Does your lifestyle have your health stuck?
Have you ever felt like you’re just stuck with less than optimal health because of some part of your lifestyle that you’re unable to change?
For instance, you might be spending long hours at your desk and feel that it’s having a negative effect on your fitness and posture. You might have a physically demanding job that aggravates an area of your body. Or you might have a complex family situation that puts a lot of burden on you. You might have foot pain, but need to be on your feet all day.
You get the idea. There are lots of ways where we can feel that our lifestyle is actually at odds with our health.
And we often feel like there is nothing we can really do about it.
It can feel like we’ve hit a wall, but sometimes what we thought was a wall was never really a wall at all. It may be an invitation to closely examine what we’re looking at.
It helps, when we’re thinking about our health, to understand the difference between palliative and curative. Palliative is when we do something that reduces our symptoms, or makes us feel better, but that isn’t intended to correct the source of the symptoms. Taking a pain killer is mostly palliative (I say mostly because they can be strategically used to break a cycle or facilitative restorative sleep). Sometimes massage is looked at as palliative because it enhances quality of life and removes discomfort, but the discomfort is seen as coming from an aspect of our life or body that can’t change. Massage can be both palliative and curative.
Palliative care is a way to cope…and there’s nothing really wrong with that…it’s just helpful to know what sort of outcome for our action is intended. This gets me to thinking about the fine distinction between coping and proactive maintenance. I’ll save that thought for another day, but I think the main distinction is whether we’re coming from a place of feeling stuck, or whether we’re feeling expansive and joyful.
Getting back to the wall. We tend to reach the conclusion that there’s nothing we can really do about our situation after we try several things that occur to us and seem logical, and are supported by the thinking of our times.
So, in the 1800s we would naturally conclude that bleeding an invalid would support their health.
And in the 1950s it would have been natural to assume that refraining from touching or comforting a crying infant would turn them into a more independent and confident adult.
There are many such assumptions that have been supported by the thinking of the times.
Once we’ve tried what seems relevant and logical, then we start to feel we’ve “tried everything”, and so we conclude that this situation is something that we have to live with. We find coping strategies that make us feel a bit better, but without the prospect that we’ll feel as good as we really want to feel.
What I suggest is that we reconsider whether we have actually tried everything.
What tends to happen is that we approach issues of physical health with our physical health already in a physical health box. If we have an issue in the material stuff of the body, we tend to look to the material stuff for a reason and a cure.
We have different boxes for different parts of our lives.
We have mental health in a mental health box…and financial health in it’s own box, career satisfaction in a separate box, our social life in another box. And so it goes.
It is pretty widely known, if not widely utilized, that our physical state affects our mental health.
And obviously our financial health has an effect on our mental health, because not having enough money is stressful. But does it also go the other way? Could the state of our finances be affected by our state of mind, such as spending money for acceptance or hoarding it for security?
Can our satisfaction with our social life either support or undermine our physical health?
Does our state of physical fitness affect our intellectual and spiritual growth?
On a scale of 1 – 10 how satisfied are you with each of the following? (Note: I’ve grouped these together in ways that make sense to my brain. You might prefer slightly different groupings.)
- Growth – Education – Development – Change – Inspiration
- Love – Primary relationships
- Community – Social
- Connection – Big Picture – Meaning – Spirituality
- Creative – Artistic Expression
- Work – Legacy – Contribution – Service
- Living Environment – Home – Neighborhood – Financial
- Self – Body – Physical Vigor – Self Esteem
All of these things are connected to each other. So, why not consider every element of our lives when we are searching for more robust health?