5 Steps To a Healthier You
by Rita Louise, ND
Ever since woman got the rite to vote, the identity of many woman and womankind has been split between two separate ideals. These ideals have put many women into an uncomfortable position, one in which they find themselves moving uncontrollably from one side to the other. At one end of the spectrum, women are fighting for equality and personal power, not only in the workplace but also in their everyday lives. On the other end of the spectrum, woman are expected, no they have been taught, trained and groomed to care for and nurture their families, friends and loved ones. Looking at the two poles that make up this erratic pendulum, it is no wonder that many women are having a hard time achieving balance in their lives.
Balance in all things is critical to maintaining health, not only physical health, but emotional and spiritual health as well. In the hectic drive of today's world, many women forget to take care of their most important asset, themselves. In an effort to help woman of all ages learn to take care of and nurture themselves, here are 5 easy ideas you can use to bring balance and harmony into your life.
For years, we have heard how exercise is an integral part of achieving and sustaining good health. Exercise does more that keep your heart healthy and toned. Exercise improves the performance of your lungs. It improves your circulation by increasing the exchange rate of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Exercise activates many internal mechanisms, which help to cleanse and tonify the body. Exercise also stimulates endorphins, which help to reduce stress, fight depression and lift your spirits.
Exercise is not only aerobics, weight lifting, cycling or jogging. This level of exertion isn't necessary to have and maintain balance in our lives. If you are not engaged in any kind of exercise program, begin one. Simple acts such as walking, yoga and even stretching can have a beneficial effect on your body and spirit. Incorporate one of these activities into your daily routine. Pick a specific time of day. Give yourself 5 or 10 minutes a day to work on your physical well-being. As you become comfortable with the activity, increase its length. Add another 5 minutes every week or two. Is this asking too much for yourself?
Eating right is another key toward having and maintaining health and balance in your life. As our society changes and the basis of life becomes accelerated, many of us get trapped in the idea that faster is better. How many times have you found yourself getting frustrated as you sit in your car waiting in line at a fast food restaurant? Or watch as the clock ticks away, counting down the seconds until the microwave announces that your food selection is ready?
In order to fuel the fires of our being, we need to consume the right blend of nutrients in order for our bodies to function correctly. Would it surprise you to find out that many of the fast and convenience foods available today lack many of the vitamins and minerals we need? In fact, the main components of many of these foods include white flour, saturated or hydrogenated fats and sugar. While they may taste good and fill our non-discriminating stomachs, they lack nutritional value. They are just empty calories looking to be consumed.
Eating healthy is easy. Reduce or eliminate processed or convenience foods from your diet, replacing them with whole grains, chicken and fish. Try to incorporate a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables into your food regimen, looking to eat a leafy green salad and a piece of fruit daily. Even with these small changes in your diet, I think you will find a healthier, happier you.
Vitamins & Minerals
Hand in hand with eating healthy is the use of vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements. Food production has dramatically changed the nutritional value of the foods we eat. As plants grow, they absorb minerals from the earth, making them available to us in a form our bodies can utilize. Modern farming has stripped the soil of many of the minerals we require. Common industrial fertilizers, while providing the plant with the basic nutrients it needs to grow, lack the full spectrum of minerals originally found in the earth, many of which we ultimately need to survive.
Even individuals that consume a healthful diet may lack certain vitamins and minerals we need. By taking a high quality vitamin and mineral supplement you will be taking yet another step toward ensuring you are getting all of the nourishment your body needs.
Stress is a word we are all too familiar with. If it is not the job, it is the kids. If it isn't the kids, it is some unexpected expense you haven't budgeted for. Let's face it, stress is accepted as a basic part of our lives. When we are whole in body, mind and spirit, we do not experience stress. We experience stress when we choose to hold onto energies and emotions as opposed to accepting them and allowing them to flow through us, or "to roll off our backs". Many times, fear is the underlying emotion that traps us. While we may not think it is on a conscious level, there is always some part of us that is afraid. We are afraid to let go or afraid to make changes in our lives, even if these changes will bring us a sense of peace and harmony.
Stress reduction is an integral part of bringing balance back into your life. Stress has been identified with burnout and fatigue, a lowered immune system and an increase in free radical damage.
There are a number of simple things you can do to help reduce or eliminate the stress you are experiencing in your life. Meditation, for example, is a great technique to use. Meditation can be either active or passive. Active meditation includes exercise, drawing or dancing. Even activities such as doing the dishes or raking the lawn can have a relaxing therapeutic effect.
Meditation can also be passive utilizing techniques such as concentration, breath control and even creative visualization. Each of these activities distracts the conscious mind and allows unwanted thoughts and emotions to drain away.
There are times, however, that the only way to eliminate stressors from our lives is by making behavioral or lifestyle changes. These changes can include quitting an undesirable job, ending a failing relationship or even saying "No" to a needy friend or relative. While these changes may seem radical, in the end many woman find them freeing.
Through my work, I have found countless woman who do not know what they want, need or desire. They have spent a majority their lives "taking care" of someone else. When asked what they want, many of them just don't know. They have never taken the time to ask themselves these important questions. They were not taught to take care of themselves or the importance of honoring their needs or their needs and desires are just as important as everyone else's. Why should they? It is not part of our society.
So how do you figure out what your needs and desires? I have found journaling to be an excellent way to help you clarify your thoughts, needs and desires. Journaling gives you the opportunity to separate out your feelings from those around you. It gives you the opportunity to figure out who you really are.
Journaling is an easy technique to master. Buy yourself a blank writing book, staple together some scrap paper or sit in front of your computer, taking a few minutes each day to write to yourself. As yourself questions like: What do I want? What do I need? What kinds of things make me happy? Where am I going in my life? Where do I want to go? As you start to explore some of these questions, take the time to listen to your answers. Be honest with yourself. What is the point of lying, you will only be deceiving yourself.
Once you have completed this stage, give yourself permission to have it, get it or work toward it. Create goals and work toward them. Ask your friends and families for their support and blessings. With each and every step you take, no matter how large or small, you are creating more and more balance in your life. That's right, give it a try. You might be surprised.
In today's hectic world, the pendulum of a woman's life swings violently from one side to the other. If you hold equality in one hand and nurturing in the other, what do you find in the middle.Yourself. Take the time to give to yourself daily. Giving to yourself, honoring yourself and loving yourself is important. As you take the time to eat right, exercise, meditate or fulfill your own need, you will begin to experience a sense of empowerment, peace and harmony. Each step that you take will help to bring the scales back into balance. Did you ever think that a mere 30 minutes a day could give you so much?
© Rita Louise
Dr. Rita Louise is a Naturopath, Medical Intuitive, lecturer, teacher and the author of the book entitled "The Power Within". Visit the author's web site at http://www.soulhealer.com.