I was challenged by Denise Stegall this month to think about what it means for a woman to be successful, open-minded, and brave. After a few minutes of reflection, it occurred to me that these attributes are directly related to this one thing, how positive you feel about your health.
Especially these days, I find that the people around me oscillate between feeling hopeful about their health and the future and feeling completely hopeless.
Let me tell you a quick story. I was talking to my parents a few days before Christmas.
My dad picked up the phone and seemed to only be able to muster a grunt in response to my many questions. Finally, I got frustrated.
“Where’s mom?” I asked.
“In bed,” he answered.
“What? It’s nearly 10 a.m.”
“Oh man,” I said. You guys are really depressed.
Distancing from others, not wanting to get out of bed, not feeling like communicating. Sound familiar? Well, that’s not healthy.
Just because we can’t go out exactly where we want, or spend time with people in exactly the way we want, doesn’t mean we need to feel depressed. How positive do you feel about your health if you are struggling with depression or malaise?
I think the way out of this mess starts with being open-minded.
What I always tell the people in my life that I love is to keep up the faith, and to remain hopeful. This isn’t the most obvious solution, so it requires an open mind to consider it.
In stressful situations, our first response is usually to close down and protect ourselves and our loved ones, which is the opposite of being open-minded.
We may feel like we don’t have any control over the current situation, and that’s true in some respects.
It is exactly at times like these that we are invited to deepen our faith in the divine, a higher power, whatever you believe—but believe!
When you have faith you have hope.
Faith helps a person to feel safe, secure, and supported, regardless of what’s happening.
When things feel out of control, then cede your control to a higher power that you sincerely believe has your best interests in mind.
The key is to know in your heart that the source of your belief is genuinely good. If you don’t have this faith, then you can search your heart and find it.
It is very important to keep your mind stable, no matter what. An open mindset can directly affect how positive you feel about your health
It is my belief—and my experience—that when it comes to your health, the most important factor in getting healthy and resisting disease is the state of your mental health.
I’m not sure what the science says. I am sure it is very hard to prove this, but someone that I have faith in very much says that 70 percent of illness is in the mind.
This means that your mind can make or break your health.
If you are struggling with fear and anxiety you may find this article by Sheree Clark useful.
That brings me to bravery.
You have to be brave to exercise your faith in this way.
It takes courage to choose to believe, to choose to believe that no matter what happens, you are going to be okay.
What if you are wrong?
Let me ask you two questions about that.
1. What do you have to lose?
2. What other option do you have?
Let me address the first question: What do you have to lose?
You have nothing to lose by letting go of your unrealistic exercise of control over every little thing. You’re okay, right?
Nobody is asking you to stop following the mandated precautions related to mask-wearing and social distancing.
Use your common sense and follow your intuition while continuing to live your life as normally as possible while staying safe.
How about the second question? What other option do you have?
You should realize that the opposite of living with faith and hope, is living in fear.
You likely already know this, but I assure you that living your life in fear of the unknown is very painful. It is painful to the conscious mind, as well as the unconscious mind.
This is not how you want to live. It isn’t going to help you at all, but it sure can hurt you.
People don’t talk enough about the negative effects of fear on immunity and overall health.
Let’s review them here. Chronic fear leads to ….
- A weakened immune system
- Cardiovascular damage
- Gastrointestinal problems such as weak digestion, food intolerances, ulcers, and IBS
- Decreased fertility
- Accelerated aging
- Impairment of long-term memory
- Chronic anxiety
- Intense and uncontrollable emotions
- Dissociation from self
- Irrational actions
- Difficulty learning
- Chronic fatigue
- Sleeping disorders
- Clinical depression
- Bitterness, loss of trust, confusion, disgust, and despair about your faith
If any of these sound familiar in the last year or so then please do your best to let go of fear.
Chronic fear also leads to chronic stress, and the high levels of cortisol stress generate in your body suppresses your immune system by reducing virus-fighting cells.
Psychology Today comes right out and says, “When stress, anxiety, worry, overwhelm, depression and isolation are left unchecked, they actually reduce the effectiveness of your immune system and make you, and those around you much more susceptible to getting sick.”
Fear isn’t a solution or an option. It’s part of the problem. How positive do you feel about your health if you live in fear?
So what can you do?
I already suggested a powerful solution to vanquish fear, and that’s faith.
Can you think of any others?
No, not denial. It is important to stay as clear-minded as possible.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Reach out to your friends and family more often?
- Join an online class and dedicating yourself to learning something new?
- Recognize the gift of feeling close to those in your personal hunkering zone?
- Go out for a walk and meeting neighbors safely on the street?
- How about upping your self-care practice?
Your mind is the most powerful defense you have against illness of all types.
Stay strong. Have faith. You will definitely be successful!
Andrea Hayley-Sankaran is the founder of Good Gut Ayurveda, a certified Ayurvedic Digestive Health Coach, and creator of Happy Eater, a 6-week program that helps purpose-driven entrepreneurs and professionals take control of their health, and unlock their energy, freedom, and FLOW.
Andrea is a vegetarian chef of 25 years who’s known as the “joyful chef” because of her infectious love for cooking. Students rave about their cooking class experiences as they experience her signature mindful approach to cooking and eating. They especially appreciate learning how to cook vegetarian food that tastes so amazing they don’t miss the meat.
Through her programs, coaching, writing, and speaking, Andrea empowers her community to find balance and attain health and healing through individualized diet and lifestyle habits informed by the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda.