Dr. Mehmet Oz, on a recent episode of his popular television program, The Doctor Oz Show, reviewed an acronym that can lead to better mental and physical wellness:  SHIELD.  Each letter in SHIELD represents something we can all do to establish and maintain better mental and physical wellness.  Here’s what each letter in the acronym represents:

  1. SLEEP—Each of us can maintain better wellness by consistently getting eight hours of sleep each night. Both the body and mind require rest—sleep—in order to maintain optimal wellness.  If you can’t get eight hours of sleep, try to get a minimum of six to seven hours of sleep each night.  Your body and mind will thank you for it.


  1. HANDLE STRESS—Stress is a part of everyday life. Each of us experiences some kind of stressor—something that causes tension or strain—each day.  A stressor can be anything from a financial difficulty to a change in living situations to some kind of illness or injury.  In order to maintain some degree of wellness, however, we each need to find ways to manage the stressors we encounter in everyday life.  Each of us will manage stress differently.  For some of us, we may manage stress by meditation, by taking a walk in the park, or by talking with a trusted friend.  However we manage stress, we need to be prepared to use what works for us whenever we feel ourselves experiencing physical or mental stress or strain.


  1. INTERACT WITH OTHERS—Social interaction with others is one of the best things we can do to maintain our wellness. Whether it’s making a telephone call and carrying on a friendly conversation, joining a social group or club, or just visiting briefly with a neighbor, we will find our health improves as we have more positive interactions with others.


  1. EXERCISE—Exercise—moving our bodies—can do a great deal to help us maintain our physical and mental wellness. If it’s no more than 15 or 20 minutes a day, we should do some exercise—even if it’s exercising while we’re sitting down—that helps us move our bodies and improve our physical stamina.


  1. LEARN NEW THINGS—Learning something new—whether through reading or watching a television program or visiting a museum or trying something new—helps stretch our minds (and, perhaps, our bodies) and keeps our brains and bodies active and in good health. Try, if you can, to learn something new or different—no matter how small it may seem—each day.


  1. DIET—Maintaining a healthy diet—what we eat each day—can do a great deal to help us attain and maintain our wellness. A healthy diet must include adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.  A healthy diet should also include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.  With controlled portion sizes, a healthy diet should also, generally speaking, limit saturated and trans-fats, sodium, and added sugars.  If you have particular medical conditions, you should always consult your physician about the best and most healthy diet for you.

Paying attention to each letter in the SHIELD acronym can help us.  Become familiar with this acronym.  It can help guide us through everyday life.  Using it can help us attain and maintain greater physical and mental wellness.


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.

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