When faced with stressful situations such as doing the paperwork for the dreaded annual tax return (which we’re probably all doing right now), studies have found that blood clotting factors associated with increased risk of heart disease are much higher than in calm periods. Blood platelets increase in numbers as does their tendency to clump together. Levels of clot-promoting factors jump. These changes in blood during chronic mental stress associated with increased workload may provide one of the links between mental stress and heart disease. Blood coagulation is just part of the picture. Mental stress has other damaging effects. Arteries constrict and become more susceptible to blockage, blood pressure and cholesterol levels increase, sleep and diet patterns change. Midlife is the time when we start to notice these health issues.
Each of us operates a machine so incredibly complex that researchers are continually making new findings about it. We often read of things we should do to keep the machine – our bodies – running well.
Wellness is not just a body issue. It is a holistic concept. Anything short of that is incomplete and ultimately ineffective. We need to look at the whole person – the body, mind and spirit. Just picking the dimension of wellness that you like or that is convenient and minimizing the others doesn’t work in the long run.
*** Imagine each dimension of wellness in your life like a spoke on a wheel. Draw a picture of your wellness wheel, extending your nutrition spoke, your physical fitness spoke, your personal growth spoke, your spiritual development spoke, your play spoke, your community involvement spoke, your work spoke, etc out as far as you feel you have developed it and practice what you preach. Does your wheel look like it would roll reasonably well? Or does it have numerous jagged edges? Would it not roll at all? Where do you need to put more energy to make the wheel more balanced? ***
Living only for this moment, with the intention of making it the fullest moment possible, will help you to achieve a better quality of life in all the areas of your “wellness wheel”. There are many things that we think about in a minute of time. We see our new experiences through glasses that have been molded by our old experiences. We look to the future with uncertainty, hopes, fears and excitement and we tend to take things for granted if we are not fully focused on experiencing life in the current moment. We need to learn to savor every moment as it happens, keeping our minds completely in the present, as much as possible. This is not easy, but the payoffs are tremendous.
The past is behind us, and if you think about it, no longer exists, except in our minds. The future does not exist either, because we are not there yet. Most of us base our current fears of what will happen in the future on experiences we had in the past. Some of us cannot get over the memories of past experiences. We may become fearful that these experiences might happen again. Being in this situation only robs us of being able to enjoy life in the current moment, so we need to make a choice on whether we want to allow the past to color our current experiences, or whether we want to take control and remain focused.
Living in the moment does not necessarily mean living as if there is no tomorrow. You still need to plan for the future. Conscious living means becoming aware of all the choices we have and acting on them. It involves the realization that we don’t have to run our lives on automatic pilot.
Just remember that YOU ARE EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE RIGHT NOW. Spend your time thoughtfully and appreciate every moment (good or difficult) and you will fill your life with value and purpose, rather than letting years and experiences go to waste.