Five boosters to pamper your body and soul

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Neighbourhood Health Desk: Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you give to yourself by pampering your mind and body with the tender loving care they deserve.

So here are 5 boosters for your body and soul which ensure your well being for years to come.

1. Take care of your heart: Make sure yours is in tip-top shape. After all, coronary disease is the biggest health threat facing women today.

2. Clean your closets for good: Gather the girls for a fashion swap where all clothing cast-offs are up for grabs and the leftovers go to charity. Streamlined storage space is a plus, but even better is how good you will feel. Research has shown that giving to others gives individuals a sense of social connectedness and self-confidence. Donate your discarded office wear to charities such as The Women’s Alliance; take other clothes to Goodwill Industries or a local thrift shop.

3. Pose away Premenstrual syndrome:  Plagued by irritability and cramps? In addition to all its other virtues, yoga can make that-time-of-the-month more bearable. For cramp relief, try the crocodile pose: Lay on your stomach with your arms at your sides, palms facing up, with your head and neck relaxed (use a small pillow if you like). Breathe in and allow your abdomen to expand; as you exhale, lift your hips and buttocks slightly.
Repeat for a few minutes. If your period brings on the blues as well, try the bow pose: Lay face-down, bend your knees and bring your feet toward your buttocks. Reach back and grab your ankles, then squeeze your buttocks and knees together. Hold for ten seconds and repeat up to three times.

4. Start a health journal: Interview your mom, aunts, grandma and another close relative about their health history. Is there any heart disease or cancer in the family? What about high blood pressure or depression? Make a list of issues you would like to discuss with your doctor at your next visit. While you are at it, take stock of your current
exercise and diet habits and look for ways to improve, whether it is squeezing in one more workout a week or adding more healthy foods to your shopping cart.

5. Banish the seasonal disorders: Winter can bring about the seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that goes far beyond cabin fever and hits as many as one in 20 adults, 75 per cent of them women. Experts theorize that decreased sunlight alters the body circadian rhythms or an internal clock which in turn disrupts the balance of hormones related to mood and energy levels; symptoms include lethargy, carb cravings and episodes of crying, anxiety or irritability. Going outside for just a few minutes daily, preferably midday, and getting plenty of exercises can help. If you think you have SAD, talk with your doctor. She may recommend light therapy, in which you sit close to a special lamp for a half-hour each morning or taking antidepressants.

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