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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Katie Winnell RN BSN HEd.
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b2ap3_thumbnail_lotus-2436937_1920.jpgRegardless of who you are, where you live, or what you do, chances are you’ve experienced the stress and anxiety life can bring. The fact of the matter is, we live in uncertain times. As a human species, we always have. Intellectually we know there are no guarantees that come with being alive. Our evolutionary development demands that we stay alert to threats and potential danger so that we can stay alive. While we no longer find ourselves on the look-out for the proverbial lion outside the cave door, potential threats and turmoil abound, for some of us more than others. This can leave us feeling stressed, anxious, uncertain, and vulnerable.

Every day we absorb, integrate, and react to countless stressful stimuli from our external environment as well as the emotions and thoughts that these stimuli bring up within ourselves. Our brains have literally been designed to scan for these stimuli and attach emotion and memory to them (termed the negativity bias) (1). In this sometimes constant state of vigilance, we may find ourselves further and further away from a state of calm, a state of peace. This distancing from inner peace can lead to increased chronic stress and multiple stress related illnesses (2). Now we have added another layer of dis-ease to our uncertain lives.

And yet, amidst all of this turmoil, we live, we trust, we love, we look forward to tomorrow. How is it that we hold these two dichotomies within the same brain, the same heart, the same spirit? This is the essence of being human. It is in human vulnerability that we often locate both our desire for and our capacity to experience the state of peace which allows us to trust, to love, to find the meaning and purpose that see us through to tomorrow. And these potentials exist within each and every one of us. They are not mysterious or magical, they are the result of the intermingling and reorganization of the myriad functions of the human brain (3). This physiological fact, however, does not diminish the beauty and freedom experienced with unlocking these potentials. We all have access to these resources, sometimes we just need the guidance and support of others to nudge open the door within ourselves behind which they are waiting.

So how do we nudge this door within ourselves open? One inch at a time. The field of neuroplasticity has shown us we can “turn down” the negativity bias wired into our brains through evolution and “turn up” our capacity to scan and experience beauty, contentment, and peace (1). Doing this, however, takes a dedicated practice which guides us to a state of inner awareness, then gently turns this inner awareness to a more active state of focused attention to the experience of peace. This quite literally changes the activity of the brain biochemically and energetically, priming us to absorb and experience calm peacefulness. From this state we can access our own wisdom, our purpose in life, softening the vulnerability of uncertainty (4).

We can exist in peace, even in the tumultuous world in which we live. But this is a practice. And as in any practice, we need guidance and support. Join me at Dr. Nielsen’s office for one or both of these offerings as we explore the human potentials of peace, wisdom, purpose, and oneness through the practice of Clinical Meditation and Imagery.


FOUNDATIONS OF MEDITATION
Four-week session: When: Monday evenings November 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th, 2017, 6:30pm.
$140. Pre-registration required.


EXPLORATIONS IN MEDITATION AND IMAGERY
Drop-In sessions: When: first and third Tuesdays of each month** starting September 5th 2017, 6:30pm.
$15 drop-in fee. No registration required.
**please note: October 2017 offerings will be the first and fourth Tuesday, Oct. 3rd and 24th, 2017**

Sources:
1. Hanson, Rick. Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence. Harmony Books, NY, New York.
2. Sapolsky, R. (2004). Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. Sapolosky, NY, New York.
3. Schaub, Bonnie, and Schaub, Richard. (2014). Dante’s Path: Vulnerability and the Spiritual Journey. Florence Press, NY, New York.
4. Austin, James. (2000). Zen and the Brain. First MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.



b2ap3_thumbnail_katiewinnell_thumbnail.jpgIf you are interested in learning how I can help you manage chronic illness risk factors and access your own unique lifestyle of wellness through wellness management, health education, health coaching, workshops, and clinical meditation instruction or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact the office of Integrative Medicine - Carin Nielsen, MD at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.

 
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In the busy-ness of our everyday lives, we often forget one of the most powerful tools we have to create physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. Breathing. It seems so simple, yet so many of us breathe in ways that actually cause an increase in physiologic and emotional stress. The adage “breath is life” is finding ground in the medical community, with an increasing number of evidence-based studies showing the link between breath awareness practices and improved health. Indeed, these practices have the ability to positively impact multiple symptomologies, from test anxiety to high blood pressure, the common cold to chronic pain. Further, because breath awareness techniques have the ability to alter brain functions such as brain wave patterns and how parts of the brain “talk” to each other, breathing techniques can set the stage for new understandings, emotional integration, and spiritual development.

The link between specific breathing techniques and health outcomes lies in our innate ability to affect our nervous system function by simply breathing. Just taking a moment to be aware of the sensation of your breath as it moves in and out begins to switch your body out of stress and into relaxation. This happens because calm, focused breathing both mechanically and biochemically stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the branch of your autonomic nervous system sometimes called the “rest and digest,” or “tend and befriend” nervous system. Its activation has been linked to positive health benefits such as decreased heart rate, lower blood pressure, decreased pain, and increased immune response.

The polar opposite of this state of relaxation occurs with the activation of the other branch of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic or “fight or flight” nervous system. Chronic activation of this part of the nervous system can contribute to multiple health problems such as cardiovascular disease, GERD, weight gain, and anxiety. Given the hectic, busy nature of our lives, we spend a large amount of time in “fight or flight,” and not nearly enough in “rest and digest.” Subsequently, our culture is seeing a precipitous rise in stress related chronic illness. Many of these states of illness, however, can be positively affected by practicing breath awareness as a stress management tool, effectively altering the nervous system balance between “rest and digest” and “fight or flight.”

In the upcoming workshop, Breath Awareness for Stress Reduction, we will explore and experience three powerful breath awareness techniques: Simple Breath Awareness, Diaphragmatic Breathing, and Extended Exhalation. These evidence-based techniques, when practiced over time, can truly lower your physiologic stress levels, allow you to access your “rest and digest” nervous system, and decrease chronic illness indicators. Moreover, they set the stage for more in depth explorations of meditation as a tool for health and wellness. Whether used independently or as an introduction to meditative practices, breath awareness can be an effective tool to reach your wellness goals. So, go ahead, Just Breathe.

References:
1. Bergland, C. (2013 Feb.). The Neurobiology of Grace Under Pressure. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201302/the-neurobiology-grace-under-pressure, accessed 03/22/17.
2. Med Sci Monit. 2013; 19: 61–66. Published online 2013 Jan 21. doi:  10.12659/MSM.883743
3. N.A., (n.d.), Stress. Retrieved from: http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/stress, accessed 03/22/17
4. Neurol Sci. 2017 Mar;38(3):451-458. doi: 10.1007/s10072-016-2790-8. Epub 2016 Dec 19
5. Pain Med. 2012 Feb;13(2):215-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01243.x. Epub 2011 Sep 21




Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative MedicineIf you are interested in learning how I can help you manage chronic illness risk factors and access your own unique lifestyle of wellness through wellness management, health education, health coaching, workshops, and clinical meditation instruction or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact the office of Integrative Medicine - Carin Nielsen, MD at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.
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NUTRITIONAL WELLNESS:
USING MINDFUL AWARENESS TO EAT HEALTHIER IN THE NEW YEAR

Eating healthier is a common New Year’s Resolution, and for good reasons. Institutions such as Harvard Health1 and The World Health Organization2 report that a quality diet focusing on whole grains, healthy fats, high-quality protein, and colorful vegetable choices can positively affect our quality of life and decrease the risk of many chronic diseases. So if your resolution is to get healthy through changing your diet, good for you! Now, how to make that happen…

Sticking to resolutions and lofty goals can be tricky. How about starting with “simple awareness?” Learning to become aware of the emotional, physical, and nutritional triggers that alter our food choices is a great start to engaging in healthier eating patterns. Stress reduction3 and mindful eating practices4 can begin the process of becoming aware of why, what, and how you are eating. Additionally, over the long-term these techniques may have the potential to assist in changing your internal hormonal balance5, optimize the function of your gastrointestinal tract6, and help you meet your health, nutrition, and weight goals. Bringing awareness to our bodies and minds is the first step in helping us notice, understand, and change the “habit behavior” that can sometimes lead to poor diet choices and wreak havoc on our nutrition and weight goals. Over time, awareness followed by behavioral change can produce healthier eating patterns that last a lifetime.

Join Nina Fearon, RDN,and me, Katie Winnell RN, BSN, HEd., for a discussion on Nutritional Wellness. Together we can bring “simple awareness” to your 2017 New Year’s nutrition resolution.


Course Details

Tuesday January 24, 10am-12pm or 6pm-8pm
$40 per participant, advanced registration required

For more information or to pre-register: (231) 638-5585 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

View Mindful Eating Workshop Details.

References:
1. N.A. (N.D.). What Should I Eat? Retrieved from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/.
2. N.A. (N.D.). Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/trs916/summary/en/.
3. Norris, (2011). Stress Reduction and Mindful Eating Curb Weight Gain Among Overweight Women. Retrieved from: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2011/12/11091/stress-reduction-and-mindful-eating-curb-weight-gain-among-overweight-women.
4. N.A. (N.D.). Mindful Eating. Retrieved from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating.
5. Bergland, C. (2015). Cortisol: Why “The Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1.
6. Suarez K, et al. Psychological Stress and Self-Reported Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (March 2010): Vol. 198, No. 3, pp. 226–29.




Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative MedicineIf you are interested in learning how I can help you manage chronic illness risk factors and access your own unique lifestyle of wellness through wellness management, health education, health coaching, workshops, and clinical meditation instruction or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact the office of Integrative Medicine - Carin Nielsen, MD at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.
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