Living the healthiest way we can is the only true prevention for the many serious illnesses that are around today, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and chronic fatigue, as well as the niggles like colds, flus, achy joints or the occasional headache. If we’re not actually ill, we consider ourselves to be healthy. But when I talk about wellness, I’m not just talking preventing illness, I mean the state of feeling vibrantly alive and energetic.
There are many components that contribute to wellness. Walt Stoll talks of the three-legged-stool approach to healing – whole foods, exercise and skilled relaxation. And the fourth leg of attitude also makes a big difference.
Let’s look at what’s involved here in a bit more detail. Don’t be put off by what seems a huge and impossible list. Any little change you can make to help your energy levels and physical reserves will be beneficial. And that may give you the energy you need to make more changes. Somebody once said that, with health, you get 80% of the benefit from 20% of the changes. So start with a change that seems fairly easy, and take it from there.
Although food is the building block of our bodies, and literally “we are what we eat”, everything we put into (or onto) our bodies has an effect. In his book “Never be Sick Again”, Raymond Francis says that there is only one disease – cell dysfunction – and only two causes of disease – lack of nutrients, and too many toxins. So aim to maximise nutrient intake and avoid as many toxins as possible.
- Food – The closer we can get to a fresh, organic, whole food diet, the better. If you have an extreme metabolism, you will need to take that into account. And if you have food intolerances, you will need to avoid the offending foods at least for a while.
- Water – Our cells are largely made up of water, so we need to drink freely. But avoid toxins such as chlorine and fluoride. Most experts recommend 8 glasses (2 litres) of water a day. Or for a slightly more personalised approach, Paul Chek recommends you halve your weight in pounds to find out how many ounces of water you need a day. But some people need a lot more, depending on how much exercise they do and how much they sweat, for example. And some people need less, especially in winter.
- Supplements – The right supplements, carefully chosen, can enhance your health and wellbeing, but are not a fix-all for an unhealthy lifestyle. Consult a good health care practitioner to be sure you’re getting the right ones.
- Prescription drugs – Sometimes we need to resort to these. But they nearly always have side-effects, and doctors often don’t tell you about those. So they are best kept to a minimum, and avoided unless essential.
- Recreational drugs – Small amounts of marijuana or the occasional glass of wine may have therapeutic effects on certain conditions. But otherwise, recreational drugs will not improve your physical health.
- Air – A most important nutrient that we need constantly. Breathing correctly can make a huge difference to how you feel. It’s important that we breathe clean air, and many people are now sensitive to various air pollutants
- Avoid cigarette smoke and other air borne pollutants as much as possible
- When choosing house cleaning products, remember that cleaners and detergents have varying amounts of environmental and heavy metal poisons in them. Air fresheners, for example, oftenhave a toxic chemical in them called paradichlorobenzene.
- When buying new cars, furniture or appliances, be aware they may give off fumes from the plastics used to make them, and air them as much as possible before use. For example:
- Permanent press drapes and sheets, particle board furniture, and synthetic carpets and rugs leach formaldehyde fumes
- Pure wool carpets may be chemically treated to prevent moths eating them
- Foam rubber cushions leach both pesticide and formaldehyde fumes?
- Some people have become very sick after doing house renovations, and eventually tracked their symptoms to fumes from the materials used. Some helpful sites include The Healthy House Institute, The Healthy House UK. Some of the NZ suppliers listed on the Where To Shop page supply environmentally friendly household products, including paints.
- Cosmetics – Everything we put on our skin is also absorbed into our bodies and can affect our health. So be aware of what is in your shower gel, shampoo, face cream, lipstick and perfume. There are some companies who produce good quality natural personal care products, but most do not. You can make your own massage lotions, moisturisers and fragrances using essential oils and cold-pressed carrier oils.
- Radiation and EMFs (Electro Magnetic Fields) – These can have insidous effects on us. Reduce exposure as much as possible:
- Avoid non-essential medical treatments, such as x-rays
- Keep cell phone use to an absolute minimum (1 minute per day max)
- Sit at least 2 feet away from your computer monitor, and get the case as far away as possible – at least a metre. If you can afford an LCD (flat) monitor, these put out less electromagnetic radiation than CRT (std) ones, as well as being easier on your eyes.
- Avoid living near power sub-stations, power pylons, overhead power lines, or cell phone transmitter towers
- Internal stress – Clear your mind of negative thoughts, beliefs and attitudes using Emotional Freedom Technique, NLP, hypnotherapy, counselling, coaching or whatever works for you.
- Aerobic exercise – The minimum amount of aerobic exercise for good health is generally considered to be 20-30 minutes, 3 times a week. The maximum is harder to define and is very personal. Remember that the more you exercise, the more rest and recovery you need. And that excessive amounts of exercise can actually be detrimental to your health
- Resistance exercise – Bones don’t grow unless they are stressed. So resistance exercise is also vital for top condition.
- Stretching – After you work your muscles, you need to stretch them out again. And one or two longer sessions a week are most beneficial for elongating tight muscles and releasing tension. Yoga and Pilates are two modes of exercise that combine strength and stretching exercises
- Energy exercises – Yoga, Tai Chi or Chi Kung are exercise systems that are designed to improve the flow of energy, or chi, through your body. “Energy Medicine” by Donna Eden and “How To Eat, Move and Be Healthy!” by Paul Chek both have good ranges of “energy exercises” .
- Special exercises – For example : pelvic floor exercises for women, eye exercises for long or short sightedness, breathing exercises for asthma, rebounding for lymphatic drainage.
- Down time – Don’t forget your rest days, when your body can recover and grow stronger.
Rest and Recreation
All work and no play makes Jack a very sick boy. Make time for at least some of these elements or the rest is a waste of time and energy, really.
- Sleep – Everybody needs different amounts of sleep. But work, stress and exercise will all increase your need. It is vital to get enough regular sleep to allow your body to regenerate. Most people need around 8 hours of sleep a night and many of us don’t get enough. Also try to be asleep by 10.30 each night to stay in tune with circadian rhythms. If this is a problem area for you, check out Dr Mercola’s guide to sleep.
- Skilled relaxation – Blobbing out in front of the TV doesn’t count, because your mind doesn’t switch off. There are many ways to achieve an alpha state eg. meditation, reiki and biofeedback, but it is a skill that you need to consciously learn. 20 minutes, twice a day, will allow your body to release pent-up stresses that you may not even be aware of.
- Time with family and friends – Needed for physical, emotional and mental wellbeing
- Leisure activities – Go on, have some fun! You might like it.
- Bodywork – Massage, Reiki, Alexander Technique and many other bodywork techniques can increase your physical wellbeing.
- Therapeutic treatments – If you need emergency help, go immediately to a medical centre. But for chronic conditions, the right natural therapy combined with the appropriate lifestyle factors might be all you need.
The ABC’s of attitude :
- Action – Without action, no amount of attitude will do the job. But a positive outlook and goals that motivate you will enhance the action you take.
- Balance – It is easy to focus on one aspect and neglect the rest. But having some balance in your life is vital.
- Commitment – Strangely, commitment makes it easier to take action. Once you know you’re not going to eat sugar, for example, there is no need to decide whether to have that piece of cake or not. You already know you won’t.