I am asked this question a lot. It’s an interesting question and a very important one. Our healthcare system today attempts to treat disease and not the person. What I mean by is we only worry when something goes wrong with a person and worry less about what were the root causes. In most cases, it took a long time to develop diabetes or heart disease and it usually doesn’t happen overnight. The idea of only getting medical care when sick or thinking of adjusting one’s diet when it might be life threatening is how many of us have decided to live. We look at food as an indulgence and not something that could be nourishing for our bodies.
I wish I could say that if a person adjusted their diet that it would be the end of all their problems, but we all know it’s more complicated than that. Stress is most definitely a factor when dealing with one’s health. How does one manage stress in today’s world? I have a difficult time managing my stress, and it’s a challenge I deal with every day. I can assure you like anyone else I have a lot of stuff thrown at me and at times it can be very overwhelming. If I allow the stress to get to me or if I do not allow myself space to “destress” then I am also going to increase my chances of getting sick. My patients always assume I am going to ask them to make sweeping changes in their life, but in many cases its small adjustments to one’s lifestyle that are needed.
The question for many also becomes why does integrative medicine matter? I cannot speak for anyone but myself. It matters to me because I want to enjoy my grandkids when I get older. I want to be able to do the things I can now without worrying about getting injured or sick. My parents didn’t worry about how their lifestyle impacted their quality of life, and they also didn’t choose to make any adjustments to it as they got older. As a result, my parent’s quality of life and lifespan were shortened due to the lifestyle choices they made throughout their life. It’s sad because now my kids didn’t spend much time with them, and I would have loved the opportunity to have them around as I get older myself.
If you are considering make a lifestyle change or need a nudge to get you going in that direction, here a few questions you can ask yourself:
• What sort of a legacy do you want to leave behind for your friends and loved ones? How do you want to be remembered?
• How do you want your life to matter? What sort of a difference do you want to make?
• What do you want out of your life? What inspires you?
I know a lot of these questions are very broad, and you might be wondering what they have to do with integrative medicine. The simple answer is we can only choose to live out our dreams when our mind and bodies are cooperating with us. If we are leading healthy lives, then this will also give us the impetus to go out and reach for our dreams. If we have trouble getting out of bed in the morning or feel exhausted by 3 o’clock in the afternoon then where is the motivation to chase our dreams and make them into reality?
If you look at making some serious lifestyle changes or need some guidance on where to start do not hesitate to contact my office for a consultation.
Dr. Shah, MD