Well, I thought I was being so responsible to get a flu shot early this year. But it seems this year's strain is like no other! By early afternoon, I was aching and fatigued; soon after, a fever surfaced. I was so disappointed because I planned on an active weekend but I wondered if this vaccine really stuck it to me. I wiped out with a full-on case of mini-flu! Maybe it was just a coincidence that I took the vaccine at the exact same time I had been exposed to the environmental virus (it was an inactivated vaccine) but I spoke with a friend Sunday night (I was finally beginning to move.) She said the same thing happened to her. She had taken past flu vaccines with no effects at all, or maybe a runny nose barely. I suppose the germs are "really out there" this year!
It sure reminded me of the saying, "If you've got your health, you've got it all!"
Whether it is our physical, emotional, social, spiritual, or mental health, I have reflected on 5 things that are most important for good health or healing.
- Sleep - living on 4-5 hours of sleep a night will eventually take a toll. A good night's sleep (7-9 hours for adults, depending on individuals) is one of the most important factors in maintaining/achieving good health. During sleep, the body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain the overall health (performs tissue repair & strengthens the immune system, for example). In children & teens (who require more), sleep also helps support growth & development. Studies show that sleep deficiency alters activity in parts of the brain. Deficiency may lead to trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling emotions & behavior, and coping with change. It has also been linked to depression, poor judgement, & risk-taking behavior. It leads to less productivity, more dependency on caffeine and other stimulants, & can endanger safety by slowing reaction time, leading to more mistakes and accidents.
- Nutrition - we all know how a balanced diet promotes overall good health. It also has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity and chronic diseases. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, & less proccessed foods (less packages from a shelf) are most desirable in providing a balance of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Sugar, especially, is one of those stimulants we grab when we are sleep deprived to give energy, providing a quick pick-me-up, as fatigue sets in. It also reeks havok on the pancreatic metabolism (insulin production) and contributes to the onset of Diabetes. Many times, we may be getting enough sleep but are continually feeling tired. This can be a great indicator of poor nutitional intake, which deprives every cell & organ in the body of the necessary nutrients needed to perform their functions.
- Exercise, in association with good nutrition, promotes health, reduces risk of disease, & improves quality of life. Exercise releases endorphins, which improve our happiness, and has powerful effects on mood in the short and long terms. As you know, I love to swim outside, and exercise, especially that which is done outdoors, lifts the spirits, contributing to mental, emotional, social, even spiritual well-being.
- Stress - this can be the trickiest of all because we often can't control the stresses inflicted upon us. There are suggestions, though, for reducing stress, including exercise, laughter, leisure time with friends/family, journaling, supplements (lemon balm, valerian root, Omega-3 fatty acids, kava kava all have anti-anxiety effects), ambience & other soothing facilitators (lavender, rose, frankincense, chamomile, vetiver, orange, geranium essential oils/flickering flame or no-flame candles), caffeine reduction, & yoga, which leads to the last important health factor.
- Quiet time - meditation, bible/inspirational quotes, prayer, & calming minutes/hours will all promote health & healing. Especially in this loud and fast-paced world, quieting the mind allows for both the creative and logical areas of the brain to function properly. Regulating emotions, self-control, confidence-building, thought organization, & spiritual inspiration are all enabled when we plan those calming breaks throughout the day. Science tells us that privacy and personal space is more important to the psyche than we realize. Chaos, fear, noise, & indecision adversely affect all aspects (physical, mental, emotional, social, & spiritual) of our well-being.
I guess I was lucky, at any rate, that I merely got a minor case of flu last weekend, which probably served an important purpose. It has caused a reflection of healthy benefits and has recommitted me to a thoughtful re-evaluation of priorities in guarding & restoring it, going forward.
So, best wishes for avoiding the flu this year and increasing your good health & healing. And, may you take many happy trails this week in your journey of success!