At times my eyes look a little swollen as though I’ve been crying (no, I haven’t!). Why does this happen and what should I do?

Seema H.

Swollen eyes could be caused by excess strain due to watching a film late into the night or excess salt in the body. I suggest certain remedial measures:

Cut down salty foods.

Drink 2 litres of water daily to flush out sodium from your body. Water cleanses the kidneys too.

Cool your eyes. Dip a cloth in iced tea and place it over your eyes.

While watching TV, blink 100 times during every commercial break. This keeps the eyes moist and prevents eyestrain. Even if you’re not a TV viewer, ensure you blink 300 times in a day anyway.

Finally, certain medications containing steroids can cause swollen eyes. If on any such medication, ask your doctor for a non-steroid preparation.

I’m 41, male. Lately I’ve been feeling tired even as I wake up in the morning. I play tennis on Sundays with a doctor. He says it’s due to low testosterone. Is that possible?

Arvind N.

Well, acute stress can throw up the stress-hormone cortisol, which is instrumental in lowering testosterone. So can excess weight or consistent lack of sleep. Don’t worry about it, just focus on feeling energetic again:

For good quality sleep, drink a cup of warm milk and turn in by 10 p.m. — not later. Fall asleep to peaceful instrumental music.

Constant tension affects breathing, where it becomes rapid and shallow, thus lowering stamina. With eyes closed, daily, do this exercise: Inhale to a count of 8. Hold to 8. Exhale to 10. Continue until you feel calm settling in you. When I first began doing this exercise, I needed 100 reps to feel calm. After three months, I needed just 20. As the brain gets more oxygen and your attention, its tendency to trigger anxiety weakens, and you feel a beautiful inner composure take hold of you.

Ask your doctor to prescribe Vitamin D. Or just before lunch, walk 15 minutes in the sun. This sunshine vitamin revs up not just testosterone but the entire system.

Ensure you eat balanced meals. Snack on high-fibre fruits like guava, papaya to avoid constipation. You’ll be surprised how lively you feel when the system is cleansed.

Do half-hour stationary cycling or take a brisk walk. This elevates the mood and balances all hormones. Follow up with stretchercises on a terra band.

Though I switched from white rice to brown rice, I found it inconvenient. Brown rice needs to be constantly cleaned and spoils sooner. Is it really worth it?

Kamala R.

Brown rice contains fibre and essential fatty acids, as also iron, manganese, phosphorus, Vitamin B3, B1 and B6. A major portion of these nutrients are destroyed in milling and polishing it into white rice. White rice has a longer shelf-life, but practically no nutritional value. I suggest you store brown rice in the refrigerator. It lasts much longer. In fact, any organic food that has not been processed is best stored in the refrigerator.

Does exercising improve self-esteem? How else can I raise my self-esteem? Sometimes I feel hurt by just a brusque tone in my boss’ voice and brood over it for 2-3 days. Please advise.

Mahesh A.

Just before he passed away, Steve Jobs advised an assembly of students not to fritter away their time in living someone else’s life and not allow others’ opinions drown their own inner voice. Likewise, don’t let your boss’ tone dictate your moods.

Yes, exercise improves self-esteem — a brisk walk does wonders, it clears the mind; and the great outdoors give a wider perspective.

Training with weights blasts away blues and makes you aware of your own strength. This boosts your self-image.

And whenever you’re feeling put down, don’t waste your time brooding; use your time fruitfully in thinking about all that you’re blessed with. As you consciously give more space to positive stuff in your mind, hurt will not get a toehold and, thus, vanish.

Feel compassionate towards your boss. Brusqueness indicates he’s not relaxed. You’ll stop drawing your sense of worth from his attitude when you empathise with him.

Finally, spend time with optimistic, evolved people who appreciate you. Through their wisdom about human foibles, you’ll gain confidence. Allow your wisdom to grow too and give sensible inputs to others.

When you see how your experience helps others, your self-image will brighten and your resilience will get a healthy bounce.

And, hey, don’t take yourself so seriously! Humour melts uptightness and stimulates our core of well-being. As one motivator says, “We need more silliness in our lives” and explains, “Silly comes from the Old English selig, which meant to be happy, blessed, healthy and prosperous.” So, let’s have A Silly New Year!

The writer is co-author of the book ‘Fitness for Life’.