As you gather up holiday gifts for loved ones, be sure to also treat yourself. Not with another purse, shirt, or pair of shoes, but with one or more of these health-enhancing gifts. It may be more than just a matter of deserving it – you may actually NEED it.
With that idea in mind, I’ve come up with a dozen ideas that can help you pamper away.
Tips for Taking Care of YOU!
1. Get Grounded!!!!
Earthing (also known as grounding) is my list topper because it has such a broad and profound effect on the way your body works. In case you haven’t heard about it, Earthing is connecting with the Earth’s natural, subtle surface energy by walking barefoot outside, as humans have done throughout history (but which we no longer do). Grounding also involves sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems that transfer the energy from the ground into the body. I’ve participated in Earthing research that demonstrates how the Earth’s energy actually reduces stress and improves blood flow. Humans have abandoned many aspects of nature, including contact with the Earth, and I strongly believe this separation to be an overlooked factor in the rising incidence of chronic inflammation and non-communicable diseases. Reconnect to the Earth and feel better.
2. Learn to meditate.
Meditation can do so much for your inner stability, calmness, happiness, and health. We live in stressful times and we need a simple tool to use on a regular basis to keep the stress from compromising our health. All that you need to do to get started, is to set aside a small amount of time as often as you can. There are many different forms of meditation. Some are taught without charge, while others have a price tag. Investigate and speak to people who meditate, and see what resonates with you. The most popular and scientifically validated practice is Transcendental Meditation (TM).
3. Book a massage, or better yet, a series of massages.
Research clearly shows benefits of massage therapy for a wide range of medical conditions, including arthritis, pain, and rehabilitation from injury. Many physicians prescribe massage as a standard part of treatment programs and hospitals are increasingly bringing massage therapists on staff. Massage, of course, makes you feel good. It does that, according to the American Massage Therapy Association, by reducing your heart rate and blood pressure, increasing blood circulation and lymph flow, relaxing muscles, alleviating muscle spasm, improving range of motion, and boosting endorphins and serotonin: chemicals in the body related to feeling good and feeling calm.
4. Get a mini health overhaul at a health spa.
Such facilities, also called destination spas, usually involve a stay of at least two or three nights with meals, classes, and some treatments included in the tab. They focus on fitness, healthy eating, relaxation and recharging your batteries. Some spas are geared toward weight loss. This article can help you choose a spa that will best fit your needs.
5. Plan a vacation.
We all need time off. A vacation is good for the body and soul, and also the heart. One study showed that frequency of vacations was a significant factor in reducing the risk of death during a nine-year follow-up period among more than twelve thousand men. The cause of death most strongly associated with vacationing frequency was coronary artery disease. Another study, among women, indicated that those taking a vacation every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack than those who took at least two vacations a year. So vacations equate to living longer. And, according to a Swedish study, the personal restoration you achieve by taking time off also benefits those around you and society in general. So you are doing yourself a favor as well as others!
6. Enroll in a series of yoga, Pilates or tai chi classes.
These forms of movement and mental focus can do so much for you. I know first-hand, because I have practiced them for years, and finally settled into a yoga-Pilates regime that I combine with walking. The studio I go to is within walking distance from my home, and that is important because convenience is KEY in maintaining whatever program you choose. Yoga enhances stress relief, pain relief, flexibility, breathing, circulation, cardiovascular conditioning, and even weight management. Tai chi produces many benefits, including improved bone density, balance (suggesting potential to reduce falls), immunity, and quality of life in both healthy and unhealthy adults. Pilates helps strengthen core muscles to increase strength, flexibility and co-ordination. Not to mention, they are all great for brain health, as is learning anything NEW!
7. Stock up on your supply of important supplements.
Like most people, you’ve probably run out of some, and just haven’t taken the time to replenish them. Now’s a good time, while you are out and about shopping for gifts for others. While you are at it, you can buy supplements for others as a holiday gift. Here’s a short list of supplements you don’t want to run out of: a multivitamin and mineral, CoQ10, vitamin C, magnesium (a great supplement against stress), and fish or squid oil for omega-3 fatty acids.
8. Schedule yourself a medical checkup.
You’ve probably been putting it off. There may be nothing wrong, but just in case there is, you want to stop a problem in its tracks before it gets worse. My mantra has always been that prevention is easier than cure – don’t procrastinate! I saw too many patients during my medical career that waited too long, ignored symptoms, and had to be treated as emergency cases. Some didn’t make it. Delay can be deadly, as I have always told patients. Additionally, women should have key tests performed at their checkups that differ from the key tests that men should have done.
9. Sign up for cooking lessons.
Learning to cook is an activity you can have fun doing; it allows you to be creative, and you can get a lot of gratification from using your new cooking skills. You can enroll in classes anywhere: as near as your local community college or as far as another country, where you can learn to cook their unique cuisine. You can even create a vacation around finding, eating, and learning to cook the healthful meals that excite you most. Additionally, cooking is a great way to be connected to others in a positive process. For some tasty inspiration, check out my healthy cooking video series on the website.
10. Dump your cheap kitchen blender and get one that lasts.
A good blender is a must for every creative kitchen. In the past, I have bought many blenders, and they didn’t last. I finally found a durable machine − a Cuisinart SmartPower 7-Speed Electronic Blender. I bought it for $59.95 a few years ago and it still runs like new. The best part for me is that the blending takes place in a glass chamber – not in phthalate-laden plastic. Among other things, I use it to make my favorite breakfast power drink: various combinations of apple, beet, kale, Swiss chard, parsley, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and a bit of coconut water. Fruits and veggies like these are live foods, full of enzymes, and they nourish your body with many antioxidants and minerals. Regular juicing takes the fiber out, but blending leaves the fiber in. Fiber is a keeper in my book, because it helps balance insulin levels, and supports the detoxification and cleansing of the intestines – two very important tasks!
11. Treat yourself to GENUINE high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, one of the pillars of the famous Mediterranean Diet.
I regard olive oil as a vitamin and as an elixir, and I recommend taking a couple of tablespoons a day. However, it has to be the good stuff: certified organic extra-virgin, full of potent anti-oxidant compounds. These days it’s hard to trust the extra-virgin olive oil coming from Europe because of reports that distributors are diluting their products with lesser oils. I’ve researched the best brands and my favorite is B.R. Cohn from California.
12. Give of your time to people you care for.
Often, that’s the best gift you can give anyone. Make a beautiful meal, or go for a walk together. Treat a loved one to a movie, or to a coffee. Put aside a little extra time to cuddle with your beloved, furry, four legged pals. Volunteer your time to a charity. How does volunteering qualify as a gift of health for yourself? You may be surprised to know that whenever you serve others you are the first beneficiary of your act of kindness. Your giving is simultaneously an act of receiving. Doing good deeds immediately generates the “helper’s high,” a state of euphoria, increased energy, and general well-being.
These twelve items are just a small sampling of the many wonderful things you can do to bring better health into your life. Sometimes you have to put yourself first and recharge, pamper, and enjoy a much needed and well deserved time out. Don’t put it off. Treat yourself periodically, and reap the benefits!
References and Resources:
- Brooks G, Matthews K. Are Vacations Good for Your Health? The 9-Year Mortality Experience After the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial. Psychosomatic Medicine, 2000; published online at http://people.umass.edu/econ340/vacations_health.pdf.
- Tugend A. Vacations Are Good for You, Medically Speaking. The New York Times, June 7, 2008. Published online at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/07/business/yourmoney/07shortcuts.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&.
- Hartig T, et al. Vacation, Collective Restoration, and Mental Health in a Population. Society and Mental Health, 2013; 3(3):221-236. Published online at http://smh.sagepub.com/content/3/3/221.abstract.
- Jahnke R, et al. A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi. Am J Health Promot, 2010; 24(6):e1-e25. Published online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085832/#!po=67.2414.
- Luks, Allan. The Healing Power of Doing Good (iUniverse, 2001).
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