HOUSEPLANTS THAT ARE
GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH (from WebMD Sept 2019)
For Allergy Relief – Researchers found that rooms with
plants have less dust and mold than rooms without any foliage. Leaves and other
parts of the plants act as natural filters to catch allergens and other
airborne particles. Common low-light houseplants like Chinese evergreen or the
peace lily can do the job. Violets and other plants with textured leaves might
be even better trappers. Avoid plants with pollen or spores.
Spider Plants for
Moisture – Furnaces and air
conditioners can sap humidity indoors, especially in the winter. That can raise
your chances for catching a cold or the flu, or make your skin itch.
Houseplants add moisture to the air. One study found a collection of spider
plants boosted the relative humidity in a bedroom from 20% to a more
Air Purifiers – Carpets, paint, cleaners, printer
toners and inks, and many other indoor objects give off pollutants called
volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They can build up in the air and irritate
your eyes and skin, worsen your asthma, or make it hard for you to breathe.
Houseplants can soak up VOCs. Some good air-scrubbers are English ivy,
asparagus fern, and dragon tree.
Herbs for Better
Digestion – Mint may help tamp
down bloating, gas, and other problems after you eat. Common varieties you can
grow in containers include peppermint and spearmint (essential in mint juleps).
Basil, another herb for cooking, also can help calm your stomach. Try steeping
the leaves in hot water.
Relaxing Lavender – This fragrant purple plant has
been an important herbal medicine for centuries. You can inhale lavender oil or
massage it on your skin for aromatherapy. You can also boil the leaves for tea.
Some studies suggest it may help calm you and help lower any anxiety. But more
proof is needed.
Aloe for First Aid – Gel from this plant is a popular
home remedy. It can treat sunburns and other minor burns. It can soothe your
psoriasis and other skin conditions. Juice from the aloe plant can even help
you poop if you’re constipated.
Restful Sleep – Plants take in carbon dioxide and
give off oxygen. It’s how they turn sunlight into food, a process called
photosynthesis. Some, like gerbera daisies, keep giving off oxygen even after
the sun goes down. Put a few cheerful pots in your bedroom and the extra oxygen
may help you sleep more soundly.
Stress Relief – Feeling the weight of daily
pressures? Try and add a heart-leaf philodendron or a snake plant to your
décor. It may help you relax. Several studies have measured people’s levels of
blood pressure, heart rate, and the stress hormone cortisol while they handled
a tough task or were under mental stress. Being around plants has a calming
effect on people.
Sharper Focus – Plants may help raise your test
scores, make it easier to concentrate on your tasks, and strengthen your
memory. Students in classrooms with three potted plants performed better on
math, spelling, reading, and science tests than kids in classrooms without any
greens. Bring home a golden pothos or a bamboo palm and you just might clear
that to-do list.
Faster Healing – Taking a bouquet of flowers or
potted foliage to a loved one in the hospital can be more than just a
thoughtful gesture. It may actually help them recover more quickly. Researchers
found that people who had surgery got better faster if they had plants in their
room or even a view of the nature from their window. They also tolerated pain
better and needed fewer medications when surrounded by greenery. Try an orchid
or a peace lily.
DISCOUNT AVAILABLE FOR
ROADRUNNER SPORTS – WILMETTE
We now have referral
cards from Roadrunner Sports, which is located in Eden’s Plaza, Wilmette; these
are good for a 10% discount on footwear.
Roadrunner Sports is known for having the world’s most accurate 3D Foot
Scanner which analyzes your feet for the perfect fit and shoe. They also
have active wear, sports bra, accessories for nutrition, safety and injury
prevention. Ask Julie Cohen for a Referral Card.
For many years, we
have referred clients who seek nutritional and diet advice to Susan Stein. Susan
is a highly qualified registered, licensed dietitian. She understands that
everyone is different and no one meal plan will work for everyone.
Susan has been a Registered Dietitian for over twenty years. She provides
individualized nutrition counseling in accordance to the guidelines established
by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
She works with clients
who are dealing with a variety of health issues and with individuals who
are seeking a healthier, more fit lifestyle. Ms. Stein is a member of the
American Dietetic Association and is certified in both Adult and Childhood/Adolescent
Weight Management. She is the coauthor of a children’s book titled Color Me
Fit: Nutrition and Fitness for Kids.
Susan will arrange to
see our clients on-site at the PFTL studio.
She is offering a package to include a 90-minute evaluation and goal
setting session, followed by two 60 minute counselling sessions. The usual fee is $305, but she is discounting the
package by 10% to $275, for PFTL referrals.
Let Julie or Debora
know if you would like to be referred to Susan Stein.
ROTARY BOOK DRIVE
Every year the Rotary
Club of Wilmette collects books for distribution to inner-city, charter schools
in Chicago. The Book Drive runs from October 1 to November 16. There is a collection box by the front entrance
of the studio for gently used books that are suitable for K-12 students.
UNDERSTANDING CARBS (from WebMD August 2019)
What are Carbs -They’re one of three types of food
that give your body energy. The other two are proteins and fats. Together, they
provide the fuel your body uses to build and repair itself. Carbs break down
into glucose (sugar) that you can use right away.
Your Body’s Fuel – Your body runs on glucose. Your brain, in particular,
needs it to work the way it should. Carbohydrates are an almost instant source
of it. Your body can break down and use fat for some of the same needs, but not
all of them. Plus, fat that’s used for fuel makes compounds called ketones that
can raise the level of acid in your blood, and that can be unhealthy.
Workout Prep- Because carbs are a source of energy, they can keep you
going strong while you exercise. Experts recommend fueling up 1 to 3 hours
beforehand with a combination of carbs and protein, like oatmeal, Greek yogurt,
peanut butter, or nuts and raisins.
Full of Nutrients- The best-quality carbs — berries, vegetables, and whole
grains — are packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants that are important
for good health and well-being. Whole grains have fatty acids, magnesium, B
vitamins, folate, and zinc. Fruit and starchy veggies have some of those, plus
phytonutrients like flavonoids and carotenoids that help prevent disease. If you
skip the carbs, you lose out on those nutrients, too.
Carbs – Think of table sugar as simple carbs in
pure form. They’re very small molecules, which makes them especially easy for
your body to break down and use. That means they raise your glucose levels
(blood sugar) really fast. Things that sweeten any number of candies, pastries,
and desserts are loaded with these kinds of carbs.
Carbs- String together a bunch of simple carbs,
and you get these larger molecules. Your body has to break them down into
simple carbohydrates and then into glucose before it can use them. This takes
longer, which means your blood sugar goes up more slowly and they’re less
likely to be changed into fat. These kinds of carbs include multigrain breads
and pasta, beans, potatoes, and other vegetables.
Tank – Before your body turns leftover glucose
from carbs into fat, it stores what it can in your liver in the form of
glycogen. This keeps your body going between meals. But your liver can only
keep a day or so’s worth at a time.
If You Have Too Many- If you overdo the carbs, your blood sugar levels can get
too high. This causes your body to make more insulin, which tells your cells to
save the extra glucose as fat. That can be unhealthy if you’re already carrying
a few extra pounds. It can also lead to diabetes
If You Don’t Have Enough- If there aren’t enough carbs in your diet, you could get
constipated from lack of fiber and nutrients. Your body is also forced to use
protein or fat for energy. Proteins are the building blocks of the body. If you
use them as fuel, you may not have enough left to make more cells and keep them
The Right Amount – The number of carbs you need can depend on your gender,
size, and how active you are — and that can change as you get older. But as a
general rule, about half your daily calories should come from carbs in fruits,
vegetables, grains, beans, and dairy products. Just make sure to go with
healthy, complex carbs and don’t overdo the simple ones.
Low-Carb Diets – In theory, fewer carbs mean less sugar. And “ketogenic”
diets have been shown to help some people lose weight and control their blood
sugar in the short term. But these diets include lots of protein, and your body
may need to use stored calcium to digest it. Plus, digesting lots of protein
can be hard on your kidneys over time. You also tend to eat more saturated fat
to replace the carbs, and that can be unhealthy in the long term, too.
Diabetes and Carbs- If you have this disease, you need to watch your carbs
carefully because your body has trouble keeping your blood sugar at a safe
level. If you have too many, your body may not be able to bring your blood
sugar down quickly enough. But if your blood sugar gets too low, a glass of
juice or another simple carb might be just the thing to kick it back up again.
If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor about the best way to manage carbs.
Where to Get Healthy Carbs- Look for unrefined whole grains like quinoa, rye, and
barley instead of highly processed white bread and pastries. Whole unprocessed
fruits and vegetables are better than juices. And it’s a good idea to pass on
the high-carb potato foods, especially french fries, in favor of beans,
chickpeas, and other legumes.
WHEN NOT TO WEAR SUNGLASSES (Excerpted from Time Health August 2019)
Most people know that sunglasses can protect the eyes
from damage which can lead to impaired vision or even blindness. There’s evidence that UV damage may raise a person’s risk for
macular degeneration, one of the leading
causes of age-related blindness. And sun exposure is also linked to
most important thing is that the sunglasses block 99 to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Price doesn’t necessarily matter; even inexpensive sunglasses can get
the job done—just look for a sticker or tag advertising UV protection. The size
of the lenses also makes a difference. The bigger the better.
On the other hand,
there are times of the day when shielding your eyes behind sunglasses may not be
a good idea. Studies have
shown that light-sensing photoreceptors in the eye help to set the body’s
circadian clocks, which play a role in regulating sleep, appetite, and much
else. Research has found that people who get “high levels” of
bright light in the morning tend to sleep better than those who don’t. And
wearing sunglasses early in the day may interfere with these processes.
It may be prudent to
go without sunglasses until 9 or 10 a.m. Assuming a person isn’t staring
straight at the sun, its rays aren’t strong enough in the morning to cause much
damage, and exposing the eyes to natural light can help set the body’s
THE WONDERFUL AUTUMN WEATHER. NOW IS THE
BEST TIME FOR ALL OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES, SO GET OUTSIDE WHENEVER YOU CAN.
FASTING SOLVE YOUR WEIGHT-LOSS PLATEAU? (Excerpted from
Lifestrong.com, 01/08/18; written by Dan Reardon)
There’s been a lot of buzz
around intermittent fasting (IF)
recently — but what does it really entail? Think about it like this: When you
get up in the morning, you eat breakfast.
You’re breaking your fast from the previous night.
While you’re sleeping,
technically, you’re fasting (unless you’re sleep eating). Conversely, while
you’re awake, you’re eating. Intermittent fasting
(IF) can be simply defined as going without food for a longer period of time
than sleep and consuming all of your calories within a specific window of time.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting – Reducing calories (like you do with IF) has
been shown to increase the lifespan of cells in
the body. In animal models,
calorie restriction can actually enhance the longevity of the animals, and
limiting food intake might also fight off disease.
From the perspective of body
composition, one of the big selling points of IF is your body’s increase in
responsiveness to insulin. The hormone insulin is
released in response to food. It has the effect of causing the liver, muscle
and fat cells to store glucose. In a fasting state, blood glucose levels drop,
leading to a decrease in insulin production, which signals the body to start
burning stored energy.
There are many potential
benefits to intermittent fasting, including:
- Weight loss
- Improved mental state
- Increased energy
- Improved fat-burning
- Increased growth hormone production
- Lowered blood cholesterol
- Reduction of inflammation
- Improved cellular repair
Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You? – As of right now, there’s no official test
to say whether you should or shouldn’t try intermittent fasting, but there are
some general guidelines. You should consider the impact on your lifestyle.
If your IF protocol conflicts
with family’s nutrition needs or your work schedule, it might be challenging to
commit to an IF schedule. Or let’s say you’re a performance-based athlete: You
should consider your nutritional needs, including recovery. Finally, if you’re
a woman, intermittent fasting might not be right for you due to hormonal
With any IF protocol, it’s a
good idea to talk to your doctor before starting. Will you benefit from IF?
Remember, just because your friend did it doesn’t mean it will work for you
Ultimately, the only sure way
to find out if intermittent fasting is right for you is to try it for yourself. There are a ton of variations on intermittent
fasting, and choosing which one is right for you is often a matter of trial and
error. To get you started, here are a few examples of IF protocols:
1. Breakfast Skipper (aka 16/8 Method)
- Fast for 16 hours, and then eat during an eight-hour window.
- This is a good protocol for those who are new to IF and would typically eat between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight.
- Women fast for 14 hours, while men fast for 16 hours.
- Similar to the Breakfast Skipper, but the slight decrease in fast length for women is to ensure you’re not messing up your hormones, as females can be more sensitive to signals of starvation.
3. Fast Diet (aka the 5:2 Diet)
- Eat for five days and significantly cut calories for for two days.
- This is a more advanced method of fasting in which you eat as you normally would for five days, and then reduce your calories significantly (600 calories for men and 500 calories for women) for two days.
- Eat one day, fast the next.
- With this diet, on the fasting days you should eat a fifth of your recommended daily caloric intake, and then consume a normal amount of calories on feasting days. This is a slightly easier protocol to follow than Fast Diet.
- Fast for 20 hours a day and eat one large meal at night
- This is a more challenging protocol to follow, as you’ll need to ensure you fit all of your important macro- and micronutrients into one meal a day.
There really are a limitless number
of variations on the intermittent fasting protocol, so if you’re considering
IF, start with one (say, breakfast skipper) and play around with what works
with your schedule and hunger levels.
The Impact of Metabolism and Genetics – As with
any nutrition plan, success is largely based on if the diet is right for you.
Two factors that play into this equation are your metabolism and genetics.
Suppose you have a fast
metabolism and you’re trying to build muscle. Focusing on your calorie intake
around exercise means you have lots of energy to work out, with additional
energy and amino acids to recover. If you’re a true “hard gainer” or
“skinny fat,” IF might help you achieve your goals — not to mention
the potential hormonal benefits.
If you have a slow metabolism
or you store energy easily, then eating all your calories in a short space of
time might make fat loss hard for you because you will hang onto energy even in
the fasting windows, so IF might not be a good protocol for you to follow.
NEW WALKING CLINIC STARTS JUNE 17
This will be the fifth year
that PFTL will offer a free walking clinic to our clients and the
public. We will meet Mondays and
Thursdays, from 5:30-6:30pm, at the Wallace Bowl in Gillson Park,
Wilmette. Includes warm-up, stretching,
intervals, stair climbing, core strengthening and a great way to get some extra
exercise. Contact Julie at 847-251-6834
or [email protected] for more
information. Let us know if you want to
be put on our email list for the walking clinic, as walkers are notified when
the class is cancelled. Linda Meyer and Leslie Cohen will be assisting with the
clinic again this year.
5 SURPRISING WELLNESS PRACTICES THAT CAN
REALLY HELP YOU GLOW
by Guest Writer, Jennifer McGregor co-creator of Public
Health Library (http://publichealthlibrary.org/) which provides information about
health and wellness topics and creates a forum for sharing reputable health and
They say that beauty comes from within, and
that’s actually a very true statement. You have to keep your body and mind
healthy in order to look and feel your absolute best, but knowing how to take
better care of yourself can be a little confusing. Thankfully, we’ve put
together a list of some uncommon habits that can have a big impact on your
health and wellness.
Protect Your Health and Beauty with Cleaner Air – Above all other elements, you need air to survive, but you need clean
air in order to truly thrive. Contaminated indoor air can impair your ability to breathe, leading to increased problems
with allergies and asthma. The best way to preserve your overall health is to
make sure your air is free from these harmful pollutants. You can use an air purifier, or you can simply change your filters to models with higher MERV ratings. A MERV rating of at least 8, 11 or 13 will trap more particles and
prevent smoke, pollen, dander and dust from impacting your breathing and
Enhance Your Body and Skin with a Healthier Gut – Better air quality can enhance your beauty and health, but wellness
runs even deeper than that. The state of your microbiome may have the most significant impact on how well your body digests
food, how strong your immune system is, and even how balanced your mood is each
day. Getting familiar with the health of your gut and all of the beneficial bacteria that
regulate the processes in your brain and body will help you take more control
of your overall health and happiness. If you have skin issues to address, balancing out your
microbiome can help you there too. When your microbiome
is out of balance, it’s not eliminating toxins as well as it should. Those
toxins can end up causing breakouts or other issues with your skin.
Boost Your Skincare from the Outside – There’s a lot of emphasis on skin in this article, and that’s because
your skin is so important for protecting the rest of your body. Aside from
influencing how you feel about yourself, the presence of healthy skin serves as the first layer of protection against pollutants, toxins
and environmental hazards. It’s the largest organ in your body, so make sure
you are taking steps to really take care of it. Protect your skin while you’re
outside with sunscreen, use mild cleansers when bathing, and choose a good moisturizer to
prevent dry skin.
Manage Your Mental Health with More Self-Care – Caring for your skin is not just about aesthetics. When you treat your
skin and body well, you are reinforcing your commitment to overall self-care.
Self-care isn’t just an option; you need sufficient self-care in order to limit
the effects of stress on your mental health. Chronic high stress levels create reactions in your brain that can
leave you more vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and other physical health
problems. So, start practicing better self-care by taking better care of your
skin and body, but don’t stop your efforts there. Research simple self-care
practices online, and try a few that feel right for
you. You may want to start a new exercise plan or begin morning meditation. You could just need more time to yourself. Know that whatever works
for you, self-care is never a selfish way to spend your time.
Look to Your Healthcare Plan – Good health
doesn’t stop at trying self-care solutions on your own. You should make full
use of the benefits that come with your health plan so you’re getting the most
out of your coverage. For seniors, health insurance is especially important to
help prevent and treat medical conditions. Check your coverage every year to
determine if you need to change it. Depending on your needs, it might be worth
considering an alternative healthcare plan like Medicare Advantage, which in
addition to Original Medicare also covers dental and vision care and gives you
access to nationwide fitness centers. Check with providers like Aetna to find out
more. And if you’re not a senior, you should still carefully review your policy
to know what’s covered and to check for perks like health and weight loss coaching, 24/7 nursing hotlines,
discounts for gym memberships and more.
It turns out that beauty is more than just
skin deep. If you want to be your most radiant and joyful self, you have to pay
more attention to all aspects of your physical and mental health. A balanced
lifestyle will help you look more beautiful and feel better about yourself.
NICE-TO-KNOW FACTS ABOUT THE SHOULDER (from ACSM’s
Health & Fitness Journal: May/June
A CURIOUS DESIGN. The human shoulder is made up of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone), as well as associated muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Unlike many of the other joints in the body that support movement (e.g., the hip, which has a deep socket), the shoulder has no socket. As such, the ball of the arm bone moves against an essentially flat surface on the shoulder blade.
A BARE CONNECTION. The entire shoulder joint barely has any bony connection to the rest of the skeleton. In fact, the only bony connection is where the shoulder connects to the collarbone via the acromioclavicular joint, which is at the tip of the shoulder, and the sternoclavicular joint, which is at the base of the neck. In essence, the shoulder girdle is designed for very free movement of the arm and shoulder.
EVEN MORE IMPORTANT. The shoulder is more dependent on muscles than any other joint in the body. Given the relative lack of a bony connection between the shoulder and the rest of the body, the lack of a bony socket, and the numerous directions in which the shoulder can move, the eight muscles that control the stability and movement of the shoulder and the arm play a critical role in the process.
A BETTER OPTION. A number of people erroneously believe that they need surgery to fix their shoulder pain/injury. As a rule, they don’t. Rather, they should engage in a plan of action of conservative treatment, including rest, ice, anti-inflammatory drugs, and a gradual return to activity, as well as a well-designed program of stretching and strengthening exercises, which can improve function and decrease pain in the affected area.
EXERCISES TO HELP ACHIEVE AN INSTANT POSTURAL ADJUSTMENT
(From IDEA Fitness, April 2019)
Did you know that good posture helps minimize stress on tendons, joints and ligaments? Plus, better posture can have a significant impact on your quality of life.
Good posture may improve your job prospects, verbal communication, self-confidence and mood and enhance how others see you. Ryan Halvorson, chief content officer for Fit Scribe Media and a TriggerPoint®master trainer, explains exercises that can help you improve posture.
5 Key Exercises – These easy-to-implement, equipment-free exercises can help you achieve an instant postural adjustment. The moves can be done seated, but standing yields the best results.
Pectoral Massage – Tight chest muscles can make it difficult to pull your shoulders back and down. One way to overcome this is to increase tissue mobility through self-massage.
Begin by rolling the shoulders back and down. Make a fist with the right hand and gently press the knuckles into the left pectoral muscle next to the sternum. Place the palm of the left hand on top of the fist for added pressure. Slowly drive the knuckles across the muscle toward the shoulder joint. Lift the hand, returning it to the starting position, and repeat.
Shoulder External Rotations – Internal rotation is a common problem. External rotation can help. Roll the shoulders back and down. Tuck the pelvis slightly to maintain a neutral lower-back position throughout the exercise. Slowly twist the wrists until the thumbs point away from the body. Hold for a few seconds and release; repeat.
Chin Tuck – This exercise stretches the muscles of the neck, allowing the skull to return to a more neutral, balanced position while the spine is lengthened. Stand with your hips and shoulders against a wall. Heels can be an inch or two away from the wall.
Lifting through the crown of the head, gently bring the chin down toward the throat while pressing the back of the head against the wall for a few seconds. Rest and repeat. Place a pillow behind the head if the pressure is uncomfortable.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch – Start in a kneeling lunge position (one knee on the floor and the other leg bent 90 degrees in front of you with foot flat). Lift from the crown of the head to elongate the spine. From here, drive the hip of the kneeling leg in a gentle thrusting pattern to achieve the stretch. Hold for a few seconds, then release and repeat. Perform the exercise several times for both hips. Place a pillow under the knee for added cushion.
Hip Hinge With Fly – This exercise improves your ability to extend your upper back. Place feet hip-width apart, and hinge at the hips while simultaneously angling the upper body forward. Aim to slightly arch the lower back by lifting the tailbone. Retract and depress the shoulder blades.
Start with the arms extended and palms clasped together directly in front of the chest. Then slowly swing the arms out to the sides of the body at about shoulder height with a slight external shoulder rotation, and pause when you feel contraction in the upper posterior muscles and a stretch in the pectorals. Release and repeat.
EXERCISE SUSTAINS MENTAL ACTIVITY (Excerpted from PsychCentral August 2018
From a review of studies on exercise and its effect on brain functioning, researchers confirm that physical exercise slows the effects of aging and helps people maintain cognitive abilities well into older age
Fitness training – an increased level of exercise – may improve some mental processes even more than moderate activity, say the authors of the review. Findings from the review of 40 years of research does offer evidence that physical exercise can have a positive influence on cognitive and brain functions in older animal and human subjects. Different methodologies were examined to comprehensively study what effects exercise can have.
The researchers first examined the epidemiological literature of diseases to determine whether exercise and physical activity can at certain points in a person’s lifetime improve cognitive ability and decrease the likelihood of age-related neurological diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Based on a review of the epidemiological literature, the authors found a significant relationship between physical activity and later cognitive function and decreased occurrence of dementia. And the benefits may last several decades.
In a few of the studies that examined men and women over 65 years old, the findings showed that those who exercised for at least 15-30 minutes at a time three times a week were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease, even if they were genetically predisposed to the disease. By examining the human intervention studies, a relationship was also found between fitness training and improved cognition, more efficient brain function and retained brain volume in older people
Other studies confirmed the evidence that fitness does have positive effects on brain function in older adults. A study of older adults who were randomly assigned to either a walking group or a stretching and toning control group for six months found that those in the walking group were better able to ignore distracting information in a distractibility task than those in the control group. Aerobically trained older adults showed increased neural activities in certain parts of the brain that involved attention and reduced activity in other parts of the brain that are sensitive to behavioral conflict.
More research is needed to know exactly how much and what types of exercise produce the most rapid and significant effects on thinking and the brain; how long exercise effects last following the end of training; or how much exercise is needed to get continued benefits.
4 WAYS TO MAINTAIN BALANCE WHEN THINGS GET HECTIC (ACE Healthy Living Feb 2019)
It seems as though the pace of life continues to gain speed. Constant events, deadlines, goals and to-do lists fill the calendar. This pace of life can become stressful. Unfortunately, stress is one of the primary causes of disease, unhappiness and anxiety. When you are really busy, it’s likely you don’t have time for a shower, much less a massage or a vacation. So, how do you make time for de-stressing? Let’s get right to the point, because time is of the essence. Try any of the following actions to improve your ability to reduce stress, maintain balance and enhance resiliency. Each idea can be implemented daily with little time commitment.
- Change the way you think – Shift your focus to abundance rather than lack. Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t. This simple mindset shift evokes gratitude and a sense of peace. We inherently fear failure and rejection. We worry about trying to control every outcome in our lives. We compare ourselves to other people, and we believe that we are always behind. As easy as it is to compare ourselves to others, it really is something to avoid. Each person has his or her own challenges, feelings of lack and bouts of unhappiness. We all have our own story, each is unique and different. It’s O.K. to be content with where you are right now and be grateful for what you have in the present.
Action: Start a gratitude journal – For one week, each night before bed, write down three things for which you feel grateful, proud, happy or content. Note how these things came into your life. At the end of the week, assess how you feel. It’s likely a mood shift may have occurred, and you feel less stressed.
- Take a break – In the midst of an overwhelming schedule, a selfish break can feel irresponsible. However, a short five- to 10-minute break will clear the mind, help with fatigue and provide a much-needed pause during a busy day. If possible, go for a short walk outdoors. Nature provides grounding energy, and movement improves blood flow and produces mood-enhancing hormones. Better yet, pair regular breaks with a daily bout of exercise. Maintaining a consistent exercise program, even when life is hectic, will enhance your physical and emotional abilities to deal with stress.
Action: Walk in the present – In the next hour, take a five-minute break for a walk. Notice your surroundings and pay attention to how your body feels. Take inventory of how you feel prior to the walk and again after the walk.
- Be a superhero – Physical activity, smiling, power postures and deep breathing are quick fixes for stress-related physical symptoms. Our bodies display stress in external ways—headaches, gastrointestinal issues, sleeplessness, general aches and pains can often be attributed to stress. Even if you don’t experience severe symptoms, it’s likely you have experienced fatigue, general tightness around the neck and shoulders, and a slouchy, tired posture. You can trick your body into feeling fewer physical symptoms of stress by changing your physical posture. Stand up straight, align the spine and smile. This power posture is an instant boost.
Action: Pose like a superhero – During moments of stress or general tiredness, stand up and place your hands on your hips. Pretend you are a superhero and puff up your chest. Take five deep breaths. Fill your lungs and belly to capacity. Next, smile for 10 seconds. The simple act of smiling sends a positive signal to the brain and allows the body to relax a bit. This power posture can be helpful before presentations and difficult conversations, and for those times when you just feel overwhelmed.
- Practice mindfulness – When life is overwhelming, your mind naturally spins with multiple thoughts. Focusing your thoughts on the past can create feelings of regret and depression, and focusing on the future can foster feelings of anxiety. The only place we can be without worry is truly in the present. That means letting go of expectations of anything except what happens right now. Most of us have future deadlines, goals and ambitions. Being mindful in the moment does not mean that we let go of those things. It simply means we turn our attention to the task at hand, and really place our focus and energy with it. For some, mindfulness is being fully immersed in work. Taking the time to eat slowly, taste and enjoy food is a form of mindfulness. Paying attention to how your body feels during movement is mindfulness. Mindfulness might also take the shape of paying attention to the breath, something that occurs all day long without you giving it a second thought. Whatever form mindfulness takes for you, the point is that it can be done anytime, anywhere, and it provides immediate results. In as little as 60 seconds, your body and mind can become calm, and a sense of balance can be restored.
Action: Breathe – Assume a comfortable position with a tall posture, standing or seated. Set a timer for one to three minutes. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Follow the inhale, follow the exhale. Try to inhale for the same duration as you exhale. Notice how you feel before this exercise and after.
It takes conscious effort and commitment to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. These four ideas are quick and efficient ways to navigate stress and maintain balance when life gets hectic.
WAYS TO PREVENT FALLING (From Washington Post, Lean and Fit, Feb 27, 2019)
The author of this article had taken a fall and was apprehensive about falling again. She was 53 years of age. She consulted several people about how to prevent falls, and here are excerpts from that article regarding the advice she received.
- Practice the following:
Level 1. Balance on one foot. Start by doing it near a doorway or chair so there is something to grab for support.
Level 2. Use your non-dominant hand to stir a pot.
Level 3. Use your non-dominant hand to stir a pot while standing on one foot.
- If you are going to fall, the best way to do it is to bend a knee and roll at an angle over one shoulder to protect your hip and your noggin.
- Tuck your head, use your strength to direct your fall, and roll so that you take most of the impact on your backside, the upper back and/or gluts being the most resistant parts of your body.
- Wear “minimal” shoes with thin, flexible soles for both sports and everyday living. The information we get from the bottoms of our feet (the technical term is plantar neurosensory input) helps us maintain balance. This input, coupled with muscle strength and agility, is essential for generating a “good correctional movement” should we fall.
Debora’s Note: I recently took a fall while walking fast on a dark street. I tripped on uneven pavement and when I realized that I was not going to be able to regain balance, the one thing I told myself as I was falling, was, “Don’t hit your head on the sidewalk”. I did hit my nose and head, but I was able to keep from hitting hard by bracing myself with my arms. Despite a lot of facial bruising, I was unharmed. But I learned that walking in the dark requires one to pay extra attention to the surface you are walking on.