Subscribers — Help — I’ve lost my subscriber list

Hello to  postworksavvy subscribers.

A couple of months ago I moved from the software platform to

During the move my subscriber list was lost.  I also had my posting schedule interrupted as we celebrated our son’s wedding and as we cleaned up our cottage after a major re-construction during the winter.

I am back to a regular schedule of posting and am asking you to re-subscribe so that you can continue to receive email and RSS updates when I publish a new post.  Thanks so much!!!

Jeanette aka postworksavvy

Why Overcoming the Habit of Multi-tasking Creates a Successful Retirement

Did you spend most of your career juggling several priorities?

Was it commonplace to deal with too many demands — work/home; personal/career?

Did you feel inundated with responsibilities and requests?

Did you wish for more hours in the day to complete tasks?

In the last few years of my working life, I could answer ‘yes’ to each of these questions. Driven by ‘superwoman’ tendencies, I developed some bad coping habits as I dealt with an overloaded agenda.

As I learn how to live in the postworksavvy world of retirement, I sometimes feel these habits creep back into my days and I struggle to put them behind me.

Multi-tasking is one of these habits.

At the office, I learned that I could deal with emails while on conference calls.  I learned to make notes for presentations and to write outlines for reports during boring meetings.  I learned to ‘listen with one ear’ to colleagues while making mental ‘to do’ lists.

I neglected many home and family responsibilities leaving my husband to carry on with apologies that Jeanette was travelling on business or that Jeanette got delayed at the office.

Initially, these strategies helped me to use time effectively.  Eventually they became survival mechanisms.

Productivity gets Compromised — Personal Life Suffers

Upon reflection, I’m certain that my productivity was compromised, and not enhanced when I did more than one thing at once.

Sometimes multi-tasking increased the amount of time needed to complete easy tasks. Splitting attention among required activities may have caused mistakes.

Multi-tasking takes brain power

photo courtesy of sparklefish

Most definitely, multi-tasking depleted my energy level.  Enjoyment was undermined. My family and my personal life were neglected.

Old habits are hard to break

My retirement brought a resolution to take things more slowly and ‘smell the roses.’

However old habits creep back and sometimes I find myself doing two things at once while mentally calculating how to start a third activity.

Others who have retired report similar experiences.  Making the transition to a new lifestyle requires leaving behind those old ways of coping — including habits like multi-tasking.


Learning to focus on one thing at a time — what yoga refers to as mindfulness — is a great way to begin.  You don’t have to take up yoga or meditation to conquer the habit of multi-tasking.   Some common sense and easy to master techniques will help.

  • Consciously slow down — especially when you find yourself rushing to an appointment or to finish a task.
  • Remain intentional — remember that you have the whole day and that you control how you will spend the time.
  • Limit distractions — resolve to stay focused on what you are doing.  Turn off electronics when you need to concentrate on listening to your partner or comforting a friend or writing a blog post.  It’s safe to opt out — the world will wait for you.
  • photo by cambodia4kidsorgSchedule start and stop times — decide how much time you will fully devote to an activity before taking a break or shifting gears.
  • Allow ‘goof off’ time — sometimes you just can’t get into an activity so be kind to yourself by giving yourself permission to ‘goof off’.

Learning to observe your responses is important in stopping the old habit of multi-tasking.  Remember that old mistakes don’t have to be repeated and that old habits don’t need to continue.

The self-control you develop will bring more satisfaction to every day.  And you will have the time to fully savour every sweet postworksavvy moment.

Why aging does not have to be a losing battle

Everybody wants the benefits of good health in retirement.  Aging is not a losing battle.  Senility, grouchiness, poor memory, body aches and pains don’t necessarily go with aging.

Taking care of your health requires a few good habits that are neither costly nor onerous.  Most of these habits become enjoyable as they become part of your lifestyle.

I’ve developed my list of good health habits and I’m sharing them with you.  Beware — they are not arranged in any particular order of importance as all of them have their charms.


The list starts with laughter.  There is nothing like a good belly laugh to lighten every day.  Laugh often.  Laugh with friends.  Laugh at yourself.


Take some form of exercise everyday.  You don’t need to belong to a gym but exercise with buddies may motivate. Walk.  Dance.  Do yoga or tai chi.  Work in your garden.  Lift some weights.  Your body will thank you with better balance.  Getting blood circulating will limber both your joints and your mind.

Stay connected

Positive relationships with friends and family keep you connected. The support and affirmation from others guards your emotional and mental health.  A hug, a gentle word, a smile or a shared experience make the day smoother.  Loneliness kills.

Good Nutrition

Eating high quality nutrient dense foods that you enjoy is a secret to aging well.  Those fruits, veggies and complex carbohydrates will keep your body strong and your mind healthy.


You can’t cheat on sleep.  Going to bed when you are tired and getting up when you awaken naturally are among the benefits of the retired postworksavvy person who ages well.  Naps are essential when night-time sleep is disrupted.

Keep a Positive Attitude

Your positive attitude will keep you young in your heart. Staying positive will also help to manage stress. Live one day at a time.  Trust that the accumulated wisdom of a life time of experiences will be enough to guide you in solving problems.  Take time for moments of quiet reflection or meditation. Take time for gratitude or prayer or other faith habits.

Don’t lose the battle of aging.

I’m still working on these habits. Most days, I find that my life is happier.  I worry less.  Most importantly, I reap benefits from these habits for both my physical health and my disposition!

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Ignore Retirement Advice — Find your own path

There’s endless advice available to people who are retired or about to retire.  Newspapers, magazines, talk shows, financial advisors, personal coaches, family, friends, books and blogs — including postworksavvy — offer counsel.  There is advice on where to live, how to live, how to spend your money (or keep it), and how to spend your time.  Some of it is helpful.  Most of it is repetitive.  Often the advice is, simply put, overwhelming and confusing.

Learn to ignore

Sanity comes from ignoring much of the advice — especially the dire predictions of financial doom or health calamity.

Nobody can calculate what you’ll need or want in your life.  Your life is unique. You will make yourself crazy trying to understand and take advice that is not right for you.

You need to decide what will work for you and get on with living.

photo courtesy of Crismatos BusyYou are your own best advisor

You have spent years learning to understand yourself.   Retirement calls on you to make choices based on what you want based on your inner hopes and dreams.  You have finally reached a stage in life where you have freedom to make choices that were not available during child rearing or career-building years.

Now it’s time to find your own path.

This can take courage.  You may find yourself taking risks and forging new directions for your life — directions that mean a departure from all you have done in the past.

You may want to move across the country to live near to the ocean or to live near to extended family.  You may move to get away from extended family.  You may move to a smaller place to cash in on urban real estate values and to have a more manageable home to care for. You may start a new career or start a business.  You may go back to the classroom to finish a degree you never completed or study something that you always wanted to learn about.  You may decide to climb a mountain, or run a marathon.  You may decide that now is the time to travel to places in the world that you have always wanted to see.

Or you may be happy just to goof off within your four walls amusing yourself at home, enjoying your neighbourhood, and puttering in your garden.

Listen to yourself

Learn to ignore the pundits.  Learn to listen to that small silent voice inside that tells you what you need and what you want.  Explore options that you desire. And then follow your own path.

Thanks for reading this post.  If you like my blog, tell others about it, email it to others and consider becoming a subscriber to receive regular posts.  The photo is courtesy of Crismatos Busy

What? Stress in Retirement?

As I was preparing to retire, I believed that leaving the world of work and its associated career demands meant that I would leave stress behind.  Not so.  Postworksavvy has discovered that retirement brings its own sources of stress.

Retirement life decisions demand managerial skills similar to those used at work.  Setting priorities, controlling finances, managing relationships, problem solving and dealing with unforeseen challenges require decisions.  The new lifestyle in retirement means new life arrangements — and these new arrangements can lead to stress.

It’s a different type of stress in retirement but it’s still stress.

photo courtesy of Pedro Riberio Simoes

Sources of Retirement Stress

Time Management — Retirement is a significant transition in terms of how time is used.  Too many choices about how to spend the day is the source of most of my retirement stress.  Moving from a well-defined, scheduled lifestyle to a lifestyle with endless options has been a challenge.  Sometimes I find myself flitting from one activity to another and feeling frustrated that I don’t have enough time to really focus and smell the roses.  I have to set priorities for each day, make sure that the priorities are achievable, and then use self-discipline to stick to may plans.

Other people may find themselves struggling with too much time to fill.  The days seem endless and repetitive.  It may feel that life has lost its purpose.  They describe feelings of useless and aimlessness.

Family responsibility  

Many people leave demanding careers and take on the equally demanding task of caring for aging parents or caring for a sick or disabled spouse/partner.  Family responsibility may also involve taking care of grandchildren, having adult children move back home, or supporting adult children who lose jobs or decide to change careers.

The tensions involved with family responsibility are considerable and inevitably lead to stress for the caregiver.

Financial Stress

Lack of money is a common source of worry once regular employment income stops.  Financial worries top the list of sources of stress for many retirees.

There are lots of lifestyle options for retirement spending — travel, vacations, hobbies, a second home, gifts to children or to charities.

This blogger is not a financial expert but knows that balancing expenditures with revenue is necessary in any budget — whether it’s a business or a household.   If income from pensions and investments is insufficient for lifestyle expectations, then adjustments to increase income or reduce spending need to happen. Each reader’s unique circumstances will determine the options that might be available.

Health worries

Aging inevitably brings new health challenges. Older bodies are tired; older bodies have more aches; joints don’t move as easily; fractures happen because of unanticipated falls; and every injury takes longer to heal. The top chronic health concerns include heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and depression.

Health worries also come from changes in partner’s health status which will cause anxiety for both people in the relationship.


Stress in retirement may also come from grief.  Loss of a partner, a parent, a child, or any loved family member or close friend will trigger grief and the stress associated with grief.

As we grow older,  it is certain that our schedules will include memorial services and funerals for people who are close to us.  Each of these events may also trigger personal fears about death which looms closer with each passing year.

Negative Thinking

Finally, stress can come from habitual negative thinking and unnecessary worries. Routinely expecting that life situations will be difficult leads to a gloomy outlook.  It’s important to remember that most things go right rather than going wrong.  ‘Awfullizing’ doesn’t pay — it just adds to your stress.

Symptoms of Stress

Common symptoms of stress include moodiness, general unhappiness, procrastinating and neglecting responsibilities.  Stress may also cause over-eating or loss of appetite.  You may sleep too much or too little.  You may also resort to using excessive alcohol or drugs.

Strategies to deal with retirement stress

Dealing with retirement stress starts with using the executive skills learned at work for self-management.

  • Control stress — experiment with new techniques for responding to stress including meditation, hobbies, exercise and other diversions.  Eat sensibly and adopt routines that are calming.
  • Plan ahead — allow enough time to complete scheduled tasks and activities and don’t over-schedule the precious days.
  • Avoid stressful situations — you don’t have to attend those some family events or social activities that you suck away your energy.
  • Look for the positives — sometimes it is difficult to turn life’s lemons into lemonade but there are always benefits and ways to learn about yourself as you deal with your worries. Switch gears when you find yourself thinking negatively.
  • Learn to laugh at yourself mistakes — stress often comes from silly things you have done or have forgotten.  Laughing instead of worrying about a missed appointment will be better for your health and for your disposition.
  • Honour relationships.  Tell people you love how much they mean to you.  Show them you care. Apologize when you are wrong.  Talk things over with people you trust and get their advice.  Forgive the small hurts.
  • Say ‘No’.  Protect yourself by saying  ‘no’ as often as possible — whether it is to unnecessary spending decisions or unnecessary time commitments.
  • Relax. Go slow. Breathe.  Enjoy the gifts of every day.  Keep a gratitude list.  Hug yourself.

Keeping stress in check during retirement involves focus on personal priorities.  Abandoning the expectation that retirement will be stress free has helped me to take positive steps to cope with the usual stressors of daily life.  I don’t always succeed but taking a realistic and common sense approach has helped.

Thanks for reading this post.  If you like by blog, email it to others, tell your friends about it and consider becoming a subscriber to receive regular posts.

Taking a Life Inventory of Ordinary Successes in Retirement

Last week Barbara Moses, one of my favourite leadership columnists who writes in the Business section of the Globe and Mail, suggested doing an inventory of recent accomplishments that have produced intense life satisfaction.

I decided that I could do a quick inventory of some of my ordinary retirement accomplishments in the past few months.

I have learned to focus on my own happiness.  After more than 40 years of working full tilt I was exhausted when I retired.  As I made time for things I love to do,  I gradually found my old self and realized how much I needed time just to be ‘me’.  Solitude grounded me and helped me to rest my previously overloaded brain.  My eyes re-gained their sparkle.  The joy of daily life returned.

learned how to say ‘NO’.  I began by rejecting invitations to activities that I ‘should’ attend but knew that I would dislike.  These were mostly rubber chicken dinner events that were fund-raisers for some club or group but also included invitations from distant family members or acquaintances.   If I had no interest in the event, I refused as graciously as possible.  I learned that nobody hates me as a result of saying ‘NO’.  I also learned that invitations don’t stop so long as the refusal is polite and unapologetic.

I did a week of media deprivation.  I turned off my computer, my TV, my phone.  I read no newspapers and did not listen to any of my favourite CBC radio programs.   I missed my electronic toys but re-started some old hobbies such as knitting.  I found that moving my hands in repetition brought benefits similar to meditation in terms of relaxation.  My greatest ‘ah ha’ during the week was that I slept better, possibly because my mind was not over-stimulated.   In terms of things that really matter to me, I missed very little.

I have begun some new friendships and have had time to nurture long time friends.  Through my book club I met a couple of wonderful bridge players and, along with lunch and great snacks, have spent many afternoons completely absorbed with the strategy and tactics of bridge, a game I had played during university years but had neglected for lack of time.  I’ve also had enough time to refresh relationships with people who keep me laughing and who know me inside out — the friends who have sustained me through the ups and downs of the years.

I have taken care of my health.  Exercise was always part of my life.  In the past few months, I have taken swimming lessons so that I could learn how to breathe properly when doing a front crawl. I also learned the breast stroke and the back crawl.  I’m proud of my swimming ability now and  love the water.  Adding swimming to my repertoire of cardio activities has helped my arthritic joints.  I also eat sensibly.  To eat well, I cook most of my own food so that I know what it contains.  The bonus is that I have lost weight and my appreciative husband has also lost weight — without diets and without giving up wine with our meals.

I’ve also kept up my volunteer activities.  I remain active on a couple of boards — Kids Help Phone and the Ontario Mental Health Foundation.  Both of these organizations offer valuable services and I can contribute based on the skills and abilities that I developed in my previous career.  Participating in board retreats, committees, strategic planning sessions is different in the role as a director than it was as a CEO — and I know that my contributions are meaningful in terms of these valuable organizations.

Finally, I have kept writing.  I write every day — journal entries, blog posts, as well as some fun pieces to keep me amused and to keep my brain active.  It is my creative outlet.  It is also my method of staying in active learning mode.  I also enjoy the passive learning from reading, from watching movies, and from the internet — but when I have to put my own words to the screen or to paper, I use a different part of my brain.

I could add lots of activities to this inventory. Many were seasonal diversions or travel or  necessary home maintenance projects.  All had their charms and their frustrations.

On the days when I wonder what I am accomplishing during retirement I remind myself that  I no longer need formal written goals for my life.   Nor do I need to measure my success by what I do everyday.  This short inventory reminds me that my life is not is aimless; nor is it un-focused.  Rather it is filled with activities that keep me growing in spirit, actions that keep me healthy, and diversions that keep my mind engaged and productive.

I hope that you have enjoyed this blog post.  If you like my blog, please consider becoming a subscriber to receive regular updates by email or RSS.

Valentine’s Day — What’s love got to do with it?

Valentine’s Day happens tomorrow.  This is the day when we celebrate the loves of our lives.

Flowers, chocolates, fancy cards, sexy lingerie and other gifts are given and received as tokens to express love.  The most important gift, though, is recognizing people who love you and who you love in return.

photo courtesy of Esparta Palma

What is love?

There are so many definitions of love and so many ways to express love. Love is unique to each of us.

Usually love gets defined in terms of intimate partner relationships — a deep commitment to another person that stands the test of time and grows stronger as the years pass.  It usually begins with romance and gradually matures into a bond that sustains us–hopefully through many lifetimes.

Family members love each other intensely despite the inevitable emotional tug-of-wars between parents and children.  Nobody knows you better than your family, especially your siblings who have shared many of your childhood secrets and great chunks of your life history.  And no love is deeper than the love of a parent for a child even when the child does not  live up to all expectations and, when the parents don’t meet all the child’s expectations.  And what can be more special that the love of a grand parent for a grand child?

There is also the love expressed through friendship.  We need the care and support of friends.  Our friends laugh with us and make the good times feel so much better.  Our friends also give us the straight ‘goods’ when we seek their advice and sometimes they give advice when we don’t think we need it!  Our friends prop us up when things aren’t going well.  Shared experiences cement the ‘love’ relationships among friends through laughter, tears, sickness, work and play.

Some people also experience love through their churches, clubs and other institutions.  The relationships that evolve from sharing spiritual growth, from participation in special rituals, or from sharing quiet moments create feelings of love.  I remember my mother telling me how much she loved her church — not the minister, not the people, not the building — but the church itself and what it meant to her.

Finally there is self-love which means learning to love yourself — despite mistakes you make in life and the short-comings you have.  It means being kind and forgiving of yourself which in turn allows you to show kindness and forgiveness in loving relationships you have with others.

The Guts of a ‘Love’ Relationship

So what makes for a ‘love’ relationship?  Each relationship is unique so it’s difficult to categorize.

I think of the closeness, affection, warmth, romance and intimacy in the couple relationship I have with my husband — all of the joy and wonder of two hearts joined together in 45 years of marriage.

I also think of past loves — the deep love I felt for my parents, my brother and my sister.  Their deaths robbed me of many family experiences that people take for granted throughout their adult lives. It was from my family that I first experienced being loved unconditionally which allowed me to learn about love and how to have loving relationships with others.

From my friends I receive a different kind of love.  The fun of sharing many activities and having mutual interests is usually a starting point for building longer term relationships based on trust, respect, and honesty –with lots of fun in the mix.  I think of women friends with whom I have confided my deepest secrets over endless cups of tea.  I think of men and women who encouraged me during my career and who I proudly count as my friends in retirement.  I think of my ‘work-out’ friends at the gym, my summer ‘beach’ buddies, and my bridge friends.  Many of my friends I have known for years and years.  Some I have met more recently.  Life changes and people come and go with the changes.

Love may also involve those who help you through the daily challenges in your life.  For some it is the caregiver, or the housekeeper, or the lawn maintenance person.  In my life, I think of the mechanic who keeps me safe in my Toyota, the man who cuts my hair perfectly, and my acupuncturist who keeps my arthritic pain in check.  I also think of everyone who follows my blog and provides regular feedback on my writing.

So………What’s love got to do with it?

Everything.  Love is what keeps me connected to others.  Without these connections my life would be empty – bereft of its richness.
Love provides the intimacy that makes every day worthwhile.  Love gives me hope.  Love provides the motivation to get up in the morning, it puts a smile on my face during the day, and it soothes me to sleep at night.
I am grateful for Valentine’s Day as it gives cause to name and to celebrate the various love relationships that sustain me.
On Valentine’s Day, take a moment to think about your own love relationships — past and present — and to remember what love means in your life.  And then do something to let people you love know how much they mean to you.
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Why Laughter Keeps You Young …and Healthy too

It’s no longer a secret that laughter keeps you young.  Researchers studying the process of aging know that laughter improves blood circulation — to the head and to the heart.  Laughing is good for you.

A-maze-ing Laughter - photo courtesy of Chris Higgins

A good belly laugh every day improves mood, improves physical health and improves emotional health.  Best of all, it’s free to everyone.

Physical Health Benefits

Laughing heartily and uncontrollably provides a physical release.  Several muscles are exercised including the diaphragm, the abdomen muscles and the shoulders.  Blood circulation is increased for all major body organs including the brain. Laughter even provides some exercise for the heart.  Increased blood circulation stimulates facial muscles so you might even look better!

Some researchers report that laughter can reduce pain. Increasingly, medical experts use laughter therapy in cancer care and with other chronic illnesses.

When we laugh, stress hormone levels are reduced and levels of healthy hormones are increased.  The body’s immune system improves with the release of endorphins, those natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals.

These physical effects account for the cleansed feeling that happens after a good laugh.

Laughter to Manage Stress and Emotional Health

It’s hard to feel anxious or sad when you are having a good laugh.  Laughter distracts.  It takes your mind away from daily problems and worries.  When the endorphins reach your brain, stress levels are automatically reduced.  You relax and as you relax you recharge. You start to feel good and your mind clears.

Laughter can also provides a new perspective.  Very often I need my husband’s light-hearted view of the world to help me see situations differently.  His easy laughter re-frames problems which helps me to see new possibilities — and sometimes, to find novel solutions.

Experts consider the social benefits of laughter as the most powerful way that laughter influences health.  This winter I have played bridge with a wonderful group of women.   The bridge games often involve eating a meal together, sharing stories and lots of good laughs as we play.  My bridge game is getting better.  More importantly, new bonds of friendship are forming as we laugh at our mistakes and learn together.

Laughter creates and strengthens relationships.  It is contagious.  When you laugh, others laugh too — thus the quality of social interaction improves.

Learning to Laugh

You can learn to laugh at any stage of life.  Even if you are going through a difficult phase of life, laughter will contribute to your overall outlook and keep you young and healthy.

  1. Seek out funny people.  Hang out with people who laugh often and laugh with them.
  2. Adopt a playful point of view.

    Laughing Lady with silly hat - photo courtesy of Jim Clark

  3. Do something silly just for the sake of doing it and for the sake of breaking your customary routines. Spontaneity can bring new rewards of fun.
  4. Try a laughter yoga class.  Laughter yoga is fun and many laughter yoga classes are offered — usually at no charge.  Laughter yoga stimulates laughter and combines this with pranayama, a form of yogic breathing.  It will leave you happy and energized.
  5. Find your sense of humour so that you can laugh at life’s frustrations.
  6. Lighten up.  Learn to laugh at your own mistakes.  By not taking yourself too seriously you will learn to laugh at your everyday foibles.
  7. ‘Fake it till you make it’.  Researchers say that your body can’t distinguish between real or fake laughing.  You get the health benefits regardless of whether it is fake or real laughter.
  8. Treat yourself hilarious diversions — to funny movies, books, YouTube videos.  You want not just ordinary comedy but truly hilarious diversions.
  9. Spend time with children.  Children know how to laugh and how to play.  If you hang out with children you can discover their secrets and have lots of laughter as you make these discoveries.

    Giggling boys -- photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver

  10. Play with your pets.  Laugh at their tricks and their habits. You’ll discover how much fun you can have sharing their routines.

If you can’t laugh, try smiling more.  Sometimes life just feels too grim to laugh but a simple smiles attracts others. Smiles are as contagious as laughter.  They enhance relationships and you will feel good — even as the smile subsides.

Good laughter - photo courtesy of Manosij Mukherjee

Making a conscious effort to incorporate more humour and fun into daily life with your family will pay big dividends.  Your outlook on life will change and the laughter you share — and will keep you young …. and healthy too.

Thank you for reading this post.  If you like my blog, please tell others about it and please consider becoming a subscriber by email or RSS to receive regular posts.

7 Easy Ways to Maximize Health

Retired people rank health security among their highest priorities for a successful retirement.
 Last year, during the weeks and months following hip surgery, I struggled with limited mobility.  I realized how much I had taken my good health for granted.

photo courtesy of Kate Ter Hoor

I also realized what every Postworksavvy reader knows — good health is essential for a happy retirement.  You can’t travel or pursue hobbies or attend social events when you are sick or when your health is compromised.
You can’t control all aspects of health. Accidents happen; genes are inherited; environmental toxins affect all of us. Age also takes a toll.
You can, however take control of some aspects of your life to achieve better health.   Regardless of whether you suffer from a chronic health condition or whether you are blessed with excellent overall health taking some simple actions will help you to keep and improve the health you now enjoy.  These steps will also help to manage some of the inevitabilities of growing older.
Eat well.  For me this means lots of fresh fruit and veggies and less meat.  I’ve recently been experimenting with a gluten-free and dairy free diet as a strategy for lessening arthritic pain without pain killing drugs.  Many people control Type II diabetes through diet alone.  Others follow a vegan diet because of their values and/or beliefs.  A good diet is essential for weight management.

photo courtesy of leoncillo sabino

In North America we have access to food choices that allow us to eat well and to follow our individual needs and preferences for good nutrition.
Take your vitamins.  Eating right is a beginning but trace vitamins and minerals that aren’t available to your body may be missing or not available in the required amounts. Talk to your doc and follow his/her guidance.
If you are prescribed medications, take them — in the quantities and at the times specified on medical prescriptions.  Skipping medications that you need to fight disease or control pain won’t help your quality of life.
Exercise regularly.  Last week I visited a seniors centre where an exercise class was in progress.  Everyone did the exercises while seated. The instructor gave a 45 minute class that involved most muscle groups. The music was invigorating and people enjoyed moving their arms and legs and torsos — within the limits of a seated posture.  What I learned that morning is that you don’t need to go to a swimming pool or a gym to exercise.

photo courtesy of SCA Svenska Cellulose Aktie Bolaget

Do whatever you can do to move your body.  Walk.  Dance.  Cycle.   And reap the benefits that come with flexibility and agility.
Sleep enough.  We’re told repeatedly that sleep is one of the key determinants of  health.  You know what your body needs — perhaps it is 7 or 8 or 9 hours per day.  Don’t compromise.
Many people need daytime naps to get enough sleep; if night sleep is a problem, you might try napping as a supplement.
Keep stress in check.  Stress robs the ‘joie de vivre’ from any day or night.  Whether the stress comes from family responsibilities, financial worries, over-scheduling or habitual negative thoughts, it can take a toll on your health.

photo courtesy of Caius Durling

Learning positive stress management techniques may require changes in how you react to situations.  You don’t need to bang your head in frustration.
Many stressors can’t be avoided but your response can be managed — you can avoid certain difficult situations; you can say ‘no’ more often; you can learn to express feelings and not bottle up your feelings inside only to explode later.
Relaxation always helps manage stress.  Your relaxation strategies won’t be the same as mine but retreating to my hobby room, or playing the piano, or doing some yoga have helped me to regain balance and put aside niggling worries.
Get regular medical and dental check-ups. When you are busy and your health is of no particular concern, it’s easy to put off the annual physical exam.
Yesterday I had coffee with a friend who told me she had not had a physical in more than 5 years as she was healthy.  She may be one of the lucky people whose health is excellent.
Regular physical exams often serve as an early warning system and help to prevent serious health problems.
The same goes for dental exams which many seniors skip as they are reluctant to pay for good dental care.  These decisions may be penny-wise but pound-foolish as poor dental health often leads to other serious illness such as heart disease.
Laugh and love.  Hugs and kisses from loved ones, good belly laughs with friends and family, social activities that keep the brain stimulated — these are easy ways to increase happiness.

photo courtesy of Sang Trinh

Laughter and love are important strategies for overall health — and they also serve as stress reduction techniques.  Love your family.  Cherish your friends.  Accept social invitations.
The steps to maximize health are easy.  It might be harder to change your life — every day — to make sure that these steps become part of your lifestyle.  Consistency and self-discipline will make these steps easier.  Soon the steps will become habits — habits that help you achieve better overall health results.
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Putting your best face forward — not just on Facebook

Many famous artists have recorded their adaptation of  ‘When you’re smiling — when you’re smiling — the whole world smiles with you’.  The beautifully simple lyrics of this well-loved song give a life lesson in how others see us — either as smiling and happy or as ‘frowning and bringing on the rain’.

As I peruse Facebook I am constantly surprised by how many posts describe happy events in people’s lives and how many photos show smiling faces.  We want others to see a cheerful, carefree image.

How often does this same cheerful and happy person show up in day-to-day interactions?   Does life make it too easy to lapse into a frown — especially in interactions with those with whom you live and work?

We like to think that we put our best face forward 

Before leaving home we spend time trying to look our best.  Women fix their hair, apply make-up and check the mirror to get the right look for the day.  Men spend time grooming — shaving, adjusting collars, shining shoes.  We try to put our best face forward — just as on Facebook.

But how much time is spent attending to those non-verbal communications muscles that affect the face ?  Those muscles that control how the eyebrows furrow and whether the lips are pursed give away the feelings being experienced.

Do we take time to breathe and to focus on the emotions that our facial expressions are communicating?  Are we aware that our faces communicate our feelings?

A life crisis will show on your face

Our faces show the positive as well as the negative life events that we experience.

When we are experiencing joy others can see it in the face — eyes twinkle and lips naturally curl upward.

Our faces also show others when we are in pain.  Lack of sleep shows up and we look as tired as we feel.

Stress affects body hormones and it’s effects usually show up on our faces.

Emotions show up in the face 

Perhaps the emotion that is easiest to recognize in people’s faces is happiness.   Almost everyone who feels happy exhibits some type of smile.  Many happy people just can’t stop grinning.  Because happy expressions are easily recognized, sometimes people disguise and hide other emotions by sporting a fake smile.

Anger is another emotion that is easily spotted.  In our culture anger and the associated stress and frustration are deemed as negative emotions. Many people try to hide anger as its expression is often associated with conflict and even violence.  Anger doesn’t attract others so people often try to conceal anger — sometimes with a fake smile.

Closely related to anger, a turned-down mouth shows  the dismay, loss, and hopelessness associated sadness.   Sadness is another negative emotion that our culture tends to censure and, thus, many people work hard to deny it along with the associated despondency and hopelessness.

The facial emotion most often seen in public spaces is boredom.  I am constantly amazed by how often a blank and empty face is seen on the subway, in a lecture hall or in a waiting area to convey disinterest, neutrality and detachment. This ‘nothing matters – don’t bother me’ look is common among adolescents but is increasingly becoming the look for stressed and over-worked people.

No matter how hard we try to conceal them, facial expressions do reveal aspects of your emotional state.

Is it possible to hide what you are feeling?  

We all know people who show very little emotion.  Many professions are well practiced in displaying a poker face.  This is required in many situations where showing emotion could be interpreted as a sign of weakness.

Men, especially, work hard to try to control and mask emotions.  Unfortunately, for many men, social disapproval has occurred when emotions are expressed openly. The stereotype of the strong silent male is slowly disappearing but, in too many situations, men must still try to bottle their feelings.

Conventionally for women, more overt emotional reactions to life situations have been allowed and accepted. This may come from their traditional roles as mothers and caregivers in the family where they are more aware of the feelings of others around them.  In the workplace, women are sanctioned for showing their feelings and becoming ’emotional’. Many have also learned to mask their feelings, put on a corporate face, and to ‘take it like a man’.

Cultural differences affect the display and recognition of emotions  both in facial expressions and in social situations.  In a racially and ethnically diverse city like Toronto, it is important to recognize that many cultural norms exist. Dangerous judgements and assumptions based on broad generalizations need to be avoided.

Because facial expressions are a non-verbal form of communication, they play a key role in human interactions.  Facial expressions let the world know what you are thinking. They may be a form of bonding or a form of rejection.

Awareness of your own emotions and how your face may convey your emotional state is important.  Put your best face forward — and not just on Facebook.

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