When you consider what the human body is capable of surviving, it’s nothing short of miraculous.
Take a moment to think about the amount of abuse we deliver in the form of toxic & deficient food, over-eating, alcohol, sugar, caffeine, smoking, drugs (medicine), vaccinations, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, sedentary living, sitting for hours each day, toxic household chemicals, toxic cosmetics & personal care products, toxic lawn & garden care, and on and on.
We are quite remarkable.
That’s not to say we’re “getting away with” any of this!
All we need to do is look at the rates of serious, chronic, degenerative illness like cancer, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune conditions, heart disease, fertility issues, food sensitivity issues, learning disorders, and mental & emotional conditions to know that, clearly, we do not have this health thing in the bag!
We’ve taught for years that there is nothing magical about human physiology that allows us to get away with chronic toxic & deficient choices in nutrition, movement, and mindset… or the ongoing lack of pure & sufficient choices in these areas.
We’re simply not getting away with anything.
However, the nature of chronic illness is such that it takes a long time to develop (you really have to work hard at, it for a long time, with your poor lifestyle choices!), and you can actually remain alive for awhile, too!
Perhaps that’s the reason we don’t change? Because it doesn’t instantly kill us or destroy our lives. (That’s arguable.)
We’ve almost come to see this as “normal” because it’s so common. Everyone has something. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, an intolerance to this or that, chronic pain, depression & anxiety, medications for one thing or another… so what’s the big deal?!
I guess part of this story comes down to deciding whether you want to merely survive, or thrive. Sure, we can exist with chronic illness, but what’s our quality of life really like?
Then again, maybe we’ve lowered our standards and expectations there, as well. Maybe it’s enough just to be here, whether we’re lacking vitality and energy, or not.
In all fairness, we all know people who’ve been diagnosed with terminal conditions who are LIVING far more than the rest of us!
In reality, we’ve ALL got a terminal diagnosis, right? None of us are getting out of here alive! Why not live while we’re here – whether it’s for 3 more weeks, 3 more months, or 3 more decades. I believe that’s what we’re called to do.
So, what are we to do? How do we play this game of life in our favor? Personally, I believe I’ve been given the free will to make good choices and take care of this physical house I’ve been given, but the ultimate decision about my lifespan is not mine to make. I still try to make good choices anyway.
Except when I don’t.
And right now, at this stage of my life, I’ve not been making all the best choices. (sigh)
I’ve been thinking to myself quite a bit lately, “You, of all people, KNOW there is nothing magical about your physiology that is allowing you to get away with this!!”
That voice gets on my nerves.
The very short version of the story is that the last few months have been a tumultuous and stressful time, both for my Dad and with my Dad. A series of events led us to the decision to move him in with us for a little while as we figure out the details of the next step – assisted living.
Coming to this decision, having to address the physical & cognitive decline, and then working around various financial and time constraints with housing options has not been a picnic. The packing and moving process was a challenge, since he hasn’t felt well enough to pitch in much. And now, trying to figure out our new roles, living under the same roof again (but under very different circumstances and a heap of stress from both sides) is a new challenge.
I understand it’s all a process… a transition… a stage. I also know that it’s a blessing he’s here, alive. He has been living with cancer for almost 13 years, and metastatic cancer for 3 and ½ of those. I remind myself often not to take that for granted.
In the meantime, I’ve slept less and been agitated more. My fuse has been shortened. I’ve just not been the highest version of my greatest vision of myself. THAT’S the part that my inner health coach is getting on my case about!
I’ve managed to maintain my “Move Well” and “Eat Well” focus for the most part during these last few months (although I have had more afternoon coffee as a survival tactic to get through a few days recently! Oy). While I’m not perfect by any means, I feel that my discipline in these areas of my lifestyle has saved my buttocks under these stressful circumstances.
It’s the “Think Well” that has been sorely mucked up lately. Too much stress… being pulled in too many directions… resulting in chronic sleep deprivation. Not a good combination. My physiology won’t sustain abuse like that.
I don’t ever kid myself that stress goes away completely. I think that’s called death!
Instead, I believe we can take a look at stress reduction (or improved stress-coping behavior) from three different angles:
1) Remove the sources of stress that we can remove – we can be our own worst enemies here!
2) Through daily practice, lay a foundation for relaxation and peacefulness – we can improve how we respond to stress when we practice stress reduction as part of our daily disciplines.
3) Change how we look at potentially stressful situations. ie. If we choose to believe that something is stressful, it is. If we choose to believe it is not, or doesn’t need to be, it’s not.
If we practice relaxing, breathing properly, affirming what is right & true, visualizing the ideal, quieting the mind, and we’re grateful, and we pray… the likelihood of an improved response to stress is increased dramatically. When we lay a solid foundation, we can draw from those reserves when stress is heightened.
We can also choose to think differently about what we allow to stress us out. (I’m mostly talking to myself here… thanks for listening in!) If we’re stressed, perhaps we’ve chosen that on some level. Hard to believe sometimes, isn’t it?
I can see and feel many of the physical signs of breakdown as a result of ongoing (poor response to) stress. I remember a study a few years back that said being the caregiver for an elderly parent takes 10 years off your lifespan. Crazy! But, I can totally see how it can be true.
At the time, I had just gone through some years of dealing with my mom’s journey with cancer, and her subsequent death. Unfortunately, that period of time transitioned into my dad’s health decline.
According to the research, I’d better smarten up!
It doesn’t have to play out the way those statistics say, necessarily. Our environment (shaped by our lifestyle choices) will determine whether we get “sick” or not.
We need to create a healthier environment for our cells. We can ADD healthy choices while simultaneously SUBTRACTING non-health-enhancing choices.
Just like I do with nutrition, my focus is to fuel up with health first. I’m simply making sure I hit the high notes in this area of my life each day:
- Getting back to practicing my relaxing breathing – Honestly, this is the #1 thing I tend to forget when I’m hurried or stressed. Dumb.
- Walking daily (not for “calorie burning” or to set any speed records, but to relax, appreciate nature, count my blessings, chat with my kids, practice good posture and good breathing)
- Doing Mind Fit (SMT) every day
- Sitting outside and enjoying the beauty of the lake (more relaxing breathing)
- Intentionally reading & watching things that fill my noggin with happy, positive, and enjoyable thoughts
- Being intentional and staying in the present in order to enjoy the moments – whether it’s with the kids, or family, or friends, or our practice members. It just feels good to try to enjoy more moments… and then to try to string more of these moments together!
Sometimes, we forget about stress when we think about health, or we minimize its effects. I urge you to remember your mental, emotional, spiritual, and social health – nurture these areas just like you would your diet and exercise.
It’s of equal-or-greater importance.
Besides, we’re not magical enough to get away with ignoring it!
Dr. Colleen Trombley-VanHoogstraat (“Dr Mom Online”) is a popular personality in Natural Health & Wellness. She is a Doctor of Chiropractic with 19 years of hands-on clinical experience in the Wellness Practice she shares with her husband, Dr. Marc VanHoogstraat, in Michigan. She is also the proud (home schooling) mom of two rather fabulous youngsters.
Her unique perspective of the science of Wellness provides predictable solutions and transformational results for those struggling with chronic health issues, as well as those seeking lifelong health. To discover her simple strategies for creating better health through nutrition, movement and mindset, regularly visit http://DrMomOnline.com, http://Facebook.com/DrMomOnline and http://Twitter.com/DrMomOnline.
Also, check out her available books at http://amazon.com/author/drcolleen .
For more information about working privately with Dr. Colleen and Dr. Marc in an Investigative & Functional Health Recovery Program for any number of metabolic and health issues, such as thyroid imbalance, weight loss resistance, hormonal imbalance, food sensitivity & gut permeability, autoimmune conditions, cellular detoxification, mercury toxicity, and more, please contact Dr. Colleen directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://Facebook.com/DrMomOnline. Personalized distance programs are available.