by Susan Schachter, MSRDN February 01, 2022 3 min read
February 2nd. Groundhog Day. This tradition of looking to see whether or not the groundhog sees its shadow has been around for a while, and became an official event in in this country in 1887. Whether or not one believes that the Groundhog can predict the length of winter, it can be helpful as a motivational tool. If PunxsutawneyPhil sees his shadow, we’re supposed to have 6 more weeks of winter. We don’t want to be further settled into habits that don’t help and perhaps even hurt our health when Spring arrives and we feel freer to go outside and play! If Phil doesn’t see his shadow, Spring is supposed to arrive quickly. Do we really want to see the Weather person tell us that today’s forecast is warm and sunny if we’re not feeling our best, feeling healthy?
On Groundhog Day, I think about the 1993 movie of the same name. It starred Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. I don’t want to give away any spoilers…but let’s just say that every morning when Phil’s alarm clock goes off, he awakens to it being Groundhog Day again. And again. And again. And again. Thirty-eight times to be exact. Feel a bit like the last 2 years? A bit like this winter? It certainly does to me. The saving grace of this repetition is that we get to experience things about ourselves and our habits that we have the opportunity to see clearly, shift how we look at our circumstances, and make small changes each day that can impact our trajectory. The way in which we can impact our trajectory is what I want to address here. You can also see ways to impact your high blood pressure from our last resource.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL: We can fill our environment with foods that are naturally the color of the rainbow. Reds, purples, greens, yellows, oranges, blues. We can include foods that are naturally low in sodium (salt). We can take the foods that most tempt us out of our living environment so that we’re not tempted on a daily basis. We can allow ourselves a serving of those most tempting foods when we’re out of the house in a controlled food environment. For instance, in a restaurant, share a dessert with your friend or significant other and truly savor the experience of each mouthful.
EXERCISE:Even if you don’t (or can’t) go outside for a walk or run or bike ride, get up and move while you’re at home. Set an alarm and walk around or jump around or put on some music and dance around for 5 minutes each hour OR if you can, do it for 30 minutes a day. You can even stand while you’re watching TV and step in place!
LIMIT ALCOHOL: It can be difficult for so many to do this during the pandemic. It’s very important for our blood pressure normalization. One serving/day for women and for men over 65. 2 servings/day for men under 65. A serving is 5oz wine or 12 oz beer or 1.5oz hard liquor.
STRESS MANAGEMENT: Try to stay connected with friends and family…. Even if it’s through ZOOM. Routine and structure are very important and help give each of our days a sense of purpose. Meditation can be very helpful. Be kind to yourself.
These are some of the small changes we can step toward and into each day, so that we don’t wake up day after day after day after day to the same bad habits and the same state of health. So that we move forward from Groundhog Day.
There’s an old Chinese proverb that I find very helpful to think about in circumstances having to do with change. “Best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The 2nd best time is now”.
Here’s To Your Health!
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