Archive for ‘Health and Wellness’

July 4, 2019

#574 – Live Better with RA – Tip #9

ListenSelf

Tip #9 – Learn to Listen to Your Body

What do you need? Rest? Better nutrition? A walk in the park? A good laugh? A heart-to-heart with a friend?

Identify and honour your needs. It’s an important aspect of self-care. Stress can hamper your ability to hear what your body is asking for. When you learn to quiet the cacophony that is stress, you are better able to listen to the quiet murmurings of your heart. If you fail to heed them, you might find that your body turns up the volume. You may experience more discontent, pain and negativity that detract from a life well-lived.

Tune in to your needs. They are often quite different from your wants. For example, I often reached for a sugar fix when I was feeling sluggish. I now know that I sugar-coated what I really needed, which was a nap, or at the least, a restorative time-out.

Get in the habit of tuning in to your heart and asking for what you need. Shhhh! It’s often a very quiet voice that speaks to you. Remember, it may be shy, especially if it is unused to being heard! 🙂

Read how my body “spoke” in a dramatic way in the Emergency Room.

Work to build a relationship with yourself. (Stress coaching can help sharpen this skill. Contact me for more information.)

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May 20, 2019

#572 – Live Better with RA – Tip #7

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Image courtesy of B S K.

Build Your Team

When you have RA, you may have a tendency to figuratively withdraw and move to an “island,” but don’t.

Your healthcare team is an important part of your journey with RA. Doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, naturopaths, nutritionists, coaches, osteopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, therapists and friends all have a role in your health and well-being. You may not need them all, or you may need different ones at different times in your life.

Choose them with care.

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May 8, 2019

#571 – Live Better with RA – Tip #6

Tip #6 – Accentuate the Positive

We’re hard-wired to scan our environment for danger. Unfortunately, for some, our experiences have us performing this operation far too often.

In one study, optimistic subjects had increased cell-mediated immunity, whereas a drop in optimism showed a decrease in immunity. Other studies show that an optimistic attitude about aging can help people live longer, and optimistic cardiac patients are less likely to be readmitted to hospital.

One way to flip your perspective is by practicing gratitude on a regular basis. Another is to do stress techniques, which help to lighten the load and carry you into a better frame of mind.

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April 24, 2019

#569 – Live Better with RA – Tip #5

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Image courtesy of Samantha Mesones.

Tip #5 – Laugh and/or Smile

I was recently reminded about the healing power of laughter. I had injured myself doing some leg exercises with weights, which were too heavy. (It’s a reminder that I’m more delicate than I think I am!) One evening, I watched a number of YouTube videos featuring this great observational comic, whom I found to be laugh-out-loud funny. The next day, I felt significantly better. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Find what tickles your funny bone and indulge.

The Power Behind a Smile

So, you haven’t had a good laugh in awhile. Try on a smile for a boost of happiness. On page 37 in Connected – How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do, the authors explain:

If your friend feels happy, she smiles, you smile, and in the act of smiling you also come to feel happy. In bars and bedrooms, at work and on the street, everywhere people interact, we tend to synchronize our facial expressions, vocalizations , and postures unconsciously and rapidly, and as a result we also meld our emotional states.”

Even if you don’t feel happy, there’s value in turning that frown upside down. A study in the Association for Psychological Science shows that smiling, whether it be a Duchenne smile (the muscles surrounding both the mouth and eyes are engaged), or a standard smile, can help to reduce the body’s stress response:

The results of the study suggest that smiling may actually influence our physical state: compared to participants who held neutral facial expressions, participants who were instructed to smile, and in particular those with Duchenne smiles, had lower heart rate levels after recovery from the stressful activities.”

It can be hard to smile and laugh when you are enveloped in a red-hot flare, when sleep is elusive and the worries accumulate faster than ants on your picnic table. You want to  break the cycle, so you have to start somewhere. A smile, even faked, can be of value. Combine it with a lot of the other strategies you’ll find on this blog and that faked smile may just become real.

Do it for the health of it!

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