As many of you know, I have been practicing as a Registered Nurse for 28 years now. I have seen first hand the huge advances in technology and hundreds of new drugs on the market. Despite the technological advances and new medications, the rate of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are on the rise. All these technological advances and new medications are not clearly working at least as one would hope they would.
Increasingly research from scientist and healthcare providers point to something beyond traditional medicine that can help improve the lives of people with chronic illness. This research is grounded in treating the holistic needs of a person and not just simply giving medications to mask the symptoms. The Western Medicine model is reactive instead of proactive. You get a problem then you get a pill.
What would happen if we made lifestyle changes to prevent the problems from occurring in the first place?
The conventional approach of Western Medicine is very limited with the statistics proving its ineffectiveness. This is certainly not to discredit Western Medicine completely. I have personally benefited from prescription medications and it is always important to talk with your doctor before stopping any medication.
I have struggled at times with my faith versus my profession. My faith and my system of beliefs teach me that the cure to whatever ails us is rooted in our lifestyle choices.
Here are five lifestyle choices that you can begin today to optimize your health:
- Nutrition: Our foods are full of genetically modified organisms, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, and other man-made chemicals many of which lead to disease. Ditch the soda and sugary fruit drinks for water. Trade out the processed food for raw vegetables and fruit as well as legumes, nuts, and other sources of healthy fat.
- Fitness: A lot of people will say, “I’m active because I work all day.” Research has shown that a 30-minute walk daily at a moderate pace has great health benefits and can help ward off disease. Sedentary lifestyles have been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more.
- Stress: A great deal of many illnesses is directly related to stress, emotions, and beliefs. Practice yoga, meditation, silent time, a nice long walk in nature, nurture your spiritual being or whatever works for you to control stress. Stress has been scientifically linked to many diseases and can even lead to premature death.
- Emotions and Beliefs: It is important to be aware of our emotions and beliefs. Holding onto emotions such as anger and depression have very negative health implications. Antidepressants are the most widely prescribed medications. Prozac and Zoloft cannot do for you what yoga, meditation, prayer, and relaxation can do yet one of those medications is likely the first thing your doctor will recommend for depression. However there are certain situations where medication may be necessary.
- Social Support and Love: Having a social network of friends and being surrounded by love is vital to optimal health. No one communicates anymore. We text and use social media as the primary way to share and connect with others. By doing so we are missing out on the human physical connection.
It is important to remember that these five lifestyle changes work together with each other to reach optimal health. In other words, if you are exercising but not eating properly, you will be off-balance. If you are focusing only on your physical health but neglecting your mental health, you will be off-balance and therefore prone to illness. And the same goes for your spiritual life.
I like to think of myself as a home with 4 rooms. There is the spiritual room, mental room, physical room, and emotional room. Taking time to make the necessary lifestyle changes will ensure that we visit every room daily to keep it clean.
By eating properly, getting good exercise, managing our stress, and having a great positive, loving social network, we can heal ourselves and even prevent illness. Optimal health is about making good lifestyle choices. It is up to each individual. We get to choose sick care or health care.
Talk with your doctor about these lifestyle changes in combination with the care she recommends. Get moving, eat right, stress less, and love more in an effort to live a happier, healthier life.
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Until next time,
Vince Shifflett is a published writer, musician, and critical care nurse. He shares a weekly blog using his 28 years of nursing experience as well as his personal experience in an effort to help us live a life of optimal health. Sign up to follow the weekly blog at: vinceshifflett.com. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.