Over my 40+ years of practice as an integrative physician it has become clear to me that we need to focus on 5 areas of our lives if we want to achieve optimal health. These are Nutrition, Exercise, Stress, Sleep and Attitude – N.E.S.S.A. – and I call them The 5 Keys to Staying Healthy.
Let’s start with ATTITUDE. It is the fifth key, but it could easily be the first. As my friend and colleague Dr. Marty Rossman says, "The mind is probably the most underutilized health resource we have.”
Our attitudes influence our lifestyle choices and those choices affect our health directly. Our beliefs about life and what we tell ourselves in the privacy of our own mind—our “self talk”—can be optimistic or pessimistic. When you examine your own attitudes, are they positive and encouraging, or negative and undermining?
For instance, compare these differences in attitude:
- “I can improve my health and heal, or I will always be ill.”
- “I can make the changes that I know are best for my body and health, or why bother making any changes, what’s the point? They won't make a difference.“
- “I love myself and feel blessed with my life, or I don’t like the person I am and the life I am living, I don’t like the way my life is unfolding."
- “I can accomplish my goals, or I can’t.”
Where are you on this positive—negative spectrum?
Remember that the mind—the passionate, stressed, and uncontrolled mind—can generate havoc in our lives. Learning to relax and be ‘quiet’ can create moments of peace, which our body–mind appreciates.
Here are some tips to help shift your attitude from “glass half-empty” to “glass half-full.”
- Seek out friends or practitioners who will support your healthy attitudes and who can help you change your unhealthy ones.
- Exercise your motivation muscles. Set a goal for yourself that you can commit to and complete, such as “this week I am going to walk for 30 minutes every other day.” When you keep that commitment and see that you can, your attitude will shift to believing in yourself more and being more positive.
- Learn and practice meditation, yoga, qigong or tai chi, to make a healing difference in your mind-body.
- Contribute to someone else's healing through your support. Give of yourself by helping others less fortunate and you get more back.
- Visualize the whole body, or a specific part, in its healed state to help in the healing process. This requires that we calm our mind and emotions first so that healing imagery can take effect.
If you want to know more about Attitude and the other 4 Keys see my latest book, Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine