By Dr. Amy Haas
We do too much. We multi-task, we schedule, we juggle, and we email, text and twitter constantly to stay up-to-date. We stress ourselves to the last strand of sanity by trying to cram all we can into our busy days – and then we rob ourselves of sleep (both in quality and quantity) in order to finish what we just “had” to get done that day. Where does this leave us? Spent.
The five tenets of Healthy Living are this: 1. Eat well. 2. Exercise. 3. Avoid toxins. 4. FEED YOUR SOUL. (And of course 5. Keep your nervous system working at 100%!) How many of you fulfill the fourth tenet? What was the last thing you did to feed your soul?
For me, playing outside in the fresh air is soul food. I ate a bunch of it this weekend, in Northern NH’s White Mountains. I snowshoed up Mt. Willard to enjoy an awesome view, and I cross-country ski’d in Bretton Woods around the famous Mount Washington Hotel (a little longer than I had planned, actually, about 20K… but all’s well that ends well!) Even as much as I love climbing in the summer and swimming in lakes and rivers, there is nothing like strenuous exercise in 15 degree temperatures in the mountains, where the air is so clean you it just tastes fresh, and the snow crunches under your feet and dances in the sparkling sunlight. As the Norwegians say, “There is no bad weather, only bad gear!” and I know how to stay warm!
Why is it so important to mentally “check out” and feed your soul? Well, constant stress raises your levels of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is an important hormone to have around to help you through short-term challenges. However, when it hangs around in too-high quantities for too long, it starts to wreak havoc on the rest of your body – including your immune system, and your nervous system. The simple act of taking a “you” break can lower cortisol levels, and can increase both mental and physical wellness.
So take some time this weekend, and find something to feed your soul. It’s hungry and its stomach is growling =)