As we move further into the holiday season, our stress tends to increase with long lists of personal and professional “things to do” and our health can suffer. What does “health” really mean exactly? Some may think of health as weighing less, or eating better, or off medications for physical or psychological reasons, but are those things health or are they a symptom of health? Because we aren’t really sure what “health” is, it is easy to believe any of the numerous fads that promise to “increase our health” in one way or another.
Basically, “health” describes your physical, psychological, and spiritual condition; in other words, how well you are experiencing life. If every aspect of you is functioning at 100 percent, 100 percent of the time, it could be said that you are 100 percent healthy. So, the better we function, the better our health.
Stress, and the way we perceive stress, are the primary reasons we aren’t all 100 percent healthy. Stress can build us up such as with a new baby or a marriage, or stress can be perceived as negative or harmful to us. Harmful stress slowly breaks us down like boulders being broken down into sand whereas positive stress strengthens our foundation and builds us up. When stress breaks us down faster than life can build us back up, we lose function and therefore we lose health.
It may not feel like we have a choice in how stress affects us, when in reality, we have quite a bit of control. For instance, we control how we perceive the various stressors in our lives. We also control our boundaries and priorities. We choose what we eat, if we are active or sedentary, and engaging in self-care is our choice as well. The most beneficial for us are the choices that align with our core values. The most detrimental to our health are the choices that we make that are against our core values. If we’ve been making choices against our core values for a while (often the “easy” choice: McDonald’s, no evening walk, gossip), we may find that there is work to be done to reclaim or increase our health.
Reality is that we live in a high-stress society. Our ability to surround ourselves with positive life stressors and successfully manage our negative life stressors is the equation that results in our health condition. It is common to need help healing or balancing everything. Whether it be a medical doctor, counselor, or reconnecting spiritually, thankfully there are options.
The Clergy Assistance Program (C.A.P. 1-800-433-7916) offers six free sessions per person, per issue to any appointed or retired clergy, their spouses, and dependents up to age 26. They also offer nutrition and exercise telephonic consultation as well as financial and legal consultation. If you are looking for resources you can access yourself, try the United Media Resource Center or PCC’s Helpful Links http://www.igrc.org/pcc_links. If you aren’t sure where to start, call Shauna, our Pastoral Care and Counseling Coordinator at (309) 241-4389 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, she will be happy to chat with you.