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5 Ways to Reduce Fear and Boost Vitality

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How accessing breath, water, nature, relationships, and altruism can help us reclaim our energy.

1. Breath

Poor breathing techniques block energy, Grauds says. Fearful breathing is often shallow and constricted. As a result, cells experience oxygen deprivation and send out panic signals that feel like discomfort, anxiety, dread, fatigue, or helplessness — contributing to more fear. A chronically low supply of oxygen also weakens the immune system and depresses circulation in the brain. It can also contribute to the onset of cancer and heart disease.

How to Access It: If you’re feeling anxious, take note of your breath. If it’s shallow, take several slow, deep breaths, filling your diaphragm, to nourish the organs, muscles, tissues, and cells with oxygen. Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth to oxygenate the brain.

2. Water

Poor hydration blocks energy, Grauds notes. Chronic dehydration breaks down cell structure, impairs the flow of nutrients, causes free-radical damage and chronic fatigue, and disrupts the flow of hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters. It also creates “cell panic,” sending the body into water-emergency mode — siphoning water from eyes and joints and rerouting it to support vital organs.

How to Access It: Regularly replenish the water in your body. Sip about half your body weight in ounces of water daily at separate intervals, even if you aren’t thirsty. Waiting until you’re thirsty to drink means you’re already parched. After you drink caffeinated beverages (which dehydrate the body), exercise, or eat a lot of protein, you’ll need additional water.

3. Nature

Disconnecting from the life right outside our door blocks energy. Research has noted that hospital patients who get even a glimpse of nature through a window will heal faster than those who don’t. The energy we derive from our connection to the outdoors is also undermined when our environment is polluted or otherwise degraded, leading to toxic stress and illness.

How to Access It: Spend 10 minutes lying in the grass looking at the sky, taking a walk in a park, or visiting a body of water. The act of gardening is really helpful — as is placing a favorite potted plant in your office. Just listening to nature’s sounds can also be rejuvenating. Make a point of vacationing in deeper nature whenever possible.

4. Relationships

Insufficient healthy contact with other human beings blocks energy. Multiple scientific studies have shown that the lack of relationships — a form of disconnection related to the fearful self — contributes to anxiety, depression, stress, cancer, heart disease, and substance abuse.

How to Access It: Spend time with people you enjoy and respect. Instead of accepting relationships brimming with fear-based qualities like possessiveness or insecurity, focus on developing sustainable, supportive connections based in kindness, presence, and love.

5. Altruism

Focusing on only ourselves blocks energy, says Grauds. Giving time and energy to others releases fear and awakens the sustainable self.

How to Access It: Recognize that serving others has a positive biological and psychological effect on you. Experiment with committing random (or more deliberate) acts of kindness at every opportunity.

This originally appeared in “Reclaim Your Energy” in the December 2020 print issue of Experience Life.

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Health & Fitness

Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

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DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly oil a 9-x-13-inch baking dish.

In a 2-quart pot, bring the vegetable stock and lentils to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook until the lentils are tender but not falling apart, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and reserve the stock. Measure the stock and add water, if needed, to make a 1/2 cup.

While the lentils are cooking, place the parsnips in a second large pot and cover with water by an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the parsnips are tender when pierced, about 10 minutes. Drain, then place the parsnips in a food processor. Purée until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the nondairy milk, 1 tablespoon avocado oil, and 1 teaspoon salt, and purée to mix.

In a large skillet, warm the remaining avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to sizzle, about two minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the mushrooms, carrots, and remaining salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are shrunken and browned and other veggies are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the thyme, sage, pepper, flour, and tomato paste. Stir until combined, then add the reserved stock from the lentils and bring to a low boil. Cook for about two minutes, then turn off the heat. Stir in the peas and cooked lentils, then scrape the mixture into the baking dish and smooth the top.

Spread the parsnip purée over the lentil mixture. Sprinkle with the paprika.

Bake until lightly browned and bubbling, about 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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