Most of us human beings see ourselves at the top of the evolutionary ladder endowed with enormous intelligence with the capacity to reflect on our own patterns of behaviour. At the same time we are extremely rigid in our ways, unable to change a lifestyle that we know is doing us great harm.
If you ask people what is important for their happiness, most will reply that it is their loved ones, good health, friends or a good job. If you add another question: “What are you actually doing to stay healthy?” there is a long pause or an excuse like: “I don’t have any time to fit a physical exercise programme into my busy schedule.”
Ask any seriously ill person what her/his greatest wish is, it certainly won’t be a win in the national lottery. When the body no longer functions as it should be, a lot of it has to do with what kind of lifestyle you have led for the past years or decades. Most of our modern diseases like diabetes, heart circulatory ailments, cancer, skeletal and bone problems and many mental illnesses can be directly attributed to the kind of lifestyle we lead. Only a small percentage is actually hereditary and some health experts are even questioning the “cancer gene” theory, arguing that there might be some risk of dying from a heart attack like your grandfather and brother but that this need not be inevitable . There is much you can do to compensate for an inherited body weakness.
In 2011, five major causes of death (heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, and accidents) accounted for 62 per cent of all deaths in the United States. http://goo.gl/a5rdR
The figures would be much the same in other western countries. Life expectancy is increasing but how many people over the age of even 55 or 60 can really still say of themselves that they are fit and healthy.
Until the late 1950s most people in the western world had jobs demanding some kind of physical activity. Mortality rates were mostly as a result of respiratory diseases. Diabetes and obesity were rare by today’s standards. To put it bluntly: We are poisoning our bodies with the wrong foods and not getting enough exercise to stimulate our body metabolism. The amount of sugars, fats and salts we eat daily actually requires a good 20 kilometre run a day to get rid of all those excess toxins. The sad truth is that in Germany for instance the average person has less than 20 minutes of active exercise per week! Television, computer and other electronic consumption is more than four hours per day.
There are many ways you can motivate yourself to do more for your health. The reward comes in a much improved feeling of well being both physically and mentally. Watch this blog for more details. Maybe you would also like to have a look at my book.
“Work not only transforms the environment by building bridges across rivers and cultivating barren plains; it also transforms the worker from an animal guided by instincts into a conscious, goal-directed, skillful person.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi-
Feeling burned out by all the stress in your life? There are several ways to boost your mental and physical resources during times of great change and stress. With just a little effort you can be in a much better position to “ride the storm” and to make the right decision with a calm mind.
- Body movement: Are you feeling fatigued from long sessions in the office or in conference rooms? The first reaction is often a workout out in the gym or a ten kilometre run. Initially you might feel good by all those “happy hormones” or endorphins being emitted by the body. But at the same time you are flooding your body with a stress hormone called cortisol of which you already might have more than enough. The more cortisol in your system, the more your adrenal glands on the kidneys become fatigued. Try body arts that relax you both mentally and physically and bring your entire body metabolism into balance. Yoga, taiji, qi gong, pilates and meditation are ancient proven methods that work. But even a gentle walk in nature and jogging at a gentle pace (with pauses inbetween) will help bring down your stress level.
- What food do you eat? Too much sugar and salts in processed foods is wreaking havoc on our bodies. White sugars rob the body of phosphates which are vitally important in almost every intracellular reaction. Too much salt interferes with the natural absorption of water in our body, causing constipation, accumulation of toxins and higher blood pressure. You can’t go wrong with a good mixture of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruit. The supplement spirulina is loaded with beta carotene, iron, magnesium and other trace materials which your body really needs during times of stress.
- Healing rituals: When everything around us appears to be in disarray or collapse a ritual can restore balance and sense of belonging and connection. It could be a religious prayer, the lighting of a candle, a meditation or any other regularly performed daily action at a certain time or place of the day. Rituals have been part of human life and social interaction since the dawn of mankind but we seem to have forgotten the significance of them in the rat-race of modern times.
- Friends and family: A typical symptom of burnout caused by stress is the withdrawal from social interaction. We are social animals and need to talk and interact with our fellow human beings, who give us important feedback, empathy, sense of meaning and comfort. Sharing and volunteering your help for a non-profit organisation, church, neighborhood initiative or any other group that serves a higher purpose often brings you “back to earth”.
- If you can learn to ride the storm, change can positively enrich your life in many ways. The challenge lies in dealing with those defining moments of transition from a position of strength and power.
More information in my book: “Yield and Overcome” http://goo.gl/iry4y