How to balance mind and body during periods of change


One thing we can always count on is change.  Our lives are in a constant state of flux, especially now, when most of us have had to adjust to different work schedules and conditions, as well as tighten our financial belts.  While change is inevitable, it can require a period of adjustment as our bodies and minds get up to speed.  I decided to seek advice from experts on how best to deal with change in general and how to reverse the havoc it unleashes on us.  I’ve always been able to count on my friend and nutritionist Donna to get the scoop on how to balance mind and body.  This is the first of many guest posts, enjoy!

The following article was written by Donna Sonkin.

Photo of Donna Sonkin. Reprinted with permission

There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse!  As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.  ~Washington Irving

Many things in life can change. The seasons, loss of love, new love, change of residence, career or education. You can go on a vacation, or come back from a long sabbatical. No matter what it is, change–even when it is good–upsets or interrupts our routine. It brings about an entirely new routine, and that is both a good and a bad thing.  When supporting the mind-body during times of change it is important to look at what can stay the same. It is helpful to seek out constants and make structure your friend.

I recently taught my nutrition program to actors. All of them had very demanding schedules that were physically as well as mentally challenging. Time and money, or lack there of, had become a real concern for the students.  During our class time together, I came up with some basic tools to help them get through the change of schedule, and I am confidant that everyone can benefit from this information.

Here are my top tips for dealing with change and tools for incorporating them into the flow of a busy life:

1. Reclaim balance

I had the students take a good look at all the areas of their lives, what I call primary food.  These are the parts of life that are not food at all but nourish you deeply. Things like a spiritual practice, social life, relationships (family, friends, and romance), physical activity, education, career, level of joy, home environment, home cooking and finances.

  • Take a moment and contemplate these areas (you’ll need some paper and a pen).  Which areas in your life are significantly neglected and malnourished?
  • Pick your lowest three.
  • Select three action steps for each low category. Choose simple ones…a phone call you can make, an email that will help.  An example for finances would be to a) Start keeping track of where your money goes. b) Stop spending money on deli lunches and bring your own – this could add up to a savings of $50 a week or more. That’s $200 a month! c) Cut down on cab rides…try to walk to appointments or take public transportation = save big $$.  Commit these action steps to a friend, this will create accountability.  Phone a friend and do this exercise with them.  Check in with them via email within the next week.

2. Go grocery shopping

Having good, healthy whole/real foods on hand and in your fridge will keep you at a high energy level. Nothing is better than coming home from a 12 hour day to really great food that can be prepared in minutes. Some ingredients that are good to have on hand are frozen organic brown rice, grass-fed organic butter, organic chicken/turkey  sausage, an organic rotisserie chicken, organic free-range eggs, kale that you wash and cut ahead of time, pre-washed organic salad greens, organic celery and carrots, organic boxed chicken stock, canned salmon, raw organic nuts and frozen organic string beans. With these ingredients you can have any number of dishes in less time then it takes for the delivery guy to come.


This I can not stress enough!  Get your little tush into the bed at a reasonable hour. Whatever you think you need to do tonight, you can do when you wake up early in the morning. The idea of the “night owl” is a joke–the more you are in harmony with nature, the healthier you will be. So be like nature in that regard and go to sleep as close to 10 pm as you can and wake naturally with the sun pouring in.

Using these three tips will help you weather any storm, keeping you healthy and happy in the process.

-Donna Sonkin, HHC, AADP

Reprinted with permission

Donna is a Columbia certified health coach, and has taught at NYU drama and SUNY Purchase. Donna has created programs for Saatchi & Saatchi, Credit Suisse and Elite Model Management. Through her company Get Thin for the Camera she also does one-on-one coaching and cooking lessons.  For more information go to; or call Donna at 917-941-5045.

If you have any comments or questions for Donna, please respond in the comments section!


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