Three essential elements play a role in moving us toward overall wellness: our minds, our bodies, and our spirits.
However, each of us is much more than a body. Each of us is much more than a mind. Each of us is much more than a spirit. Each of us is all three, at least. These three components determine our mental, physical, and emotional/spiritual health.
We are mind, body, and spirit, and we must make sure that each of these components of ourselves is healthy, connected, and working at optimal effectiveness. Only then can we achieve and maintain some degree of overall wellness.
The mind or mental part of who we are determines our thoughts, our feelings, our attitudes, and our beliefs. The mind then transmits chemicals, based on our thoughts, throughout our bodies through our nervous system pathways. This means that our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes can positively or negatively affect how our bodies function.
When we are stressed or anxious, our mind directs our bodies to produce hormones that make us feel as if we are under attack. These hormones increase our heart rate, increase our blood pressure, and make our muscles tense up. This is called the “fight or flight response.”
Conversely, when we are relaxed and carefree, our minds cause our bodies to secrete different hormones, ones that produce a sense of peace and well-being.
Our bodies house us. Our bodies are often the first places where we feel changes that are taking place in our health. We might feel a sniffle when a cold is arising. Or we might experience a pain or ache in some part of the body that signals that something is amiss.
The spirit is the vital force within all living things. It is the essence of who we are, who we were, and who we hope to be. It is the life force, if you will, within us.
Achieving Optimal Health
When each of these three aspects of ourselves—our minds, bodies, and spirits—are healthy and in alignment, we can achieve optimal health and wellness. Here are some things we can do, throughout our lives, to ensure we have a good, healthy connection among the three aspects of ourselves:
- Exercise regularly—Exercise boosts our moods by pumping more oxygen into the brain and releasing feel-good hormones.
- Eat healthy foods, particularly good portions of fruits and vegetables—Eating healthy food provides our bodies with the energy it needs to function properly.
- Keep a gratitude journal, i.e., be grateful for all of the good you experience in your life. This helps improve our moods.
- Get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night—Sleep helps our bodies regenerate themselves.
- Breathe deeply—Breathing deeply helps with stress reduction, lowers blood pressure, and helps our minds have a sharper focus.
- Stay hydrated—Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water each day. Water helps to carry nutrients and oxygen to our cells, protects our organs and tissues, and has many other positive benefits.
- Smile more—This helps our bodies produce more feel-good hormones.
- Spend more time with people you like or love and enjoy being around. Positive social interaction has many health benefits.
- Live your passion—As much as possible, do things that you are passionate about and enjoy doing.
- Meditate—Meditation calms our systems and gives our brains a chance to rest and recalibrate themselves.
- Spend more time outdoors—Fresh air and nature have a positive impact on both our minds and bodies.
- Eat plenty of greens—Dark leafy greens are rich in vitamins and minerals that help produce and sustain good health.
Maintaining excellent mental, physical, and spiritual health, i.e., taking care of our minds, bodies, and spirits can go a long way toward helping us develop and sustain excellent overall wellness and good health.
About the Author
Cynthia Barnes, PH.D., lives in Denver, Colorado and is an experienced educational and training professional at all educational levels. Dr. Barnes has a background in organizational development and change and systems thinking/operating. She is a published author with exceptional written, oral, and interpersonal relationship skills. Dr. Barnes has consulted with organizations and school systems throughout the United States and in Canada, Germany, Micronesia, and South Africa.