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Brookhaven Retreat Blog
Friday, 28 February 2014 16:52

Tips For a Stress Free Dinner

Whether you are a family of two or 10, “What’s for dinner?” can seem like the most stressful question of the day. Multiple studies have shown that dinner is an important part of a healthy family life.

Here are three basic tips to help make an important time with family less stressful and more enjoyable:

  1. Plan meals. Agreeing on what to have for dinner, trekking to the store, then preparing the meal can take hours of time and frustration. At the beginning of each week consider what you are going to eat each night. Go through your pantry to see what ingredients you already have. Then, make a grocery list of all of the ingredients to get during one trip to the store.
  2. Prepare ahead of time. If your weekdays are packed full, take some time on the weekends to pre-prepare a few delicious dinners that keep well. This way you’ll be able to come home after a long day, reheat and eat. This also gives you a chance to make large quantities of a meal, such as lasagna or spaghetti sauce, freezing the leftovers for another day.
  3. De-clutter your kitchen. A messy room can completely discourage you from wanting to step foot in it. This is especially true in the kitchen. Cooking dinner can already feel like a chore, if you have to do the dishes before even getting started, you might find yourself avoiding the kitchen entirely.

We deal with enough stress during the day without adding dinner to the list. Planning, pre-preparing and de-cluttering can help take the hassle out of dinnertime, allowing for a more relaxing evening with the ones we love.

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Thursday, 27 February 2014 14:09

Reflections of Belonging

The human body is an amazing thing. It has been said, from the dust we come and to the dust we return. Even though this has been said, we need little proof for we know without embalming or mummification our bodies return to the earth the same as every other natural creature. To give glorious honor to this wonder, science names the alphabet of all substance and the building blocks of our physical existence as the elements of the periodic table. These elements flow in existence and function within the human body with the same characteristics as the elements in every other segment of the universe because they literally are those elements. With every exhaled breath, we give back a small part of the elemental world just as the elemental world has given a part of itself to us when we inhale.

Recently I read there have been 110 elements discovered. Also, with new technologies, our scientific students mindfully seek more. But, regardless of our awareness of each basic unit of physical existence, they function according to their own design…without instruction, without training, without command…neither can we change them as we come to know them…they are the basic building blocks of the physical world…existing according to their own character to make up every star, every planet, every man, creature, plant, disease and beast. In the currents of existence, we are the flowers, the birds, the trees, mountains and streams… and…they are us…If there is beauty in this…then there is beauty in us.

As all things living, we consume and excrete the elements of the universe continually. Annually we are, more or less, 90% a completely new physical creation, having expelled our borrowed sustenance to decompose back into elemental form to the land, sea and sky. Yet, simultaneously, without need for our awareness the elemental world rebuilds the physical body accord to our personal DNA coding, depending upon the ability and availability to consume, absorb and utilize essential nutrients. Therefore, let us move mindfully toward the wonder and cascade of the elemental world. To feel it enter our lungs…to feel it brush against our skin like a soft breeze on a warm sunlit day…to look for the bouquet of beauty whose fragrance draws our searching heart. For, we are these things and… to this world we belong.

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:41

Ingredient Spotlight: Turmeric

It is possible you’ve never heard of turmeric before. However, it is one of the main ingredients in common foods, such as mustard and curry. It is a bright yellow spice that has been recognized for centuries because of its medicinal properties, as well as its warm, peppery flavor.

Anti-inflammatory

Turmeric contains curcumin, which gives its recognizable color. Curcumin has the same anti-inflammatory effects as hydrocortisone and Motrin. It is a natural spice, giving us all the benefits of over-the counter medicines, without the toxicity. These anti-inflammatory properties provide a source of relief for chronic bowel diseases, including Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.

Antioxidant

The curcumin in turmeric is also an antioxidant. It is able to neutralize free radicals, and reduce the amount of damage to healthy cells. This combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric offers relief from arthritis symptoms.

Whether it is adding this warm flavor to dinner or fixing a cup of turmeric tea, including even small amounts of this potent spice to our diet can supply powerful health benefits.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 21:36

Cherishing Friendships

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” – Helen Keller

Maintaining friendships can be a difficult task amongst life’s hectic schedule. As we get older, we often focus our lives on work and family, but it is important that we not neglect friendships. Taking time out of the day to write letters to our friends who have touched us and inspired us is a small act of friendship that will boost their mood and even our own.

Our friends have shaped who we are today. Starting from the days on the playground, to the friends we’ve made at work; each friendship has helped us grow and played a major role in our social development. They improve our self-confidence and self-worth, as well as our feeling of belonging and purpose. In doing so, stress and depression become minimized.

Good friends support us through thick and thin. Throughout life we will have ups and downs, but having someone there to support us and advise us along the way makes dealing with life’s stresses just a little bit easier. A friend who is willing to listen and reinforce that we are not alone can be therapeutic, helping us to better cope with anxiety and stress.

Maintaining friendships takes effort, but the benefits of keeping those special friendships makes the effort worthwhile. Showing our friends that we cherish them is a simple but effective way to bring happiness to their lives, as well as our own.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Monday, 24 February 2014 20:04

DIY Spring Body Scrub

With shorts and T-shirt season (slowly) approaching, it is a great time to whip up some DIY body scrub for smooth, moisturized arms and legs. The great thing about creating your own body scrub is the ability to customize it. This body scrub can even be modified for people with sensitive skin. It is also very flexible, allowing you to swap one type of oil for another or use salt instead of sugar. Just start out with this basic recipe and adjust where needed!

The first ingredient is oil, preferably organic extra virgin coconut oil, which smells nice and is extremely versatile. The leftovers can be used as natural hair conditioner or for cooking and baking. Coconut oil is a great moisturizing agent for skin because it penetrates deeply. It naturally clears away dirt and oil, as well as harmful bacteria.

The second ingredient is brown sugar (or salt). The rough granules help exfoliate, removing dead skin cells.

The last ingredient is your favorite essential oil. Lavender is my choice. It not only smells great, it’s an excellent at reducing anxiety and stress. Lavender has also been proven to relieve headaches and boost circulation.

To make this nurturing body scrub, mix 1-cup sugar and ½ cup coconut oil together until smooth. After you’ve reached a smooth consistency, add 5-7 drops of essential oil and mix. Just transfer the scrub into whatever container you want to use and voilà! You’re ready to show off that beautiful skin!

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Monday, 24 February 2014 07:17

Time Management Tips

When we don’t give ourselves enough time to get tasks completed we may find that we become stressed, anxious and irritable. And usually the first thing we do when rushing to get things done is blame it on not having enough time. However, in most cases it isn’t the lack of time we have to finish our responsibilities, but not utilizing the time we do have. The first step towards managing our time efficiently is recognizing poor time management.

Next, write a to-do list giving yourself an allotted amount of time to finish each task. One trick teachers tell students when test taking is to come back to the problems that are taking you longer to complete. If you do this with tasks that you become stuck on it can prevent you from spending too much time on one chore and failing to finish all of them.

We can reward ourselves. Establishing a reward can help prevent distractions as well as give us motivation to complete our responsibilities. We might try to trick ourselves in to believing that one episode of our favorite TV show will give us the break needed to come back and finish that paper. Instead, it’s better to see this as a reward we will get after completing our task. This is motivation to stay on track as well as help us to avoid distractions.

If you feel overwhelmed with a particular task, then allow yourself to work in intervals. Doing so will reenergize the brain preventing you from becoming worn out, and allowing us to be more productive when we are working.

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Sunday, 23 February 2014 02:09

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is the ultimate winter comfort food. It has rich flavors, warming spices and a comforting texture that just seems to soothe the soul. Don’t let the modest ingredients deceive you; the redolent spices, smoky bacon and golden brown topping elevate the simple flavors to divine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower or 3 baked, mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee, or other cooking fat
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 6 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ¾ cup diced carrots (approximately 2 large)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 pounds ground lamb or beef
  • 1 to 2 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup peas (thawed if frozen)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Chop the cauliflower** roughly into 2-inch pieces.
  3. Set up a pot with 1 inch of water and a steamer basket.
  4. Steam the cauliflower until fork-tender, approximately 10 minutes.
  5. While it’s still warm, puree the cauliflower in a food processor with the butter, ghee or other fat, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat.
  7. When the bacon is about halfway done, about 5 minutes, add the diced carrots along with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  8. Cook for another few minutes, then add the garlic and ground meat.
  9. When the meat is browned and the carrots are cooked through, add the sage and cinnamon and stir to combine.
  10. Place the meat mixture in an oven-safe baking dish (a pie pan or 9 by 9-inch baking dish works well).
  11. Top the meat with a layer of the peas, then a layer of the cauliflower puree.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes.
  13. To brown the top after baking, place the oven rack in the top position, set the broiler to high and place the dish as close to the heat as possible for 5 to 10 minutes, watching closely to avoid burning it.

**If using sweet potatoes instead of cauliflower, bake in the oven for one hour, allow to cool slightly and peel off the skin. While still warm, puree the sweet potatoes in the food processor with the butter, ghee or other fat, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: The 21-Day Sugar Detox

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Friday, 21 February 2014 02:20

Reducing Stress with Aromatherapy

Humans have around five million olfactory receptors in the nose, so it is no surprise smell has a very real effect on our mood. Research shows essential oils that are extracted from plants have the power to reduce stress and anxiety. Using these essential oils to promote a healthy mind and body function is known as aromatherapy.

There are many essential oils that fight stress and anxiety allowing us to stay focused and relaxed. For example, inhaling lavender can reduce anxiety and stress levels. Studies have also shown lavender has pain relieving effects for muscle and joint aches.

Another anxiety reducing essential oil is Roman chamomile. Not only does this oil lower anxiety, but also paranoia and aggression. If you are feeling depressed, bergamot, jasmine, and wild orange will help lift your mood.

Adding aromatherapy into our lives is easy to do. It can be used even while at the office to reduce work stress, clear your mind or give you a boost of energy. The best way to use aromatherapy is to keep the fragrance subtle and not overwhelming. You can de-stress at work without offending anyone by using a diffuser.

At the end of the day a bath is a great way to relax using aromatherapy. There are a variety of bath salts and oils that contain aromas that can ease body aches and mental fatigue.

It is important to reduce stress and anxiety in our lives. Aromatherapy is a simple and versatile way we can give a boost to our mental health.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Thursday, 20 February 2014 16:31

Losing Your Self in Social Media

What do 500 million people all have in common? Facebook. As of 2013, 500 million people had a Facebook profile and half of those logged on every single day. Although social media sites have their benefits to us, such as keeping in touch with family and friends who are far away, studies have shown that it can negatively affect our mental health.

Losing Connection: The purpose of social media is to connect us. But research shows that focusing on what is happening elsewhere detaches us from what actually surrounds us. How many times do we substitute electronically catching up with friends or family over physically meeting them for lunch or coffee? This lack of face-to-face interaction can cause social anxiety.

Envy and Depression: From vacation pictures to fancy parties, people are always posting about how much fun they are having. The appearance that everyone around you never has a dull moment can lead to envy, depression and negative thoughts about your own life. Social media exacerbates the natural tendency we have to compare ourselves to others. Seeing how many more “friends” or “likes” someone has can make us feel inadequate.

If you think social media is the cause of your depression or anxiety, go a month without it. You might find that without the distraction of social media you are able to focus on what is important. I evaluated my own social media usage a few years ago after my dad told me if I wasn’t careful I’d become too busy watching everyone else’s lives that I would forget to live mine.

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Wednesday, 19 February 2014 15:36

Nutrition and Mental Health

You’ve probably seen the Snickers commercials with the tag line; “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Although it’s meant to be amusing, it can actually be used as an example of how important nutrition is to our mental health.

Multiple studies show malnutrition can play a major role in our mental health. Eating unhealthy foods or not eating enough food can have a remarkable impact on our overall wellbeing. We already know the importance of eating a balanced diet for our physical health, but what about the benefits to our mental health?

If you want to avoid being drowsy, especially during the middle of the day, stay away from meals that are high in carbohydrates. Carbs affect our blood sugar, and when our blood sugar fluctuates too much it can cause anxiety. To maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout the day, stick to eating whole grains and avoid refined sugars.

Protein is particularly important for mental health. There are eight amino acids that are essential to us and must be provided through our diet. Amino acids including tyrosine and tryptophan aid in the development of serotonin and dopamine. Low serotonin levels in the brain can cause aggression, depression and anxiety. Low levels of dopamine can play a factor in fatigue, stress and mental illnesses.

Fats are often perceived to be what make us, well, fat. But the brain and body need unsaturated fats, also known as “good fats,” to function properly. Essential fatty acids including, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, have been shown to benefit people with bipolar disorder, depression and stress.

Proper fats, protein and carbohydrates can help reduce anxiety, depression, stress and other mental illnesses. To mentally and physically feel our best we have to ensure that we stay nourished throughout the day.

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We are a private pay treatment center and do not accept any type of insurance. Costs associated with care are the responsibility of the client.