The Zen Diet

I just really do have to brag. We’re coming up on May and I haven’t been sick once this entire winter! Winter has always pretty much kicked my ass. As a kid, I got strep throat, like clockwork, every December. When I go abroad, I pick up every manner of nasty, exotic illness in the book.

And spending the last four Chilly Seasons in South Korea and Missouri, two of the world’s Very Cold Places, just about did me in. My time in the VCPs was punctuated by an endless slam of colds and flus. Bad ones, too. Like, 104-degree-fever bad. Puking up Theraflu bad. Losing my voice and expelling brown snot-slime bad. And because I never take days off work (seems like more hassle than its worth) it usually takes some doing to get healed up. This year, though, I am pleased to say I’ve managed to skip all of that unpleasantness. I found myself teetering at the edge of colds/flus probably six or seven times since October, but I’ve adhered strictly to a new health regiment this winter and it has worked amazingly. Most of this might seem obvious, but…. I’m gonna go John Tesh on all your asses and dispense a little of the painfully obvious.

What I’ve been doing:

• Maintaining a strict (bordering on militant) sleep schedule of at least 8 hours, preferably 9 or 9.5. This might seem excessive to some, but it works. When I start feeling stick, I ratchet it up to 10 hours.

• Drinking tons of Kombucha tea and Emergen-C powdered vitamin drink packets, especially when I start feeling off.

• Upping my water intake.

• Taking Astragulus. I can’t say enough about this WONDER HERB! It boosts immune function and helps your body to fight off all kinds of garbage. You can pick it up at Fred Meyers or most any other health food store. Get the liquid form. When your head gets fuzzy or your throat gets scratchy, take a dropperful every two hours. Otherwise, take one dropperful every day or so during cold and flu season for general immune support.

• No food, ESPECIALLY no sugar, after 8.

• Meditating weekly. (Should be daily, but I am profoundly lazy.)

• Keeping stress down. My new trick for fighting stress is deceptively simple: when stressful things happen to me or threaten to happen to me, I simply ignore them. All it took was me giving myself permission to quit worrying. Every time I feel the press rising up in my throat, every time my blood pressure kicks high and concern beads up in my soul like a thousand tiny stinkbugs, I just remind myself that I am not allowed to get stressed anymore. And I feel this pleasant little tinge of relief. I am not being facetious, here! Car making a funny noise? Ignore it! (I can vouch for this one. My car has been making weird noises for 8 months, now. But when I drive, I just turn my radio up loud so I don’t have to listen to the knocking and clanking. And you know what? My car still turns on every day and hasn’t died once, so what does that tell you?) Personal relationships got you down? Ignore your friends and family! (What I mean is, sometimes it’s OK just to lay low for a while. Give yourself permission to take a break from answering phone calls for a few days. I do this regularly and highly recommend it. It’s not rude. It’s self preservation! Sometimes we all need a mental timeout.) Feeling overloaded with work? Ignore that, too! Just vow to do what you can with the time and resources you have, and forget the rest. If you are a good worker, your superiors won’t get upset with you for prioritizing. That sounds Pollyannaish, but I’m finding it is actually true. (I’ll keep you posted on the long-term wisdom of this approach.)

My point is, you can’t keep stress down. You can’t change or influence most of the things that bring stress to your life, either, so what’s the point in getting all worked up?

Cultivating a bit of Zen can carry you a long way. Trust me on this one.

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