DLW is an occasional blog about how people spend the time of their lives (every moment) to enable health, balance, meaning and fulfillment. As a blogspot about doing, it draws from personal stories and from studies of everyday living. It's main idea is that to be well, people must be involved fully in what they do. The activities that occupy our days help to connect us to the world, define who we are, and keep us healthy.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thinking and Doing in Ways that Protect Health

This blogsite is about doing, so the key points in this post will not come as a surprise to readers. In a previous blog I promised to address the issue of resilience, or the body's ability to ward off the harmful effects of stress.

Many websites have lists of characteristics that are counterproductive to successful coping. Negative thinking, over-eating, obsessing, self blame, overworkiig and other detrimental behaviors and attitudes are widely known and may seem obvious as detriments to effective oping or health.

However, most web articles on this topic, including one from the highly acclaimed Mayo Clinic, overlook an important factor that is key to successful resilience. That factor is having engaging, meaningful, purposeful activities. If important preventive factors include a positive self concept and having opportunities for interacting with friends, it seems clear that doing things we enjoy with people we enjoy doing them with is likely to be a useful approach to promoting two critical dimensions of resilience: meaningful social relationships and a positive self concept. There is abundant literature to show that enjoyment in doing, which often comes from mastering challenge and doing something well, leads to better self esteem, improved positive feelings, and the release of hormones that are good for our immune system.

The theories of coping include strategies that have been called "active coping". Typically, these involve direct problem solving actions to address barriers that are frustrating, or dilemmas that are particularly stressful. What this post suggests is something different. What is suggested here is finding satisfying, engaging and meaningful activities that help us spend time enjoyably, have fun with others, and perhaps develop skills or a sense of completion that makes us feel good about ourselves.

I also recommend the strategies contained in this useful article by Tamar Chansky published in the Huffington Post. Dr. Chansky's recommendations offer more detailed variations on DLW's themes; namely, how we as individuals can create our own resilience through what we do (or avoid doing!).

Doing is not a universal elixir. But doing the right things helps us by keeping our immune systems stronger so that we can avoid the biological consequences of stress. Most importantly, if we build these practices into our daily lifestyles, and not just when we feel stressed, we will be making a habit of doing life well.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your insightful posts... your entries could be the making of a good book.



About Me

I am a writer, lifelong student, former academic and new blogger. My passion continues to be everyday living. I am interested in what people do, how, when and why they do it, and what it means for their their understanding of the world and hence, their well being.