NOTE: Because our main holidays, from Halloween through New Year’s Day occur in the darker, wintertime of the year, we have a built-in conflict. This is a more inward time with more rest and quiet required, and a simple warm, nourishing diet. Yet, there are more treats at work and wherever we go, we are also asked to attend parties and family events where we are exposed to and consume more sugar and flour products, rich foods, alcohol and more. And we often go out at nights when we would be better off resting and recharging at home or sitting around a fireplace visiting with a friend. So, pay attention to this dimension of this magical time of the year and do your best to find your own unique balance. Here’s my general health tips for Staying Healthy through the Holidays.
The Indian word "Namaste" is an ancient Sanskrit greeting, which has become popularized in the West. It is often said at the beginning and ending of yoga and meditation classes, and even spin classes. More than a mere hello or goodbye, Namaste has a deeper meaning. Spoken as the hands are brought together at the heart center, bowing to the one being greeted, it expresses profound respect. Translated, Namaste means, "I bow to the God within you," or "The spirit within me salutes the spirit within you." It acknowledges that we are all made of the same One Divine Consciousness. It is recognition of the light, or divine spark, contained in the other, as it also is in us. We are all one.
When it comes to natural highs, none is as inexpensive, safe, available, or natural as sleep. According to experts, if you want to be fully alert, in a good mood, mentally sharp, creative and energetic all day, you probably need to spend at least one-third of your life sleeping; that means eight hours a night.
Life is complex and its highest goal seems to be achieving and sustaining dynamic balance in all its systems—physical, mental, emotional and social. Sleep is an essential part of that balance. Nearly all animals and even some plants sleep on a regular basis. In sleep, creatures rest, repair and rejuvenate themselves. Our body is governed by dozens of internal clocks that coordinate hormone production, hunger, moods, body temperature and energy level. Many of these are related to our patterns of sleeping and waking.
Blame it on the genes! For the past 50 years we have been told that our inherited genetic blueprint was the ultimate dice game that Life randomly rolled out for us. For better or worse, we were stuck with those genes.
We have all heard people say: “Cancer [or diabetes or depression or heart disease, etc.] is in my family genes.” We believed that our genetic inheritance put the final stamp not only on our height, eye color, disposition, habits, weight and predisposed illnesses but even the length of our life.
Recently, I was reminded of the power of gratitude by a synchronistic series of events that occurred when I reconnected with my closest childhood friend. We had been out of touch for forty years, and when, through a fortuitous set of circumstances, we found each other again she flew out to visit me at my home in Connecticut.
Sitting in a train bound for Manhattan one day during her visit, we began to reminisce about our parents. My friend told me that her mother, now in her late 80’s, had grown into a bitter and lonely woman. She described how her mother wrote in a journal every night about all the bad experiences she had throughout her life, and all the people who failed her.
1. Hydration is the key to healthier travel! Drink water. It sounds simple, yet is often overlooked. Plane trips are dehydrating, and water keeps you healthy by cleansing toxins and hydrating tissues. Carry plenty of good (bottled spring or purified) water with you for air or car travel, and drink it. Most people need at least two to three quarts of liquid per day, especially in hot weather or with sweating and exercise. If you drink more than this, add some electrolyte solution, such as Emergen-C packets or Power Pacs, to your water—or ionic trace minerals, available in your natural food stores. Almost all commercially prepared drinks are high in sugar and are not a substitute for the healing benefits of water. Sun and salt are dehydrating, so balance your need between salt and water. Avoid drinking water that has been in sun-heated plastic containers so as to not consume plastic chemicals.
1. Stay Cool and Hydrated. Drink water, at least two to four cups (16–32 ounces) upon rising, and similar amounts if you are going out for activities and exercise. Carry water with you in a hard plastic container (with stainless steel lining or a stable polycarbonate rather than polyethylene that leaches plastic into the water). You may also use a traveling water filter. Check your local water stores or the Internet. Most people need two to three quarts of liquid per day, and more in hot weather or with sweating and exercise.
All the world's religious teachings implore us to love one another: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." However, as we grow, and as the world deals us harsh and painful blows, our natural tendency is to close down, mistrust others, and become self-protective. We develop attitudes that separate us from others, allowing us to perceive them as "other" and different from ourselves. This tendency to close our minds and hearts has serious consequences, not only to our personal health and well-being, but to the well-being of all those around us. When our inherent connection to others is lost, we are then able to hate, even to kill. Yet the capacity to live the world's greatest teachings, to truly see others as ourselves, is found within each of us in the ability to experience empathy.
If you’re like most of us, you’ve had challenges with sleeping at one time or another. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reported in their 2010 study that only four in 10 respondents got a good night’s sleep most nights. The NSF, warned about making the health-depleting mistake of resorting to sleeping pills — at best ineffective, at worst dangerous!
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) collected data that showed over-the-counter sleep products really do not offer significant benefits; if you believe you should resort to prescription medications, think again. Studies financed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that these sleeping pills only reduced the average time to get to sleep by just under 13 minutes compared to sugar pills (placebos)— not enough of an improvement to warrant the possible side-effects.
Optimism and optimal healthStudies confirm the power of a positive mindset in achieving optimal health.
I'm often asked for simple tips for achieving optimal health. Here are my three top tips: 1) make the decision to change, 2) believe in yourself, and 3) apply the necessary strategies to get you there!