Archive for the ‘General Wellness’ Category

The Practice of Meditation

Posted on: April 25th, 2016 by healthy1 No Comments

The lawyers I know have great stories of being overworked, stressed out and sleep deprived. Is it possible to reverse all of those effects with one simple activity? Making yourself more productive, less stressed and even sleeping more efficiently? Meditation may be your answer.

Meditation has proven health benefits such as lowered blood pressure, boosting immune health and even slowing aging! For me it was not an easy activity to accomplish. I would either sit and create a to-do list or fall asleep. I took classes with professionals and could never quite get it. Similar to my yoga practice – it took me at least four months of practicing 3-4 times per week until I could quiet my mind and focus on the yoga itself. Now on to mastering meditation.

Below are some of the researched benefits of meditating. If you are not feeling as healthy, happy and energetic as you should; this is an easy place to start. See our other blog posts for the best free resources for meditation ~ especially for beginners.

  • Mental Health: Meditation improves memory and attention, even increasing self control. The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine published a study documenting those effects in individuals with memory loss (honestly, I think we all could use a boost in the memory department). The benefits were attributed to improved blood flow to the brain – simply by meditating twelve minutes a day for eight weeks! We all can find twelve minutes a day to improve our health.
  • Emotional Health: The Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand published a study comparing cortisol levels (the stress hormone) pre and post meditation. They found that mindfulness meditation lowers the cortisol levels in the blood suggesting that it can lower stress and may decrease the risk of diseases that arise from stress such as psychiatric disorders (anxiety and depression), peptic ulcer and migraine.
  • Physical Health: decreases inflammation, and dependency on drugs and alcohol. A study conducted at the University of Vienna by Dr Hackl showed highly significant effects of Sahaja Yoga Meditation on drug consumption. The retrospective questionnaire showed that 97% of chronic drug consumers stopped taking drugs, most of them at the beginning of the Meditation practice, i.e. 42% after the first week of meditation, 32% after the first months (Hackl, 1995).

The Infographic below taken from Emma Seppala, phD outlines even more reasons to meditate.

Emma Seppala, PhD

Emma Seppala, PhD

The easiest way to start meditating is to set aside 2 minutes each morning. Find a quiet space, sit, close your eyes and count your breaths. It may be two minutes, it may be ten. Set an alarm if you need to. Allow your mind to wander but bring it back to the slow, deep breathing that you’re focusing on. When you master that first few minutes you can add more time, get more complex and start to master other facets of meditation.

Delegation – Tips for Time Management

Posted on: February 15th, 2016 by healthy1 No Comments

According to Study.com, delegation is a common practice in contracts law. Delegation occurs when a party to the contract transfers the responsibility and authority for performing a particular contractual duty to another party. Delegation doesn’t involve the transfer of contractual rights.

Being a lawyer is exhausting. Billings are based on hours worked so what is the normal response – work more hours. Is it possible to be professionally successful and not neglect your homelife, your family and yourself? It is! Simply delegate your tasks at home.

Laundry, shopping, time with family, friends, how do you fit it all in? The art of delegation – determine what your time is worth and delegate anything that isn’t worth that time. Are you worth $250 an hour? Can you pay someone less than that to clean your house, do your laundry, run your errands, fill your car with gas? Then you should. Everything from moving to shopping to cleaning can be accomplished by one phone call to a company like Task Rabbit. Outsourcing has never been easier!

The options are endless if you look for them. Virtual assistants for research, answering emails, scheduling clients. Life is almost entirely automated now. Use that to your advantage and have assistants forward only important messages to you – those of a personal nature or those that require your decision making skills.

delegation

Outsource everything possible. Start by determining your needs.

  • Do you live alone or have a large family with children?
  • Do you rent or own?
  • Do you have a vehicle or rely on public transportation?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Are you looking to create more time for a healthy lifestyle?
  • Find yourself eating out a lot or just don’t have the time to prepare healthy meals?
  • What type of law do you practice? Do you find yourself primarily in the courtroom or the office?

Different circumstances call for different assistance and if you can imagine it there’s someone out there to take care of it for you. The newest technologies are designed to “take the place of mom”. Any task that mom used to do for you can now be paid for so you can spend quality time on you.

Top Supplements to Combat Stress

Posted on: February 2nd, 2016 by healthy1 No Comments

Being a successful attorney is a dedicated, time consuming task. Finding an adequate life-work balance is key. Adding a few supplements to your routine can improve your energy, your concentration, lower your stress and decrease your incidence of all disease!  Let’s get started!

  • A high quality Multi-Vitamin – How do you know what qualifies as a “high quality” product? Supplements are not as regulated as they should be and there are quite a few distractions out there. An easy rule of thumb is to purchase only through your functional medicine professional. They are physicians trained in the use and distribution of supplements so they will know what you should take and what to stay away from based on your medical conditions as well as prescription interactions. Look for a product that is copper free.
  • Magnesium – Magnesium is beneficial in almost every body process. It acts as a muscle relaxant – smooth muscle, skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle. It helps with heart conditions – irregular heart beat, high blood pressure and can minimize the spasms of arteries. It can help with sleep by acting like melatonin, it can decrease muscle spasms and even improve your mood! A deficiency in magnesium can be linked with anxiety, migraines and pain. Magnesium deficiencies can be caused by stress – both physical and emotional. We recommend our clients consume 3-4.5mg of magnesium per pound of body weight; if you weigh 150 pounds you should be taking between 450mg and 675mg daily. See this link to determine which type of magnesium is right for you! Magnesium Options
  • Probiotic – Probiotics are the good bacteria that lives in your gut and helps you not only digest food but fight off the bad bacteria we’re exposed to on a daily basis. They also help your gut communicate with your immune system and restrict immune over-reactions including inflammation. Probiotics are also key to vitamin absorption – they can increase Vitamin D levels by 25%! They should be consumed daily since most of us engage in behaviours that kill our gut flora daily such as having stress, drinking alcohol, taking antibiotics and eating sugar. Look for a probiotic that contains multiple strains (we recommend one with 10 different strains of bacteria) and of course it’s a live bacteria so it should be stored in the refrigerator.
  • Vitamin D – Some common conditions Vitamin D supplementation can improve are: blood pressure, depression and low back pain. If you’re looking to boost your immunity, vitamin D may be the answer! It controls the immune response in autoimmune conditions like diabetes, MS and arthritis. Meaning your body doesn’t attack itself. Vitamin D boosts the immune response your body has to invaders like bacteria and viruses. A good rule of thumb for supplementation is 1000IU/30lb of body weight; double that if you’re found to be deficient. There are a few categories of individuals that should NOT be taking vitamin D: sarcoidosis, melanoma, lymphoma or leukemia patients. 
  • Omega 3 FattyAcids – Foods high in Omega-3 include fish, vegetable oils, nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds, flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables. Studies have shown that heart attack survivors have reduced risk of another heart attack, stroke or death if they supplement with Omega 3. As a society our diets are too heavy in Omega 6 fatty acids. They are found in safflower oil, soybean oil, as well as poultry and eggs. (Try to limit or avoid these foods). A lower ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids is more desirable in reducing the risk of many of the chronic diseases. Omega 3’s help to decrease inflammation, improve your brain health and even reduce the risk of some cancers.

Your brain and your body are your tools! Take care of them from the inside out. It’s impossible to get all of your required nutrients from food so supplementing with the above will help you to function better. Take control of your health like you do your practice. Start with the supplements above. As always check with your functional medicine practitioner to make sure the recommendations above are appropriate for you.

Top 5 Symptoms of Stress

Posted on: January 11th, 2016 by healthy1 No Comments

It’s a new year, time for a new you. As an attorney, stress is probably at the top of your list. Is your resolution to lower your stress, manage your stress or eliminate it altogether? There are many techniques that can help mitigate the effects of stress. We use a variety of supplements to assist our clients manage the symptoms that stress creates. Read on to learn more about some easy options. Please discuss the suggested supplements with your functional medicine physician in case there are contraindications not disclosed here.

  • Joint Pain – The easiest thing to remember during a time of stress is to increase your hydration. We often turn to coffee or alcohol to help combat two other stress symptoms (sleep difficulties and irritability). Both coffee and alcohol can increase dehydration and joint pain. After adding in more water look for a high quality Glucosamine-Chondroitin-MSM supplement. We highly recommend Joint Support to many clients. It is made of shellfish so if you’re allergic stay away but otherwise it’s fantastic for nourishing connective tissue and cartilage. We also recommend tumeric-cucumin to help reduce inflammation and promotes circulation.
  • Insomnia – Sleep difficulties come in many forms. Not sleeping at all? Sleeping but not feeling rested upon waking or wake up multiple times during the night? Each has it’s own cause and contributing factors but the good news is they can all be helped! 5-HTP is a serotonin precursor and helps not only improve sleep but mood as well! A B6 deficiency can cause insomnia and increase stress so conducting a WBC vitamin test is imperative to test for these levels.
  • Anger, Irritability – Do you find that you have a short fuse? That you are quick to anger, irritable or easily annoyed? Do you lash out over seemingly innocuous behaviours? You may be exhibiting anger and not realizing it. Especially if you notice this happens after drinking alcohol it should be addressed immediately. Zinc and Ashwagandha are fantastic supplements to curb angry outbursts. Ashwagandha can decrease estrogen – excessive estrogen can sometimes cause unexplained irritability. Zinc helps not only impact the level of anger but can also assist with depression and anxiety.
  • Headaches – Does your stress cause headaches in the base of your skull or do you get frontal headaches that span above both eyes? Do you feel tight muscles pulling in your neck or a band wrapped around your head tightening like a vice? Typically a mild to moderate version of any of the above is due to stress. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and can help these pains almost immediately. Since headaches can be due to mitochondrial dysfunction we often also recommend CoQ10 which acts to improve the energy of mitochondria of the cells and thus improving their function. CoQ10 can also lower blood pressure!
  • GastroIntestinal Problems – High stress will disrupt your brain – gut interactions and result in a variety of gastrointestinal issues from constipation and diarrhea to more severe conditions like IBS. This happens by multiple pathways backfiring: blood flow decreases, gut permeability changes and even the bacteria in the gut can be modified. We us colostrum to heal the gut and probiotics to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria. Colostrum should be taken on an empty stomach twice daily. Start at 1/4 tsp and work your way up. Probiotics should always be taken with food, they should be refrigerated and should contain a variety of strains. We most often use one that has 12 different strains of bacteria and 25 billion CFU’s per pill (I take the powdered version which contains 100 billion CFU’s in 1/4 tsp).

There are many diet modifications that can improve stress levels.  Lowering sugar and alcohol, increasing hydration and activity can automatically help you to feel better.  If the stress is getting to be too much, make sure to reach out for help or assistance. There are many lawyer assistance programs waiting and ready to help. For information on local lawyer assistance programs, click here.

Stand Up For Your Health

Posted on: November 18th, 2015 by healthy1 No Comments

After we get up in the morning, we sit at the breakfast table, sit during our commute to work, sit all day at the office, sit for lunch, sit commuting home, and sit in front of the TV, desk or kitchen table for the remainder of the evening. It’s important to find a way to stand more each and every day.

Sound familiar? I’m writing this sitting at a popular coffee spot in Chicago, sitting for almost two hours, only stood up twice. I know the dangers of sitting more than anyone and yet can’t escape them.

Have you taken an inventory of your habits? Most of us wear a digital device to help track our activity but do you pay attention to your inactivity? Take an inventory today – how long have you been at your desk? Do you take regular breaks? Get up and stretch or go for a walk? Use these tips in and around the office:

  • Take frequent breaks. Ideally every 90 minutes. Take a walk around the office and get some air. Head outside if you can and take five deep breaths. Take a few minutes and meditate; relieve some stress, clear your mind. Do not use your phone or other technology; allow your brain to reset.
  • Get a stand up desk. Even if you only stand part of the day, it will provide some much needed variety. Standing all day can be just as detrimental as sitting, so mix it up. Depending on your job, if you can stand all day, give it a try. It may be possible to modify your current workspace or it may be necessary to purchase a new desk. But make sure you give standing a try before committing as these purchases may be expensive. Improper ergonomics can contribute to low back pain, neck pain and headaches so bring in a professional to align your work area.
  • Have your meetings walking. Remember the walk-and-talk from The West Wing? Stand up and practice that! Contribute to the health of your clients or staff by getting everyone to stand and walk! Walking while talking will help keep blood flowing. New environments may spark new ideas. If you’re fortunate enough to also hold these walking meetings outside you’ll see even greater benefits – fresh air and sunlight! Multitask while meeting: make deliveries to other departments; run errands; grab lunch while completing your meeting on the go.

As usual, variety is the spice of life. Stand, walk, sit, stretch. Mix things up throughout the day and even throughout the week. Work from different locations, in different positions and expect different results. Changing your routine can provide enhanced performance, better sleep and even improved health. It can lower your blood pressure, improve your insulin usage and even decrease your chance of stroke and heart attack. It’s never too late to start — read the next article standing!

Trouble Sleeping? Change these four habits!

Posted on: October 15th, 2015 by healthy1 No Comments

Despite being fundamental and vital to our daily lives, sleeping well often eludes the best of us. Many of the daily activities we choose to engage in —or choose to avoid — can affect our quality and quantity of sleep. Stress, hormones, diet and exercise play an important role in how we are feeling overall and how well we sleep. Sleep should be restorative — not only for your mind but also your body. It allows for healing to take place through tissue repair, produces growth hormone which regulates body composition, affects our metabolism, and may even affect heart function. Studies have even shown shown depressed immune functioning directly stemming from sleep deprivation; this reduced state of immunity mirrors what we experience during times of high stress.

Are you having trouble sleeping? The following remedies may help.

  • Set a schedule and adhere to it. Listen to your body. Do you get up every weekday morning at five to work out? Maintain the habit on the weekend. Nap if you must; but maintaining the same schedule when you rise will help to keep it habitual.
  • Keep the bedroom activities simple! The bedroom should be for two things – sleeping and intimacy. No need for a television, reading, texting, etc. Don’t work in bed — it weakens “the mental association between your bedroom and sleep,” according to Harvard’s Division of Sleep Medicine.
  • Minimize your bedroom guests. While it may be difficult “just say no!” Don’t allow the kids to set up shop in your room. Don’t train your children or pets to sleep in your bed. The National Sleep Foundation has found as many as 24 percent of parents have their children sleep in their beds for at least part of the night. It’s important to create and maintain a schedule where your children have their own space of retreat and it allows you the time not only to relax and recoup but also be intimate.
  • Keep the temperature low and the clothes to a minimum. The ideal sleeping temperature is somewhere around 65 degrees (Fahrenheit). Sleeping in as little clothes as possible.  Your body temperature naturally declines with sleep so having heavy layers of clothes on disrupts that natural inclination. Sleeping naked (gasp!) also helps regulate your hormones. In maintaining temperatures, your body may regulate your cortisol, melatonin oxytocin and growth hormone levels.

Implementation is easy – start tonight! Create your schedule, kick out the kids and the electronics, set the temperature down, get into the buff and have sweet dreams!

This post was originally published on October 15,2015 on American Daily News.