Five Steps to Transform Your Entire Well-Being

Sheila Olson is at it again with another fantastic article which I am sharing here. Let Sheila guide you towards optimal well-being!

Five Steps to Transform Your Entire Well-Being
by Sheila Olson

Being healthy is a goal that we all have, and we are frequently exposed to countless trends that promise to drastically improve our well-being overnight. Of course, that isn’t realistic on any level. What our minds and bodies need is long-term commitment. If you’re interested in improving your entire well-being, check out the following tips.

Center Yourself

When left unaddressed, stress can occupy our thoughts throughout the day and leave us restless at night. Unfortunately, our physical health is directly connected to our mental health. After all, stress can disrupt sleep, impede focus, and leave us with a host of physical issues. Yet, with the right tools, you can learn the proper ways to manage it.

A good starting point is meditation. Mindfulness habits can balance our emotional states, leaving us physically and mentally healthier as a result. Beginning a practice can be as easy as spending 10 minutes in a quiet place every day. Thanks to the internet, you can also use guided tutorials to help you learn that process. How you explore meditation is up to you. You may want to focus on breathing exercises, or you might prefer a room dedicated to emotional centering.

Clean Your Air

It’s natural to assume that our homes are a refuge from pollutants, but sometimes that isn’t the case. We may have pets that shed, or we use cleaning chemicals that do more harm than good. This decline in air quality can cause many health issues, such as asthma or allergies. Fortunately, you can drastically cut pollutants by investing in an air purifier. These devices filter air at the microscopic level. They won’t purge our homes completely of contaminants, but you can notice marked improvement in both your health and air quality. Before you choose a specific model, learn more about the products on the market. There are several different kinds of purifiers available, so know what you need before you buy one.

Contextualize Fitness

Being active shouldn’t be a chore; if it is, then you need to find routines that you enjoy to make healthier living more sustainable. Don’t rely on bruising sessions at the gym to achieve your goals, as this can lead to burnout. Instead, remind yourself that all activity counts. That might be walking through a park or playing basketball with a group of friends. Do you work out best with others? Join a sports team, or take up regular jogs with your buddies. Above all, give yourself manageable goals that you can work toward, and make sure you follow through with them. By having a positive mindset, you can keep your fitness moving forward.

Focus on Sleep

Having a good night’s rest is easier said than done. However, sleep recharges one’s emotional and physical batteries. So, get to the root cause of any restlessness and find a solution. Do you drink caffeine? Limit it as best you can, and consider a cutoff point in the early afternoon. Are you using electronics? They may seem ideal to help you unwind at the end of the day, but they can override your body’s sleep processes. Don’t overlook your environment, either. If it’s bright, invest in blackout curtains. Likewise, keep your room cool to help your body prep for sleep. Identifying the source may mean replacing your mattress or changing your decor. Whatever the cause, though, you can rejuvenate your health with sleep.

Embrace Positive Living

Unhealthy habits can be a significant obstacle to wellness. They are hard to stop, but doing so can be transformative. Negative habits can have various underlying causes, so it’s important to determine what they might be. This can help you understand certain patterns and avoid them in the future. However, don’t just try to drop an unwanted habit “cold turkey.” Instead, challenge them by adopting positive alternatives. If you smoke when you’re feeling stressed, find a substitute that you can use to manage your anxieties. Don’t end your nights on a stressful note by checking social media or email. Positive living is a strategy that adds up over time and can become a central part of your day-to-day life.

Good health is not a fad. It’s perfectly achievable by making easy adjustments to our lifestyle and outlook. Make your well-being a priority every day.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Consistency (Updated Post)

As a physician, I am as much a therapist as I am a physical healer, and am well aware of the vital connection between mind, spirit and body. I have also seen how closely linked emotional stress is to development and exacerbation of physical ailments. What concerns me is when people abandon healthy habits during times of adversity, because it is at those times that some structure would provide balance to their lives.

A common question I hear from patients, clients, and strangers I meet is, “How can you maintain a regular exercise schedule and pack your food all the time with your busy careers?”, to which I respond, “I just do it.” Working out and eating right are as essential to me as sleeping and brushing my teeth. It never occurs to me to abandon healthy habits during stressful times. I recently went through a particularly difficult month during which I took a rigorous board certification exam, went through a residential move, and traveled to four destinations (two for my medical career, two for fitness and bodybuilding) over a two week period. Though I didn’t work out my usual six days per week, I did manage to train four to five days per week, every single week. The regular workouts gave me structure and balance which helped me to burn off some of the stress I was under, regulated my sleep cycle, and just plain felt good. In addition, I traveled with clean foods and lots of water, packing them and making sure I stayed on track.

Why would I push myself like this? Because I know that consistency is key to maintaining balance in one’s life. When I am consistent with my workouts and food, I maintain structure and focus and do not allow excuses of an insanely busy schedule to deter me from my mission to live an optimally healthy lifestyle. I know that if I were to deviate from a healthy lifestyle, I wouldn’t have the energy to push through my to-do list, and I certainly wouldn’t be very happy either. No matter whether I am traveling, working, or enjoying a rare free day for myself, I make sure to invest in myself every single day.

When I worked the Arnold Sports Festival Expo in Columbus, Ohio earlier this month, I made sure to drink plenty of water, filling up my one liter container 3 to 4 times each day. I also brought my Hot Logic Mini with me (https://youtu.be/GQltYTRLTC4) and had meals from Icon Meals with me, and I made sure to consume a meal every 3 hours to keep my energy levels up. If you are committed to living a healthy lifestyle, you will find ways to stay in line!

If you make an investment in yourself by being consistent with your exercise and meal habits, you will be rewarded with greater balance in your life and better health. Don’t you deserve that?

When Your Mind Won’t Wind Down


Where Is The Off Switch?

Have you ever been so wound up with thoughts or concerns that your brain refused to allow you to fall into blissful sleep? As long as your emotions are influenced by excessive amounts of stress, the pressure will continue to spark anxiety which will continue to rob you of sleep, even if your body is completely wiped out. A vicious cycle of insomnia not only prevents the body from getting the restorative sleep it needs, it can contribute to depression or panic disorder.

People are so busy these days that it can be a challenge to check off everything on to-do lists, so it is rather common to see folks working right up until bedtime. However, if you are having problems turning off your thoughts at night, you must break this habit and allow yourself to calm your mind in preparation for sleep. That means you need to avoid activities like housework, checking emails, paying bills, or any other activity which keeps your mind active, for at least an hour before your usual bedtime.

Anxiety and Sleep

What fuels the mind and makes it work overtime in the majority of cases is anxiety. The bed is supposed to be a place for sleep, yet many individuals lie in bed with thoughts spilling over, and are unable to get the thoughts to cease because they provoke anxiety. The chances of solving any problems while trying to fall asleep are slim, so the constant worrying only serves to interrupt much-needed sleep. Honestly, how often have you been able to solve an issue you were worried about, after you crawled in bed? Your mind will be better equipped to solve any issues which plague you if you shut off your thoughts and allow the restorative benefits of sleep to take over.

Go To Paradise

Try redirecting your thoughts by practicing guided imagery. While lying in bed, close your eyes and imagine a beautiful place, such as a tropical paradise. Breathe slowly and evenly, while imagining hearing the waves crash on the beach, and feeling the sand and the warmth of the sun. You can even play ambient sounds of the ocean to help you visualize the scene. This relaxation technique can be extremely effective in not only shutting off the endless chatter in your brain, but also in getting you to fall asleep.

If you are concerned that ideas or concerns will pop into your head in the middle of the night, keep a notebook and a pen next to your bed. Once you write something down, put the notebook away and let it go. Remember that it really can wait until tomorrow.

My Just Float Experience

What is Floating – Just Float, The World’s Largest Float Therapy Center

Yesterday I had a pretty remarkable experience, floating for an hour in a room devoid of light and external noise. The 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt which saturated the pleasant, tepid water caused my body to float effortlessly. Since I meditate daily, I welcomed the release that came with being untethered by my senses, gently hovering in a state of incredible relaxation.

For those of you who are wondering what the process is, you shower before entering the chamber to remove oils, lotions and pollutants from your skin and hair. Then you step into the tub which is softly illuminated. Once you lie in the water and adjust to your body’s buoyancy, you can turn off the lights and allow the soothing music to lull you into a state of stillness. The music fades away, leaving your breathing as the only steady sound.

At the end of your session, the music and lights slowly return. You exit the tub and rinse off the salty water.

Forty dollars (intro price) and an hour later, I definitely think the experience was well worth it.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, and you would like to try floating, please click on this link: http://justfloat.com/

Leaky Gut

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If you suffer from sudden food sensitivities, aching joints, digestive upset, fatigue or weight gain, you may be suffering from leaky gut, which is also referred to as increased intestinal permeability. Leaky gut is characterized by the opening of pores in the small intestine, resulting in undigested food particles, bacteria, and toxins traveling to the bloodstream. The presence of these substances in the bloodstream triggers an immune response, whereby the body builds antibodies to the foreign substances but also attacks itself, creating food allergies and autoimmune disorders.

You are probably wondering how something like this occurs and if you are at risk. Let’s look at the main causative factors leading to leaky gut syndrome:

1. Chronic constipation – If you are usually constipated, toxins will often build up in stool, irritating the intestinal lining and causing inflammation, which then causes the pores in the small intestine to expand. In severe cases, Crohn’s Disease, irritable bowel syndrome,or colitis can occur.

2. Chronic stress – The immune system really takes a beating when subjected to chronic stress. If the immune response is compromised, pathogenic bacteria can cause widespread inflammation in the intestines, and leaky gut is a common result.

3. Dysbiosis – This is an imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria which can result from antibiotics or poor diet. Inflammation develops, causing the pores to widen.

4. Toxins – We are exposed to many thousands of toxins, but the worst offenders are found in our water supply, pesticides, and in certain medications.

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What Is The Solution If You Have A Leaky Gut?

I have several dietary recommendations for treating a leaky gut.

1. Glutamine – I am already a big fan of glutamine in general, but especially for those who suffer from leaky gut. This amino acid has specific activity in the intestine, and restores healthy soft tissue in the region. Over time, regular supplementation with glutamine has a protective effect against intestinal disease. I tend to be fairly aggressive with glutamine and recommend 6 to 8 grams per day, or more if you engage in frequent exercise.

2. Fish oil – Try to find a formula which contains primarily omega-3 fatty acids. You can also increase your consumption of salmon.

3. Digestive enzymes – Digestive enzymes will aid in the breakdown of food substances, especially in older individuals and those suffering from leaky gut. Try taking them with every meal.

4. Betaine hydrochloric acid – Some people produce insufficient amounts of hydrochloric acid, which is needed to break down food in the stomach. If that is the case, betaine hydrochloric acid optimizes the process.

5. probiotics – Most individuals will benefit from adding probiotics into their daily regimen. Make sure to take at least 25 billion units per day for optimal gut health.

How Social Media Has Messed Us Up

The majority of us can’t even imagine being without our cell phones. The relatively tiny devices we carry around with us now function as GPS devices, marvelous computers which connect us to every part of the world, tie us into a massive information network which we have become entirely reliant on, and also happen to function as the basic communication aids which were originally invented by Italian inventor Antonio Meucci in 1849 (Alexander Graham Bell won the credit in 1876 as a result of winning the first U.S. patent).

Cell phones have become a necessity in modern society, but they have also caused us to develop compulsive behaviors which feed into the irresistible distraction which they present. Though you may deny it, I am willing to bet that you experience a certain level of anxiety if your cell phone battery power winds down, if you lose reception, if you lose a Wifi signal, or are somehow locked out of a website you need to access immediately. We have become so reliant on the immediate gratification which comes with doing a Google search on our Smartphones or iPhones that we have turned into petulant children when glitches occur. We are so dependent on our cellular devices that they have become security blankets.

Whether we like it or not, our reliance on cellular technology makes us less productive and less attentive to ordinary daily tasks. We could be sitting at work, cooking a meal, walking our dogs, or driving to work, while still concerned about what supposedly vital information we are missing by not staring at our phones. God forbid we miss our friends’ Facebook updates or allow our email inboxes to pile up as we try to navigate through a typical day! We are accustomed to having our phones close by at all times, and every time it makes a notification sound, we stop what we are doing to attend to our phones, which draws attention away from what we should really be focused on. Time ticks by, and suddenly, we are distracted from viewing a beautiful sunset. Even if we view that beautiful sunset, we tend to feel a compulsion to record the sunset by taking a picture of it with those confounded phones.

Even when we aren’t at work, our brains must sort through an enormous amount of information from our phones and computers. One 2011 study stated that we take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information every single day. And since the brain’s ability to process information is limited, we often end up feeling overwhelmed and anxious as we try to power through all the information being thrown at us. Though the age of social media has enabled us to connect in novel and far-reaching ways, it also robs us of our attention and distracts us from other tasks.

It’s no wonder that the incidence of anxiety in our society has increased dramatically.

There should be a limit on the frequency with which we view social media sites. Be sure to set aside a brief designated time each day to check emails and peruse social media, then PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY. Leave the bulk of each day to relaxing, sightseeing, engaging in outdoor activities, and enjoying life. Trust me, your brain needs a break from the constant influx of technology.

Another disturbing reality about our attachment to cell phones is the false sense of community we feel as a result of social media notifications and texts. The perception is that we are part of a vast network, but the ironic thing is that we tend to access our cell phones while alone. This isolation from actual interaction can actually trigger loneliness and depression. From the moment we wake up until we rest our heads to sleep, our cell phones are always on. They even serve as our alarm clocks now!

Bridezillas

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Just about every young girl dreams about her wedding day, so it’s no surprise that the wedding industry strives to make wedding dreams of every kind come true. Everyone who has ever fantasized about walking down the aisle has constructed an image of that special day, and women are especially prone to envisioning all the details, from the perfect gown, to the perfect venue, flowers, cake, etc.

Some women become so obsessed with ensuring that their wedding day is so magical and so perfect that they transform into what are better known as bridezillas. They often proclaim, “It’s MY day”, and their behavior will follow suit, as if the groom, the families, and the bridal party had nothing whatsoever to do with their wedding ceremony. Though wedding planning can be incredibly stressful (I speak from personal experience), there is absolutely NO excuse for the bride to suddenly turn into Queen Bitch during the planning stages. Yet this occurs often enough that the term “bridezilla” is pretty well known.

Perhaps the bride is stressed out about money, but the brattiest of brides often comes from money, and her parents are footing the bill. These ladies will often also choose the most expensive bridal gowns, the most elaborate floral arrangements, and a plethora of lavish accessories for the big day. In some cultures, there is tremendous pressure to spend an extravagant amount of money on a wedding, and the bride is treated like a centerpiece, which further feeds her delusional and narcissistic behavior.

If a couple hasn’t worked out their relationship issues, and the bride turns into a witch, the wedding will become a desperate measure to repair a faltering relationship. All couples should regard their wedding as a true celebration of what they have achieved together, instead of as a band-aid or a means of appeasing relatives who are pressuring them to wed. If communication is poor and multiple issues threaten the fabric of a relationship, the stress of planning a wedding will only fan the flames of discord. Add tension between families, financial pressure, and fussing over the thousand details which go into wedding planning, and the wedding ceremony can easily become a threat and a burden, instead of the joyous celebration it is supposed to be.

No relationship is perfect, but a wedding should be a celebration of what already IS and not what a couple WANTS it to be. And for you bridezillas out there, I implore you to remember that your big day should be about the fantastic relationship you have with your Prince Charming, and NOT about whether you get your way with every little thing.