Sleep is vital for vitality.

‘Sweet dreams!’ – They say, that you can only have dreams if you are in deep sleep. 

My sleep was always great. No matter what happened. But during last few years, I go to sleep and wake up every couple of hours. So, I wasn’t getting that straight six hours’ sleep.

As a result, I’ve  developed health issues. I’ve somehow managed to avoid the big knee replacement operation, but  when I sleep well the pain fades away.

Realizing how important sleep is for one’s health; after the loss of my father a few months ago, I made great effort to settle my mother’s room. I wanted her to be able to sleep well. I changed the ambiance of her room so she could find peace and rest. You should do the same with your own room. Make it very pleasant, charming and peaceful.

Sleep – solution to health problems:

You can get out of many health issues through good sleep.  So, whatever health problem you have, first check your sleep patterns. Try to get your sleep in control first, and then see if you still have the problem. Sleep itself  is a ‘treatment’.  There are chemicals of all sorts inside our bodies; these get activated  to heal and repair while we are in deep sleep.   So, it can only happen when we sleep six to eight hours straight.

  1. Cancer cure: Remember my blog post on best cancer video here? Sleep is one of the six points. So, a good sleep can save you from cancer.
  2. Normal weight: It helps in keeping weight as normal. When you sleep well, you do not have those wakeful nights with trips to the ‘fridge.
  3. Helps solve problems: ‘A good nights’ sleep’ is the cure for most problems’. This is what my friend Farzana Ikram would say.   Every problem seems more manageable once you’ve ‘ slept on it.’

How do we lose our sleep?

  1. Purely our own fault. It is our attitude to sleep as if it is a waste of time. Sacrificing our sleep hours at the slightest upheaval. late nights work and  late night meetings. We make commitments by putting aside our bedtimes. If we  are conscious, we will plan according to our sleep times. Making sure we have a ‘cut off time’.
  2. Our phone,  laptops and television sets are  the biggest distraction, before sleep.
  3. It is due to these distractions that during the day while working too,  our work doesn’t get completed on time. As a result, our sleep time gets pushed beyond bedtime.
  4. The social occasions also play havoc, specially weddings. In such cases, be firm. Attend one of the many occasions. I’m telling you, your true friends and relatives will understand, the others really don’t matter. When my children were small, I’d attend the event on  Saturday.   I would inform the host,  I shall not be attending the other events. It is okay. They can invite someone else then.

Tips on how to be well slept:

1.      Control the mind and body:

  1. Saying things like, ‘I cannot do it.’ Instead, say, ‘I can sleep on time, if I try.’
  2. Don’t take agitated thoughts with you to bed. (This is why they say make up with your spouse before sleeping.)
  3. Deal with  ‘to do’ lists earlier, before getting into bed.
  4. Do make sure that you walk or exercise for thirty minutes daily. You can do this five times a week. This will ensure excellent sleep at night.

2. Maintain a bedtime routine:

  1. Help your body clock to work, by sleeping at the same time daily.
  2. Early dinner is essential. In Pakistan, 7.00 or 7.30 pm is a good one. (Then you can watch drama hour from 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm!)
  3. Unwind with family/spouse: Share your days’ events with family members and plans for next day with rest of family.
  4. Avoid any heavy talk or thought. (We had the whole day for that, remember?)
  5. Change your clothes, relax, take a glass of milk or a bowl of yogurt. Say Isha A little ‘me time’ would be great too.
  6. Best is to be in bed by 10.30 latest. Ok, I know, it isn’t possible for many of us to do this. So, make it eleven.
  7. Relax with music, dim lights, scented candles, read your favorite book or magazine.
  8. Prayer timings: Try to sleep on time, so you get your eight hours of sleep and be able to say Fajar prayers. Try to get six hours straight sleep and make up for the other two hours in the afternoon nap, (- if you can afford that luxury. So, the biggest incentive for sleeping earlier is to say Fajar prayers. On the other hand, If you regularly sleep late, then say Tahajjad prayers, before sleeping.
  9. Zikr is the best way to put yourself to sleep. Saying different names of Allah are a great way to fall asleep. You can also try to remember all the Surahs you have memorized. It is a sure shot way to go to sleep. 

3.      Break the routine on weekends:

  1. You can break the routine to sleep late on Friday and Saturday nights otherwise, there is no point.
  2. Try to sleep on time on Sunday night, to start your coming week properly. ( It is a good thing to back out of social commitments of Sunday late nights. )
  3. Many wise Instagram bloggers take a break on weekends.
  4. Keep  phone away:

  1. Specially at bedtime leave the phone in another room.
  2. Specially if it is on charger.
  3. Definitely, do not keep the phone under your pillow or next to your body.
  4. Keep a chit pad nearby to write any ideas that pop into your head.

Ensuring a good sleep:

It doesn’t start at bedtime. It is an attitude and a lifestyle. You need to guard your sleep-time. Simply accept that just as you guard your ‘Keto’ diet and all that, in the same way, guard your sleep, which is an all-inclusive element of health.

Watch your cat, and see how relaxed he is most of the time.Watch the power nap.

Only, yesterday I met someone after some years, and she said, ‘you are looking so fresh!’ I told her, ‘I’m taking care of my sleep hours now.’   I’m telling you, being well slept is the key to all-round well-being.  You will notice how the quality of your physical, emotional, social, intellectual and financial life will improve with it.

Yes, you will stay blessed, if you are well slept.

Note: All photographs taken by author, except the one taken by Nadiya Najib in Seattle, of mine with A. 🙂

Take care!

 

Some well-being tips that have worked for me.

Socializing with loved ones is an integral part of well-being. 

Everyone wants a long life. The best prayer you get from a loved one is for a healthy long life. Well, my 92-year-old father, passed away last month having lived a wonderful life. He lived a life according to his own decisions. With the love of his life: his wife for last sixty two years. So, lets say that Masha Allah, good health runs in the family.

The pattern is set with regular healthy meals, presented in proper way, cooked as fresh as possible. Simple wholesome meals, with fruit at the end – unlike the latest theory.   They thanked Allah profusely. My parents went for long walks when they didn’t have a car, and I was a baby. I’ve never seen them going for long walks, yet they have been very active. Even from a wheelchair, my father kept getting up to take a walk around the house right till the last day.

As far as I’m concerned, I love a good exercise any time. Not being a morning person, I prefer a later evening walk. Spending the mornings being  active always, doing house chores, or walking as much as possible  at the work place.

Regular walks every evening have been a main feature of my life. I love to connect with nature in all weathers and seasons. In Seattle, I’d walk in the snow, or rain. In Pakistan, in the hot or cold weather between Asr or Maghrib times, (between 4.00 pm to 7 pm in the evenings.)

My Health strategies:

 There are a few strategies I’ve had for dealing with common ailments like cough, cold, fever, headaches, low BP and high BP and upset stomach which have worked.  

 Let me share them with you:

Cold, cough and fever:

Go on ‘high alert’ with the first symptom, which is usually a scratchy throat:

  1. Take a Kestine tablet, before sleeping, (it is an anti-allergy pill with hardly any side-effects. So, you can take any anti-allergy pill you like.) Relax! Have a good sleep that night.

 Ta da! You will wake up fresh. 

  • Just for a few days, avoid cold drinks, sip more warm drinks, especially hot water.

If you are still unwell, then take another tablet in the morning (- and every morning for five days, if necessary.)  

Headaches:

I learnt this one the hard way. When I was expecting my number two kid, Nadiya, I used to have splitting headaches during pregnancy. I didn’t take any tablets, knowing it could harm the baby. But it felt as if a pulse in my head will snap. It was a very difficult pregnancy.

Later on – you will be surprised – I realized that I was to blame for it, not the pregnancy.

All I had to do was:

  1. At the first sign of a headache – stop whatever I was doing, (if I was cooking, just put off the stove.) Then go and lie down. Relax. Stop thinking of any problem. Meditate. Get up after ten minutes, as the headache would be gone by then. If one is at workplace, change the scene, by moving to another room. (Remove the irritant.) Give yourself a cup of tea, nice music, and happy thoughts if you can. It is all in your control.
  2. So, with my next pregnancy, (yes, Waliya!) I executed the above plan, and I was fine.
  3. You do not have to be pregnant to try it. You can do it normally too. We have a habit of ignoring the headache or any problem, and pushing ourselves on with whatever we are doing. All we have to do is to take a short break at the right time.

Weight control:

Throughout my life, my weight has been  normal. This was because the moment I gained a kilo or two, I’d lose it immediately. It is easier to lose a kilo than ten kilos.

Now, I’ve found using the step tracker app in my phone or a Fit Bit really helps. Best number of steps per day are 10,000. But you can slowly increase the number,according to your health condition.

Upset stomach:

I’ve been the queen of this.  When I was a baby, my mom was super careful with me, sterilizing everything. With the result, my resistance is too low. So, food poisoning is something that has happened most of my life. Finally, I’ve almost conquered it:

Take isafghol: 1 teaspoon, honey: 1 teaspoon, yogurt: 4 tablespoons.

Mix them quickly, and have it immediately, before it coagulates. (This is what it will do in your stomach also.) You will be fine within a couple of hours. If your tummy is very bad, then repeat this twice or thrice.  Take plenty of nimkol and have khichri and yogurt for food. You can have normal food too, but preferably,light stuff.

Say ‘no’ to alcohol, cigarettes & drugs:

Enjoy the best in life; here I am with Nigar Nazar going on a Metro ride. She was taking me for breakfast in a hotel in Rawalpindi. Life itself can be the best drug. 😉

Last month,  I took my dad to the  leading homeopathic Pulmonologist (lung specialist) Rehan Uppal . My father was finding it very hard to swallow food.There was too much liquid in his lower lungs which kept rising as he would eat food.

 Dr. Rehan Uppal  asked, ‘Does he smoke?’

I said ‘no’.

‘Has he ever smoked?’

‘Yes, forty five years ago.’

‘Before that, he had smoked sporadically for thirty years.’

‘That’s why!’ he said.

So, even though I’ve loved the idea of smoking but have avoided it. Now, definitely not. Why ruin your body? The same applies to all other forms of addictions.

Indulging in one’s hobbies, and being outdoors is lovely. 

My preventive health tactics:

  1. Have lemonade at least once a day.
  2. Lots of fruit, and salad with every meal.
  3. Green tea,preferably with herbs like rosemary, and a touch of cinnamon.
  4. Hot milk with half a teaspoon of turmeric powder is good. Otherwise, take a bowl of yogurt, sprinkled with 1/2 or ¼ teaspoon turmeric. This takes care of calcium intake.
  5. Flax seeds (1/2 teaspoon) is also good in a glass of water.
  6. Kalongi, the all-time favorite is great first thing in the morning.
  7. Take 3, 5 or 7 almonds daily. (Best would be mixed nuts, including walnuts.)
  8. Have glasses of water between meals, never during a meal. 
Here I am with my two mentors and icons: Mansoor Rahi and Hajra Mansoor. Both are leading full lives in their seventies, and stepping into eighties. 

Life style ‘musts’:

  1. Exercise, in the house, be overly active inside. Be vigilant with five days weekly walks.
  2. Sleep eight hours every night, (making sure you get six hours straight). Thirty minute Siesta in afternoon is good too.  
  3. Spiritual strengthening through regular prayers.  Reading Quran or holy book at least 15 to 20 minutes daily. Meditation.  
  4. Take showers: once or twice a day.
  5. Sunshine: enjoy it, anddo sit in sunshine for at least ten minutes daily.
  6. Happiness: Find an attitude of gratitude to keep you happy. Take care of your feelings as you do about your body.  
  7. Nature: Be close to nature, keeping windows open, bringing in fresh air, walking in parks, keeping plants inside your home, buy flowers, if you can’t grow them.
  8. Natural foods: Choose food items like fruits, fresh juices, vegetables, eggs and lean meats and of course have plenty of water.
  9. Pets, plants and flowers: Pet your pets and talk to them. Have real plants and flowers everywhere in your house.  
  10. Love: Your family members, pets, and people you associate with. Express  your feelings .
  11. Beautiful environment: live in a home surrounded with beauty of décor, thoughts  and lifestyles. It should be comfortable, bright and happy.
  12. Social interaction: Include your friends and family members in your life with love, sharing and caring.
Mansoor Rahi in his eighties, celebrates his birthday with a bang every year. He leads a disciplined life with a regular routine. He is very particular about having more fish and vegetables on a daily basis. He will never indulge in the food we have at parties. 

Do follow Luke Coutinho:  on Instagram and watch his YouTube videos, I’ve referred to his video on cancer, which I found the best one on this subject. He is very much into lifestyle. Totally agree with him.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=luke+coutinho

How I’ve avoided my knee replacement operation:

Many people over fifty tend to have this issue. Here is how I’ve managed to avoid my knee replacement operation for last four years.

Dr. Wyne Dyer also managed to do so. It is more in your mind, and general health care.

 You can do it!

Learn how to relax from cats!

Stay blessed my Reader. 🙂 

How to Keep Your Energy level High!

‘How do you get so much energy?’ I’m often asked. I’m nothing, I know people who are far more energetic. It is all a matter of focus, interest, and flow. It is a matter of knowing where you are going, and not letting other things/people get in one’s way.

In 1997, I had asked the same question from Dr. Farhat Hashmi. We were sitting in her office, in F-8/3. Her little son was moving around us. There was the sound of students outside, the hustle bustle of a typical Al-Huda Academy was on. I was interviewing her for my article in Dawn. I had spent a full day, at Al-Huda, with my friend Seema. I could see what a grueling time Dr. Farhat would be having managing it all. Yet, she looked serene and in control.

Continue reading “How to Keep Your Energy level High!”

Best Cancer Prevention video

 

By the Indian nutritionist Luke Coutinho.

No matter how happy-go-lucky we all seem to be, on the back of our minds, is this horrid fear of cancer. All those who follow me, would know that my husband died of Cancer. So, naturally, this word has a deeper connotation for me. It is natural to ask ‘why?’ and how did it happen?’ What could have been done to prevent it? As a wife, I felt so GUILTY, feeling bad that surely, there must have been something I could have done to prevent it?

Didn’t I see it coming?

No! I didn’t.

On top of it, GBM IV is called a ‘time bomb’ and a ‘death sentence’. Nobody finds out before it is too late. (What a consolation to have to deal with!) But seriously, when I saw the ‘treatments’, I’m glad it wasn’t’ found out earlier!

It was one hell of a painful journey which I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemies.

Watching this video last night did make me feel better. I can vouch for the fact that, what Luke is saying is 100% accurate.

I am a witness to it.

It also, makes me feel good that I did try to convince my husband to avoid these things, which I did observe him battling with….

So, anyone out there having these lifestyle tendencies, there is still time…

So, in a nutshell, this is what the video says:

6 Basic Commonalities observed in Cancer Patients.

  1. Constipation.
  2. Acidity.
  3. Sleeplessness at night. (No sleep.)
  4. Emotional Stress (Failure to manage stress)
  5. Sedentary lifestyle.
  6. Less water intake.

The greatest stress is made on the need to be forgiving, and as free of stress as possible.

So, all these things my husband had except the sedentary part. (Yes, the sedentary one did begin towards the last six to eight months.) He was basically a very active and health conscious-person. Only, towards the end, he started sleeping a lot, (which is one of the symptoms.)

Some said it happens due to being close to machines (he was an aero-space engineer, so loved machines), using too much mobile phones, being in a heated car, without opening windows, using mobile phone in-car, so on and so forth.

No one mentioned these points mentioned in this video.

When Asma Abbasi shared it with me on fb, I saw it and realized how much sense it made. I went on to watch more videos by this amazing nutritionist.

Wow. He is awesome.

It has given me so much comfort now, because for each one of these, I would try to help my husband in trying to avoid these aspects in his life, for instance, forgive and forget more, try to sleep more, have more water, be more relaxed in life and so on. Being a true husband, he would have an answer to each of the suggestions I made.

Had he known how dangerous these could be, I’m sure he would have given it a lot more consideration.

This is why I’m sharing this video here. So, that if anyone out there has these issues, please realize how dangerous these can be.

All of these points are do-able.

We also need to accept the fact that one day our time will be up. I pray that when it comes, I can go with grace and acceptance, as my husband went. However, this doesn’t mean that we do not try to have a good lifestyle which is healthy right till the end.

Be happy, forgive a lot, have a lot of water, and take a nice chill pill as you go about your life. As they say in Punjabi, ‘mitti pao!’ (And I’d like to add: ‘grow lots of flowers in it!’)

Note: All photographs provided by author and Nataliya Najib Khan. All landscapes of Mount Rainier near Seattle. 

#healthyliving, #cancerprevention, #cancercure, #fitness.

Secrets of success of Shahida Azeem’s life.

The art of living well till the eighty – eighth year of your life.

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When sad, I can’t sit still. I wrote on her in Shahida Azeem, my mentor and friend. Still I was sad, so I wrote about the sadness and how I tried to cope in  Dealing with sadness. So this time, I’ve written a list of things I’ve observed in Shahida Apa, which I believe are the secrets of her success . Mrs. Nasreen Haq Nawaz her family friend mentioned that Shahida Azeem has been like this even when she was thirty years younger!

After her passing away, I found out Shahida Apa was eighty eight years old. She walked straight and with grace and showed me how it is possible to live at this age. Here are a few photographs I took during one of my visits to her place. I wish I had taken some videos of hers too.

Whenever I’d mention her to anyone, the first question they’d ask me, ‘what is her age?’ I’d look blankly, surprised.

‘What has age got to do with her?’ I’d think.

Continue reading “Secrets of success of Shahida Azeem’s life.”

Walking is the best!

 

It’s my favorite form of exercise .

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Ok, come with me for a walk today – only online. Otherwise, it is my ‘me time’. Always has been. This is my time for reflection, and the deflection of problems. Yes, I refuse to let my ‘me time’ be spoiled! This walking is the unwinding and re-energizing session of the day for me.

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23622002_1743505092349442_761273883280085437_nSo, the typical question is ‘Walks kaisi chal rahi hein?’ (How are the walks going?) It really amuses me. But its true. Walks have to be on the move in one’s life. Yet somehow, when there is a break from routine, one’s walking routine is the first to be hit. Then it becomes really difficult to re-start the routine. So, let me say, from my own experience; ‘Never leave your exercise routine – no matter what happens!’ You can try to reduce the walks’ time or even inculcate it into your tough times. But do not leave your walk or exercise routine for long. 

Continue reading “Walking is the best!”

Panic Attack!

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How to get yourself out of it.

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It comes on you from nowhere, and suddenly engulfs you with fright and terror. You become at once frozen and yet you want to run out of the enclosed environment as soon as possible. Only that person can relate to it, who has been through it. It’s a very private experience. You desperately want to drink water and you need fresh air at once.

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It can happen in a car, in a traffic jam, in a lift or in an overcrowded room. Your first instinct is to run for your life.

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I had no idea that it is something that can happen, I thought I knew everything. In fact, one feels that such ‘psychological’ things only happen to weak minded individuals. No, certainly not to someone who is so strong-minded as myself. Well, I was very wrong. The first time it happened was in 2006, that was claustrophobia. But the Panic attack  happened to me in 2008.

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Ever been sure of dying ‘right now’? That’s what a panic attack is. Suddenly you feel that there is not enough air to breath. Anyone who has been through it usually ‘knows’ it and is sympathetic. My mother hadn’t. So, she responded with “What nonsense, behave yourself!” Being in an overcrowded room or a large area with closed windows brings it on.

Continue reading “Panic Attack!”

My first trail 5 trek with friends

Walking on the trails in foothills of the mighty Himalayan mountain range. 

Who wouldn’t want to touch the foothills of the great Himalayan mountain range? Margalla Hills in Islamabad, are part of the foothills. So, almost everyone in Islamabad, has to go for a to trek in one of its trails, in the Margalla Hills. ‘Trail 3’ was the steep one which has been very popular for years. Some years ago, my husband and I had been on the Trail 7 which starts behind the Faisal Mosque. Lately, Trail 5 was introduced. This one is less steep, longer, and along the way joins with the trail 3 route also.

You get glimpses of small water falls, streams and pools along the way. The hike is tough if you want to go all the way to the top. Many chicken-hearted people, just stroll in the lower tracks and get back – just as we did!

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As far as I know, the camp site has never been actually used – but that is just a conjecture. We Pakistanis are not the camping types usually. Plus it is uncomfortably close to the civilization. No proper bathroom there either, at the camp. However, a few good bathrooms are available near-by.

There is a ‘khokha’ or cabin offering tea and snacks at the car park. You will find the local staff around to watch over you, and even guards strolling around to see you have no problems.

Continue reading “My first trail 5 trek with friends”

Caring for elderly parents and parents-in-law.

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I have a mentor with a great sense of humor. She said “Why is it written in the Holy Quran, that you must take care of your parents without a single ‘uff’ from your side? – (He never said that for taking care of your children!) Because He knows, your parents will create situations which will make you want to exclaim!” And then she went into peals of laughter. It doesn’t mean the kids won’t be difficult. It means we don’t mind them being difficult. Then, why can’t we be more patient for our parents who have already shown their great love for us?

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Continue reading “Caring for elderly parents and parents-in-law.”

World disability day

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Each one of us has a responsibility towards them

A couple of years ago, I had a first-hand experience of what it means to be ‘disabled’.  I had fallen from two steps, in the school where I taught English.
The doctors said, that I need knee replacement operation within a week if possible. It was too big a shock for me, also my students’ final exams were round the corner, so I decided to postpone the operation till the summer vacations. I suffered a lot of pain at every step, and had to use a stick or wheelchair. I had to walk with a very strange gait. I still went for my trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi because everything had already been arranged and paid for.

Continue reading “World disability day”