Natural Cures for High Cortisol Hormone due to Stress

Sophie the cat in position as guardian of my childThe Cat

The cat comes in through the window.
She comes to me and says
“Pay attention,”
Pushes my hands off the keyboard
“Scratch now”
Tries again, my hands
And again, with her head
“Hands, attention”
And again.
I wake up and scratch, grateful
To have finally come up for air.

When we drive ourselves too hard, we flood our bodies with cortisol, the stress hormone that wrecks havoc on our cells, causing disease and making our bodies age. If you are like me, maybe you have reached a point, or suspected that you will soon, when you will have to either stop the stress and striving as your way of life or you’ll find yourself pulling off onto the shoulder with a serious flat tire.

In my case, two girlfriends, a doc and an acupuncturist, had to get a bit in my face to make me stop the damage I was doing by over working. So now I am aware that cortisol is not good fuel, even if it used to help me accomplish more than should be humanly possible. Let me share some of what I’ve learned.

First, a good image to keep in mind as a reminder. I am a handspinner. Well, at least during the pre-mama days I spun wool under the trees in my yard as a meditative way to make yarn for the coming winter’s sweaters. When you work with fiber you know that the strand that is wound too tightly wraps back on itself. I call up that image to remind me to breathe, become still long enough to remember that I know what really matters.

pause_buttonDr. Sara Gottfried reminds women to hit their “pause” button when they are about to do stress. That’s a another good image. Pause Button. The Institute of Heart Math gives us a great tool to help return to what is called “heart coherence” that you can do while pause is engaged. Put your hand on your heart, breathe in love, and send it thoughout your body, exhale. Repeat this several times. It works.

There are many other 30 second ways to return your fast moving self back into your body. Mindfulness practice simply reminds us to listen to the silence in the moment. I know, I know, you’ve heard that before but have you tried it?

Matt Kahn is a teacher whose observations I value. He poses the question, “Who am I when I am saying nothing?” Think on that when you are driving or folding laundry. See if it makes you smile and reconnect to you.

FeetiesHighheelsFeeling love gives us a wash of oxytocin which goes far to repair the physical toll caused by our misplaced emphasis on doing, striving and achieving. Our children’s childhoods are happening now. So find the balance between the doing of all you think you have to do now … and being with them. Let the silly things that happen or go wrong make you laugh. You might even be so radical as to decide that for today, in the scheme of a long life arriving a little late will not be a terrible thing.

Life will work on us to keep us aware if we will just pay attention when the cat comes to remind us.

And by the way, Dr. Gottfried also reports that getting sunshine on your skin gives you the Vitamin D that reduces cortisol levels. Get your sunshine with your shoes off too for the electrons that Gaia gives us freely through the bottoms of the feet. That helps calm inflammation. Both of these methods are further evidence that nature is perfect and that we are blessed to live in a world where there is more love than things to fear.

I toast to you as you craft a lovely day for yourself,

Dr. Tamara

Let me make it easy for you to sit down with your children to read them a story. When you join my Our Cozy Time Story Club, I will send you an original children’s story each month via email. learn more

Not in Sweatpants Mom! My Daughter’s Truth About Mom’s Self-Care

I thought it wouldn’t happen until she was 12 but today as we parked in near the school, my 6 year old told me that she wanted to walk alone. My offense? I was wearing my sweat pants. They were clean and unwrinkled but, OK, so I had slept in them the night before.

Warning - Mom in Sweatpants

I thought I had been clever to sleep in clothes that I could get away with wearing to chauffeur her to school. It is always rushed in the morning and I hoped to go for a run after dropping her off anyway. But Nicole was not impressed by my attempt at the early morning time management that put personal appearance down on the list of priorities, way below the need to get her hair to stop sticking up in the last minutes before we had to dash for the car.

Still sitting in the car, I offered to put on my lipstick. She brightened and let me know that doing so would “help.” So I dug it out of the ugly handbag that gets by as my purse. Thanks to my quick thinking, she took my hand and we walked together to the door of the school.

The truth is that though I am stretched too much. I have let some things slack. If I am going to manage to get in some exercise in during my week, the hair prep time might have to give a little to allow it. But my blood pressure is not something my 6 year old can see. My baggy sweatpants are.

So I had to accept that the strategies that helped me survive my life working at home during her infancy and toddler-hood are no longer going to cut it. Of course my little girl wants to be proud of her Mama. I certainly don’t want to be a social liability for her.

The incident made me remember the story a friend told me about her Irish born mother. She told it to demonstrate how eccentric and embarrassing her mother was when she was a young girl. It seems that her mom liked to do early morning gardening. One Sunday, with the car loaded of kids all ready for church, her dad gave mom a ‘last call’ to get in if they were to make it in time for Mass. So to the utter horror of her daughter, she put down her trowel and jumped in, muddy boots and all. “The Good Lord will be interested in what’s in my heart, not what’s on my feet,” she informed her mortified kids.

When I heard the story, I instantly loved this lady. But now I realize that it might have been better to have a spare pair of loafers within hand’s reach for the sake of the family’s image.

As I sat at the computer while my girl was at school learning to count by 10s, I managed to work in a pedicure, multi-task queen that I am. I spent just a bit more time getting ready to pick her up, having showered and actually done the hair business. I put on the right earrings and my sandals to show off my painted toes.

Tomorrow morning, getting ready and off to school will undoubtedly be rushed as is usually the case. But I am going to take a moment before bed to put out some good pants and when the morning comes, I will remember to hide the muddy boots.

Reminder for the day: Show yourself the same compassion that you would show your child when they are learning to tie their shoes.

Let me help you make special memories with your children.

Subscribe to Our Cozy Time Story Club to receive one of my beloved original children’s stories each month served up with love to your email inbox.

Birthday Glitter: Choosing Happiness over Perfection

“Mommy, my birthday party was excellent!” my now 6 year old daughter informed me. Even though it rained so hard that we had to move everything inside our little house, we worked the situation to create more closeness between the moms in attendance.  Working together we moved the chairs and games that had been spread out across our yard into the tight space of our living room and carried on like that had always been the plan.

The party had started out with the girls making their own hats at the “Glitter Table.”  There were glue sticks and bowls of glitter and sequins laid out on the table for them to use as they pleased. They loved it.

Over the course of the party the glitter migrated all over the place. I did not clean it off of my husband’s cheek because it complimented his face so nicely. Later I noticed that one of my chickens had some in her feathers.

We still have some balloons up but things are getting back to post-birthday-party normal. Now that school has started again, we are adjusting to the new schedule, new teacher and new challenges of first grade. We are still getting used to having to get up at 6:30 and make it to school with all the important pieces in their tidy places.

Which leads me to wonder out loud. Is it just our household or do you also have these moments when you notice that your kid is the one with the stain on their shirt? In our case, my girl’s shiny, straight, bobbed, black hair sometimes sends out a rebellious group of strands that refuse to yield to water or the blow dryer just as we are ready to head out the door for school.  There is nothing that can done to get that fixed and still get her to school on time.

To my eye, other moms obviously have perfectly calm, stainless homes from which their kids are sent forth into the world with everything just right. Their children hold still compliantly while they create works of hair art that would have wowed any 70’s macramé crafter. I do my best but sometimes the unexpected can happen like my daughter stepping in a glob of cement where workers are paving our road.

I tell myself that if I just get up earlier, or get more sleep, then we’ll do better at getting things together for school. But there are moments when I have to step back from some unexpected frustration or glitch in our routine and try to get myself into a more mindful state. In the midst of a mini-panic over the temporarily lost shoe, I try to remember to breathe so I can get my composure back quickly. She is watching my every move, my every expression. I’d rather model how to act with the grace of going with the flow. It helps if I recall what really matters most, like my child’s self esteem or our relationship or setting a good tone for the start of one’s day.

When nothing can be done, it is better just to surrender and laugh. After all, haven’t you noticed how Life itself has a sense of humor as it serves up challenge after challenge specifically tailored to make us open up and learn how to become increasingly freer beings?

On this journey of raising children into emotionally whole people, there’s no point in giving our energy to fleeting things that have little real consequence for the larger purposes of parenting.  So I remind myself that expressing the reflex of judging myself by the quality of the shoes or some other superficial thing, really, is not being true to who I am as parent.

I can choose instead to do my best for my daughter while keeping in mind the woman that she will become one day. If that means giving up on trying to get that hair to lay down, I will do so with a chuckle so that our day, her day, starts with happiness in place. Happiness will lay straight without us having to do anything to it. It is superb grease for moments when there is a potential for friction.

This morning I dropped my excellent birthday child off for day-two of first grade. The store that sells the required school uniforms only had skirts that were so poorly made that I opted out from buying one until more come in. She went to school wearing her favorite purple dress that she picked out. The sweater was clean but did not match. She wore her old shoes since the new ones Papa bought are two sizes too big.

At the door of the school, I bent down to bless and protect my child with a Mama Kiss. All along the part of her hair was a lovely splashing of glitter.  She told me she’d been doing her “homework” in the morning. From the kitchen I had heard her singing and working in the other room.

So I kissed her head and watched her trot off with the new backpack bouncing up and down on her back. She ran into the classroom to join the little girls who’d spent Saturday making candy necklaces on the rug in our living room while it poured rain outside. Probably there’s a little glitter on the school path now.

“That’s how they’ll know she’s mine,” I told the lady selling candy and juice at the door. She’d overheard me discover the glitter.  She handed me pack of gum as a gift for making her laugh.

May your life be sprinkled with glitter to remind you of what matters –Dr. Tamara

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Would you let a sub-conscious person indoctrinate your child?

The amount of information coming our way these days about the true nature of the human experience is truly blasting the doors and windows off everything we were taught. It’s enough to shift your paradigm. Dr. Bruce Lipton is one of the voices in the current conversation. The information he shares about discoveries in cellular biology make all we thought was true about what determines the course of our lives into compostable rubbish.

Dr. Lipton has shown in the laboratory that the environment in which cells grow creates not only their level of health, but can actually determine the kind of tissue that they become. In his experiments, identical cells placed

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in petri dishes of different solutions grew into bone, muscle and skin, depending only on chemical differences in the solutions that they were placed in. That is an amazing discovery but what does that have to do with our minds or with caring for children?

With his contagious expression of awe, Dr. Lipton leads us to some amazing revelations about the nature of life. Science has revealed that what we think, feel, and believe causes the body to release specific hormones that create the chemical soup in which our cells exist. According to Lipton, what chemicals we produce as a result of our reactions to life in turn determine our state of health or disease. What we think can make us well or make us sick. That is pretty powerful coming from a cellular biologist.

This means that we have the power to directly influence our health by monitoring the quality of our thoughts. But what happens when the majority of the thoughts we have are the mind chatter of our sub-conscious mind?

Soapy baby in the bathtubThe sub-conscious functions to keep us safe from harm or embarrassment or any other threat that we perceived at some point in our lives. It holds all the garbage and conclusions that we absorbed at a tender age from our parents, teachers, relatives, and society at large. In there lives the mean voice that cuts us down, discourages us from trying, convinces us that we won’t succeed or that we better not shine. This is the force that holds us back and keep us from expressing the unlimited potential that is our true nature. These thoughts and conclusions are not what we really want running the show if we are to have joyful lives.

Fortunately all is not lost since there are new tools that can accelerate the process of liberating ourselves from the negative programming we absorbed from unhappy and unhealthy people who had influence

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on us as children. But until we manage to convert the negative protection inside the recesses of our minds into a more helpful and proactive creative force, what are we spewing off unconsciously in the presence of our own tender children?

And if that thought isn’t enough to put the fear of God into you, contemplate this observation by Peggy O’Mara, the founder and editor of the beloved and sorely missed Mothering magazine. Peggy said, “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” If ever there was a compelling reason to take your personal growth practice seriously, this is it.

For the love of our children, for the love of oneself, it’s time to make peace with the voices in our heads so that the wiser council of the heart can be heard.

Wishing you success on your journey.

Dr. Tamara



For the sake of our children, for the future of our world…

Coming soon…

Essays and articles about the sacred task of raising children consciously and the life enhancing lessons we learn from the attempt. I’m looking forward to sharing and hearing your comments. Let’s
create a lively place to explore ideas and provide support to families and educators who go a deeper than the conventional wisdom would take us.

The children are here to people the new world to come.

It is our privilege to help them realize their potential and then watch as they become a blessing for the emerging future.

Tamara Brennan, Ph.D.