It's human nature to push the limits of abusing our health. We walk on the edge of dis-ease in so many aspects of our lives. We can "get away" with only 5 hours of sleep or we know that if I have one more glass of wine I should still wake up feeling not "that bad". We are always looking at toeing the line of not feeling sick or unwell which keeps us in a state of repair. What if we begin to toe the line of feeling great? Making choices that takes us one step closer to feeling amazing instead of pulling us back down to mediocrity. How do we focus on preparing our health instead of always repairing our health?
I have often fallen into the routine of doing the minimum to keeping my health (not resting enough, not exercising enough, eating TOO much, taking on too much, ....). It always leads me to feeling unwell. I then have to take a step back, look at what I have been doing and repair that area. After a period of time I'm back to feeling better and become more relaxed and slowly fall back into a bad routine. This is the period of repair. Instead of having this mindset what If I brought myself back to health and then took a step back and looked at what I could do then to improve my health? Start looking at preparing my health, optimizing it. I would need a plan with specific goals and a road map on how to achieve it.
The first step is the WHAT and WHY? If you are not getting enough sleep what detriment is it having on your life? Why would you want to change? Are you unhappy at work because you're always tired, unable to get everything done because your mentally fatigued? Maybe you find you're always irritated with everyone around you and you hate of feeling so cranky. You have big dreams of becoming a leader in your work, creating something amazing that you know you could do if you weren't always tired. You want to be emotionally more positive so you can help make the people around you happier. Those are pretty good reasons WHY you want to feel less tired.
Once you are able to clarify WHAT it is you want to change and WHY you are doing it your motivation will be easy to find. The next step is the plan and do part. Using the above example of needing more sleep you need to take a step back, look at what is going on right now that does not allow you to get enough sleep. It could be as simple as you get into the routine of watching TV later than you consciously plan. Maybe your day is so full that you just haven't given yourself enough time. This self analysis can be very difficult as things we previously viewed as constants in our lives may just be bad habits. Things we have done for years on autopilot and never reassessed until now. Maybe I don't need to watch 2 hours of Game of Thrones or Big Brother to help me relax from the day. Knowing who was voted off the Island likely won't bring any value to my life. Spending a portion of that time going for a walk, meditating or connecting with friends and family will be a much more useful use of time. 20 minutes doing this instead of 60 minutes watching TV allows you to get to bed earlier and feeling better in the morning. Even just 30 minutes extra sleep per day allows you to get 3.5 hours more per week. This 30 minutes per day allows you almost an entire full month of sleep per year (7hrs extra sleep every 2 weeks, times 52 weeks = 26 nights of sleep !!). Small changes can lead to amazing things when done consistently over time.
Some of the most healthy patients I am seeing will come in for a "check up" with the change of each season. We discuss all the main areas of their health and how things are going. We go over routines, diet, supplements and any other area that needs some tweaking. They are not coming because they are ill or needing "repair", they are coming to prepare for the next few months so they continue to feel great.
As we enter the new year it's a perfect time to assess where we are at and where we need improvement. Take a few quiet hours to go over your life with a fine toothed comb and see which areas you would like change. Look to see if you can find a few what's and why's then create a plan to make this happen. What do you need to do to feel great in 2018?
Best of Health in 2018
Dr Ryan Funk
Doctor of Chinese Medicine
Fellow of the ABORM
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