Nurturing Whole Health
In Whole Health Education® we refer to "The Five Aspects of Health™"- Physical, Emotional, Nutritional, Environmental and Spiritual. These encompass "The Big Picture of Health". All five of these aspects contribute to our wellness or illness. This week, I experienced my first case of the flu in almost 20 years. In the thick of it, I felt every one of these aspects in a sense of slow feverish motion. Physically, the fever was raging, my joints and bones hurt, my head was pounding, it felt like someone had put a winch on my neck, I was too weak to stand at one point and felt like I was drowning in my own sweat. Emotionally, I felt trapped, isolated, dis-connected from all my friends nearby and an urgent sense of missing my kids who are thousands of miles away. I was barely able to care for myself and found myself suddenly questioning my ability to do anything at all in my life- now or in the future. The glass suddenly became half empty and I was drowning in the full half. Nutritionally, I felt intense hunger and pushed myself through the fever to forage for flu compatible food in my fridge and freezer. Due to my usual planning and cooking almost 100% of my meals at home, I had food in my fridge and my freezer stocked with bone broth and veggie soup I had recently prepared. I was in good shape nutritionally with the food, but was so weak physically that it took a good couple of hours to actually get out of bed, once I realized that I needed to refill my water, warm broth or make tea. Regarding other nutritional aspects, I was in great shape with cabinets full of the perfect herbs and supplements for dealing the the flu- throat & gland spray, sinus spray, Neti pot, N.A.C. bronchial tonics, Vitamin D, olive leaf extract, homeopathics and probiotics - all of these left over from my former position as a wellness buyer at Ashland Food Co-op. Environmentally, my set-up for dealing with the flu on my own was not the best. I was sleeping in a loft on the second level with a need to negotiate the stairs under feverish/weak conditions to get to the bathroom or the kitchen. On the other hand, the loft was a lovely place to be confined in with the beauty of the large windows, vaulted ceiling and view of the sky and my friend, the old oak tree. At the same time, in my loft, kitchen and bathroom, it looked like someone had dropped a "supplement bomb" and I had lost track of where to find what I needed. I was grateful for warmth, comforters, hot and cold running water and steamy showers. I was incredibly grateful for wireless internet, texting, Facebook Messenger and Wechat. Though, when the fever finally broke, I didn't even want to look at Facebook. Music was another thing that brought healing to my environment. Spiritually, I was grateful for the beauty of the crystals on my meditation alter at the foot of my bed. And, I was incredibly grateful for my gratitude practice. I guess that's a double gratitude when put that way. Reiki energy coming through my hands, along with the presence of my Reiki Guides, gifted me with deep, warm penetrating energy, and love. The Reiki served both spiritual, emotional and physical needs.
The Five Aspects of Health are such basic aspects of our daily lives that we don't typically hold them in a sense of awareness as something to focus on as a unit of sorts. Through awareness of these 5 aspects and taking action accordingly, we learn to keep our unique picture in balance. Whole Health Education® allows us to create an attentiveness around these aspects and with facilitation, to set short and long-term realistic goals in each area, to keep ourselves in balance.
It is helpful to have an awareness of The Five Aspects of Health™ and strive for balance before becoming ill or having other aspects of your life fall apart resulting from stress. The importance of balance is based on "The Biological Reaction to Stress", a theory by researcher, Hans Selye. According to Selye, when the human is stressed, we develop Short Term Stress which can move into Prolonged Stress, which can lead to serious disease and chronic health conditions. Stressors - events which require adaptation by the body, can come from things like, poor nutrition, strong emotions, lack of good sleep, temperature, weather and many more factors. Integrally connected to stress is the brains limbic system and something called, " The Reticular Activating System" which overlap in the brain's processing of emotion. The "R.A.S." communicates to the whole body through the hormonal and nervous systems. Through this system, when a person is stressed, the hypothalamus/pituitary gland, communicate with the adrenal glands triggering release of the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. This is often referred to as "The Fight or Flight Response". This cascade of stress hormones in a long term situation can contribute to compromised immune function and numerous acute or chronic health conditions. Consciously creating balance in one's life is the key to preventing an out of control avalanche of stress hormones.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Physical: How does my body feel? Do I need to step back and rest? Does my body need some vigorous movement or stretching? Have I walked aerobically today? Do I feel well rested? Am I getting enough sleep? Have I had a hug today?
Emotional: How am I feeling? What am I feeling? What stories am I believing that may or may not be true? What caused my mood to suddenly darken (make a list)? Have I given/had any hugs today or experienced touch? Whose mental business am I in? Am I staying connected with those I care about? Am I making myself sick with negative thoughts or using my mind to create positive mind/body connection?
Nutritional: Is my plate spilling over with fresh, whole, colorful nutritious food? How much water have I had today? Do I include healthy fats in my diet daily? Am I beginning my day with breakfast and good protein? Am I snacking throughout the day on good protein and keeping my blood sugar balanced? Am I taking the time to chew my food and eat slowly and mindfully? Am I moderate in my use of alcohol?
Environmental: Am I allowing for quiet time in peaceful surroundings? Is my work/home space clean, uncluttered and functional? What is the mental state of the people I live and work with- healthy or toxic? Is my work nurturing me or causing depletion? Is the environment (air, water, noise ) of my city healthy? Do I feel nourished or depleted by space and people in my life?
Spiritual: My values in relationship to self and others- Am I doing any practices to bring myself to center? Am I connecting with like-minded people and community? Do I have a regular practice of Yoga, meditation, breathing practices, gratitude practice, prayer, spiritual community, dance forms, music? From where and what do I find meaning?
My life became unbalanced with the arrival of the holidays. First came festive eating (sweets, gluten, dairy allergens) with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah latkes and now Christmas and New Year's parties back to back. Additionally, the days have been cold, extremely wet and dark. I've found myself doing less hiking due to the torrential rains and have been involved in an emotionally demanding school project for close to two months. As my teacher Geogianna Donadio from The National Institute of Whole Health says, "Everything is Everything" - each aspect affects the other. My work to get myself into balance is to stay aware of and integrate The Five Aspects of Health™ into my life, even when there are holidays, stress, weather obstacles, nasty viruses and big projects- especially when there are holidays, stress, weather obstacles, nasty viruses and big projects. It's time for my Winter Take Action Plan.
Information on Hans Selye from his book, "The Stress of Life"
"The Five Aspects of Health™" is an integral part of The National Institute of Whole Health,
3 in 1, Whole Health Educator Program™