Boomer Women: What You Need to Know About Dietary Supplements

Boomer Women: What You Need to Know About Dietary Supplements

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” –Thomas Edison

My dear friend Charlotte, aged 67, called me with some bad news about her health.

She was out walking near her home when she began to lose her balance. She found herself shuffling along instead of walking smoothly.

Her gait was off.

Charlotte’s poor balance frightened and confused her. She wondered, what could be the problem?

She said that she figured she was just tired. After all, Charlotte attended exercise classes three times each week, which included strength training and yoga.

However, Charlotte told me that later that evening, when she tried to get out a friend’s car, she had difficulty and needed help.

Whoa!

Charlotte felt nervous and scared and made an appointment to see her doctor right away.

Long story short, after a physical examination and numerous lab tests, including a lumbar puncture, it seems that Charlotte has a condition called normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH).

At the writing of this article, the doctor needs to perform more tests to be sure.

But if Charlotte discovers that she has NPH, it is a long-term condition and generally cannot be cured. The most common treatment is the placement of a shunt—something Charlotte’s loathe to get.

In most cases, no one ever knows the cause.

If the shunt surgery is successful, Charlotte will lead a healthy life, which means she will keep my independence and will not need nursing care.

I’m praying for my dear friend.

Meanwhile, the doctor listed about 20 different dietary and nutritional supplements Charlotte should take daily.

Whew!

If you know anything about me through my writing, you know that I research “everything.”

I was curious to know what gives with the supplements?

Unlike many people, including perhaps you, dear reader, I never took supplements of any kind. I assumed I was getting all of the nutrients I needed through food.

So, I went on a quest of discovery.

What Are Dietary and Nutritional Supplements?

Dietary supplements are not medicines and should not be considered a substitute for food.

Unlike medicine, dietary and nutritional supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They therefore do not need to prove that a product is safe and effective to sell them.

However, manufacturers of supplements are not legally allowed to say their products cure, treat, or prevent disease.

Marketers of dietary and nutritional supplements can only say their products “support” health or “may contribute” to well-being.

Dietary supplements are not medicines and you should not use them to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure diseases.

There are more than 50,000 supplement products marketed in the U.S. 50% of the adult population consume dietary supplements.

However, the federal government can take action against companies and websites that sell dietary supplements when they make false or deceptive claims about their products, or if they promote their products as treatments or cures for diseases.

Who Needs Supplements?

“Thy food shall be thy remedy.” – Hippocrates (called the “father of medicine”)

One thing on which practically all nutritionists seem to agree is that eating too much fat can increase your risk of high cholesterol levels and increases your risk of heart disease.

Sensible eating habits include getting sufficient vitamins and minerals (often referred to as micronutrients because your body needs only small amounts of them).

Without micronutrients in your body, you could suffer from a vitamin deficiency, which can result in horrific diseases and medical conditions.

For example:

  • Scurvy (sailors would succumb to this disease due to a lack of vitamin C found in fresh fruits and vegetables).
  • Blindness (people still become blind in some developing countries from vitamin A deficiency).
  • Rickets (soft, weak bones that sometimes lead to skeletal deformities, such as bowed legs, which result from a deficiency in vitamin D).

On the other hand, the benefits of micronutrients include:

  • Strong bones
  • Prevention of congenital disabilities
  • Healthy teeth

Vitamins and minerals are not the same things:

Vitamins: organic and broken down by heat, air, or acid

Minerals: inorganic and hold on to their chemical structure

This means: Minerals can easily find their way into our bodies through plants, fish, animals, and the drinks we consume, while vitamins can be challenging to get into our system from the foods we eat because of cooking, storage, or exposure to air.

But minerals and vitamins together keep our eyes, skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and nervous system healthy.

For our food to keep us healthy, it should include:

  • Protein (found in fish, meat, poultry dairy products, eggs, nuts, and beans)
  • Fat (found in animal and dairy products, nuts, and oils)
  • Carbohydrates (found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans and other legumes)
  • Vitamins (such as A, B, C, D, E, and K)
  •  Minerals (such as calcium, potassium, and iron)
  • Water (both in what you drink and water found in food

If you are not getting these necessary minerals and vitamins in your food, this is where supplements can help.

Jeffery Blumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition at Tufts University School of Nutrition, Science, and Policy says about using supplements, “It’s one thing you can do that’s not too hard to do.”

Dr. Blumberg believes that seniors, specifically, need to do what they can to protect themselves from heart disease and cancer, which happens to be the two leading causes of death among those over sixty-five years of age.

Nutritional supplements may include what’s missing in a typical diet.

To Dr. Blumberg, it’s clear: a diet that follows the food pyramid and daily supplements.

What does he recommend?

  • Vitamin B folate (protects from cardiovascular disease and stroke; found in dark green, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, spinach, orange juice, and lentils).
  • Vitamin K (good for healthy bones; found in collard greens, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, and kale, which is the vitamin k King).
  • Vitamin E (conflicting evidence that this vitamin reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other conditions, found in fatty foods such as nuts and oils).
  • Calcium and Vitamin D (prevent bone thinning, which can lead to fractures; however, the best source is the sun).

Warning

Supplements do not make up for a poor diet. While they can help, they cannot replace many of the nutrients and fiber found in food.

There are government-recommended daily doses of vitamins and minerals considered to be relatively safe and useful.

However, megadoses promoted for the treatment of some illnesses may not be good for your health and can possibly interfere with the absorption or activity of other nutrients and can cause serious side effects.

The possibility of side effects, as well as the lack of substantial evidence supporting the use of megavitamins, should not be ignored.  

Bottom Line

  • Vitamins and minerals have no calories.
  • Food has all the vitamins and minerals.
  • If your diet lacks a vitamin or mineral over a long period, you will develop a deficiency.
  • The “best” form of most vitamins and minerals is the kind you get from food.

(Source: WebMD.com)

*See your doctor for diet and nutrition recommendations to treat a health condition.

So, What to Do?

  • Read the labels: Dietary supplements come with Supplement Facts labels that list active ingredients such as fillers, binder, and flavorings, etc.
  • Understand the side effects: You are most likely to have side effects from dietary supplements if you take them at high doses, take many different supplements, or take them in place of medicine.
  • Know the quality: Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) are established by the FDA that help ensure and identify, purity, strength, and composition of dietary supplements. These guidelines help reduce the chance of contamination or improper packaging and labeling of a product.

Seven Questions to Ask Your Health Provider

Before taking any nutritional or dietary supplements, ask:

  1. Do I need a supplement?
  2. What are the potential benefits for me?
  3. What does the research say about the benefits?
  4. Does this product have any safety risks?
  5. What is the proper dose to take?
  6. How, when, and for how long should I take it?
  7. Should I take it as a pill, powder, or liquid?

And Finally

The term “dietary supplement” describes a broad and diverse category of products that you eat or drink to support good health and “supplement” the diet.

A handful of vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements can never take the place of a healthy diet, according to David Grotto RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

Even so, the ADA recognizes that some people require supplements because they are not getting the adequate amounts of vitamins and or minerals they need in sufficient amounts in their diet.

These groups include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Nursing mothers
  • Strict vegetarians
  • People with food allergies or intolerances
  • Senior citizens

Also, people with diseases such as cancer, kidney, cardiovascular, or bone disease, just to name a few.

When I last visited a health food store, I discovered a dizzying assortment of dietary and nutritional supplements from vitamins to minerals to diet pills.

There seemed to be thousands of options!

But since Charlotte’s doctor had given her a list of “must” have supplements, she knew what to look for.

In summary—

Boomer women are concerned about the future.

Boomer women are trying to stay healthy.

Boomer women say they worry more about their health than their finances.

This article has presented several ideas to help you determine the pros and cons of using “dietary supplements.”

Do you still have questions?

Below I’ve listed several valuable resources you can trust.

“My supplements are similar to my training—I always commit to being a better version of myself.” —Ronnie Coleman

Resources Printed from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements

Educational materials on dietary supplements

Office of Dietary Supplements (http://ods.od.nih.gov)

ODS provides accurate and up-to-date scientific information about dietary supplements.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (http://nccam.nih.gov)

NCCIH also provides scientific information about dietary supplement ingredients

National Library of Medicine (http://www.nlm.nih.gov

Medline Plus (http://medlineplus.gov)

PubMed (http://www.pubmed.gov)

NIH Health Information (http://health.nih.gov)

Boomer Women: Getting In—Getting Out of Debt

Boomer Women: Getting In—Getting Out of Debt

“Debt is the worst poverty.”—Thomas Fuller

Single, sixty-three-year-old Lois felt buried under a veritable landslide of debt.

How did this happen?

How did Lois sabotage herself financially?

Lois lamented: “I thought my mid-life years would be stress-free and blissful. It was so easy to get into debt. But will I ever, ever get out of debt?”

There are millions of families in most countries in the world facing the same dilemma. Rare indeed are the persons who manage to live their lives without shouldering a large, sometimes unmanageable, burden of debt.

Getting into Debt

How does one get into debt? Simple! It is a way of life. Governments, multi-national corporations, small businesses, families, and individuals have all come to accept debt as usual.

Pride often creates debt. Debt creates strain. Strain leads to other difficulties. So how does one live in a world that’s debt-oriented and, at the same time, stay out of debt?

Perhaps the first lesson to be learned is pure sales resistance. One cannot enter the door of most financial institutions without being assailed by posters offering loans.

Credit cards are readily available.

Banks are competing to offer the lowest interest rates to entice you to give their services a try.

Over the spectrum from loan sharks to reputable banking institutions, there are millions of successful, aggressive persons who are in the business of selling money.

To them, money is a commodity—like groceries—and their job is selling it to you.

Learn to say NO.

Debt Management

Many formulas exist to define an acceptable ratio of debt to income, but these vary greatly. For instance, some economists feel that a family may comfortably allocate 30 percent of gross income to pay for shelter, such as mortgage payments.

But this formula may not be feasible for the very poor.

So general formulas are often too vague. Consider the whole problem of debt on a personal level for the best outcome.

Some debt may be acceptable, such as buying a house at a reasonable rate.

Other forms of debt may be unacceptable. Debt management includes the ability to reject them. Perhaps the best rule is: Do not buy what you do not need and cannot afford it.

Avoid impulse buying. Even if something is half price, it is not a bargain for you if you cannot afford it.

Follow These Tips to Get Out and Stay Out of Debt

There are plenty of ways to get out of debt. I discuss a few in this article.

  • Establish a working relationship with a reputable bank.
  • If you must borrow down the road, this will likely get the best interest rate.
  • Start paying off debts in some organized way.
  • Project your anticipated personal cash flow over the next 24 months. Be realistic.
  • Include every bit of income you expect to have.
  • List debts in order of priority.
  • Allocate on a fair basis so that each debt receives at least some payment.
  • Set a target date to pay off each debt.
  • Pick up a side hustle.
  • Sell off high ticket items (jewelry, fancy electronics).
  • Be ruthless!
  • Ask:
  • Can the grocery bill be shaved?
  • Can vacations be cut?
  • Can luxury items be enjoyed less often?
  • Can you negotiate a lower interest rate on credit cards—either temporarily or permanently?
  • Don’t shop too often. Experts say you will spend less if you only buy once or twice a week.
  • Don’t stay too long. Supermarket surveys have indicated that for every minute you remain in the store for over 30 minutes, you spend 50 cents extra.
  • Discuss your plan with a bank loan officer. He may be able to show you how to improve your strategy. He may even suggest a debt consolidation plan, which comes with a fixed interest rate.

Money Talks!

The world over, people put their trust in money.

Money is in and out of your pocket like a flash!

Yet money is a necessary item in your life.

Money can bring you some temporary measure of happiness if you can see money for what it’s worth. But if you overestimate the value of money and make it your chief goal in life, it can be calamitous!

Take Control of Your Money

If you feel overwhelmed or confused about how to get started, I’d like to recommend a useful resource:

www.DaveRamsey.com

Dave Ramsey is a seven-time bestselling author on finance and money.

He also hosts a popular radio show and podcast.

On Dave Ramsey’s website, you will find a plethora of information, including tools, classes, books, and live events designed to help you control your money.

You could start with an assessment on the site that creates a customized plan to help you with your money issues.

Not only does Dave Ramsey provide advice on debt and budgeting, but also savings, retirement, and taxes.

You should check out Ramsey’s site!

Or you may prefer to use one of the top-rated money management, personal finance, and budgeting apps:

  • Mint
  • PocketGuard
  • Wally

Finally—Think Before You Buy!

Personal debt is out of control.

The world over, people put trust in money.

But money can be gone in a flash.

It’s as if money has wings and flies away.

But as I’ve cautioned in this article, great care should be taken as to how you spend your money. If you are budget-minded, think before you buy, trim down to the essentials, learn to live on less, and are resourceful, you can get out of debt—and stay out of debt!

A 10-Week Plan to Learning How to Relax

A 10-Week Plan to Learning How to Relax

“We will be more successful in all endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” –Thigh Nhat Hanh

Towers Watson, a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through competent people, risk, and financial management, revealed its latest “Health, Wellbeing, and Productivity” survey. The survey showed that of those employers able to measure well-being, 86 percent thought that excessive workload or extended hours were the most significant causes of stress.

Do You Agree?

Consider these facts:

Fact 1:

One in five workers misses work due to stress.

Fact 2:

Two in 10 workers start the week stressed.

Fact 3:

Managers are too busy and stressed out themselves to help their team members deal with their anxiety and stress.

One solution for workers:

Learn how to relax.

Medical professionals, psychologists, and psychiatrists agree that learning how to relax minimizes many of our anxieties, frustrations, resentments, nervous tensions, and resultant physical disorders.

It takes no specialized knowledge, aptitudes, or preparations to learn how to relax and how to benefit from its soothing, healing and, calming influence.

But, unfortunately, many of us are too busy chasing material wealth to give much thought to our well-being and take time out to relax.

And so, we turn to stopgaps, to the temporary relief of opiates, barbiturates, and tranquilizers. They serve their primary purpose at first, but before long, they become a crutch, a necessity, a constant need.

And, as our system grows used to these temporary measures, we have to increase the dosage or use them more often, and eventually, we become mental casualties.

What Is Relaxation?

What IS relaxation? According to The Oxford English Dictionary: “To make or become less tense, anxious, or rigid; rest from work or engage in a recreational activity.”

A few synonyms for relaxation: To relax is to lighten, to reduce, to curtail, or to modify; to submit, to comply, to slacken, or give way; to rest, to recline, to repose, to let go.

All of the terms mentioned above, refer to relaxation and have an essential bearing upon our mental and physical well-being. We must take time out to rest and to replenish our energies or else we will go to pieces.

One of nature’s ways to guard against complete physical and mental exhaustion is the need for sleep. Sleep is one of the most critical metabolic functions essential to life. It is nature’s way to ensure the body gets the needed rest to replenish expended energy.

We can abstain from sleep for as many as forty-eight hours without apparent ill effect. However, tests show that beyond the first forty-eight hours, there is a growing loss of sustained attentive ability.

When we don’t get adequate sleep, we tend to develop dizziness, headaches, burning eyes, nervousness, irritability, and lightheadedness.

Lack of sleep also contributes to a growing dullness of perception, lack of awareness, and marked sluggishness in average reflect action.

Thus, sleep is a must! Sleep promotes rest under all conditions and circumstances.

However, the amount of sleep required by an individual is dependent upon her age, her work, her daily habits, and her physical and psychological make-up.

One person could require seven or eight hours, and another five or six hours. However, if you cannot sleep, soundly, and naturally during your customary sleeping hours or if you have trouble dropping off to sleep, you will not experience the rest for your tired muscles.

Restful sleep will allow you to let go of tension, of care, of worry, of anger, or uneasiness.

Sleep is one form of letting go and get the release from mental and physical fatigue and nervous tension.

A Relaxation Plan

Another way restful sleep helps us is muscular relaxation. In his book titled Release from Nervous Tension, Dr. David Harold Fink outlines a ten-week plan for learning how to relax.

Here is what you must do—

Weeks one and two:

“Find a time when you will not be disturbed and undress and stretch out face upwards on a bed. Place one pillow under your neck so that your head rolls back toward the head of the bed. Spread your legs a little and place pillows under your knees to bring them upward and outward at a slight angle.

Move your hands about eight inches from your body and put pillows under your elbows, with your hands hanging over the end of the cushions. “You are now in the right physical position to learn how to relax.

Start with your jaw. Let it sag and droop to your chin, but keep the lips together. Close your eyes, and let the lids meet naturally. Now, as you breathe in and out in your usual way, utilize the power of habit in following voiced suggestions and say to your arms: “Let go. Let go. More. A little more. “

Continue ordering them to let loose, to slacken, to let go, until they do.

“Soon, your inhalations and exhalations will slow down, your arms will loosen up and relax with every breath, and you will experience a new sensation.

Your muscular tensions will be lessened and you will gain a new sense of renewed muscular strength, of increased natural tone and vitality. Practice the arm relaxation twice a day, thirty minutes each time for two weeks.”

Week three:

Relax the chest muscles.

“Start with relaxing your arms as you have been doing. When you feel they are heavy and your hands grow warm, start talking to your chest muscles. Ignore your inhalations for the time being. Let them be as usual, but every time you exhale, say to your chest muscles, ‘Let go. Let go. More. A little more.’“

Continue telling your chest muscles to let go until you feel them loosen up. Keep this up for a week, twice a day, for half-hour periods.

Weeks four through seven:

“Start relaxing your back muscles on the fourth week, the leg muscles on the fifth, the back of the neck on the sixth, and the facial muscles on the seventh.

In each case, you start with the arms for a few minutes, then with the chest, and then the others in succession.”

Weeks eight through ten:

“For the eighth week, relax the muscles of your scalp to relieve nervous headaches. Let go of the muscles of your eyes for the ninth week. Pretend your eyes are so loose that they will fall out if you do not watch them, and soon you will be rid of the feeling of eye strain.

For the tenth and final week, learn to relax the muscles of your vocal cords. Practice speaking slowly, softly, in a smooth, calm voice, enunciating each word, each syllable, without any strain or particular emphasis.”

Dr. Fink concludes “. . . Ten weeks is a short time to learn to acquire a new skill. Yet, it is long enough to help you combat emotional conflicts, reduce paralyzing inhibitions, improve your general health, and gain a new sense of freedom from strain and nervous tension.”

Normal sleep and muscle relaxations are healthy ways to reduce nervous tension, to neutralize compulsions, and to minimize inner conflicts.

Try the above exercises.

Follow Dr. Fink’s 10-week plan to learn how to relax as this plan will surely bring you rest, ease, and comfort.

Following Dr. Fink’s 10-week plan to learn how to relax is also sure to improve your mental and physical health.

Boomer Women: Think Like an Entrepreneur and Take Charge of Your Career

Boomer Women: Think Like an Entrepreneur and Take Charge of Your Career

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” —Thomas A. Edison

Not ready to retire?

Sick and tired of age discrimination?

What are some meaningful career goals that you would like to accomplishments before you call it quits?

Is owning a business high on your list?

Perhaps you’re like many women who have tried and tried to find just the perfect opportunity for a business. But you’ve failed.

But all is not lost.

The youngest Boomer woman, born in 1964, turned 55 this year (2019).

Most people hardly consider 55 as “old.”

And even if you do think of yourself as old, starting a business is within your reach.

I love this quote:

 “Successful entrepreneurs find the balance between listening to their inner voice and staying persistent in driving for success—because sometimes success is waiting right across from the transitional bump that’s disguised as a failure”—Naveen Jain.

Are you ready to become an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs are managers as well as leaders.

You are a manager and leader of your career; it’s time for you to take charge and develop a strategic, thoughtful, and personal business plan to ensure your success as a business owner.

In the traditional sense, managers focus on planning, solving problems, and working to reach goals. Leaders have a vision—they originate ideas, influence, and motivate.

As an entrepreneur in charge of your career, you must fulfill both the managerial functions and the leadership role.

Thus, in this article, I want to spur you on to think like an entrepreneur and immediately develop a personal business plan (“Failing to plan is planning to fail”—Alan Lakin).

Many times, aspiring entrepreneurs don’t achieve success because they aren’t focused; their search for a new profession is aimless and confused.

Here are 6 key steps to help you take charge of your career:

Step 1: Create a Personal Career Profile

A personal career profile is a self-assessment of your skills, interests, knowledge, experience, and values. Use your profile as a reference tool you can draw from to develop a plan to begin your search for the perfect business opportunity.

Your profile should highlight your strengths, achievements, education, training, motivations, and uniqueness.

What are your top 3 strengths and skills you would like to use? This tool will also be useful when applying for a business loan, should you need one.

Step 2: Write a Vision Statement

Identify Your Core Values. What’s important to you? What’s your dream job? Write out your vision statement, which is the #1 rule of entrepreneurship and leadership = to know where you’re headed. And keep it simple.

Step 3: Believe in Your Services

What can you provide a customer or client? What are you selling? What will the customer or client miss out on if they don’t hire you? In other words, what is your value to your business niche?

You must be completely confident. Perhaps you need to upgrade your technical skills.

Step 4: Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

In addition to your leadership role, as an entrepreneur, you also manage the day-to-day activities of your business.

You will set S.M.A.R.T. goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely—and include flexibility. Make a list of your top 5 short-term goals and your 5 top long-term goals. Setting SMART goals will help you organize your thoughts and provides accountability.

Step 5: Market Yourself

How will you communicate your services and your value? If you work as a freelancer in your desired industry, you should also prepare a target list of clients for whom you would like to work.

One way to make contact and to get referrals to these companies is by sharing your list at networking events or with individuals you meet during your search for new business.

And consider using social media, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as blogs and Web sites to connect with people.

Step 6: Relax and Have Fun

Entrepreneurs work hard, fulfilling both the leadership and management roles of their enterprise. An active search for clients is likewise hard work.

To avoid burnout and feelings of anxiety, you need to take time for health, reflection, relaxation, and fun.

Only practicing deep breathing exercises and meditating will do much to reduce stress and will invigorate you for the long haul. Tip: add your favorite pastime activity to your profile to show that your interests go beyond “drumming up more business.”

Make the Commitment

If you are committed to taking charge of your future career or profession and to doing what’s necessary to manage your search effectively, then think like an entrepreneur!

Uncertain about your future profession?

Not sure where to begin?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Refine your business idea/research
  • Write a business plan/action plan
  • Get financing
  • Create your personal brand story and advertise
  • Start a blog
  • Get a patent on your new invention
  • Start a small business, such as freelance
  • Buy a business franchise
  • Get a mentor who is influential and inspiring
  • Work as a coach or consultant
  • Raise funding for your new business idea (restaurant, bakery, clothing boutique, bookstore, etc.)

You don’t want work to feel like work. What is it that Confucius said?

“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

What’s your passion? What do you go to bed dreaming about every night?

Indeed, dreaming alone will not ensure success; only taking action will help you to accomplish your goals.

But if you procrastinate, you’ll never realize your ultimate career aspirations.

You must get out of your comfort zone and do it now!!

Follow the 6 steps in this article and take charge of your career.

Think like an entrepreneur!

Caregiving Wives: Secrets to Well-Being, Hope, and Optimism

Caregiving Wives: Secrets to Well-Being, Hope, and Optimism

“Hope is being able to see that there is more light despite all of the darkness.”—Desmond Tutu

Martha’s emotions were fried, wasted, washed up.

She felt that if she stayed one more day, hour, or minute in caring for her husband, she would wither and float away.

For Martha, this wasn’t everyday stress, but the anxiety to the extreme.

To quote Fiona Wood in Six Impossible Things, “It’s like she was a jar with the lid screwed on too tight, and inside the jar were pickles, angry pickles, and they were fermenting, and about to explode.”

Martha felt like packing her bags, walking out, slamming the door behind her, and racing down the street without looking back.

But leaving was impossible. Martha’s husband was bedridden dependent on her for every little thing—even wiping his nose when he sneezed.

Thus, Martha seemed at the point to where she was sinking into severe depression.

She felt hopeless and trapped.

What could Martha do, short of seeking the advice of a mental health professional? After all, depression and despair could lead to all sorts of health issues up to and including suicide.

In this article, I will discuss seven ideas Martha can use immediately that will ease her anxiety and increase her sense of emotional well-being.

However, first, I would like to share a story that illustrates the benefits of hope and optimism, which is something Martha desperately needs.

Benefits of Hope and Optimism

Secrets to Well-Being, Hope, and OptimismHope is more than mere desire and better than mere expectation. Hope is indispensable if you want to endure a difficult situation without giving up or sinking into a deep depression.

Hope is strengthening in that despite difficult circumstances, you wait patiently for the hoped-for thing.

In Martha’s case, she would hope for a positive diagnosis of her husband’s condition.

Would he get better?

But hope does not have to be passive. To sit and wait is the same as “wishing” that gets you nowhere. You must work. To hope means to have positive thoughts about your future and to be willing to take steps necessary to make it happen.

Hope in Action

I read a book by Jose Saramago titled Blindness, published in 1995. The book won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. Many consider this book Saramago’s dystopic vision, which means an imaginary place or society where everything is profoundly unhappy and miserable.

I’ve never read a more disturbing book. There’s mass blindness that pictures a loss of humanity.

Here is a brief plot summary as described on wikispaces.com:

Blindness tells the story of several individuals engulfed in a widespread epidemic of ‘white blindness,’ in which they only see bright white. The police quickly intern all the blind in an old mental hospital facility.

To stay with her now-blind husband, an ophthalmologist’s wife fakes her blindness into a new hell. A story of survival against an army of “liquidators and sacrifice ensues during which the last remaining seeing woman leads the internees to safety.”

So much happens to the characters in this book (the characters have no names, only descriptions). For instance, though helpless and interdependent, their behaviors are reduced to no more than animals.

The characters act worse than savages; they fight over food, commit rape, and murder. There is a total breakdown of what makes people human.

I’m not a literary scholar qualified to debate the themes and symbols of this book, but as a layperson, and one who enjoys reading good literature, I would describe Blindness as a book of horror!

As it turns out, “the doctor’s wife” never loses hope. In her compassion, she claws and scratches and schemes and even commits a murder herself.

In the end, when there seems to be no way out of “hell,” it is she, as the only person in the asylum not afflicted with blindness, that leads the group out of the asylum and helps them survive in the city.

The critical thought here is “hope.” No, hope isn’t passive; it’s a willingness to put into action steps to shape and invest in your future; it’s a positive outlook on your future.

However, the author Jose Saramago is an atheist Communist and believes religion is the cause of all humankind’s ills—including violence.

“Hope” means an expectation or desire for something to happen and as a possession of the Christian faith that hope is for everlasting life.

But as an atheist, did Saramago intend that one of his main characters should have hope?

Do atheists have hope?

We know that for many of the religious, hope gives peace of mind for what lies ahead. But atheists will say hope can be found apart from religion as there are many things to hope for: health, wellness, and happiness; for the power to make a better life for self and family, and so forth.

So even though, Saramago, as an atheist, would suggest no thought of religion or faith in a higher power, there’s no question in my mind that in his book Blindness, it is the “hope” that propels “the doctor’s wife” to take action—and win.

What Can Be Said About Optimism?

“Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.”—William James

Are you a glass half empty or a glass half full type of person?

Optimism means to be hopeful and confident about the future or your success in some endeavor—to expect a favorable outcome.

So, can optimism improve your health?

Most of us have to deal with the daily pressures of everyday life. These can lead to frustration, even panic. A pessimistic person sees defeat or a setback as permanent—also blaming herself for the situation. An optimistic person has hope and confidence in the future.

In a 30-year study of over 800 patients by the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, U.S.A. scientists found that optimists had better health and lived significantly longer than others.

The researchers also found that optimists coped better with stress, and therefore, less likely to develop depression.

Other benefits of optimism include:

  • It promotes a sense of happiness and wellbeing
  • It promotes self-confidence and boosts self-esteem
  • It enables you to take action to change or improve situations
  • It helps better feelings about money
  • It allows you to bounce back quickly from any adversity
  • It enables you to enjoy your work regardless of your job
  • It promotes peace of mind in situations over which you have no control

However, being optimistic is not easy, especially in an environment where problems stack up for almost everyone. It’s tough to think positively.

Three Tips to Feel More Optimistic

  • Focus deliberately on the positive when you find yourself thinking that you won’t enjoy something or you won’t succeed in some project. Consciously reject the thought (you “can” control your thinking; nobody can make you or force you to feel one way or another).
  • Seek out those that view life positively (the glass half-full attitudes).
  • Write down three good things that happened to you every day; always be grateful.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.” –Proverbs 17:22

Seven Tips to Emotional Well-Being

  • Reduce Stress. Here are four easy ways to reduce stress: 1) breathe deeply; 2) focus on the moment; 3) reframe your situation; 4) keep your problems in perspective.
  • Meditate. You can find numerous how-to videos on YouTube, both long and short meditations, depending on how much time you have. Meditation gives you a quiet internal space, you need to be calm and peaceful, no matter your situation.
  • Exercise. Try both aerobic (jogging, fast walking, tennis) and muscle toners that include calisthenics and therapeutic exercise. Exercise delivers oxygen to the body cells, improves blood circulation, and overall health. (Always check with your doctor first before engaging in any form of exercise activities.)
  • Sleep. Better sleep = better health. Conversely, not getting enough sleep harms the body. Sleep is vital to your physical, social, and mental well-being. Lack of sleep can lead to forgetfulness, irritability, looking and feeling run-down, and depression. (See resources below.)
  • Eat well. “Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts and interconnected.” –R. Colin Campbell. Vitamins and minerals have no calories. Food has all the vitamins and minerals you need. If your diet lacks a vitamin or mineral over a long period, you will develop a deficiency. (Speak with your doctor for diet and nutrition recommendations, including supplements.)
  • Create positive emotions. Yes, you can choose how to feel. Here are seven ways to do so: 1) concentrate on positive things; 2) talk about positive things; 3) laugh; 4) seek the company of positive thinkers; 5) treat yourself compassionately; 6) focus on helping others; 7) forgive.
  • Act the love. When caring for your spouse, one way to keep love alive is to call to mind his positive attributes: Was he a good provider? Was he kind towards others? Was he respectful? Was he generous in spirit? Considering questions such as these will help you to feel empathy for your loved one.

Finally, dear caregiver wife, you are performing a heroic work. It can be difficult.

You will, on occasion, have feelings of pain, fear, anxiety, overwhelm, and sadness.

Whatever your feelings are, you should acknowledge and honor them.

If your emotions are to the extreme, please seek professional help.

But I assure you that if you follow the ideas I’ve shared in this article, you will be emotionally healthy, have a positive attitude, and compassion for your loved one.

Your heart will overflow with joy, love, and happiness.


 

Resources:

Exercise: A Guide from the National Institute on Aging (free). Call 1-800-222-2225

Fitness over Fifty: An Exercise Guide from the National Institute on Aging (Hatherleigh Press 2003)

The No Sweat Exercise Plan, written by Harvey Simon, a member of the Harvard Heart Letter editorial board, is published by McGraw Hill

Sleep quizzes: https://thesleepdoctor.com/sleep-quizzes

The Ultimate Guide to Better Sleep: https://kriscarr.com/blog/sleep-hygiene-guide/

www.Sleep.org

Find more ideas in my new book:
A Family Caregiver’s Guide: 7 Secrets to Convert Negative Triggers to Positive Emotions   Find it on www.Amazon.com