| By Elizabeth Pavka, PH.D. |
According to the Merriman-Webster dictionary, “Relationship is the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.”
Certainly, there are many examples of relationships. Here are some possibilities: relationships with self, family, friends, pets, and co-workers. Others could include relationships of ecology, nature and the earth. Another involves the pieces of the puzzle of our health. Over the years I have gathered a few of what I call “warning signs” of health. I share these 10 with you and include several books and websites.Let’s explore some of the relationship(s) of these 10!
1. Increased appetite for healthy, appropriate-for-the-individual foods and consistent physical activity: Here is one of the cardinal principles I teach my clients and students: The building blocks for every cell and substance in your body and brain come from what you eat and drink and breathe and put on your skin (think cosmetics!). If you put anything on your skin and it disappears, where has it gone? Yes, into your body. So don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat because the net result is the same.
Healthy, organically grown foods promote health by providing healthier building blocks, while refined, processed, boxed/canned, and deep-fried foods create illness. Two often unrecognized benefits of physical activity are that it improves circulation all over the body and brain. That enhanced circulation carries more oxygen and nutrients to the cells and more carbon dioxide and waste products out of the body. In addition, activity enhances the recovery of our stress-handling system (see #5 below). For more information I recommend ‘The New Health Rules: Simple Changes to Achieve Whole-Body Wellness’ by Frank Lipman, MD and Danielle Claro.
2. Persistent sense of humor: Do you laugh a lot? At cartoons, at comedians, at movies, at books, and at yourself? If so, great! If not, consciously cultivate that quality. Remember, laughter is great aerobic exercise for your diaphragm too (see #1, #5, #8).
3. Tendency to identify and communicate feelings: Feelings are sometimes called emotions. The word “emotion” comes from “e-mote” which literally means “to move through.” Stuck emotions often manifest as depression. When we can identify and talk about our feelings with another person (see #4), we understand our feelings better and allow them to move through us more easily. Check out ‘Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ’ by Daniel Goleman.
4. Continuous presence of a support network: Hundreds of research studies confirm the powerful healing effects of a supportive person, family, friends, or even a pet in your life.
5. Rapid response and recovery of our stress system: This is the “fight or flight” stress response. While we have very few tigers to run from in our world, we do have many situations that we fear or feel anxious about. Consider: not enough time, not enough energy, not enough money. Constant fear makes it difficult for our stress-handling system to recover. Someone once said that fear stands for “false evidence appearing real.” Read ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers, PhD. Or another book I really like is ‘Essentials of Managing Stress’ by Brian Luke Seaward. Please note that reducing stress has a relationship with all points discussed here.
6. Tendency to adapt to changing conditions: A wise person said, “Change is constant. Pain is optional.” How flexible are you in a changing situation? How willing are you to consider a new way of doing something? Would yoga help? Recently I’ve had an opportunity to personally experience a significant “changing condition” in my life. After 14 years in the same office, I made a choice to relocate my office. While there have been some noticeable glitches in this process, I’m very optimistic that things will work out well. And I’ll have an opportunity to network more with the other practitioners in the building (#7).
7. Chronic positive expectations and a tendency to frame events in a constructive light: When a tragic event happens in our life, we often ask “Why me?” I suggest you replace that question with, “What am I learning in this situation? How am I growing as a person as I walk through this experience? How can I help others based on what I’m learning now?” To quote Dr. Alberto Villoldo, founder of the Four Winds Society, “The universe conspires on our behalf when we are in right relationship with it.” (#6)
8. Repeated episodes of gratitude, generosity, and joy: What creates gratitude, generosity, and joy in your life? How often do you engage in one or more of those? How about choosing one thing or activity and committing to doing it more often? Here’s a book with some guidance about joy – ‘The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for a Happier Life’ by Martha Beck. And I quote a magnet from my refrigerator: “Dance as though no one is watching you. Love as though you have never been hurt before. Sing as though no one can hear you; Live as though heaven is on earth.” www.quotablecards.com (#2, #3).
Have you begun to notice how these 10 warning signs weave together, that they interconnect in many wonderful ways, that the presence of one feeds into another, that there really is a relationship among them?
9. Sense of spiritual involvement: For me this means a sense of being connected to, or part of, a greater presence. This may happen inside a building or outside in nature, as well as in meditation or in prayer or singing or dancing and in so many other ways (#8).
10. Compulsion to contribute to society: Get outside of yourself and help another person. Spend time with someone who lives alone (#4). Mentor a child. Volunteer at a homeless shelter. Contribute time and/or money to a non-profit organization (#8).
How many warning signs do you have in your life? Which one of these 10 would you like to focus on so it will become more of a “warning sign” for you? And certainly there are more. I challenge you to create another ‘warning sign’ and e-mail or call me with it. Let’s go for 20 or 30 or more!
Elizabeth Pavka, PhD, RD, LD/N ©, is a Wholistic Nutritionist with more than 30 years’ experience. She helps her clients optimize digestive function, rebalance autoimmune conditions, reverse diabetes, lose weight without counting calories, and much more. She provides nutritional counseling for individuals and families as well as writes and/or consults with organizations interested in health and wellness. For more information contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org; 828-712-8938 or www.ElizabethPavka.com.