Becoming and staying well in these tumultuous times...what you can do
By: Leslie Tempest, PT
A wise person once said...we may not control all that happens to us but we do control how we respond. And it turns out, how we chose to respond makes all the difference. In this day and age of modern medicine and with our knowledge only getting greater one would think we should be getting healthier but alas, this is not the case. Lower back pain continues to be the world-wide leader in the cause of disability and complex, highly skilled surgical interventions are failing to solve peoples' pain problems. So, in light of all this, we might ask ourselves, what is missing? Why is this happening? Is there anything we can do about it?
The answer, it turns out, is a resounding yes!
You do, in fact, have a strong influence over your own health and well being. Your outlook, your relative positivity, your values and your perspective all affect how you respond to whatever life throws at you. Now, all that sounds easy to say and maybe not all that easy to live but there is hope and some key pieces that can have life changing effects. I like to call these the 5 Pillars of Wellness. If we all commit to living by these 5 pillars, I do believe we will see a lovely uptick in our collective wellness!
- Daily Cardiovascular exercise: It is now widely known that regularly exercising your heart, lungs and cardiovascular system has a massive and protective effect on your physical and mental health. Health Canada is now recommending at least 150 mins of cardiovascular exercise per week. That is 30 min 5x/wk - not that hard to achieve!
- Evoke the relaxation response every day: Our 21st century lives are full of anxiety and stress building influencers that drive us to try to do more, be more, get more. All of this leads to a constant state of elevated stress hormones keeping us in a “ fight or flight” status for far too long. Doing things like meditation, mindfulness, yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, deep breathing strategies all allow us to interrupt this state, calm the stress hormones and replace them with ones aligned with safety and rest. We need to visit our “rest and digest” state every day to maintain a healthy balance in our hormones.
- Eat real food and get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night: The task of eating real food can be tougher than it seems. Processed food is all around us and has been produced and marketed to allow us to continue to feed our fight and flight state. By choosing real, colourful, food that needs to be prepared, we are feeding ourselves with the elements required for healing and repair. Sleep ties in nicely here as it is during sleep when our bodies use all that good nutrition to do the healing and repair work.
- Maintain good social connections: It turns out that social connections matter! We are social beings and suffer greatly when this element is lost. Loneliness has now become one of our society’s biggest health concerns. By maintaining a social life you not only have more fun but stay healthier too!
Believe you can be well: This is perhaps the most powerful of the 5 pillars. What you believe has such a strong influence on what you experience and how you feel. If you do not believe you can be well, you can heal, you can overcome, it is most likely that you won’t. Your brain is your most powerful alley but it can also be a powerful foe. Don’t let that happen to you. Be strong in your beliefs, know and trust your body can change and adapt live by the other 4 pillars and watch your wellness return!