I was gazing out of my den window at the leaves falling off the trees. As the leaves were falling off the trees one by one, I began thinking about the animals and plants that hibernate during the winter months and how we may spend more time indoors, except of course for people who are avid winter sports enthusiasts. Although, even winter sports enthusiasts may spend more time indoors. While true hibernation is a state whereby animals sleep, it can be thought of as a torpid or resting state with minimal
physical or mental activity. Animals who hibernate emerge in the spring ready to resume their usual level of activity
We may not go dormant, but I began thinking that metaphorically speaking, many of our activities can be thought of as going inward in a way that is akin to hibernation.
Besides spending more time indoors in general, we gather with family and friends for holiday celebrations, rekindling relationships with those with whom we may not have seen for a while. In colder climates, we enjoy the coziness of a fire and a warm blanket, or bundle up with layers, hats, scarves, and the like.
It brought me to thinking that this is a good time for us to go inward so we can do the inside work on ourselves so that we may continue to live the best version of ourselves.
IMpathy®, the word I trademarked, is just that. I describe it as the inner version of empathy, caring for yourself in the important areas for your well-being. After trademarking the word, I used the letters as an acronym for a letter to self committing to areas of self-care:
H.Healthy (which includes nourishment: nutrition and hydration)
Y. Yours truly,
As it relates to hibernation, we can think of this time as the planting of the seeds for our well-being. Laying the important groundwork so we have a healthy, vibrant outcome.
No matter what stage or age, it's never too late. As it is said. "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now."
What seed will you plant for yourself, will you write a commitment letter to yourself, so you can continue to live as healthfully as you possibly can.
The components of a conscious healthy aging process include commonly accepted pillars of wellness.
Preferences in each area will likely differ from individual to individual.
However, there are some rules of thumb worthy of consideration.
It is well documented that older adults should have some form of physical activity on a daily basis. It not only improves overall health but also reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. This includes at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity on a weekly basis or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous physical activity. However, slow, consistent, sustained activity can be as beneficial as vigorous exercise. A sustained is activity such as gardening, which done consistently is considered as a low to moderate to high intensity activity. The tasks involved: weeding, mulching, hoeing, sowing seeds, harvesting, watering, mixing growing medium, and planting are moderately intense physical activities benefiting the upper body, arms, core and legs. Even routine housework, done consistently, can be considered beneficial physical activity.
Vacuuming, dusting, cleaning windows, etc. all have tremendous benefits for the upper and lower body. Do you have what you need in your present daily routine that will offer you the benefit of movement?
We all know about healthy eating. It is important now more than ever. Much of our food is lacking in the nutrients needed by our bodies and our mind. In previous blogposts I’ve written about Blue Zone Eating habits. Whether or not you choose to adopt a Blue Zone style of eating, there are numerous alternatives that offer foods that are more nutritionally beneficial. As it is said, eat more food that grown on plants, rather than food that’s made in plants. Do your eating habits reflect these choices?
This is an important area that many do not consider when thinking about wellness. Optimally, the body requires half of its body weight in ounces of water/day. The skin is the largest organ, covering 90% of our body. In addition, our mucous membranes, those that lead to the air, need moisture. (i.e., our eyes, nose, mouth, etc) and our physiologic system needs water to flush out toxins.
Similar to a car that requires lubricants, the body requires water. One would not think of running the car without oil in the engine, water in the radiator, or gas in the tank. The end-result would be a breakdown of the finely tuned machine.
Strategy: If not already doing so, there are strategies you can implement to begin drinking more water each day. For one week try a glass before and after each meal. The following week increase in-between meals. Notice the difference in your skin, digestion, etc.
Good days start with good rest. I’ve heard many people say they function well on 4 or 5 hours sleep/night.
However, the body actually requires 7-8 hours to function optimally. Adequate sleep helps with hormonal balance which keeps your heart healthier, reduces stress, boosts mood, helps maintain blood sugar at consistent levels, increases productivity, increases exercise performance, and can improve memory.
People who get less sleep also tend to carry more weight. The body is in recovery and rejuvenation mode when at rest.
Strategy: If falling asleep is an issue, establishing a regular sleep routine and incorporating strategies like avoiding social media, the phone, or TV before bedtime may be strategies that will help you get the rest your body needs.
Isolation and loneliness can be true killers.
Maintaining a circle of friends and community connection is integral to successful aging. Studies have shown that people who enjoy an increasing number of social connections are happier, they have lower anxiety and depression, higher level of self-esteem, and lower blood pressure. It has been said that social connections are good for brain health and can even lower your risk of dementia. It also promotes a sense of safety, belonging and security and gives a person the opportunity to share experiences, develop friendships and find people in whom they can confide when its most needed. Do you feel socially connected? If not, what can you do to develop more social engagement in your family and/or your community?
Oftentimes, though we know all of the above, it's difficult to commit and maintain the regimen that keeps us on track in all of these areas. There is a way for you to develop what I call a Wellness Action Plan or Longevity Care Plan. Feel free to email me if you'd like to learn more.