Karese LaGuerre is the author of “Accomplished: How to Sleep Better, Eliminate Burnout and Execute Goals.” She’s a Registered Dental Hygienist and Myofunctional Therapist. She founded The Myo Spot, a practice aimed at amplifying oral wellness to whole body wellness. In this episode Karese and I talk about her work, the little things regarding sleep we don’t think about and how the Black community gets left behind in the conversation.
Power elevation experience registration is coming up. It starts on March 24th and it ends on March 31st. What’s the power elevation experience. It’s about music, movement, education, and action. We’re talking diversity, equity and inclusion by learning, and then taking action in different ways in our everyday lives. What we’re doing with the music is getting empowered and we’re moving our bodies so that our minds are ready to receive the information. If you want to learn more, the link will be down in the show notes. In this episode, we’ll be talking to Karese LaGuerre, welcome to diversity dish, where we’re dishing on everything. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice related. My name is Sedruola Maruska, and we’re bridging the gap between what needs to be said and what needs to be heard. Those individual experiences that are often ignored or simply dismissed. Sometimes I’m dining alone. Sometimes I’m dining with friends and sometimes I’m dining a-la-cart, no matter how I’m dining, it promises to be delicious. Let’s dig in
Karese LaGuerre is a registered dental hygienist and myofunctional therapist. She founded the Myo spot practice aimed at amplifying oral wellness to whole body wellness through teletherapy. She helps clients of all ages overcome tongue ties, TMJ disorders, sleep apnea, grinding anxiety, and various breathing and oral facial dysfunction, passionate about education. And self-help she published, accomplished how to sleep better, eliminate burnout and execute goals. When she’s not working with clients globally, she spends time with her husband and four kids.
Hey Karese, thank you so much for being here. It is such a pleasure to meet you. I am so happy to be here. Thank you for having me. Absolutely. It’s my pleasure. So as we get into our discussion, I like to start off just a little light and personal before we get into the deep information that we will get into. But I would like to know what is it that you’re passionate about right now? I am super passionate about awareness of the importance of sleep and even more so the importance of good breathing to help impact that sleep and make it more purposeful where need that sleep to re-energize, you know, get ourselves back to full a hundred percent. We’re charging up at night that way, the next day we’re good to go. So I am a hundred percent passionate about that sleep and are essential.
How many times have you said or heard someone else say say ‘I’m so stressed’?
We use the word ‘stress’ loosely. Many times what we describe as stress is a bad day, and really all we want is to chill. Basically, ‘stress’ is just another word for ‘annoyed’ or ‘hassle’.
But more and more ‘stress’ isn’t just an alternate word, it’s something we face every day. It’s a constant in our lives that keeps us awake at night, on edge through the day, and fills us with tension and fear.
In small amounts, stress is necessary. Lots of things cause short-term stress, even things we enjoy, like board games, challenging tasks, a DIY home project, or video games. These situations cause fun ‘stress’ that leads to a feeling of satisfaction, a challenge overcome, a job well done, or a game well played.
Stress can sometimes be good for us. For example, if we’re finding it hard to pay the bills, we might respond by asking for a raise – or finding a better job!
The problem comes when we’re stressed most or all of the time – especially at work.
If the trend continues, most adults will be suffering from high blood pressure in a few years because of coping mechanisms such as drinking, overeating or not getting enough sleep.
Because when stress continues, it doesn’t only take a psychological toll – damaged relationships, problems at work, and poorer quality of life. It also takes a physical toll that can lead to serious conditions like coronary heart disease.
What is Stress?
Doesn’t it seems strange that something as intangible as stress can have such a dramatic effect on our health, our lives, and society as a whole? But it can, and it does, which is why we need to understand it and learn how to deal with it.
There’s more than one way of defining stress, but here are two of the most useful.
Stress is what happens when we feel that demands we have to meet are bigger than our ability to deal with them, so we feel ‘out of our depth’ or ‘at the end of our rope.’
Stress is an adverse reaction we have to a lot of pressure or other demands placed on us.
In other words, stress is based on the way we look at our lives. If we think we can cope with pressures, demands on our time, our abilities and our money then there’s no problem. If we can’t, we feel stressed.
Years ago, when we were less ‘sophisticated’ than we are now, If we were confronted with something threatening, we had two possible responses. To stay, and fight – or to turn and run. Fight or flight.
Although we’ve evolved, we still have those same fight or flight instincts. That’s good except for the fact that our systems can’t tell the difference between a real threat and an imagined one. So even if the threat is something we’ve been thinking about our response is the same – fight or flight.
And the results are physical!
Your heart starts to beat faster, carrying oxygen and nutrients, clearing away waste products so your muscles will have the blood supply they need for intense physical effort
As your heart beats faster, your blood pressure rises
Adrenaline and other hormones are released, to give you the energy you’ll need, raising your awareness, and sharpening your response
Your pupils dilate to let in more light, so you can see more clearly
All your senses become sharper and more efficient
Your muscles tense, ready for action
Blood flow to your hands and feet is restricted, so they stay cool
Your body gets hotter as your blood pressure rises, and you start to sweat in an effort to cool off
And yet nothing physical has happened. You’ve simply imagined, remembered, or anticipated something your subconscious sees as a threat!
You’ve also started to program yourself with this response to a particular stimulus. Which means that the next time you have the same thought, you’ll respond in the same way – faster, and more intensely.
You may even start to worry about the response – which increases your stress levels even more. The result: unpleasant physical symptoms. Palpitations. Muscle tension pain. Insomnia. Breathlessness. Numbness. Tingling. Dizziness. Sickness. Fainting. Headaches. Indigestion. Diarrhea. Fatigue. Chest pains. Blurred vision. Nausea. Shaking and more.
The good news is that once you understand stress, and recognise it, you can easily manage it.
Stress comes from a particular set of behaviors we learn and repeat. Fighting back means learning – and repeating – a different set of behaviors that will reduce stress and restore calm.
Here are some first steps to help you manage stress:
Learn relaxation techniques! Relaxation is the opposite of ‘fight or flight’. Meditation, progressive muscular relaxation, deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, or even dancing can help you to relax
Learn about your stress ‘triggers’. Keep a journal where you write down things that make you tense up or start to worry, and the things that make you feel relaxed and happy.
Take stock of your lifestyle. Are you eating and drinking sensibly? Do you exercise enough? Vigorous exercise is a great way to get rid of tension that builds up when you’re stressed!
Develop strategies. Think about what you do now to stay calm. What could you do better? What strategies could you add to your arsenal?
Managing stress starts with knowing what’s stressful to you. We all have different triggers and ways of managing our stress.
Sometimes, when I’m working, I realize that my shoulders are incredibly tense. Unconsciously I’m raising them toward my ears, so that when I’m finally realizing this, my body is in a truly awkward position. I’ve realized that it happens when I’m unsure of or feeling stressed about a project.
What I do is take a deep breath, hold it for three seconds, then as I release my breath I relax my shoulders. That simple act gets me back to neutral, relaxes my body and helps clear my mind so I can keep working. without causing myself harm.
I encourage you to keep a journal and become more aware of how you’re dealing with stress. You’ll be happy, in many ways, that you took the time.
My friend David* is deathly afraid of spiders. It doesn’t matter how small they are, he’ll run to the ends of the earth to avoid them.
One day while driving, he noticed a spider in his car. I’m not sure where in the car the spider was, but it was in his line of sight, and that was enough. With panic on the brain, and I’m sure a prayer in his heart he managed to pull his car over and jump out. Being alone, he had to manage on his own. Which he did by destroying the menacing creature and apprehensively getting back in the car to get home.
When he told me this story we laughed so hard we could barely speak for minutes. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.
It feels a little like we’re all hiding from a spider in the age of COVID-19. The difference being, our spider is deadly to our most vulnerable and we’re not yet sure how to destroy the menace.
On March 12, 2020 our school district asked that the kids not return to school the following day, Friday, March 13. Then on Friday we learned that school would be closed for two weeks for “social distancing” due to the COVID-19 virus spreading across the globe. My daughter is home-schooled so no big change there. But having my son home all day. . . I love my kids.
Social distancing is testing us in ways we’ve never been tested before. We’re pushed to spend time with ourselves, our kids and our stuff in a way we’ve never experienced or imagined. In our case, knowing it would only be two weeks gave a light at the end of the tunnel. Then the Governor pushed it to May 6. . . I love my kids.
Calling The Doctor
Two weeks in, on Sunday, March 29, my daughter comes into our room in the morning with a bellyache. Kids get bellyaches especially when diets are on hiatus and schedules are non-existent.
So we send her to use the bathroom, have some tea and take it easy. By the afternoon there’s no change so we give her some children’s Tylenol, and cross our fingers. No one wants to go to a hospital right now, let alone an emergency room. So we decide to call her doctor in the morning to go to their office instead, if the pain persists.
In the morning, I call the doctor’s office. They ask me a list of questions then the nurse says “I think you need to go to the emergency room because it sounds like appendicitis. Don’t worry, they have separate entrances for COVID-19 patients and regular patients.”
She read my mind.
I throw on some clothes, get my daughter in the car and drive to the hospital. When we get to the hospital, the scenario is eerie. There’s almost no activity, a huge sign out front flashes “NO VISITORS”, the drive in front of the emergency room is blocked off, and there’s no one in sight. I hang out for a moment and a valet happens to walk by so I ask if I can park in front of the emergency room so he clears a space for me. He’s wearing a mask.
We go through the emergency room doors and we’re instantly greeted by a nurse in full protective gear. “Hello, how may we help you?”
“Our doctor told us to come because my daughter is having abdominal pain and believes it may be appendicitis.”
I tell her and she sees it in the computer so she promptly hands us masks and guides us through. Everyone in the hospital is wearing a mask from the valet to the barista at the internal Starbucks. No one is walking around without a mask.
We get to a room and I notice that no one is shaking hands. I didn’t reach out, nor did they. They’re only touching my daughter as needed to get her IV in and examine her belly. Later, when I need to make a phone call I step out of the room and am quickly directed back into the room, no one can walk the halls, everyone must stay put. Okay, no problem.
As we’re waiting the doctor comes in and informs us that they’re going to need to do an ultrasound to see what’s really going on. They give my daughter Tylenol, Motrin and Morphine so in a short time she’s feeling “happy.”
After the ultrasound confirms our suspicions of appendicitis an appendectomy surgery plan is rolled out.
Now, in my day, developing appendicitis and having an appendectomy was something that would put you down for a few days.
The doctor begins to explain to me how they’re going to go through my daughter’s belly button with an instrument that has a camera on the end. They’ll find the appendix and pull it out to examine it, tie and snip it off. Basically, a laparoscopic procedure that comes with very low risk.
We got to the hospital at 10:15 am and we were home by 6:30 pm post op.
Life doesn’t always cooperate with our plans. What’s that quote “Man makes plans and God laughs.” There are things we just can’t anticipate because they’re not how we think things need to go. But flowing with life feels a lot better than pushing against it.
I got nothing I “planned” to do on that Monday done. What was most important was I get my daughter taken care of. The timing of this emergency may not have been ideal but I’m so grateful for:
Health insurance so we didn’t have to worry about how to pay
Health professionals who are working everyday despite the threat to their health
Modern medicine and it’s efficiency in our case
Being able to take my daughter to the hospital in the morning and she being relieved of her pain by the evening
Hospital protocol to keep everyone safe
The timing could have come during the anticipated ‘surge’ of COVID-19, it didn’t
Life also, keeps moving. As our health professionals continue to fight the good fight, it’s up to us to follow the protocols in place to help keep them safe. They’re not only dealing with COVID-19 patients, they’re also dealing with regular cases, like my daughter’s appendicitis, that won’t stop because of this pandemic.
I wish you health and peace as we stay home and do our part against this deadly spider.