Many years ago I was given some very good advice by one of my nursing instructors. In class one day she drew an equilateral triangle on the board. She labeled each side physical; spiritual and psychological. She then told us that it was very important that we pay attention to each aspect of our lives if we wanted to stay healthy. She made sure to tell us that although nursing is a physically demanding career, the running up and down on the wards did not count towards our physical health. A bonus health tip was that we should always have two pairs of shoes, so we could alternate each day to allow the sweat to dry!
Sometimes the best advice that we receive is free. It may come from unexpected places, and at the time we may not appreciate it at all. Many of us only accept advice we have paid for, or advice that comes in a fancy wrapper, recommended by Oprah. But it doesn’t get much simpler than this. Three sides to your life, kept in balance.
The human body loves balance, in fact it strives towards it at all times. The fancy name we learned in Biology is homeostasis. No matter what you do to your body, whether to stress it, overfeed it, starve it, or deprive it of sleep, your endocrine and nervous systems work very hard at the cellular level to bring you back into equilibrium. But your hardworking cells can only take so much, and too much imbalance will lead to disease (dis – ease).
So how do we maintain that balance, to give our cells the support they need, and guarantee more miles on our engines? By paying attention to the three legs of the stool, the three arms of the triangle. And we are so lucky, often if we pay attention to our spiritual and psychological wellbeing, our physical wellbeing comes along for the ride.
Sometimes we think that worshiping regularly is the same thing as being spiritually healthy. But have you thought about your spiritual practices? One of the nurses in Boston has committed to performing 26 acts of kindness in memory of the 26 miles of the Boston marathon. This followed the lead of the Newtown survivors, who initiated the concept. Doing unrequested acts of kindness not only helps others, it starts a chain reaction with infinite possibilities. And it makes you feel good.
And how about gratitude? Being thankful for the everyday blessings of your life is an open-air act of worship. We should not have to be hit by illness or incapacity to appreciate our abilities and our health. We should not have to be reminded of the misfortunes of others to value our own fortunes.
Forgiveness is another spiritual act which not only sends out a powerful message of compassion, it actually confers more blessings on the forgiver than the forgiven. Holding on to past injustices and perceived mistreatments just keeps your stress hormones circulating, doing damage to those very cells you rely on to keep you healthy. They say that anger is like hot coals. When you direct anger at others, it may actually miss the mark. But it certainly burns you as you hold onto it.
Who is helping you on the emotional and psychological leg of your support system? Do you try to handle all that life throws at you on your own? Most of us don’t have the luxury of visiting a psychologist to unearth the childhood injuries that have left scars on our psyche. But are we keeping those scars buried under layers of repression, leaving hidden pockets of pain that may eventually erupt in unforeseeable ways? Or have they created an armor that prevents us from really living our lives in a true and honest way?
We need good friends and family that will debrief us after a stressful day, or listen to us as we work through our process. We need to find activities that allow us to slough off the dead skin of old fears and generate a new and healthy skin. It may be that starting a new hobby, or learning to belly dance will provide that creative outlet that brings you joy, while also giving you physical release and benefits.
The three sides of that simple triangle are joined at the corners. We cannot strengthen one without it benefitting the others. But if we neglect any, the other two may collapse inwards. Today I encourage you to think about your triangle, and make sure that you are working on balance on all three sides. That way you will catch the trifecta, and be healthy and wealthy beyond your wildest dreams!
Have a great Friday, family! This week I give thanks for two sisters who taught me long ago the beauty of mentoring and nurturing each other. In listening, advising, motivating and prodding, we make each other stronger. For my readers, I have been given some very helpful advice which should result in me being able to publish my Friday Morning Messages before too long!
May you all identify the ways in which you can address your balanced health, and live long, healthy and happy lives.