Dr. Chad Sato
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
As we head into the holiday season and two and a half years into this COVID-19 experience, it’s interesting to observe holiday traditions and habits that were altered drastically. Family get-togethers were limited and many celebratory parties canceled or rescheduled due to a positive test result. As time has passed, many families are reassessing what to do this year? … Go back to past traditions or to continue with a renewed way of choosing to spend time with those family members and friends that are treasured. The conflict always arises with the I “should” or “have to” and all the obligations that come with family traditions. The importance of family cannot be overstated, however, as I’ve witnessed in many situations, it’s often the people who are not blood related who tend to honor and respect us more and not take us for granted. I am not saying that family is not important, but a sense of loyalty should go both ways, and if you are not experiencing this, then maybe reassessing what you do or don’t do for family is in order.
In the spirit of the holidays, it’s a great time to celebrate yourself and to reflect on how 2022 went for you. Did you make any changes in the way you operated and dealt with relationships? Did you begin prioritizing what’s important for you and make choices more aligned with your highest values? Taking this time before the end of the year to get some clarity is essential to getting a great start to the New Year. In that same vein, it’s also a very good time to do an end of the year body check. Of course, you can do your Western approach of going to your primary care doctor and do the necessary blood tests and physical examinations, but how about creating your own body check that is custom-designed for you? Take a look at what things you did in the year on a physical, mental/emotional, chemical and spiritual level this year to bring more ease and balance into your life. If you haven’t done so, I will be sharing tips to create your own body checkup so that way you can either enhance everything you have been doing or start creating a plan and then take action to insure you have a great 2023.
Physical body check up
Let’s start with breathing … it’s the most important act that we ever do, because you will not be alive after four minutes without it. Breathing is the alpha – the first thing a newborn does is take a deep breath in and cry; the omega – the last thing a person does before the deep sleep. The first thing you can do is take a few deep breaths in and see if it’s expansive or do you feel restriction, shortness of breath or feel muscle tension when you do. The quality and quantity of your breathing is a sure-fire sign to determine if you are compromised or not. If you feel your breathing isn’t at its optimum, then look at what you are doing currently that can be affecting your breath such as a stressful job, family challenges, financial worries, any vices such as smoking or vaping; then determine how you want to go about to address these stressors. Once again, if you take responsibility for your well-being and health then you become empowered in how you want to live your life.
Next is your physical constitution – do you feel stiff? Do you feel confident in lifting more than 10 pounds? Do you feel stable when you walk or feel unsteady? If you feel your body is not up to the task, then begin an exercise regimen today – move your body for 10-15 minutes; take a brisk walk outside for 15 minutes at first building up to at least 30 minutes. If you are a swimmer, then swim in the ocean or nearby pool to get your cardio up and your body moving. Just remember a flexible and supple body leads to a more adaptive mind.
Mental and emotional state
Your thoughts and perceptions shape how you feel your emotions and experience the world. If you find yourself with pervasive negative thoughts, check in to see how much news you watch and what media you expose yourself too. Just a factoid back in 2020 – Queen’s University fMRI brain scans research from psychologist, Dr. Jordan Poppenk and his master’s student, Julie Tseng, found that the average person has 6,200 thoughts per day. There have been floating claims in the past by the National Science Foundation that 80% of our thoughts are negative. Once again, you have the power of choice to choose what thoughts you entertain, so choose positive ones. If you find maintaining positive thoughts difficult, then one way to combat negative thoughts is to look for three things that you are grateful for each day. This gratitude strategy helps to retrain your brain to look for the positives instead of the reactive negative ones. If you are making the effort and taking the time to fortify your physical constitution, then that can add some reassurance to all the uncertain variables that exist.
The common thinking that you are what you eat has more validity now than ever. Eating fast foods, consuming refined sugars, increased alcohol consumption and not keeping a balanced diet impacts you more than you know. For the past ten years research in the brain-gut axis has clearly shown that a poor diet and a highly acidic microbiome in the gut leads to lack of clarity and a poor emotional state. With the holidays coming around, you can choose how you want to splurge or eat more in moderation. If you are already supplementing with immune builders such as zinc, Vitamin C and D, medicinal chrysanthemum then be reassured that your innate healing and protective system is fortified. Make sure you also drink adequate amounts of water and get out and expose yourself to the sun. If you aren’t doing these things, then decide if having peace of mind with the oncoming flu season is worth making a new body tradition.
Last but not least is your spiritual checkup. Whatever religion or spiritual practice you adhere to, check to see if you are in alignment with those values. Assess for yourself if you are taking the time to refine your spiritual awareness. Have you let the busyness of life get the better of you or are you building up your spiritual resolve? Whenever life presents challenges, it tests our resilience and belief in a higher power to help us navigate back to a state of balance and ease. The one thing I do know is that by trusting your intuition and knowing your truth enhances your divine spiritual connection.
In closing, if you take responsibility for your well-being and health then you become empowered in how you want to live your life. Awareness is key and by taking the time to observe what is working for you and not will make all the difference. Just like old family traditions that got altered, know that you can also modify your mind body awareness practices that can eventually become a tradition. Just know it’s very important from time to time to check in and see if what you are doing is in alignment with how you want to live and experience your life. If you aren’t then know that you have the power and freedom to choose and make a change.
Dr. Chad Sato graduated from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earned the Doctor of Chiropractic degree with honors from Life Chiropractic College West in 1998. Sato founded his practice, Aloha Chiropractic (drchadsato.com), in Mänoa valley, O‘ahu, on Oct. 1, 1999. He is a sought-after educator, speaker, author and mind-body specialist who helps people reach new levels of empowerment when it comes to their health and wellness by staying present with their body signs, making appropriate life choices and utilizing stress instead of managing it.