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Global Guide to Divorce

Jack Jack the Cat


Supplements for Stress and Divorce

Going through divorce takes a toll on emotions and can wreak havoc on the physical functioning of one’s body. Stress puts the body on red alert, that one is facing danger and to get prepared. Chronic stress keeps the body in a hyper vigilant state instead of having down time between episodes. Stress in divorce can particularly affect the cardiovascular system. How to mitigate the damage? Take supplements with your health care provider’s guidance.

Omega 3 protects the heart by maintaining an optimal rhythm and increasing blood vessel flexibility. Stress increases inflammation in the body and Omega 3 decreases it. The Journal of Psychiatry is studying the use of Omega 3 for people with depression and other mental health disorders. A study done at Ohio State University on medical students indicated that it decreases mild anxiety. Participants took either a placebo or Omega 3 over a three month period. The results showed a 20% decrease in anxiety with the Omega 3 group, plus a 14% decrease in the pro-inflammatory compound interleukin 6.

Interleukin 6 can be an anti-inflammatory when within normal limits. It relays information between cells, regulates the immune system functioning and cell growth. It helps to stop colds and infections. When the body has chronic low grade inflammation due to psychological stress, then interleukin 6 increases too much and becomes pro-inflammatory. This leads to diseases such as autoimmune disorders including rheumatoid arthritis.

Co-Enzyme 10 (Co Q 10) is an element found in the mitochondria of cells and is especially concentrated in the heart. It converts food into energy and reduces free radicals. A study at Tulane University in New Orleans indicated that Co Q 10 increased the ejection fraction (pumping ability of the heart) by 3.7%. It promotes healthy heart functioning.

Antioxidants are nutrients that include flavonoids that decrease free radicals. Free radicals are the waste products of cells that increase inflammation in the body and the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol increases the heart rate, blood pressure and insomnia. Cortisol is responsible for the flight or fight response.

Holy Basil helped me to relax and get deeper sleep during my divorce. I continued to take it at least for a year post-divorce and have gotten positive feedback about it from others undergoing stressful lives.

B Vitamins get depleted when your body is under the stress of divorce. B6 is especially important for immune health. When the B6 level is low, then the production of White Blood Cells, T Cells, and interleukin 2 are decreased. These elements of the immune system fight off colds and infections. B12 is required for cell growth and division. Middle age decreases B12 and stress does too, so consider particularly having your B 12 level tested.

Biotin is needed for the production of insulin and helps in the metabolism of glucose, fatty and amino acids. You may want to take a multi Vitamin B complex supplement. I notice that I get more headaches when I am lax taking this supplement.

Aromatherapy helped me in divorce and beyond.  Nipping into Neal’s Yard for their fabulous aromatherapy products zapped my stress and anxiety. Therapist have recommended Clary Sage for those tensions headaches that come with divorce. Spraying Lavender on your face or pillow at night is relaxing and induces sleep.  Homeopathic remedies have helped many get through divorce too. Follow the path that is most comfortable to reduce stress for you..

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine

Men’s Divorce

Several men stated that post-divorce is the opportunity for change and be can be the catalyst for trying something new. They said when their divorced friends clung to the past they did not fare as well in the post-divorce period. The past cannot be altered, but knowledge gained can be invaluable for moving on. Terry was adamant that men have to do work on themselves after a bad break up before getting into a new relationship. His buddies that got divorce number two did not pause to reflect upon their part which ended the marriage and what could be done differently the next time around. He advises men not to rush into a new partnership too quickly and make sure they understand how to communicate more effectively. He had a session with a therapist and has been blissfully wedded to his second wife for fifteen years.

One man feels that he got a divorce too quickly and could have worked out differences with his wife. He tells other men not to be in a rush for a divorce when hitting a bad patch during marriage. They did not have marital counselling which may have gotten their relationship back on track. He has a job which involves frequent travel and he misses his two young daughters. He jumped into a new relationship right away and has doubts about being with this new girlfriend. This “what if” situation is keeping him in a holding pattern and he is not moving on. Be clear that a relationship is truly over before getting into another one.

Some men commented that some of their divorced peers were living on junk food. Dr Kawachi of the Harvard School of Public Health’s study of 30,000 men indicated this result. Take good care of yourself and prioritise your health and needs. Recently divorced men tended to have a decrease in a healthy lifestyle, partly due to eating less vegetables and consuming more fried food. Although this is changing, in many households, women were the main chefs during marriage. In the States, there is a trend for single men to take some basic cooking classes which then negates this issue of divorce.

The New England Research Institute’s research indicates that 62% of men relied on their wives as their principle social support. Studies by various universities correlate having friends and a good social network positively impacts the immune system in reducing the frequency of colds and the flu.  Others show the healthy effect of a wide social circle on longevity. For example, a study done at Flinders’ University in Australia found that 22% of 1500 older subjects who had many friends, outlived those who only had a few. Men that get out and meet new people or strengthen the bond already made with others, tend to have an easier time post-divorce, than their less connected peers.

Men that have routines felt that they had more control in their lives or knew what to expect in the turbulent divorce period. Some have specific routines with their children, such as a Saturday morning breakfast out or Sunday afternoon engaging in physical activities or sports. Some take the kids or go solo to their parents’ place for a weekly get-together. Others set up weekly meets at the pub with mates for darts. Building weekly fun or interactions into the schedule got some guys through the craziness of divorce.

Consider watching the hilarious film “The Odd Couple” with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. These two fellows navigate the post-divorce period with a lot of laughs and some mistakes. Great fun.

Originally published in The Divorce Magazine

Tips To Lower Stress in Divorce and Other Life Transitions.

Self-medicating is an unhealthy way of dealing with acute   stress and people shared how they survived divorce and beyond without hitting the bottle.  Gardening is what got Aiden through a tough divorce situation, and is a wonderful way to center oneself by taking care of plants. They depend upon you, giving purpose and focus with a daily routine to your life. Aiden looks forward to and is rewarded by vibrant flowers and organic vegetables.  He has a connection to others by sharing his bounty.

Jane got in a singles group post-divorce with both genders to meet a variety of people for friendships. She also joined a women’s group since many others had relationship woes and understood what she was experiencing. They have been in similar situations and can impart their insights. Lastly, Jane became a member of a divorce group who discussed the specific aspects of this situation, such as visitation and in-laws.  Jane felt these three types of groups gave her an outlet for dealing with divorce rather than by heavy drinking.

Reach out to others in order to take the focus off yourself. Volunteering is a great way to achieve this and it boosts your self-worth. One young man started developing an alcohol problem when downing beers at home to counteract loneliness. When a few people started commenting on his alcohol aroma, he took that to heart. Instead of treating loneliness by self-mediating with beer, he adopted a cat. Delia is quite a talker and shares is interest in video games. Finding out the cause of self-medicating is the first step in finding a solution.


Have Laughter & Fun and Live Longer

The health benefits from having fun and laughter are many. Different organizations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to WebMD agree on the same principles that it increases one’s well-being.  I like the following quote from Roald Dahl:

“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest of men.”

When you have fun and laugh, that relaxes your muscles relieving or diminishing chronic pain, by releasing endorphins which are natural pain killers. More oxygen and blood circulate around one’s body increasing blood flow to the heart. The stress hormone, Cortisol is lowered which then aids in improving the quality of sleep.

Norman Cousins wrote the book “Anatomy of an Illness.”  He was incapacitated by a spinal column illness and in great pain. He tried both conventional and more holistic types of remedies without a cure. For one month he closeted himself away and watched comedies and read jokes. After that time period, he presented himself to his stunned doctors who could not find a trace of the disease.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America, CTCA, “Laughter Therapy” is an integral part of cancer treatment. Having fun and laughter boosts the Immune System, increasing natural killer cells which destroy tumor cells.   Laughter aids is boosting one’s positive outlook on life, which is important particularly when facing challenges like cancer or life transitions such as divorce. Having fun connects you to others and various studies have shown the positive affect of socialization on longevity.

Go to a comedy, have lattes with friends, go to Disneyland as I did right before my divorce. Think of what you enjoyed in the past and view this as just what the doctor has ordered, to increase your well-being.


Happiness and Meaning in Life

Viennese Viktor Frankl was sent to a concentration camp with some family members and he wrote about this ordeal in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” While imprisoned he discovered that others who had meaning in life were more apt to survive.  Frankl stated the Nazis could not take away one’s attitude, outlook on life.  He met several men who gave up and were waiting to die. Frankl delved into their lives and found out what was important to them, waiting on the outside.  For one it was a family member safely tucked away from harm, and the other had a special project that was left unfinished.  These two men then became determined to live.  The Center for Disease Control said that 4 out of 10 Americans  have not discovered their meaning in life and that negatively affects their health.

What is the difference between just having happiness or having meaning/purpose in life?  You are happy because you have money to buy expensive gadgets and goods.  If something took those away, then happiness fades.  Having meaning in life is more lasting, not the here and now of happiness without a purpose.  Meaning in life is more enduring, things may not be great now, but you are reaching out to others and enlarging your supportive social network. Frankl stated that the more one is focused outside of yourself  – reaching out to others – the more human you are. Most people that I interviewed, claimed that they got more out of volunteering, than the recipients did.

Since happiness is a more transient feeling there are ways to boost its level every day.  Spend your money on having experiences, rather than on more material goods.  Think about travel for example.  You open your eyes and mind to new cultures, sights and ideas which in turn can be life changing.  You can bond with your kids and have forever memories.

Make a list of what you enjoy doing and gives you pleasure.  Then schedule these on a weekly basis in your calendar.  It may be going out for lattes or margaritas with the girls or perhaps a stroll around a museum.  Pick some free activities, such as a picnic or hike in a leafy area.  Just thinking about what you were happy about that day can give you a more positive outlook in life.

Optimism and Health

Optimism can affect health and reduce stress, according to the Mayo Clinic.  A positive attitude is that “you approach the unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way.”  One is able to cope better in tense situations when optimistic.  The Mayo Clinic said positive thinking may increase the life span, decrease depression, and give one more resistance to colds.

A New York University study said that the brains of optimistic and pessimistic people light up differently when subjects thought about the future. They are striving to unravel how much is hereditary and much is due to other factors.

Researchers at the University of Penn. are not clear if optimistic people have especially good health because they take better care of themselves or that they have more extensive social contacts which “have been associated with longevity.”

Harvard school of Public Health studied optimism and heart disease.  They concluded that having a positive outlook could reduce heart disease risk by 50%.

Robert Grenfell, director of the Heart Foundation of Australia, said research indicates the link between “psychological well-being” and heart health.  People with social isolation have an increased risk for heart disease.

Different studies were unclear whether it is the pessimism or depression itself that has a negative impact on health, or is it more due to social ramifications such as a lack of a social network. Also it was mentioned that depressed people may not feel like doing preventative health care measures.

Strive to become more of a person who sees the world through rose colored glasses.  It may be beneficial to see a life coach or cognitive therapist, who help give concrete steps to achieve a more optimistic outlook on life. Others dive into self-help books for suggestions.

Children’s stomach and bowel woes

If your child is having stomach/bowel problems which keep reoccuring for several weeks, it’s time to take the next step. Check her stress level. Could she be bullied at school? Is she having problems with her teacher, homework, classwork or peers?   Check in with her teacher to see what may be happening.
If she got an all clear from her doctor, then insist on a more in depth evaluation, including blood tests for blood sugar, gluten and lactose intolerance. Also have a stool sample analyzed, particularly if your family travels.  A good friend in my nursing school was hospitalized with a nasty GI parasite and she hadn’t left the state, much less the country.
Is your child getting 5 to 7 fruits and vegetables a day?   Is she mainly living on fast foods (particularly teenagers)?  I’m guilty of making meals from frozen, but organic foods without including a salad for roughage.
If she is running to activity to activity, without much downtime? A hectic schedule can contribute to GI woes.

quick and easy healthy meal/snack

For a quick and yummy breakfast, I throw this together.  Take at least 1/2 cup of non-fat or low-fat plain Greek yogart and sprinkle in some raw oats  ( I use McCann’s quick rolled oats). Use as much as you like,for either a  more crunchy or creamy texture. Then I add around 1/2 cup of  blueberries. Use whatever fruit that you like and change it for variety or for what is in season.
   For a fancier dish, mix equal amounts of blueberries and green grapes together. Add a creamy,  rich strawberry yogart, such as yoplait, to coat the grape/berry mixture.  Serve in a pretty dish.  The amount depends upon how many people will be eating it.  This  looks elegant in a brunch buffet. Enjoy!.

How to treat burns

Have a safe 4th of July and watch children around fireworks and outdoor grills. This is the difference between burns and how to treat them. A first degree burn is pink or red and can be a mild sunburn. Put a cool cloth over burn and after that, aloe vera or other simular burn remedy.
A second degree burn goes to the dermis skin level, and appears mottled pink, with some blisters or waxy looking areas. Pour cool water on the burn. If the burn is more than 15% of the total body area, is on the feet, hands, face or groin area, then that person should be seen as an emergency patient. Remove jewelery from burn areas right away, before swelling starts. Do not put any ointment on burns when the person will be going to the ER for evaluation.
A third degree burn goes to the fatty tisse and can invovle the bone and muscle as well. It appears whitish with some grey/black areas. Call 911 right away and cover the person with a sheet or blanket while waiting for the ambulance.
If the burn is from a chemical, then call poison control at 1-800-222-1222.
Remember the stop, drop and roll if your clothes catch on fire.

Prevent/Treat Sunburn Peeling

If you or your child gets a sunburn, here is a tip to prevent peeling or stop it in it’s tracks.  Mix equal parts of  Apple Cider Vinegar  (the darker type)  and water in a small container. Apply this mixture over the sunburn areas, including  over the white, flakey peeling skin ( it will stop peeling after this).  Use this mixture at least every  1/2 hour to hour durning the first 24 hours.  Put this mixture by your bedside , so you can  apply this over the sunburned areas, if you wake up during the night, without having to get out of bed. Yes you may smell like a salad during this process, but it is better to have the sunburn go into a tan vs. white, peeling skin.
Remember to apply sunscreen frequently and not wait until you feel a burn. Get a small travel   or sample size of sunscreen to make it easier for kids to tote it around.

Exercise and Fitness

This is a resistance exercise that can be done at home, in a hotel room or cruise ship cabin, using a small hand towel. Stand with your legs apart and kness slightly bent. Put a small hand towel over your head and grasp the two ends, pulling on each end. Bend 5 times to the right and 5 times to the left from your waist, maintaining  resistance with the towel. Keep going. This is great to do while your body lotion is drying. Not only do your arm muscles get a work out, but you will feel it along your sides as well.
This can be followed by doing some squats, easy to do when you are travelling. Stand with your legs apart with toes pointing outward. Lift your big toes to avoid pressure on your knees. Then lower your bottom, like you are going to sit down. Keep your back  in the same position, doing the bending from your knees.
Remember to just take the stairs on cruise ships, then you can eat that great looking dessert.

Skin cancer

People sometimes put off having moles and freckles checked, because they think that they are too young for skin cancer.  If you have a lot of freckles, having an all over body exam,  by a dermatologist is a good idea to establish a baseline. Two years ago, some very dear friends lost their son to melanoma.  He was out in the sun a lot,  playing golf and other sports and didn’t wear any sun screen.

Here is a guide to determine if you should see a dematologist for skin cancer. This is an easy way to remember what deadly moles look like. ABCDE.
Asymmetry.  Is the mole perfectly round (normal), or a different shape?
Border.  Are the edges sharp (normal), or more blurred?
Color.  Is the mole one color ( normal), or a variety of black, brown or red?
Diameter. Is the mole under 6mm (normal) or over that size?
Expert.  If your mole/s fall in these second categories, then see an expert (dermatologist).
This is the guide that nurses use, and I want to add, if your mole is bleeding, also have it checked.  Sometimes a cancerous mole may stick up more (such as on the scalp) and you notice it that way. An acquaintance started feeling a small bump on her scalp when she was doing her hair.  This sun-loving woman had the bump checked out and it turned out to be cancerous (she was in her early 30’s at the time). Scalps can get sunburned too, so wear a hat in the intense sun.