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Life After Loss - Growth out of

No  matter how you write the prescription, healthcare is expensive. We talk  a lot about health care benefits, but not nearly enough about self-care  benefits! The following eight “doctors” are specialists in improving  mental, physical, and spiritual health. You can use them every day, and  they will reduce the risk for many diseases, drugs, and doctor’s  fees—now that’s a powerful self-care benefit package!

  1. Nutrition.  Nourishing food strengthens both the body and the brain. Plant foods are  rich in compounds and nutrients that lower stress and improve mental  function and mood. Enjoy plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole  grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Avoid junk food, saturated  animal fat and trans-fats, sugary drinks, caffeine, and large amounts of  refined sugar. Almost half of our calories come in the form of  sweetened beverages like soda pop and fruity drinks. When you ditch  those high- calorie drinks you can watch unwanted pounds melt away and  increase real energy. For a real energy boost, drink at least 8 glasses  of water a day. When you eat better, and drink plenty of water, you will  feel better and have the energy to make better choices.

  2. Fresh Air and Exercise. Exercise, especially outdoor exercise in nature, improves head as well  as heart health: it is critical to mental and physical health. It has  been said that motion balances emotion. If you’ve got the blues, get out  under the blue skies and go for a brisk stroll. Exercise lowers stress,  depression, and anxiety; it improves mood, well-being, and mental  processing; it also increases learning power. It helps you improve  physical health, reduce disease risk, and achieve a healthful weight.  Get into the mind-set of daily exercise and you will experience both  head and heart benefits! Claim the promise: “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.” Isaiah 40:29

  3. Rest. Our bodies are  designed for mental, physical, and spiritual rest as well as action. It  is important to plan times of recreation, relaxation, and reflection to  minimize the depression that is linked to constant mental and physical  strain. Also, regular early- to-bed sleep patterns rejuvenate the brain;  help control stress hormone and blood sugar levels; reduce  irritability, fatigue, and stress; and increase energy! New habits and  routines are solidified during sleep, so help yourself to a happier,  healthier brain by getting adequate, refreshing rest. Controlling  stress, getting exercise out in the sun, and avoiding caffeine and  late-night eating will promote sound, deep sleep. We are invited into  God’s healing rest: “Come to Me...and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28-30

  4. Attitude. Someone once  said that a bad attitude is like a flat tire—unless you change it, you  won’t get very far. Studies show that a key factor in living a long,  healthful life is a sense of meaning and purpose. Cultivate a thankful  attitude, and check those negative thoughts! Make the choice to focus on  solutions rather than problems, and look at difficulties and trials as  opportunities for growth. God has promised to impart strength and wisdom  for every difficulty. He will help you build the mental mettle to face  life’s problems in a positive way. “Let the weak say, I am strong.” Joel 3:10

  5. Relationships.  Cultivating healthy relationships is a lot like cultivating a garden:  The more focused attention and care a garden gets, the more fruit it  produces. In the same way, taking time to cultivate and maintain  positive friendships and social relationships bears the fruit of joy,  empathy, and unselfishness. Taking time for healthful relationships  creates opportunities for giving as well as receiving. Other benefits  include improved immune function, improved social skills, lower stress,  improved mood, and longer life. Taking time for relationships is never a  waste of time.

  6. Mental Fitness.  Physical fitness requires determination, perseverance, and practice.  Mental fitness does, too. You can give your brain a workout by engaging  in challenging mental activities such as reading inspiring, challenging,  and educational books, working puzzles, playing a musical instrument,  or learning new skills. Such activities increase the brain’s neuronal  neighborhoods, creating new connections and increasing mental  flexibility. Along with a healthful diet and exercise, this improves the  speed and accuracy with which the brain can solve problems and meet  challenges. Challenge your brain and change your world.

  7. Positive Choices.  Extreme makeovers may work on TV home improvement programs, but  remodeling a life is a process that takes place over time and with God’s  help. Never underestimate the power of little, daily positive choices  in overcoming big, bad habits. Repetition and patience are the keys to  crafting a healthy lifestyle. Successful people are not mistake free:  they just refuse to give up! Remember: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

  8. Spiritual Health.  Spiritual health is at the center of a healthy lifestyle. It is making  peace with God and allowing His plan, purpose, and power to guide your  life. Mencius, the Chinese sage was right when he said, “Knowledge  imparts information, but not the power to execute.” With God’s help we  may achieve steady growth and improvement in our lives, experience  forgiveness when we fall short of our goals, and possess courage and  cheerfulness to press forward in life’s journey.

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