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A Healthy Mind! A Healthy Body!
©Patricia Loofbourrow, MD, FAAFP, 2001

One of the biggest obstacles I faced when I was in practice was the idea many of my patients had, that the mind and the body were somehow separate, and that physical and mental problems were totally different conditions. Many of us feel as though our heads were cut off from our bodies for health purposes. And yet, our minds influence the health of our bodies in many ways.

For example, people who are constantly hostile and angry with life have a much greater chance of heart disease, no matter how they eat, how they exercise, or what their cholesterol. Depressed people have lowered immune systems and are more prone to illness and accidents. On the other hand, people who have positive mental attitudes and a "fighter spirit" are much more likely to beat "incurable" illnesses like cancer and AIDS.

So how can we get healthy minds? Here are a few suggestions:

Treat Yourself Well

People with healthy minds give themselves (not to mention others) permission to make mistakes, to grow, and to change. They take care of their bodies, and look at life as an adventure, not a burden. They set boundaries with others and don't let people take advantage of them. They either don't choose unhealthy relationships, or they get themselves out of those relationships that are abusive or seem to drag them down.

Enlist Help

You might be saying to yourself, "I am FAR from the person in the example above, how can I get there?" Well, people with healthy minds get help when they see an area in which they need help. Like going to the mechanic when your car needs fixing! Treating yourself well also means taking care of your needs. If you need anger management classes, marriage counseling, parenting skills, a therapist, or a psychiatrist to help you along the road to a healthier mind, then get the help you need. Rather than seeing it as a sign of weakness, give yourself the permission to do what is healthy for you!

Commit To The Journey

Getting a healthy mind is a process. You may be farther along the path than someone else, but taking that first step towards wellness in all areas of your life is half the battle. Don't let a rotten marriage, a tragedy, an abusive relationship, an untreated mental illness like depression and anxiety, or a history of abuse as a child destroy your health! These things need to be dealt with in order for you to feel truly well.

Healthy minds and healthy bodies go hand in hand. Resolve to do today what you need to do to change your mind and your life in a positive, healthy way!

Dr. Loofbourrow is a board-certified family physician. Visit her website for Medicine You Can Understand!

CJ's Weekly Poll - March #3
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