Dr. Sheree’s Wellness List for 2020
It’s a New Year and a new decade, a perfect time to contemplate the teachings of my patients and the lessons I am learning in my own life on the patterns that contribute to our state of ill health, and the practices that impact our health and well-being. We can put our stressors in their place and be mindful of our need to have times of rest and restoration. Small changes and shifts in our mindset have the power to bring us into alignment with our healthier selves.
This is my list of the top 7 things we can do to cultivate a healthier self:
Experience the Sweetness of Doing Nothing.
Stress, busyness, multitasking and overwhelm have become our cultural norm. I think it’s time to reconsider and recognize the profound impact this is having on our health. We are allowed to take time to “opt out”. Relaxing, daydreaming, doing nothing, savoring the moment and napping all help us restore, reconnect, get out of our busy brains and allow space for our creativity to bubble up. Building in restorative time will look different for each person but I invite each of you to find a place for yourselves in your own lives.
Less Screen Time and More Outdoor Time
It feels like an itch that has to be scratched, a compulsion that keeps us checking in with our devices on an ongoing basis. Tethered, we are in information overload, blurring the boundaries of our work/life balance, creating a sense of ongoing unfinished “business”. It’s too much of a good thing for many of us. Putting deliberate boundaries on screen time not only helps negate the negative side effects, such as postural changes, eye strain, headaches, inactivity and sleep disruption but frees us to do other health promoting activities.
I think we have all felt the fullness of being connected with nature. It’s powerful, it’s relaxing, it’s part of us and it’s part of something much bigger than us. As it has become more commonplace to spend time indoors the idea of “nature deficit” disorder has come about, especially as it pertains to children. Scientists are now studying the effects of nature on our physical and psychological well being. In a recent study it was found that as little as 10 minutes a day spent outdoors improves overall health, concentration, mood, and sleep. More time spent with Mother Nature, more benefits.
Connect with Others, in Person
It takes time, effort and energy to interface with others, whether that’s with our children, our partners, our friends or the person at the coffee shop. It’s worth every ounce! In the ongoing Harvard Study of Adult Development, first started in 1938, the director, Robert Waldinger, indicates that the most important predictor of whether you age well and live a long and happy life is not the amount of money you amass or notoriety you receive. “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.” It’s hard to argue with that!
Move Your Body
This is such a worthwhile endeavor. As I watch my patients aging I see that those that have been active and remain active, according to their abilities, age more gracefully.
For many of us sitting at our desks for 8-10 hours is not out of the norm. Finding ways to engage in activities are important. Fitness classes can be fun, social and health promoting. It is also important that we find little ways through our days to increase our level of movement in less structured ways. We can stretch before we start our day, we can walk at lunch, take the stairs, put on some music when we get home from work and dance in our kitchen.
Regular exercise increases our happiness quotient and has a significant impact on our brain health.
Make Sleep a Priority
While sleep requirements vary from person to person, adults need a minimum of 7-9 hours sleep to function at their best. Children and teens even more.
The length and quality of our sleep is impacted by many factors including lifestyle, hormones and stress levels. When our lives are leaning towards better balance we are more likely to fall into a deep, sustained sleep and wake rested, ready to greet the day. Bad sleep, particularity if prolonged, wreaks havoc in our lives, affecting our energy, mood, ability to cope, to make healthy choices and stay on task with our daily commitments. Quality of life suffers.
If we can understand the foundational importance of good quality sleep we can begin to look at what we have control over, including our response to stressors and move towards prioritizing a good nights sleep.
Enjoy Healthy Food
Food choices have become confusing. What to eat, what not to eat, when to eat. Once we think we’ve got it down, a new study debunks the last one.
What’s not confusing is that whole foods are better than processed foods. Organic foods take it one step further but due to costs we may need to streamline choices. The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15, https://blog.givingassistant.org/dirty-dozen-clean-15-list/, help inform our choices.
Eating with regularity helps keep our blood sugar even which improves our energy, mood and mental focus. Refine that further by keeping simple carbohydrates low and proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats higher. It will make a difference to the quality of your day.
Cook together and eat together. It’s good for the soul.
My motto is you don’t have to be perfect to be healthy. Just lean in the right direction!
Cultivating Resilience Improves our Health
We can count on the fact that life will deliver curve balls, things won’t always go as planned and we will be faced with many challenges along the way.
Our resilience is our ability to recover and bounce back to life, stronger through adversity. It describes how readily we are able to get back to a “steady state” when the air has been knocked out of us.
We can use relatively smooth times to build our resilience reservoirs. Working on “topping up” our health, building a tool kit for managing stress, reaching out and becoming a part of our community, spending time deepening our understanding of ourselves, seeking supportive relationships. Drawing on our inner strength and personal skills and having external supports in place serve us in times of plenty and times of strife.
Whether you are struggling with hormonal imbalances, digestive concerns, mood disorders or autoimmune conditions, healthy eating, body movement, building community, decreasing stress and making time to restore help create better overall health.
If you need help in creating a healthier lifestyle or have specific health concerns, we’re here to help.