True Health and Wellness
Decor Cabinets brought me in to do some wellness work for them this year. I really enjoyed working with them - the events, some writing, and I was honoured to also speak at their conference this past September, met some great people from all over North America. When they asked me to write something about wellness for their Spring News letter back in April, this is what I came up with:
When it comes to true health and wellness, the biggest collective mistake we make is that we think of and speak of ourselves, and our health, in parts. Most of us view our body as being separate from our mind and our emotions and therefore we don’t see the causes of our physical, mental and emotional discomforts as connected and interrelated.
We will talk about anxiety and depression as a chemical issue, or, if our personal experience or professional training is different, we may discuss it in the context of some kind of trauma. Seldom do they these two causes get discussed, never mind addressed, as joint issues. Many of us speak of our headaches as an inconvenient discomfort that can be silenced by a drug. We often fail to ask if it is perhaps our body trying to speak to us about an internal physiological issue. Even less often we fail to ask, as an example, if perhaps it was the fear, triggered by that angry person, which caused stress hormones to be released into our bloodstream, creating the tension in our neck that gave us the headache. When we have digestive distress we often assume that our body is defunct and doesn’t know how to do its job. Or, if we are lucky enough to figure it out, we blame a particular food. Seldom do we also notice that it could be both a particular food and also the fact that it was eaten at a meal where we talked a lot and didn’t chew. Not chewing properly would send an unprocessed mess to cause trouble in our stomach and down the line in our intestinal tract. To take it one step further, maybe we even had a stressful drive home after that meal, encountering road rage (ours or someone else’s,) which then pushed our body into ‘fight or flight,’ interrupting our digestion even more. The ‘Fight or Flight’ response happens when stress triggers the body into survival mode: all energy and blood flow is directed away from the digestive tract and towards the limbs and brain – to think and act quickly. Digestion comes to a halt. During this process our adrenals release cortisol and adrenaline, in case we need to fight the perceived threat, or run away from it. Cortisol has a corrosive effect on many parts of the body. A sad or tragic story on the news can trigger this response in the body, so can an angry boss walking by your desk, an upsetting email or a phone call from your child’s school about something that happened that day.
Here’s is an example from my own life, one that caught me by surprise: I lived in New York and then London, England, over a period of 4 years. During that time, I also did some nutrition work in a palace by the Red Sea for a well-known family from Saudi Arabia. When I moved back to Canada, to Ottawa, I was not prepared for the day my body let go of the tensions that it had been holding: tension from my mostly unperceived fear of a terrorist attack that I subtly lived with for all those years. I will never forget that moment, back in the safety of my home country where the threat was minimal, when my body let it go. It was mental, it was emotional, and it had a physical impact on my body that I felt.
To truly find a balance for healthy emotions, mind and body, they all have to be seen as connect and interrelated. You cannot have something happen to one part of you that does not affect all the other parts. I believe this perspective is the only way to find balance and wholeness after it has been lost.