Welcome to 2019! I hope this new year finds you blessed, healthy, optimistic and surrounded by people who love you. I want to get right into today’s topic: my 2019 Wellness Checkup Checklist.
Time To Take Stock Of Life
New Year’s Day is one of those great opportunities we have during the year to stop and evaluate where we are, where we’ve come from, where we want to go, and what adjustments we will need to make to get there (your birthday is another). After all, if you don’t like what you have been experiencing up to this point, you need to change some of the choices you’ve been making.
For example, if I want to lose weight, I need to stop eating certain foods and embrace others. That one’s pretty obvious. If I want to have better relationships, I need to inventory the way I treat people and see if it makes them feel valued and important. If not, I need to change some things.
There’s More To It
I always wince a little when people say that they want to be healthy, so they are going to eat right and exercise more.
OK, yes, there’s some truth to that idea, but it’s a very shallow truth. If you don’t get specific about what lifestyle changes you need to make and make a commitment to persevere when you face opposition, you won’t last in your pursuit of better health.
More importantly, you’re only addressing two pieces of the puzzle. As I’ve said so many times here, wellness is a multi-faceted concept, and every facet is important. If you are not well in one area of your life, it brings down your wellness level in other areas and diminishes your overall wellness.
When all the areas of your life are enjoying high levels of wellness, I call it “wholeness.” Actually, I didn’t come up with that concept; God did. You see it in the Hebrew language of the Bible. The Hebrew word, “shalom” represents the idea of “wholeness.” It literally means “complete, whole, perfect, fulfilled, peaceful, nothing missing and nothing broken.”
Doesn’t that sound like the kind of life you would like to experience? It’s the life God intended for you to have. Even if you don’t believe in my God, I don’t think you can argue that wholeness is a desirable (and achievable) way to live.
The Facets of Wellness
So, let’s take a look at the facets of wellness that we need to consider if we want to experience wholeness:
This is the obvious place for the chiropractor to start, right? You have over 200 bones that work together to frame your body and allow movement. Your bones not only create the structure for your muscles, but they also hold that marrow that generates your blood cells and protect your organs and nervous system. Any misalignment in your bones can hamper the effectiveness of your nervous system, causing pain, limiting your mobility, and even cutting off communication between the control centers of your brain and your vital organs.
Everyone knows that bones require a healthy amount of calcium in the diet, but much more important is your magnesium intake, which regulates calcium. So, your bones are linked to your diet at least as much as exercise and regular alignment.
When your skeleton is enjoying wellness, you can move freely, and your internal communication systems are unhindered.
Your bones are tied together by a complex network of muscle groups. When precisely balanced, they allow for the most graceful movements and allow you to get things done efficiently. But it’s a delicate system and easy to mess up. Injury can cause muscles to break or die, but more often, injured muscles get out of balance with each other, which can limit your mobility or cause you pain.
Muscles must be exercised regularly and properly hydrated to stay at peak wellness. Sore muscles can steal your sleep or hinder your ability to concentrate on work or a conversation, which can hurt your career wellness, your relationship wellness, and your financial wellness (we’ll address these in a bit).
When your muscles are enjoying wellness, you can move freely without pain, you may be able to lift heavy items, and engage in your favorite activities. I’ll let you discern for yourself what those might be.
I mention joints separately here because pain in your joints can severely hinder your movement and your ability to concentrate, even if your muscles are all in good working order. Inflammation of the joints – usually called arthritis – can be life-altering, and is almost entirely related to diet, not exercise.
When your joints are enjoying wellness, you have freedom of movement to enjoy your favorite activities.
Your brain generates hundreds of electrochemical impulses that flow through your nervous system to your vital organs and glands. Some of these your body recognizes as emotional signals, but it’s possible for the same person to experience the same electrochemical signal multiple different ways. You may experience a rush of adrenaline as fear, excitement, anticipation, or nausea, depending on the context and your emotional state at the moment.
Neurotransmitters are critical for your body to function (they regulate the activity of your organs, for example), but they have their place. Dopamine can give you a sense of accomplishment or reward when you have achieved a goal, but it is also the primary component in addiction. Cortisol will help you run from danger in an instant, but if you leave the faucet open through stress, it will gradually damage your vital organs and build up in your midsection as belly fat.
When your body is enjoying electrochemical wellness, your organs function and communicate clearly, your emotions stay in balance, and you can respond to your circumstances wisely.
There is one side category of electrochemical wellness that I want to address here. People who ground themselves to the planet’s electromagnetic sphere through walking barefoot on the soil, gardening, and other grounding techniques, enjoy better electrochemical wellness. You can read more about that here.
You have to eat right – it’s that simple. As you digest your food, it breaks down into nutrients and waste products. Nutrients rebuild and strengthen your body, waste products – if you don’t eliminate them – can poison and weaken your body.
Sugar is a great example. Sugar not only leads to weight gain, it suppresses your immune system and feeds cancer cells. It also plugs up your liver over time. If you eat food with a lot of sugar, you will deplete your wellness in every area of your life. It may not be obvious in some areas, like your relationships, but if you are always grouchy and tired because of the ravages of sugar, it will show up in your relationships over time.
A poor diet leads to all of the major categories of disease – not just some of them. Included in this are heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, dementia, arthritis, colon diseases, obesity, malnutrition, and so on. All of these disease categories can be treated or healed through proper diet. And proper diet includes fasting periodically.
You have to be sure your body is getting the right balance of Vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats, microorganisms, amino acids, and other nutrients. It starts with eating the right things and not eating wrong things.
When you enjoy dietary wellness, the cells in every part of your body receive proper nourishment for growth and reproduction, you enjoy abundant physical and mental energy, and you live longer and healthier.
Related to diet is hydration. Your body is over 70% water and needs to be consistently be replenished, especially the brain. Dehydration can cause headaches, inability to concentrate, memory loss, confusion, muscle deterioration, joint pain, indigestion, constipation, hair loss, skin deterioration, and so many other things.
When your body is enjoying hydration wellness, you have freedom of movement, clear thoughts, healthy skin and hair, easy digestion, and all around wellness.
If you like burning the candle at both ends, please know that the candle is eventually going to burn you. Your body needs 6-8 hours of good sleep every 24 hours. I know there are military professionals who have research on 90-minute sleep cycles, and that’s great. If you can pull it off for a lifetime, be my guest, but I believe it will be a short lifetime.
Sleep is the part of your daily life cycle when your brain resets, your cells regenerate, and maximum healing takes place. I had friends in college (and I’m sure you did, too) who experimented with sleep deprivation for three or four days at a time. They started hallucinating, experienced health problems that took months to correct, and some required counseling afterward. Don’t mess with this. If you didn’t need sleep, God wouldn’t have created day and night.
When your body is enjoying sleep wellness, you enjoy clear thinking, emotional wellness, quicker healing from viruses and surgeries, and more.
We’re entering into a part of wellness that most people ignore, especially when they only think of wellness as a physical matter. The truth is, emotional and physical wellness are linked more closely than you think. I like to use this example: if you’ve ever been nervous about a meeting at work and it made you upset to your stomach, you know your emotions are linked to your physical wellness.
We’ve already seen that dehydration and sleep deprivation can mess with your emotional state. So can over-indulging on sweets. I have friends who get hyper when they have too much sugar and friends who get grouchy when they have too much sugar. It’s the same thing with alcohol: there are fun drunks and grouchy drunks.
More importantly, your emotional wellness is the bridge that connects your physical wellness to your decision-making, which in turn affects your relationships, your career, and your finances. Are you one who enjoys “retail therapy?” Some people eat junk food to deal with their bad emotions, some shop, some engage in sexual relations, some cut themselves, some isolate themselves, some explode at people around them.
Can you see how emotional wellness is linked to all the others?
When you are enjoying emotional wellness, you enjoy healthier relationships, make better decisions that influence your physical wellness, career wellness, and financial wellness.
Stress can manifest as an emotion, but it is not an emotion, so I want to address it separately. It is a complex series of electrochemical signals that affect your physical wellness, your emotional wellness, your sleep wellness, your relationship wellness, and your decision-making wellness. Some stress is needed to get out of bed and face the world every day, but unmanaged stress is the root of countless diseases, relationship failures, and poor decisions.
You are investing in your intellectual wellness right now. Can you see how it could impact all the other modes of wellness – physical, relational, financial, and so on? Readers are leaders, the expression goes. People who consistently invest in their intellectual development through reading, listening to podcasts, attending classes, and studying specific subjects make informed decisions. They advance higher in their careers (and by extension, their financial wellness). They enjoy a different level of wisdom.
We’ve already touched on it a little, but I want to call out the fact that people who are emotionally and intellectually healthy tend to make better choices that lead them to positive outcomes in every area of your life. Plus, it’s hard to make good decisions when you are in physical or emotional pain. Your decisions affect your physical wellness, your intellectual wellness, your relationships, your career and finances, and so much more. The life you live, in every aspect, is the result of decisions you have already made. You are shaping your future by your decision-making wellness today.
It’s important to consider that humans are not strictly rational, intellectual decision-makers, like the Vulcans from Star Trek. We make decisions from emotion and use logic to justify them. That’s why it’s critical to keep your emotional wellness level at a high level.
If you are experiencing pain in a relationship, isn’t it just as bad as suffering pain in your body? This is so easy to overlook, but it’s so critical. How are your relationships with your kids? Your spouse? Your neighbors? Coworkers? Boss? Clients? Extended family?
Unhealthy relationships can hurt your emotional wellness, your decision-making, and even your physical health. If you quit your job and spend all your money because unhealthy relationships are causing you stress that affects your sleep, you can see that decision-making wellness is critical to every part of your life. Remember, we are not strictly rational decision-makers, and nothing cuts deeper into the heart of a person than pain in their relationships.
A person who is enjoying relationship wellness is more likely to enjoy their work environment, their home life, and their social outings. By limiting stress in those places, they enjoy better health, better sleep, better exercise (particularly in marital relationships), and more.
Oh, and yes, the research is well-established that a healthy relationship with a pet is a key contributor to longevity and emotional wellness.
Your career is not only the source of your income, but it is also a major part of your day-to-day relationships. We’ve already seen how physical, emotional, intellectual, decision-making and relationship wellness can affect your career, but the reverse is true, too. If you hate your job, it will gradually deplete your stress-management wellness, which will cut into all the others.
Are you seeing the pattern yet?
Have you ever lost a night of sleep, been nauseated, or made bad decisions because of financial stress? We all have. You can tell me all day long that money isn’t important to you, but if you’ve ever gotten an eviction notice, filed bankruptcy, or had to give your kids an empty Christmas tree, you know money is important.
That doesn’t mean that financial wellness means you live in a mansion with a gold-plated toilet. Not at all. But it does mean that you have enough to cover all your expenses so that you don’t worry, and enough to move you toward your dreams.
People who enjoy financial wellness often live with lower (or at least different types of) stress (and accompanying diseases), better relationships, and more confidence.
No man is an island, the saying goes, and it’s true. You interact with people in your neighborhood, your church, and your city almost every day. Your decisions affect other people, directly or indirectly. A sense of belonging to a larger community is one of the nine attributes of longevity according to research by the Blue Zones Project.
People who enjoy community wellness extend influence over the people around them — for good, not for ill. Some participate in local politics to make their communities a better place. They serve in their churches and local service organizations, and they make an effort to be kind and generous to the people around them. They usually experience low stress in their relationships, and by extension, their emotional and physical wellness.
This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it should. It weaves through all the others.
You may be a nice person, generous to a fault, and make good decisions, but if your spiritual life is weak (or non-existent), it will play out in the other areas of your life. The spiritual life provides an anchor to your emotions and guides your intellect and decision-making in line with the principles of life that God set forth in creation.
For me, personally, I find in the Bible a God who pursues a personal relationship with each and every human — to the extent that they allow him in. He identifies Himself as a Healer, a Provider, a Counselor, a Parent, and a Source of Wisdom and Direction. When you have all those facets of your life addressed by someone who exhibits unlimited supernatural power, your need for stress goes right out the door. And all He demands of you is a few minutes of your company throughout each day.
The research is abundant that shows a correlation between an active spiritual life and physical wellness, longevity, emotional stability, better relationships, community involvement, wisdom, and much more.
It’s All Linked
If any of them is low, you will feel it in all of them to varying degrees. As a wellness coach, I want to help you find balance in all of them to the extent that I can so that you can experience wholeness. You will find that you recover from setbacks in any area more quickly the higher your wellness level in all of them.
Your Checklist For 2019
Please print out this article and use it as a checklist for your wellness in 2019. Refer to it at least every week to keep track of where you are enjoying wellness and where you might need to focus some attention. I think you’ll find it easier to manage them all by having a concrete list to measure against. I hope you enjoy it.
Also, if this article was helpful to you, please take a few seconds to comment and to share it on your favorite social media channel. You have access to hundreds — if not thousands — of people I will never get to talk to directly. I believe you can help me get this message out to people who need it all around you, and you might be surprised at who they are.
God bless you in all of these areas as we push off into 2019 together!
“At the end of your FEELINGS is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas