What is Health?
Written by: Sue Fuller-Good (MSc Physio WITS) Physiotherapist with a special interest in the mind-body connection
In China people pay their doctors and physiotherapists to keep them well. If they get sick and require medical attention, the doctor gets no pay. This system takes into account the fact that it requires more energy for the body to be diseased and in pain than to be well.
There is something so sensible about this approach and even if we couldn’t do it that way here, we could try to be more proactive in our thinking. We could practice preventative health care rather than reactive remedial health care and we don’t need anyone to change for that except ourselves.
People who seek medical help and specifically physiotherapy usually get better, but many times they return complaining of a recurrence or they come back with a new pain. To change this trend in my practice, I started teaching exercises and running exercise classes. I focused on giving out loads of lifestyle-changing-information and raising people’s awareness and making them more mindful. This helps people take back the power to manage their health. It doesn’t eliminate the need for medical practitioner's, but it helps people to take care of their own health to a large degree.
Without pain and discomfort, we may not hear the cries of our mind or body for healing, releasing and change. Is it possible that we could shift our attitude to pain, stress, tension, immune system dysfunction, fatigue and many other disturbing physical conditions that dominate the lives of so many in the world today?
The message being: “be with” your physical symptoms, don’t rush for the relief of them, before you have even acknowledged their presence.
Perhaps the more you “remove” your symptoms, the stronger they become. As an example, let us discuss a common symptom, that of a headache:
You get a headache, maybe in part, because you are overloaded, tired, stressed or anxious. You take two Brufen, and two Panados, because that is what works for you, and when you get your fifth headache in a row, you see the Physio. The pain goes, because the stiff neck resolves and for a while all appears to be in harmony. The propensity to overdrive yourself or worry soon results in another headache, or maybe produces some other symptom, maybe the next problem is recurrent cystisis, constipation or a spastic colon. You manage these with probiotics, prebiotics and maybe even some ongoing medication and lifestyle adaptations… watching what you eat and drinking plenty of water. Maybe your next visit to the doctor is about acid reflux, and your doctor diagnoses a stomach ulcer in the making. He or she advises you that you are under stress. You look at your busy lifestyle and your job situation and blame that. For a while you work less hours and take more time off. You go for a few massages and make time for a facial every month. You feel marginally better. The conflict, fear or anxiety persist. You haven’t acknowledged them, much less dealt with them. The stress goes on. You only look as deep as work and so you fix a few more problems there and so you go on. Shear disaster may be the only thing that makes you have a real look and by then it may just be too late.
How different could life have been if the first onset of headaches alerted you to the fact that there could have been an overwhelm, stress, fear or anxiety issue? You could have worked to find real solutions that work for the long term.
Not all pain is related to conflict, fear or anger, but some of it is. So how does one deal with fear? Firstly, by acknowledging its existence, and describing it, quantifying it and then examining it. Once it is out there in the light and able to be explored and understood, it is easier to see its origin and evaluate it. Lots of us don’t want to admit we have fear, but it is integral to being human. We all have things we fear. Knowing that fear is part of our human experience and it cannot be avoided, helps us to own it. Accept it, expect it, and do not live trying to avoid feeling it, but rather integrate it.
Some fear may dissipate when you see what it really is, but most fear sticks around causing havoc if we keep squashing it down and ignoring it. Acknowledging fear and facing it head on, could help to free people from the stress and even self-doubt it produces. It would allow more people to reach their full potential in so many other aspects of their life.
Anger is also a negative emotion, which can be very destructive. Anger may dissipate when it is given permission to exist and then given expression. Anger that is suppressed requires constant energy and vigilance to keep it suppressed. Anger may eat away and erode everything in its presence, it can be like a caged animal constantly seeking to escape.
In closing, the body can be a mirror for your internal state.
I urge you to look in the mirror whenever you get a chance and see what is before you when you do.
Use your own wisdom and see if you can improve your physical and mental health, by allowing the powerful and incredible immune system you have been blessed with to work perfectly.
Free your energy for the business of living and thriving.