Stressed out? Worried? Anxious?  With all that is going on in our world right now, it is no surprise that stress and anxiety are on the rise. But did you know that all that stress can greatly weaken your immune system and reduce your ability to fight off infections? Research has shown one’s state of mind affects one’s state of health. And that extra Vitamin C you’ve been taking may be counteracted by all that extra worry!

But what can we do about it? Simply- take a deep breath! Just a few minutes a day of mindful breathing or meditation can greatly increase stress resilience and boost your immune system. For many of us mindfulness and meditation feels foreign and awkward. I get that. I’m fairly new to the practice myself! But believe me, the benefits are worth the effort! Here’s a few ideas to get you started. 

Belly breath for 5-10 minutes. Belly breathing helps promote relaxation, stress reduction, increased efficiency in stretching, increased energy and creates better body awareness. Think of filling your whole torso with air when you breathe in (pushing your belly out) and pushing the air out with your stomach muscles when you breathe out (contracting your belly in). For most people it is the opposite of our normal breathing and will take some concentration and practice when you get started. Try making your exhale just a bit longer than your inhale as well. You can do this anywhere, but it’s most effective when you are in a quiet place so you can focus on your breathing. Try to clear your mind of your daily worries and if your mind wanders, gently bring it back to where you are at. I like to incorporate a little montra with each breath- “Peace in, stress out” or “Love in, fear out”. Find what works for you. 

Don’t have 5 minutes? Breathe for 1 minute 5 times a day! 

Can’t sit still? 

Try some yoga stretches while doing your breathing or even some rebounding on a small trampoline. 

Feel like you can’t fit a work out in and meditation? Try doing them together!

Mindful walking simply means walking while being aware of each step and of your breath. It can be practiced anywhere, whether you are alone in nature or with others in a crowded city. You can even practice it in between business appointments or in the parking lot of the supermarket. Concentrate on the physical sensations of walking- the sights and sounds and physical sensations of each step. If your mind starts to wander, just gently bring it back by saying ”left, right” or counting with each step.  Mindful walking allows us to be aware of the pleasures around us. During this time, there is no rush, no place to get to, no hurry. Mindful walking can release our worries and help bring peace into our body and mind.

If walking is not your pace, try the same with running.

Or try some Mindful Weight Training!

Start with a few belly breaths to get you started, then be mindful as you move. You can start with just breathing as discussed before. You can add a mantra again: for example 

Inhale: “Yes” Exhale: “I can”, Inhale: “I am” Exhale: “Strong”

Or think of each movement: 

  • What muscles am I working?
  • What does it feel like (burning, powerful, achy, etc.)?
  • Concentrate on your form in every rep? Has it changed?
  • What rep starts to feel really hard?
  • When you come up against your limit, is it really a physical limit or a mental one?

Once again, if your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your breath or movement. Don’t beat yourself up. It’ll never be perfect, but keep at it!

Still too formal? Just DANCE! Dance like no one is watching- because they’re not!

We know that dancing can have positive effects on your physical wellbeing, but dancing has also been shown to reduce stress, improve memory, and improve psychological well being. Whether it’s formal with a partner or free style by yourself, focus on the music, how you feel, and just let it go! 

There are also some great apps to guide you through some meditations like Insight, Headspace, and Calm to name a few. 

Meditation doesn’t have to be just sitting and humming. Find something that works for you! Have fun with it! You’ll be amazed at how you’ll feel and your immune system will thank you too!

Written By:

Amy Ray, FNP
Adult Functional Functional Practitioner

Stephanie Ritari, PA-C

Stephanie Ritari is a board-certified Physician Assistant who offers primary care for adults at the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center. She specializes in Internal Medicine and has spent the majority of her career in the field of cardiovascular disorders.

Stephanie has more than 15 years experience as a Physician Assistant in a variety of medical areas, including cardiology and electrophysiology. Holistic practices have long been a part of Stephanie’s lifestyle, with a particular focus on clean living and nutrition. She has embedded functional principles into her conventional medicine practice throughout her career. After watching family members struggle to find answers for their chronic illnesses, Stephanie became more interested in finding ways to take a root cause approach in her own practice. Wanting to provide a proactive, comprehensive, and preventative scope of care for her patients, Stephanie began studying functional medicine. In 2021, she joined Functional Medicine of Idaho, where she is able to provide evidence based, root cause medicine.

Stephanie earned her Bachelor's of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Montana and her masters in Physician Assistant Studies from Rocky Mountain College. She is currently working towards her certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine. 

In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and dog doing outdoor activities including biking, hiking, and skiing. She also loves interior design and traveling, and is hoping to start her own garden in the near future.

Dr. David Musnick, MD, IFMCP

David Musnick is a board-certified medical doctor who offers in-person and telemedicine care from the Functional Medicine of Idaho Eagle clinic (coming soon). Dr. Musnick offers Functional Medicine, Sports Medicine, Functional Immunology, and Primary Care for adults and teenagers. He specializes in sports medicine, internal medicine, frequency specific microcurrent (FSM), scars, homeopathy, prolotherapy, and low-level laser treatments. 

Dr. Musnick is interested in getting to the root of underlying causes and factors that affect healing, including diet, sleep, exercise, stress, GI health, brain region health, toxins, hormones, infections, and electromagnetic fields (EMF). In medical school, Dr. Musnick spent a year studying nutrition. He has always been interested in the complex interrelationships of different systems of the body. Taking on challenges in the past, he created new treatment programs to heal the brain after concussion, treat chronic pain, arthritis, and tough SIBO and IBS cases. Dr. Musnick wants to help his patients achieve the highest level of health, vitality and function. 

After his internal medicine residency in Seattle, Dr. Musnick completed a fellowship in sports medicine where he became interested in helping patients get back to optimal musculoskeletal health and eventually back to their favorite activities. He quickly learned that many areas of the body were interrelated and started learning more about nutrition, supplements, and other facets of functional medicine. Dr. Musnick has more than 24 years of experience in Functional Medicine and achieved a very high level of both experience and expertise with many health conditions. He is also the author of the book, Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness, and helped in writing textbook chapters on arthritis and concussions.

Dr. Musnick received his Doctorate of Medicine from the University of California, San Francisco. He is certified through the Institute for Functional Medicine as an IFMCP. He also studied in the French school of Homeopathy. He is uniquely rare in that he teaches Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) and how to integrate it with functional medicine. 

In his spare time, Dr. Musnick enjoys hiking, nature photography, cooking healthy food, mountain biking, and skiing.

IFM Certified Practitioner

Aaron Dykstra, DNP, FNP-C

Aaron Dykstra is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. He offers pediatric primary care, including well-child checks and acute visits, in the Pediatric Department of the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center.

Functional and alternative therapies were a part of Aaron’s life from a young age, and he has implemented these principles into his conventional medicine practice throughout his career. Aaron has more than 8 years of experience in a variety of medical disciplines, including pediatrics, obstetrics, mental health, and nutrition. He has practiced in rural health clinics in California and Oregon. For the last 5 years, Aaron has had a passion for working with children and implementing positive change through the family unit. Aaron joined the Functional Medicine of Idaho Pediatric Team in 2021. His enthusiasm for educating children and parents about living a healthy lifestyle allows him to provide preventative and acute care for infants, children, and adolescents. 

Aaron obtained his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Brigham Young University. He earned both his Master’s of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice through the University of Arizona. He has obtained a Family Herbalist and Family Nutritionist certifications through The School of Natural Healing by Dr. Christopher. He is currently working towards his certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Outside of work, you will find Aaron spending time with his wife and 5 kids, mountain biking, running, or camping in the backyard. Aaron is a big fan of Master Chef and enjoys cooking.

Nadia Kravchuk, DNP, FNP-C

Nadia Kravchuk is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. She offers functional pediatric primary care, including well-child checks and acute visits, in the Pediatric Department of the Functional Medicine of Idaho Meridian Wellness Center.

Nadia and her family immigrated to the United States in 1989 where they first settled in Oregon and then moved to Idaho in 2001. Complementary medicine practices were embedded into her lifestyle at a young age, and she has implemented these principles into her conventional medicine practice throughout her career. She has more than 15 years experience in a variety of medical environments, including emergency room, intensive care unit, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, family practice, and aesthetics.

Nadia joined Functional Medicine of Idaho so that she can combine functional principles with the foundations of conventional medicine to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. As an avid gardener, beekeeper, and sustainable living enthusiast, she understands the importance and role of optimizing nutrition, sleep, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. She has a passion for pediatric functional medicine and understands that early recognition and interventions can correct imbalances, prevent chronic illness, and improve overall outcomes for children.

Nadia obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Northwest Nazarene University. She earned both her Master’s of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice through Frontier Nursing University. In 2017, she was the recipient of the HCA Excellence in Nursing Award. She is currently working towards her certification with The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Outside of work, you will find Nadia working on her urban homestead, hiking, foraging, camping, snowboarding, and spending time with her husband and her dog, Wolfy. She is also fluent in both English and Russian.