Health Risks of a Rigid Mind
Not many people enjoy change that is not self-initiated. My brother’s twice yearly visits to my parent’s home resulted in deep cleaning and rearranging of furniture. The rearranging always resulted in temporary distress for my parents who were very appreciative of the cleaning under furniture they could no longer move about and the flipping of heavy mattresses. How many of us experience similar discomfort or irritation when someone else moves or touches our stuff, when we are presented with a significant life change or even worse when we are asked to consider changing a “we’ve always done it this way” or a “stuck in the old way” behavior?
How many of us when approaching situations, rather than responding in our usual manner, stop to think how we might look at the situation differently before we respond? It’s easy to become stuck in our habits and in our ruts, not even realizing that we are stuck until some outside person looking in makes a comment or an unexpected event results in mandatory change that we resist.
Change is part of life as we age and our health changes. My 20’s, 30’s and 40’s were a breeze filled with good health and abundant energy. In my 50’s body parts have started to become weak due to lack of use and maintaining good health through exercise and good nutrition is a daily part of my life. While the idea of resisting failing health by being proactive is a positive action, resisting recommendations by medical providers relative to nutrition, exercise and health, because we have a rigid mind, can be disastrous to our health and to our enjoyment of life.
If you are a person needing proof of how easily the body changes without notice, try the following exercise. You’ll need a watch with a second hand or the ability to stand in front of a clock with a second hand so you can time this activity. Ready? 1) Stand, 2) lift one leg off the floor, 3) bend the leg you lifted off the floor so that your foot is at a 45 degree angle behind you and even with the level of your knee. How long are you able to maintain this position without grabbing furniture for a support or falling to the right or left?
If the results of performing this exercise surprised you, this is an indication of how quickly and easily your health and physical abilities decline without notice. The “if you don’t use it you’ll lose it” saying becomes truer with age. Americans have become a society who prefers to sit in front of the television rather than going out for a walk. For older adults absence of physical activity is tragic and results in poor balance, frequent falls, broken hips and social isolation. Minds benefit from activity like reading, puzzles and other mental stimulation in addition to the activity of socializing with others.
Remaining healthy is a total package of taking care of yourself physically and mentally. Individuals who had little interest in hobbies during their work life often find themselves experiencing boredom after retirement. Others who might not have attended to their health find health worsening and do nothing but complain about all the activities in which they can no longer participate. Complaining may help you feel better but it will not solve the issues or problems you are experiencing. Solutions require action.
There are also circumstances where persons experiencing health issues believe they have exhausted all options. This may or may not be true depending on the level of expertise in navigating healthcare. If you find yourself in this position, being open to consulting an advocate holds benefits.
A flexible, open and questioning mind offers significant benefits to your health and overall wellbeing. Rigid minds more often result in weak bodies and poor health. It is never too late to learn a new skill, to begin a new hobby or to think differently about your health. I know a woman who at 65 started a yearly routine of climbing the Grand Canyon. Today she’s 104 in good health and remains in contact with friends who are 10-20 years her junior. Aging is a number that does not always indicate poor health if you are able maintain a flexible mind.
© 2012, 2013 Pamela D. Wilson. All Rights Reserved