When you receive a medical bill for your doctor visit, medical tests or hospitalization, do you feel like you need a tutorial to decipher the bill?
Yoga is a practice that we all can do. It starts with the breath – an extended and deeper breath. With a simple focusing of our breath, we can start on a journey that improves our well being. This breathing process helps to take us away from the flight-or-fight mode, in which many of us live everyday. Personally, I do not know anyone who is not feeling stressed, to some degree. Do you?
Our healthcare workers in this country are assaulted on a regular basis. The people who are saving our lives and managing the sick are being hit, kicked, scratched, bitten and spat at, as well as threatened and harassed. Even worse, the violence in our hospital emergency departments is escalating. What is even more disturbing is that assault in this line of work is considered the cultural norm. The violence is thought of as “part of the job” (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S009917671300216X).
Our Spiritual Well-Being
We typically address the impact of mental and physical distress on our health, but what about spiritual distress? Our spiritual well-being is often left out and gets muddled with our emotional well-being, but they are not the same. Emotion is described as a reaction to a person, object, or situation in our life; it can be real or a thought. Our emotional responses are often connected to past experiences and are distinguished from reason or knowledge. Spirituality addresses the “big picture” – a search for meaning in our lives.
Good mental health does not simply mean the absence of problems; it refers to the way you feel about yourself, your ability to cope and manage difficulties, as well as establishing quality relationships.
Too many people try to keep it a secret: It is embarrassing to talk about grandma’s or grandpa’s drug addiction, but at least 20% of the population over the age of 65 suffers with drug abuse problems (https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/addiction-statistics/). Researchers suspect underreporting, with the statistic for drug addiction likely being much higher.
Let’s go back in time – over 2,500 years ago. Hippocrates (the father of medicine) wrote in 400 B.C., “All parts of the body which have a function if used in moderation and exercised in labors in which each is accustomed, become thereby healthy, well developed and age more slowly, but if unused and left idle they become liable to disease, defective in growth and age quickly” (https://www.nuigalway.ie/media/schoolofpsychology/KDowd_21Feb2018_NUIG_Health-Behaviour-Change_Final.pdf).
What happened to that public outcry of the 1980s? As I have previously written, hospital-related medical errors are considered the third leading cause of death (after heart disease and cancer) in America and the root cause is not individuals, but systems (Study Meta-analysis of studies published in The Journal of Patient Safety, September 2013).
Which would you bet on for a longer healthier life: A happy, active 70-year old or a cynical, sedentary 60? It may seem obvious, but we need to ask ourselves: Are we really mindful about practicing a healthier lifestyle when it comes to our attitudes? Our health and illness patterns are much more rooted in our minds and in our hearts than people realize (www.nytimes.com/10/26/2014).
The path to good health is typically a more modest one. That does not rule out the many benefits of the new discoveries in medicine, the advanced technologies and the numerous wonders of medical science. The shortcoming of the science-side of medicine is the tendency to lose the patient; we still need to keep an eye on the art of medicine when caring for our patients.
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