Not long ago I found myself really stressed — between several important work projects, busy teenagers and managing a household, I was really feeling the weight of it all. There are a lot of ways I can think of to help me relieve stress — a cocktail, a pedicure, teleporting to a tropical beach. But it wasn’t any of those things that I craved — it was hot yoga that was on my mind.

It had been years since I had been to a yoga class, but I found a class schedule and was thrilled when I finally walked through the doors of Downtown Yoga in Westminster. I could feel the stress lifting just walking in — with the warm room, the smell of essential oils, people speaking quietly, the cozy couch I sat on while I waited for my class to start. For the next hour I focused on deep breathing, I stretched, I sweated, I closed my eyes in meditation — it was exactly what I needed to release some of that stress. It helped me find center again. Of course, the stressors were still there the next day (kids, job, house) but I felt like I had a little reset and felt prepared to handle whatever the universe threw my way.

I call it finding my zen, and by that I mean finding my calm, finding my center, feeling balanced. There are a few ways I get there — one is hot yoga, one is running, one is being out with my closest girlfriends. The problem is, it’s work making time for these activities. I can always find a reason to forgo zen time — the kids have to get to sports, or I need to work late, or I’m tired, or it costs money. But the older (and wiser) I get, the more I realize my health, mental and physical, is tied up in me making sure I get time to do these things. If I don’t make sure I’m taking care of my mental, emotion and physical health, who will?

We are inundated with stress, and we each owe it to ourselves to figure out how to deal with that stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress impacts our body, our mood and our behavior, and it can show itself in a variety of ways — headaches, obesity, depression, anxiety, withdrawing socially and substance abuse, to name a few. It’s not just important that we find our zen place, it’s imperative. What brings you joy, what makes you laugh, what makes you feel good, what helps you unwind that physical stress? Figure out your zen and then make a serious commitment to build it into your life.

In this issue we focus on health, including a look at how increasingly popular alternative and complementary health practices are being used to help people prevent and treat illness. I believe it’s so important that we focus on being healthy when we’re well, otherwise, how can we expect our bodies and minds to thrive when we’re sick?

So here’s to good health and a solid commitment to finding those pockets of zen!