Wellness – more than what we think

By Lisa Murray-Doran N.D


With the New Year fast approaching, I sit at my desk tonight performing my annual ritual of a little biography lesson.  I review the year past month by month in detail – what happened in my life, what lessons did I learn, where did I grow in my life?  By observing these questions I then make plans and goals for the year forward.  As a result of this annual exercise this year I am faced with defining the word “Wellness”. 


I spent four years in Naturopathic College defining the word over and over again as the absence of “dis-ease”, and as the proper functioning of the body.  However, in the years that have passed since 1997, when I began my practise as a licensed Naturopathic Doctor, I have come to understand that the word “wellness” means much more than the proper functioning of the body and the absence of disease.


As I’ve raised my three boys, I have begun to understand that there are more subtle ways that we feel “well”.  If my children don’t get enough sleep, if they don’t eat correctly, if they don’t get outside to run and play, if they don’t get surrounded by a parents warmth and love – they are not “well”.  They are not themselves.  They do not have that wondrous sense of well being that they journey through most of their lives with.  It’s more than runny noses and earaches that make a child feel not well – and it’s expressed in more ways than a cough or a sore tummy.   It becomes grumpy moods or an increase in activity or difficulty interacting with each other or with me.  Difficulty sleeping, fussy about eating, unable to do homework.  They are not feeling well within themselves.  And yet they are healthy, they ate their broccoli for dinner, they are expressing no other symptoms.


As I look at what my children need to feel WELL in mind, body and spirit – to achieve that sense of well-being that makes them such lovely children I am beginning to understand that very few adults I know are truly WELL.  Are our basic needs at their very essence any different from a child’s?  How many of us get enough sleep?  Eat very well? Get outside to engage in an activity that is fun?  How many of us are nurtured somehow and surrounded by warmth and love?


As a naturopathic doctor I have many tools to address dis-ease.  I see patients for everything ranging from earaches to infertility to irritable bowel syndrome to thyroid disorders to weight loss to breast disease to depression to attention deficit disorder to heart disease.  We work together with nutritional counselling, herbal medicine, homeopathy, vitamins and acupuncture to bring balance back into the body and to address the state of dis-ease that people are presenting in.  Many times we have wonderful success bringing balance and harmony of the body back into peoples lives.  However, maintaining that balance and harmony is difficult for many people.


In today’s time-deficient culture it is very difficult to make time to address the basic things in life that allow us that wonderful feeling of wellness that I spoke of earlier.  It’s difficult when you are overwhelmed with working five days a week and have busy, growing children who need your attention and time,  and a house to run,  to find time to truly get enough sleep, plan and cook nutritious meals, play outside and allow space and time in our lives to be nurtured.  More times than not, it’s these basic things that I see fall by the wayside when life gets busy.  Do you notice in busy times the subtle indicators that things are out of balance?  Are you more irritable than normal?  Do you feel like you are spinning your wheels?   Do you have difficulty negotiating conflict with your co-workers your partner or your children?  It’s these basic things that keep us well.


This year, as I look forward for my goals for the year 2004  I have just one – get back to basics.  My goal for the year is to look at the four basic needs I’ve outlined and make room in my life for them:  1.  Sleep   2.  Eat well   3.  Be active and have fun    4.  Give myself space and time to be nurtured or to nurture myself with activities I love.  They sound so simple and common sence – and yet I know that each of the four will be difficult to maintain.   I know that if I can work for a year at getting all of these basic needs in place in my life as routine habits and  give them the priority that they deserve (over the laundry and the dirty dishes!) many things will happen.  I will have more energy, I will feel more positive, I will be a better parent, I will be more efficient, I will loose weight,  I will eventually achieve that sense of “wellness” and peace within myself.  You know that feeling, most of us have fleeting experiences of it – where the world just feels “right”.  It’s a domino effect.   I invite you, this year to make a similar goal for 2004.  Get back to basics with these simple needs, make time for them each day,  and just see what happens – mind, body and spirit.


Throughout the year I will be posting articles on my website that will act as tools for you to build these basic needs into your life.  Check www.barefootdoctor.org for the updates and hopefully some of these tools can work for you.   Happy New Year!  Be Well!


Lisa Murray-Doran is a Naturopathic Doctor in Ajax, and a busy mom of three growing, busy boys.  If you have any questions or would like to inquire about attending as a patient at the Pinewood Natural Health Centre, please contact Lisa Murray-Doran at 905-427-0057 ext. 3 or visit our website.