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Reclaim the Right to Rest

A woman running through a field holding a lrge orange and green flag behind her jumping through the air.

Photo by ikostudio for Adobe Stock.

Rest is good, for everyone, but if we don’t acknowledge our own needs first, we are not as effective in our relationships with others. Taking time to be present in the moment and making conscious choices can dramatically improve our health and well-being and reclaim our life. Here are a few pointers and the mnemonic device “RECLAIM” to remember them.

R: Rest: Dysfunctional sleep patterns promote chronic disease development. Sleep is aligned with the night/day cycle of the Earth, and disruption in sleep homeostasis is inherently related to individual well-being. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Take in more daylight and limit exposure to artificial light. Avoid caffeine, heavy meals and alcohol before bed. Take time to unwind. Keep the bedroom dark, cool, clutter-free, quiet and comfortable.

E: Exercise: Risks conferred by sedentary behavior are mitigated by 21 minutes of physical activity for seven days (150 minutes per week). Keeping sedentary time to less than eight-and-a-half hours a day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease further. Studies show that regular exercise lowers the risk of developing anxiety by nearly 60 percent.

C: Connect: Socialize with supportive friends or family or pets. Cultivate a variety of relationship types, both local and long-distance. Mix and match virtual dates with faraway friends and walks with local pals. Volunteer at a charity, food bank or animal shelter. Join a book club or a meetup group. Cooking classes are a great way to interact with new people and learn new skills.

L: Lean Mass: Think of apple- versus pear-shaped bodies. If our waist is bigger than our hips, diseases start to brew. Sooner or later, they will surface. If there is one piece of food advice that is right for everyone, it is to stay away from chemicals.

A: Anxiety: Refined carbs like white flour, added sugars or fruit juices cause blood sugar to fluctuate, which worsens anxiety. Foods containing short-chain fatty acids are very important for mental health. Take deep breaths: 4-7-8 is a good place to begin. Inhale for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds and exhale for eight seconds. Any conscious breathing is beneficial, even one or two breaths.

I: Implement: Implementation of knowledge is wisdom, because knowledge cannot change anything until we take action.

M: Mindfulness: Take a quiet moment and pay attention to emotions. Conscious awareness of our inner state allows us to react intentionally. Start a gratitude journal. Meditate daily—even if just for a minute.

To contact Meena Malhotra, M.D., medical director at Heal n Cure, located at 2420 Ravine Way, Ste. 400, in Glenview, call 847-686-4444 or visit