Written by: Carla Geddes
In a previous article, I talked about the benefits of 4 Healthy Habits, or Keys, to safeguarding your health; BREATH, quality of SLEEP, FOOD, and WATER. There are a few more Keys that contribute to your wellness; SUPPLEMENTS, EMOTIONS, BELIEF in a higher BEING, and EXERCISE. These Keys are not in order of priority, and keep in mind that all of them work together and affect each other.
Key # 5 Supplements
The world has changed dramatically in the past 100 years. Our water and air quality have changed along with the soil in which our food is grown. Population growth has put more demands on farmers for a greater, quicker yield. With today’s busy lifestyles, processed food is a large part of the American diet and on top of that, many of us eat on the go. Our bodies are under constant stress. So let’s be real, how many people have the perfect diet and even if so, does the food itself contain the necessary nutrients?
The need for dietary supplements can be a confusing subject. There are many conflicting findings and reports in the media. When you walk down the dietary supplement isle, the choices are overwhelming. Products to support just about every bodily function are available. The Harvard School of Public Health has published their views on this subject in support of the use of supplements. Nutritionists and specialists in most areas that can test and guide you for your own specific needs.
Personally, I take advice from my doctor and use supplements on a regular basis. He also explained that supplements are not all created equal. Some are better quality, fresher, from purer sources, formulated with precision, more potent, packaged to preserve quality, and designed to be assimilated easily. Don’t take risks and shop only for price. Take the time to do your homework.
Key #6 Exercise
As a kid and a young adult, I never had to fit in time to exercise; movement and activity were always a built-in part of life. All too quickly, the demands on life changed, and playful exercise and movement decreased. Time for an exercise program took backseat to everything else that had to be done the day. Lucky for me, the world demands some movement. We were born for it and without activity and we can’t get very far.
Some folks begin to think about their exercise habits in regards to weight management, not fully conscious of all the other functions that exercise impacts. Published in 1996, The Surgeon General reports effects of physical activity on health and disease.Exercise is certainly not all about weight management and looking good at the beach. It’s about reducing your risks of heart disease, cancers, stress, high blood pressure and diabetes just for openers.
A few tips I found to be helpful in increasing my activity level is to find activities I actually enjoy. It made a big difference. Making time for daily exercise or activity does not have to be done all in one period. It can be broken into smaller segments and still be just as effective. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who become physically active – even if later in life, tend to live longer.
Key #7 Emotions
Have you ever cried at a sad movie? What was happening on the screen wasn’t real; actors were playing their part. Nevertheless, the emotions they stirred up in you created a physiological reaction. Crying happened when chemicals in your body responded to your thoughts. This same process happens all day long without you even being aware of it.
Before we respond to signals that reach our brain, experiences first travel along neurological pathways to our gut, and then our heart. Each area has a reaction and sends along its signals. Hormones react and are released according to the emotions that we experience, positive or negative.
Positive emotions expand and activate the “feel good” hormones. Negative emotions contract our bodies and activate the stress hormones. Negative emotions are purposeful for an immediate fight or flight response but are harmful over a long period of time and will damage the body. One of the hormones released during stress is cortisol which lead to the production of a fat-storing enzyme, lipoprotein lipase LPL. Cortisol along with another hormone, epinephrine, seem to increase insulin resistance, also adding the amount of fat stored in the body. According to Carolyn Myss, if negative emotions are expressed often they will raise blood pressure and damage the heart. Repressed negative emotions may lead to depressions, cancers or other autoimmune diseases.
Working with your emotions is an achievable possibility. We are at choice with how we react to situations. It takes awareness, mindfulness, changing habits like watching violent TV shows and the news, changing meaning and negative thinking and sometimes it even takes changing relationships.
Key #8 Belief in a Higher Being
Many attach the idea of spirituality with one of the 1500 religions on the planet. However, spirituality can be as simple as the way you find meaning, hope, comfort and inner peace. Whatever term you use, a higher power can ease fears, anxieties, offer support and connection to others.
Belief in a higher power can encourage positive beliefs and emotions like gratitude, and forgiveness which may have a spirit, mind, body connection. Some have even suggested benefits are derived from people following a certain lifestyle encouraged through their faith. .. No one knows for sure how the relationship between spirituality and health work but new research is showing a positive correlation between the two.
Victor Frankl, a psychiatrist who wrote of his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, wrote: “Man is not destroyed by suffering; he is destroyed by suffering without meaning.” People need meaning and purpose in their lives. It gives us a reason to endure our struggles and suffering and keep hope alive no matter what the experience.
Optimizing all 8 Keys for your optimal health, SLEEP, FOOD, WATER, BREATH, SUPPLEMENTS, EMOTIONS, BELIEF IN A HIGHER SOURCE and EXERCISE is a long-term commitment. With patience and persistence and by focusing on good health as on of your core values, you’ll move forward one small action step at a time to enjoy the positive rewards.