The Well

Tag: Physical Health

Nurture Yourself

by Andrew Shaw on Nov.15, 2009, under Archives

Self care is an essential part of establishing and sustaining good health and well-being.  Developing regular self-care habits can significantly improve the quality of your life and help you to feel refreshed and replenished.  In a world that has become increasingly hectic and stressful, making time for yourself and taking “time outs” is extremely important and beneficial.  You can practice self care by focusing on three main areas of your life; mental/emotional, physical and spiritual.

Care for Your Mind- We are often overwhelmed by too many responsibilities and demands on our time.  We may spread ourselves thin by taking on too much or we may be overly self-critical expecting flawlessness.  Of course we have to take care of our day-to-day duties, stay motivated, work hard, but, it’s also important to set limits and have reasonable expectations.  Be aware of how many times you use the words “I should…”, and know that it’s okay to say “no” sometimes.  Congratulate yourself on doing your best and remember you don’t have to be perfect.  Practice self-kindness.  Be gentle with yourself.  Be accepting and forgive yourself with ease.  Treat yourself how you would treat a good friend who needed care and compassion.  Find the right balance of alone time and time with others.  Sometimes your mental health will be improved by engagement and social activity.  If you’re having a difficult time emotionally, having a friend or someone to talk things out with can be very helpful.  Other times, you may need to be on your own, taking time to be quiet, to do things for yourself, to be creative, or just to zone out for awhile.  You may be able to use this alone time to take care of your personal chores, to write or to play a musical instrument, to listen to music, to read a book, or to watch a movie.    

Care for Your Body- Taking good care of your physical health means treating your body well.  Exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, visit the doctor regularly.  Beyond this, do things that would make your body smile.  While you have the ability to move, do so!  Play a sport, stretch, dance, walk in the park on a sunny day.  Rather than hitting the drive-thru, take time to cook a delicious and nutritious meal.  Slow down and really enjoy every bite of that meal.  At least once a week, do something to pamper and nourish yourself.  Get a massage or a facial, get that manicure you’ve been wanting, go to a yoga class.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  Take a lazy cat nap, enjoy a candlelit bubble bath, stretch out and relax on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, lie on the grass in the sun while you watch the clouds pass by.

Care for Your Spirit- Develop a practice that strengthens and upholds your spirit.  This can be defined in many different ways.  It may be prayer, meditation, attending religious services, self-reflection, serving others, or joining a community of like-minded people.  Building up your spirit, faith, and interconnectedness can be a very positive source and support for well-being.  Make time to deepen your knowledge of yourself and the universe.  Read sacred or spiritual literature and engage in meaningful discussions with others.  Identify and define your core beliefs, values and life priorities.  Find ways to contribute to the well-being of the planet, to helping and serving others.  Practice loving-kindness, compassion and forgiveness.  Seek to discover meaning and purpose in your life, and do the things which bring you joy, happiness and fulfillment.  

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Food for Thought

by Andrew Shaw on Oct.11, 2009, under Archives

Over the last several years, certain foods have been increasingly recognized as being extremely beneficial for health and well-being.  Some foods are so packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and other beneficial substances that they’ve been deemed “superfoods”.  Superfoods have incredible health benefits; they are nutritionally rich foods that can help protect against cancer, heart disease and other illnesses, lower cholesterol, improve digestive health, uphold the immune system and increase energy.  They can even enhance mental health and reduce depression.  

The following is a partial list of superfoods that can really give you a boost, including fruits, vegetables, dairy, legumes, grains and fish. Of course it’s good to remember that the most important thing is a well-balanced diet.  These aren’t the only foods you should be eating.  But they can definitely augment your normal daily routine.  For more information, or if you have certain dietary restrictions because of health issues, you may want to consult with a Registered Dietitian.

Apples – The apple is high in Vitamin C and high in pectin, a soluble fiber which keeps the digestive system in good working order and helps to lower cholesterol.

Nuts – Nuts, like walnuts and almonds, are a good source of protein, heart-healthy fats, high fiber, and antioxidants.  Some contain selenium which help to protect the body against certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and depression.  Nuts help to reduce the risk of heart disease and can help to control our appetites. 

Whole Oats and Grains – The fiber in whole oats and grains keep the digestive system healthy and can lower cholesterol.  Whole grains provide iron, zinc, Vitamin E, and selenium to help control your weight and lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes. 

Beans – Beans are loaded with insoluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, as well as soluble fiber, which fills you up and helps rid your body of waste. They’re also a good, low-fat source of protein, carbohydrates, magnesium, iron and potassium. Edamame (soybeans) also contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Tomatoes -  Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant which protects the body from prostate cancer and heart disease.

Tea – Both black tea and green tea are rich in antioxidants. An antioxidant in tea, catechin, helps to keep our arteries healthy and stops blood clots from forming.

Bananas – Bananas are high in potassium which is essential for healthy hair and skin and also helps to lower blood pressure.  Bananas are also high in antioxidants and are a great source of energy.

Yogurt – Yogurt contains active cultures known as “friendly bacteria” that restore healthy balance in the digestive system. Among the most well-known cultures is Lactobacillus Acidophilus, which helps the body fight off infection. Additionally, just one cup of yogurt contains 50% more calcium than the same size serving of milk.

Salmon -  Salmon is a super food because of its omega-3 fatty acid content. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids help protect heart health. That’s why the American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish like salmon twice weekly. Salmon is relatively low in calories, has lots of protein, is a good source of iron, and is very low in saturated fat.  Eating omega-3 oils regularly may also help to prevent dementia and depression.

Broccoli – This vegetable is high in folic acid, which is thought to lower the risk of heart disease, and phytochemicals, which help to prevent cancer. Broccoli also contains the antioxidants Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and lutein and can protect your cells from the damage of free radicals, enhance immune system function and improve reproductive health.

Blueberries – Packed with antioxidants, these berries are also high in potassium and Vitamin C. Not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory.

Stay tuned… more superfood lists to come throughout the year!

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Keep Moving

by Andrew Shaw on Sep.13, 2009, under Archives

The other day I walked up a flight of stairs and when I got to the top, I was huffing and puffing out of air.  Uh oh, that was definitely a sign that I’ve slipped and fallen out of shape.  I admit, I’ve been bad.  I haven’t exercised in awhile.  Truth is, it has been terribly hot in L.A.  Truth is, I’ve been really busy.  Truth is, I just haven’t had the energy…  Truth is, I’m good at excuses.

Exercise, moving the body, getting the heart beating and the blood flowing, is one of the best things we can do to improve our health and wellness.  It’s nothing new.  You’ve heard it a thousand times before.  Exercise is good for your health, good for your heart, good for your body.  It’s also really good for your mind.  Regular exercise is a great release for stress and anxiety and can be a very helpful coping tool.  It produces chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins and adrenaline, which improve mood, energize, and provide a natural feeling of euphoria.

In order to get moving and keep moving, here are a few tips:

Make time for it- Like eating and sleeping, we have to set aside some time just for exercise.  Make it a part of your daily routine or schedule a few regular times during your week for exercise.

Do it with a friend or group-  It’s easier and usually more enjoyable when you exercise with a friend or a group of people.  It also can help keep you accountable and motivated. 

Make it fun- It’s important to make exercise less of a chore and more of something we look forward to doing.  If it’s a chore, you won’t want more… if it’s fun, you’ll want to run!  A lot of people I know swear by yoga.  A group of my co-workers go for a regular lunchtime walk and talk.  A friend of mine enjoys taking long bike rides every Saturday.  My wife loves to take dance classes.  I love to play basketball with a group of friends, or when my wife and I play frisbee in the park. 

What sounds like a fun activity to you?  Make it a game or find your sport and go out and play!  Your body and mind will thank you.

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