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3 Ways to Drink Your Way to a More Balanced You

3 Ways to Drink Your Way to a More Balanced You

    We are a few weeks into 2012 now and some of us that made New Year’s resolutions have discovered that in our zeal to achieve change, we have created resolutions that have us feeling too constrained. For most people however, success lies in practicing a balanced approach to life.

    Finding balance means adopting the path less travelled, and rethinking arbitrarily determined timelines in favour of creating our own timelines and strategies —  that work for ourselves.  And for some of us, that also means rethinking the whole idea of “cleanses” and austerity as penance for excess, instead embracing a few simple pleasures that can bring us a little bit of joy throughout the entire year.

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    I’m here to tell you that a little tipple can help you do that! Keep the following 3 things in mind to help you drink your way to a more balanced you.

    Think of cocktails and spirits as a health tonic

    Many of the spirits and liqueurs we enjoy today were originally concocted as health tonics. And the ingredients that give them their distinct flavour profiles also have healing properties. For example, gin was originally distilled in the 1500’s as a means of making the benefits of juniper berries widely available to the masses. Chartreuse, containing 130 herbs, was created by monks in the 1600s as a health tonic. All of the Italian amaros, incluing Fernet Branca, and Campari, were originally consumed as digestifs, intended to promote optimal digestion. And Cognac, was actually available during prohibition by prescription.

    While this may seem far-fetched, consider that herbalists creating healing tinctures use 80 proof alcohol to extract the beneficial properties of the herbs they prescribe.

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    Quality over quantity

    While it often goes without saying that moderation is the key to a healthy, happy existence, I’m going to say it anyway. Deprivation is the surest route to “falling off the wagon” of our well-meant resolutions. The best way to avoid the pitfalls of the binge/abstain cycle is to invest a few extra dollars or time in a better quality of beverage.

    For those also resolved to reign in their spending in 2012, the good news is that finding a good quality spirit or wine does not mean having to lay out $100 for a bottle of single malt. There are bargains to be had if you are willing to look at alternatives. If you enjoy single malt scotch, for example, but find it too spendy for your pocketbook, try a bourbon or an aged rum for less than half the price.

    You will get all the enjoyment of sipping on a nuanced beverage, without the sticker shock.

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    Pick your potion

    With so many lifestyle and health-related diets out there these days, finding a spirit that is “allowed” on many of these diets leaves many people opting out altogether (see the reference above to deprivation). Whether you are on a Paleo diet, or a slow-carb diet, or a gluten-free diet, there is a quality beverage for you out there.

    For those looking to minimize their grain intake, the good news is that a quality spirit is far better than beer, and there are more microdistillers experimenting with creating spirits from fruit. Red wine is better on the carb front than white wine. And remember that organizations such as the Celiac Association are working at the local level with wine and spirits purveyors to research and educate about gluten-free options.

    Picking your potion does not need to be a complicated affair, instead it’s a matter of being more mindful about what we consume.

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    Conclusion

    I wish you well in 2012, and raise a glass to all of you seeking balance in your lives. Remember to consider the health benefits of a life well-lived. A moment of reflection while sipping a delicious beverage, or connecting in the evening with your spouse over a glass of wine, may have more benefits than you think!

    (Photo credit: Bottles of spirits and liquor at the bar via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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