10 Health Resolutions for the New Year

Happy New Year!It’s no secret that keeping New Years resolutions can be a psychological, and sometimes emotional, challenge.

So here are ten mindful tips to encourage yourself to stick to those health resolutions all year, and life, long.

  1. I eat the most wholesome of foods as Nature provides them.
  2. I eat the right amount for my body (not overeating), and eat only when I am hungry.
  3. I chew my food thoroughly and take time to eat.
  4. I avoid the junky and artificial foods as much as possible.
  5. I let go of any regular use of troublesome SNACCs—sugar, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, and chemicals.
  6. I stretch my body and mind to be my most flexible.
  7. I exercise daily with enjoyable physical activities, such as walking, running, or working with weights.
  8. I open my heart to experience the greatest joy—giving and receiving love.
  9. I express my feelings to those around me in a wholesome and non-hurtful manner.
  10. I allow love and healing to pervade all levels of my life.

For more helpful, healthful tips by Dr. Elson, visit Haas Health Online.

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What’s Your Level of Stress?

Stressed, but not sure why or how much? Take the test and discover your stress level.

Regardless of your score, everyone could use a little reminder on how to manage stress. So be sure to read about these stress-relieving tips so you can keep your cool through the holidays and beyond.

Add one point for each “Yes” answer.

  • I am over 50 years old            

I am concerned about:

  •   Work and/or finances            
  •   My health and/or weight            
  •   Having enough time in my life            
  •   Sleeping well            
  •   My diet and/or digestion            
  •   Getting enough exercise            
  •   Relaxing or meditating            
  •   Feeling overwhelmed/anxious            
  •   Self-medicating to reduce stress            

Add it all up and get your total stress score.

  • 0-3: Low stress
  • 4-6: Moderate stress
  • 7-10: Significant stress

Tips for Eating Healthy During the Holidays

As we approach the holiday season, many of us face the prospect of consuming more food and beverages and not always consuming the ones that are best for us. Here are some tips to staying healthy.

Pick 1-3 days a week when you eat vegetarian, with variety and fresh ingredients.

Add healthy meat/poultry/seafood alternatives to your diet as you see fit—Your nutritionist or local health food store will have great ideas on this.

Avoid processed, packaged, and canned foods as much as possible.

Become friends with legumes—peas and beans. They are high in fiber, carbs, and proteins, and are generally feel-good foods for satiety, balancing blood sugar, maintaining weight, and energy. They’re also delicious and easy to cook—They’re great in soups, or chilled in salads (such as greens, avocado, tomatoes). Sprouting legumes are the healthiest way to eat them—easier to digest with less starch and more protein.

Season your veggies to make them even more interesting, using fresh herbs and citrus you either grew yourself or purchase at a local farmer’s market. Basil, mint, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, and lemons are some of my favorites, finely chopped and mixed with olive or walnut oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.

If you eat seafood, select it wisely. In spite of the numerous benefits of seafood—including protein and omega-3 fatty acids—the supplies of many wild seafood species can’t keep up with demand, and many products are farmed. Our waters have mercury and other toxins, so that’s an issue too for consuming fish as a main part of our diet. Larger fish such as tuna and swordfish are higher in mercury, and should be minimized or avoided. Smaller fish like sardines and anchovies may be better choices. They make a nice addition to fresh salads and other vegetable dishes. Ideally, we want to encourage less pollution to protect the ocean itself, all sea life, and to support human health.

Holiday’s Unwanted Guest: Stress

In spite of the traditions and merriment surrounding the holiday season, many of us find we are facing an unwanted and invasive guest during this time of year—stress. For many, the first signs of holiday stress begin around Halloween, when holiday shopping ads begin, when stores start stocking shelves with holiday decorations and tempting sweets.

Read on for a few ways to check in with yourself and just… breathe.

Breathe

Many of us don’t realize how our breathing changes when we are under stress. There are many forms of breathing that can help reduce stress, including various types of meditation breathing, “belly breathing,” body-centered breathing, and coherent breathing. Dr. Steve Sisgold, as associate at my office and author of What’s Your Body Telling You?, works directly with people to open up their breathing and release the emotions and stress that suppress our breathing and energy.

Move

Because Autumn and Winter are seasons when we tend to spend more time indoors, there is a tendency to move less. Movement and various forms of physical activity are Nature’s stress reducers. Physical activity causes the release of a spectrum of neurotransmitters and hormones that reduce unhealthy stress. So, join a gym or get some exercise DVDs to move at home—including aerobic activity, stretching, and weight work to build endurance, strength and flexibility. Exercise keeps us fit, so find something that you will do. I like to ask people, “You know what the best exercise is?” Answer: The one you will do!

Acknowledgement

If you sense you’re under stress, allow yourself to acknowledge it. This can often be the first step in developing a plan for reducing stress. Denying stress only masks the problem, and pretending to be happy when you’re not will only increase the stress.

Reach out

One of the greatest factors in stress is a feeling of isolation, so when you’re aware of your stress, don’t hesitate to reach out to one or more people you trust. These people care about you and can often bring support, empathy and companionship. Family can be stressful of course too, yet having love and support can calm us deeply.

Sleep

High stress is often accompanied by sleep problems, so this is a season when adequate levels of high-quality sleep are paramount. If you are having trouble sleeping, try practicing meditative or other stress-reducing breathing, reduce electronics prior to bed, and avoid eating or drinking stimulants or depressants before bed. Realize that sleep comes in cycles, so be patient. If the problem persists, seek professional help. There are many natural remedies that can calm our brains and support our sleep. These include amino acids tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan, GABA, calcium/magnesium formulas, and valerian root.

Be realistic

Many of us stress ourselves because we want the holidays to be “perfect” or “just like old times.” But let’s face it—that’s not always possible. As our families and friends grow and move, and as our holiday traditions change, it becomes ever more difficult to create a perfect holiday event. Choosing a few favorite traditions and adopting some new ones might help. Just remember when it comes to the holidays—Perfection does not have to be par!

Set aside differences

The holidays are a great time for setting aside differences, for forgiveness and for new beginnings. If you feel you’re harboring negative feelings toward someone—be it your family, friends, or workmates—try to accept them as they are even if they don’t meet all of your expectations. There is a good chance that such people are also stressed out and your attitude may help them during a time of need. Just starting an opening to talk can help get a valuable discussion going.

Don’t abandon healthy habits

Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all when it comes to your diet and lifestyle. Overindulgence and lack of exercise will only add to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese, or alcoholic drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.

November 15th: Free Workshop on (Healthfully) Managing Holiday Stress

Take a few hours out of your holiday planning to join the Preventive Medical Center of Marin staff for a FREE workshop on how to healthfully manage stress during the holiday season.

Being realistic, planning ahead, and seeking support can help ward off stress and depression during these busy times. You may find that the tools you learn in this workshop will help you manage stress now and throughout the year!

Learn to better cope with and manage:

  • Additional family and work pressures
  • A healthier diet and sleep schedule to boost your health and mood during this active “party” season
  • Scheduling enough “me time” for exercise and daily meditations for peace and tranquility
  • “Saying no” to excessive demands or high calorie foods

Social time with healthy snacks will be provided.

Speakers include: 

  • Elson M. Haas, MD — Director of PMCM
  • Steve Sisgold, MA — Body-Centered Therapist
  • Ernie Hubbard, BSc — Vitality Researcher
  • Gigi Shames, LAc, NHD, CMT— Acupuncturist and Herbalist
Learn more about each practitioner’s background on PMCM’s website.
Details:

Thursday, November 15th, 2012
5:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Preventive Medical Center of Marin
25 Mitchell Blvd., Suite 8, San Rafael, CA 94903

Space is limited, so RSVP today!