I am overwhelmed. Who hasn’t said that? But what does it really mean? The definition is “to load, heap, treat, or address with an overpowering or excessive amount of anything.” That is certainly true when it comes to all of the health and wellness advice that we hear.
I truly believe that everyone wants to feel good and to be healthy. There are so many reasons that we have trouble striving for, and reaching, improved health. These reasons can be emotional, physical, political, and many others. Add in the vastness of information at our disposal, much of which is confusing and contradictory. How are we supposed to navigate all of this, and who has the time to do it anyway?
Sometimes we have to make the time if we are faced with serious illness in our lives. We need to be able to find reliable and valid information. Please, please, please remember that what we read is not always true just because it comes from an excellent public speaker and/or a doctor. Solid starting points are: WebMD, Healthfinder.gov, US Department of Health and Human Services. Take advantage of their search functions. Also, Wikipedia is always a great place to start a search, but keep in mind that the information can be posted by anyone at any time and always needs to be verified.
So what is the most important aspects of health and wellness to concerns ourselves about? Exercise? Diet? Stress control? Should we worry about butter vs. margarine? Alkaline vs. acidic? Carbs vs. fat? Organic vs. conventional? The concerns seem endless. And for each concern there are multiple and conflicting opinions as to what we should be doing. Then, just when we think we have it figured out, the experts discover something new and everything we know as true is turned upside down. Frustrating? Yes. Yes it is. But it is also the nature of the proverbial beast. As our technology and understanding evolve and increase, so do our core beliefs on what is healthy.
Certainly when our lives are effected by a specific illness we tend to concentrate on that one as the most important. If we are predisposed to a disease, that should be of greater importance to us to learn about. Knowledge is power… as long as we are willing to implement that knowledge. Just how much time and energy do we need to spend researching all aspects of health and wellness in order to improve our health and quality of life?
The good news is that for most of us, simply being mindful goes a long way toward improving our health and wellness. Start with the basics, my personal mantra: balance, moderation, and variety. They all are all different, yet each ties in with the others:
Work and play, good food and junk food, spending and saving, exercising and relaxing… It doesn’t matter what it is. Too much of one and not enough of the other infringes on our health and happiness. When we balance all aspects of our existence we can enjoy a healthier, happier life.
Anything taken to the extreme can be harmful. As I’ve mentioned before, that includes drinking too much water. Not only do we want to balance relaxation with exercise, we also want to exercise in a safe manner and not push harder than our bodies can safely handle. If we are not active, we need to work up to strenuous activities. “Weekend athletes” suffer injuries due to their lack of conditioning. If we “work hard and play hard” we are balanced, but if we are pushing ourselves too hard in each of them, we will suffer from the lack of moderation in both.
We all know how important it is to have variety in our diet. Different colored fruits and vegetables each provide distinct health properties. We need a variety of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in order to survive and thrive. Most of us eat wheat (white or processed whole wheat) at every meal and for snacks in between. Many of our bodies are rejecting the wheat we are consuming at every meal (and it’s not the same wheat our grandparents ate.) We are complex organisms. When we consume a large variety of healthy foods we don’t have to concerns ourselves with the specifics of eating the right combination of nutrients. When we vary our exercise routines we are working different muscle groups and different systems. By varying our mental activities, we work different parts of our brains.
When we are mindful and aware of what we are doing to and with our bodies, we can do so with balance, moderation, and variety which will increase our health and wellness. Will you start with being mindful and perhaps throw a little more balance, moderation, and variety in? I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the outcome!