Chickens!

We added some new members to the household this month!

  
They live in our house right now, but will move outside when they have all of their feathers. I am looking forward to learning a new skill, having fresh eggs to spare, and growing our little homestead. Each day I look forward to hanging out with these little girls and watching them change. 

What do you find therapeutic at the end of a long day?

A Worthy Cause

So, those of you who have read the few posts I have written know that my passion is mental health and the effect a healthy lifestyle can have on this.

In honor of this, I have signed up for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness walk. Every year suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. According to AFSP close to one million people will make a suicide attempt and more than 40,000 will die by suicide in the U.S. this year. These statistics are troubling, but it is important to know that suicide can be prevented.

If you or anyone you know would like to donate to this cause, please do so by clicking the link below. My goal is $1,000 and every little bit helps.

http://theovernight.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=widgets.300x250thermo&participantID=14438

Happy New Year!

Wow! It has been forever since I have written anything. Life has been continuing at a rapid pace and writing was shoved to the side for other endeavors.

I have been pushing forward with ways to improve my connection to the earth as well as my understanding of how this connection affects people’s attitudes and outlooks. Here is what has been happening:

In July, the hubby and I bought a beautiful, very old, “new house.” It was built in 1775 and is on an acre of land nestled in a small neighborhood between two local farms. The access to fresh, local food here is unlike anywhere else I have lived. We are so blessed to be here.

In August, I started a new job as a mental health clinician for a local agency. This job is a stepping stone to licensure as a clinician and finding my way back into the schools as a school counselor. I am learning more than I could have imagined in this job and look forward to finding out what is next.

During the fall months, we focused mostly on cleaning, organizing, and fixing small things in our house. We researched and found a plan for a beautiful dining room table to fit all of our family and friends for the holidays. We started this table in November and finished it just in time for our friends and family to celebrate the holidays with us. It successfully sat 16 people for Christmas dinner!

Here it is. We made two benches to go with it so we can squish in as many people as possible. Hooray!

20141230-224428.jpg

Now that the holidays are over, I have started to plan my garden for the spring. My big Christmas present is a shiny new pressure cooker. I am so excited to grow and preserve fresh food for next winter. I just put in my seed order from seedsavers.org. This site is working hard to preserve heirloom plant varieties and I believe in buying plants that produce seeds you can actually use. Many of the new plant varieties are engineered to produce for only one season so consumers have to continue buying seeds or plants each year. Rubbish.

I have a plan for my garden and intend to research greenhouse plans as well as beehives for next year. I am excited to share my adventures with you!

What are your intentions for the new year?

Homesteading Benefits for Kids With Special Needs

Homesteading Benefits for Kids With Special Needs

I read this fantastic post today from Little House Living on how she feels homesteading benefits her son with special needs. Real life experiences like these help to confirm my belief that working outdoors benefits physical and mental health. Love it!

Can Being Outdoors Affect Child Development?

Go Play Outside: Can being outdoors enhance brain development/ www.growingwellness.wordpress.comI’ve been doing a lot of research lately on how being outdoors can affect a person’s mood. Along the way, I came across an article from Richard Louv at psychologytoday.com. It discusses the benefits of teaching your child about nature and getting out of the house more often. Louv states: “A growing body of primarily correlative evidence suggests that, even in the densest urban neighborhoods, negative stress, obesity and other health problems are reduced and psychological and physical health improved when children and adults experience more nature in their everyday lives.”

As the number of hours of sitting in front of a tv, computer, or iDevice increase, it seems that mental health across the country is deteriorating. The correlation between being “stuck” indoors and poor mental health is undeniable. It’s time that we as a community begin to get back to our roots and reunite with nature.

I believe that humans have a strong physiological connection to the planet in more ways than we have discovered. As I keep researching, I’ll continue to pass along all of the great info I find.

As my mom used to say: “Alright, enough sitting around in front of this screen,
go play outside!”

Click here to read the full article:
Do Early Outdoor Experiences Help Build Healthier Brains?

5 Minute Meditation

Take five slow, deep breaths. Do you notice any changes in your mood and stress level?

Five-minute-meditationAs a counselor, I work with many people who talk about high stress and anxiety. One of my favorite methods of relaxation can be done in five minutes wherever you are. I like to call it “taking five.”
You’ll see why!

There are five steps:

  1. Breathe in while counting to five.
  2. Hold your breath for four to five counts.
  3. Breathe out while counting to five.
  4. Count to four or five before breathing back in.
  5. Repeat!

Do this five times or more.

That’s it! You’ll feel tension melt away and the ability to focus on the task at hand will return. In an earlier post, I wrote about some of the benefits of meditation. (find it here) This is a simple way to lower your heart rate and blood pressure and reset your psyche for the day. It can be done anywhere and it is easy to remember.

Keep growing!

Does your diet affect your mood?

Have you ever noticed that your mood improves when you eat certain foods? For many people, there is a strong connection between what they eat (or don’t eat!) and how they are feeling. There is science behind this! According to mentalhealth.org.uk,”Recent evidence suggests that good nutrition is essential for our mental health and that a number of mental health conditions may be influenced by dietary factors.” By beginning to keep track of which foods make you feel happier, you can work on adjusting your nutrient intake to combat feelings of sadness, anxiety, stress, and more!

Here are five steps to a healthier diet and a healthier attitude:

  1. Eat more fruits and vegetable!   This may be one of the most important steps. Studies show that people who consume fruits and/or vegetables daily feel more content. I guess mom was right!
  2. Eat regular meals   Skipping a meal (especially breakfast) makes people feel irritable, overwhelmed, and stressed out during the day. Whether you’re a three meals a day or five snacks a day person, try to keep it regular. Our bodies are made to be on a schedule.
  3. Stay away from sugars and processed foods   If you can’t pronounce it, it probably isn’t good for you. Aim for whole foods like meats, vegetables, and grains that haven’t been through 30 machines to get to your table.
  4. Water, water, water!   You’ve heard it over and over. Many doctors and scientists recommend 8 glasses a day, but everyone is different. Try to observe how you feel after drinking 4, 8, 10 glasses a day. Once you figure it out, try to stick with the amount of water that keeps your body running smoothly.
  5. Variety   Too much of one kind of food can create imbalance and it’s super boring. Try to vary the foods that you are eating. This provides your body with the different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that it is designed for. Not sure what to buy? Consider a farm share! Each week you will get all kinds of new goodies to fill your table with!

Keeping track of your food and figuring out how it relates to your mood can be difficult. Consider using a food and mood diary to figure out which foods give you the biggest boost. I made one for you!

Click on the link to download it now! Happy eating!

Food and Mood Diary

food and mood diary logo