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Gardening for Stress Management: Get your free cilantro tips here!

cilantroIt’s no surprise to most that time spent in nature— unplugged from technology and without everyday burdens— can reduce stress. But I bet you didn’t know these facts…

 

 

  • The actual components of soil may increase serotonin and lead to a decrease in depression! (See the Journal of Neuroscience, 2007)
  • Gardening reduces one’s levels of cortisol (the body’s natural stress hormone) and, in turn, can lower levels of anxiety! (Journal of Health Psychology, 2011)
  • Exposure to a natural environment— even looking out the window at a natural scene or having potted plants in the room— improves our ability to tolerate stress, think creatively and problem solve! (Journal of Affective Disorders, 2012)

As a token of our appreciation and to inspire people to do something joyful like gardening, Intuition Wellness Center will be distributing over 100 coriander seed packets to teachers and staff at Tucson local schools. These coriander seeds, (when planted with care and joy), will grow into cilantro plants that can be eaten, frozen, or enjoyed simply for their fragrance and the mental health benefits of growing them. We know not everyone has developed their green thumb just yet, so for all of our new friends who are taking home seed packets and to any others inspired by the joy of gardening, here’s some basic “how-to” info on planting coriander seeds, storing cut cilantro leaves, harvesting seeds from your cilantro plant, as well as a quick and easy recipe for a tasty and unconventional cilantro pesto.

How to: Plant Cilantro (Coriander Seeds)
Tucson falls are ideal for growing cilantro! Plant in your garden or make your cilantro a potted plant. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy the refreshing “fruits” of your labor with fall or spring planting.

Method

  1. Plant seeds just under the surface of the soil in a sunny or light shade location about 6 to 8 inches apart.
  2. Keep the soil moist.
  3. From the time of sowing seed, cilantro leaves can begin to be harvested in about 3 to 4 weeks. Cut or pinch the large leaves down about once a week to keep it bushy and productive. Eventually it will flower, signifying it’s nearing the end of it’s lifespan.
  4. To enjoy cilantro all season long, plant successive sowings every 2 to 3 weeks.

How to: Store Cilantro
Have you ever had trouble keeping fresh herbs fresh? This super easy trick is a surefire way to keep your cilantro perky and tasty for up to two weeks in the fridge!

Method

  1. Snip off the bottom of the stems.
  2. Make sure the leaves are completely dry. Better to hold off rinsing them until you’re about to use them.
  3. Fill a jar or a water glass partially with water and place the stem ends of the herbs into the water in the jar.
  4. Store in the refrigerator, cover loosely with a plastic bag.
  5. Change the water after several days if the water starts to discolor.

Cilantro can last up to 2 weeks or longer when stored this way. You can also freeze! Put the leaves in a freezer storage bag and voila!

How to: Harvest Cilantro Seeds
Cilantro is a forgiving and relatively cooperative plant. Though a cilantro plant may not produce new leaves for more than a month or so, it’s so easy to harvest seeds and re-plant, you can still enjoy fresh cilantro all season long!

Method

  1. When the cilantro grows its stalk, you can either leave it be and let it self-seed or choose to store the seed (called coriander).
  2. To store coriander seeds, cut off the seed heads when the plant begins to turn brown and put them in a paper bag.
  3. Hang the bag until the plant dries and the seeds fall off. You can then store the seeds in sealed containers.

Beyond being used to grow a new cilantro plant, coriander seeds are also often used in cooking and are enjoyed for their distinctive flavor!

How to: Make a Fragrant and Refreshing Cilantro Pesto
Prep time: 15min; Cook time: 15 min; Ready to eat: in no time at all!

Icilantro pastangredients
1 (16 ounce) package pasta of your choice
1 bunch fresh cilantro
3-5 cloves garlic, minced (to your preference)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup walnuts, pecans, or pine nuts
salt to taste
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil (to your preference)

 

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and return water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. In an electric food processor or blender, blend cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, cheese, cayenne pepper, nuts, and salt. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and blend the pesto. Add more olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency.
  3. Pour pesto in a small saucepan and place over low heat, stirring constantly until pesto begins to simmer.
  4. Pour pesto over cooked pasta and toss. Enjoy!

Want more ideas for bringing joy and health into your life? Like us on Facebook to receive regular updates on Intuition’s activities, practical tips for families, creative inspiration, and links to educational material.

 

Images courtesy of SOMMAI and KEKO64 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Grieving All Souls


Halloween kicks off Allhallowtide, a time dedicated to remembering the dead celebrated in many countries around. For example, Dia de los Muertos  (Day of the Dead) is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico while All Souls’ Day is observed by some Native American and Latin American societies with roots in Christianity. Both traditions honor deceased loved ones with rituals and public mourning. These traditions of remembering the dead date back many years, sometimes thousands of years as in the case of Day of the Dead, which dates back 2500-3000 years.

People experience grief in many different ways across the world and this is especially true for children and adolescents. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, an American Psychiatrist, proposed in 1969 the five stages of grief that are thought to be universal and they include:

  1. Denial & Isolation: This is typically the initial reaction that helps absorb the shock of the loss and protect our psych from the intense feelings of associated with a loss.
  2. Anger: This intense emotion follows once the reality of the situation sets in and we are faced with resentment towards the situation that is causing us pain.
  3. Bargaining: This stage is an attempt to regain control of the situation and feelings of helplessness and vulnerability by making deals with high powers.
  4. Depression: Sadness and regret take hold in this stage where we begin to realize the implications of the situation.
  5. Acceptance: This stage is not about forgetting but rather remembering loved ones as they were and celebrating their life rather than focusing on their death.

The above stages of grief don’t necessarily occur in any particular order but are commonly seen by counselors working with people who have lost loved ones. Our counselors at Intuition Wellness Center are trained at working with youth, adults, and families experiencing grief. Lastly, it is important to mention that experiencing grief is a normal part of life, some would say an existential given, and does not imply that there is a psychological problem unless there is a presence of significant symptoms such as feelings of worthlessness, suicidal ideas, and impairment in overall functioning that might suggest a larger problem than the normal response to a significant loss.

There are a two upcoming All Souls Processions in Tucson on November 8th (For kids) and 9th (Grand Finale) that may be of interest for those wanting to experience this long-held tradition. Here are some additional resources for those experiencing grief:

 

Written by: Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

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Depression 101: Treatment & Tips To Ward Off Depression

Stress Management
Depression is a common mental health illness in the US and around the world. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that 1 in 10 adults in the US report experiencing depression. What is most troubling to me is that only about 51% of those people suffering from depression seek out treatment according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Depression may begin at any age and may be caused by any number of triggers such as bullying, parental or marital conflict, sense of isolation, loss, seasonal causes, etc.

As a result, I wanted to write a blog post specifically on depression, its treatment, and offer wellness tips to ward off depression. Please note that depression is one of several mood disorders and is different than bipolar, dysthymia, and other mood disorders. This blog post will focus on depression technically known as Major Depressive Disorder. I also want to make it very clear that depression is a treatable illness but, like many illnesses, it can require ongoing “maintenance.”

First let me review the symptoms of depression, followed by the treatment, and then offer some tips to ward off depression.

Symptoms of Depression: To meet criteria, five or more symptoms must be present for at least a 2 week period according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is also very important to rule out physiological effects of a substance/drug, other psychiatric disorders such as bereavement, and medical conditions such as thyroid problems that may cause depressive symptoms.

  • Sad or depressed mood most of the day, almost every day.
  • Anhedonia, which is loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Sleep problems, usually hypersomnia but can also be insomnia.
  • Weight gain or loss not due to diet or exercise.
  • Low of energy or fatigue even with sufficient rest.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation, which is usually moving or talking slower.
  • Poor concentration or ability to think.
  • Feeling of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, which could be the most serious of all the symptoms and must be taken seriously even in children.

Here are some other symptoms to look for that are frequently present in depression:

  • Thoughts of helplessness
  • Thoughts of hopelessness
  • Isolation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Irritability
  • Crying
  • Decrease in sex drive

Treatment for Depression
Treatment for depression begins with an evaluation by a licensed mental health professional to determine severity of depression, to rule out other possible issues, and to refer for appropriate services. Treatment usually entails either counseling or psychotropic medication or a combo of both, depending on severity. Severe depression usually requires a psychiatric evaluation by a psychiatrist for psychotropic medication to help improve symptoms enough for counseling to be effective, while mild to moderate depression can usually be treated with counseling alone. It is important to know there are a countless approaches to counseling such as cognitive behavior, psychodynamic, humanistic, and many more. Many approaches explore the person’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. The trust developed between the client-therapist relationship is what many approaches have in common and what research has found to be an essential ingredient to effective treatment. That is why it is imperative that one choose a therapist that is a good fit.

In addition, there are other interventions or activities such as exercise and meditation that have been found to be effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. Family therapy can also be helpful at alleviating tensions at home that may be impacting one’s depression and hindering treatment progress.

Tips to Ward Off Depression

  • Exercise Regularly as it has been found to be fantastic not only for managing stress and preventing physical problems but also at reducing depression and anxiety.
  • Be Present is where people often report being happy while being in the future can create anxiety and being in the past can lead to feelings of regret, guilt, and depression. Focus on being more mindful about how you are feeling right now rather than how you felt weeks or years ago.
  • Seek Support from licensed mental health professionals, friends, family and even animals, whom can be helpful. Surround yourself with people that are positive and validating.
  • Know the Signs of depression so that you know when you or someone you in your life needs help.
  • Know your Depression and be proactive. If you know that you happen to be extra susceptible to depression during the winter months, prepare for it by scheduling regular activities or seeking extra support during this time.
  • Get Outside because sunlight can be helpful and so can nature. Experiencing the grandeur nature can help put one’s problems into perspective and when our problems seem small they don’t bother us as much.
  • Find Meaning or a reason for living as it can be a powerful motivation to keep living. One’s meaning can be their partner, children, or even a cause.
  • Sleep is vital to good health and mental functioning. Avoid sleep problems by having a regular bedtime even on weekends, keeping distractions from the bedroom (e.g., TV), and creating a bedtime that is conducive for relaxation.
  • Visit Your Primary Care Doctor regularly to prevent, catch, or treat medical illnesses early that can create depressive symptoms.
  • Eat Healthy meals to improve physical, mental, and emotional functioning. Eating unhealthy foods erodes your physical health, impairs cognitive functioning, and also impacts how you feel about yourself.
  • Respect your Emotions rather than stuffing them. Bottling your feelings can be toxic to your body while expressing how you feel can be very relieving especially when your feelings are validated.

Author: Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

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