It’s impossible to resist the siren call of fall and the pleasure and predictability we get from its most delightful benchmarks, such as sweater weather, brilliantly blazing foliage and hot spiced drinks. But nothing about this year has been, or will be, expected.

When summer broke, experts told us the worst was behind us. Now we’re getting a new message and it’s a cold reality check: COVID-19 treatments are still many months away; a “second wave” is imminent; and new cases will escalate well before Election Day November 3. We’re in for a long, cold fall and winter thanks to the coronavirus—cold figuratively rather than literally as we put safety first and forgo the warmth of close, face-to-face connections with family and friends.

Sure, we can connect visually, but research suggests that only goes so far. “Our brains are hardwired to crave social interactions,” psychologists note, and adverse experiences can have long-term health effects. A new CDC study of almost 5,500 shows that nearly 40% of American adults show increases in mental health issues related to pandemic-induced quarantines. These include heightened anxiety, depression, PTSD-like symptoms, thoughts of suicide or increased substance abuse.

But as my colleague Deepak Chopra says, “wellness is the great hope springing up all around us.” This is why it’s so important to make personal wellness and self-care a priority. One tool I can offer is a free “Audit Your Wellness” quiz to help you assess your current mental, emotional and physical state of wellbeing. And I have plenty of other suggestions and strategies on how to live with the uncertainty now and make constructive changes to improve your wellbeing going forward.

Read on and get out to enjoy sweater weather and the changing leaves of fall!






The Red Smile, 1963, and Pink Sweater, 1981, both Alex Katz

Science is Proving We Really Can Live Long and Prosper

Experts say that genetics account for only 20% of the “health spans” we have; the rest is exercise and lifestyle. The founding director of the Institute for Aging Research at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine recommends meditation among other strategies, such as adequate sleep and stress management. In Blue Zones, five areas worldwide where people live the longest, people downshift all day long, through prayer, meditation and naps. Scientists are also coming to more fully understand the role that other people play in prolonging life, Vogue reports. Social Relationships significantly increase life-span and the quality of life. Read “Is Aging a Disease You Can Reverse?” here.




Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Necessity is the Mother of Reinvention—or in This Case, New Habits!

These past several months have changed us (think working from home, cooking instead of eating out, wearing casual clothes and taking long walks). We’ve formed new habits out of necessity, but my colleague Susie Ellis, Chairman and CEO at Global Wellness Summit and Global Wellness Institute, pointed out that this may be a silver lining for wellness. We’ve all been forced to form these new habits and practices over time, and maintain them as we reset our lives. I’m betting on it, given this story Millennial media powerhouse Vox did on eight new habits people want to keep post-lockdown. Read “Quarantine has changed us—and it’s not all bad” here.





Virtual Walks and Virtual Cuddling Sessions?

Is there a future for virtual “walkshops” and cuddling sessions? Walkshops seem inevitable, especially after I read “Why walking is the ideal pandemic activity” in National Geographic. It does an incredible job extolling the myriad benefits of walking, but it also made me realize how ideal walking is for guided tours and routine meetings. It gets us outside in nature, focuses our mind and more (read the story!). But then take a look at this interesting piece in The Guardian on how the pandemic has forced us to find virtual options. While nothing can compensate for the real thing (research shows a lack of physical touch can lead to loneliness, depression, anxiety disorders and stress), it’s heartening to know that “virtual cuddle” sessions can be had through Zoom. Read “Embracing change: pandemic forces professional cuddlers to get creative” here.

Personally, I practice a natural self-healing massage—every morning. It comes from the Ayur-Vedic tradition where touch is known to increase tactile stimulation and decrease stress. It makes you feel more alive. So, don’t lose touch!





Worth the Buy: “COVID-19: The Great Reset” and “Breath”

Through my work with the Global Wellness Institute, I’m privy to Thierry Malleret’s incisive Monthly Barometer on wellness, an analytical and predictive newsletter on macro issues impacting the field for high-level decision makers. So I’m excited about his new book—COVID-19: The Great Reset—which is a clear, realistic yet hopeful guide to what changes we’ll need to create a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable world post-pandemic. I’ve already mentioned Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by science writer James Nestor, but I’m tickled that this time, it’s a runaway hit and I can’t resist mentioning it again and saying a little “I told you so.” It’s about the new science behind the ancient art of breathing, and the bottom line is this: “No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly.”

So pause for a moment—and fully appreciate your life and your breath.









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Bija Bennett brings real-time restoration to all audiences

Copyright © 2020 BijaB, All rights reserved.

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