Do you struggle with heartburn, constipation, bloating or diarrhea? Or perhaps you’re always tired, crave carbohydrates or battle brain fog? Or are you one of the millions living with the pain of arthritis or battling chronic sinus infections?
What all these health conditions have in common may surprise you – an unhealthy digestive system. An unhealthy gut is much more prevalent than you’d think – about 60 to 70 million people in America have less than optimal digestive health.1 As a registered dietitian, I’ve studied this topic, worked with many individuals to restore their gut health, and fully understand that a healthy digestive system is the key to keeping your entire body operating at its best.
How great does optimal health sound? You can find heartburn relief, have regular bowel movements, enjoy great energy and ditch your carb cravings for good! How? The first step to optimal health is looking at the lifestyle habits such as those listed here, and other factors that may be contributing to your intestinal problems.
Stop by my session at the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Health and Wellness Conference to hear practical ways to heal your digestive system and get you on the road to your healthiest self!
We get a lot of messages, both overt and covert, telling us that “self care” is only for able-bodied, emotionally healthy (but a little stressed) folks with money - who else can get bi-monthly massages and afford designer bath bombs?! What we’re seeing in these advertisements is actually the commodification of self care. Wherever advertisers can find a way to make money, they will do that. And by reaching out to people who want feel the way that these images look, it’s enticing.
The truth is that this isn’t authentic self care. For some, absolutely this is reasonable for them and helps them, but it isn’t the full story. For most of the population, self care looks quite different than getting a backrub and taking a bath. Self care has become a buzz term synonymous with “treat yo’ self” as a way to sell luxury goods. But for most people, self care looks more like “boring self care.” Did I feed my body energizing foods to the best of my ability today? Did I get as much sleep as my body needs to the best of my ability? Did I move my body mindfully in some way today to the best of my ability? Did I engage in a meaningful way with another person or activity that I enjoy to the best of my ability? What this looks like will differ from person to person and it must because we are all very different.
Inevitably the next question that someone will ask me when I bring up this topic is, “but isn’t taking care of myself selfish?” And while I tend not to answer questions in absolutes, I feel confident in saying - No. The word selfish denotes a lack of consideration for others. And nowhere in the questions that I posed above were we caring for ourselves to the exclusion of others. In reality, what self care asks us to do, is to show ourselves the same compassion that we already show other living beings. If you have a pet, consider for a moment all of your pet’s needs: food, water, walks (or cleaning litter boxes, cages, etc), pats and snuggles, plenty of sleep. And now ask yourself, do you provide all of that for your pet? And do you not deserve the same level of care? I believe that you do. What if you considered taking care of yourself as well as you care for your pet?
If you don’t have a pet, or if that example simply doesn’t resonate with you, allow me to bring up one more aspect of self care. The self is political. When we make the time and space to care for ourselves - in a society that does everything it can to keep us from doing so - we are engaging in an act of political resistance. In the immortal words of Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Justine Mastin, MA, LMFT, LADC, E-RYT 200
Owner: Blue Box Counseling LLC, YogaQuest LLC
Last night I taught a lovely workshop on Healthy Relationships to a group of adults with disabilities. While brainstorming a list of Healthy and Unhealthy Behaviors in relationships, one young man yelled out “Sex is an unhealthy behavior!” The room got quiet and then a couple other adults said, “Yes, yes, sex is an unhealthy behavior.” I couldn’t believe it – but I knew this to be a common feeling among folks with disabilities. Many people with disabilities, and actually many people without disabilities, were taught growing up that “sex is bad”. At that moment, our conversation shifted to talk about that statement. We chatted about the word “pleasure” for a while – a new word for most participants. We talked about the importance of consenting to have sex in relationships. We also talked about the fact that sex is an adult activity, and they are adults. Hmm….I think the parents and staff in the room were holding their breath for these few minutes.
People with disabilities are sexually assaulted way more
often than people without disabilities. Let’s talk about these topics so that everyone knows what healthy and unhealthy behaviors are in a relationship. While presenting at the MN State Autism Conference last spring, a young woman with autism shared with me, “Thank you for teaching us this stuff. No one wants to talk to us about this it.”
Find out more about our work to support you in talking
about “this stuff” by visiting our webpage: www.sexualityforallabilities.com or contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll find resources to support self-advocates, support professionals and parents & caregivers.
Katie Thune will present at the MNCCD Health and Wellness Conference on October 3rd. www.mnccd.org/conference
Strengthening families and communities is the theme for National Recovery Month
Minnesotans asked to “Join the Voices for Recovery”
In order to mark National Recovery Month, Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed September 2017 Recovery Month in the state of Minnesota.
Recovery Month gives focus to the fact that, as the Governor’s proclamation says, “Every day, Minnesotans across the state recover from substance use disorder and mental illness and join the thousands of vital, active, and contributing members of our communities who live in long-term recovery.”
Now in its 28th year, this year’s theme for National Recovery Month is, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities.” The theme encourages everyone to support recovery for those with mental and/or substance use disorders and, when needed, to seek help ourselves.
“Recovery Month reminds us that people in recovery are our family, our neighbors, and, sometimes, us,” said DHS Commissioner Emily Piper. “We need to leave judgment and stigma behind and support each other, including people who are in recovery from mental illness and addiction.”
Mental health and/or substance use disorders affect people of all ethnicities, ages, genders, geographic regions and socioeconomic levels. Individuals need to know that help is available, and that people can and do get better. For people who are seeking treatment, free, confidential help is available 24 hours a day through a national help line, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD).
In Minnesota, there were over 50,000 admittances to chemical dependency treatment in 2016. Most people who enter chemical dependency treatment usually complete it and show considerable improvement, and abstinence from substance use and other benefits of treatment tend to continue over the long term. Despite this fact, more than 9 out of 10 adults with a substance use disorder did not receive treatment in the past year. As a result, the 2018-19 state budget includes investments in quicker access to treatment and in a wider range of services outside of treatment programs.
Nationally, one in five adults have some mental illness. Treatment for people with mental illness is highly effective, with between 70 and 90 percent of individuals having a significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life. Yet, too many people are not getting the care they need. Meanwhile, over 100,000 children and youth in Minnesota need treatment for serious emotional disturbances. As a result, Minnesota is offering new and innovative services on the county level and investing in more in children’s mental health services.
“They key is to not wait to get help,” said Piper. “With the support of friends, families and the community, people can and do recover.”
Recovery Month will include a variety of ceremonies, activities, and celebrations across the state. For information on events in your community, visit https://minnesotarecovery.org/upcoming-events/category/events/.
The Governor Dayton’s proclamation of September as Recovery Month can be found at https://mn.gov/dhs/assets/recovery-month-proclamation_tcm1053-309499.pdf.