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The Pillars of Wellness

By Dr. Andrew Johnston, DC, CCSP



 

Imagine a building with a four-pillar foundation. When all the pillars are strong and well-maintained, the building is strong and “healthy”, right? Now imagine if one of these pillars was neglected. Just one...

 

If even one pillar isn’t properly cared for, the entire structure may start to deteriorate, weaken, and even collapse. This is comparable to caring for our bodies. There are four main pillars of wellness—movement, mental health, nutrition, and sleep. These pillars need to be cultivated and nurtured for us to live a strong, healthy and happy life. Like building a strong foundation for a structure, all of these pillars must be nurtured for our bodies as well. Let’s dive into these four pillars of wellness. As you read, consider which pillar you could focus on refurbishing personally.

 

Movement

“Keeping you moving is my ultimate goal”. If you are one of my patients, you’ve probably heard this a time or two. Movement is medicine! I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. There are two types of movement, active and passive, and both are beneficial for the body. Active movement is when you are the one moving your joints and passive movement is when someone (like a chiropractor) or something (like a traction table) is moving your joints. Both movement types lubricate our joints, bring them nutrients, and prevent arthritic changes. The more you keep moving, and are active, the healthier your joints will be. You actively move in your day-to-day life, walking, standing, sitting, lifting, etc., but passive movement is something many people are lacking. This is why I always recommend the following,

-       A great chiropractor 

-       A great massage therapist

-       A great acupuncturist

Together, these specialists can ensure proper joint motion, regulate muscle tension, and reset your movement patterns. These specialists can also instruct you on what specific movement types are needed for your personal situation.

 

Mental health

Mental health can sometimes hinder us as much as or even more than our physical health, and there is a direct connection between the two. Anxiety and depression impact a high percentage of our society and when left untreated, distress our physical health. Headaches, backaches, unexplained pain, gastrointestinal issues, and nutritional problems are all side effects of common mental health conditions, and they are real. Don’t battle any mental health issue alone! There are many great mental health professionals that are waiting to help you. If you don’t know where to start, ask us! We can point you in the right direction.

 

As mental and emotional stress decrease, so will your cortisol levels. Lowering cortisol levels allows inflammation to decrease in the body. Your muscles and joints will appreciate the relief. Having outlets for daily stress and/or professional mental health support aids in decreasing stress and overall pain and symptoms. Try it! You will be pleasantly surprised.

 

Nutrition

This can be a tricky pillar for many of us. There are so many options in stores with often confusing labeling that leaves us wondering if we are making the right choices for our bodies. One thing seems to be consistent though: Many processed foods out there are filled with preservatives, dyes and chemicals that create inflammatory reactions in our bodies, reactions that over time could prove harmful. Attempting to avoid processed foods is ideal. If it comes out of a box ready to eat, it probably isn’t the best for you. Instead of reaching for a pre-packaged, processed food, try instead to reach for fresh food, or foods free of additives.

 

Now, do I eat processed foods? Of course! I’m not perfect. In fact, Dr. Pepper is one of my favorites. The goal is not perfection or even complete elimination, but instead consistency and eventually, improvement. Be easy on yourself when you start. Each week, try to omit one food or drink that is processed or filled with chemicals. This will help in decreasing the inflammation in your body and will allow your body to recover more efficiently.

 

Sleep

Last, but most definitely not least is quality sleep. Our bodies recover the most when we are sleeping. To improve your sleep, consider implementing a nightly routine. Give yourself thirty minutes away from your phone before bed. Why? Because screen time equals brain stimulation, and brain stimulation does NOT equal sleep.

 

Try to implement a routine for yourself to put your phone on its charger at a consistent time each evening and let it stay there until the next day. Some healthcare professionals even recommend that their patients put their phone in a box so it’s out of sight before bed. Whatever works, right?

 

Like I said before, try to give yourself at least thirty minutes before bed where a screen is not in your face. Instead of scrolling, try implementing a stretching routine, breathing exercises, epsom salt baths, foam rolling, yoga, journaling, or reading an actual paperback book. Let your brain relax before getting into bed. This will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

 

You are made for great things. Give yourself a chance to be great, by making sure your pillars of wellness are taken care of and solid. “A house must be built on solid foundations if it is to last.”1

 

 

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