SLOW down for Compassion & Wellbeing
Health, July 27, 2022
Our busy lifestyle combined with a overburdened health system is creating a tidal wave of chronic lifestyle disease
Time is precious. How you spend it defines your life. Seneca the philosopher believed that people who don’t appreciate time suffer “It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.” Most of us do not appreciate the gift of time. Our health and function is taken for granted until we lose it. The habits we undertake with the time we have has a massive bearing on our well-being.
Holistic health requires time and compassion. Individuals need to spend time on physical, mental, and soul enhancing habits. That is eating real food, valuing positive relationships and constructive communication, quality sleep, physical activity, downshifting, and pursuing purpose. People should demonstrate self compassion with daily action for empowered health.
An holistic health system should have time to spend with patients. This allows patients to talk through options, come up with more empowered solutions; gives time for the health professional to give an individualised plan with work on daily habits. Time allows compassion to shine through. Our overstretched, busy health system can not keep throwing medication at symptoms without getting to the root of disease. Our system is broken, and this contributes to societies health breakdown.
The Good Samaritan is a Biblical parable that demonstrates the moral obligation of helping those in need. In the 1970’s two psychologists designed a study to test peoples ability to stop and help a fellow human being. They hired an actor to feign distress, he was doubled over in pain next to the entrance of the Green Hall Annex at Princeton Theological Seminary. The psychologists recruited 40 seminary students to present a talk on the Good Samaritan. The students were asked to stop by another building on the way to the Green Hall Annex to deliver the talk. Some were told they had plenty of time before giving the talk, others were told they would be on time if they left straight away, and the final group were told they were late and needed to hurry.
Only 10% in the “need to hurry” group stopped to help the actor in pain. These are seminary students! One literally stepped over a brother in agony afraid they would be late. In the “no need to rush group” more than 60% stopped to help. The difference between whether a person made time for compassion had nothing to do with morality or religious teaching but whether they felt rushed.
The way we live and the way we manage health care in our society creates disease and erodes wellbeing. We desperately need to change our health from the ground up and from our health system down. Our healthcare system mirrors society and is in a constant state of rush. We are slowly losing our ability to champion compassion.
How do we change?
From the people up - As individuals we need to stop the rush. Go to bed earlier, get up earlier. Value positive relationships, our sleep, eat food to nourish, not to create disease, move daily in nature, practice non-violent communication/interaction, downshift, and pursue a purposeful life.
From the system down - Our health system has to put money and time into preventative health. Empower individuals, whanau, and community to entrench daily health enhancing habits. Aim to be the resilient fence at the top of the cliff rather the ambulance at the bottom. Our providers need more time to explore the cause of disease. Our mental health needs more funding. Patients need more time to talk and more encouragement within the system to action change. A mixture of challenging poor behaviour and supporting change.
Change will not come solely through legislation. The time to shift blame to others and the government is over. Lets take a look individually, and at our surrounding whanua. Leo Tolstoy said 'Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself'. NZ spends almost 20 billion dollars on health a year. Most of that is managing chronic lifestyle disease bought about by an accumulation of daily disease promoting habits. NZ has some of the worst domestic violence, and suicide statistics in the developed world. We have covered up our issues with substance abuse, and short term pleasure. Our issues are festering, and spilling over as addiction, violence, trauma, and inflicting pain on our surrounding society. Let's slow down, take a breath, and change towards action that promotes well-being over disease. Allow compassion to rise above the rush.
Brad Dixon is a sports physio, coach, and wellness evangelist based at EVERFIT Physio & Coaching. His passion is promoting enhancing daily habits that nudge people towards potential and save the planet. His book ‘Holistic Human’ is available here - https://everfit.co.nz/Store/Category/Book . The power is in our daily habits!