Peace is perhaps the most important ingredient for health. Not just peaceful thoughts, but peace in every part of our being.
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C.S. Lewis said: “We are a spirit; we have a soul; and we live in a body.” We’re created as tripartite beings. All three aspects of our being are interconnected, and interdependent.
In other words, what affects one part, will affect the others, for better or for worse. We cannot neglect one part of our being, and expect the other parts to thrive. Nor can we nurture one part, without benefiting the others.
There’s a body-soul-spirit, and a spirit-soul-body connection to our makeup. A very effective way to build health, it to reduce stress, and pursue peace holistically, body, soul, and spirit.
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The most important ingredient for health is to reduce our stress response and maximize our rest response.
One of the major controlling systems of the body is the autonomic nervous system or ANS. the ANS is largely responsible for controlling our body’s involuntary processes such as: temperature, digestion, heart rate etc. The ANS is further divided into two parts: the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest).
In order to promote wellness, we need both systems operating in harmony. For instance, the sympathetic system gives us a shot of cortisol in the morning. This is desirable, because it helps us wake up and start our days.
The parasympathetic system helps us to unwind by releasing melatonin. This helps us prepare for restful sleep, where our bodies do most of their repairing and rebuilding.
We run into trouble when our sympathetic (rev me up) side is stimulated too frequently. Most of us need to work at reducing our stress response, while simultaneously stimulating our rest and digest side. This is how we prevent and heal disease.
The easiest way to say this is to reduce stress, and pursue peace. Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27 This is a prescription for health.
We are not at peace physically when we have inadequate nutrition. Our bodies must make do with the raw material we supply by eating. When we have gaping holes in our nutritional regimen, it creates stress for the body.
We’re not at peace physically when we’re exposed to toxins. The removal of excess toxins can create a major burden for our bodies. This is stress. We need pure water, clean air and uncontaminated food.
We are not at peace physically when we don’t get adequate rest. Adequate sleep is required for proper hormone production. If we care about our health, a good night’s sleep is not optional.
We are not at peace physically when we don’t experience enough movement throughout the course of a day. Our bodies were designed for movement, and it’s what we do day in and day out that really matters.
Recent research is pointing to the importance of light activity throughout the day such as, walking, standing, and stretching. Sitting for long periods of time every day is now considered as unhealthy as smoking and obesity. (1)
We need peace in our souls or minds. Anxious thoughts will lead to chronic activation of the stress response. We experience peaceful thoughts when our thoughts are aligned with God’s thoughts. When our thoughts are not consistent with God’s, then we experience stress. Consider the following table.
How does the list on the left make you feel? How about the list on the right? Can you see the difference in stress levels? The bible instructs, that what we think in our hearts, we tend to become. Proverbs 23:7 We are also told to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Romans 12:2 God never tells us to do something that is not for our benefit. Considering what we’ve discussed above, our thoughts are crucial to health.
We need peace in our spirits. Spiritual peace is all about relationships. We experience peace in our spirits when we have nothing hindering our connectedness with God, our relationships with others, and our view of ourselves.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he said to love God with all our heart, soul and strength. And, the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-38 Herein lies the formula for spiritual peace. Peace with God. Peace with others, and peace with ourselves.
Sin, or disobedience creates distance between us and God. This blocks his blessings, and creates stress. Nothing will promote spiritual peace better than holy living. Romans 6:1, 1 Peter 1:15
Relationships that aren’t working create stress. Paul said in Romans as much as it depends on us, to live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18) This is good advise. Peace with everyone is not always possible. However, we shouldn’t let anything we’ve done, or said cause relational brokenness.
The last part of spiritual peace is peace in the way we view ourselves. This is often overlooked. We are often our own worst critic. Many people don’t like themselves. If you don’t believe me, think about this; how many people do you know that enjoy having their picture taken, or like the sound of their own voice?
Because of the mind-body connection, a poor self-image can lead to all kinds of physical problems. Some even speculate that this can be the cause of auto-immune disorders, where the body attacks itself. Proverbs 23:7 If we hate ourselves, what is the body suppose to do with that?
Or, it can go the other way and we can become prideful, self-centered, or narcissistic. Loving ourselves well, means we need to view ourselves accurately. This often requires a good dose of humility.
We need to remember, we are created in God’s image. We are fearfully, and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14 However, we are imperfect, and we will make mistakes. Hopefully, we can learn from them and grow. Don’t let your failures define you. It can compromise your health.
So, the most important ingredient for health is peace. We experience peace when we reduce stress and embrace holy living.
If you would like to explore this issue further Julian Goldie has written an excellent post on coping with stress on his blog: relaxlikeaboss.com Click Here to be taken to his thorough article on stress management.
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