Optimal health has typically been looked at as a healthy mind and body. Being slim as opposed to being overweight; being happy, most of the time; and for some, understanding the emotions expressed on a daily basis. Eastern cultures would expand upon this view of optimal health to include spiritual health as well: That part of us that represents our values, our meaning, our core.
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In addition to physical health, Integrative Health Practitioners also need to consider the mental, emotional and spiritual health of their clients.
Taking the time to define optimal health may allow us to better centre our efforts and identify direction in our lives.
Optimal health is not a definitive point in time or a single state of being; it is continually evolving, just as individuals do. Optimal health may therefore be best represented on a continuum, one that allows us to evolve, to reflect change and to progress forwards in life.
Finding your precise location on this continuum may be irrelevant. Likewise, comparing your position to that of others is not necessarily desirable or productive. The continuum towards optimal health is not a race, a competition or a method for judging yourself against others. Optimal health is as unique as the individual.
By defining optimal health, you can be assured that the choices you make on a daily basis reflect your complete desire to achieve an optimal state of being. Stated another way, defining optimal health may allow you to increase your awareness of the choices you make that are counter-productive to your progress.
It’s in this way that taking responsibility for your choices, your behaviours and the emotions that shape your life, that you’re able to experience a happier, more fulfilled life. There’s a tremendous amount of self-love that can be gained through this process.
Again, optimal health is not a single state of being. You don’t ever fully actualize optimal health. It’s only a mirror that allows you to reflect your current state of being and to guide you in the decisions that you make each day.
To change your reflection you must change yourself. And to change yourself, you must be conscious of how you choose to live your life.
Holistic Healing is process of building people’s awareness and helping them to understand that optimal health includes Spiritual, Emotional, Physical and Mental Health for men and women. Neglect in any one area may have a detrimental effect on the other aspects of optimal health and on your life as a whole.
To be truly spiritual means that you need to connect with your inner self and to identify the meaning that exists within your life. This task is inherently unique to the individual.
Once you connect with your inner self you can begin to identify the values that you hold in the highest regard. This may include honesty, integrity, caring, sharing, compassion, acceptance, trust, courage, commitment to family and friends, or striving to help others. These values become your centre, your value base from which you choose to live your life.
For many, meditation and prayer are ways to develop and strengthen their value base and to provide them with the energy and focus to practice courage on a daily basis. For others, great literature, music, being creative, singing and dancing strengthens their spiritual health. The experiences and practices are as unique as they are varied.
Finding time each day to work on your spiritual health is important.
Emotions are often seen as the result of our behaviour and experiences. Little emphasis is placed on our ability to determine or choose the emotions that shape our daily experiences and pattern our lives.
Freedom can be expressed in many ways, but certainly freedom must include our ability to choose our emotions and our feelings. For a person to be truly free they must be aware of this ability and to take responsibility for their emotions.
It’s important to recognize that there are no idle thoughts. All thinking produces form at some level. If you congest your mind with emotions such as fear, you may find that this fear has a physical manifestation such as disease. The connection between emotions and health is both interesting and important.
I CHOOSE HOW I FEEL!
Fear, anxiety, hopelessness, jealously, depression, loneliness, and anger are not just feelings. All of these emotions are physiological states that can harm your health, just as clearly as obesity or lack of physical fitness.
Taking responsibility for every emotion you feel is a true measure of freedom and is empowering.
Included within emotional health is self-love. Based heavily on spiritual health, self-love requires that you stay in touch with your value base, identify the meaning in your life, and express the highest level of yourself possible on a daily basis. This requires a commitment on your part – both in time and energy.
Optimal mental health includes a sense of wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem. It enables us to fully enjoy and appreciate our friends and family, our work or studies, and the environment in which we live. When we are mentally healthy we can form positive relationships, deal with life’s challenges, and use our abilities to thrive in life.
Improving our mental health
· Exercise regularly
· Eat a whole food diet
· Optimal sleep patterns
· Spend quality time with family/friends
· Schedule free time for spiritual activities
· Develop new skills
The connection between mental and physical health has been well documented in recent decades. Studies suggest that the brain’s ability to resist dementia is greater if it has been stimulated throughout life. Other research findings state that people with complex jobs have a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, no matter what their education, suggesting that being challenged intellectually throughout life is important.
Caring for the body is essential too. People who are aerobically fit tend to suffer less cognitive decline with normal ageing.
However, working towards optimal mental health is an activity that seems to disappear when you leave school and enter the work force. Reading, writing, planning, visualizing, being creative and using your imagination, thinking analytically, intellectual conversations, and continuing education are all important in your quest for optimal mental health.
Making time for, and choosing to perform these activities is essential for achieving optimal mental health.
To maintain the health of your mind and body, you need to MOVE on a daily basis. This includes activities that strengthen your bones, muscles and connective tissues, activities that challenge your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and activities that maintain the extensibility of your muscles and the movement of your joints.
Resistance training (Functional Strength, Power, Muscle Endurance)
Aerobic Exercise (Fitness)
Flexibility (Suppleness) – Range of motion exercises, stretching.
Healing activities – Yoga, Qigong, Tai Chi.
The food and water you consume on a daily basis is essential to your spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health.
Optimal nutrition, in relation to optimal health, is a vital component of your daily routine.
Many people feel that being thin automatically reflects physical health and wellness and is a sign of quality nutrition. Unfortunately this is not necessarily the case. Thin people can die from heart disease and cancer or suffer from conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis and Alzheimer’s. And this doesn’t take into consideration days lost to illness, feeling run-down, perceived levels of stress, concentration, critical thinking and ability to make quality decisions; areas that are all affected by the food and water you consume each day.
Optimal nutrition must be based around consuming foods and water that have undergone the least amount of processing and contain the fewest additives, chemicals, antibiotics and hormones possible.
Only by choosing to consume the highest quality food and water, and by limiting your exposure to toxins and chemicals, can you begin to move towards optimal health.
Stress management is a conditioned reality that is best avoided. It’s kind of like debt management: Would you rather manage your debt or create wealth? That choice should be obvious.
The best way to manage your stress is to minimize your exposure to activities or situations that have the potential to create stress in your life.
The first step may be to identify activities that deplete your energy levels and create stress: Mobile phones, television, traffic, pollution, feelings of fear and conversations of gossip, judgement and criticism, just to name a few.
Life enhancement strategies are designed to raise your level of awareness and your energy levels, and to enhance your life experiences. By following these strategies you learn to be more aware of the activities and experiences in your life, the choices you make, and how each affects your happiness.
These strategies allow you to select more energy-inspiring activities, in favour of fewer energy-depleting ones. The result is less stress and greater enjoyment in your life.
The biological make-up of your body is designed to seek out and maintain a consistently high level of health. It’s only through your own actions that you’re able to create a state of ill health. For instance, you may choose to
Live a sedentary life
Consume unhealthy foods and water
Spend countless hours on your mobile phone
Expose yourself to fear through the media (television/radio)
Worry about other people’s dramas
Consume copious amounts of alcohol
Persist in unhealthy relationships (work or personal)
Cover up your symptoms by taking medications
In many cases the human body can be overloaded for many years or even decades before the signs of ill health present themselves. Even then, once ill health is reached, the body will still fight to return to its natural state of optimal health, if the offending factors are removed.
A chronic smoker quits and their body begins to restore itself to optimal health.
An overweight, sedentary individual chooses to begin exercising and makes healthy nutritional choices. Their body weight decreases, blood pressure returns to a desirable range, and joint pain disappears.
An individual chooses to leave a highly stressful job. Weeks later their headaches have resolved, gastro-intestinal problems are clearing and mental health is improving.
Raising your level of awareness can allow you to make more health-enhancing decisions and will lead to greater success, happiness and a more optimal state of health.
For instance you may choose to
Spend 20 minutes at the ocean each day, quieting your mind and reflecting on your happiness and all the people you love (Spiritual, Mental, Emotional Health)
Walk through the park on your lunch break (Physical, Spiritual, Mental, and Emotional Health)
Enrol in a creative writing or arts class (Mental, Spiritual and Emotional Health)
Stop watching television at night and engage in intellectual conversation with family and friends (Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Health)
(As a family) decide to turn off the TV, sit at the table each night for dinner, and enjoy each other’s conversation. You quickly begin to experience greater happiness and a stronger sense of family (core) values.
(As a business) decide to change your weekly social activity from Friday afternoon drinks to games of touch rugby, volleyball, and ocean swims. Initial resistance is quickly replaced with excitement and enthusiasm. New friendships are created and a stronger sense of ‘team’ develops.
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BODY GENIUS INSTITUTE INTEGRATIVE HEALTH PRACTITIONERS
Our Integrative Health Practitioners combine ‘conventional’ and ‘complementary’ approaches to health care in a coordinated fashion. Their relationship with their clients is based on compassion, mutual respect and empathy. One primary role of our practitioners is to mentor, educate and empower our clients. By providing them with choices and involving them in the decision making process, clients gain a sense of control over their own health care and healing pathway.
Our Integrative Health Practitioners focus on the whole person and consider all of the systems within the body: Cardiovascular system, digestive system, endocrine system, lymphatic/immune system, integumentary/exocrine system, musculoskeletal system, renal/urinary system, reproductive system, respiratory system, and nervous system.
In addition to physical health, our practitioners are also highly skilled at enhancing the mental, emotional and spiritual health of their clients.
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