by Julia Scalise, DN, PhD
If you had the opportunity to read last month’s article, I hope that you are utilizing if not all, at least one or two of the suggestions to improve your physical well-being. If you haven’t read the article, I encourage you to do so.
As I previously stated, simple and easy changes work wonders to improve physical health. But we are more than flesh and bones, more than cells and systems. And in order to live the best life possible, other factors come into play more than most people know or acknowledge.
Whether I work with clients in a one-on-one consultation, or I am giving a presentation to small or large groups, more often than not, I am asked “What is the most important thing to take for health?” It is one of my favorite questions because the answer usually surprises the questioner. Which leads me to tip #6.
6) RESPONSIBILITY: You are the only one who can accept and act on the information you receive and make the choices necessary to be and feel your best. Your healthcare team can advise and give you tools or ways for improvement but only you can act on their advice. Your family and friends who love you can support and encourage you but only you can “fix your broken”. Difficulties, challenges, and bad breaks happen to most in their lifetime, but only you can do what needs doing to begin and hopefully eventually rise above them. One of the most important benefits of accepting responsibility is empowerment. Instead of feeling like the victim of obstacles in your life, no matter what they are, when you actively accept responsibility to do whatever you can to improve your situation, a shift takes place. Your attitude can then shift from negative to positive, and your mental state and focus can shift from feeling like the victim to feeling like the warrior. Where you may have faced your days feeling less and less in control, you empower yourself to feel more in control of your situation and possible outcome. The feeling of empowerment can lower your levels of anxiety and produce chemical reactions in your body that promote healing versus perpetuating physical or non-physical illness.
7) LEARN SOMETHING NEW: Most of us have heard, “Use it or lose it”, or, “The Mind is a terrible thing to waste”. Peer reviewed scientific studies show time and again that memory, cognition, focus, and concentration are enhanced when the brain gets a work out by learning new things. It can be anything from engaging in formal academic schooling, to learning a new skill or craft, or learning a new language for a trip planned, to vocabulary words to complete a crossword puzzle. If your lifestyle requires using or learning technical or analytical information on a regular basis, try enhancing the artistic and creative side of your brain and vice versa. It would be sad if you spent years of your life working on improving your body and physical health but as the years progress, you are not cognizant to enjoy your physical vitality and all that your energy and strength allow. It would be like what is the benefit of owning a beautifully well maintained car if you don’t know how to drive it?
8) CONNECT: I cannot stress enough the importance of having a good, positive support network of family and friends. Life is filled with moments of joy and love, and also sadness and heartbreak. It should have times of success and reasons to celebrate, but there may be times of failure or humiliation. Every positive experience is enhanced when you have people with whom to share it. Every negative experience is lessened when you have people who will console and nurture you. The feeling of isolation and lack of bonding has detrimental effects on many aspects of overall health and wellbeing, from maintaining a will to live to addictions (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html). In my book “Do One Thing Feel Better/ Live Better”, I stress the importance and types of friendships that are beneficial to pursue and maintain in your life. A life well lived is a life well shared.
9) KINDNESS/COMPASSION: Most of you probably have experienced all those “feel good” endorphins when you read about or see the impact of acts of kindness or compassion. Whether it be a story viewed online or in the news about rescuing an animal, to feeding the homeless slices of pizza, to people donating their time, treasure and talent building a home for someone in need. Imagine how much more intense those good feelings would be if you were an active participant. It does not have to be on a grand scale. It can be as simple as saying a kind word or making a small donation of YOUR time, treasure or talent any place you see a need. The flood of beneficial chemicals produced in your body when you have this experience enhance your immune system, your mood, and your overall sense of well-being. Add some acts of kindness and compassion as often as you can, and as you give hope and improve the lives of all those you touch, know that you are also doing a healing favor to yourself.
10) FIND YOUR BLISS: What gives you joy? One of the questions I ask all new clients during their first consultation with me involves what makes their spirit happy or brings bliss to their soul. Then we discuss ways to incorporate whatever increases their joy factor, whether it be a career or lifestyle change, making more time for a hobby, or just helping them give themselves permission without guilt to enjoy their life a bit more. Some only require small changes, others have made dramatic lifestyle changes, and others have only needed to shift perspective on what they already are doing. When honoring what makes your spirit happy, you have the potential to improve your physical vitality, emotional well-being, and mental capacity. And in the end, in order to live your best life, it is necessary to achieve physical, emotional, mental and spiritual balance.
There are many more tips for health and well-being that I discuss in my book. But I have chosen these 10 that I have shared with you to be a good starting point and foundation to living YOUR best life possible. Do what you can, the best that you can, whenever you can, as often as you can. When you help yourself in all aspects of your life, you benefit, but so do those and the world around you.