Good health consumers start by making a list

Better health begins with a review of what you already have on hand. What's in your mental cupboard that might nourish a healthier you? Photo: © iStockphoto.com/kemalba

LOS ALTOS, CA, February 7, 2013 – Call me crazy, but before I go grocery shopping, I prefer to make a list.

Like most folks, I’ve figured out that knowing what I need depends on knowing what I already have in store. Why buy a gallon of milk when there’s still a half-gallon in the fridge? Why buy more bananas when there’s still three left on the…. Oh, wait. Since the bananas are now practically black, better keep those on the list.

Interestingly, my health list usually begins in much the same way, with a review of what’s already in my figurative cupboard. What do I have on hand that could nourish a happier, healthier me?

What I’ve found is that by making more consistent use of readily available if only occasionally used mental ingredients such as patience, forgiveness, and compassion, I feel a lot better. And I’m talking physically, not just mentally.

This is very much in line with one of the recommendations of the American Institute for Preventative Medicine (AIPM), sponsors of the annual Wise Health Consumer Month observed each February. Number 9 on their list of “10 Tips for Being a Wise Health Consumer” is the encouragement to “take care of your mental health as well as you would your physical health.”

Dr. Dean Ornish, founder and president of the Preventative Medicine Research Institute (PMRI) and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, would agree. His well-known “Ornish Spectrum” integrates four non drug-based avenues to improved health including better fitness, better nutrition, stress management – and a substantial helping of love and support. In 2011 this program was approved for Medicare reimbursement for patients suffering from coronary heart disease.

If we were to look at these four avenues as the four wheels on our proverbial health shopping cart, it’s that last one – the squirrely one that rarely seems to be in sync with the others – that, according to Ornish, is the most important to keep in line.

“There isn’t any other factor in medicine –” says Ornish, “not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery – that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness and premature death from all causes than loneliness and isolation.

“Love and intimacy – our ability to connect with ourselves and others, is at the root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads to healing. If a new drug had the same impact, virtually every doctor in the country would be recommending it for his or her patients.”

Of course, it’s one thing to add a sense of connectedness to our mental shopping list but quite another to know where to find it.

Ornish recommends everything from spending more time with friends and family to psychotherapy to meditation. Others, like myself, have found that nurturing a connection with the Divine naturally leads to an improved connection with others, not to mention better health. This is especially true when circumstances arise that would seem to deplete my supply of the aforementioned patience, forgiveness, and compassion, and I’m compelled to seek out what I consider to be the ultimate source of such health-inducing qualities of thought – Love.

I suppose if I did this on a more regular basis – if I really understood that these resources are not personal but spiritual and always accessible – I’d find myself going shopping a lot less often.

Eric Nelson is a Christian Science practitioner, whose articles on the link between consciousness and health appear regularly in a number of local, regional, and national online publications. He also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California.


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Eric Nelson

Eric Nelson has been published and featured in numerous newspapers, online publications, and radio talk programs. He speaks from years of experience in the mind-body field, especially as it relates to health. In addition, he is the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California and is a self-employed Christian Science practitioner. He’s also a huge baseball fan and loves riding his bike in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains. You can find him at www.norcalcs.org.

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