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The Purpose of ill health


The old adage that a healthy mind is a healthy body is especially relevant in today's fast paced modern lifestyle. Ill health is the culmination of a number of factors, and is often the result of a disruption in our physical, mental or socialwell-being.  Our body starts to signal to us to slow down and balance our lifestyle through many ways. What we need to do is to sense and feel what our body is trying to signal to us. We could simply require more sleep, getting out in the sunshine or taking more exercise!  Being aware is the first important step.

Stress and pressure are a normal part of life, but they can start to impact on your wellbeing if you are not leading a balanced lifestyle. Stress diverts energy away from normal body processes placing a strain on your immune system.  The longer we feel stressed, the greater the demand on our body.  This can make us prone to infection and can lead to the development of conditions such as obesity, depression, or anxiety disorders.  It may even cause something as serious as a heart problem.  When you are feeling stressed, anxious or upset, you are also less likely to eat healthily or exercise adequately.  In extreme cases some people may begin to abuse drugs such as alcohol, or develop an eating disorder such as bulimia to cope. Mental health problems can result with suicide or suicidal behavior a potential scenario.

There are a myriad of life experiences that could disrupt your emotional health. These include:

    * Losing your job
    * Dealing with the death of a loved one
    * Getting divorced or married
    * Suffering a long term or serious illness
    * Experiencing financial difficulties
    * Having a baby


Stress comes in many different forms, but all involve the same physical process.  The release of cortisol, the stress hormone, is critical for the normal functioning of your body under stress.  However, if the stress is prolonged, the extended discharge of cortisol can have negative effects for your health.  These include:

  • Suppression of your immune system and an increase in many immune related medical conditions, including diabetes
  • Increased abdominal fat, which is associated with increased incidence of heart attacks and strokes
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Decreased bone density

The following may be physical signs that you are suffering from poor emotional health:

  • Change in appetite - lack of interest in food or binge eating
  • Weight gain or loss - this is related to a change in your appetite
  • Chest pains - linked to cardiovascular health
  • Extreme tiredness - sustained fatigue for no discernible reason
  • High blood pressure - stress increases your blood pressure
  • Insomnia - trouble sleeping is often a sign of depression
  • Sexual problems - you have little interest in sex, or have problems becoming aroused
  • Upset stomach - linked to increased anxiety

Understanding the underlying cause of your physical problems is the key to achieving a balanced healthy lifestyle.  Seek the advice of a health professional if you are in doubt.

Healthy Body

Keeping yourself healthy with good nutrition, exercise and regular relaxation will help you avoid this scenario.

Physical activity has the potential to enhance mental health. Physical activity had been linked to a host of positive outcomes including enhanced mood, lower levels of depression and elevated alertness and concentration. Many would attribute these associations to chemical changes occurring within the body which triggers the production of endorphins, a natural pain killer and mood enhancer similar to morphine.  Other research has shown that exercise can improve the brain functioning of the elderly, lowers blood pressure and may even protect against dementia!

An activity as simple as reading a book, or taking time to call a friend can ease the stress of a situation.  Relaxation techniques such as breathwork and meditation have also shown to be helpful in combating stress, anxiety and depression.

A balanced diet can help immensely in helping your body deal with the pressures of modern life.  This includes getting plenty of nutrients which help produce the 'feel-good' brain chemical serotonin, and are found in foods such as meat, fish, beans and lentils.  Look for foods rich in:

    *           Vitamin B6

    *           Vitamin C

    *           Folic acid

    *          Zinc

If you are suffering from poor mental and/or physical health seek help from your doctor, naturopath or counsellor.


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