I’ve been writing for over 20 years now (!). I continue to be surprised that simplicity is often the best solution to the health problems people face. But simplicity seems difficult. Why is simplicity a challenge? I don’t have an answer, but I do have a theory. I think it’s hard because we actually want complexity. It’s as if the complexity and difficulty of what we have to do will validate the challenge ahead of us.
I’ll give you an example. Allergic asthma can be a very scary situation. There’s nothing simple or easy about not being able to breathe. That said, the answer to some allergic asthma could be as simple as changing your cleaning strategy at home or avoiding the situations that might a be a trigger. Better cleaning might mean using a HEPA vacuum cleaner more regularly, choosing fragrance-free products, or getting rid of any mold and mildew. Check out some ideas in this article I wrote for Everydayhealth: http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/allergic-asthma-in-adults/allergic-asthma/
Very interesting writing in the August 2015 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggests that even a small amount of daily meditation (12 minutes) could bolster cognitive abilities, memory, sleep, and help reduce stress in people who are experiencing cognitive decline. The author goes a bit further and suggests this could prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is profoundly complicated, and it seems that the more researches dig into it, the more its course resembles the very tangled protein plaques that define it.
I will say this about meditation, as I have been practicing it daily now for a while (and off and on since my 20s) – I do believe that a regular practice could improve one’s quality of life mentally, physically, and spiritually, regardless of where your health journey is taking you. Meditation would perhaps be even more beneficial for the caregivers of people who are experiencing cognitive decline. One of my articles about stress management has been picked up by a caregivers website, and I am sharing it here for anyone who needs some ideas during stressful times. (http://www.caregiversamerica.com/company-blog/10-tips-to-help-you-de-stress)
Personally I am working with the meditation approach taught by John Main and others in the WCCM community (www.wccm.org) There are, however, no magic bullets in this approach. The lasting benefits of meditation seem to come through daily practice over an extended period of time – but almost anyone would probably feel a bit more in control and less stressed by taking at least a few minutes to close their eyes, sit, breathe, and let go of the worries and anxieties that roll constantly through the mind!
One of the most challenging aspects of my work is finding people who are living with health conditions and asking them to share their story with the whole world. I am always amazed, and touched, by people’s willingness to do this. I’ve discussed some very difficult subjects with people who are in the trenches. I’ve talked to people about their thoughts of suicide, how their marriages have survived despite serious physical and mental health challenges, and how they feel about the loss of their mobility and independence. We’ve talked openly about conditions that can lead to significant embarrassment and stigma, such as inflammatory bowel disease and severe skin conditions. For these conversations, and all the ones to come, I am very grateful. When I worked in health and medical public relations, we knew that putting a face on a disease or condition would make it real to readers and viewers. There’s always the difficulty when you do this of respecting people’s privacy and being realistic with them about the outcome of the piece. Most people want to share their story because they feel — correctly, I think — that if their story can help just one person feel less alone or make a healthy decision, the sharing is worth it. That’s how we connect as social creatures, learning from one another and supporting each other along the way. Yet even as I believe in that positive aspect of discussing difficult situations, I strive always to honor the stories of the people I write about. Here’s an example, if you are interested, featuring the story of one of the most memorable men I’ve spoken with: http://www.everydayhealth.com/diabetes/suicide-and-diabetes-what-caregivers-should-know.aspx
I love to cook! I do! Even when my little guys are either clinging to me and begging me to do something else, or trying to help me. (On a side note, I love cooking with my kids and it’s wonderful as they grow older to see how much more they can do and to know that they are building a little internal recipe box so they can feed themselves, at least some of the time!) Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that we’d all be healthier if we knew how to cook. It’s worth learning about food, and cooking, and trying new recipes. But I also get that sometimes it’s tiring to plan, and shop, and prep, and all that. So here’s a handy little guide to cutting down on the tiring part of cooking: http://www.everydayhealth.com/pictures/tip-guide-fatigue-free-healthy-meal-prep/?xid=tw_everydayhealth_sf#01
Having a blah day? I am. A little blue? Me too. But here’s the good news – listening to upbeat music that makes you feel happier really does make you happier. Seems circular, but it’s true. For me, that’s Imagine Dragons, New Orleans music, and more. What’s on your playlist? http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/choose-music-to-boost-happiness-3267.aspx