I spend much of my day advising others on what to do and what not to do. Many of my patients ask me if I follow my own advice; I think that is a fair question and I answer them honestly: I really do practice what I preach! I have a family and a busy practice so I completely understand that time is limited and our lives can get out of control. That's why I like to think that each day brings new opportunities to maintain health, wellness, and sanity. Here is what I do to maintain mine:
1. I juice every morning.
I start the day with my simple, yet powerful, recipe. I throw a whole cucumber, a half of a beet, a lemon, turmeric root, ginger root, and an apple or a pear into my juicer. I add a dropperful of ashwagandha and astragalus, both potent adaptogens, to the juice. There is nothing more refreshing to wake my cells up.
2. I follow a plant-based diet.
Foods from the earth provide all the vitamins, micronutrients, and macronutrients my body needs. I spend time in the kitchen, love getting creative with plant-based recipes, and enjoy sharing new ideas with friends.
3. I avoid processed foods.
These foods contain chemicals and preservatives that both promote and provoke inflammation, which can interfere with my body's ability to prevent disease, maintain my energy all day long, and think clearly.
4. I run three to four times per week.
Running challenges my muscles and my heart while also clearing my head. It allows me solitude to process events in my life whether having to do with my family or my work.
5. I practice hot yoga one or twice a week.
Hot yoga lubricates the joints and keeps my muscles flexible to minimize risk of injury. It also gives me a space to connect with my body and acknowledge its limitations, while celebrating its amazing abilities.
6. I find quiet time each evening.
Even though I work late and have a robust family life, I always find at least half an hour in the nighttime, usually before bed, to be still and breathe. It is usually during this time that I honor the obstacles I've faced in the past.
7. I keep regular bedtimes.
My brain and my body thrive on routine. I make sure to be in bed at around the same hour and similarly wake at around the same hour each morning. Even on the weekend!
8. I express myself.
I tell my husband and my daughter I love them—because I do and it makes me happy to say it out loud.
9. I listen to my body.
Some days I have a lot to give, and some days not so much. I've learned to be OK with that and it has taught me to give my all each day because you never know what tomorrow may bring.
10. I give to others.
I face my own challenges by offering myself to others in need. We are all neighbors, and the more we can provide to those who cross our paths, the more strength we harness to heal our bodies and our minds. You don’t need to be a doctor to do this; anyone can be there for others. Studies have shown that prosocial behavior actually improves your health by protecting you from the negative effects of stress.
Some days are a challenge but I try to focus on what makes me feel healthy, energetic, and inspired. There is a lot to accomplish in this life and it is easier to do so when you feel good about your body, mind, and soul.
Want to know what a psychiatrist eats for optimal mental health? Find out here.
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Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D., is a board-certified neurologist practicing integrative pediatric and adult neurology in Seattle. She is the owner and founder of the Center for Healing Neurology and is on the faculty of Seattle Children’s Hospital. Her holistic approach includes full neurological care with the addition of acupuncture, neurofeedback, and herbal and nutritional guidance. She received her M.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and completed her neurology training at the University of Washington in Seattle. In addition to becoming a certified medical acupuncturist, she has also completed the Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the University of Arizona. Her Ph.D. doctoral dissertation studied the effects of environmental toxins on our nation’s water systems.