All You REALLY Need
Let’s face it: we all want to be healthy and happy. Unfortunately, we either lack the motivation to make necessary changes or we look for it in all the wrong places. Sometimes both are true. Sometimes even knowing where to begin can elude us. Fret not, dear reader; I’m going to give you an outline garnered from my training and experience. Here’s what you need:
Something for the Spirit.
Something for the Soul.
Something for the body.
We are spiritual beings. True health and happiness have a spiritual component. As a Christian, I believe we are all created spiritual beings by God. Our spirit has needs that can only be satisfied in relationship with God through Jesus Christ. All that “stuff” we pursue—things, people, pleasure, power, wealth, recognition, accomplishment, even love—cannot satisfy the true source of our longing. We must develop a relationship with our Creator. He has the most precious love story waiting for us to read—the Holy Bible. In it God reveals Himself to us; and it is free to pursue. No one can achieve true health and happiness without a relationship with God.
We possess a soul. Closely linked with our spiritual dimension is the soul—the mind, will, and emotions. Genesis 2:7 tells us about when God created Adam, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground (body), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (spirit); and man became a living soul (with mind, will, and emotions).” Finding health and happiness also means satisfying the needs of our soul. The needs of our soul are as follows:
- The need for social networks and intellectual stimulation. To feel we have a purpose.
- The need to be responsible and make decisions. The need to know that we have what it takes.
- The need to give and receive love, and to know that we are loved.
“No man is an island” is a saying I’m sure you’ve heard. We were not created to be alone. Earthly relationships are every bit as important (but not more important) as our relationship with God. In the absence of satisfying human relationships, God is able to provide for every one of those needs.
Because people come in many temperaments with different shades of expression and responsiveness, these needs will not be met in the same way by everyone; but for these brief purposes, suffice it to say that we cannot be healthy and happy unless these needs of the soul are met in ways that are not harmful to us, our human relationships, or our relationship with God. A Christian counselor trained by the National Christian Counselors Association (www.ncca.org) can help you understand the needs of your temperament and how best to meet them.
We live in a body. We cannot be abundantly healthy and happy living in a body ravaged and malfunctioning due to neglect and disease. Neglect is a strong word when applied to the average person, but it is often true for most of us. The body has needs that must be met as well as the spirit and soul. The basic needs of the body are for air, water, food, shelter, exercise, rest and sunlight. It is the presence and quality of these that determine the level of our physical health.
- Clean air is critical for good health. Many necessary trace minerals are found in fresh air that contribute to good health. Environmental pollutants can stall your improvement or recovery. Exchange the air in your indoor environment daily. Change furnace filters and vacuum bags. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners by switching to natural alternatives. Quit smoking! The carbon monoxide you breathe while smoking renders your red blood cells useless because carbon monoxide fills the cellular receptor sites that should be carrying oxygen to every cell in the body. When you smoke, you are literally suffocating yourself!
- Water is critical for good health. Your body is 65-75% water and every biological process requires water. Dehydration is very common and an enemy of good health. Insufficient water intake inhibits biochemical processes and allows toxins to build up in the body. An individual needs about one-half his/her body weight in ounces of pure water every day. For example, a 150 lb. person would need to drink 75 oz. of water daily. More is needed during periods of excessive sweating. Steam distilled water is the best type of water to drink because it is “heavy” water, not containing minerals that mostly will not be useful to the body. In fact, it will help your body deliver appropriate minerals and carry away waste more efficiently.
- Food—obviously you need it—should be consumed in as natural a state and as wide a variety as you can get it. What you DON’T eat is very important to your health. If there is one thing that can destroy your health faster than anything else and which should be eliminated from your diet, it is this: refined sugars such as white sugar and highly processed, strained honey. Second on my list of toxic foods is other forms of highly refined carbohydrates such as white flour products and anything described as convenience food. These products have nothing of value to offer your body and are, in fact, like eating poison. They ruin your ability to digest food properly and maintain stable blood glucose. In this age of pollution, I can only really recommend organically grown fruits and vegetables and grass-fed, free roaming flesh animals, chicken, and eggs. No animals from concentrated feeding operations or fish farms, due to the filthy conditions and polluted food they are raised in and on.
- Your primary source of shelter is your skin. Please take care of it. The integrity of your skin determines how many pathogens can get into your bloodstream and cause health problems. Skin also includes the mucus membranes that line the alimentary canal from nose/mouth to anus. What you eat and drink can cause breakdown of this barrier. Highly processed food, alcohol, sugar, and drugs (both pharmaceutical and recreational) can over time cause changes in the mucus lining of the digestive tract leading to illnesses like ulcers, irritable bowel disease, food allergies, and yeast overgrowth, to name a few. Secondary sources of shelter include clothing and dwelling places. These are designed to keep you safe from the extremes of the environment. Choose and use wisely.
- Exercise is simply the requirement to move your body around from place to place. It does not mean you need to join a gym. Our bodies have muscles, tendons, and ligaments designed to put the skeleton into motion. Movement helps to keep blood flowing (veins have passive valves in them that squeeze the blood back toward the heart only through muscle contraction). The lymphatic system becomes congested with toxins in the absence of movement, because lymph doesn’t move unless we move. To be healthy, you’ve got to spend time in motion every day. Sitting around too much turns your body into a stagnant sewer that breeds weight gain, lethargy, and disease. Taking a walk is free, gets your system moving, and increases the delivery of oxygen throughout the body.
- Rest is not optional, and many people today are not getting proper rest. Humans need a minimum of 6 hours uninterrupted sleep per every 24-hour cycle to be healthy. Anything less than 6 hours has the same effect on the body as drinking alcohol—loss of cognitive function, coordination, and reflexes. Sleep cannot be banked for use later. It is a daily need. If you are not sleeping properly, it’s time to investigate why and make the changes in your lifestyle that will support this most important function.
- Sunlight, though much maligned by western medicine, is one of the primary ingredients for good health. The infrared wavelengths in unfiltered, natural sunlight striking the skin stimulate the formation of vitamin D, which is a vital nutrient. It also stimulates deep-tissue repair, formation of collagen, and is a natural antibiotic. Sunlight striking the retina of the eye aids the body in regulating the wake/sleep cycle and the production of melatonin. Sunlight is also a mood enhancer. I recommend spending time in the sun as often as possible but protect against sunburn.
So there you have it: my list of basic must-haves for better healing and health. I encourage you to find something on this list to begin with and build from there. Choose that which you are able to sustain. Set realistic goals. This is not a one-time fix; it is a lifestyle. As the pinnacle of God’s creation, you are worth the best. I wish you abundant wisdom and success in your journey!
Susan A. Haberkorn, Ph.D.
Natural Health Coach and NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor