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
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.
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
Medicine You Can Understand!