New Perspective on the Dandelion

Dandelion blooming in early spring

When you see a dandelion, do you think, “oh no, a weed?”  Weed is a term we use to label plants we have decided are undesirable. Another definition is a plant we have not yet found its virtues or have forgotten its value. Do you believe that nature would spend the energy and resources to evolve a plant that was not useful?

Dandelions are food. People used to forage dandelions in the spring for their nutritious greens, blossoms, and harvest their roots in the fall. Today, you would only want to pick dandelions if you were certain they were never sprayed with chemicals or herbicides. I harvest dandelions from our garden and use the greens in salads. You can find recipes that use dandelions sautéed, in salads, and jellies.  The blossoms can be used for making syrup and cookies. The root can be dried and used for teas.


Before refrigeration and advances in transportation, people had to rely on their local environment to sustain them. Shipping was by boat and by horse and wagon. People may have more easily understood the importance of protecting their environment so that the plants and animals could thrive.


Bees will thank you for making peace with a few dandelions as they look for pollen. More bees mean more food since we need bees to pollinate our plants that give us fruits and vegetables.


The hardy root of the dandelion breaks up the heavy clay soils and allows oxygen to get to roots and the soil’s bacteria. That reduces the need to aerate that lawn.
The bees and insects need diversity in their diet just as we do. Lawns are the second or third largest monoculture in the United States. Our green lawns require water, petroleum-based fertilizers, and pesticide and herbicide to keep that green appearance. But what is the cost to our environment of a weed-free lawn?


More biodiversity everywhere is what the earth and her bees, insects, birds, and wildlife are crying for. Are we willing to dedicate part of our lawn to allow more biodiversity into our lives with appreciation and thankfulness?


We are a part of the web of life.  All life is connected.

New Perspectives on Sleep

Sleep regenerates and repairs our body. Sleep helps us stay mentally sharp. In this challenging time, we need to be mindful of choices that interfere with the best quality sleep.

News and social media may make us anxious. It may be helpful to pay attention to the news and Facebook early in the morning and pay less attention later in the day and evening. Viewing earlier will allow us to be more relaxed in the evening.

Caffeine stimulates our body’s systems. Caffeine may make it more difficult to fall asleep and reach deep restful sleep. If you decide to consume caffeine, it may be best to have caffeinated drinks early in the day. No later than 3:00 in the afternoon is best. Your body will have time to metabolize the caffeine before bedtime.

Melatonin is our sleep hormone. Blue light wavelengths turn off melatonin production which cause us to be more awake. Blue light is emitted from TV screens, phones, computer and tablets. It is best to turn off these screens 2 hours before bedtime. As an alternative, read a book or magazine printed on paper.

Be aware that LED and compact florescent lights emit blue wavelengths also. Wearing Blue Blocker glasses or TrueDark glasses in the evening may decrease the amount of blue light reaching your eyes. You may also consider a red LED bulb in your bedroom by your bed. A red light will allow you to see if there is a need to get up in the night but will be less disruptive to your sleep.

Meditation may also help you to quiet your mind and drop more easily into deep restful sleep. You’ll find some helpful ideas on meditation in this post.

Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about healthy eating and lifestyles and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not medical or psychological advice. This information is to be used at your own risk, based on your own judgment. For my full disclaimer, please go to donnakkelly.com\disclaimer

New Perspectives on Stress and Protecting Your Immune System

Woman meditating

Your immune system is your body’s way to protect you from infections, whether those infections are old, or new, like COVID-19. Your immune system is built to take care of you. A few changes will help you take care of your immune system.

Stress, whether infection, emotions, pain, or poor nutrition, decreases your immune system’s ability to function well. Let’s expand that thought.

Your body reacts to stress as a threat to its survival and causes your body to quickly use its energy for survival. Your blood vessels constrict, so you bleed less if the proverbial tiger bites you. Your blood clots more easily, in case that bite happens. Your heart beats faster, so you can run faster than the tiger.

We don’t have to worry about tigers, but we still experience stress. Most any stress causes your body to respond. Responding to stress today doesn’t require fast running, or faster clotting, and those responses may not be the best for maintaining health.

Maintaining your immune system requires a great deal of energy. Your body, under stress, may send less energy to the immune system as it sends more energy to combat stress. But your body responds in the same way, whether a tiger is near, or with the emotional stress of learning that Covid-19 is spreading. Decreasing the amount of stress may help us.

Mental stress and anxiety may be effectively dealt with by meditation. One simple way to meditate is to sit quietly and focus on your breathing. You may find this 20-minute body scan meditation helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS_iqfGjL78

Decreasing stress helps decrease the body’s responses to stress, which then helps the immune system stay at its best. Decreasing stress may also help you sleep better, which is another critical step to optimal health.

Please check in tomorrow for more ideas on how to optimize sleep.

Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about healthy eating and lifestyles and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not medical or psychological advice. This information is to be used at your own risk, based on your own judgment. For my full disclaimer, please go to donnakkelly.com\disclaimer

Resources for Understanding Covid-19 and How to Protect Yourself

We are experiencing a virus outbreak that is new in humans. The outbreak is challenging our lives. We may become more aware of how connected we are to each other and earth. We may learn the need to focus on protecting society (reduce collective risk) in order to protect ourselves (reduce individual risk).

Alanna Shaikh has a Master’s in public health and specializes in global health and health systems. She helps public health systems deal with severe shocks, such as Ebola and now, Covid-19. Here is a link to her recent Ted talk on Covid-19. She explains how the virus came to infect humans and how to protect ourselves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqw-9yMV0sI (16:46)

And here’s the reason why washing your hands is so important. Washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water is better than hand sanitizer. National Public Radio’s Science Friday’s podcast this past Friday offered some new perspectives on hand washing benefits, our health care system, and viral infections. The information on hand washing starts at 14:30. https://www.sciencefriday.com/episodes/march-13-2020/

New Perspectives on Joy

Joy is a pillar for good health. Do you allow yourself to experience joy every day? Do you know what brings you joy or happiness?

Is it true that joy and happiness help us to stay healthy?  Yes, joy and happiness help us.

Our nervous system has two pathways. The sympathetic pathway is our fight or flight system. It is important when we are under stress or danger. The sympathetic pathway helps clot our blood quickly so that if we are injured, we won’t bleed too much. It raises our heart rate and constricts our blood vessels, helping us respond quickly to stress and threats.

When we are under stress or threats, our immune system activity decreases. When our bodies sense danger, it uses energy to help us survive. If we are facing a tiger, our body doesn’t need to put energy for our immune system to fight a cold next week, or we may be the tiger’s meal now.  

The other is our parasympathetic system. It is our rest, digest and repair system. We would be well served if we lived most of our day in this state. Here, our body may digest food more easily and absorb the life supporting nutrients in that food. Our heart is at rest and pumping more slowly. Our blood vessels are not constricted. This may allow us to fall asleep more easily. We may even think more clearly.

Both paths of our nervous system are important for health. We want to easily shift from one system into the other. In our hectic world, we rarely allow ourselves to be at rest. People may experience mental and emotional stressors. We also face environmental stressors, like water and air pollution. Our body may struggle with injury, infection or nutrient deficiencies.  

Joy may be a path to allow us to tip our body back toward the rest, digest and repair mode. Repair helps us to overcome sickness and injuries, but also helps us to age more successfully. Joy and happiness help us to be more optimistic.

There are measurable changes in the body when we allow ourselves to experience joy. We have a decrease in cortisol, the stress hormone, and an increase in endorphins, which help us to feel less pain. Our mood is lighter because serotonin increases (the happiness neurotransmitter) and oxytocin (the connection hormone). There is an increase in Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF), which helps us to grow new neurons in our brain to protect our memory. We dilate our blood vessels and increase our lung capacity which helps to send more oxygen throughout our body. Laughter may force us to breathe deeper. Just breathing deeply stimulates the vagus nerve, which helps us to rest, digest, and repair our bodies. 

How can we bring more joy into our lives?  There are comedy clubs, funny movies and books, and even laughter yoga. Our bodies will react the same even if we are faking the laughter or smile. When was the last time you experienced a good belly laugh?  It might be helpful to have a good laugh every day.

Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only.  It is being provided to you to educate you about healthy eating and lifestyles and as a self-help tool for your own use.  It is not medical or psychological advice.  This information is to be used at your own risk, based on your own judgment.  For my full disclaimer, please go to donnakkelly.com\disclaimer.

New Perspectives on Daylight Savings Time

Sunday, March 8th, at 3:00 AM, we will spring forward and be on Daylight Savings Time (DST) in most of the United States, Europe and Canada. This abrupt change in time in relation to daylight may be the cause of a variety of negative health and safety effects. Many people struggle for a week to overcome the time change. People experience lost productivity, lower quality of life, increased illness and complain of just feeling tired.  

Focusing on self-care before the time change may help alleviate some of the impact. You might:

  • Try to go to bed 15-20 minutes earlier each night for 2-3 nights before the time change. This may allow your body to adjust more easily.
  • Begin to adjust the timing of your meals a little earlier each day for 2-3 days. This may be especially important with dinner.
  • Get some early morning sunlight, especially on the first day of the time change, Sunday. The bright light helps to set your body’s clock to the new daytime hours and become fully awake.
  • Be careful driving and operating machinery if you feel drowsy. Your reaction times may be delayed, and accidents may happen.
  • Stick with your normal bedtime on Sunday to get plenty of sleep for your Monday normal waking routine.
  • Avoid using phones and computers in the evening to decrease the blue light wavelengths which decrease melatonin, your sleep hormone.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for several hours before bedtime. Caffeine is best consumed before noon.

Studies show the negative health consequences of DST.

Monday is routinely associated with more heart attacks than any other day of the week. It is known as the “Monday cardiac phenomenon.” After DST, there is an additional 24% increase in heart attacks on Monday. Conversely, there is also a 21% drop in heart attacks on Tuesday following the end of DST.

There is an increase in traffic accidents and workplace injuries on Monday after DST.

There is lost productivity after DST. Cyberloafing, surfing the web for unrelated content to work, increases after the time change.

Judgement may be impaired. There are studies showing increase in spending on the Monday after the time change. A study of federal courts found 5% longer sentences handed down on “sleep Monday.” Managers may find themselves doling out harsher criticisms.

Students taking tests on the Monday after DST may see lower test scores.

Europe has plans to phase out DST in 2021. The European Union has noticed these negative consequences to their population’s health and economy and are acting. Russia stopped their time changes in 2011. Asia and Africa do not change their times during the year.  

Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only.  It is being provided to you to educate you about healthy eating and lifestyles and as a self-help tool for your own use.  It is not medical or psychological advice.  This information is to be used at your own risk, based on your own judgment.  For my full disclaimer, please go to donnakkelly.com\disclaimer