New Castle News

Healthy Living: Lori Brothers

December 7, 2011

Lori Brothers: Social support promotes better health

NEW CASTLE — Recently, I took a call from a woman who heard about the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease.

 The program was mentioned on a Christian radio broadcast. They were discussing how opening your heart is healing. She was excited about the concept of sharing as part of a health model.

Group/social support is one of the four modalities that have been clinically proven to reverse disease in the body. The caller was  intrigued about the topic of positive relationship building for health.

Research shows that people who are isolated have more progression of disease, compared to those who have a strong social network. Sometimes disease can isolate a person who was much more engaged in activities before the illness.

One thing I like to point out is, “illness” has an “I” in it, and “wellness” has “we.”  When you are part of a group, there is the dynamic for creating intimacy. Intimacy is a shared, deeper connection that opens the channels for giving freely, and honestly receiving.

If you have health issues, do your best to stay engaged in some way with your family or friends. Also, be willing to meet new people. Try a new activity or pursue a new interest. If you are not willing to share your thoughts and feelings with friends and loved ones you are at higher risk for disease. It is i, portant to trust at least one person to share your joys and sorrows.

When creating health and good communication, keep in mind that thoughts tend to isolate us, while feelings help to connect us. Therefore, feeling safe, being with others, listening, sharing, and understanding are essential to creating good feelings that are healing to the body. There is a chemical reaction that happens in the body. The “feel good” hormones emerge, giving all of your cells a “wellness bath.”

If you are anxious about trying something new, reconnect with an old friend or neighbor. Call to ask how they are doing. Listening is an important skill that is not used often enough among us humans. Active listening is an art that requires that you drop all judgment and criticism. Just allow the person to feel heard. Often, it is not advice that is needed, only validation.

It is important to look at your attitudes before you interact with groups. Some of the thinking of people who isolate themselves includes negative self-talk. Internal dialogue like, “That’s private,” “That’s nobody’s business,” or “How will you use this (knowledge) against me.”  When it comes to isolation, an individual could be in a room of 50 people, and still be alone.

Sometimes it takes courage to step out of your comfort zone and share yourself with others. You can start by looking at your traits and talents and see how you can contribute. Remember what people say about you when you do your best. What was the thing they recognized you do well? What do you enjoy doing for others?

Enjoyment leads to more joy. Contributing makes a difference in the quality of your life and those you are engaged with. Also, be ready and willing to receive.  You deserve it.

This week’s recipe can be a nice addition to any holiday party menu or makes a great healthy snack.

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Healthy Living: Lori Brothers
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