Life – A Balancing Act

March 2nd, 2015

The theme for March 2015 is balance. Balance is an important component of naturopathic medicine because it must be embraced during a holistic perspective on health.  Health requires balance in our lives. And without balance we can’t be truly healthy. The two are mutually inclusive.

The seat of a chair rests on four legs of equal length; so too our health depends on the stability of four pillars: physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. Too often individuals examine one of these pillars looking to improve health, while overlooking or neglecting the other three. More often than not this single focus can actually potentiate the imbalance. There is no such thing as a single causative agent or imbalance regarding our health. Our health, or lack thereof, is the sum of the totality of our being.

Becoming aware of the importance of our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being is the first step towards understanding how to strengthen them completely. When we are aware, we can shift our focus and efforts appropriately to balance these aspects of ourselves to optimize our state of health. We can then begin to rest comfortably with our entire being and let our own natural healing processes unfold.

Here are simple and basic recommendations for strengthening each of our four pillars of health:

  • Physical health requires exercise on a regular basis. We are beings that are not accommodated to sit in an office or classroom all day with limited or no physical movement. Because so many of us spend most of our days with little physical activity it is important to incorporate exercise into our routine. Physical health declines with both over and under use. We must perform exercise that can push us past our comfort zone and be stressful enough to force our body to respond in an adaptive way. It is possible to overdo it if you are not careful. If you haven’t exercised recently in the past year, please seek the advice of your primary care physician and a personal trainer before starting a new program.
  • Mental health requires learning and mental stimulation on a daily basis. Our jobs can be monotonous. And watching television after work is the equivalent of eating junk food all day for nourishment. We must stimulate our minds to keep our mental health sharp. Read books about topics you are passionate about. Learn for the sake of learning. When I read books I write a summary about the book and create at least 3 action steps I want to take related to what I have learned. It keeps me engaged in the material and inspires me to put into action the thoughts and ideas that come up while exposing myself to new concepts. Mental decline is so often a concern that patients have when they come into my office. We must exercise our mind to keep our wit sharp.
  • Spiritual health requires that we recognize a purpose to our life outside of our self. It isn’t necessarily all about religion. In fact, too often individuals attend church weekly and still feel that their life is lacking spiritual meaning. This is because they have not engaged with a purpose outside of themselves. To cultivate a healthy spiritual self we must embrace those things that are important to us and give of our self in pursuit of supporting a better world. This can often be accomplished through volunteering of your time to a cause that is near to your heart. I do think it is a noble act to give money to charity, but simply giving from your wallet won’t provide the same level of return on investment that giving of your time will.
  • Emotional health requires that we embrace actions and people in our lives that provide enjoyment and a sense of fulfillment. Certainly pursuits that support spiritual health can overlap with emotional health and vice versa, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be so. Music provides wonderful enjoyment in my life. I often play music whenever I am doing tasks or chores that allow a soundtrack. It doesn’t do anything to support my greater purpose, but it does keep my smiling and moving to the beat. It is even that much more enjoyable for me when I can share my love of music with the people that mean so much in my life.

I hope these ideas about creating balance in our health inspire you as we move into another year. Your health is your most valuable asset, invest the time and effort to balance the 4 pillars of your health and enjoy the benefits of holistic well-being.

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Posted in Naturopathic Medicine, Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

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