Written by: Sarita Soares, M.D. Internal Medicine Physician
“For our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in you.” This profound quote from St Augustine defines the destination of our collective journey in life, yet it can be a struggle to remember and implement. As a primary care physician, my paramount goal is helping promote health of the mind, body, and spirit in my patients. Without mental wellness and internal peace, physical health is not fulfilling. Likewise, cultivating health of the spirit but neglecting care of the body leads to future problems. Most of us know this universal truth, but it is so hard to mobilize in life. In our modern era in particular, this is very difficult – and I suspect the secular concerns of work, school, pursuit of maximizing experiences, and the 'You Only Live Once' (YOLO) lifestyle contributes to this. But I’ve certainly seen plenty of my patients and students excel at these pursuits and feel empty, unfulfilled, and existentially distressed. As Catholics we are so lucky to recognize that the antidote to these desolations lies in our faith and God’s love and grace for us.
It can be incredibly challenging to focus on our faith when worldly distractions feel more immediate and tangible. That’s why actually scheduling in prayer, meditation and self-care is so crucial. There’s fascinating scientific evidence about the myriad health benefits of prayer, mindfulness and gratitude. Sometimes a reminder of the importance of this is critical. As much as I preach holistic wellness, I often fail to practice it myself.
As an early TCC subscriber, I’ve been the beneficiary of personalized gifts to promote my care and the practice of the Catholic faith. From a variety of resources, spiritual invitations, and mediations I have been able to find my complementary balance of mind, body and soul in the best place its been in years (despite an incredibly challenging year for all of us). These gifts have reminded me to practice another one of my favorite quotes from St. Augustine, “Pray as if everything depended on God. Act as if everything depended on you.” Recalling God’s gift of life is the most internally motivating reason to care for the body despite other stressors. Periodic reminders and aides of implementing self-care and spirituality have really helped me orient towards the destination of having my heart rest in God, and boost me up when I fall off course. I hope others can also find the inspiration to implement this wellness in their lives. Focusing on God’s love would make for a much healthier and happier humanity.
Some of my favorite ways to cultivate physical and spiritual health are:
Hiking and focusing on the wonders of nature as experienced by each sense, thanking God for the gift of the world and our ability to experience its beauty
Writing a cathartic letter, expelling fears, angers, frustrations and burning the letter, or satisfyingly tearing it into little pieces to purge those negative thoughts
Transforming downtime such as driving or waiting in line into conversations with Jesus and observing my interior self
Mitigating anxiety and fears by merging cognitive behavior techniques such as writing down automatic negative thoughts and strategically disproving them using systematic reasoning
Reflecting on scripture that reminds me of God's unconditional love, His plan for us, and that he will take care of us even if we lose our way