February is American Heart Month and if you're stressed for any reason, you may be experiencing emotions such as frustration, overwhelm, resentment, anger, and anxiety.

The problem with these negative emotions is they can have a devastating impact on your health and well-being affecting your heart, mental clarity, productivity, and immune system. Not only that but unless released, these disempowering emotions can become trapped in your body creating emotional baggage that potentially can cause future health problems or havoc in your life.

How Anger and Caring Affects Your Immune System

A fascinating study was done at the Heart Math Institute. The study's participants were asked to think of something that made them angry for a total of 5 minutes. They tested their blood levels over the next 6 hours and found their immune system plummeted over their baseline and did not return to the baseline within the 6 hours.

A week later the same participants returned and were asked to think of thoughts of caring for 5 minutes. That time their immune system function shot up and remained above the baseline for the same 6 hours.

Stop the Stress with the "Stop, Drop, and Roll" Method

Try the "Stop, Drop, and Roll" method to remove yourself from harm's way and gain improved health and happiness throughout the year.

Stop and recognize you're feeling stressed.

Drop what is disempowering you in the moment.

Roll with a method that will empower you, bringing you back to a feel good place.

Here are some techniques to help you Roll into positive emotions (choose what works for you):

  • The Freeze Frame Technique from Heart Math is used to help you in the moment you experience stress. This will help you feel more balanced and effective as you deal with the stress in your life. Step away from the stressful event if you can, then shift your focus of attention to the area around your heart. Feel your breath coming in through your heart and going out the solar plexus. Make a sincere effort to activate a positive feeling. Allow yourself to feel a genuine appreciation and caring for another person, place, or thing.
  • Humor and laughter will help to quickly change your mood.
  • Choose music that will calm your soul and nurture your spirit.
  • Think of thoughts of gratitude or appreciation. What are you grateful for? Who or what do you appreciate?
  • Let go of emotional baggage with The Emotion Code.
  • Consider Bio-Feedback devices or smart phone apps to train yourself to more quickly shift from a state of stress to a state of peace which will increase your sense of well-being (and your immune system).
  • Take a walk or hike in nature.
  • Meditate.
  • Practice yoga.

About the Author:

Allison Johnson is a registered nurse, healthcare consultant and certified practitioner of The Emotion Code, groundbreaking methods developed by veteran holistic physician Dr. Bradley Nelson to help people spark physical, mental and emotional self-healing. Allison lives in Auburn, CA, between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. She can be reached at www.ReleaseYourBaggage.com where she provides 20 minute complimentary sessions.

Toxic Offenders

by Guest Author on February 14, 2014 · 2 comments

If we somehow had some high-intensity sci-fi glasses that allowed us to see the air in all its levels of purity, with clear being the most pure and a thick murky grey being the least, most of us would be walking around in a sea of misty to murky grey. If we then decided to look at our clothes, we would also see grey on our brand new sneakers, athletic gear, even on our leather coats, watches, and accessories. More than half, if not all the products we consume are coated in some degree of toxicity.

Toxicity is the degree to which a substance can damage an organism. Most people might consider that poison, and they would be right. The difference between the two seems to be a matter of dosage. The toxic substance becomes poison once the dose is high enough to end the life of the organism. The Royal Society of Chemistry claims that while there are no safe chemicals, all can be used safely if the dose is monitored and administered properly.

So, how can we ensure the dosage, or levels of toxicity in our immediate environment, are safe for us? What can we control, and what can't we? Well, first we must realize that toxicity can also come from within. We've all read some new-age article about distancing ourselves from 'toxic' people and energies that drain us, and there is truth in this. Below, I've outlined a list of things we can do to protect ourselves from toxins, both logical and psychological.

Be aware of your attitude. How is your attitude (towards your life, work, relationships, etc.) affecting you and those around you? Do people come alive in your presence, or shrink away? The more toxic behavior you dish out, the more you are physically affected. For example, aggression causes gastric ulcers, acid reflux, and warts, while jealousy causes oncological diseases like cancer. Apathy is associated with diabetes, and lying is linked to alcoholism, fungal infections and weakening of the immune system. Becoming acutely self-aware is the first step to identifying and rectifying tendencies of toxic behavior patterns that will eventually lead to health issues. (http://www.tunedbody.com/256-year-old-chinese-herbalist-li-ching-yuen-holistic-medicine-15-character-traits-cause-diseases/)

Don ' t swallow the toothpaste (or the water!). Sodium Fluoride, which is a key ingredient in most toothpastes, is a byproduct of the fertilizer industry and also a key ingredient in rat poisoning. A teaspoon of this stuff has been known to kill, and is suspected to be the cause of various brain disorders. Check in your town, as tap water is fluorinated in many parts of North America, and is also found in many brands of bottled water. The best solution to this toxic combo is to buy non-fluoride toothpaste and invest in (ideally) a reverse osmosis filter, or use bottled water – just be sure to check for fluoride content first. http://bit.ly/1ibg22w

Avoid Coca-Cola. With the cleaning power of Lysol and the de-greasing power of those tiny boats they send out to clean up after BP oil spills, it's amazing that Coke is cleared for human consumption. http://killercoke.org/health_issues.php

Eat local. If it doesn't have to travel, it's fresh, and fresh is best when it comes to avoiding toxins. For example, fruit intended to travel for sale is picked before it has fully ripened, then treated for color and appearance. Not only does this fruit not contain its full nutritional potential, it is also riddled with chemical toxins from the various packaging treatments it undergoes.

Buy and Use Natural Cleaning Products. We know about bleach and ammonia, creating a poisonous gas combo capable of asphyxiation in large quantities. Instead of more death mongering, I'll just jump to some easy solutions: baking soda, vinegar, unscented soap.

Get anti antibacterial. Some bacteria is good, There is no evidence that suggests antibacterial solutions get your hands any cleaner than ordinary soap, and there is FDA evidence to suggest they might be harming you. Read about how antibacterial soap can disrupt your hormones:  http://www.naturallifemagazine.com/0602/antibacterial_soap.htm

Avoid using Teflon cookware. PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) is a fluoride compound and it's all over your nonstick teflon surface. It has been linked to cancers of the very organs you need to consume food, as well as ADHD and infertility in women. http://www.healthambition.com/teflon-dangers-nonstick-cookware-alternative

Lose the pine tree dangling from the rear view. Pthalates are found in air fresheners and when you breathe them into your lungs they can cause earaches and have been known to suppress your endocrine system. Febreeze, Glade, etc. – use natural pot-pourri or natural incense instead, which might also help calm the nerves.

Put a lime in the coconut and shake vigorously. Rediscover natural remedies. Be your own healer, there are plenty of medicinal herbs you can grow in your garden. Research herbs. For example, Lemongrass and Red Rasberry leaf have natural anti-depression and anxiety benefits, while Oat Straw is a natural aphrodisiac. Search your ailments and find the natural remedies to relieve them. Make sure to always combine with plenty of exercise and rest. http://bit.ly/1d8esco

Make love, not war. It's been shown that love-making and having orgasms clears the mind of anxiety and cleanses the body of toxic build-up. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/donna-henes/healing-sex_b_2666015.html

With all the toxins we ingest, and the stresses in our lives, it's difficult to know our true potential life spans. Simply put, the best way to test how long we can happily live, is to become a filtered water-drinking, cast iron-cooking, pot-pourri-smelling, good bacteria-carrying, herb-growing sex fiend.

James Sobers, known professionally as BluRum13, has had an iconic career as a solo artist and a collaborative artist. He’s released two solo albums, done over 1,000 shows, and worked with such luminaries as Us3, One Self, Reverse Engineering, among many others.  His texts are empowering and enlightening, encompassing physics, metaphysics, astronomy, astrology, existentialism, social commentary, and uplifting introspection.


I have heard it said that a woman over 40 has a better chance of being killed by terrorists than she does of finding a husband. I don't buy it. I've seen too many examples of older couples finding true love.
My parents, Ken and Gloria Gallagher, were both in their 50s when they divorced after 31 years of marriage. They each moved on, found new love, and have been happy with their respective partners for 35 years now.
My friend Joan Hill met the love of her life, Joe Donlan, when she was 60 and he was 55. They've been together and deeply in love for 20 years.
My friend Anita Goldstein met Paul Schneider when she was 52 and he was a few years younger. Anita had been married previously – divorced after 25 years. She met Paul in 1982 and they've been a committed couple ever since.
My mentor and dear friend, Warren Bennis, married a beautiful, smart woman he had been in love with 30 years earlier – when he was a young MIT professor, she a resident at Harvard Medical School. In the intervening years, they had each married and divorced a couple times, and raised their kids. When they reunited in 1992, it was the kind of fairy tale happy ending that makes you cry in movies. I once asked Warren what it was like to finally marry his beloved Grace Gabe after 30 years apart. He replied, "It's like coming home."
So I don't buy what the pundits say about terrorists versus late-life love. I also don't buy it when women say, "All the good men are taken already." Nor do I buy it when men complain, "I can't find any good women."
Such lamenting is simply selective perception and self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, you only notice that which supports what you already believe. If you think there are no good partners available, you're right. And if you think there are plenty of terrific people to choose among, you're right, too. 

So for those who believe it's never too late to find true love, here are some practical tips from people I interviewed for my new book, It's Never Too Late to Be What You Might Have Been.
Author and coach Pat McHenry Sullivan has four suggestions:
1. Be true to yourself – that's where you meet people from.

2. Have at least two or three people in your life who know who the real you is. These are the people who will help you see the goodness in yourself, as well as call you on your own bullsh*t.

3. Don't assume anything. Sweep away expectations. Be fully present in each and every moment, with each and every person. 

4. Laugh a lot. If possible, choose in-laws who laugh a lot, too.
Former newspaper editor Diane Spatz, who found her terrific husband Bob Smith while working in Washington D.C., offers three suggestions:
"First, I think you need to be really clear on what you want. I had my famous 'Three S Test' when I was dating: 'Single, Straight, and Solvent.' You'd be surprised how hard that was to find in the dating world!
"But seriously, I wanted a man who was smart, confident in himself, and fun to be with. I needed someone who wasn't threatened by my high-powered job or the money I made.
"Second, you have to put the word out that you're looking for a mate. You have to go places, be social, put yourself into places where you're likely to meet appropriate men. Tell your friends what you want; enlist others in finding good candidates for you.
"Third, you have to work at it. Some people say that love falls into your lap when you least expect it – that hasn't been my experience. I made a commitment to finding love. … The dating process was not much fun … but it paid off. Bob and I found each other. All these years later, we still love being together."
Oakland attorney J. Gary Gwilliam offers thoughts based on his own late-life marriage:
"First, true love is not for the young. I think you have to know who you are and what your life is about before first. I wasn't ready for a real relationship until I had experienced a lot of life, read a lot of books, delved into personal development work and therapy, and really come to understand myself. By then I was 53 … and Lilly was 48.
"Second, the purpose of a good relationship, is not to make you happy. … happiness is a by-product of spiritual growth. I can't make somebody else happy and she can't make me happy. We can do things that contribute to happiness, but happiness comes from within.
"The purpose is to grow together so each of you can become the best human being that each of you can. …Think of two candles burning brightly next to each other, as you're holding one in each hand. Now, slowly bring the candles together at the tips and watch the two flames join each other. They become one larger, brighter flame. That what happens when two souls come together in true love. Both become better, brighter."
How to get started finding true love? Just as Gandhi told us to "BE the change you wish to see in the world," perhaps we would do well to "BE the kind of person you'd like to love."



BJ GALLAGHER is a sociologist and author of over 30 books. Her latest is "IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO BE WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN" (Viva Editions)

How are you sleeping at the moment – good, poorly, so-so? Sleep science assures us it's normal for the quantity and the quality of our sleep to dip occasionally, but it can still be hard not to worry or get frustrated when this happens. You might even feel compelled to do some digging to figure out why your sleep is in a funk.

Whilst you might not know how to go about fixing your sleep troubles, having a record of these ups and downs can be useful in many ways, for example, if you go on to consult your doctor. Showing them a record of your recent sleep schedule and how it has affected you will give them a better idea of how to help you – whether you might benefit from quitting smoking, or if you should be referred on for a course of treatment, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

But how do you go about creating a record of your sleep? It's easy – you can just choose the parameters you wish to track and the tool you will use to keep note of them. Of course, you could always keep these notes in your head, but a written record may prove to be more effective at propelling you to act on your findings [6].

What to track and why

We know sleep is easily influenced by what we do (and don't do) during the daylight hours. The media regularly feature the newest study revealing yet another link between sleep and our overall health – reading about it on lunch break or public transport we might nod along, but how often do we act on this knowledge?

The wide array of factors that affect our health are highly interconnected, so tipping the scales in one area, such as your food intake, can quickly impact on many other areas. Eating a big dinner can affect the quality of our sleep. In a similar vein, it can be especially difficult to drift off to sleep when we're under stress.

These links between sleep health and other areas of our health and well-being have often been observed by researchers with one study being of particular interest. Analysing the lifestyles and health of a village known for its longest average lifespan, Japanese researchers found that the state of their physical health as well as mental health factored into how they slept [5]. For example, those who walked often and exercised three or more times per week fell into the group of good sleepers. With regards to mental health, good sleepers were often active socially and taking part in dedicated clubs and activities.

Similar findings might apply to the general population as well. To mention just a few factors which have been shown to influence our sleep:

· Food and diet – spicy foods for example can disturb sleep, especially when they are eaten close to bedtime. [1]

· Exercise – in particular, aerobic exercise (walking, running, etc.) has been shown to improve sleep in certain populations, [2] but there's debate in the scientific community as to whether exercising too late in the day may have the opposite effect on sleep.

· Weight – recent research has linked excess weight to poorer sleep quality in older adults [3]

· Alcohol – some research suggests that it can cause us to wake throughout the night when consumed after 4pm [4]

So when it comes to getting a full record of your sleep, you might want to keep note of as many relevant factors as you can reasonably track. No need to overextend yourself however – you should aim for awareness rather than finding a sleep cure.

The difference is in seeing that drinking caffeine after 4pm coincides with a much later bedtime when compared to nights that you didn't have caffeine in the afternoon. Then, the next time you have a cup of coffee in hand you might be more likely remember to check the clock, as you'll know that getting less sleep and feeling unrefreshed in the morning is the alternative. In this way, increased awareness of poor diet, exercise or another health factor can help us change these habits to boost our health.

Thus the emphasis of self-tracking shouldn't be to try to 'cure yourself', but to be more aware of your state of health. To prevent rather than to treat, as they would say.

Before I started tracking my sleep, I'd long kept a log in my head but I was still perpetuating the same habits, such as excersising late in the day and then also going to bed late. It wasn't until I was confronted with these habits in writing that I found the motivation to kick them.

How to track

Once you've decided what to track, deciding on your tracking tool is the easy part as there's plenty to choose from:

· Keeping notes on paper

· Keeping a spreadsheet

· Using a sleep app

· Using a self-tracking device and its app

Each of these methods has its pros and cons so further research may be necessary to find one that suits your style best. Don't get too stuck on choosing your tool, though – as before it's more important to be consistant than to be 100% accurate. So, we should aim to be as consistent with our tracking as we are with our (bad) habits.

"We create our fate every day . . . most of the ills we suffer from are directly traceable to our own behavior." ~ Henry Miller


[1] Edwards, S.J., Montgomery, I.M., Colquhoun, E.Q., Jordan, J.E., Clark, M.G. (1992). Spicy meals disturb sleep: an effect of thermoregulation? International Journal of Psychophysiology, 13(2), 97-100.

[2] Reid, K., Baron, K.G., Lu, Brandon, Naylor, E., Wolfe, L., Zee, P.C. (2010). Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia. Sleep Medicine 11(9), 934-940.

[3] Hung, H.C., Yang, Y.C., Ou, H.Y., Wu, J.S., Lu, F.H., Chang, C.J. (2013). The association between self-reported sleep quality and overweight in a Chinese population. Obesity, 21(3), 486-92.

[4] Van Reen, E., Tarokh, L., Rupp, T.L., Seifer, R., Carskadon, M.A. (2011). Does timing of alcohol administration affect sleep? SLEEP, 34(2), 195-205.

[5] Taira, K., Tanaka, H., et al. (2002). Sleep health and lifestyle of elderly people in Ogimi, a village of longevity. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 56(3), 243-244.

[6] Fox, S. & Duggan, M. (2012). Report: tracking for health. Pew Research Center.


Bio: A night owl turned sleep enthusiast, Helena contributes to website dedicated to sleep improvement: Sleepio.com.