Written everywhere in the paper, the NHS and similar public health organisations in western developed countries are facing increasing strain on their capacity to care for patients within a reasonable time and with the same level of quality.
As listed on the NHS website, there are some key challenges, two are specific to patients and their lifestyle:
– Ageing population
– Lifestyle factors
Ageing population: while we tend to live longer, we rarely live healthy until the natural depletion of our body resources leads to death. Instead, around the age of 40 or 50, people develop conditions such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease, which, as people live longer, they have to receive treatment for longer. Somebody developing a condition at 50 will have to live the next 20 to 30 years with it and receive treatment for it.
If people could age in a healthy way, less strain would be placed on public health services but also on the relatives of the ageing people with a condition.
In order to be the healthy aged people of tomorrow, there is one thing we have control on: our lifestyle.
2,000 years ago, a Chinese Medicine book, the Nei Jing, was written. It states that disease is not due to curses or to offending the gods, it is due to rational causes, the most important of which is our lifestyle.
The ancient Chinese literature emphasise how important and vital it is to live following the rhythm of nature and have a balanced lifestyle (sex, diet, rest, exercise…), and if a book written 2,000 years ago talks about the people living then as being in disharmony with nature, I wonder what they would think about today’s modern societies.
By adopting a healthy lifestyle, we help prevent disease and conditions to develop and affect us. Although there is still a chance that a condition is linked to our genes, most other conditions can be prevented by being in the right environment with the most suited lifestyle regarding our constitution.
The traditional story about the Chinese Medicine practitioners of ancient China was that they would be paid when the whole community was healthy and not paid when somebody fell sick. At this time, we can then imagine that although they would be masters of the Chinese medicine therapies such as cupping, acupuncture and manual (tui na, dao yin, fubu anmo…), their main focus would be on how to teach and provide advice to the community in how to remain healthy throughout the year.
This can entail Feng Shui arrangement of the whole village or town, the inside of houses, what garment to wear based on the seasons and people’s activity and ensuring that people have time to relax and exercise, maybe through martial arts, qi gong and meditation.
Although I have listed acupuncture as a therapy providing a cure, it is also a tool that prevent underlying trends to develop into fully blown conditions and diseases. By balancing the body and ensuring that the qi, blood, fluids and food flow appropriately through the body, the patient will remain in an optimal state of health.
Another epidemic generated by our modern lives is the lack of time. People in traditional cultures take the time to do and the time to be. I remember this quote someone told me about an African man saying to a European:
“Maybe you have a nice watch, but I have the Time.”
Time in modern society has been more and more compartmentalised and rendered exclusive. Family life, work life, friends life, hobby life, everything is divided. Also “slots” are allocated; slots for cooking, slots for taking care of the kids, slots for cleaning…
The question to ask yourself is, how can I make my life more integrated, how can I be here right now and not project myself in the future all the time?
This requires a change in perspective.
Today, what is valued as a break in society?
– Chilling out watching TV
– Taking a walk in the park
– Reading a book
What if instead of considering the above (and associates) as the TRUE leisure time, could we not consider everything as leisure time?
For this, we need to be able to appreciate what we do at every moment. Asking yourself:“Am I happy doing this right now?” and taking the time to listen how our mind, body and heart, feel about it is a good first step in improving our lives for the better.
For example, instead of considering dish-washing as a chore, why not focus on the present and actually be mindful and focused about washing the plates? Why not push it a bit further and with every plate you wash, wash away the stress and tension of the day as well?
The same applies to cooking, eating should be a delightful experience, and so should be cooking. Taking the time to cook and savouring this time, is just as good as taking the time to eat and savouring the food.
If we think about it, humanity has always revolved around common daily activities:
– Food hunting or gathering => “work” in our modern societies
– Food preparation
– Social bonding
– Raising children & taking care of the elderly
Why not reconsider our days to allow more time for these key aspects of life and enjoy these?
Aside from doing, we also need to remember that we are not defined by our actions alone but by who we are. It is vital then that we remember to drop everything, pause the life button and enjoy the NOW to just BE.
By BEING in the NOW, we gain a profound level of insight on our current situation and can assess what is the best way forward in order to achieve our ideal lifestyle, generating the most and lasting happiness.
Thank you for reading, see you next time!