- - Friday, September 2, 2016

Labor Day celebrates American workers. And the Department of Labor’s website describes Labor Day as “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.

For each of us, work is an integral part of us. A reflection of who we are – our purpose. We engage in work during our productive years to be inspired, stimulated and provide both for the larger good and for ourselves. Within the drive there is a call to reason balance and come to terms with the compelling statement: work to live, not live to work. After all, if we lose that balance (work with respect to other activities), whether it is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, our work is impacted – ultimately impacting our purpose … and who we are. Imbalance can result in us working harder, but being less efficient or effective; or not working at all. It is a dynamic juggling act. Here are a few reminders as you manage the demands of your work and other aspects of your life to maintain healthy balance.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know: About Balancing our Health Outside of Work

Schedule a health tune-up. While it is correct that healthcare providers treat us in our time of illness, they also are pivotal to help us maintain our health. Today, more than ever in our history, we are seeing great results from prevention and a yearly checkup may spot an illness before it spirals out of control. In addition, it serves as a reminder or “wake up call” to maintain a healthy weight, eat balanced meals, and remain active.

Schedule Active Time. Physical activity is not just good for our physical health but also our mental health. An active lifestyle helps to maintain a healthy weight. And obesity is a risk factor for a number of chronic illnesses along with leading killers of Americans—heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.

Physical activity also stimulates the release of endorphins. And did you know that the word endorphin is derived from the two words “endogenous” and “morphine?” Thus, the term refers to a chemical that originates within the body and is morphine-like. This has widespread benefits on our overall well-being from improving energy levels and increasing alertness to being an effective weapon against stress.

Make the time to take 20 to 30 minutes per day to go for a walk, run, swim, bike or throw around a ball. As Robin S. Sharma eloquently stated, “If you don’t make time for exercise, you’ll probably have to make time for illness.”

Schedule Downtime – and Unplug. Schedule time with your family and friends, and activities that help you recharge. And unplug — watching television, texting or surfing the Web can steal valuable connection time. It is important to enjoy our meals and attention away from detecting signals that demand instant attention. Additionally, the bright screens before bedtime not only supplant calming activities - reading, prayer, meditation, listening to music - that can help us get a good night’s sleep, they also suppress our body’s production of melatonin. Melatonin (not melanin the natural pigment found in our skin) is the sleep hormone that helps us get our ZZZ’s. Create a time where technology is off limits and utilize it to enjoy our family and friends, rest or relax.

Let Go: It is our responsibility to let go of things (and people) that waste time and energy. Experts agree it is important to take stock of activities that don’t enhance your career or personal life, and minimize the time you spend on them.

Relaxation Goes A Long Way: Whether it is a shower, a bath, a cat nap, meditation, time reading, walking – or just wandering. The time invested in relaxing has great health benefits. Research shows that practicing relaxation techniques can reduce muscle tension, fatigue, sleep disturbances, chronic pain, and symptoms of stress by slowing your heart rate and decreasing stress hormone levels. It can also increase blood flow to major muscles and improve concentration and your mood.

Sleep: While work-related challenges can rob us of sleep – it is vital for our good health and well-being. In addition to short-term effects of sleep deprivation such as an inability to concentrate, irritability, and an increase in errors, it can be the catalyst for a number of chronic health problems ranging from migraines to dementia to weight gain. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults aged 26-64 years should get 7-9 hours of sleep and over the age of 65 years, 7-8 hours is recommended.

So, as we enjoy our Labor Day and pay tribute to the legacy of dedication, endurance and commitment in the drive of our American work ethic and productivity, let’s also toast to the work that is yet to be done … and the triumph of our purpose and joy being a part of the backbone of America!! On an individual level, our work is an essential part of who we are but it is only one aspect of the life we are dedicated to for ourselves, our loved ones, community and country. Let’s enjoy it all to its fullest – which requires us to maintain balance and be in our best health. Salute!!

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