The ABCs of Happiness During a Pandemic

Imagine if Covid-19 stood for Community, Optimism, Vigor, Improve, Delight, and that 19 was the magic number of things you are most grateful for in your life. Whatever life decides to pass your way, at any moment in time, it is always worth reflecting on how to live your life in the most healthy and happy way possible. I decided to put together an ABC of all the most important things that have helped me through the learning journey of the past 2 years and hope you may be able to take something of value to add to your own life and the people around you.

A – Adventure: an unusual or exciting experience 

Learn to embrace the unknown and venture into life with an open mind. Create new and exciting experiences for your friends and family to enjoy together (and enjoy the memories forever).

B – Breathe: to draw air into and expel it from the lungs 

No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you are not breathing properly. There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat 25,000 times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences. Ask a child what their nose is for and they will say, “To breathe.” Ask that same child what their mouth is for and they will answer, “To eat.” If a child knows the difference so intuitively, why have so many adults forgotten? I highly recommend the book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art (James Nestor), to help you rediscover your full breathing potential. Breathe your way fully and deeply to maximum health.

C – Child: a young human being under the age of puberty 

Spend time with young children. A miracle is seeing the light in the world through the eyes of a child. Children are the best teachers of living in the present moment. They will be able to help you with the recommendations of L, P and W!

D – Dance: to move rhythmically 

Without fail, dancing is the most liberating way to get endorphins pumping around your body. Dancing is free, it’s great exercise and you can dance anytime, anyplace and with anyone. Haven’t danced in a while? Get yourself a copy of Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees will get you rocking.

E – Exercise: activity requiring physical effort, done to improve health 

Whatever your level of fitness, take time each day to exercise. Make it part of your daily routine. Your body and brain will thank you.

F – Friend: a person with whom one enjoys mutual affection and regard 

Create moments to appreciate and spend quality time with your friends and family. Reach out, keep in touch, surprise them with an unexpected gift. “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

G – Garlic (allium sativum): a vegetable well known for its antibiotic properties 

Garlic is most effective in the treatment of respiratory infections including influenza, bronchitis and recurrent colds. In the two world wars, garlic saved countless thousands of lives by protecting wounds from becoming infected. When no other antiseptic was available, surface wounds were smeared with crushed garlic and then bandaged.

H – Happiness: “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” – Aristotle

The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, said these words more than 2,000 years ago and they still ring true today. Here are six ways you can increase your happiness: express gratitude, get active, get a good night’s rest, spend time outside, meditate and eat a healthy diet. The best news of all is that happiness appears to boost the immune system.

I – Intuition: the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning

Your intuition arises as a feeling within your body that only you experience. Learning to listen to your gut feelings and trusting your intuition is the ultimate act of trusting yourself. Intuition is so deeply instinctual that even if you have been out of touch with it your entire life, it’s still there inside you, waiting for you to summon its wisdom.

J – June: the sixth month of the year 

It’s the time of year when the Yukon is bathed in sunlight. Plants and animals alike are infused with a dynamic energy, and life forces are at their peak. I love to revel in the pleasures of Yukon summertime. Each day is a gift and I am thankful for the light. Summer is a magical time to tend a garden and enjoy the benefits of fresh garden produce at your dinner table.

K – Kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate 

“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” – Bob Kerrey

L – Laughter: to make sounds and movements usual in expressing lively amusement 

Laughter really is the best medicine. Laughter is a natural painkiller and it strengthens your heart, wards off disease, tones your abs, boosts immunity, decreases blood pressure, banishes stress and helps those suffering from depression. What more can I say other than find something to laugh about every day!

M – Moon: natural satellite of the Earth, revolving around it monthly, illuminated by sun and reflecting some light to earth 

When winter days are short, look to the moon to add beauty to the night. Winter darkness is an opportunity to let your inner light shine at its brightest. The moon is simply a reminder of the light that shines in you.

N – Nourish: to sustain with food 

Eating and breathing are the two most-important things that we do every day to stay alive. The food you nourish your body with is of critical importance to your health. The right diet can keep you healthy, preventing infection and limiting the amount of medication you’ll need to take in your lifetime. Good food—natural foods that nature intended for you to eat—will provide your body with essential nutrients for good health, particularly an effective immune system. Bad food—unnatural or processed foods—will not.

O – Open heart: an open heart lets your whole spirit expand 

You attract the life and love that you want. You are not vulnerable; you are generous and you are grand. “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” – Mother Teresa

P – Play: to occupy or amuse oneself pleasantly with some recreation, game or exercise 

Play is the work of children. It is how they learn and how they explore the world around them. There is value in play for adults too. Remember the words of George Bernard Shaw: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old … we grow old because we stop playing.” Play with abandon.

Q – Quercetin: a plant pigment found in red wine, onions, apples, berries and green tea 

Quercetin is one of the most-abundant antioxidants found in our diet and has strong anti-viral properties. There is a major benefit of taking quercetin with zinc. The quercetin will push the zinc into the center of the cell where the zinc can stop viruses from reproducing.

R – Read: When you read the written word, you transform it mentally in your head or speak it out loud to convey its meaning 

Reading is important because words—spoken and written—are the building blocks of life. You are, right now, the result of words that you have heard or read and believed about yourself. What you become in the future will depend on the words you believe about yourself now. People, families, relationships and even nations are built from words. Think about it.

S – Smile: to make or to have facial expressions of amusement, pleasure or affection 

Smiling is a universal language that creates a sense of well-being in you and for those around you. Smiling helps to elevate your mood through the release of endorphins. Dopamine is also triggered through smiling, which boosts your immune system. What a simple contribution to health and well-being. Remember, “Life is like a mirror, smile at it and it smiles back at you.”

– Peace Pilgrim

T – Thankfulness: an expression of gratitude 

Be thankful for all of the gifts Yukon nature bestows upon us: clean air, crystal-clear water, mountains, forests, medicinal plants, berries, animals, beautiful seasons, sunshine, snow and rain. When you wake up in the morning and go to bed at night, find five things to be thankful for in your life and write them down. Taking time to be thankful is one of the keys to happiness.

U – Urtica dioica: better known as stinging nettle 

One of the most-generous plants that I harvest in my garden. It’s chlorophyll-rich leaves strengthen and support the whole body. Nettle is high in calcium, magnesium, chlorophyll, cobalt, niacin, phosphorus, manganese and silica.

V – Vitamins C and D: essential for health

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for the activity of white blood cells. White blood cells are like soldiers in the body—they fight off invading pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria and fungi. When there are high levels of vitamin C in the body, these white blood cells become much more active. Their ability to defend the body against harmful bacteria is enhanced. And vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, helps to control infections and reduce inflammation. Getting outside each day will help your body to make its own vitamin D. You can boost your vitamin D level with supplements during the winter months.

W – Wonder: an emotion excited by what is unexpected, unfamiliar or inexplicable 

Our sense of wonder, if alive and well, applauds each marvel, each grace, each surprise. We appreciate the extraordinary, the novel and the unique. We hunger for the good, work for the better and hope that the pressures and banalities of life will be supplanted by something more magical. We dream that we can transcend the mundane and that we can escape oblivion, boredom and a life without consequence. When we can wonder, our mind takes flight and dares to dream.

X – The twenty-fourth letter: used to indicate position or incorrectness, or to symbolize a kiss or a vote

This letter represents the things that do not serve us well when striving for physical health and mental wellness. Refined sugar is the biggest “X” of all. Sugar is a highly addictive, omnipresent destructor of health (especially for young children). As little as one teaspoon of sugar (4 grams) will dampen the immune system for several hours. If you consume foods that contain sugar, throughout the day, you are effectively increasing your risk for infection and disease and you are creating a blood-sugar imbalance that will add stress to your body. I challenge you to find any supermarket in town that has a complete aisle of food products that have no sugar added. Sugar is hidden everywhere, even in low-sodium table salt! Next time you shop, take the time to really consider your food choices. Put a big fat X next to the products that contain added sugar, and keep them well away from your shopping cart. Your body will thank you.

Y – Yarrow (achillea millefolium): a circumpolar plant with healing properties 

In Greek mythology it is said that when Achilles was a young child, his mother dipped his body in a vat of yarrow tea to protect him from the dangers of war. Many years later, when he was a famous warrior, Achilles died from an arrow wound that pierced his heel where his mother had been holding him when she dipped him into the vat. As well as its healing properties, yarrow is an immune stimulant, anti-inflammatory, mild expectorant and magical women’s herb (it slows down excessive bleeding during menstruation, relieves pelvic congestion, reduces cramps and helps cleanse the liver so hormones like progesterone and estrogen are processed efficiently in the body). Yarrow tea even promotes warmth and circulation throughout the body and will help warm up your hands and feet through the cold winter months. It grows abundantly in the wild and it is well worth taking the time to harvest, during the summer, to add to your herbal first-aid kit.

Z – Zinc: a trace mineral that is necessary for your health 

Zinc is firmly established as a major protector of the immune system and an important disease fighter. Zinc controls immune-system messaging within the cells, is an antioxidant (prevents cell damage) and is anti-inflammatory. The best dietary sources of zinc are whole-grain cereals, legumes and meat.

Using these ideas as a guide, create your own Alphabet Soup of health and happiness … then share it out and spread the love. 

Be active, be healthy, be happy!

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