In my search for the truth about staying healthy and happy I have discovered that there are a number of important components:
Emotional Health And Well-Being
When you acknowledge and stay present to how you are feeling emotionally (happy, sad, irritated or anxious) you then have more opportunity to find a way of dealing with these emotions in a healthy way and a better chance of influencing how you experience similar events in future.
All emotions are bio chemicals (e.g. endorphins are the so called 'happy' hormones, cortisol is fear) and if you suppress emotion, these bio chemicals are not able to flow freely and be released from your system as they should. Scientific research has shown that when emotions are suppressed, those bio chemicals block the cell receptors (gateways) in the various tissues of the body and prevent the free flow of information and instructions that contribute towards growth and maintaining health. Furthermore, when negative emotions are suppressed over a long period of time, this dysfunction at a cellular level may result in illness or disease because the body is not able to maintain its state of healthy balance.
React Or Respond?
Sir Frances Bacon once said 'Knowledge itself is power' and the reason for this is that if you are clear about a fact, e.g. how you are feeling, it gives you choice about how to respond rather than being driven by automatic, unconscious reactions.
Self-awareness gives you choice: to carry on with things as they are (where you have no influence to change the current situation; in which case, can you find some way of accepting what cannot be changed?), or to assess what actions you could take to improve the situation (there is often more scope than you might think).
Have you ever observed the quality of your thoughts?Are they on the whole positive or negative? The quality of your thoughts will either enhance your mood and raise your energy level, or just the opposite. If you have supportive, encouraging, inspiring thoughts about yourself and how you respond to life, it is likely to make you feel more energised and ready for action. Conversely if you are constantly self-critical and judgemental about yourself, it is likely to make you feel less energised, more tired and de-motivated.
Fake It And You'll Make It!
Scientific research has shown that even by simulating an emotion the body chemistry changes. In fact, smiling and laughter therapy are now recognised therapeutically in alternative medicine. This is because the mind/body feedback loop works both ways. So if you feel happy, your face automatically smiles as a result, but pulling your face into a smile and laughing for no reason also results in you feeling happier.
The Power of Positive Thinking
Positive thinking also changes your brain in a very real physical way. The science is called 'Neuroplasticity' which means that our thoughts can change the structure and function of our brains. Scientists are now proving that our brains are endlessly adaptable and dynamic.
Even those people with severe neurological disorders (e.g. strokes and cerebral palsy) can train other areas of their brains through repetitive mental and physical activities in a completely life-enhancing way.
It means that repetitive positive thought and positive activity can rewire your brain (literally build new neural pathways) and strengthen brain areas that stimulate positive feelings.
Henry Ford, who founded the Ford Motor Company expressed this very well when he said: 'Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right'!
The good news is that if you consistently feed your mind a diet of positive supportive thoughts, it will look for evidence to support this and the domino effect will be a progressively more joyful life experience! You are consciously retraining and rewiring your mind
The most important part of reversing negative thinking is to state what it is that you want for yourself and your life, not what you don't want. Scientific research in the field of Quantum Physics has demonstrated that what you put your attention on most consistently is what solidifies into existence in your life.
The health of your physical body will always reflect how well or otherwise you nourish yourself (and remember, nourishment includes nutrition, exercise, emotional, mental and spiritual elements ).
Your body is made up of many parts that work together as a complete system to help you stay healthy. The body's control centre (the brain) does an amazing job of maintaining an overall state of balance by monitoring and regulating all of the variable factors such as levels of hydration, blood sugar, temperature etc. When you do not give your body the right quality and quantity of nourishment it has to use up valuable resources just to maintain balance, leaving little left for repair and regeneration tasks.
Diet Affects Physical Well-Being
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are among some of the leading causes of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular diseases (CVD), type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
Putting good nutrients into your body is so important because your organs and tissues need the right mix to support all of the chemical processes involved in building, maintaining and sustaining a strong, healthy body. Without this you are more prone to disease, infection, fatigue and poor performance. It is much the same as putting poor quality fuel into a car and expecting it to perform well.
A well-balanced diet includes low calorie, nutrient dense fresh unprocessed foods from all the food groups:
Complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and water.
Physical inactivity and unhealthy diets are major contributors to excess weight and obesity. But did you also realise that extra body weight also increases the risk of serious health conditions such as:
Diet Affects Mental Well-Being
'People who eat a well-balanced diet are more physically motivated and able to think more clearly, they feel better and are generally in better health', online health & well-being website Medline Plus says.
Good hydration is really important. Our bodies are made up of 60 - 70% water as most of the chemical reactions that happen in our cells need water in order to take place. It is used in all of the life giving processes that are carried out every second such as regulating blood pressure and body temperature, hydration and digestion. Water is an essential carrier to enable our blood to transport nutrients around the body and get rid of waste.
Did you know that it has been medically proven that just a 5% drop in fluid levels can result in a 25 - 30% loss of available energy.The symptoms of dehydration include thirst, headache, tiredness, dark urine, confusion, dry skin, irritability.
How Much Should I Drink?
The European Food Safety Authority recommends that women should drink about 1.6 litres of fluid (8 glasses of 200ml) and men should drink about 2 litres (10 glasses of 200ml) per day. But take into account factors such as size, the temperature and activity levels as these will affect how much is right for each person(e.g. someone exercising hard will need more hydration).
Your energy comes from the nutrition you put into your body, how well you look after it and also importantly; how you deal with your emotions. When you suppress strong emotions it uses up a lot of energy as explained above.
Your emotions and thoughts also create a vibrational energy that some people say they can sense from others. Humans are sensory beings. We pick up information from our surrounding environment and there is an internal response in the form of an emotional (bio chemical) reaction as a result.
Have a think about which activities, situations and people seem to drain you and which noticeably boost your energy levels and/or mood.
Becoming more aware of the typical situations or people that have the capacity to either boost or drain you is the first step in starting to manage your subtle energy levels better.
Move Your Body!
Our bodies are finely balanced and complex mechanisms, built for regular movement! Put simply, the body is a series of pumps, valves and tubes that functions best when all moving parts are regularly exercised, it is fed with high quality fuel and kept hydrated.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that: 'Physical inactivity is now the fourth leading risk factor for (global) mortality.
A United States study indicated that greater daily time spent sitting results in increased risks of mortality from all causes (even when it is compensated for by regular exercise). This suggests that it is not enough to do regular exercise if you have a sedentary job. It is vitally important to the proper functioning of your bodily processes that you regularly get up and move around!
The Stress Response
Sometimes you may chose to override tiredness or excessive pressure in order to cope with the challenges of life or work. Your body will keep supporting you in the tasks you have to perform, until the urgency is over and it can finally relax and rebalance. The problem comes if you find yourself running from one 'emergency' to the next or the pressure is constant, because the body never gets a chance to switch off properly and recuperate. You are essentially over-stretching or 'stressing' your body's capabilities.
Eventually you will become more and more depleted, because your body will switch to maintaining only the essential functions and suspend maintenance and repair tasks during the period of stress in order to conserve energy. So find any opportunities to rest and allow your body to recuperate, it will support you better in the long run that way.
Is your home and your work environment a healthy one? Do you get enough fresh air, light, comfortable surroundings, space? Are your interactions with others in your home and at work peaceful and supportive or fractious and challenging?
We process information from our surroundings all the time. If the external signals are stressful in some way, our bodies have to work harder to maintain balance. Some things might be out of your control to change, but look for what you can influence in order to create a more pleasant environment for yourself.
Listen To Your Body!
What I would like to bring your attention to is that your body is communicating with you all the time. It tells you it is tired, happy, needs food etc. So take notice and listen when it gives you pain or discomfort. It is trying to get your attention about something.
Keep Your Body Bank Account Healthy!
Your body is your most important bank account. If you keep making withdrawals in the form of working it too hard and depriving it of good self care and don't put back credits into your account in the form of rest, recuperation, recreation and good food, your account will become overdrawn and your body unhealthy.
Respect your body. It is the vehicle that allows you to experience this physical world. Treat it well, maintain it as you would your home or car, put good nourishment into it and it will serve you well.
Live consciously - observe the quality of your thoughts, your interactions with life and others, what you spend your time on and where you put your focus.
Nourish your soul as well as your stomach! We are driven by both our material needs and also our spiritual needs. Material success means nothing if the spiritual element of ourselves is not nurtured too, we will always feel that there is something missing in our lives.. Find out what you are passionate about - what makes your heart sing and make sure you include it regularly in your life!
1. Molecules Of Emotion - Candace B. Pert PH.D, 23-24, 243,285-286
2. I Y Me - David Hamilton, 47-48 and C.L. Kleinke, T.R. Peterson and T.R Rutledge, Effects of self-generated facial expressions on mood', Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1998, 74(1), 272-9.