There are always going to be people wanting to sell you something.
From medications, to detoxifying elixers, to weight loss supplements, therapies, to time-shares in Mexico, everyone is trying to make a living and everyone would like to be the one to sell you their product or service. This is not inherently a bad thing-everyone needs to get by somehow, and their products may have a valuable part in improving your life.
That being said, how can a person truly be healthy? I often get people coming into my office wanting a magic pill and wanting me to “fix” them. As frustrating as it sounds, I can help with one aspect of a person’s health (working with thoughts, emotions, beliefs and lifetime patterns), but I cannot give them the life they want if other important aspects of their life are being ignored.
If you want to be healthy and your life is not what you want it to be, ask yourself these 6 questions…
1. Do you eat right and exercise?
I know it’s been overstated but that doesn’t get you off the couch for 45 minutes at least 4 times per week. Studies have proven that exercising for at least 45 minutes is just as effective (if not more) as taking antidepressant medication. It also burns off the extra fight-or-flight hormones for those of you who struggle with anxiety. If you neglect this aspect of your life, you will not achieve the mental capacity that is within you.
How much coffee do you drink? Energy drinks, caffeinated sodas, caffeinated tablets? Each time you consume caffeine, you trigger your fight-or-flight response system, which means you are basically running on adrenaline. This leads to depletion of vitamin B1, which is considered an anti-stress vitamin. Ever wonder why you are so anxious? It may be the stimulants (that goes for the smokers too, sorry). If you have any type of problem with anxiety or panic, this should be the first thing to go.
Do you get enough sunshine? A great deal of mental and physical illness has been linked to vitamin D3 deficiency. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have a great deal of people who suffer from depression, largely due to lack of Vitamin D deficiency. Have your doctor check out your levels, or pick some up at the supermarket.
The amount of sugar that is consumed by the average person in the United States is way too high (check all the labels on your food and see for yourself how many grams of sugar everything contains). The short-burning fuel spikes the blood sugar up and then drops dramatically. If the body does not have sufficient fuel to run, it may release adrenaline (again making you anxious), and triggers mood swings. If you have trouble with mood swings, try cutting out the sugar and upping your slow-burning fuels (complex carbohydrates and proteins) and see the difference it makes.
You may try cutting out wheat and dairy products if you have ADHD. Try it for a week or so and see if you notice a difference. Some people find they have much better concentration if they cut out foods that they are sensitive to.
I am not claiming to be a nutrition expert, by all means do the research yourself. Check out Dr. Amen’s research on brain chemistry, mental health and nutrition.
2. Do you have some close connections? If you don’t have any good friends, go out and make some. Join a club, an internet forum, or volunteer. I have noticed with all of my clients that they are greatly improved while they are socially connected in some way. Focus on being a good friend and picking people who you can trust.
3. Are you following your bliss? Maybe your life isn’t exactly what you want it to be, but chances are you can make it a lot more like what you want it to be with a little bit of elbow grease. Make a list of all of the things that bring you joy, and do them as often as possible. If you have no time, make time. If your life was the sculpture, you are the sculptor.
4. Are you serving the world? Victor Frankl, a famous historical existential psychologist talked about getting through even the most traumatizing experiences (in his case prison camps during WWII) by creating meaning-or turning that experience into some way you can serve the world. Existential psychological theory maintains that the ultimate freedom lies in taking full responsibility-responsibility for your thoughts, actions, feelings and your impact the world.
5. Do you think positively? Do you spend time focused on what you have? You can think of your thoughts as little pills. Negative thoughts are like taking little sick pills, positive thoughts are like taking good medicine. Try thinking about all the things that bother you for 30 minutes and see how you feel. Then try thinking about all the things you are grateful for 30 minutes. You will notice a big difference in how you feel in your body as well as your emotional state. You will also notice that people tend to treat you better when you have been thinking positive thoughts.
6. Do you give yourself a break? Cut yourself some slack if you make a mistake, and take time to really rest. Let yourself enjoy peace and quiet. This does not mean sitting on the couch watching Jerry Springer reruns for 3 days straight.
These are all very common sense things that a person can do and also require a great deal of self-discipline. If you can’t afford or are otherwise opposed to counseling and don’t mind working hard, try following the steps above. Even changing one of these aspects of your life can greatly enhance your life.