For quite some time I have felt like I’ve been putting out a lot of energy trying to build and create new health programs for my patients. That creative work is very rewarding and I love to do it but the demands on my “spare” time was creating a feeling of impending burnout in my life. I’m grateful that I’ve been through that process enough times to begin to recognize it before it really blows my circuits. Since this week was spring break for my two youngest kids, I decided that I would take the time to really unplug and relax a bit too.
I tried to think of some stress relieving activities that I could do and that’s when I realized that it had been a long, long time since I had done a puzzle. My wife found a cool “super hero” puzzle that we thought the kids would enjoy doing with us. Not only was it a great family bonding time as we worked on the puzzle but I had the benefit of knowing just how activities like that help to keep the brain healthy and lower the stress response in the body. It was super nice to work on something “real” instead of all of the “virtual” games that we play on our devices these days.
As I was pondering on how much fun it was to put together the puzzle, I couldn’t help but see some pretty obvious and powerful analogies to our life in general and even more specifically, to our health.
Good Health is a Puzzle
Our lives are pretty complex these days.
There are lots of pieces that have to fit together for us to feel like we’re on track. According to Dorland’s Medical dictionary: “Health is a state of optimal physical, mental and spiritual well-being, not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.” So at the most fundamental level we have at least three sections to our puzzle – physical health, mental health and spiritual health – and inside of each of these sections there are dozens of individual pieces that have to fit together.
On the physical side, we have things like our diet, hydration, sleep, movement, structural balance, ergonomics etc. On the mental side we have positive thought processes a healthy self esteem and the ability to think rationally through life’s complex situations. Spiritually we are most healthy when we are aware of how we fit into the whole of society, including all of the key relationships we have with others as well as how we relate to a sense of purpose beyond our own immediate needs.
Focused attention is the key
I found that things went better when I focused my attention on 1 area of the puzzle at a time instead of just picking up random pieces and hoping I could figure out where they went. This is often true in our life and in our pursuit of health as well. We tend to make more progress and improvement in our health if we can manage to focus our attention on one area at a time. Granted, we eventually need all of the areas of health working together but when we try to focus on doing it all, we can easily get overwhelmed. Pick something to improve on and get to work. Once you’ve got some momentum in that area you can move to another area.
Know the desired outcome
I realized that I had to continually refer back to the completed image on the box. In fact, without a clear reference point I can’t imagine ever being successful in putting a large puzzle together. When it comes to our health it is just as important to understand what our desired outcome is. Do we have a clear vision of what we are trying to create? If not, it will be hard to manifest it.