it will be better in the long run.
Take vitamin D. Vitamin D acts as a hormone in the body and can prevent fatigue. 1000IU or 25mcg of cholecalciferol or vitamin D3 is a safe place to start. I call this liquid sunshine. Because of our latitude from the equator, we get very little direct sun this time of year. In order to make vitamin D naturally, sun exposure is needed. There is a small amount of vitamin D in mushrooms and cod liver oil, if you prefer food as medicine. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that can store up in the body and too much can cause kidney stones, so consider having your levels checked at your next physical or check in with your local naturopath.
Try a gentle adrenal adaptogen. These are herbal medicines that help individuals better adapt to a stressful environment. As with all new herbs and teas, try it once and see how the body reacts; if allergy symptoms are noticed, then discontinue. A favorite herbs is tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, which can gently help boost the adrenals. Tulsi tea can be found at most health food stores, medical herbalists or your local naturopath.
Overall, when we have peace in our heart, we bring peace to the home, neighborhood and world at large. Try these tips for a calmer holiday season. Let’s build peace in our world one body at a time.
Dr. Angela McCann is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist at Avena Integrative Medical Center, in Putnam, CT, just minutes from the border of RI. She is available for corporate and public education events. She can be reached at [email protected]