A Health Tip That Pays Big-Time Dividends

by Cathy Miller on November 27, 2012

in Health and Wellness

In this season of giving, the following health tip may seem out of place with the holiday spirit.

Put you first.

That’s it. It’s that simple.

We put so many barriers (real or imagined) in our way of good health.

I know. I am a recovering unhealthy addict.

Just Breathe

Life is hard.

  • Many of us are out of work
  • Those who are working have heavier loads
  • Juggling personal and professional responsibilities is difficult

Take a moment to just breathe.

Recognize the stress and release it. The simple act of breathing is the first step in a healthier you.

Stress has a tremendous impact on both the mind and body.

A recent study conducted by researchers from Carnegie Mellon found chronic stress affects our bodies ability to respond to inflammation.

That means stress actually contributes to the development and progression of disease.

  • We tend to push through stress
  • We ignore the signs
  • We don’t have time

I spent over 30 years in a corporate setting.

I traveled extensively, worked long hours, and had no life outside of work.

Eventually, that lifestyle caught up with me.

  • I gained weight
  • I developed trouble sleeping
  • I was not fun to be around

The simple act of breathing awoke me to my problem.

I became aware that each morning as I reached for the door to my office, I let out a huge sigh.

  • Where did that come from?
  • Why hadn’t I noticed it before?

I realized I did it every – single – morning.

The simplest act signaled my body’s cry.

Beyond Recognition

You may have already recognized your stress. Your unhealthy lifestyle.

  • Now, it’s time to go beyond recognition
  • Why is it so difficult to take action?

Believe me, I outstayed my problem (and probably my welcome) long after I should have.

I quit the corporate life in 2008 and never looked back.

The problem was not my employers. The problem was me.

Our first responsibility lies with us.

  • Recognize your stress, your health issues
  • Take responsibility for them
  • Put you first

Parents – you cannot help your children if you are too sick to be there.

Adult children – you won’t be there for your elderly parents if you don’t take care of you first.

Start Small

I don’t recommend tackling your problems like I did.

I quit my job in a final act of frustration. My actions alerted me to how I had waited too long to move.

Now that you recognize your health issues, start small.

Find ways to deal with stress.

1. Keep a journal.

An effective release for stress is writing.

  • Express your frustrations
  • Bring your feelings to the surface
  • Build a safe environment for sharing

2. Create “you” time.

  • Listen to music
  • Rediscover the joy of reading
  • Indulge you with a spa day, pedicure, whatever

3. Volunteer.

4. Start walking.

What started out as “training” for my participation in nine 3-Day Walks for the Cure has turned into a need as critical as just breathing.

At first, I put many barriers in the way.

  • I couldn’t walk during my “peak writing hours” of the morning
  • I couldn’t walk in the afternoons of the hot summer months
  • I couldn’t walk during the cold winter days

Lots of excuses – not much substance.

Now, I adjust my walking schedule to the weather. And a funny thing happened.

  • I was more productive after walking during my “peak writing hours”
  • Layers work wonders with cold
  • Walking in the mall or cardio DVDs are good alternatives to bad weather

It works because I put me first.

Low-Cost With Huge Dividends

As someone who transitioned from employer-sponsored health benefits to paying my own insurance, I share your pain on the high cost.

Being a baby boomer – even a healthy one – bumps up insurance premiums.

Despite those obstacles, there are steps you can take for low-cost health care.

  • Preventive care – health reform requires certain preventive care to be offered at no out-of-pocket cost to you - screenings and tests catch health conditions early before they become bigger issues – be fanatic about preventive care
  • Eat healthy - natural food is almost always cheaper than pre-packaged or restaurant servings – and a whole lot healthier, too
  • Walk – yes, I’m biased, but people of all sizes walk – start slowly – I did – now I walk 5-6 miles a day

Give the gift of a healthier you this holiday season.

  • Just breathe
  • Recognize and react
  • Start small and live

What health tips worked for you?

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Notice of Disclaimer –Cathy Miller is not a health care provider and cannot provide health care advice. The information provided is for your general background only, and is not intended to constitute health care advice as to your specific circumstances. We recommend you visit your physician for health care issues.

 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Paula H November 27, 2012 at 7:39 am

While walking my dog helps clear my mind, knitting (or crocheting) does, too. It’s repetitive, rhythmic and oddly soothing. I’m now learning Tunisian crochet – sort of a mix between crocheting and knitting. While there is a little frustration with the learning curve, once you figure it out it’s pretty relaxing, too.

Reply

Cathy November 27, 2012 at 8:01 am

I’ve heard that, Paula, about knitting. I used to not have the patience for it. Whatever works for you is ideal. Thanks for sharing.

Reply

Anne Wayman November 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Breathing is my secret too, Cathy – in and out of meditation, and I have started walking again… your influence extends…

Reply

Cathy November 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I don’t know what took me so long to learn that little trick, Anne. Glad to hear you got hooked on the walking. It pays dividends in so many good ways. Thanks for dropping by, Anne.

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