Archive for October 2013

Are we all now on the same mind, body, spirit page?   Leave a comment

$ dreamstime_5279920Recently, thousands of people attended the Mind Body Spirit Festival in Brisbane. I made my way there through the gloomy weather on Sunday, to find a really ‘happening’ event, a lot like the Health Harmony and Soul Expo held on the Gold Coast earlier in the year.

There were a surprising number of Millennials and Gen Ys amongst the Baby Boomers and Gen Xs in attendance, as ready to explore the ideas of philosophy and religion, as they were to try out the organic tea or get their ‘reading’.

I got the impression that there was general agreement between those on stands and within their vibrant audience that health is about very much more than treating a body.

Quite a few I spoke to had pondered the mental nature of health, had heard about the medical research into the effects of spiritual and religious sentiments such as forgiveness and gratitude.

Dozens were eager to add their contribution to the ‘gratitude tree’ by writing down what they were grateful for … and pinning it on the murraya bush in the Christian Science Reading Room stand.

Don’t get me wrong. The majority of these people harboured a healthy scepticism of anything nonsensical or obviously geared to a purely money-making concern.

The astounding thing is that these were your average Aussie ‘blokes’ and ‘sheilas’. Just like the lady I met today. While her job was in real estate, she confided when I mentioned that I was a health blogger, that she’d investigated kinesiology and other alternative therapies and knew how important her thoughts were to her wellbeing.

It’s not surprising to learn that two-thirds of Australians use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and many of these recognise the interconnectedness of our thoughts with our health.

Suddenly results from thought-based treatments such as placebos, epigenetics, psychotherapy and meditation are big news.

A medico who turned from Western medical treatments when they failed to help her, took matters into her own hands. Through her research, Dr Lissa Rankin discovered that traditional health care was missing a couple of crucial insights:

taking responsibility for your own wellbeing is essential; and that we need to care for the whole package – our mind, heart and soul.

Rankin’s book, Mind Over Medicine, advances understanding of the great conundrum of the past 150 years – how our mind, bodies and spirit interconnect.

She found that thoughts, feelings and beliefs can alter the body’s physiology, discerned that loneliness, pessimism, depression, fear and anxiety damage the body, while intimate relationships, gratitude, meditation and creativity turn on the body’s self-healing processes.

Theologian, author, and founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy wrote and taught about the mental nature of disease way back in the 19th century.

She proved that a Mind-based (or God-based) view of health and life leads to cures in both mind and body.

Eddy described some of the states of thought that might generate disease in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which endorses what many people like Rankin recognise as harmful to health today.

She wrote, “Hatred, envy, dishonesty, fear, and so forth, make a man sick, and neither material medicine nor Mind can help him permanently, even in body, unless it makes him better mentally, and so delivers him from his destroyers.”

For me, it’s imperative to recognise my spiritual identity, which Jesus exemplified and explained so well, and can be nurtured and discovered through daily prayer and meditation. I find that this also keeps the body healthy, as well as repairing and healing.

It looks like many are now ‘on the same page’, sharing the profound knowledge that happiness and health are dependent on a healthy mind, body and spirit.

This article by Kay Stroud, a health blogger who is interested in the mind-body connection, was  originally published on her blog, Spotlight on Spirituality and HealthIt was also published on these media websites:  Toowoomba Chronicle, Wanganui Chronicle, The Aucklander, Grafton Daily Examiner, Coffs Coast Advocate, Bay of Plenty Times.

Don’t be a super woman! It’s good for your health   2 comments

Portrait of a happy young mother with her daughter reading a booIf you’re a mother then you may often find yourself juggling tasks – raising children, managing a household, holding down a job, caring for elderly relatives and participating in family and community activities. Trying to fit everything into the daily schedule while remaining happy and healthy is demanding. It can cause a seemingly normal female, to try and become a superwoman.

While no one is expected to “leap tall buildings”, the desire to be a super-individual and effectively accomplish every task, can be tough to surrender. Hanging on to it, can often lead to self-inflicted pressure, a false sense of responsibility, and feelings of guilt or failure if every job isn’t successfully completed. It can also make saying “no” that much harder.

Being an “I can do everything” type of person, and taking on too much each day, can also be unhealthy. According to psychologist Lynn Bufka, Ph.D., stress can occur because “Mothers often put their family needs first and neglect their own.” Admirable though this may be, keeping on top of everything can lead to burn-out. That’s why “It’s okay”, Bufka says, “to relax your standards – don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself to have the ‘perfect’ house or be the ‘perfect’ mother. No one expects you to be Superwoman.”

To get life into balance, maintain good health and beat the stress factor, Dr. Bufka offers these suggestions. “Put things in perspective–make time for what’s really important. Prioritize and delegate responsibilities. Identify ways your family and friends can lessen your load so that you can take a break. Delay or say no to less important tasks.”

Stop the world. It’s time to get off.

It’s helpful advice to take on board, especially if you’re inclined to say yes to everything that’s asked of you. I once tried being a superwoman, until burdened-down, tired and unhappy, I was forced to review my “to do” list. In writing down all, and I mean all, of my regular commitments, it was a shock to find there was no time left to draw breath. The list was cut.

TIP:

● Regularly check your “to do” list. It doesn’t have to keep building up.

● A good rule is: if you add something to it, then drop something off.

● Overhaul your thinking and actions.

● Take a break from the treadmill of life.

● A poem by W.D. Longstaff, offers this advice. “Take time to be holy, Be calm in thy soul; Each thought and each motive beneath His control.” This can mean slow the pace down, take time for quiet contemplation. When asked to do something, pause, think calmly, consider your schedule, check your motives, ask yourself if it’s right for you to accept yet another request.

Learn to say no. It’s ok.

Good people, busy people, and those who believe they’re the “can’t say no” type, are often asked to do things for others. On such occasions, it’s useful to remember that it’s more than possible that your assistance may not be their only answer. It’s OK to decline.

One night at 11pm, my telephone rang. An acquaintance begged me to come immediately and back her car down her narrow driveway.  As I was deciding whether to get out of bed and drive 45 minutes to her, the thought came to pause and think before answering. My own genuine needs had always been met and often in most unexpected and wonderful ways. So I told her I wouldn’t be coming while reassuring her that there would be a solution. Her need would be met. As she angrily banged the phone down, I felt a pang of guilt for saying no. Ten minutes later, she called to say the problem was solved. A neighbour had seen her porch light on, and kindly moved her car.

TIP:

● Be kind to yourself.

● Resist saying yes to everyone.

● Don’t feel bad if you decide to say no.

● Keep a sense of balance.

● You’re worth looking after too.

Doing this may take practice, but the good news is that it can help you not to overcommit. Best of all, it can stop you trying to become superhuman. Instead, you’ll remain a normal, healthy, stress-free woman.

This article was originally posted on August 21, 2013 on Spirituality and Health Connect by Beverly Goldsmith. Beverly is a Melbourne-based health writer who provides a diversity of health content on how spirituality and thought affect health. This article also appeared as “ Forget superwoman!: Don’t try to be a superwoman – it’s good for your health” on Motherpedia – an online community for Mums by Mums.

 

Women opt to take a different sort of health pledge   Leave a comment

$ dreamstime_5547149Picture this. A young mum powering around the front lawn behind a lawn mower, baby in the pouch on her chest screaming his head off.

Reserve your judgement, because in a very short time he has calmed down owing to the monotonous noise and rhythm. The mother has used her wisdom, love and creativity to avert several hours of frustration for them both.

That mum was me over 30 years ago, and I found that parenting took the most energy, intelligence, selflessness, generosity, kindness, forgiveness, decisiveness, endurance, perseverance, enthusiasm, commitment, organisation and wisdom that I have ever needed to muster.

You’d have to agree that we need to be both mentally and physically fit and healthy to manage the complexities of raising a family.

Recently it was the inaugural, national Women’s Health Week, dedicated to improving the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of all Australian women right across the life span and addressing a range of women’s health issues holistically and to keep women well.

Taking time out for themselves, getting active, eating well and reaching out to family and friends are some of the pledges we’re being encouraged to make during this week.

Have a look at their website. There are the usual pledges to exercise more and eat a balanced diet, but it’s interesting to note that there are also a surprising number of pledges that acknowledge the importance of the quality of our thoughts to our health and wellbeing. For instance, “I pledge to be more grateful on a daily basis”, “I pledge to take better care of myself both physically and spirituality”, “I pledge to practise controlling my thoughts and focusing on the here and now”, “I pledge to love myself”.

All well and good you may say, but how can a spiritual viewpoint help with some of the critical mental challenges we experience when we become parents?

Experiencing post-natal depression after the birth of her eldest daughter well-known news presenter, author and columnist Jessica Rowe struggled with feelings of inadequacy, resentment, fear and shame. It was only when she summoned the courage to ask for help that the psychiatrist helped her to overcome these feelings.

I sought a similar, though different, sort of help as I dealt with the issues of isolation and uncertainty during the early years of child-rearing. I can truly say that it was my daily spiritual practice that developed a growing understanding of the divine Mind and maintained my mental health during this time. When I was ‘tuned in’, it brought moment-by-moment inspiration and answers about the how to, what, when, who and why of child rearing.

Explaining the benefits of ‘tuning in’ to the Divine, 19th century mind/body researcher and religious reformer Mary Baker Eddy, identified Moses’ unwilling acceptance of leadership and subsequent courageous nation-changing actions as such ‘tuning in’, “illustrat(ing) the grand human capacities of being bestowed by immortal Mind.”

“Australia has become increasingly secular over the years. Despite this, however, it is interesting to see a significant relationship between spiritual experiences and better mental health (lower depressive and anxiety symptoms)”, the conclusions of a recent study conducted by the School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Western Australia found.

As healthcare continues to evolve and provide more complete, holistic care for patients, the importance of religion and spirituality is increasingly being emphasised as a central determinant of quality of life and conferring positive benefits to mental health, even to coping with the distress of early motherhood.

Psychologists are now developing and evaluating a variety of spiritually integrated approaches to treatment, including: forgiveness programs to help divorced people come to terms with bitterness and anger; programs to help survivors of sexual abuse deal with their spiritual struggles; treatments for women with eating disorders that draw on their spiritual resources; and programs that help drug abusers re-connect to their higher selves”.

Pledges to develop our spirituality, by taking the time to be more grateful, love ourselves and others more, to be kind when someone is mean or thoughtless, to do a good deed each day and to forgive (even drivers who hog the inside lane) will bring not only increased mental health, but can also benefit us physically.

Along with women’s health, September offers many opportunities to consider a spiritual approach to dealing with mental health issues: RU OK Day, Exercise Your Mood Month and World Suicide Prevention Day.

Ladies, this week join the growing numbers of women choosing to adopt and benefit from a spiritual practice for all round wellbeing.

This article by Kay Stroud, a health blogger who is interested in the mind-body connection, was  originally published on her blog, Spotlight on Spirituality and Health.  It was also published  at The Toowoomba Chronicle, and on these other APN news sites: the Sunshine Coast Daily, the NSW Northern Star and the Mackay Daily Mercury.

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