Q: I’m constantly being pulled in 10 different directions at once, and I’m missing out on a lot. How I can regain some control over my life?
Lucy V., Little Rock, Arkansas
A: We hear you, and we know how overwhelming everyday life can be. As our good friend Dr. Sanjay Gupta says: “We’re taking in so much data -- up to 35 megabytes every moment! And if you are doing one thing and thinking about something else, you feel guilt, and that removes happiness and balance.”
That’s why we’ve launched our Blueprint for Balance. It’s dedicated to helping you achieve the mindfulness needed to restore a sense of balance and happiness in your life.
Surprise No. 1: Finding your balance doesn’t mean you have to sit in a dark room meditating. It means being present in whatever you’re doing. Mindfulness is less about WHAT you are doing than about WHERE your mind is. Pay attention to the conversation you’re having, the landscape you’re viewing, the work task that’s at hand.
Surprise No. 2: There are five questions to ask yourself in any situation that will help you create a sense of balance in your life. They’ve worked for us!
1. What do I enjoy about this moment?
2. What can I do to give something to someone or the world in this moment? (There’s nothing too small.)
3. What can I learn from this moment?
4. How would I like this situation to happen next time?
5. And perhaps most important ... what’s funny about this situation? Sometimes the craziest things can happen, but at least you get a good story out if it!
Remember what Albert Einstein said: “Life is like riding a bicycle; to keep balance you must keep moving.” So stay tuned: Over the next months, we’ll explore other ways to move toward mindfulness, balance and happiness. (Surprise No. 3: Riding a bicycle could be one of them!)
Q: After the American Airlines pilot died in-flight, I wondered, are heart attacks a flight risk?
William W., Seven Hills, Ohio
A: The pilot you’re referring to was 57 and had had a double bypass nine years ago. So even though his calendar age was young, he had a history of early-onset heart trouble that may have advanced his RealAge. But overall, in-flight incidences of cardiac arrest are amazingly rare; they account for only 0.3 percent of in-flight “events” for pilots or passengers.
When they do happen mid-air, it’s good that all planes are required to have automatic defibrillators plus other first-aid equipment that the crew is trained to use. Most airlines also contract with ground-based medical consultation services that they can call on to provide guidance for in-flight emergencies. In addition, about 48 percent of the time, there’s a passenger/doctor on board who ends up handling medical emergencies.
Most in-flight medical issues involve problems such as syncope (fainting or passing out), gastrointestinal troubles, trouble breathing or heart-attack-like symptoms (angina or even GERD). They happen about 50 times a day on U.S. flights -- that’s out of around 30,000 commercial flights daily!
It is profoundly sad when someone dies mid-flight, but it’s uncommon. Still, if you want to up your chances for a smooth flight, here’s what you can do to avoid medical problems mid-air.
First, don’t fly if you’re not feeling well. It may be hard to do if you’ve been planning a trip for a long time or you need to be somewhere on business, but know that your chances of getting a refund are good if your request comes with a physician’s letter confirming that you couldn’t travel due to illness.
Also, stay well hydrated. Start the night before with a glass of warm water before and after two low-dose 81 milligram aspirins (good for preventing blood clots on long flights), try to drink something with electrolytes before your flight, and no alcohol the night before or while on board; altitude amps up its effects.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at firstname.lastname@example.org.