Six Steps to Living a Health Life
In the last post, I discussed what it means to be truly “healthy.” In this post, I’ll address how to maintain our health once we get to a state of well-being. The first step to living a healthy life is learning how to manage the stress in our lives. Too little stress and we become complacent and, well… lazy. Too much stress and you can easily become exhausted and overwhelmed. Stress has a nasty way of exhausting us – mentally, physically and spiritually. If there are too many stressors in your life, it can lead to illness and those strange aches and pains that western medicine can’t seem to find a cure for. Try these Six Steps for managing your stress and having a healthier life!
Step One – Managing your Environment
- Is there anything in your natural environment that you can change that will help alleviate stress? Sometimes just making a small adjustment in your work area (placing more immediate items within easy reach) or at home (organizing areas for specific tasks or keeping an area clutter free, so new projects can be started and completed) can make a big impact.
- Is there anything you can do to change the situation? Can you shorten work hours or take some time off? Can you change your living situation? The answer may not always be taking a long vacation, but sometimes making smaller, incremental changes will have a larger impact.
Step Two – Eat Healthy
- Unlike a lot of “fad” diets on the market nowadays, Chinese medicine has a simple, uncomplicated way of eating healthy. A normal diet should consist of 60% grains, 30 % vegetables, and 10 % meat, fish and eggs. Most American diets include just the opposite proportions. So focus on those grains and veggies and you will see a great impact on your health!
- Eating slowly is important. This gives your brain time to notify your stomach that you’re full and stops you from eating an excessive amount.
- Drink pure water. Drinking water that is not purified will impair cell growth and speed up tissue degeneration.
Step Three – Don’t ignore your Body’s Signs
- Different people experience imbalance in their bodies in different ways. Don’t ignore aches and pains, headaches or prolonged tiredness. Mild to moderate constipation or diarrhea, heartburn or an unusual fluctuation in weight could all mean imbalances, that if not treated early, can lead to more serious illness.
Step Four – Get some Rest!
- Getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t necessarily mean a full eight hours (although it’s helpful if you can get it!). Sleeping deeply and without interruption is what really restores our bodies.
- Rest your mind, as well as your body. With so much computer and internet connections nowadays it’s difficult for the mind to get rest. If you don’t rest your mind as well as your body, you will find yourself not only mentally, but also spiritually and creatively depleted. Take a walk (without the cell phone or blackberry!), go to a museum or plant a garden to give your brain a little “mental vacation!”
Step Five – Exercise
- Exercise is a great way of alleviating stress. Even if your job includes standing all day, it’s important to exercise, so that you use different muscles than the ones you did standing all day.
- The Chinese believe that you should exercise in moderation. Too much exercise (where you’re out of breath and cannot talk while exercising) is not helpful overall to your body. Aerobic exercise (like running, bicycling or fast walking) is good for building endurance. Anaerobic exercise like weightlifting and stretching exercises are good for building muscle tone. Breathing is also very important and is emphasized in Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
Step Six – Nourish your Spiritual Life
- In the west we emphasize the outward appearance of our bodies – what we look like and what we eat. However, the east has emphasized the spiritual side of life for centuries. Feed your soul as well as your body and your mind and you will find a great decrease in your stress. Prayer and meditation takes care of our spiritual needs and this of course spills over into our physical and mental well-being. It’s a beautiful cycle that is greatly assisted by eastern medicine and helps the individual feel grounded and yet open to what God may be speaking into our lives.