Nurture Your Health, Inside and Out

The first rule for maximizing your total health is to nurture yourself from the inside out. The roots of many physical, social, and emotional problems are found in the deep places of the heart.
As a wellness nurse, I witnessed this unmistakable relationship between inner and outer health on a daily basis. Even though I often attempted to help people with issues such as obesity, diabetes, insomnia and high blood pressure; it became increasingly clear that these problems weren’t exclusively physical in nature.
For example, those struggling with obesity often must address the spiritual and emotional turmoil that prompts them to overeat. Several of my patients were able to significantly lower their blood pressure by taking time to attend meditation classes where they could quiet their hearts and focus their minds on their spiritual life.
Likewise, researcher Kenneth Pelletier conducted a surprising five-year investigation of the health benefits that come from a life of altruism and the caring influence of family and friends. Amazingly, the absence of close, loving relationships posed a risk of disease just as significant as traditional risk factors such as adverse genetics, poor nutrition, or a lack of exercise.
Even the World Health Organization has recognized these relationships between our inner, outer and social health; noting that good health is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Not a bad definition!
This means we must be good stewards not just of our physical well-being, but also of our mental, emotional, social, and spiritual personhood. Although people may act as if all these parts act independently, they’re actually vitally connected. Each area is critically important and must be properly nurtured. If one area is neglected, it will have an adverse effect on the others.
How do you maintain your spiritual health? For me, disciplines that play an important role in maintaining my spiritual health include prayer, meditation, study of sacred texts, and worship within a community of faith.
How can you enhance your mental and emotional health? I do this by journaling, talking with close friends, reading novels, and doing fun things like seeing movies (cinema therapy!), going to concerts, shopping, or getting my hair and nails done. I also find it therapeutic to play my guitar and write songs. Maybe you enjoy gardening, cooking, taking a bubble bath, playing video games, or engaging in some hobby that replenishes your emotional tank.
And what about maintaining physical health? My spiritual and mental conditions are greatly enhanced when I also take care of my body. Getting a good night’s sleep, eating nutritious meals, reducing stress, and taking time for an exercise class or a brisk walk in the park are important ingredients in my overall well-being. Health is not automatic in any of these areas. It’s a choice—a matter of countless decisions we make every day. To enhance our overall wellness and keep fit spiritually, emotionally and physically, we all need intentionality and self-discipline.
What about you?
In your journal, explore how the mind-body-spirit connection has played out in your life. What connections can you see between your emotional or spiritual dis-ease and the way your body experiences physical dis-ease?

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