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When You Have No Sick Days

campbell's soupIt’s a safe bet that several of you have been feeling under the weather recently. Although we are more susceptible to germs and illness when worn down physically, mentally, or emotionally; sometimes illness just seems to attack (and often at the most inopportune times). Unfortunately, as adults we can’t depend on our moms to make us chicken noodle soup and we have responsibilities that do not allow for sick days. Keeping yourself in healthy mental, emotional, and physical states is a major responsibility. It’s something that we have to work at every day and something we have to work harder at when one of those areas is suffering.

It is tempting to go back to bed and hide under the covers (and sometimes we have to); instead you may start feeling better and able to face the world again faster if you work harder at finding that healthy state. Making sure you get enough rest is very important in getting back to and keeping yourself in the best physical state possible; however, it can also be helpful to get up and get moving.When suffering from terrible sinus congestion, I have found that I actually breathe better during and after ellipticizing (sadly, it is too cold to run outside) even though I was not sure I wanted to expend the energy.

When you exercise, you increase your blood flow, carrying more oxygen through the body, and improve your circulation. Your brain secretes the nuerochemicals serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and endorphins when you exercise. Endorphins have an opiate-like effect of pain-relief and mood elevation. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, impulsivity, aggression, and increased appetite have been linked to deficiencies of the neurochemicals that you can increase by exercising. So not only will you feel better physically (immediately and long term) but you will feel better emotionally as well. In addition, exercise allows you to rest mentally while you are physically engaged.

The same theory applies when feeling less than your best mentally or emotionally. You may have to seek out a friend, schedule yourself a break, pour your thoughts in to a journal or busy yourself with a favorite activity to bolster your immunity to mental and emotional stressors. When you are feeling less than your best, get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, eat good-for-you food, and breathe deeply; but don’t forget that you may have to put in some extra work to get back to peak performance. It would be nice if there was a pill to cure the common cold or alleviate stress, but ultimately you will feel better about yourself if you put in the work that will make you feel better.

March 1st, 2009

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