Tips for a Balanced Life
Would you pack dirty laundry or old clothes that you never wear to bring with you on vacation? Would you hop in the car on a whim and take off for an unknown period of time with no plan for where you’re going or why? Would you take a road trip with a person you tend not to get along with? Are you the person that most don’t want to take a road trip with?
Those may seem like rhetorical questions with somewhat obvious answers. But when you switch your way of thinking from “how you handle vacation” to “how you handle life,” you’ll probably realize that you’re doing some of the very things you would avoid at all costs. Here are some tips to help you maintain a balanced life:
Pack light: Leave “old baggage” behind and “be present to the present”. This is a conscious process and requires practice to become a habit over time.
Have a roadmap: Clarify the four things you value most and then align your actions to your values. For instance, if my family is one of my top values, then I cook healthy and role model self-care because I value them…as opposed to, they only get the tired, grumpy part of me at the end of the day and dinner consists of drive through quick foods.
Be a good travel companion: Avoid the “5 C’s”
- Correcting others and
Ultimately, it’s important that you always remember to RELAX.
- Eat Healthy and Exercise
- Laugh often
- Ask for help
- "X"pect good things for yourself. We tend to fulfill our own expectations – good and bad.
Improving Your Sleep Quality
According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 60% of Americans suffer from poor sleep quality.
- Establish a bedtime routine. Maintain a specific bedtime and pre-sleep regimen.
- Sleep in a dark, cool room. Darkness promotes release of melatonin, the body’s natural sleep inducer. Lowering your body temperature is a signal to your body to sleep.
- Don’t watch TV in bed, and if you choose to read, make it a short story rather than a book you can’t put down.
- Don’t drink caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of any beverage close to bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and can stay in your system up to 12 hours; alcohol sedates initially and then has a rebound stimulant effect that can awaken you; and simply put, the fluids you take in will need to come out … probably in the middle of the night!
- Avoid exercising close to bedtime. Exercise will help you sleep because of the cortisol lowering results, but it is best done no later than late afternoon.
Methods to Help You Relax Into Sleep
- Meditation: There are many types of meditation, so try a variety until you discover the right one for you. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a favorite sleep inducer.
- Yoga: Emphasizes gentle stretches and deep, even breathing. The exercises can help ease muscle tension, lower blood pressure and calm nerves. Yoga positions can be adapted to accommodate physical limitations, so don’t think you have to do the Lotus position.
- Aromatherapy: Certain scents relax the body and mind. A scented spray or sachet on the pillow is all that is needed (for safety reasons, avoid scented candles at bedtime). Relaxing aromas include lavender, chamomile, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, cedar wood, jasmine and orange blossom.
- Vitamins and minerals: calcium, vitamin D and the B vitamins each play a role in the regulation of the nervous system, and each can help you sleep more soundly. Supplementing to the recommended daily dosage is suggested regardless of sleep issues.
- Snacks: Complex carbohydrates can boost serotonin levels in your brain, which relax you and help induce sleepiness. For example, try a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter. Or, drink some warm milk before bedtime. Milk and dairy products contain tryptophan, a natural sleep enhancer.
Preventing Negative Health Outcomes from Sedentary Jobs and Lifestyle
Because so many Americans have sedentary jobs and lifestyle practices, the consequences have resulted in a new descriptor for symptoms resulting from this lifestyle – Sitting Disease.
Potential complications of Sitting Disease include, but are not limited to, obesity, diabetes, heart problems, depression, anxiety, insomnia, poor digestion, hormone imbalances, swelling of lower extremities, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, lack of stamina, fatigue, joint pain and upright imbalance.
How to fight Sitting Disease:
- On the hour stand up and stretch. Set an alarm on your phone as a reminder.
- Stand/walk (in place if necessary) when speaking on the phone.
- Look into sit/stand workstations as an option to a traditional desk.
- Flex, stretch and contract your muscles while seated. Move your feet as though spelling the ABCs (this will contract leg muscles).
- Practice “Progressive Muscle Relaxation” techniques (easily done while seated).
- Drink more water. Not only is it good for hydration, it’ll make you get up and go to the bathroom more often!
- After work (especially if your job requires a lot of sitting), ration your sedentary time and intersperse it with physical activity.
Good advice for a Healthy Lifestyle:
- Create an exercise / fitness regime that includes cardio and strength training components.
- Eat appropriate portions and healthy food choices.
- Commit to prevent Sitting Disease by using the techniques listed above.
Wellness from Within: Take a holistic approach to health
When it comes to a long and vital life, your actions are at least as important as your genes. Do you smoke? Eat healthfully? Stay active and maintain your recommended weight?
HEALS is an acronym for the following four major factors that influence our health and happiness:
Heredity: This represents the genetics our parents passed to us. While we can’t change our genes,we can affect the way they impact our lives.
Environment: Once we’re adults, we can make our own choices about our footprint on the earth. Will we allow cigarettes in our homes, regularly change our air filters, and eat, live and vote in ways that protect the planet?
Age: Many health factors change as we age, including the strength of our bones, the vitality of our organs, and the cumulative effects of choices we’ve made, like eating poorly and excessive drinking.
Lifestyle: Lifestyle choices — from the diets we choose to the homes we live in — affect all the other factors that determine our longevity, health and happiness.
Sex/Gender: Men and women face specific risks and benefits purely due to their gender, including childbirth and prostate disease.
Immune-boosting Foods May Add to Flu Defense
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, even a small nutritional deficiency can affect the body’s ability to stay healthy. A strong immune system doesn’t guarantee your body can fight off every flu bug, but good nutrition is essential to a strong immune response.
Foods That May Boost the Immune System
- Protein is an essential part of your body’s defense system. Sources of protein include seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Vitamin A helps prevent infections by keeping the skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, lungs and intestines healthy. This nutrient, found in sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach and red bell peppers, also helps the body regulate the immune system.
- Vitamin C triggers the production of immune-boosting antibodies. Oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and tangerines are among the foods rich in vitamin C.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may provide a boost to the immune system. People who want to get more vitamin E in their diet should eat sunflower seeds, almonds, sunflower or safflower oil, hazelnuts, peanut butter or spinach.
- Some believe that zinc, a nutrient found in lean beef, wheat germ, crab, wheat bran, sunflower seeds, black-eyed peas, almonds, milk and tofu, may also improve functioning of the immune system.