A dear friend reminded me of the importance the mind has on the physical body’s health. When your thinking is contaminated with stressful thoughts, that stress can come out in many different ways and manifest in your body. Your immune system may be weakened and unable to fight off infections. You may not be able to sleep with the thoughts churning in your mind. When you do not have a way to deal with those thoughts, the only alternative is to find a way to escape from them. Maybe it’s with eating to numb the mind, turning to drugs or alcohol, escaping from the pain with prescription medications (narcotics, antidepressants, etc.), sex, smoking, watching TV, too much exercise or not enough exercise. These addictions, where you turn to escape from the pain, may eventually lead to obesity, heart disease, cancer, dependence on drugs and alcohol and the list goes on and on.
If you had to choose, would you rather have a healthy body or a healthy mind? As Byron Katie says, “I hope you chose mind because bodies don’t make it.” Heal your mind and notice if the body follows. Start by just noticing what thoughts you are having in the moments before you turn to your escape, whatever that is for you.
“I’m not good enough.” “My body shouldn’t be hurting.” “I am alone.” “I’m too fat.” “I have too much to do.”
If we are honest, we all have them…just notice.
I’m working at the health department this month and swine flu is certainly continuing to circulate in Jefferson County. See your doctor if you have fever > 100 with cough and/or sore throat. The only treatment are anti-virals (like Tamiflu) which do not cure swine flu but may lessen the severity of the illness or shorten the course of illness by 1-2 days. Some physicians are now even calling in these medicines for children with fever, cough and/or sore throat to avoid them having to wait in the waiting room at their office. Fortunately, thus far, most cases of swine flu have been fairly mild.
When you are swabbed for influenza at your doctor’s office, most can do a rapid test in their office to tell you if you have influenza but it must be sent to the state lab to determine if it is H1N1. Since 8/1/09, of specimens testing positive for influenza in AL, 99% have been confirmed novel H1N1. As of 8/27/09, Alabama has had 1,587 confirmed cases of novel H1N1 influenza (or swine flu).
There is no vaccine available for H1N1 yet. It is encouraged for all to get the seasonal flu vaccine when available. The H1N1 vaccine (separate from the seasonal flu vaccine) is scheduled to be available by mid-October but this will be given to high-risk patients first.
So what can you do? The most important preventive measure is personal hygiene. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water!! Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. (If you don’t have a tissue to cover your mouth, cough into the crook of your elbow.) Stay home from school or work if you are sick. Get the seasonal flu vaccine when available. Remember, vaccines work best when everyone gets them.
AL Department of Public Health
4.Chronic lung disease (like COPD)
5.Accidents (unintentional injuries)
6.Diabetes mellitus (diabetes)
8.Influenza and pneumonia
9.Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (kidney disease)
10.Septicemia (infection in the blood)
Now here’s a list of the top 10 things you can do to maintain your health. If you do the things on this list, you’ll be reducing your risk of all of the diseases on the list above. Do your part to take care of yourself! Don’t wait until you are sick to make changes in your lifestyle. Prevention is key!
1. Do not smoke. If you smoke, quitting is the single best thing you could do to improve your health. (Click here for more info.)
2. Limit your Alcohol intake to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
3. Maintain a healthy diet and lose weight if you are overweight.
4. Exercise 30-60 min 5 days a week.
5. Don’t sunbathe or use tanning booths.
6. Practice safe sex.
7. Control your cholesterol and blood pressure with diet, exercise and medication if needed.
8. Keep your shots up to date, including flu and pneumonia (if over age 65).
9. Have yearly health screenings with your primary care doctor even if you don’t feel sick. (You may need to be seen several times a year if you have chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease).
10. Get help if you are suffering from psychological problems like depression, anxiety, or excess stress instead of turning to addictive habits like smoking, alcohol, drugs, overeating or other self destructive behaviors.
Brooke Uptagrafft, MD
Dr. Brooke is a family medicine doctor.