How stress affects the body

By Dr. Ann Grimwood, Naturopathic Doctor in North Vancouver

We look forward to having Dr. Ann join us at our April 19th caregiver meeting. It is always helpful to learn more about self-care-  paying attention to when the body is becoming worn out from the constant demands of caregiving responsibilities. You are showing yourself a little bit of love by reading this post!


When a stressful event occurs, be it mentally, emotionally, or physically, the brain reacts by initiating a hormonal chain reaction. The hypothalamus secretes a hormone called a corticotropin-releasing hormone, which stimulates the pituitary to release adrenocorticotropic hormone, resulting in the adrenal glands, which sit atop the kidneys, to release cortisol and epinephrine. Cortisol and epinephrine assist our bodies, physiologically, in dealing with that stressful event. Our breathing rate increases, our blood pressure rises, we start to sweat, and our digestive juices switch off to help us conserve energy. When the stressful event has passed, cortisol tells both the hypothalamus and the pituitary to stop the hormonal chain reaction because the body is no longer in need of cortisol and can now relax. But, if the stressful event persists, the hormonal chain reaction is prolonged. The body and mind do not have the opportunity to rest and regenerate, and the adrenal glands become too depleted to secrete cortisol – simply, they are burnt out!

 All too often, my patients tell me how they cannot sleep, they feel completely drained all day long, they cannot think straight, are anxious, they crave chocolate or potato chips, and they seem to pick up every cold or flu that walks through the door! Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. In fact, these are all signs that your body is unable to mount an appropriate stress response and your adrenal glands are not functioning optimally. When we are constantly exerting our energy to help and care for our loved others, to perform at work, we often forget to care for ourselves.

Daily self-care practices go a long way in helping you to increase your energy and combat stress.
One practice I subscribe to and I often encourage my patients to try is 10 minutes of meditation per day. It’s simple and easy and you can do it anywhere! I prefer guided meditations (where someone talks to me and guides me through the meditation) and use an app on my phone called Headspace.



 Meditating helps to shift your body from a stressful state to one of relaxation. Go on, give it a try every day for one month, and watch how your body and mind start to shift!

 With kind regards,
Dr. Ann Grimwood






Mindful Monday no. 71 – “Simple Matters”


“…To find the air and the water exhilarating; To be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; To find a quest of wild berries more satisfying than a gift of tropical fruit; To be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wild-flower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.” – John Burroughs

We’re one week in to spring’s embrace, and although Vancouver’s beautiful blossoms have not shown themselves in regular late-March fashion, you may be feeling some familiar patterns and inclinations emerging. Have you felt the urge to do some spring cleaning? I know that for whatever reason, I always seem to want to go through each and every one of my belongings at this time of year and get rid of what’s not working for me. I rearrange furniture, hang new things on the walls and do a deep clean of my kitchen and bathroom. Although this ritual can take be quite time consuming, doing so always leaves me feeling refreshed, organised, and inspired. Having a clean, simple home that is arranged mindfully can ease worries and stress. Arranging and living in our homes with mindfulness can be an act of self-care.

I recently stumbled upon Erin Boyle’s blog, Reading My Tea Leaves. Boyle writes regularly about living simply in her small apartment in Brooklyn with her two children and husband. I bought her book, Simple Matters, after devouring several posts and deciding to use some of her tips in my own apartment.

Living with Less and Ending Up with More

The book is filled with tips and thoughts on how to simplify our homes and our habits. Boyle advises readers to be conscious of what they bring in to their homes, so clutter and garbage do not accumulate. While Boyle does not provide instructions that are as simple as Marie Kondo’s, she appeals to readers who like to think about the many ways they can live their lives in mindfully and simply.

Here are some of Erin Boyle’s tips for a thriving, simple life.

Grow Something. “…a houseplant collection can be just what a home needs to feel alive…”


Practice Self-Care. “I don’t eschew modern medicines, but I do relish the ability to calm my nerves with a hot pot of tea.”


Make It Smell Good. “Every spring I buy a bunch of hyacinths, and every spring I have to open the windows and air the place out afterward.”


Explore “After you do the work of making your home a sanctuary, get yourself out of it again.”


Have you felt the urge to do some spring cleaning? We’d love to hear from you!

P.S. – Erin Boyle’s most recent post is all about spring cleaning!

Photos by Reading My Tea Leaves

Words by Cassandra Van Dyck


Nooroz is a time of renewal

I am fascinated by the Persian New Year, which is vibrantly celebrated in North and West Vancouver. There is a thriving Persian community on this shore, many of whom provide emotional and practical care for elderly family members, friends, and loved ones.
Last year I attended an outdoor  Nooruz celebration, where I was mesmerized by people jumping over the flames of fire for a fresh start to the year, saying , “Zardi- ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye oh az man!”  While my friend and I joyfully danced to live music, I truly felt a part of the compelling richness in this ancient and beloved tradition.

Enjoy reading this article about the background of Nooruz and what the Haft seen table means. Maybe you’ll even notice some of the beautifully decorated haft seen tables in your local shops and community centres.


Happy New Year and let us welcome the inspiration of spring!







Mindful Monday no. 70 – How to Let Go

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“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” 

– Lao Tzu

Letting go is a choice that we make to free ourselves of  unmet expectations and idealist notions of how something should be. It is about embracing what is, rather than clinging to what we want to happen. 

Letting go is also about stopping our attempts to control of a circumstance, a person, or an outcome. It is radical acceptance. 

We need to let go of many situations in our life. Bitterness and resentment can grab a hold of us if we do not actively let go of these emotions. We stay in toxic relationships, we remain in dysfunctional situations when we do not let go. As you become aware of the need to let go, consciously make the effort to release your feelings and focus on the present and your own well-being (here are some ideas from Tiny Buddha!) . 

Here are 9 affirmations to recite when you need to let go: 

  1. I let go of situations that do not serve me to make room for opportunities that will fuel me. 
  2. I let go of the need to control and I allow the moment to happen. 
  3. I let go of the need to judge others and focus on my own happiness. 
  4. I release my emotions as a way of letting go. 
  5. I let go of the past and focus on the present moment. 
  6. I let go of the need to control others and the stress that accompanies this need. 
  7. By forgiving others, I become free. 
  8. I let go of the past and I am free to move forward with my life. 
  9. I honour my emotions by expressing and releasing them. 

Do you have any tips for letting go? Please share them in our comment section. 


Easy recipe for Irish Soda Bread

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, a recipe for Irish Soda Bread.  Once on a trip to Ireland I ate Lobster Bisque and Irish soda bread and enjoyed it very much. I hope you will too!

Soda Bread With Onion

These are the ingredients:

1 Large onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil

3 cups (500 g) white bread flour

1/2 teaspoon  salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/2 cups (600 ml) buttermilk

2 teaspoons caraway seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C) and grease a baking sheet.

In a heavy pan, cook the onion in a tablespoon of the oil until dark brown and crisp but not burned. Cool.

Sift the flour and salt together. Dissolve the baking soda in 1 tablespoon of the buttermilk. Add this, with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, to the rest of the buttermilk.  Add the onions and seeds to the flour. Make a well in the center and add the liquid. With a fork, mix it all together thoroughly, mixing lightly until you have a fairly smooth texture, but don’t knead.

With floured hands, shape the mixture into a round cake, cut a cross in the top, transfer to a baking sheet, and bake until the loaf gives a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom, about 40 minutes.

Note: If buttermilk isn’t available, use fresh milk and 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

From: The Best of Irish Country Cooking by Nuala Cullen (2015)

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Calm Pond

Foodie Friday: 9 Saint Patrick’s Day Recipes

Whether you have Irish blood or not, Saint Patrick’s Day is a fun cultural celebration of all-things from Ireland. Every year, people wear green head-to-toe or get pinched. Talk of leprechauns abound and fiddle music is on repeat. While these stereotypical Irish activities are fun, we also love exploring different country’s traditions in terms of their cuisine.

pexels-photo-103676.jpegHere are 9 traditional and modern Irish-themed recipes to prepare this Saint Patrick’s Day:

Side Dishes

Main Dishes

Beverages and Dessert

What are your Saint Patrick’s Day traditions? Let us know in the comments!