It was Benjamin Franklin in 1736 who famously said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” He was referring to fires that were threatening Philadelphia at that time, but it’s just as applicable to the fires we are dealing with in our daily lives—strained relationships, sleepless nights, weight gain, back pain, digestive issues, anxiety, or feelings of isolation.
These may not be constants in our lives, but how often over the course of a month are we putting out these fires? And, if we view our health holistically, could these mental, emotional and physical challenges collectively result in some serious health challenges down the line?
In Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi’s book, The Healing Self, the two New York Times bestselling authors begin by asking this very question. If we take a holistic look at our mental, emotional and physical health, what do we discover?
Rather than tackling these issues one by one, Chopra and Tanzi suggest we practice “lifelong wellness” that creates a “self-healing” life—and that requires only incremental changes to our lifestyle.
To help us step on the road of self-healing, the authors provide a seven-day rolling plan focusing on one facet of a healthy holistic lifestyle each day. And to reduce any anxiety, they recommend only introducing one action a day. Here are some of their suggestions to supercharge the immune system and help us stay well for life:
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Day 1: Moving to an Anti-Inflammation Diet
There are many choices we can make to balance the good and bad bacteria in our bodies that, when out of whack, can create inflammation and even result in autoimmune diseases. Today we could include anti-inflammatory foods such as garlic, leafy greens, and dark chocolate in our diet. Another option could be to ‘undo’ a dietary habit that may cause inflammation such as cutting out alcohol, eating fewer processed foods, or drinking fewer sugary drinks over the next 24 hours.
Day 2: Reducing Stress
While we may not be able to live in an entirely stress-free world, small changes can stop stress from getting out of hand. Today, are we able to meditate, sit quietly, or breathe deeply for 20 minutes? Deciding to walk away from a stressful situation or resolving a relationship issue can also reduce our burden starting right now.
Day 3: Staying Youthful
The aging process starts earlier than we think, but it is variable say Chopra and Tanzi—which means we can influence how fast or slow our cognitive abilities and our bodies decline. Studies of aging point to several habits we can adopt early to help us stay younger for longer, such as joining a social group or taking up a challenging mental activity. Maybe today is the day to let go of any negative stereotypes about aging we may have.
Day 4: Getting More Rest
If you want to sleep better and de-stress, then the key is to be more active. How about choosing to park your car further away from your workplace forcing you to walk? Or taking the stairs instead of the elevator? Instead of this morning’s coffee break, could you take a walk instead?
Day 5: Examining Negative Beliefs
What we believe can have a significant impact on our overall health—particularly those we identify with over an extended period. Some beliefs are healing say Chopra and Tanzi, while some end up being destructive making us feel angry, tense, guilty, or ashamed. Today we can look at our beliefs, perhaps reading an inspirational poem to bolster a healing belief, or uncovering and examining a negative belief.
Day 6: Letting Go
If you feel like life is a struggle, then how about choosing to let life flow instead? Approach a situation without resistance, or let someone else have their way today.
Day 7: Evolving
A life with meaning and purpose can naturally lead to a healthier, happier us. That may sound like something that requires decades of work, but it starts with just small practices on a daily basis. Chopra and Tanzi suggest taking this day to be generous of spirit, seeking out an opportunity to be compassionate, or resisting the voice of fear.
Staying well for life involves taking care of our bodies, our minds and our souls every day. Introducing small acts of self-care into our routine can set us on a path of prevention now, rather than one of cure later.
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