My personal wellness approach is to stay away from doctors as much as possible, except in emergency of course. But I do like the ‘six doctors’ that @TinyBuddha tweeted about:
Each one of these wellness-promoting factors is worth a blog post and I might explore them separately in future posts but here is the quick run down of the six ‘best doctors’.
Aaaah, the sunshine. I don’t know where you’re reading this from but we can certainly use some more sunshine in Toronto. This winter hasn’t been particularly cold but it has been gray with many sunless hours. People have worshiped the sun or the Sun for centuries. Not without reason. This life sustaining celestial body is essential on both global and personal level.
Top 3 benefits of sunlight
- Overall health: sun helps us produce vitamin D which not only boosts calcium absorption that leads to strong bones. Vitamin D is crucial for your immune system and lowers the cancer risk.
- Mental health: sun increases levels of serotonin in your brain (serotonin is the chemical that regulates your mood, bowel function, bone density and more). Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is directly related to low levels of sun exposure and full spectrum light therapy is well known to be an effective treatment. And you know, sunlight makes you feel good, right?
- Physical health: when you’re out in the sunlight you’re likely with friends and family, perhaps biking along a lake, picnicking, playing sports or gardening. All those activities are so good for you.
We can’t live without water! You could go on without food for weeks but not without water. Our bodies are 60% water and water is essential to basic functions of the body such as digestion, circulation and maintaining body temperature. Water helps to maintain healthy weight (this includes water-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables that make you feel fuller thus helping to keep the calorie intake low). Water helps to keep your muscles strong during exercise and – when well hydrated – skin acts as a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss.
There is rest and there is sleep. Sleep is part of rest but that’s not the only rest we should take. Making sure we get enough sleep is an important factor in maintaining both physical and mental health. We hear that eight hours is recommended but I believe everyone is different and some people really are ok with only six hours. It depends on many lifestyle choices we make – what we eat, do we exercise, do we meditate, are we constantly under stress etc. Want more about sleep? See my Tips on Getting a Better Sleep.
But wait, what about the other rest? We need rest outside of sleeping hours too.
Down time is so underestimated. Our societal norms don’t allow us to have a lot of free time to spend daydreaming and being bored; hanging in a hammock; preparing food and slowly eating it with friends and family. We so glorify being busy that it is almost a sign of high status to be so very busy. But it is in those slow moments that our creative juices flow more freely and it is when we’re relaxed and not rushing that our nervous system goes into the parasympathetic mode – the only mode that allows healing.
Meditation/Mindfulness practices help to create slow, quiet moments when we get to know ourselves and to just be. That does not mean sitting in bliss (although it might happen). But that’s a whole other topic. Here is an article on Six Easy Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Workday, From Start to Finish.
Have you ever wandered around a shopping mall for fifteen minutes and quickly felt so tired that you were ready to pass out? No? Well, I have. The recycled air in buildings and planes make me sleepy and tired. I believe it is the recycled air and other air pollutants present in the enclosed mall environment that makes me yawn and gasp for air.
Obviously, we can’t live without air. So many aspects to this ‘doctor’… when I think ‘air that heals’ I think ‘nature’. I believe human beings were meant to live in nature, breathing fresh air, walking the forests, swimming in lakes and seas. I know, it’s not easy when you live in a big city and work a 9-5 job. I do my best to get out of the city when I can and take mini-weekend-vacations for a chance to breathe in some green and get energized with oxygen.
Another aspect is using our lungs to their full capacity. Most of the time we breathe very shallow breaths providing our bodies with too little oxygen. Take some time each day to make your lungs work a little more – big full breaths while walking, running or yoga will take care of that. Exercise is a great way to do that and that brings me to another ‘doctor’: exercise… read about exercise and diet in 6 Best Doctors – Part 2.
Which ‘doctor’ is the most important? you might ask…
The one that is lacking in your life.