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Finding Emotional Stability: The Storm before the Calm

Finding Emotional Stability:  The Storm before the Calm

Like it or not, things often get worse before they get better.  A tickle in your throat can be the first sign that a cold is on its way.  Hitting your arm or leg usually results in swelling, then bruising, and finally it heals.  The same is true in regards to our emotional stability.  I hate to break it to you, but we don’t pop out of the womb emotionally stable individuals.  If you’re seen a toddler in the midst of a temper tantrum, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Or how about the adolescent who boldly refuses to follow the advice of parents or guardians.  It’s easy to get frustrated by the storm, but instead let’s consider 5 benefits of the storm that are necessary in order to reach the stability and calm we desire.

storm27707/Pixabay.com

1. Provides a Much Needed Wake-up Call

Most of us live extremely busy lives and often only have time to deal with priorities.  Emotional health doesn’t always make the priority list.  However, a lack of emotional stability CAN derail us more than we realize.  Just think about those mornings when you don’t feel like getting out of bed.  Or when you can’t bear dealing with a problematic relationship so you choose to stay home.  Perhaps even when we decline an invitation because of the unwanted consequences it may bring.

Emotional instability provides the wake-up call we need.  Those with anxiety issues will tell you that when they can’t sit still or sleep well, health becomes a priority.  Likewise, someone suffering with depression is desperate for an energy boost and motivation.  And anyone who experiences anger outbursts leaves an aftermath of destruction that craves peace and calm.  Sometimes, our problems are warnings.  Imagine hearing words through a megaphone announcing, “This is not a test!  This is a real warning that change is needed and it is needed now!”

2. Gives Us a Gentle Push in the Right Direction

While wake-up calls are an important part of emotional health, too much of a good thing usually doesn’t help.  The megaphone approach might help might once in a while, but who wants to hear that on a regular basis?  In fact, an approach that is too strong can have the opposite effect and result in no action at all.

It’s often that gentle nudge or push in the right direction that has longer lasting results.  Have you ever seen the look on a parent’s face when they need to discipline a child but can’t.  The child may never hear the words, “knock it off.”  But they sure can feel them!  When we start to become unsettled by negative emotions, ask yourself if this is like mom or dad’s “look” gently pushing in a better direction.

3. Allows Potential Friends & Lovers to See the Truth

When we make purchases in life, we often wonder if something is worth the price.  Will this tool last a day, a year, or a lifetime?  If we knew how long it would last, we could be more certain of how much we are willing to pay for it.  But, since most of us lack the ability to see into the future, it becomes guesswork.

The same can be true of engaging in new relationships.  Whether it a new friend or a potential lover, we would love to see what the future holds but usually can’t.  So, once again, we’re left with guesswork.  And it doesn’t help that in the beginning of relationships, people often hide their true selves.  They tend to show the other person what they want to see.

Emotional outbursts in a potential friend or lover allow us to see beneath the surface.  They do allow us to peek into the future.  They take away some of the guesswork.  This is not always a bad thing, but it does tell us how a person handles stress.  Do they start crying or shut down?  Do they begin yelling, cursing, or throwing objects?  Does some type of verbal or physical abuse begin?  While it might not be pretty, it’s better to know what you’re dealing with and the storm can definitely provide needed insight.

4. Creates Motivating Memories

Remember the time that xyz happened?  Unfortunately, we all have some memories that we would rather NOT remember.  Those times when we lost our cool.  Or those times when we majorly embarrassed ourselves saying something we should not have.

Those bad memories can actually be motivating at times.  They serve to remind us what types of behavior we don’t want to repeat.  I recall assuming that someone had decided I wasn’t worth his or her time.  When actually they were in the midst of a personal crisis and couldn’t muster up the energy for anyone.  That experience has caused me to give people the benefit of the doubt and not assume.  I now verify facts before jumping to conclusions most of the time.

5. Develops the Skills Needed to Help Others

“It’s not all about you!”  Although we may not like hearing those words, they are true.  Every problem we have or lesson we learn is not just for our benefit.  Life experiences are often meant to be used to benefit others.  Once we have learned to overcome a particular downfall, we are equipped to help others do the same.  My experiences struggling with depression have often helped others struggling with it too.

Some people go as far as writing a book or officially changing their career in order to help others.  Such extreme measures are not always necessary though.  Pick up a phone and call a friend who has been having a rough time.  Be willing to talk with someone you run into who is experiencing a difficulty.  You’ll be amazed at how the right people just happen to cross paths with you when you have what they need.

Reflection Questions

  1.  Are you struggling with emotional stability today?  If so, could this be a sign that something needs to change?
  2. Do you have any memories that motivate you NOT to do something again?
  3. Does someone need to hear your story so that they can be helped with a similar problem?

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Bone Health: 7 Strategies to Keep Them Strong & Working for You

Bone Health:  7 Strategies to Keep Them Strong & Working for You

Bone health is one of those things that people don’t think about much until they end up with a problem.  Like the picture below shows, we don’t really want to hear, see, or talk about bone health on a daily basis.  Yet, if we choose to ignore it, one day there may be a high price to pay for our neglect. I have known many people that while performing normal everyday activities broke a bone (myself included).  So, instead of ignoring our bones, let’s look at 7 strategies that can help us keep them strong and doing what they were intended to do!

bonePaulbr75/ Pixabay.com

1. Reduce Carbonated Beverage Drinking

While a soda pop once in a while is not likely to cause your bones to break, a regular daily habit of it might.  Drinking an excessive amount of carbonated beverages is a problem for two reasons.  The first reason is that when you choose carbonated drinks, you’re not choosing calcium rich beverages that are known to increase bone strength.  It’s sort of like choosing dessert but skipping dinner. You can fill up on things that are not super nutritious and miss the most beneficial things.

The second reason that carbonated beverages can cause trouble for your bones is that sodas are high in phosphoric acid.  The body does need phosphorus to function properly.  But when we drink too much of it, our calcium/ phosphorus balance gets off kilter.  When you have too much phosphorus in your blood, your body will start to pull calcium out of the bone to equal things out. The result is bones that don’t have enough calcium and that are a setup for a fracture.

2. Decrease Caffeine Intake

Caffeine can present another problem for your bones.  It can prevent the calcium you eat and drink from getting into the bones in the first place.  Almost like the bully that steals lunch money, caffeine gets in the way of calcium doing what it needs to do.  Caffeine is not all bad; it has many beneficial effects on the body too.  So, the key here is moderation.

According to the Mayo Clinic, about 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day is safe for most adults.  There is approximately 100 mg of caffeine in one brewed cup of coffee, so it is wise to limit your coffee intake for 4 cups/day.  Do your homework and calculate how much caffeine you are taking in per day.  If you’re taking in too much, start slowly decreasing this amount and you’ll be doing yourself and your bones a favor!

3. Decrease Alcohol Use and Smoking

We’re seeing a familiar theme here in that both excessive alcohol and nicotine block calcium from properly getting into the bones.  Almost like a road-closed sign, calcium may be waiting at the door but can’t get in.  Additionally, these two substances increase two potentially bone-damaging hormones, cortisol, and parathyroid hormone.  These hormones actually pull calcium out of the bones.  So, the combination of not allowing calcium in and pulling calcium out of our bones sets us up for fractures and broken bones with even minor injuries.

With nicotine, the damage doesn’t stop there.  Nicotine is filled with free radicals that will damage cells.  A type of cells called osteoblasts help build new bone cells when needed.  Unfortunately, nicotine destroys osteoblasts, reducing the ability of the body to regenerate bone cells.

4. Consume Recommended Daily Allowance of Calcium

When did you first hear that you have to drink your milk?  For most of us, it was so long ago that we couldn’t remember exactly when we heard these familiar words.  While milk is not the only source of calcium, it is a good option for many people.  Other sources include dark leafy greens, cheese, yogurt, broccoli, almonds, and many enriched foods.

Getting enough calcium is not a one size fits all approach.  At certain times in life, our bodies need more calcium than others.  The Mayo Clinic provided a good reference that I have included below that you can use as a guide for how much calcium you should be getting each day.  When given a choice, it’s better to get calcium from your food.  But if you’re finding you just can’t get enough that way, supplements are also an option.

Calcium: Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults
Men Daily RDA Daily upper limit
19-50 years 1,000 mg 2,500 mg
51-70 years 1,000 mg 2,000 mg
71 and older 1,200 mg 2,000 mg
Women Daily RDA Daily upper limit
19-50 years 1,000 mg 2,500 mg
51 and older 1,200 mg 2,000 mg

5.  Consume Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D

Having enough Vitamin D is another important part of bone health since it helps calcium absorb.  Vitamin D can be found in foods or supplements.  The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin D is 600 IU for anyone between 1 and 70 years of age.  For those over 71 years, the recommendation increases to 800 IU.

Some great food choices that provide high amounts of Vitamin D are fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks, and foods fortified with Vitamin D such as dairy products, soy milk, orange juice, and many cereals.  It’s always best to get your nutrition directly from food when possible.  But if you find that difficult, supplements are another great option.

6. Get Enough Sunlight

Another excellent way to get enough Vitamin D is through sun exposure.  When skin is exposed to direct sunlight, it can synthesize Vitamin D.  This form of Vitamin D is not active though, it still needs to be processed by the liver and kidney to become active.  Experts feel that exposure to direct sunlight is the best way to get Vitamin D.  And when the weather cooperates, we should all be attempting to spend daily time in the sun.

The next questions are how much time I should spend in the sun and how much skin needs to be exposed.  Don’t worry, you don’t need to wear a bikini or spend your entire day outside.  There are some variations in how much exposure is needed such as skin color, location, and the time of day.  These variations make it difficult to provide specific guidelines, but generally speaking, a fair-skinned person may only need to spend 10-15 minutes in the sunlight.  But, a dark-skinned individual may need to spend up to two hours outdoors to achieve the same results.

The more skin you expose (such as your back or legs), the larger the amount of Vitamin D you will synthesize.  The good news is that you can’t overdose from sunlight since the body knows when to stop producing.  However, since you don’t use sunscreen for this type of exposure, you will need to be cautious about getting sunburn.

7. Increase Weight Bearing Exercise

Did you know that if you perform weight-bearing exercises such as walking, dancing, aerobics, and climbing stairs you would make your bones stronger?  Weight-bearing exercises are ones that make your body work hard against gravity.  Once your body senses that a particular part of your body is being used, it will send osteoblasts to that area and start to build a bigger, stronger bone.

For this reason, it’s important to perform weight-bearing exercises on all parts of your body.  You can do a variety of type of push-ups, lifting weights, and yard-work or even play your favorite sport.  The key is to start slow, and gradually move toward a regular habit where all body parts are exercised.  This gives you the best opportunity to grow strong bones and stay health.  This way you may be able to avoid fractures and breaks and keep your bones doing what they were meant to do.

Reflection Questions

  1. Which of the 7 areas related to bone health do you have room for the most improvement?
  2. What one change are you willing to make this week in order to start strengthening your bones?

References

The following are all from the Mayo Clinic website.

Caffeine:  How much is too much?  

Calcium and calcium supplements:  Achieving the right balance.

Vitamin D:  Dosing.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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