Creating a personal myth is a fundamental way we find meaning. We are always the protagonist, with supporting characters providing love and assistance and antagonists posing challenges that push us beyond our comfort zones. Rather than narcissism or navel-gazing, the more intimate we become with our own story, the more we realize that everyone has an equally valid and vital narrative in which they are the central character. Understanding that everyone is on their own story journey can help us establish connection and empathy.
Peer pressure and body consciousness are universal challenges facing teens and their parents. Experts find that by modeling healthy habits and maintaining open lines of communication, adults can help foster healthy independent thinking and responses to inevitable situations.
Eat less, move more. These words have been the cornerstone of diet advice for decades, leading millions of Americans to greet the new year with vows to cut calories and hit the gym. In all, one in five U.S. adults are dieting at any given time, according to the international market research firm The NPD Group, and 57 percent would like to lose 20 pounds or more. Yet few will reach that goal.
In The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Michael Pollan surmised that we’d be healthier if we ate the way our great-grandparents did. It would mean sticking to regularly scheduled meals instead of impulsive snacking, having a meat or protein item comprise only a quarter of our plate, adding fresh vegetables and eliminating junk food.
In restorative yoga, the peak pose is savasana—in which the practitioner fully relaxes while resting flat on their back. Leeann Carey, author of Restorative Yoga Therapy: The Yapana Way to Self-Care and Well-Being, explains, “This passive asana practice turns down the branch of the nervous system that keeps us in fight-or-flight mode and turns up the system allowing us to rest and digest. It feels like a massage for the nervous system and encourages self-inquiry, reflection and change, rather than perfection.”
Whether it’s playing dress-up, making forts from sofa cushions or drawing pictures, creative moments can define and distinguish a happy childhood. Yet it’s not all just fun and games, according to experts. Childhood creativity, nurtured both in the classroom and at home, is crucial for developing qualities such as sound decision-making, flexible thinking and mental resiliency.
Research from the University of Groningen, in The Netherlands, has found that young adults between 19 and 22 years old that don’t sleep well may have more chronic pain later in life. The researchers followed 1,750 people for three years.
A review of 21 clinical trials has found that just one daily serving of legumes can facilitate an average drop of three-quarters of a pound over a six-week period. Published in the journal Obesity, the research analyzed results from studies that tested a total of 940 men and women eating about three-quarters of a cup of beans, lentils, chickpeas and other legumes each day. The subjects reported feeling nearly one-third fuller on average after eating about 5.6 ounces of these foods with their meals, compared with a control group’s diet. These beneficial legumes may also reduce body fat percentages.
Since ancient times, gardens have been employed as a place of healing for body and spirit. Japanese healthcare providers prescribe shinrin-yoku, meaning, “walking in forests to promote health” or “forest bathing”. Its intent is to use sight, sound and smell to connect with nature through stress-reducing, meditative walks.
Even mainstream media have picked up on the many physical and mental benefits of walking, including weight loss, reduced stress, increased energy and better sleep, and that’s only the beginning. These additional compelling effects may well catalyze us to consistently step out for a daily walk, understanding that cumulative steps count, too. For more inspiration, check out this month’s race walking at the Summer Olympics.