MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “health”

Reaching the limit

https://kaufmanhealthandhormonecenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Kaufman-health-and-Hormone-Center-exhausted.jpgThe thing with exhaustion is that you only realise it has overwhelmed you when you start to make mistakes. And if you don’t do something about it in time, it may prove disastrous.

People get tired. It’s a part of life. We often push ourselves to our limits because we are determined we can do more, we can be better, more productive, more responsible, more efficient, more organised…just…more. We live in an era when multitasking is considered the norm. But what this does to your physical and mental abilities – let alone your psychological state – is disregarded.

We begin to feel tired but prefer to take vitamin supplements rather than get some rest.

We even fall sick but choose to heal with pills and freshly-squeezed orange juices instead of relaxing a little.

We collapse from exhaustion when we have ignored all of the signs our body is sending us. But then it takes twice as long to return to what we see as “normal”. To doing numerous things at once and at the end of the day complaining that we did not have enough time to do everything we were contemplating in the morning. Time is always an issue. But the fact that we run low of energy is simply an obstacle for modern society.

Perhaps we need to slow down and set priorities. To do a few things within the day and do them right, rather than do numerous haphazardly.

The most difficult part is acknowledging that you’ve reached this state and you need to permit yourself to relax, take a breath and believe that you can do everything if you firstly take care of your own self.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Permit

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A bear’s hug

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/8e/3e/b0/8e3eb09506dff6e2cd81d149af2cf39d.jpgNo matter how strong you are or feel you ought to be, there comes a time when you too feel vulnerable and weak and just need someone to come over and give you a bear hug. You know, that tight hug, were the other wraps their arms around you, almost immobilizing you. That powerful embrace that makes you feel you’re not alone because you can feel the other person’s heart beating on your chest. It’s that cuddle we all need to feel warm inside. The one where you seem to be holding the other person in your grasp, but you are really touching their soul.

We all need a hug once in a while. For more reasons than the simple pleasure of feeling closer to someone dear to us.

When we hug someone, that nurturing touch enhances our sense of trust and safety. But it also allows oxytocin to be released into our bodies by our pituitary gland, lowering both our heart rates and our cortisol levels, helping us soothe feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.

Holding a hug for an extended time also increases our serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.

Hugging boosts self-esteem because it is associated with the feeling that we are loved and special.

Hugging relaxes muscles and releases tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain, as they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.

Perhaps most importantly, however, “hugs are so much like meditation and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath”.

So no matter your age, your state or occupation, give hugs freely and receive them just as openly. They are vital for our survival and will certainly make your day.

Stronger than you

https://daabrams.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/img_8403.jpgEvery person has a story to tell. And unless you know what that story is, you really are in no position to judge, criticise, or make fun of them. No matter how light-heartedly it may be. Because you surely don’t know what the person hides behind the smile they constantly wear, or the glimmer that is so apparent in their eyes. You can’t tell if what they are laughing at may be burning them down inside.

If you take a moment and observe the world around you, the people with whom you are surrounded by each and every day, you’d be amazed at the vastness of different tales that exist. Personal tales of courage, of strength, of survival. People who have fought diseases and won, others who are fighting them every day. These latter ones are perhaps the boldest, because it is harsh knowing that what you have cannot be cured. At least not yet.

That is what the theme of today (25 May 2016) is: #WorldMSDay. It is about raising awareness about an illness that creeps slyly into people’s lives and sticks with them, no matter how insistently they try to shake it off. Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, one that has been described as the disease of 1000 faces, because it affects everyone differently. People are forced to live with it and go along their lives, working, partying, exercising, like everyone else. Just not. Because they have to fight harder. They also have to face the uninvited and unintended (sudden) onsets of fatigue, of somewhat intense mood swings, of becoming more introvert at times. Now, if you’re a woman, once a month you face similar reactions in a more insane manner. But it’s not the same. And it is certainly not something that is easy for others to understand. Nonetheless, like this year’s theme (#StrongerthanMS) demonstrates, people diagnosed with MS can also be productive members of society, just like everyone else – athletes, politicians, actors, educators, professionals, musicians, anything – and here is a list of celebrities diagnosed with MS to prove it.

You don’t really fully comprehend any of this until it becomes part of your life too. A few years ago, I met a person giving his own battle daily. And he is one of the strongest people I know. Because it takes courage to make your private story public. To let people in to your thoughts and make them aware of the challenges you face. But like C.S. Lewis said, “hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny”. Because sometimes, things happen so we live a better and fuller life. And people who realise the futility of most things we anguish about daily, are the ones who know best how to appreciate the small things, the simple moments that make life great.

It is not the people who run after the spotlight who deserve it, it is the ones who fight alone in the shadows, for they are the ones who offer inspiration.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Pensive

Bulletproof

http://1cqgxm3l59yi2wwbnn3qy35h.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/sunroom-on-a-snowy-day-1-16.jpgShe woke up enveloped in her fluffy quilt. It was snowing outside, which resulted in it being freezing cold inside. It is strange, though, how she woke up far sleepier than when she went to bed late the night before. She decided to roll over and snooze the alarm clock one more time. But she had managed to wrap herself so tightly in the quilt that she couldn’t really move. It was easy to fall back asleep in the warmth of a comfortable bed.

The alarm clock buzzed for the third and last time.

Ashley knew that if she allowed herself to sleep through this one too, she would never get up in time. Andrew had challenged her to a cross-fit session that morning. She presumed it would be more fun if she went with a friend, and at least she might even go back for more after this one. Gyms were obviously not her favourite place.

But how do you convince yourself to get up in all that cold?

An email bleeped on her phone. The first thing she thought after reading it was that stupidity is everywhere. She was wide awake from aggravation as the message simply further demonstrated the incompetence of certain people who lack the capacity of comprehending their own limits and faults. She got up instantly and within half an hour was out of the door.

Working out does help your psychology. Because for that hour you are there, you manage to forget everything else. You become bulletproof. You are allowed to take out all your rage and aggravation, peaking your adrenaline levels, and then all of a sudden you feel so calm, as if nothing ever happened to distress you in the first place. It is certainly true what they say, that a healthy mind lives better in a healthy body, because it is not only about being physically fit that is important. It is about being happy about it too. About maintaining the proper attitude to be able to ignore certain things. To not allow trivial stuff to strike at your nerves. It is about reinforcing your organism’s shielding capacity and boosting your own mentality.

That way, even on freezing days, you can find the courage and determination to get out of bed, because you never know what an amazing day may lie ahead for you.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Ready, Set, Done

…And some pasta

shopping basketThere was a supermarket rush this week. Everyone for some reason or the other was hastily grabbing a shopping basket (or cart), stacking it up and then waiting endless minutes in line at the cashier to pack it all away and leave.

But that wasn’t the interesting part.

The most remarkable trait of this whole incident was what everyone was shopping.

And this largely also depended on the age group they were in.

For example, the two twenty somethings who had come in as if they had just emerged from a hippy concert at the beach somewhere, had filled their basket with snacks, beer, chips, biscuits, sausages, and some pasta.

Yet, the elegantly dressed woman in her forties in the next queue preferred to load up on fruit, frozen vegetables, meat, bread and crackers, olive oil, milk, and some pasta.

The much older 97-year old man who grabbed the opportunity offered by the long wait to start a conversation, had instead selected lentils and beans, some fruit, some canned foodstuff, and some pasta.

So what can be deduced by all this? It is all a matter of perspective – and age. It is also interesting to note how you tend to change nutritional values as you grow older. But maybe one thing is for sure: pasta is ever-lasting…

The Origins of Health

1_imgsize.aspThere is nothing better in life than good health,” wrote the poet Menander (4th century BC) and rhetorician Lucian (2nd century AD) agreed that “there is no benefit in possessing every good if health is absent”. Ever since the dawn of its existence, humanity has strived to achieve and maintain good health, while seeking to understand the causes of illnesses and searching for solutions to treat them. This remains one of mankind’s primary concerns – just consider the most common drinking toast (“to good health”). In an exquisite archaeological exhibition entitled HYGIEIA: Health, Illness and Treatment from Homer to Galen, The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, Greece, offers an unrivalled journey through the evolution of medical practices from 1200 BC to the 3rd century AD, with the aid of 282 artefacts from 41 museums in 7 European countries. But it is not just the artefacts that matter here, it is the knowledge residing behind them.

2_AsklipiosIn his epics, Homer refers to Asklepios as a mortal King of Trikke in Thessaly and a peerless physician. However, according to ancient myth, Asklepios was the son of god Apollo. He is later referred to as a demi-god, one who possessed the unique ability to grant health. From the 5th century BC onwards, his cult as the foremost healing god spread rapidly and endured even past the advent of Christianity to approximately 500 BC. Asklepios was that tall, mature, bearded man often figured clad in a long robe, leaning on a snake-entwined staff. A snake is a “chthonic” element, it crawls on the ground and is well aware of the herbs and nutrients the earth breeds; thus, also capable of distinguishing between the good and bad – in fact, in Greek the word for medicine (φάρμακο) is just an intonation away from the word for poison (φαρμάκι). The snake, however, is also the symbol of renewal because of its ability to shed its skin. It therefore became the sacred animal of the healing god and today is the international symbol of medical doctors.

Such symbolism is abundant: in the Ancient era, the trademark for physicians was an ancient medical cupping vessel, named “Sikya” because of its resemblance to the tubular fruits of the sikya plant. Trefoil juglets that stored opium resembled inverted poppy capsules (the ones that when slit leak out opium-bearing latex), while they also featured a snake on their handle, cautioning that opium may be used in small doses as an anaesthetic and for soothing pain, but in larger doses can cause damage due to its hallucinatory effect.

4_AsklepieioIn the ancient healing sanctuaries dedicated to the healing god and thus known as Asklipieia, patients seeking divine cure would be bathed and aromatized (a purgatory ritual to ensure good health and ethical purity). They would then sleep in the sanctuary (incubation), experiencing a divinely-inspired dream, where Asklepios would appear and offer advice. In the morning this would be interpreted by the sanctuary’s priests and the illness would be physically treated.5_ Hygieia

The incubation process was inspired by another symbol: one that depicts Sleep – the brother of Death – as a winged child at the feet of Hygieia found at the very entrance of this exhibition. Hygieia (Health) is one of the daughters of Asklepios and the goddess of good health. It is from her name that the name (and concept) of “hygiene” arises. Asklepios’ entire family was related to the health-treatment process: his wife Epione was the comforter of pain; his two sons Machaon and Podaleirios took care of injured Achaeans in the Trojan War; while there were also the daughters Acesó (goddess of the healing process); Iasó (goddess of healing); Panacea (the all-healing goddess); and a younger son Telesphóros (he who brings fulfillment and protected coalescing patients).

This “theurgic medicine” was so widespread because prevalent belief had it that the gods inflicted illnesses upon humans as a punishment for impious acts. 6_Anathima STATUE-570And since the cure of every illness was similarly godsent, people tried to appease the gods with prayers, magnificent sacrifices, and purifications. These also included votive offerings either before or after treatment, which took the form of objects (or ailing body parts) as a supplication to the gods. Centuries would pass before the divine provenance of disease was challenged and treatment dissociated from divine intervention. This occurred with the teachings of the Pre-Socratic philosophers (6th c. BC), which served as the foundation for rational scientific medicine. However, votive offerings still remain an integral part of Christian belief, especially in Greek Orthodox Churches.

Hippocrates (460 BC – 370 BC), today considered as the Father of Scientific Medicine, recorded about 60 ancient treatises in what is known as the Hippocratic Corpus. The medicinal use of healing herbs still used today, originated from thousands of years ago. For example, laurel as an antiseptic, emollient and cathartic; Crocus (or saffron) used for eye inflammation; Lykion (or Goji Berry) extremely well-known for its healing properties; Mandrake used as anaesthetic in surgeries (today is the emblem of the Hellenic Society of Anaesthesiology); and Mastic used, among others, to clean teeth and as a regenerative factor for a radiant complexion.7_ Iasis 1

Hippocratic physicians also emphasized the importance of diet in maintaining health as well as in treating disease. In antiquity, the word diet was not limited strictly to food, as it is nowadays; it expressed a broader concept, which also encompassed – and always in moderation – drink, physical exercise, baths, massages, sleep, sexuality, and a person’s habits and way of life in general.

According to Hippocrates, the human body encompasses four fluids or humours (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile). The balanced proportion of all four fluids, known as Eukrasia (good mix), is a main characteristic of good health, while the disruption of this balance (Dyskrasia) leads to the onset of various diseases.

Galen (129-216 AD), a prolific Physician from Pergamon whose theories dominated and influenced Western medicine up to the 17thcentury, tried to explain human behavior according to the fluid that prevailed in each human being. So, for example, a Sanguine person, in whom blood prevails, is sociable; a Phlegmatic person, in whom phlegm prevails, is relaxed and quiet; a Choleric person, in whom yellow bile prevails, is tense and aggressive; and a Melancholic person, in whom black bile (melaina cholé in Greek) prevails, is moody and introverted.

9_760374_Iasis_Installation_3In the ancient era, physicians were seen as the “healers of evil” and were greatly respected in society. They enjoyed an elevated status because of their specific skills. They were considered craftsmen, as well as “demiourgoi”, i.e. workers who labored for deme, the public good. Physicians were considered servants of mankind in general and travelled from place to place to practice their craft and offer their services to community. This is also what today’s doctors vow to do through their Hippocratic Oath. To continue practicing medicine, whose origins, as is evident, stem from centuries ago. And despite the fact that people – in their majority – no longer believe diseases are godsent punishes for irreverent human actions – deep down we all hope that someone can find a way to reverse them, to treat even the most incurable ones, and soothe the suffering for all.

 

* The exhibition “HYGIEIA. Health, Illness, Treatment from Homer to Galen” runs from 19/11/2014 until 31/5/2015 and a short video can be found here.

Is this really worth it?

heartbeatIt is strange how one single moment can affect your life in ways you could never imagine, or even expect. How one single blow, one missed heartbeat, one strain too many, can change your life forever. You don’t seem to realize this, until something happens and you receive a wake-up call. When you are shaken up and forced to change your perception on everything. On the way you live your life, on your priorities, on what you care about.

Seeing a loved one lying helpless and intubated in a hospital bed, does that to you. It shocks your system to the core and makes you re-examine every single thing in your life. You begin to wonder if everything or anything you are doing is really worth the trouble. If the long hours you work, the lack of holidays or any rest, the multitasking and the constant strive for top quality, are really worth it. Is it worth giving your all for so long without receiving any acknowledgement, recognition or gratitude, while you risk losing the only one thing that matters and keeps you alive – your health?

Maybe it is time to rethink about what really matters in life. Because in the end a job is just a job. And unless you own your own business, you will forever be treated as just another employee. So is it worth wasting away your time, health and energy for this? I used to believe that you should do your best under every circumstance and no matter what. Because that is what you have to show for yourself. But sometimes, that is not true. No matter what you do, your expectations (of others) are never met. And in the end, you are the one at fault on top of it all; simply because you cared too much.

I don’t like hospitals much. And I hate seeing people I care about lying helpless in a bed not knowing when they will be out of there. But these are the moments that get you thinking, that slap you up and awaken you, reminding you that your health is the most important thing of all. Isn’t that what we drink to anyway?

So, ask yourself this then: is this really worth it?

Also part of Daily Prompt: Ready, Set, Done

10+1 reasons why alarm clocks aren’t good for you

3183362-old-fashion-alarm-clock-ringing-shaking-and-jumping-like-mad
 1.      #economic crisis
Because every time you break an alarm clock while trying to shut it off means, besides having to get up, having to go and buy a new one. And that costs money. And who’s got that to spare?
 
2.      #painful
Because it hurts when someone throws it at you – accidentally or intentionally.
 
3.      #snooze
Because snoozing alarm clocks doesn’t really help. It makes you sleep less and annoys you even more. So in the end you wake up unnaturally tired. And irritated.
 
4.      #frightening
Because the sudden beeping, ringing, or whatever it is your alarm clock does, disrupts your natural (often peaceful) sleep pattern to the extent that you may even risk a heart attack from the scare!
 
5.      #hide_and_seek
Because nowadays phones are used as alarm clocks. How many times do you wake up trying to find where you hid your phone in an attempt to muffle its sound? You’re already late! Who has time for games?
 
6.      #ringing_in_ears
Because in your sleep you can’t often distinguish between the alarm ringing or someone calling, resulting in a list of unanswered calls you’ve snoozed. It’s even worse if you try to answer the alarm clock instead of the phone!
 
7.      #embarrassing
Because alarm sounds nowadays are so similar that you may wake up at dawn, thinking that someone is stealing your car and rush out in your pyjamas (if you’re wearing any) to check. Really?
 
8.      #company
Because wouldn’t you rather be woken up sweetly, with a tender kiss or a lick in the face? Get a companion, a partner, a pet. In the long term it’ll also be there when you’re not asleep!
 
9.      #disruption_social_relations
Because what if you’re trying to sleep on your day off and your roommate/neighbour’s alarm clock is right on time (as usual) and wakes you up too? Is it really worth the row with your roommate/neighbour? Again?
 
10.   #no_sense
Because alarm clocks have no sense of time. 7:00 is either am or pm depending on a dot. Seriously? Can you afford to lose your beauty sleep over that?
 
And finally:
 
11.   #lazy_is_not_an_option
Because alarm clocks remind you there is something you need to do…
 
Also part of the Daily Prompt: The Satisfaction of a List.

The Importance of Being Happy

“When I was in school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I wrote down happy.

They told me I didn’t understand the assignment,

I told them they didn’t understand life”

The pursuit of happiness is often thought of as a desperate urge to find something that will fill our lives. That will light up a spark. That will make us feel alive. However, now and again it is good to simply pause that pursuit and simply be happy. Even with the consoling thought that everything could actually be worse. And whatever the situation, there is also something or someone who is worse off.  Like Aristotle himself stated “happiness depends upon ourselves”. It is up to us to decide to be happy whatever the circumstance. If we keep moving forward, happiness is bound to follow.

Happiness, defined as the quality or state of feeling pleasure or joy, can be found in the simplest of things, the smallest of objects, the most remarkable places. For some it may be wealth and money; but for others it is much more, or rather less. It can be like Linus says a thumb and a warm blanket. It can be a tight hug from a person you care about. Holding hands with the one you love. Snuggling in bed. Playing with a puppy. Listening to a kitty purr. Laughing so much your muscles ache. Falling in love. Knowing that someone cares for you and loves you back. Taking a road trip with friends. Constantly finding things in common with your partner. Feeling a sense of accomplishment. Happiness is many things. But it all starts from you alone.

Being happy is not easy. But as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. And happiness can be found even in the darkest of places, if only one remembers to turn on the light. “Happiness is not something ready-made; it comes from your own actions” (Dalai Lama).  It is wanting what you get and appreciating what you have.

In fact, even studies have shown that happy people live longer and healthier lives. Happiness is the opposite of stress, and happy, positive thoughts actually induce the production of chemicals in our bodies that enhance immunity, cell repair, and building strength. In addition, happiness is linked to optimism. Optimistic people see bad things as temporary and good things as permanent. Their positive expectation of good things helps them see and act on options and opportunities faster. Happiness also improves people’s ability to learn and remember things. There is a saying: you get what you look for. Optimists look for opportunities for a good outcome and tend to see opportunity more frequently, thus they are more likely to make lemonade when life gives them lemons.

Happier people are more attractive and being happier makes you more likely to be attracted to someone else. Obviously a smiling, cheerful person is much more worthwhile to befriend and talk to than a sorrow, miserable one.

Studies have shown that happy people are more willing to share their good fortune to help others than unhappy people. Happy people make the world a better place. Moreover, studies have also shown that happy people are luckier. They are often respected for their virtue and are more likely to find good outcomes when bad things happen.

In our world today, and under the current circumstances, it is not easy finding happiness. But “people are just as happy as they make up their minds to be” (Abraham Lincoln). It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or does. What is important is that inside you your heart beats in harmony, your soul is bright and you can feel the tranquility and peace of mind that truly being happy brings. People indeed may not remember what you say but they will certainly remember how you made them feel. And that is perhaps the most important emotion of them all.

“Rules for Happiness:

something to do,

someone to love,

something to hope for”

 ― Immanuel Kant

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Happy Happy Joy Joy

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