Guest Writer for Wake Up World
If you have a conscientious doctor, you’ve probably been asked important health questions such as:
– Are you eating a mostly vegetable based diet?
– Are you avoiding sugar and limiting glucose-spiking carbohydrates like white pasta and bread?
– Are you choosing organic?
– Are you avoiding habits that can harm your health, such as cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and drinking too much caffeine?
– Are you exercising regularly?
– Do you get enough sleep?
If your doctor is particularly hip, you may have also been asked about your stress levels and what you’re doing to keep your stress under control. But is your doctor helping you understand what stress really is? You may think it’s all about how long your “to do” list is, but you may not realize what stress is to your body.
What Is Stress?
As I wrote about in Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, as far as your nervous system is concerned, stress is anything that triggers the amygdala in your primordial limbic system to activate the “fight-or-flight” stress response. And whenever this happens, your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms- the ones that help prevent heart disease, fight cancer, ward off infection, and assist in anti-aging- get flipped off. As far as your body’s health is concerned, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that trigger the stress response may damage your health more than a poor diet, avoiding exercise, bad habits, and sleep deprivation.
But the good news is that the opposite is also true! Because your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings are at least partially under your control, you have the power to switch off your body’s stress responses and return the nervous system to the health-inducing relaxation response that activates the body’s natural self repair.
So which questions should your doctor be asking? Which ones should you be asking yourself? Check out the following questions which assess your “whole health” and which all have been scientifically proven to affect your health and longevity.
Take The Whole Health Quiz
- Do you feel well supported with loving community and intimate relationships with friends and family who allow you to express your authentic self?
- Do you feel in touch with your life’s purpose?
- Are you able to stay in alignment with your integrity in your professional life?
- Do you feel financially secure?
- Are you in a nurturing relationship with a romantic partner who allows you to express your authentic self?
- Do you feel satisfied sexually, either with or without a partner?
- Are you able to set healthy boundaries with the people who stress you out?
- Are you comfortable saying no?
- Do you feel spiritually connected to a Higher Power that you trust has your best interests at heart?
- Do you have a healthy way to address negative emotions, such as anger, resentment, grief, anxiety, and depressed mood?
- Are you an optimist?
- Do you practice gratitude?
- Do you engage in generous activities that serve others?
- Is your life enriched with scientifically-proven relaxation response activators, such as meditation, prayer, laughter, hugs, playing with animals, orgasms, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, massage, EFT (tapping), and alternative healing methodologies, such as acupuncture and energy medicine?
- Do you live in an environment that is conducive to relaxation responses?
- Do you feel well equipped and appropriately supported to manage the details of day-to-day life?
- Do you express yourself creatively in ways you enjoy?
- Do you let yourself nap if you need to?
- Are you mindful of the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and activities that trigger avoidable stress responses in your body?
- Are you committed to doing whatever it takes to reduce stress responses and activate relaxation responses in your body?
Not convinced that these behaviors affect your health? Then read Mind Over Medicine or watch my Public Television special Heal Yourself: Mind Over Medicine (watch the trailer and check listings here).
If you answered “Yes” to all of these questions, congratulations! You’re doing everything within your power to reduce stress responses in your body and optimize the relaxation responses that activate the body’s natural self-repair mechanisms that help the body heal itself and prevent disease. And if you answered “Yes” to the health-inducing behaviors your doctor is probably already asking you about your diet, exercise, bad habits, and sleep regimen, you get gold star bonus points!
If you answered “No” to any of these questions, these are areas you can focus on to potentially increase your longevity as part of The Prescription you write for yourself. (Learn more about writing The Prescription with the free Self-Healing Kit)
Does this mean that if you answered “Yes” to all 20 questions, as well as the traditional health questions, you’ll be guaranteed to live a healthy life until you’re 100? Of course not. Life is a terminal condition. We will all die someday, and sadly, some will die young, in spite of doing every health-inducing behavior on this list. Some things just aren’t controllable, and tragic things happen to great people with excellent whole health habits.
What I can guarantee is that if you consciously engage in the whole health behaviors which this quiz assesses, you will be doing everything within your control to give yourself the best shot of living a healthy life well into old age.
How Did You Score?
Are you on track with your whole health? Did you identify areas where you might improve your health and potentially increase your longevity?
Previous articles by Lissa
- 8 Ways Overcoming Fear Can Improve Your Health
- Why Engaging In Work You Love Could Save Your Life
- The Health Benefits Of Finding Your Tribe
- 7 Tips For Finding Your Tribe
- 10 Signs You’ve Found Your Calling
About the author
Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. She is on a grass roots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.
Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities – HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.