Audio Introduction: Planning Health Enhancement
HELP is integrative: one or two components on their own will have marginal effect compared with the benefits of combining all components together. The key to the success of this program in your life is to arrange the components into a routine that works for you. This requires a health-management plan that ensures you receive the HELP you need. There are very few people who can alter their behavior and commit themselves to new routines for health enhancement without taking the time to plan how they are going to do it.
Each chapter has included suggestions about how to develop a routine; it is the goal of this final chapter to assist you in interweaving the individual components in a way that is effective, realistic, and enjoyable for you. While it is clear that without health everything else in your life is challenged, it is still important to keep a sense of balance between lifestyle improvements and other daily commitments that you may have. Integration and balance over a long period of time require full commitment and dedication. This approach will be far more effective than a crash course that requires you instantly to abandon habits that are deeply ingrained, and to neglect obligations that you have made and still feel are important. Managing your health requires a plan, which begins with asking yourself why you are embarking on this program.
HELP is a comprehensive approach to healthy living which requires you to be clear on why looking after your health is important. Without motivation, all the information and techniques provided will be of little value. Every person may have a different motivation for embarking on HELP. For a great number of people HELP will be a means of dealing with specific health challenges. Their motivation will be to alleviate suffering and regain quality of life. Others will be fortunate enough to use HELP as a preventive tool, allowing them to enjoy life through the maintenance of a healthy body, peaceful mind, and useful life.
Your purpose is your power; define it, develop it, and remind yourself of it daily.Take out your journal and take a moment now to reflect on your underlying motivation for choosing HELP. Ask yourself why you want to help yourself to health. Go beyond the goals you want to achieve and examine the foundation underneath these goals. If one of your goals is to lose weight and you have difficulty addressing the motivation behind it, just ask yourself why. Ultimately, you will find that choosing to lose weight allows you to feel better about yourself, giving you a greater sense of self-esteem. By improving your health, you will feel empowered in many other aspects of your life.
Old habits can be difficult to change. Follow these steps to make your motivational statement meaningful and effective:
- Keep your motivational statement simple.
- Memorize it.
- Write it down in places where you will be reminded of it daily.
- Reflect on how this statement can assist you in other areas of life.
- Develop it and strengthen it by writing these reflections in your joumal.
There may still be times when you encounter difficulty in staying motivated despite having followed these steps. To reduce the likelihood of this happening, remember to keep the following points in mind:
- Maintain a realistic approach, avoiding high expectations that are destined to fail.
- Whenever possible join in with others to help each of you stay motivated.
- Enroll in a class or take on a course of study in a health-related area.
- Refine your motivational statement over time.
Begin by revisiting each section of the journal and reflecting on the gap between your existing reality and what you would like to create.
Next, summarize your priorities in the box below, ranking the areas one to 10. There can be more than one component with the same number by it, with one being a very high priority for something currently lacking in your lifestyle, and 10 being for a component that you already have pretty much under control with perhaps some minor adjustments needed.
Chart of Personal Priorities
- Physical exercise
- Mind/Body awareness
- Food awareness
- Stress release
- Easeful body
- Quality environment
- Breathing techniques
- Group support and communication
How to Write a SMART Goal
Now that you have established your priorities, briefly write down for each heading no more than two sentences specifying a goal for each priority. Remember the SAME rule when writing down the first sentence:
Making the goal specific means that it is clearly understood and therefore easier to make a commitment to. Making your goal attainable ensures that you are realistic and not trying to reverse years of neglect overnight. In order to be able to meet your goal successfully, it is helpful to state it in a way that will allow you to measure whether you are implementing it. Finally, if you state your goal in a way that is enjoyable to you, it will be easier to implement and you will look forward to doing it.
In the second sentence, describe the benefits you will experience in reaching the goal. An example could be:
Physical exercise – Over the next four weeks, I will develop a daily routine, which includes 30 minutes of swimming with Jean and Deborah on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, and walking for 30 minutes with the local group in Eden Park on Monday and Sunday. I will make a commitment to this goal in order to help release stress, improve cardiac fitness, and be healthy enough to enjoy playing with my grandchildren.
When making your goals attainable, you may wonder if it is possible to fit all 12 components into an already busy lifestyle. As illustrated by the example above, one solution is to combine two or more priorities in the same mission statement-enjoying the quality environment of the park, while sharing and communicating with friends and walking.
It is also important to remember the cost of not looking after your health. Take a moment and reflect on the time that is taken when:
- You are physically sick and out of action from work, from family, from fun.
- You feel tired and cannot finish what you have started due to lack of energy.
- You have an upset stomach and feel distracted by it.
- You are nervous and anxious, and wind up taking twice as long to do a job properly.
- You must visit the dentist, chiropractor, doctor, naturopath, or psychologist, for ailments possibly attributable to an unhealthy lifestyle.
- You daydream and chase after quick-fix schemes that promise immediate transformation.
- You are forced to retire or quit your job due to stress, and use work as the excuse.
- Relationships deteriorate or fail due to lack of awareness, resulting in a long recovery period.
- The body experiences arthritis or pain, and an activity takes twice as long as before.
These are just a few of the many possible consequences of ignoring the HELP components. While there is no guarantee you will not have to see a doctor, or see a relationship fail, HELP is definitely a positive step in all of these areas, and may result in a reduction in time spent dealing with the consequences of neglecting lifestyle factors. The real question is: can you afford to have your schedule overwhelmed by the repercussions of not implementing HELP? The prevention of dis-ease, dis-stress, dis-appointment, and dis-comfort is far less time-consuming than having to live with them, and certainly a lot more enjoyable.
Drawing up a Schedule
If you believe that HELP will not only improve the quality of your life but also save you time, then it is important to set up your schedule. You may have already set up this schedule as a result of the routine suggestions at the end of each chapter. If not, now is the time to do so. A well-developed schedule should see you having more time available in your typical day than you had before bringing HELP into your life. The schedule will be a direct translation of your list of priorities and your goals into a timetable format. An example of this could be:
Every day Monday through Friday
Use the HELP audio recordings, go to a class, or take yourself through a program of one hour every morning, consisting of:
20 minutes stretching and yoga
15 minutes deep relaxation
5 minutes breathing techniques
15 minutes meditation
5 minutes guided imagery.
Balance your meals during the day in accordance with the guidelines you have chosen.
Make sure to take breaks three times during each day for a few minutes at a time to attune within and feel good about yourself, have a laugh, repeat your positive affirmation, be aware of the need for a quality environment, look at a flower, or help someone in need.
Keep your focus by reminding yourself, “In everything I do, I will try to have a sense of humor, a sense of play, take a creative approach, and be positive, loving and forgiving”.
Practice 10 minutes of meditation each evening before bed.
Three Days per Week: Saturday, Wednesday, and Sunday
Three Days per Week: Saturday, Wednesday, and Sunday
Take one hour of physical exercise – which may be walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and so on-in nature, incorporating warm-up and cool-down periods.
Spend two hours with friends, a support group, sharing and receiving feelings and support.
Spend at least two hours in creative pursuits: play, entertainment, sport, drama, music, or any other enjoyable expressive activity.
Devote one hour to selflessly serving a local community project or perhaps a relative in need.
This timetable covers every component of the program, assuming you are not doing any of them already. Over the course of a week, you have the responsibility of enjoying life and resting for a total of 168 hours. This program, as outlined above, occupies about 18 of them, leaving you 150 hours to do all the other things in life that are important to you. The choice is yours, but just remember that no matter what else you possess, nothing will take the place of an easeful body, a peaceful mind, and a useful life.
Acceptance, Flexibility and Inspiration
Let’s be honest: this is not the first time we have made a commitment to something that we believed in, and followed all the steps of planning and scheduling, only to find that despite the best intentions the schedule is sitting in a drawer somewhere collecting dust. The key here is to be accepting and flexible.
Sure, you may miss a morning session once in a while due to unforeseen circumstances or the need for extra sleep. Do not despair. Acceptance is so important in this program. Help yourself grow through acceptance. Whenever we take on a new venture, we meet with an inner part of us that resists this change. It comes up with excuses as to why change isn’t possible and reasons not to change in order to protect its established territory. It looks for contradictions in the underpinnings of the approach to challenge it. It examines the motives of others who may be involved and questions the venture on the basis of these motives. It conspires to upset the routine in any way, shape, or form that is possible, and when all else fails it reminds you of all similar attempts you have made and how you did not see them through. Know that this inner resistance is a part of everyone and accept it, but with the delicacy and agility of a high-wire performer slowly go past it, taking your time and maintaining your balance-realizing that when you fall, the net of acceptance is waiting to embrace you, and that there is really no such thing as failure. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 10,000 times, I have discovered 10,000 ways that will not work”.
Also, be flexible. Suppose you have been through all the steps of setting priorities, goals, and scheduling, but still find yourself struggling to implement even one of the HELP components. Be flexible in your approach, and realize that at this point in your life perhaps you need to scale down your expectations. Sit down with your schedule and make the changes a little more gradual. When you achieve one, take the time to congratulate yourself, and reward yourself with the praise and appreciation you deserve. Then slowly build up to your previous goals through this flexible approach.
Inspiration is perhaps one of the most important devices to incorporate when attempting to attain any goals. Hearing stories of those who have gone that way before us gives us hope, courage, and determination. Sharing our struggles and commitments with others in support groups inspires us to keep trying. By working together in a group to achieve our goals, we can be inspired by the dynamism of the group energy to go beyond our limited expectations of ourselves.
Do not underestimate the help inspiration can give in accomplishing any of the components of this program. Read books about other people who have overcome incredible odds to achieve major breakthroughs, such as Helen Keller, and let them inspire you in far more modest projects. Let yourself tap into the vitality of the human spirit when challenged, and allow it to carry you to heights that you may never have believed possible. Use pictures, support groups, books, magazines, testimonials, or whatever works for you to inspire action on implementing your schedule. Tell your friends, associates, and family members of your plans and enlist their support if that will help to inspire you. Put notices in prominent places that will remind you of your HELP goals. Use every tool you possibly can to reverse habits that may have been ingrained for many years in order to realize what living is really all about.
The Big Picture
The beauty of HELP is that when we look after our own health we contribute to the quality of everything around us. We become mindful. We become aware of our actions, and their consequences become more evident, not only in the area of health but also in life in general. Our inner attunement is also reflected in our home, workplace, and the environment. We find a beauty and delight in simplicity. Our choices then influence the world around us. A few examples include:
- Breathing practices encourage us to put a high priority on clean, fresh air.
- By choosing fresh healthy foods we encourage those industries to grow.
- Looking after our own health relieves pressure on the health-care system and our families.
- Sharing, supporting, and communicating help to rebuild a sense of community.
- Serving allows everyone to share the gift of life with one another and experience love.
- Choosing a quality environment supports conservation efforts and environmental health.
- Creativity unleashes the imagination and allows it to flow and benefit others.
For each component of HELP there are direct benefits to others and the Planet on which we live. By helping ourselves to health, we are really helping one another and the generations to come. May your journey be filled with peace and joy, love and light.
Covey, Stephen R. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Fireside/Simon & Schuster, New York, 1989.
Frankl, Victor. Man’s Search for Meaning, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1983.
Gingold, Dr Robert. Successful Aging, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992.
McInnes, Lisa, Johnson, Daniel & Marsh, Winston. How to Motivate, Manage and Market Yourself, Victoria Cassette Learning Systems, Bulleen, Melbourne 1989.
Schumacher, EF. Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, Harper & Row, New York, 1973.