After what seems like an eternal wait, spring is finally here! The change of seasons is always a good time to take a good, honest look at your overall health and well-being. I call it a ‘Spring Tune-Up.’
And I’m not thinking only about your physical health, although that’s super-important. At the Tiffani Kim Institute Medical Wellness Spa, we take an integrative approach to health, realizing there’s no disconnect between the body, mind and spirit.
Dr. Dominic Gaziano practices Integrative Internal Medicine at our River North facility. What I love is that he works with patients on unique and individual solutions to their health challenges. He also regularly gives lectures on holistic approaches to stress management to fellow doctors and other medical professionals.
So I asked Dr. G to share about how the changing seasons affect our health – and what we women should do now that spring has finally arrived to make sure we’re in good shape mentally and physically. I think he’s the perfect one to ask, as he wrote a book called Feel Good Health, which actually takes a season-by-season look at wellness. He also writes a regular “Feel Good Health Now” blogon a range of health-related topics.
“Every season has a challenge and an opportunity,” says Dr. G. “Spring is a time of anxiety. In Chicago, it’s extra-anxiety because we have about three weeks of a ‘real’ spring. We’re getting over winter, coming out of hibernation. We’re starting new things in the spring. ‘Cabin fever’ is a little bit of a turning point for some people.”
Dr. G says spring is a good time to establish some nutrition and fitness goals for yourself, as well as to visit your doctor for an overall physical (including one that will examine any moles or skin changes you’ve noticed since your last exam). And it’s a good time to strengthen your personal “health community”—those friends you work out with, those folks at the farmers’ market that help you choose the best vegetables, etc. We’re social creatures, after all, and can use a helping hand when it comes to living well.
Because stress management is such an important part of Dr. G’s practice, he says it’s crucial that we use “spring (as) a time of assessment.” He suggests we look at six categories of stress he includes in Feel Good Health to become better aware of those in our lives – and find ways to deal with them more effectively. (Recognize any of these, ladies?)
• Occupational stress. This can be a jealous co-worker, a work environment that conflicts with your values – even the mere fact you feel overworked.
• Financial stress. The emotional pressures of this weigh on you all day long – and because of this ongoing recession, it’s affecting people in all income levels.
• ‘Significant other’ stress. Because we tend to put so many of our ‘emotional eggs’ in this basket, it’s especially tough when the person closest to us creates anxiety in our lives. Ironically, sometimes our greatest support can be our greatest stress! That’s why it’s important to find this support from people in other areas of our lives – if for no other reason than objectivity.
• Friends-and-family stress. It’s not always easy to turn off – or tune out – this source of stress, especially when you live with them! (An aside: don’t just rely on these people when you’ve got a problem. Think of small ways to reward and thank them when they offer you much-needed support.)
• Health-related stress. Another pressure that can weigh you down constantly. After all, it’s hard to concentrate on much else when you don’t feel your best.
• Environmental stress. Anything that bugs you – traffic, the weather, noise outside your home. These daily annoyances significantly add up over time.
The key, says Dr. G: “Try to figure out a plan to focus and deal with these categories.” That can mean everything from seeking better work/life balance, to finding ways to save money, to starting an exercise program that will help you lose weight and shrink your stress at the same time.
What a great way to ‘spring forward!’