Friday, 29 January 2016 17:46

Hair Trends

 

HAIR-TRENDS-PHOTOSMaybe you're stuck in a rut with your current look, or perhaps you're simply craving a fresh style for the new year. Either way, we've got your roundup of the latest cuts, coloring methods, styling tools and more. For the scoop on what's on point in 2016, we spoke with industry experts and got their take on hair trends in the coming year.Runway Hints
One of the best indicators of future hair trends is often what looks show up on the runways at New York Fashion Week. "This season, each of these defining looks had a bit more interest. Some messy buns had an added braid, ponytails were anchored at interesting points and the gentle waves were more elegant,"
notes Maggie Mulhern, New York City-based editor and art director for Modern Salon Magazine.

According to Professional Beauty Association members, this is an "anything goes" era with hair color. From brilliant hues to muted pastels to new hair-painting techniques to splotch coloring and hand-pressed color, there's no end to the color experimentation. Even glitter hairstyles sparkled on the runway at Los Angeles Fashion Week, along with simple, single-process hair colors like Taylor Swift's monochromatic blonde.

Color & Cut
Balayage will continue to be the highlighting method of choice, but the Salon Spa Business Network believes that the painted stripes have faded in favor of more organic, solid-appearing colors. Tailoring the color to your face shape and skin tone gives a more natural effect, as does a move back toward more shades such as bronde (a combination of brown and blonde hair), buttery blondes, rich red and strawberry tones. For those curious to try something really different, there are some great eggplant shades and silver blonde styles, which look very sophisticated.

With cut, it's all about the LOB, or "long bob," in 2016. "The LOB with shattered ends continues to be the hottest look right now," Mulhern says. As for styling, braids, buns and ponytails will continue to be big, predict Intercoiffure educators and stylists. Embrace your natural texture and enhance that with styles that are twisted, tied in knots and bows or accented with ribbons and large headbands. Winter waves are also big at the moment, which use a large barrel curler or flat iron to put very soft waves in the hair.

Tool Trends
Other styling tools and products to keep in your arsenal include dry shampoos, dry conditioners, frizz fighters and curl definers. For the pro, every artist should have a mini-crimper to add volume at the root or underneath. And with a return to natural textures, a good diffuser is most important.

Guys have plenty of options this year as well. Both the Professional Beauty Association and the Salon Spa Business Network agree that longer hair for men is in at the moment, as is facial hair. However, maintain the grooming meticulously so those styles don't become unruly. The man bun has also grown popular, as have pompadours, and both work great with a well-kept beard.

If you're still unsure of what style will suit you best for 2016, be flexible and a little adventurous. Try a deep side part for a while and then switch the part to the middle. Enjoy sleek straight hair, then braid it wet and sleep on it for a frizzy look the next day. Change you hair color, play with ponytails or updos or clip in faux fringe. Whatever you do, OWN it. This is your look, and this is YOUR year!

SB-HAIR-Trends

 

Editorial Resources
Professional Beauty Association — www.probeauty.org
Modern Salon Magazine — www.modernsalon.com
Intercoiffure — www.intercoiffure.com

SalonSpa Business Network — salonspanetwork.org
Hair & Make Up Credits for Hair Trend Photos:
Hair – Candy Shaw and the Sunlights Artisan Team
Make Up – Candice Holloway
Photography – Tom Carson

 

Friday, 29 January 2016 17:24

Choosing to Love

When Ed Roland first met his wife, he thought she was a guy.

Ed had some extra tickets to a football game, and a buddy of his knew a friend who wanted to swing by to pick them up. The way Ed tells the story, he was in a sparsely-furnished apartment, spending the afternoon with his son, and they were "basically lounging around in underwear expecting some guy to come get the tickets." Instead, he answered the knock on his door to discover the lovely Michaeline standing there. She chatted with him briefly, took the tickets and then headed back down to the car where her date awaited ready to wheel them off to the stadium.

No Strings
Immediately intrigued, Ed's curiosity would be forced to simmer—he headed to the Middle East to play for the troops and couldn't contact her for weeks. When he finally did, he refused to take "NO" for an answer. One Saturday, he insisted she meet up with him at a local restaurant, volleyed every excuse she lobbed his way and promised to sit there waiting as long as it took. She decided to go talk to him for a little while, with no intention of staying long. No intentions at all. But, there was undeniable chemistry between them and an instant connection ... and another extra ticket on the table—this time to see REM that night.

Over the hours and hours they spent together, Michaeline learned about Ed's unwavering devotion to family above anything else, a conviction she shares. "We have the same values. Family first. It's the nucleus of success and happiness," she says. He gushed about his adoration for his son, making it clear that time with his son ranked paramount on his agenda. She recalls, "He had a son that was the apple of his eye. He took care of his parents in every way. He showed them great respect and made many life and career decisions around what's best for the family unit. [He showed] integrity, generosity and loyalty to family over all the things that could have easily trumped his value system."

That date was "it" for Ed; he says that he was a "done deal" and took himself off the market. He informed her quite plainly that he did not plan to see anyone else, but she could take all the time she needed to figure out who and what she wanted. Despite her attraction, Michaeline hesitated. She'd come through a painful divorce and wasn't sure about rushing into a serious relationship.

And, truthfully, she worried he might be a bit of a bum.

To Michaeline, he appeared to be hanging out around town all the time and living in a practically empty apartment. She knew very little about his career and told him that he ought to think about getting a job.

He had one. Still does.

Photo-1Hook and Riff
As frontman of Collective Soul, Ed Roland has spent 25 years writing songs and singing lead vocals for the multi-platinum band he started out of his hometown in Stockbridge, Georgia. Their chart-topping success began with that first radio-smash-turned-generational-anthem "Shine" off their 1993 debut album Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid. With millions of records sold, a catalog of #1 hits, featured songs on movie soundtracks, adoring fans, sold-out concerts and induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, Collective Soul continues to hold a treasured place in the rock firmament. Ed greets that success with an authentic gratitude and the gracious character of a true Southern gentleman. A few years ago, Ed added another venture to the mix, starting Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project, which exudes an entirely different spirit than Collective Soul while still retaining the signature Ed Roland influence.

Ed explains that when he's touring, his schedule is obviously hectic, but when he's writing and recording, his life can be more laid back. He was in that relaxed mode when they first started dating, which he admits probably didn't make much sense to the more corporate-minded Michaeline. And that apartment was sort of a pit stop after his own complicated divorce. He found a house and was ready to get settled in his own place—and he was also ready for Michaeline to be a big part of his future.

They married in Savannah in 2006 and make their home in suburban Atlanta, where they raise Lennon, their young son, and live near Lindsay, Ed's teenage son from a previous marriage. Of their 16-year age difference, Michaeline once again divulges that she had not been aware that Ed was so much older than she when they first connected. "It doesn't matter," she shrugs, "and it doesn't matter what he does. What matters [about people] is who they are."

Ed-Roland 02Solid Tone
So many of us grew up harboring teenage fantasies of becoming rock stars or hanging out with them backstage and lining our school lockers with fan posters. When asked about the reality of marrying a famous musician, Michaeline confesses that she actually didn't count music among her hobbies before dating Ed. Their relationship has inspired many of his songs, including an album dedicated to her in celebration of their 10th wedding anniversary this year. For Michaeline, these sentiments resonate at various decibels—simultaneously endearing, at the artistic expression and heartfelt emotion, and diffident, at the recognition that millions of people hear those private thoughts and sing along with them.

Similarly, Ed must think for a few minutes to get Michaeline's business title correct and then stumbles describing her career. She's the Director of Talent Acquisition for Atlanta-based SPANX®, a company long-heralded for female empowerment and positive corporate culture. Michaeline's perception and insight lead a dynamic department developing both the mentorship and management of a diverse, international team. She's a natural born listener and highly-skilled communicator, gifted with that special ability to make people feel heard, seen and validated. Michaeline thrives on schedule and structure, using the framework of a set routine to help guide and support their busy lifestyle. She's up at 6 a.m. to work out and often in bed by 9 p.m.

Tune and Tempo
For Ed, tours can last months. The schedule is anything but typical—on stage late at night and up till the wee hours of the morning. Sleeping during the day, then set-ups and sound checks and back out there. He makes sure to see the family every two weeks while he's on the road, and, in addition, Michaeline tries to manage at least one surprise trip to see him. "It can be tough on Ed," she says, and this relationship is top priority for them. They both focus on keeping their connection strong no matter what it takes, even if that means Michaeline flies halfway across the world at a moment's notice just to curl up next to her husband on the tour bus.

About taking the kids to visit him on tour, she admits, "It's great, but it's also visiting Dad at work ... at the office." Ed's committed to being home for a minimum of two months at a time between tours. As Ed says, when he's home, he is HOME—embracing the structure and adoring every moment of family time. He'll get up at 6, too, even if that means grabbing a nap later in the day. He revels in the blissful normalcy of balancing carpool lines with cutting an album and taking a studio break to come up for shared snack time or homework help. There's time for Legos, light sabers and lyrical mastery.

They both like to entertain and proclaim an "open-door policy" to family and friends. In fact, Ed regularly flings that door WIDE open. Michaeline says it's not at all uncommon to have all bedrooms filled and people sleeping on couches. Weekend mornings could call for brewing coffee for old friends or cooking up pancakes for an up-and-coming band that Ed's invited into the studio. All are welcome. This relaxed hospitality harkens back to Ed's roots as a preacher's son from Stockbridge, where front-porch-rocking-chair-fellowship fostered community. Michaeline's family hails originally from Seattle; her dad's job moved them several places during her childhood, eventually settling in Atlanta in the mid-1980s. She admits that she had to grow accustomed to Ed's style of geniality—now she's totally on board, invigorated by the bustle of a full house.

Amped Up
They see their lives and their relationship as a "work in progress," and they've both dedicated themselves to stay on the job with sleeves rolled up. They remain consciously open to change, knowing that each new challenge will teach them a skill necessary for healthy growth—both individually and as a couple. Ed looks over at Michaeline, pronouncing earnestly, "After 13 years, I [still] couldn't live a day without you, and we keep evolving." Nodding in agreement, Michaeline comments on their almost yin-yang balance by noting their differences as an asset. She says that though she and Ed may seem like opposites, she's more confused when people end up with someone exactly like them: "How do you marry yourself? The differences keep it interesting!"

These two actively nourish their relationship on a daily basis. They present a unified front and affirm that their marriage is their most important project, never to be downplayed by other interests. Michaeline elaborates, "We believe marriage is a choice we must both make each day. I gave Ed a bracelet years ago that tells him although we fell in love by chance, we stay in love by choices we make daily. We have chosen to stay on the path of 'I do.'"

As they talk and laugh around the Roland kitchen table, the fuzzy face of Trooper the goldendoodle peeking around corners and nuzzling into laps, the word most often dancing around the conversation is "grateful." Grateful for the forces that brought them together. Grateful for the family they've created. Grateful for the opportunities they have to support their community. Grateful for lessons they continue to learn.

 

Friday, 29 January 2016 16:37

Is Sitting Really the New Smoking?

In the 1940s and '50s, scientists raised the alarm that cigarette smoking contributed to disease. And yet it wasn't until 1964, when the Surgeon General released a report saying definitively that smoking caused lung cancer, that the public began to change behavior.

More than 50 years later, we're still fighting the public health battle against smoking. But another behavior has been hailed as "the new smoking," a health menace that requires intervention: sitting.

Yes, sitting.

Evidence is mounting that too much time on your tush leads to chronic health problems and an overall higher risk of mortality. Worse, the length of time we spend sitting doesn't seem to be offset by how much exercise we get.

So, how much damage are we doing while we sit idle? And how much of the hype is just that—hype?

Resigned to Recline?

Sitting is a behavior that, barring disability, we all do. And it's one that's easy to ignore because it's such a big part of our daily life. We're commuting to work or school, we're seated at a desk behind a computer or around a conference table. We spend our leisure time watching TV or reclined at a movie theatre or lingering at a restaurant table.

"With the Industrial Revolution, we started moving away from traditional, ambulatory living into what some have called a 'chair-sentenced' life," says Randy Martin, MD, FACC, FESC, FASE, emeritus professor of cardiology at Emory University Medical School and principal advisor of the Marcus Heart Valve Center. "Employers believed that the fewer minutes moved during the day, the more productive workers would become."

Sitting-manOn average, more than half of our waking life is spent sitting down. While there are plenty of public health recommendations for exercise (The World Health Organization [WHO] recommends 150 minutes of moderately intense activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise), there's no guideline for the length of time you should (or shouldn't) be sitting.

SB-1Surely evolution didn't give us two legs and the ability to walk upright because we're designed to recline.

A Body at Rest Stays at Rest

Many studies agree. A meta-analysis published in January 2015 in the Annals of Internal Medicine made a splash in the medical and academic worlds. Researchers reviewed 47 studies assessing inactivity in adults. They found that prolonged sedentary time was associated with a greater risk of:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • cancer (breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial and ovarian)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • all-cause mortality

While high levels of physical activity decreased some of the ill health effects of time spent sitting, it didn't erase the risk. Sitting for eight hours a day at work wasn't cancelled out by a 60-minute workout, no matter how intense.

The individual studies included in the review had all pointed out serious health risks related to prolonged sedentary behavior, but taken together, the evidence is damning. The limitation of an epidemiological approach, however, is that it can't determine that sitting caused these diseases and conditions—only that it's associated with them.

SB-2A big question is: What are the bodily processes that happen (or don't happen) while you're sitting that make you more susceptible to falling apart?

What's a Body to Do?

In the hour after a big meal, the body experiences a spike in blood glucose and insulin response. Over time, those spikes lead to fatigue of the insulin-secretion system, which in turn leads to Type 2 diabetes. That is, if you're sitting. But if you walk after a meal, or do even 10 minutes of moderate activity, those spikes aren't so severe.

Or let's take a look at a protein called lipoprotein lipase (LPL). LPL helps determine whether the calories you consume should be used as energy by your muscles or turned into fat. High levels of LPL in the blood send the calories to muscles to do work. Low levels of LPL signal the body to store it. Research shows that sitting for long periods of time decreases your LPL levels by as much as 90 percent. If you've spent most of your day sitting, even if you go to the gym straight after work, the damage has been done. However, studies also show that moving on an hourly basis throughout the day keeps LPL levels high.

When we're moving, the cellular processes that keep us healthy are also trucking along. When we stop, so do they.

What's the answer to the optimal workplace? Do we all need a standing desk (or a bicycle desk or a treadmill desk or maybe a hamster wheel)?

According to Dr. Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, concern over how much time we spend sitting versus standing at work is nothing new — although a hundred years ago, the worry was over too much standing and the dangers of being on your feet for hours: varicose veins, fatigue and strain on the circulatory system.

Sitting Pretty

So neither sitting nor standing all day is the optimal pattern of working, despite what your newly-converted-to-standing-desk co-worker may tell you. The ideal, says Hedge, is a combination of sitting, standing and moving around. To be precise:

  • 20 minutes of sitting in a good posture
  • Eight minutes of standing
  • Two minutes of standing and moving around

That way, you're letting different groups of muscles rest at different times by building a variety of movement into your day.

"When you sit longer than an hour, there are measurable biochemical reactions that happen in the body. Exercise doesn't reverse those changes—only frequent movement does that," Hedge says.

QUOTE-1As for treadmill desks, research shows that performance of certain tasks, like typing, deteriorates while walking; other tasks, like reading a document or making a phone call, are unaffected. But the more cost-effective (free, in fact!) version of a treadmill desk is to get up and walk around while you're on a call.

Better health at work doesn't require new equipment, and neither does a resolution to standing from 9 to 5 or a brutal workout after hours. The answer may simply be making more transitions from seated to standing. More research is needed to investigate the underlying causes of the links between sitting and disease, but in the meantime, remember the 20/8/2 rule: 20 minutes sitting, eight minutes standing, two minutes walking around. Don't let your sweaty gym time go to waste.

Friday, 29 January 2016 16:01

Menopause Q & A

What are the biggest concerns that patients express about menopause?
A: Women frequently worry about their emotional state, changes to sleep patterns, problems with memory and concentration, hot flashes and vaginal pain during intercourse. A decline in bone density and cardiovascular changes can also be a concern.

What are the benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)?
A: Menopause is a normal state of hormonal deficiency. The main goal of HRT is to replace limited hormones just enough to control symptoms and to protect the bone tissue and vaginal lining. If started early, estrogen has a cardio-protective effect, reduces risk of colon cancer, reduces inflammation in the body, and much more.

Are there ways to treat menopause without hormones?
A: Absolutely. Some women prefer not to use HRT and in some women it is simply contraindicated. Alternative methods include herbal supplements, various classes of medications, exercise, meditation, acupuncture, physical therapy and gravitational wellness.

Can estrogen be used alone?
A: Estrogen can be used without progesterone if the uterus is absent. Progesterone "controls" the lining of the uterus and reduces its risk of pre-cancer and cancer. It is highly recommended that systemic estrogen is used together with progesterone when the uterus is in place.

What is the most significant side effect of HRT?
A: In my opinion, it is stroke. Patients with hypertension, cardiac conditions, diabetes, obesity and previous thromboembolism carry the highest risk of stroke. The selection of candidates for HRT needs to be highly individualized.

People are often afraid of breast cancer when on HRT. What are your thoughts on this?
A: Breast cancer risk is not increased in women on estrogen alone. The addition of progesterone increases this risk only slightly. Multiple studies have shown that the survival rate in patients who develop breast cancer while on estrogen is better that the survival rate of patients who are not taking estrogen.

It sounds like you highly recommend HRT for women.
A: This is true. I highly recommend carefully designed HRT in very well-selected cases. At times combining HRT with alternative methods minimizes the hormonal dose, while controlling the symptoms beautifully.

Warmly,
Assia Stepanian

755 Mount Vernon Highway, NE, Suite 240 Atlanta, GA 30328 | (404) 549-3224
www.AcademiaWomensHealth.com

SB-1

 

Monday, 28 December 2015 20:40

Peach Dish

Monday, 28 December 2015 20:37

DDP Yoga Performance Center

Monday, 28 December 2015 20:00

CentreSpringMD

Monday, 28 December 2015 19:56

Art of Living Retreat Center

Wednesday, 23 December 2015 17:59

Into the Mystic

By Amy Meadows

You consider yourself to be a pretty healthy person. You exercise and eat right. You get enough sleep. By and large, you feel physically fit. Yet, something seems a bit off. You don't always feel like your body is in balance. It's almost like there's a piece of the puzzle missing. Maybe it's because you haven't been focusing on a certain element that could truly make you feel whole: your spiritual health.

True, complete health encompasses every bit of your being: your body, your mind and your soul. "The mind, body and spirit are interconnected. Although we talk about them as having distinct attributes, the spiritual view holds that this triad represents the wholeness of our being," says Dana Lisa Young, Reiki teacher and owner of Dragonfly Reiki. "It helps to understand that our bodies are dwelling houses for our souls. Physical health is influenced by the state of our mental and spiritual health. So, to be truly healthy, our efforts should focus on integrating all three aspects in our daily life."

In addition to the diet and exercise plans you've been following, you may want to consider adding a spiritual element to your health regimen. Because spiritual practices mean different things to different people, there are a variety of options available. You may find yourself turning to religion or a higher power. You may begin exploring mind-body practices that help ground and center you. Or you could look outside of yourself and find activities that give you a sense of purpose. As you embark on your spiritual journey, it's important to identify what speaks to you and how you can incorporate it into your life.

Religion

According to Father Miguel Grave de Peralta, director of pastoral care for Emory Healthcare, religion not only plays an important role in spiritual health—it is essential. As people think about spirituality, they often find themselves asking philosophical questions about the meaning of life. "It could be any major event or a series of small events that can trigger these questions—like the birth of a child, the death of a parent or dealing with illness," Grave de Peralta observes. "Religion helps to provide structure for that content."

SB-1-Into-the-MysticRegardless of specific tenets or rituals, religion in general gives people a foundation for facing a wide variety of situations. For instance, if you or a loved one faces a health crisis, being able to turn to your faith can help. "It provides an anchor in the midst of the storm," Grave de Peralta notes. "Studies have shown that when you are dealing with an illness [whether chronic or temporary], the role of spirituality is profound. It helps you come to grips with the reality of what you're experiencing. When you deal with an illness, it knocks you off balance. But spiritual exercises help us to regain or obtain that balance so we are able to maneuver these events in our lives."

Fortunately, Grave de Peralta reveals that there are many opportunities to find a religious path. He says, "We have an abundance of opportunities for religious expression and experiences in our culture." He recommends looking to your own past; if you've had religion in your life, you can always return to your roots. Or, if you are searching for a new religious direction, research the options or ask friends and neighbors for input based on their own journeys. Just keep in mind that the search may be a protracted one, which can be positive. "There are so many dimensions, levels and angles,'" Grave de Peralta notes. "[Those] who attain the most peace recognize that this is a very long journey."

Meditation

For some, spirituality begins by turning inward. "Spiritual health is connecting with the ground of fundamental healthiness and sanity that each of us is endowed with. In Shambhala, we call this 'basic goodness.' This is goodness not in the sense of good versus bad, but goodness in the sense of basic wholeness or worthiness," says Chris Wenger, director of practice and education for the Shambhala Center of Atlanta. "When we do not have the experience of trusting and resting in basic goodness, we find ourselves in a constant struggle. We see and experience ourselves as separate from others and from the world. We grasp at experiences we want or push away experiences we don't want. This sense of struggle is the root of suffering."

SB-2-Into-the-MysticWhether that struggle manifests itself as physical or mental suffering, meditation can be a useful practice for controlling it. The simple—yet challenging—act of focusing your mind has numerous health-related benefits. In terms of the physical,
Wenger reveals, "There are a growing number of studies on how meditation helps people manage stress and chronic pain, develop a sense of well-being and so forth. It's not a replacement for medical treatment if that's what's needed, but it can significantly help people deal with physical challenges." And when it comes to spiritual health, which ultimately relates to overall health, he continues, "[Meditation] provides a way that people can begin to lessen their habitual struggles and adopt a non-aggressive approach. We often refer to this process as 'making friends with yourself.' We begin to see how we struggle, how we shut down and how we might open up and inhabit our lives more fully and genuinely."

Finding a community in which to learn the practice of meditation can be very helpful. According to Wenger, personal instruction and guidance can make all the difference in bringing your mind to a natural state of being open and alert yet completely at rest. "It's like receiving a recipe for baking bread or making cookies from a grandparent," he says. "We learn best when we receive the recipe in a safe and friendly environment where someone who cares about us can share knowledge and provide support. And it's both extremely helpful and rewarding to be around others who are making the same journey."

Mind-Body Practices

In the same vein as meditation are the mind-body awareness practices that have become very familiar and popular in recent years. From yoga's fluid body postures and mindful breathing to Tai Chi's slow, continuous movements and focused breathing, exercises like these are designed to connect you to your body while reducing stress and promoting wellness.

Also in this category is the practice of Reiki, a spiritual healing art in which "a Reiki practitioner uses light touch, either directly on or just above the body, to assist the body in restoring its self-healing ability for improved health and positive well-being," Young explains. This non-invasive practice works well as a complementary therapy and often helps to relieve stress and anxiety, pain and discomfort from injury or chronic illness and even some side effects from cancer treatments. Many hospitals and medical communities now offer Reiki as part of their treatment plans and options.

"Although Reiki is primarily known for its therapeutic benefits, it is first and foremost a spiritual practice," Young notes. "The heart of the Reiki practice is compassion and loving kindness, qualities advocated by religious leaders like the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis. Reiki is non-dogmatic and can be practiced alongside other religious or spiritual beliefs." It can even be part of a daily self-treatment regimen for those who are dealing with illness or live with chronic health conditions. "Anyone can learn Reiki for mind, body, spirit wellness," Young says.

Volunteerism

While the mind, body and spirit are all connected, so are we to the people around us. That's why looking outside of yourself to find spiritual satisfaction can be just as rewarding and beneficial and focusing inward. And long-term volunteerism is just one way to reach out to help boost your overall health.

A report published in Psychology Today reveals that people who volunteer tend to experience fewer aches and pains, and helping others protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. This may be because people who volunteer often experience a "helper's high," a physical sensation—or "rush"—that involves the release of endorphins that make you feel happy and generally good. While it's important to protect yourself from stress and burnout if you dedicate yourself to a variety of volunteering opportunities, the positive effects far outweigh the potentially negative ones. In addition to distracting you from your own problems, volunteering will help you experience a true sense of compassion and gratitude.

Nature

The soothing and restorative qualities of nature help to reduce stress and anxiety, making you feel calm and balanced. In fact, countless studies have shown how nature impacts your physical well-being in positive ways. But it goes beyond the physical. According to a report from the Human-Environment Research Laboratory, spending time in nature connects you to the larger world around you, as well as to all of the people in it. This gives you a sense that you are part of something bigger than yourself—a key element in spirituality. And when you feel more stable in terms of your spiritual side, you will feel more complete.

SB-3-Into-the-MysticFortunately, it doesn't take much to reap the benefits of interacting with nature. You can do something as simple as enjoying some backyard gardening or as intoxicating as going on a hike in the mountains. You even can benefit from simply viewing images of nature—it is that powerful. So, if you have no other means to fulfill your spiritual needs, simply step outside and breathe in the natural world around you. It can do wonders for your body, mind and spirit.

Take Your Pick

In the end, the standing of your spiritual health is completely up to you.

"Spiritual health is vital for overall well-being—and it doesn't require retreating to a mountain cave to navel-gaze for days on end! Some spiritual practices and activities are one we can do on our own or with others, which adds to the depth and variety of connection we can bring into our life," Young concludes. "Good spiritual health cultivates a sense of gratitude, joy, peace and purpose. If we're not living for those things, then what are we living for?"

 

Resources
Dragonfly Reiki, www.dragonflyreiki.net
Shambhala Center of Atlanta, www.atlanta.shambhala.org
Spiritual Health at Emory Healthcare (formerly the Emory Center for Pastoral Services), www.emoryhealthcare.org/spiritual-health