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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Letter from Publisher

It was 10:30 p.m., and just as I was about to switch off my light and go to sleep, my 13-year-old son, Yonatan, opened my door and peeked in. “Mom, I can’t fall asleep,” he complained. It was a familiar scenario. I invited him to sit down and talk. Bursting into tears, he cried, “I’m so stressed out, I don’t know what to do!” He then went through the detailed list of all the school homework and projects that were due, extracurricular obligations, the everyday middle school drama, and his fear that he won’t get into college. Since when are eighth graders concerned about getting into college?

As he talked, my own overwhelming to-do list went through my mind, and I couldn’t help thinking that something just isn’t right about the way we are living our lives in this modern world. Not only are adults stretched thin, but our children are stressed out and experiencing ongoing daily pressures that should not be a part of childhood. Research has shown that stress is the biggest factor contributing to disease and early aging. It lowers our immune system, damages our brains and accelerates aging by shortening our telomeres.

A 2016 Time magazine article, “Teen Depression and Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not Alright,” cited the Department of Health and Human Services’ findings that about 3 million teens, ages 12 to 17, had had at least one major depressive episode in 2015. More than 2 million reported experiencing depression that impaired their daily function. About 30 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys, together totaling 6.3 million teens, have had an anxiety disorder, according to data from the National Institute of Mental Health. And these numbers are continuing to rise.

It’s not surprising that the iconic red-and-white “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster, dating back to pre-World War II Britain, is seeing a resurgence. While there is no single answer to changing the way we live, Lisa Marshall’s article “Dial Down Stress, How to Stay Calm and Cool” details stress’s adverse impact on our health and, more importantly, how we can avoid letting stress get the best of us. Marshall recommends practices such as meditation, breath work and reiki, and also includes simple tips, like avoiding constant attention to media. Our January “Community Spotlight” features local reiki practitioner Rhiana Tehan, of Be Reiki, who explains some of the benefits of this relaxing Japanese energy healing art.

This issue also provides other information for kicking off a healthy new year for our pets, the planet and ourselves. Read on to become inspired about reducing plastic waste, walking to improve physical and mental health, and keeping pets healthy and happy through responsible feeding.

As we welcome in a new year, let’s join together in creating a calm, fresh start. May 2018 bring peace, health and joy to all.

Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher