Spiritual health

Four Components of True Health – Spiritual Health

Spiritual health
Spirituality is a key component of total health

Spiritual health is the third of the four components of health. True health requires health in all four components. Over the last two weeks we covered physical and mental health. Next week we will cover the fourth component.

This blog is being released on the most important holiday of the Christian religion. It seems timely to talk about spirituality and why and how it is linked with your health.

Researchers have studied what are the differences between the most healthy and the least health people in our world. Certainly some of the factors are:

  • our genes
  • our environment
  • our accessibility to healthcare
  • our social system

These are more tangible, or objective, types of factors. We can define and measure them. But, these measures alone can’t explain all of the differences in our health.

A component that many researches have included is the concept of religion. Most studies I have found don’t differentiate which religion. They just look at whether the person identifies with a religion. Studies have found that identifying with religion is associated with better health.

Why would spiritual health and religion be associated with better health?

One potential reason religion could enhance your health could be belief in a higher power. There is assurance and hope in having someone/something overseeing your life. In some religions there is a direct relationship with the higher power. In others, a common belief system provides a group to whom you can belong and share those beliefs.

Religion has also been credited with providing a way of coping with life events. In some religions, God can be asked for help. Some studies have demonstrated a positive benefit of prayer on health. In others, the care of one another by people within a religious group benefits health outcomes.

The sense of belonging, the social opportunities, and the structure of religion appear to add to enhanced health. In addition, religion provides additional opportunities for volunteering. Those who volunteer have been found to be healthier. Of course, there are non-religious ways to volunteer. But, some of the studies found those with a religious affiliation to be more likely to volunteer.

Altruism is one of the attributes associated with improved health. Altruism is defined as, “feelings and behaviors that show a desire to help other people and a lack of selfishness” (Merriam-Webster definition). Some of the major religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – encourage helping others. Then, God will reward such actions. Either way, people who think about and do positive things for other people are healthier.

There is growing interest in studying this. There is now evidence to support the crucial role of spirituality in overall health. Stay tuned to see how this information will be incorporated in to our healthcare system.

There are no medications for spirituality. So, you might wonder why Meds MASH would be posting about this topic. But, it is a core part of overall health. So in the interest of completeness, spirituality is an important topic.

For a list of references used in the writing of this blog, please contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Happy holiest of days! Our Savior lives!

The sun has been shining, the days are warming, my favorite color of spring green is starting to turn up everywhere, flowers are blooming! This season makes me so happy!

Have you noticed how circumstances can really improve your mood and make you happy?

I’ve injured my leg (again) and will likely need surgery. Insurance has made the treatment process incredibly long. How frustrating. Have you noticed how circumstances can dampen your mood?

How much is your life tossed up and down by circumstances? The roller coaster ride of the ups and down can be exhausting!

You can’t keep life circumstances from happening. Good things and bad things happen to everyone. There is no avoiding it. But, you have the ultimate hedge of protection around you like a solid house that protects you in a hurricane. No matter what happens in your life, because of what happened Holy Week, you have a source of hope and peace.

Jesus was betrayed by one of his closest friends. Many people worked together behind his back to find a way to destroy him. He was slandered. He experienced the ultimate defamation of his character. He was accused of crimes he never committed. He was humiliated. He was physically abused beyond recognition. He was tortured. Many who had supported him either abandoned him or turned against him. The official who could have protected him did not. He was murdered in public with additional humiliations in the worst, most painful way known to people at that time.

He was completely without sin. He did nothing wrong. He is the only person to ever walk the earth who could claim that.

So, why did he willingly go to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday knowing full well this was what would happen by the end of the week?

Romans 14:9 ESV

For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Isaiah 53:5 ESV

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

John 3:16 ESV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

YOU are the reason Jesus endured all of this. His love for YOU. Your sins. All that separated you from God due your weaknesses is now gone. Because Jesus died for YOU, you have the promise of eternal life! There is no better gift anyone could ever give you.

Jesus did not remain in the grave. After three days He came back to life! Again, all for YOU!

John 11:25 ESV

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

John 6:40 ESV

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

1 Corinthians 6:14 ESV

And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

May you be richly blessed as you ponder this love that can protect you from any storm.

Michelle

Image source: colinsclipart.com

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Four Components of True Health – Mental Health

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Mental health is one of four components of total health

Mental health is the second of the four components of health. True health requires health in all four components. Last week we covered physical health. Over the next two weeks we will talk about each of the others separately.

Mental health is getting more attention as an essential component of health.  It requires a health system of diagnosis, treatment, and management similar to physical health. Insurance has historically not provided as much coverage for mental health compared with physical. But, finally, that is changing in a very positive way!

A new set of diagnostic standards was published in 2013. This update came after over 10 years of work to refine and identify diagnoses since the previous set of guidelines. The standards cover everything from neurodevelopment disorders (such as autism), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression to anxiety.  They also cover obsessive-compulsive disorder, trauma and stress-related disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, phobias, and personality disorders.

There are several classes of medications that are prescribed to manage mental health conditions. Some examples include neuroleptics (also called antipsychotics), antidepressants, antianxiety medications, and some medications that are also used to treat seizures.

So what can you do to improve your mental health?

Consistency is very important with mental health. Accurate diagnosis is obviously also key.

These conditions are complex. They are true biologic medical conditions. Sometimes people think these conditions are something someone can control by him/herself. That can lead to shame, denial, or avoidance of these complex conditions. They DO require medical care.

From mentalhealth.gov:

Myth: Personality weakness or character flaws cause mental health problems. People with mental health problems can snap out of it if they try hard enough.

Fact: Mental health problems have nothing to do with being lazy or weak and many people need help to get better. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

Counseling is often an essential component of care for these conditions. Qualified counselors listen, coach, and strategize. They can also help diagnose and participate in therapy decisions. They can educate and work with the person with the  condition and with all family and caregivers, as approved by the patient.

So mental health conditions are medical conditions just like cancer and diabetes are medical conditions. They are treated with counseling, procedures, and medications. Many require lifetime management (versus one time treatment). So, relationships with the healthcare team are important. You want providers with whom you are comfortable and can be open.

Note, for many mental health conditions, especially depression, medication needs to be taken every day for up to two months to see the full benefit. The medication very gradually changes transmitters in the brain back to healthy amounts. So, please be patient and take the medicine faithfully.

For more information about mental health, please contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Mental illness impacts people of faith just as it impacts people who have never heard about Christ. So, can God use mental illness for His glory? Can anything good come from struggling with mental illness?

I believe God can use any of our weaknesses, any of our conditions, to His glory. Nothing is beyond His ability.

John 16:33 ESV

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Luke 1:37 ESV

For nothing will be impossible with God.

In the Bible, mental illness is sometimes referred to as having an ‘afflicting demon’. Understanding of mental health continues to grow. The medical/biological understanding of these conditions is much better understood than they were in Biblical days, but there are still questions to be answered.

Matthew 4:24-25 The Message (MSG)

He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives. Word got around the entire Roman province of Syria. People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all. More and more people came, the momentum gathering. Besides those from Galilee, crowds came from the “Ten Towns” across the lake, others up from Jerusalem and Judea, still others from across the Jordan.(emphasis mine)

The multiple components of total health – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – are recognized throughout the Bible. Mental health conditions require treatment and must be addressed to reach a state of true health.

There is no shame. Again, these conditions have biological sources. We are called to love and support each other.   Education, understanding, and unconditional love can help us help each other find God’s purposes in each of our afflictions.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image Source:  National Institute on Aging; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Four Components of True Health – Physical Health

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Physical health – one of four essential components of health

Physical health is the first of the four components of health. True health requires health in all four components. Over the next three weeks we will talk about each separately.

Physical health is the type that is usually thought of first when describing ‘health’. It relates to medical conditions, joint and muscle function, infections, bones, and organ systems. It is the primary reason we go to the doctor.

The main emphasis of health insurance has historically been physical health.

Most of the medications that are prescribed are for physical health. Medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, pain, asthma, etc. are prescribed to improve physical health.

Your physical health is often part of your decision-making. It is the main motivation to choose healthy foods, exercise, avoid smoking, and limit alcohol.

So what can you do to improve your physical health?

First, there are several things you can do to preserve your physical health. Prevention is key. To prevent heart disease and diabetes, diet and exercise are especially important. They help maintain a healthy weight. Lack of exercise and poor food choices lead to excess weight, which adds to risk for many medical conditions.

Avoid smoking. Quit if you smoke now. The negative effects on physical health are enormous.

Limit alcohol intake. An occasional drink is probably fine unless you are genetically at risk for alcoholism. Excess alcohol has many health risks.

If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition, be sure to ask plenty of questions to fully understand your diagnosis and treatment plan. Then, follow your treatment plan while keeping track of your response. Communicate your response and any medication side effects to your healthcare team.

If you have more than one medical condition and/or if you have more than one provider, keep everyone informed. You want healthcare providers who communicate with each other and take time to communicate with you. Each provider needs to know exactly what the others are doing.  Each also needs to know how you actually take each of your medications. It is only then that the safety of all your medications together can be assessed.

For more information about your physical health, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

We learn in Genesis we were made in God’s image. Each cell, each hair, each component is specially designed. If you’ve ever experienced the birth of a baby and watched it grow, you have seen the astounding complexities of the human body.

Physical health allows us to perform our daily tasks. It also allows us to pursue the plans to which God has called us. There are several verses throughout the Bible that pertain to health. Here are a few:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 3:17 ESV

If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

1 Timothy 4:8 ESV

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

3 John 1:2 ESV

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

Consider the steps to maintain your health and the role your health plays in your response to God’s call for your life.

Blessings,

Michelle

When repetition causes pain – osteoarthritis

OA hand
Late stage hand osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a very common and painful condition. One way to explain it is that the cushion, or cartilage, lining bones wears away leaving bone to wear on bone.

Some of the most common causes of osteoarthritis are:

  • Injury to the joint– e.g. sports or motor vehicle accident
  • Repetitive use of a joint
    • In your job
    • In hobbies
    • In sports
  • Being overweight

Currently, there is not a way to rebuild the cartilage that wears away. So, the goals of treatment are:

  • to maintain what cartilage is left,
  • avoid making it worse,
  • keep you doing what you need to do during your day
  • control pain

Occupational and physical therapists can help.  They are experts in helping you find new ways to perform tasks without making the joint worse. There are many tools that can help support painful joints such as knee braces and thumb splints.

Ways to manage osteoarthritis pain without medication include:

  • heat application to the painful joint
  • lose weight if overweight (especially helpful for foot, knee, and hip arthritis)
  • swim – less wear on the joint than land-based exercise
  • find new ways to do tasks that don’t wear on the joint

OSTEOARTHRITIS MEDICATION THERAPY

The number one, gold-standard therapy for OA is acetaminophen. (A common brand name is Tylenol). Acetaminophen can help manage the pain. It is most effective if it is taken regularly (two extra strength 500mg tablets three times daily). This works better than waiting for pain to get really bad then taking a dose.

Note, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure your liver is healthy. And, limit or avoid alcohol to further protect your liver while taking acetaminophen.

The other medications commonly used for OA are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (brand names such as Motrin and Advil) and naproxen (brand name Aleve). These are also good for reducing arthritis pain. They can raise blood pressure, so avoid them if you have high blood pressure, heart failure, or a strong family history of heart attack. They can worsen kidney function, so talk with your doctor to be sure your kidneys are healthy. They can irritate your stomach, so always take them with food. Another option in this class of medicine is celecoxib (brand name Celebrex) that has less stomach irritation.  There are also topical versions that avoid some of the side effects.  You rub these onto the joint area that is in pain.

So, first and foremost, stop doing repetitive activities that are hurting your joint(s). Second, take steps to preserve the joint function you still have. Third, medication can help with the pain association with osteoarthritis. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of the medication options with your doctor and/or with us.

For more information about osteoarthritis and treatment, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

Just as repetitive movement can worsen osteoarthritis, repetitive approaches to anything can ultimately lead to harm if those approaches are not productive.

  • In your spiritual life, how responsive are you to God’s call?
  • How much do you vary your Bible study?
  • What types of worship have you experienced?
  • How does your prayer life vary in the seasons of your life?

It is so easy to fall in to a rut. You are busy; daily tasks use up all of your time. Prayer becomes relegated to particular times or left out completely. Sunday worship becomes your primary connection to God. Fellowship with other believers only occurs walking in and out of church.

Paul has some ideas about the many ways to worship in his letter to the Colossians:

Colossians 3:14-17 ESV

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I encourage you to get creative and deliberate in your spiritual life. God has so much to share with you as you let Him in. His joy, peace, and love can change everything!

Blessings,

Michelle

Image Source:  National Library of Medicine; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services