Christmas Message – Coping with holiday stress

It’s less than a week away from Christmas Day, a much anticipated and joyful time for many. I certainly hope that is so for you and your family and friends. 

However, sometimes gathering with family can be stressful too in the heightened atmosphere of the season. Being around family members you are in close proximity with, especially for an extend period, can cause friction. You may find yourself triggered by behaviour or words of a family member. Without knowing why a wave of unpleasant feelings takes over.

You may have the experience of not being heard and dismissed, or feeling out of place, or treated somehow like a child again. In these situations be aware that being triggered means there is some unfinished business from your past surfacing and giving you an opportunity to reflect on it and clear it. 

If you find yourself triggered, here are 3 steps to defuse the discomfort of the moment, calm yourself, and get present.

1) When you notice you are feeling uncomfortable or irritated, avoid reacting and put yourself on pause. Step away from the situation.

2) Take a minute or two to calm yourself with a few slow breaths. Breathing with a short inhale and a longer exhale is especially soothing.  Take a moment to identify the feelings. If it is anger or irritation, check if there is a deeper layer of feeling – for example feeling hurt or lack of respect or not belonging. Be willing to accept that these feelings are far more related to past experiences than the present one. 

Whether you can identify the feelings or not, make a note of the trigger and check in with yourself later when you have more time to reflect on it, bring understanding to your reaction, and progress to clear it.   

3) Bring yourself into the present. Accept that the feelings are arising from you and are not caused by another. In other words how you are feeling has nothing to do with the other or the situation and everything to do with your response. You determine how you respond and how you want to feel. Ask yourself – how do I want to feel in this moment? what do I want my experience to be? – and then choose that.  

Throughout these steps, hold yourself and others with kindness and compassion.  

Frost crystals on grass stubble poking up through a frozen pool of surface water.

Frost crystals on grass stubble poking up through a frozen pool of surface water.

Wishing you and your family the beauty, peace and joy of Christmas and good health and happiness throughout the New Year.  

Can we promote breast health and prevent breast cancer?

Is it possible that we can prevent the disease, or at least decrease the risk, by promoting breast health? I believe the answer is yes.

In order to have true physical health and well-being, you have to have a good level of emotional health. The one follows the other. When I think about breast health, I immediately think of promoting mental, emotional and psychosocial/spiritual well-being.


As a family physician, I began asking myself some 20 years ago why people get sick and how they can get well again. There had to be more to treating disease, such as breast cancer, than treating the physical. Just as we recognize the wholeness of who we are – mental, emotional, spiritual as well as physical – there is a whole disease – mental, emotional, spiritual and physical.

I discovered that when we consider the whole disease, many more options open up. When we really use what we know about ourselves – events we experienced and their impact – we discover keys to healing our life.

I discovered that when I helped my patients heal their lives, they often healed physically. In my search for answers to my questions, I discovered that there are over 35 years of experience of doctors, psychologists, and scientists revealing the most likely mental and emotional factors contributing to specific diseases, such as each specific type of cancer, MS, diabetes, heart disease, and more – from minor illness to major disease. From this body of knowledge, I have learned the most likely types of stress that contribute to breast cancer.

The most important thing I learned is the following : to have good breast health, healthy relationships, especially within the family home are key.

Here are some questions to ask yourself and reflect upon.

  1. How well connected do you feel to members of your family? – partner, children, siblings, parents, close friend, or anyone you consider part of your home nest
  2. How well do you feel you can express your love and receive love with those in your home nest?
  3. Do you hold any strong concern for someone leaving you or for the integrity of relationships between family members?
    for a major relationship coming apart? For example between you and your partner, between father and son.
  4. Do you have concerns for the survival or future well-being of anyone in your family nest? For example a serious illness for a child or your partner, a concern for your child’s future career because of failed exams or criminal record.
  5. What patterns in relationships may you be carrying over from early childhood and your experience in your family of origin? As much as we may consciously want healthy change, there are hidden unconscious stresses that stem from early emotional programming and result in unconscious coping reactions.

Remember it is not only what happens to you but more importantly how you respond to what happens to you that determines the impact of any stress.

The very best advice I can give any woman (or man) for good breast health is to develop good relationship health, especially with those close to you that mean the most to you – your family. Take workshops, or get private counselling if you feel you need it, to learn about yourself and grow yourself emotionally.

Take responsibility for your own personal well-being rather than expect a relationship to improve when the other person does the work of ‘changing’. Complaining and blaming others or circumstances will hold you back from healthy change. You have to be the change that you want to see in your relationships and in your life. You are the power to create your happiest and healthiest you.

Finally, and most importantly, the key to relationship health is developing the resilience and personal resources to survive breakups and challenges in relationships that are an inevitable part of life. As we develop these personal skills, challenges become breakthroughs and we can grow in compassion for ourselves and others and that is the true source of our healing.

Important – Although I have been a physician for over 30 years, the views expressed in this article are not representative of mainstream Western Medicine. If you have diagnosis of breast disease, be sure to seek medical advice and care.

Nelie C Johnson, MD (retired)

Inspirations for Healing – Change your perspective

Here are the closing lines from the previous Inspirations for Healing article – From Fear to Acceptance – …much of your fear is the result of lack of knowledge of what is possible. Fear is a call to explore what is possible.

I ask you to set aside your fear, even a little, by not focusing on it so much. Now bring your attention to finding out more about disease. To do so you need to be willing to look at things differently.

Version 2

Focusing on your physical diagnosis and viewing it as a disaster will keep you from seeking to know more and being open to solutions. Importantly if you see the disease as only physical you are missing the whole disease – its mental, emotional and spiritual roots. To use an analogy, you’ll be fixed on the tip of the iceberg and miss the bulk that lies below the surface.

Your diagnosis is the ‘what’ – what has happened. The question you need to ask is ‘why’ or ‘what for’. “ Why is this cancer or life-threatening illness showing up in my life at this time? What is the meaning of it? “

From over 20 years of my own search for answers to these questions for myself and for my patients, I have learned and witnessed many times over that disease such as cancer shows up for a reason and has a purpose. It is the natural response of the brain/body to manage or contain a pattern of stress which is a determined to be a risk to survival of the whole individual.

You may well ask “how can cancer that is threatening my life be a way for the brain/body to ensure my survival?” Actually the cancer is minimizing the threat to your survival in the short term at the risk to your survival in the longer term. It is containing the impact of the stress in only one organ or small area of the body and allowing for the rest of the brain/body to function normally for much longer than if the stress overwhelmed the whole. With this strategy, running the cancer, you are given time and the best possible function of your brain and body to come up with a solution to the stress.

Disease is in reality your brain/body’s ultimate survival mechanism to keep your brain/body functioning as well as possible for as long as possible, giving you the best chance to sort things out. The disease is doing whatever it can to serve you. Further It is giving you a message or clues to what deeply ails you at a mental, emotional, and spiritual level. For every illness or disease, there can be found a core emotional stress or conflict that is at its source.

Along with medical and additional alternative treatments you may be doing, the disease is a sign for you to do the deeper emotional work to fully heal.

Keep watch for other articles in this series – Inspirations for Healing.

I invite you to leave comments and questions on my Facebook page.

Inspirations for Healing – From Fear to Acceptance

I have been giving a lot of thought to what people most need to hear from me to support them with their health concerns. As I was hiking last Sunday along a forested trail, in Nature’s quiet, ideas surfaced. After the hoopla and excitement of the book launch (more about the event below), it was time to settle into sharing more of my message about healing. I plan to do so over a series of blog articles, this being the first one.

DSCN5767 2

The first response to learning of a diagnosis of serious illness or disease, is naturally shock, stress, fear and even panic. It is important to acknowledge your fears. Talking them out with a compassionate listener or writing them out can help to separate yourself enough to move beyond your fears a little. Your fears are for a future that does not have to happen. As much as possible stay present and focused on your current condition, what is happening in the now, for that is what is real.

I like the word inspiration. Taking the root word ‘inspire’, it’s first meaning is to breathe in, so despite any fear or panic arising, your best next response is to pause and breathe – slow and deep. This allows you to calm your fears and brings more oxygen to your brain to think more clearly.

Then what will support you is an attitude of acceptance – acceptance of where you are at, of what your reality is for now. Let me be clear, this is not acceptance of the prognosis or any projected negative future. Your future will depend on how you respond to the present.

Wishing things were different, resisting the reality or fighting it only fuels the problem and creates more stress. You may have heard the phrase “what you resist persists”. In other words, as you put energy into pushing against your present reality, you are depleting yourself of energy to put toward finding solutions.

For sure fear is a natural response to hearing of a challenging diagnosis. However, much of your fear is the result of lack of knowledge of what is possible. Fear is a call to explore what is possible. Calm, clear thinking will help you explore possibilities.

Keep a watch for other articles in this series – Inspirations for Healing.

I invite you to leave comments and questions on my Facebook page.

Getting the message out there

I am excited to pass along news that my chapter in which I share some of my story and my message of healing is coming out with the launch of the WOW book on March 1st!

I am very pleased with my chapter and really pleased with the book. There is something for everyone – 15 powerful and inspiring stories written by 15 women entrepreneurs and change makers sharing part of their journey toward their success and contributions. Several of the chapters cover aspects of healing and other topics include fitness, nutrition, interior design, business and travel. It’s a great book to gift to a friend.

Woman of Worth Book
To take part in the Amazon launch on March 1st for those on Facebook it’s easy. Simply click below: [Read more...]

I’m back and sharing inspiration…

DSCN5397 2

Greetings readers and followers, I am back after 2 years taking time out to play, travel, relax and reflect. I travelled throughout BC and in Quebec for the fall colours. I toured some of central Europe in 2017 – the big cities of Prague, Budapest, Berlin, Krakow and Warsaw, Vienna and Munich and did a road trip through Bavaria. I shared a perfectly delightful two weeks in Newfoundland in July last year too with three friends. Locally I have been active hiking into some spectacular mountain areas – Mt Baker, Manning Park and Whistler – along with some snowshoeing and skiing as well. [Read more...]

January Frosty Splendor

Greetings for the New Year. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas connecting with family and friends and that the year is starting off with great energy and promise.

Here in my area of Vancouver, we have been blessed with brilliant sunny, crisp, calm weather – perfect for walks in nature. And Nature put on a dazzling display!


[Read more...]

Are you fighting your disease?

Perspective is everything.   Consider if you are fighting the disease that you are fighting yourself because the disease is part of you.  The more you fight, the more stress, the less possibility of healing. Rather than fighting the disease consider approaching it with curiosity to understand why it has shown up and what it might be trying to tell you.

Whom or what are you fighting?  Ask yourself – are you blaming others or your circumstances?  are you blaming your body?  are you blaming yourself because of lifestyle sins you think you have made?  Blaming, complaining, fighting are all energy drains and add stress and do not provide the necessary self-reflection that can move you toward understanding and solutions.  Do whatever you can, as quickly as you can, to let go of these non-helpful reactions.

The disease is what it is.  First step is to recognize it as your reality for the moment, that it has shown up for a reason.  Be willing to take ‘response-ability’ for it showing up – not that you are at fault or have done anything wrong but rather that it is the outcome of an unconsciously held pattern of stress or program of belief.

[Read more...]

The Calm After the Storm

It’s been a stormy time here on the west coast.  We are now enjoying the calm after the storm.   I hope your life is calm for you.  And if not right now, my wish for you is that you find resources to support resolution of whatever may be troubling you and to restore your own inner calm.

A crisp clear day in mid November - blueberry fields, Pitt Meadows, BC

A crisp clear day in mid November – blueberry fields, Pitt Meadows, BC

I have been enjoying several opportunities to network with others and find common ground and support for collaboration.  I am looking forward to  sharing my message of self-healing more widely with video, interviews and with my writing and speaking.  Please watch my Facebook page and blog posts in the coming weeks.

The article this month is a true life story of a courageous woman’s healing journey and how her healing helped many in her family to heal as well.  As I have written before, the greatest gift for those you love is the gift of your own healing.  It is a gift of love for yourself and for those around you.

I want to highlight an upcoming live event for those of you living in the Vancouver lower mainland and Fraser Valley area – Soul Talks – a day of ‘TED’ talks for the soul – on Saturday, November 29th.  For details and how to register at Soul Talks event on Facebook.  Hope to see you there.

Finally, I have made a few new recommendations for book resources.


Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete acknowledgment with it -  Dr. Nelie Johnson is a family physician and facilitator for healing – inspiring and guiding people to heal their life and heal their body.  She is a contributing author to a bestselling book and provides seminars, workshops, and private consultations.

Healing Yourself, Healing Family

I recently had the opportunity to hear a story from a woman, I call her ‘Diane’, who healed herself and as she did so, it helped many members in her family to heal also.

Three Generations

Diane described to me that she had a ‘rough upbringing’.  Her alcoholic Dad died when she was just 4 years old.  Her mother went to work to raise her daughter and two older children.  In addition, Mother, I’ll call her Susan, was manic-depressive whose several boyfriends over the years emotionally and sexually abused Diane.

Diane grew up feeling traumatized, really alone and abandoned not only because her Mom was away at work and not protecting her but also because her two brothers who were several years older didn’t want her tagging along with them.  In her teen years she was acting out – hanging out with a wild crowd, drinking and taking drugs.  She felt not worth taking care of.

She married young and attempted to marry someone better than herself.  The marriage didn’t last long, a little more than 2 years.  However, now she had a child to care for.  Although she stopped using drugs and excessive alcohol since age of 17, she struggled with depression.   Her overall sense of herself all her life was that she was ‘damaged goods’.

After her second child in a second marriage (and she is still married to the child’s father), Diane became severely depressed and suicidal.  She was poised to jump off a ladder with a noose around her neck, ready to hang herself but her dog stopped her.  He put his paws on her feet. In that moment, Diane knew she was being asked to choose life and with the help of counselling she chose to live and to committed to a spiritual journey to reconnect with her true self and with a sense of belonging in the world.

Over the next several years she took personal development courses and spiritual workshops.  She uncovered a core belief that she was not lovable  and as she let go of that belief, she grew in self-love and self-esteem to find solid foundation of peace within herself.

An even bigger shift came when she connected with her deep feelings of abandonment and realized that it was primarily her mother’s issue.  Susan, her mother, had lost both her parents at a young age and married in her teens, lost her husband to alcohol in her 20s and had a number of failed relationships.

What was astounding for Diane was that during the days she was releasing her feelings of abandonment, Susan reported to her later that during the same period she was confined to her bed for three days with a severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhea and felt surprisingly well and much lighter afterwards.  Also at the same time, what was remarkable and most touching for Diane was her mother expressed to her for the very first time – “ I am sorry that I didn’t love you as a child.”

Susan, now in her mid 70s, is seeing a counsellor and is starting to heal.  Also Diane’s daughter who has struggled with low self-esteem and depression, like her mother and grandmother before her, is taking steps for her own healing.

With great insight, Diane expressed to me the following -  “ Mom just didn’t have the strength to heal.  I was the one that had to go first.  As I did my healing, I freed up my Mom and my daughter to do their own healing. I am grateful to finally break the chain of this behaviour in my family. ”

I thanked Diane for sharing her courageous story with me and allowing me to share it with others.   In my work with people, I have witnessed similar breakthroughs and the ripple effect of benefit it has for those around them.


Want to use this article in your ezine or website? You can, as long as you include this complete acknowledgment with it -  Dr. Nelie Johnson is a family physician and facilitator for healing – inspiring and guiding people to heal their life and heal their body.  She is a contributing author to a bestselling book and provides seminars, workshops, and private consultations.