By way of introduction, I am a health, beauty, fitness, and spa columnist who is currently devoting much of my writing to helping survivors achieve a rewarding quality of life that is Better Than Before any negative or limiting life-altering event. This can include anything from recovery from a serious illness to anxiety, mild depression or even menopause. To truly feel better than before, people should incorporate twelve simple lifestyle disciplines into their daily routines.
I have always been a firm believer in the life-strengthening and healing powers of the natural, holistic, mind/body medicine, combining the ancient with the modern, that Dr. Chopra has been at the forefront of introducing to us all. My Better Than Before concept started with cancer survivors who, after being told by their oncologist that they were free of any visible signs of disease, were basically left to cope with the psychological, social and spiritual setbacks and challenges, along with all the accompanying issues and anxieties, all by themselves. "What do I do now?" was the universal plea.
The Better Than Before program features a simple, unique visualization technique, a 12-rung symbolic ladder. Each rung represents an important lifestyle change in a specific area and delivers a wealth of information to help survivors relax, renew, and replenish. Indeed, the rungs cover all the diverse quality-of-life challenges that people may confront on a daily basis.
The purpose of the ladder is two-fold. Not only is each rung loaded with advice from doctors and lifestyle experts, but when survivors become more comfortable on their climb, they are also encouraged to customize their ladder, taking suggestions from all the other valuable sources available to them and pop them into one of the appropriate lifestyle rungs. It therefore gives survivors, many of whom are simply overwhelmed and unable to process all the information, an easy and effective way to file all the data and integrate it into their everyday lives.
How the ladder works: Survivors are asked to grab onto each rung, each day, taking but one easy suggestion at a time and visualizing themselves, with very little effort, beginning their climb to a better quality of life. As confidence increases, survivors are encouraged to challenge themselves. The goal is to make each day — and in some cases, each hour — a little better than it was before.
While the concept is extremely simple, when used every day, systematically and in combination, each rung becomes a powerful force that gives survivors guidance and encouragement, which lead to hope and a renewed sense of self, energy, and enthusiasm. Below is a brief example of the rungs of a start-up ladder and how easy a climb can be.
1) Doctor’s Orders: When you first get up in the morning, picture yourself climbing the ladder and remember that a healthy lifestyle can be just as uplifting as an antidepressant — without any harmful side effects.
2) Emotional Health: Life is challenging enough, but the one thing we can control completely is our own thoughts. Make them work for you. Today — and every day — make an effort to choose happiness.
3) Nutrition: A healthy breakfast is your power meal, the most important anti-fatigue and anti-anxiety tool. Always consider your supermarket your lifestyle pharmacy. Be sure to check all labels for chemical additives: If you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it.
4) Fitness: Start your fitness program slowly. Just go for a ten-minute walk before or after breakfast if you haven’t been exercising regularly.
5) Beauty: Look Good to Feel Better. Glance in the mirror and say just one thing that you like about yourself.
6) Natural Remedies: Meditation is a natural tranquilizer. Take a moment to stop everything, sit in a relaxing position, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Slowly, steadily, breath in and out through your nose, feeling calming warm air on each exhale. Now bring to mind and visualize a place that you always found the most peaceful.
7) Support: Happiness in contagious. Don’t forget to smile and say good morning to your neighbors.
8) Spirituality: Thank your higher power for giving you this day, and don’t be afraid to ask for help for any other problem that may turn up, no matter how big or small.
9) Creativity: Think of one thing you wish to do today that will bring joy into your life—then make a plan to accomplish it.
10) Healthy Home: Visit your at-home spa, your private comfort corner, and repeat one of your customized mantras, such as "I have the wisdom, the power, and the courage, to feel Better Than Before."
11) Reward: Your first reward is just knowing that you having taken positive steps forward by using your ladder this morning. It will inspire you to do more on a regular basis. Look back on what you’ve accomplished. Enjoy it, savor it.
12) Giving Back: Tell your caregiver that you are planning on having a wonderful day and ask if he or she would like to join you.
Future postings will focus on in-depth advice for specific rungs. And I look forward to your sharing both personal experiences and suggestions for each lifestyle rung that has helped you on your own climb to feeling Better Than Before.