Excerpt from the Book: Self Care

I have two young kids aged 13 and 11. When they get hungry, sick or tired, they can get irritable. I am 56 years old and when I get hungry, sick or tired, I get irritable. My “little kid” is crying for me to take care of him. The reality is that most people are not functioning at their optimum; they are depleted. They are not eating right, not getting enough sleep, and addiction issues are common. When you feel strong, you can take on the world. There is a huge need and hunger for self-care in the work environment, but also at home. We are all human and our mental state and behavior is often connected to our physical state. We can’t escape the little kid, we just have to keep him or her under control.

With that in mind, most of us know the basic treatment for a “little kid,” whether from when we were kids or taking care of our own children, and it’s important for us to remember these tips still apply:

  • Mindful eating – there are unlimited sources of help on nutrition, but eating well keeps us healthier and more physically and mentally fit. Applying the 80/20 rule here would be a good start, focusing 80% of the time on healthy meals and 20% on some occasional fun (but maybe less healthy) treats. Use your judgment or invest in some good advice from a nutritionist.
  • Getting proper sleep – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. Data from a 2009 sleep survey module were used to assess the prevalence of unhealthy sleep behaviors by selected socio-demographic factors and geographic variations in 12 states. The analysis determined that, among 74,571 adult respondents in 12 states, 35.3% reported <7 hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period, 48.0% reported snoring, 37.9% reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month, and 4.7% reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving at least once in the preceding month. It seems kind of ridiculous that something we have done daily since the day we were born is so out of control. This is also a global problem. The Sleep Health Foundation of Australia sums up three of the top root causes of poor sleep, and the top two are totally within our control. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a day. I personally try to get 8 hours. The promotion of good sleep habits and regular sleep is known as sleep hygiene. The following sleep hygiene tips can be used to improve sleep.
  • Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Avoid nicotine.
  • Exercising your Body – We all inherently know that exercise is good for us and increases our longevity. A recent U.S. Government study however, estimated that nearly 80% of adult Americans (Pareto strikes again) do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week, potentially setting themselves up for years of health problems like heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes and depression. The U.S. government recommends adults get at least 2.5 hours of moderately intense aerobic exercise each week or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorously intense activity, or a combination of both. Adults should also engage in muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights or doing push-ups at least twice per week. I’m not going to go into further specifics other than to state the bare minimum outlined on the National Institute of Health—get yourself a step-counter and try to get in 10,000 steps a day. There are many ways to add movement without going to the gym. The bottom line is to look for any opportunity to be active throughout your day. Get moving as much as you can!

 

  • Consider Holistic Treatments or Therapy – When holistic or alternative medicine comes up in conversation, I often hear diverse opinions similar to politics. Some say alternative medicine seems like snake oil cures that prey on the gullible, while others are true believers. My primary care physician is a big supporter of it, believing that eastern medicine is excellent for prevention and western medicine for cure. The reality is that many hospitals are starting to establish holistic care, promoting that healing is a journey encompassing body, mind, and spirit. Combining alternative medicine (for mind, body, and spirit) with conventional medicine (for flesh, bones, and organs) creates a more powerful “integrative medicine.” Alternative or holistic medicine offers services such as massage therapy and mind-body techniques.

 

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